“I don’t think you’re what my parents had in mind, but thanks for the vote of confidence,” she smiled.
“Well, if you think you have problems, you want to meet my baby daddy’s new woman. Aka, the baby snatcher.”
“What?” Sophia gasped.
“Yeah, apparently, he’s into cougars now and he’s royally fucked me over because she’s a lawyer. Apparently, they are going to do whatever it takes to fight me for custody of Daisy.”
The room fell silent, defeat tangible in the air when they refused to answer any of Brodie’s questions. He made one last attempt to reason with these people, while trying to remind himself that they weren’t monsters. They were simply protecting the person they loved the most in the world and he knew exactly what that felt like. What lengths people were willing to go to, to keep their loved one’s safe? But Sophia was more than his loved one. She was a piece of his soul. Brodie knew that his heart wouldn’t just break if he lost her, he would break. They were one and the same, and he just needed to make them realise that.
“It’s obvious that a lot has happened between you and Robbie in the past. I can see that you have done so much for Austin. Raising him as your own. Protecting him for all this time. I just want you to understand how important Sophia is to me and that I’m just trying to do exactly the same thing for her. Austin could save her life. Don’t you think he at least deserves to have that chance? Imagine if we didn’t tell him. If we kept all of this from him, and then he found out; which he will – how will he feel? Secrets always come out in the end. You all must know that more than anyone.” Brodie drew a breath, trying to keep his calm so as not to sound as desperate as he was. Maybe, if they could see he was coming at this rationally, they might be more likely to consider what he had to say.
“Won’t Austin get hurt all over again if he realises that I’ve come to see you today and you didn’t tell him? He is Sophia’s brother, after all. Whether or not he knew it as a kid, they still had a relationship. He might be able to save her life and it’s only fair that we give him the chance to do so, even if he refuses to go through with the test to help, at least you’ll have done the right thing by being honest with him.”
“He has a point, Susan.” Bert stated, pushing up on the arms of his chair and standing up. “There’s been too many secrets in this house and too many lives ruined because of them.”
Susan looked to Robbie, who turned away and said nothing, before looking back at Brodie. “He calls every Friday night around six. Get here just before and you can talk to him yourself. I think it’s best if the news comes from you and then you can answer any questions he might have.”
“Thank you, I’ll be here. Thank you both so much,” Brodie gushed.
“Just don’t put any pressure on him either way. I’m not happy about what you’re asking him to do, but I do agree there can be no more secrets in this family. Robbie, I’m sorry it’s taken this for you to come here today,” Susan said.
“I know you and Mel have both been through a lot, but I’m sure she would love to hear from you both. This has been a really tough time for her,” Robbie replied.
Susan nodded her head but didn't commit to anything.
“I’ll see you next Friday and if you both want to come to the wedding, you are more than welcome there,” Brodie smiled.
“Thank you. I think we’re a long way from attending family events together and I wouldn’t want to impose on Mel. These things take time,” Bert replied.
“I used to think like that. Just try to remember that time is one of the few gifts you can’t hold on to.” Brodie headed for the door, leaving Robbie a space to say anything he hadn’t already, but Robbie followed him out without a word.
The silence continued as they drove back to the Randalls' house with a lot more hope in their hearts than they set out with.
Mel was sitting on the front porch when they reached the house and looked as wrapped up in her own thoughts as they were.
She stood when she saw them returning together, sensing something was off.
“He knows, Mel.” Robbie said when they got out of the car. “I’ve told him everything. We’ve been to see your mum and dad.”
Her eyes were like saucepans when she stared back at them, wide and blank.
“I’ve been trying to find Austin again. It’s our only hope of a match for Sophia.”
She collapsed back into the wooden swing seat and covered her face with both hands.
“I don’t know if he’ll come back. That’s why I didn’t tell you. I didn’t want to get your hopes up and even if he comes back, we both know a reconciliation is unlikely. There’s too much water gone under the bridge, babe.”
“Did they tell you anything?” she asked.
“They confirmed he still calls them once a week.”
“For all of this time? They talk to my son once a week and tell me nothing aside from that he’s safe and well. Do you know how many times I’ve tried to visit them and had the door slammed in my face? How many times have I tried calling, for them to ignore me?”
Robbie passed her a look of understanding. Mel turned a few shades paler and Brodie wasn’t sure if she was going to explode with anger or dissolve into tears.
“Would you mind catching up later?” Robbie asked him.