Page 23 of Hopeful Hearts

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“Knock knock,” an unfamiliar voice called out from downstairs.

“Hold on,” he yelled while running to the en-suite to grab a cool flannel. The hand towel was the first thing he laid eyes on, so he grabbed that instead and soaked it in cold water.

When he got back to Sophia, her eyes were half closed and beads of sweat covered her body. He wiped her forehead with the towel before throwing it over her and pacing the floor, wondering what the fuck to do next.

“Everything okay?” The female voice shouted again. Probably one of Sophia’s friends. She couldn’t have picked worse timing.

“Not really. Can you call back later?”

Her reply was to burst through the bedroom door. Brodie decided she obviously had as little an idea about the concept of boundaries as the rest of the bunch.

Sophia startled at the sight of the brunette standing in their doorway and looking horrified.

“Holy shit, Sophia. Should I call an ambulance?”

“No, no ambulance.” Brodie snapped. “It’s just a temperature. She’ll cool down in a minute. She hates going to the hospital as it is. We don’t need any extra trips.”

The girl nodded and stepped out of the bedroom, sensing she wasn’t welcome, before deciding to ignore that significant fact and rushing back over to Sophia’s bedside.

“Oh, sweet friend, don’t worry. I’m going to get you cooled down. It looks like Brodie’s doing a good job already. Brodie, can you get some more towels and a glass of cool water?”

“You must be Kate.” Sophia had told him all about her control freak friend who was ‘the mum of the group.’ She wasn’t the mum in this situation, though, and clearly needed a reminder that he was the one who’s been looking after his fiancée this entire time. He didn’t need someone to try stepping in now.

“I think we’re good here.” His tone was a little harsher than he intended but conveyed the message as Kate nodded again and stepped back.

“Sorry. I just panicked. How about you stay with her and I’ll grab some water and towels?”

He didn’t reply. The panic in her hazel eyes matched his own, and it was obvious in the look that passed between them they were both there for the same reasons.

She disappeared downstairs and Brodie squeezed Sophia’s hands, not wanting to say anything in case talking was too much for her.

Every inch of her was burning up, and the trembling was getting worse, not better.

She parted her lips as though to tell him something, but all she could manage was his name.

The effort it took her to say it crushed him, but what she said next had his heart almost stopping altogether.

“I think this is it,” she whispered.

“No.” He scooped her up from the bed and ran downstairs with her. “Hold on, Sophia. This isn’t it. Don’t you dare give up now? Don’t you fucking dare, do you hear me?”

“What’s happening?”

“Hospital. Get in the truck,” he ordered Kate, and she jumped in the back without a single word. He practically threw Sophia onto her lap and jumped into the driving seat.

“Should you be driving like this? Maybe I could drive us. It will be safer.”

Her words faded away, drowned out by the sound of the engine starting up and Brodie putting pedal to the metal. He imagined this was how men drive their women to the hospital if they were about to give birth. A race against the clock to get them to a place of safety before the time comes when they bring their baby into the world. He had thought about doing that drive so many times.

Glancing in his rear-view mirror, Brodie gritted his teeth and wished with every tensed muscle in his body that he was driving like a maniac for that reason and not this one.

They’d talked about kids many times in those early days when life was simple. Just two kids with hopeful hearts, full of all the magic of young love. They wanted it all. The house with the white picket fence. Two sweet kids to make them a family. Hell, they even wanted the cute dog to complete the picture-perfect life that Brodie knew Sophia deserved so fucking badly.

He saw it all playing out in his mind's eye as they left Lani Bay behind and took the fastest route to the Truro Hospital. It choked him up so hard that he was almost in tears when they got there.

“Hold on, Sophia. You’re going to be okay. Tell her she’s going to be okay.”

“You’re going to be just fine, sweet girl. You’re doing so great,” Kate soothed.

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