Page 25 of Hopeful Hearts

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“Not this bad. I have had a few times when I’ve needed to cool off, but this was different.”

Kate looked up as Brodie stepped in and his eyes lit up on sight of Sophia, who felt like trash all over again for putting him through all of this. It reminded her why her decision was the right one.

“Should I give you two a minute?”

“You’re fine,” she replied.

At the same time, Brodie said a simple, “Thanks.”

Kate nodded and smiled back at her. “It’s fine. I need to get back to Daisy, anyway. I’ll pop back later.”

“Daisy’s here, too? Where is she?”

“The girls have taken her to the beach. We had a long day yesterday and apparently, she kept them up all night, so the fresh air will do her a world of good.”

“I’d love to meet her.”

“She’s desperate to meet her Auntie Sophia. Get better, okay?”

“I’m trying,” Sophia replied and hoped she didn’t detect the lie.

With a scrunch of her nose, she left them to it and her eyes found Brodie’s. He looked a lot more tired and a little more broken. On days like today, she felt as though she was breaking the pieces of him one at a time. Crumbling him up like pastry. She just hoped that when the right person came along, they could piece him back together, again, exactly as he was. Maybe even better. They could mend each little part day by day until he became her Brodie, again. She forced a solid lump down in her throat at the thought of it and the fact that afterwards, he wouldn’t be her Brodie, anymore.

“How are you feeling?”

“Probably about as good as I look.”

“You look beautiful.”

“What happened?”

“The doctor thinks it’s a urinary tract infection. Apparently, they’re really common for people on dialysis.”

“That’s what caused the fever? Did they talk about treatment, yet?”

“You’re already on it. That’s antibiotics they’ve been pumping in since last night. My guess is they are working pretty well because you’re awake and looking much better already.”

“Sorry, if I scared you.”

His brow furrowed, and the vein in his neck bulged. His jaw locked tight, and he still hadn’t had a shave. “I should have been there.”

“No, Brodie. You can’t blame yourself for any of this and you were there. If you hadn't gotten me to the hospital as fast as you did, who knows what would have happened?”

“I would never let that happen, Sophia. If I have to sit with you twenty-four hours a day, then I will. I don’t want you being alone again after this.”

The thought made her hate herself more than she already did–something she thought was impossible until this moment. She should have known it would come along at some point. Her freedom had been something she’d taken for granted her whole life. Like Callie, Sophia was a wandering soul. All six of them were in one way or another. It’s why Kate flew out to the bay, even with everything else she had going on and why Paige was willing to drop everything to stay in a tiny seaside town with her friend.

Brodie too. They had that in common. Adventure was at the core of their relationship and the last thing she wanted to do was take that away from him.

There must be another way.


“So, what do you think?” Paige asked, coming to a stop in front of the whiteboard with the rota the girls had scribbled on it. “Obviously, this is just a rough copy. I can have the final version printed. Whatever you need.”

Brodie thought it was a strange thing to see his daily life and routine mapped out on a whiteboard and up for discussion. The invasion of privacy was unexpected and a lot to wrap his head around.

“I mean, it’s a lot to take in.”