Page 34 of Hopeful Hearts

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“Still slightly traumatised over here,” Kate scrunched her nose and raised a hand in the air.

“Oh my god, Kate.” Sophia gaped. “Are you okay even being out here? I forgot you were terrified of the water.”

“Still am,” she corrected.

Sophia was quick to pass her a sympathetic smile. The fact that she had come tonight meant so much more now that Sophia remembered how scared she was of open water.

The boat pulled to a stop in a small cove at the edge of the bay and the captain cut the engine. The only sounds were the five women and the waves. Sophia felt liberated by the peacefulness of their surroundings. No machines bleeping. No swinging doors. Just her and her friends, exactly like old times. It was the perfect hen night and knowing that Brodie had obviously planned this with all of them made it so much more special for her.

“The last time we were all on the water together, I remember we stayed up talking the whole night,” Lennon took a seat on a deck cushion and Callie dropped down beside her.

“And look at us now. The only one who got what she wanted is Sophia,” Callie said as she took a seat on the cushion beside Lennon.

“And Kate,” Sophia pointed out as Kate sat cross-legged on the floor next to the girls and Paige helped Sophia down to join them. Wrapping a blanket around her shoulders as she was forever cold no matter how warm the summer air was.

“Not exactly,” Kate corrected her. “I distinctly remember saying I wanted a family. I don’t think anyone would wish to be a single mum in their twenties.”

“Life has a sneaky way of doing whatever the fuck it wants, much like my parents,” Paige snapped.

“Why? What’s up with your parents?” Sophia asked.

“They’ve decided I can’t commit,” Paige squeezed in between Lennon and Sophia, sounding exasperated.

“Can’t commit to what?” Sophia asked.

“Apparently anything. Have you ever heard something so ridiculous in all your life?” Paige threw her hands in the air.

Jayda’s eyes shot to Sophia, and a look flew between all of them. They all knew better than to answer that.

“So, I like adventure.” Paige shrugged. “Big deal. It’s not like what I do has any impact on their life, so I don’t see why they are being so extra about the whole thing.”

“What do you mean by extra?” Kate asked.

“They’ve cut my allowance off. Just like that,” she clicked her fingers. “Completely cut me off, with no warning, and now I’m basically screwed. I hope you’re happy with me being in Lani Bay, Sophia, because at this point, I can’t even afford to go home. Do you know what that feels like, to not be able to afford something?”

Everyone’s eyes shot to the ground.

“Sorry, I’m being a brat. I don’t mean to be. I’m just panicking because I’ve never done this before, you know? You girls are the real deal. Look at all of you. Jobs. Relationships. Hospital. You’re all out here holding shit together and I’m–” her voice cracked, and she took a deep inhale.

“It’s okay, Paige. Let it out if you want to. You can cry around us, you’re only human,” Jayda reassured her.

“I know. I’m not going to cry when the whole thing is so pathetic compared to–”

“Don’t.” Sophia shut her down. “Everyone has their own shit going on and shit is shit. However you try to dress it up. There’s no worse or better. If you want to cry, then cry. If you want to scream, then do that, too.”

“I’m fine. I just might need some help to get a job because I have no clue how to go about getting one.”

“We can definitely help with that.” Callie squeezed her thigh.

“They’ve stopped every dollar until I can prove that I’m committed to something.”

“Okay, well, how hard can it be?” Sophia asked.

“Basically impossible. You know me, girls. Nothing ever seems to stick.”

“We’ve stuck,” Lennon pointed out.

“Yeah, see. You’ve stuck with us. Which proves you can be loyal and committed when you want to be,” Kate said.

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