To Brodie, Sophia’s brother sounded peeved, as though he wanted to get the conversation over with and get back to whatever the hell he was doing. His voice was the opposite of Sophia’s sweet, light sound and Brodie took an instant dislike to him. More and more of late, he was becoming resentful of anyone who lived a normal life without the constant fear of time running out.
He cleared his throat. “Sorry, yeah, I’m here. Austin, I know we haven’t met yet, but what I want to say to you is too important for you to hear it from anyone other than me.”
Brodie almost shuddered at the chilled-out nature of the guy on the end of the line. Maybe he needed to take a leaf out of his book because everything depended on this brief exchange, so he couldn’t risk fucking it up.
“I’m married to your sister, and she’s dying.”
Brodie swore he heard a chuckle in Austin’s reply. “I don’t have a sister.”
“I understand things are complicated, but legally and biologically, you do and she needs you. Whatever’s happened in the past needs to stay in the past. I know you don’t owe me shit, but Sophia told me you were once close. That you used to play together as kids?”
“Well, I’m asking you. If you ever cared for Sophia as a sister, a niece, a friend or even just a playmate, you have to help her.”
“I don’t have to do anything.”
“She’s fucking dying, Austin. Everyone has been tested, friends, family. She needs a kidney and fast. There’s a big chance that you’re a match and you’re literally our last hope.”
“I’m sorry, Brodie, did you say it was? I get why you called, but if you were looking for sympathy, you picked the wrong guy. While Sophia is -as you pointed out -my sister in the eyes of the law; as far as I’m concerned, she is nothing to me. I left my so-called family behind a long time ago. In some instances, water is thicker than blood, not the other way around. The only thing I have to say to you is good-fucking-luck, because you’re going to need it with that lot.”
Brodie reeled. He hadn’t known what reaction to expect, but he never expected this one.
“Can we meet? I need to talk this through with you, Austin. You could save her life.”
Austin didn’t reply.
“Unlike my family, my word is my word. I’ve said no, and I meant it.”
Austin dropped the line, and Brodie felt like he just dropped a ten-tonne truck on his chest.
This was his one last chance, and he’d royally screwed it up.
Bert and Susan stared at him, awaiting answers, but from his expression, it was crystal clear that it was a non-starter.
“He can be stubborn as an ox, that boy at times,” Bert ran a hand over his thick grey stubble and his wife glared at him.
“I’m sorry, Susan, but it’s the truth. Anyone can see how desperate the lad is.
Susan regarded Brodie for a lengthy minute. He was so wrapped up in his own thoughts, he barely noticed her eyes on him. The room started to spin around him and his head whirred as though he were on the waltzers.
They’d been on the waltzers once. Sophia had screamed to go faster and faster and Brodie had turned the wheel in the middle to speed up their teacup, despite feeling like he wanted to puke the entire time. That was Brodie. He’d do anything for his wife, but he was all out of options.
“You don’t look so good. Can I get you some water?” Susan offered. She wouldn’t say it out loud, but the softness in her voice told Brodie that she wasn’t happy with her son's quick dismissal of him.
He shook his throbbing head.
“Will you at least sit down, then?” She ushered him into a velvet armchair and, for once, he did as he was told.
His legs were weak under the strain of the problem he faced and the pressure of working against the clock to try to solve it.
The infection had not only given him a fright but also a wake-up call. They were only ever one crisis away from the dialysis becoming ineffective.
“I understand my granddaughter is fighting for her life. Whatever has gone before is irrelevant now. Is there anything else to do?” Bert bit his lip and his hand fidgeted. His gaze kept coming back to Susan, while his face grew redder and redder. “He's not an innocent child anymore. Austin is a grown man and behaving like a selfish toddler who had to share his favourite toy.” Bert bit his lip and glowered at his wife. “Susan’s always been so headstrong,” Bert explained before turning his attention to her. “I’ve danced to your tune our whole marriage long. It doesn’t mean I agree with you, Susan and right now, I don’t. I always told you we’d be losing so much more than just a daughter if we cut Mel and Robbie out of their lives and now look.”