Page 32 of Hopeful Hearts

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“I know. It’s a lot to take in. That’s why I haven’t told Sophia or anyone else yet. I knew they’d react the same way as you and it’s not healthy.”

“What’s not healthy is the fact that you’ve been sitting on a big fat secret that might just save my fiancée's life.”

“With all due respect, son, your future wife is my daughter. Let’s not forget we are working toward the same goal, here.”

“So, when did you last see Austin? You said he disappeared, but people don’t just vanish to thin air, Robbie.”

“Apparently my son does.”

“So, you’ve tried to find him?”

“I’ve tried everything. After he went, I thought he’d come back.Give him some time to cool off and he’ll soon be back, I told myself.”

The pain in Robbie’s expression was raw and real. Anger attempting to mask the overwhelming sadness of the facts he’d held on to until today.

“Did you ask around? He was just a kid. He couldn’t have gone too far, especially on his own.”

“After a few days, we began to worry. I hired a private detective who gave me a few leads, but they all came to nothing.”

“Did you not report him missing to the police?”

“Almost. That’s when we realised our son wasn’t missing. He just didn’t want to be found.”

“You’re speaking in riddles.”

“Sorry, it’s a lot of stuff to just put out there after holding it all in for so long.”

“It’s okay. I just want to make sure there’s nothing I’ve missed.”

“We knew he wasn’t missing, because he called Mel’s parents every Friday. They told us he was safe and well. He shared everything about his life with them on the promise that they wouldn’t share a peep of it with us.”

“But Mel was his mum. She had a right to know.”

“We both did. Don’t think I didn’t bring that up. We argued for weeks, months. But Austin was a bright kid. He warned that if they ever shared so much as a snippet of information about his whereabouts with us, he’d never call them again.”

“Fuck,” Brodie ran his hands through his hair, feeling Robbie’s frustration as much as his own.

“Yeah,” he shrugged, letting the reality of his situation sink in for a half-second.

“I think you have to try. This is a do or die situation. Literally. Sophia has to come first. Whatever obstacles come up; we have to track down Austin.”

“I’ve already spoken to them. They won’t tell me a thing, other than the fact Austin is safe and well, I know nothing.”

“They might not talk to you, but they’ll have to talk to me. I won’t give them a choice.”

“You don’t know what you’re dealing with, Brodie. Bert and Susan have protected Austin and their relationship with him for his whole adult life. It’s sacred to them. Especially as their relationship with Mel is so strained.”

“I get things are messy, but you know that I have to talk to them. It’s the only way.”

“I figured as much. Come on, I’ll drive you up there.”


“I think we both know there’s no time to waste.” He jumped up and grabbed his keys. They headed outside and adrenaline pumped through Brodie’s veins, making his hands tremble and his legs feel like they could collapse from underneath him.

“Just don’t expect too much, Brodie.” He tapped the top of his truck, throwing him a look of sorrow as though they’d already visited Mel’s parents and been turned away.

Brodie simply nodded and climbed into the passenger seat beside Robbie as he started up the engine.

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