Page 21 of Hopeful Hearts

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“None of them are going anywhere for the next few months. I’m only telling you this because I know you’ll try to talk them out of it, but I think you need to let them do this. They want to be there for you and I’m pretty sure you’d do the same for them, so maybe give them a break and let them make the choice.”

Sophia swallowed down hard and said nothing, a smile warming her lips.

“What?” Brodie smiled, too.

A knee jerk reaction, but it made Sophia’s smile even wider.

“You like my friends.”

“I do. They’re a force to be reckoned with, for sure, but I can see why you’re all so loyal to each other. It’s incredible.”

“I lucked out; I know.”

“A bit like when you met me.”

“Or when you met me,” she countered.

“Okay, we’re getting close.”

“Brodie, if it’s skinny dipping, I’m not doing it.” Sophia braced herself as they pulled up where the wooded area cleared and all she could see was a huge rainbow striped hot-air balloon, standing in front of them.

“It’s not skinny dipping, although that is a seriously decent suggestion for our next date night.”

She pushed his shoulder and took another look at the giant balloon in front of them.

“Are we going into that thing? Is it safe?”

“Yeah, unless anyone’s floating around with a giant pin up there, we’ll be fine.”

She rolled her eyes and jumped out of the truck, walking around it to hold Brodie’s hand. “It’s so big.”

“Pretty cool, isn’t it?”

“It’s a lot cool, but why are we doing this?”

“Why not?” He shrugged, and they walked forward to greet the man standing in front of the giant wicker basket.

“You picked a good night for it,” the guy said as they shook his hand.

He was right. The sunlight was still around to throw its sparkle over the sea beneath them and the bay had never looked more beautiful.

Once he’d covered all the formalities, they stepped inside and, a few minutes later, they began to float away.

It was the strangest feeling and butterflies filled Sophia’s tummy as the breeze carried them out over the sea.

“This is breath-taking,” she said, pressing her back against the safety of Brodie’s chest while her fingers clung to the edge of the basket as though someone might tip her out at any moment.

The view was stunning, and with the water below and velvet clouds above, they both felt as though they were on top of the world.

“I could stay up here forever,” Brodie murmured in her ear before landing a soft kiss on her neck.

“Me too,” she whispered back, reaching up to stroke his stubbled jaw that was teetering on becoming a beard if he didn’t shave soon. The sound of gulls calling in the distance merged with the scent of salty sea air; it made Sophia want to absorb the moment into her veins.

As though sharing her thoughts, Brodie murmured, “I could stay anywhere forever as long as I’m with you.”

“You say the sweetest things sometimes.” She smiled and her grip on the basket loosened a little as she acclimated to the feeling of sailing through the summer night air.

“Wait, what’s that?” she asked.

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