Page 51 of Hopeful Hearts

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Sophia was where his heart began, and without her he was dead certain that it would stop beating.

After was not an option.

Fumbling in his pocket, he located his wallet and pulled one of his business cards from it.

“I’m a plumber by trade. If you ever need any water works sorted out, just give me a call and thanks for the brandy.”

“You don’t have to do that.”

“It’s no bother.” Brodie replied, already on his way out of the door.

All out of ideas, he swigged the rest of the bottle of brandy, tossed it in the trash can and dived straight into the nearest bar to find more of the liquid magic that made him feel something and reminded him he was alive.

He ordered shot after shot mixed with pints of lager on an empty stomach and was barely standing at closing time.

With a desperate need to get back to Sophia and tell her he was sorry, he stepped foot outside of the pub and the fresh air engulfed him like a torpedo.

The breeze sailed straight off the ocean and into his lungs, causing him to want to fall asleep and vomit in equal parts.

He stumbled over his own feet and his footsteps felt heavy as he tried to focus on putting one foot in front of the other.

Cupping his mouth, he called out to the wind, “Austin!”

Bright lights flashed in his eyes and it took a few minutes to realise he was no longer standing but lying flat on his back on the sidewalk.

“Take his wallet,” a male voice mumbled.

“Already did. Check for a watch,” a soft, feminine voice purred.

“You weren’t supposed to knock him out,” another male voice hissed.

“Do you want to eat tonight or not?” The feminine voice spoke again.

He knew hands were fumbling in his pockets and wrists, but he did nothing to stop it.

His head pounded from the spot where it had made contact with the floor and the potent cocktail of grief and alcohol stole his energy or will to fight.

His body drifted in and out of sleep. His thoughts zig zagged from reality to another world and back again.

In the distance, he saw Sophia smiling in her wedding dress, a bright white light shining around her face. Every so often, the light would fade and she’d no longer be walking down the aisle toward him. Instead, she was lying on a bed of flowers and the light faded to dark, billowing shadows that threatened to steal her away from him.

After a few blinks, they were gone, and Brodie managed to pull himself to a sitting position. His head felt like a brick and gave into the overwhelming need to let his body sag against the door frame.

It was only when he licked lips and tasted metal that he knew he was bleeding. Pressing the back of his hand to his head, he found the fresh cut just above his eye.

The door behind him opened and a man’s voice asked, “What the hell happened to you?”

Brodie shrugged his shoulders, dabbing the cuff of his sleeve over the cut on his face to stop it from bleeding.

“You know what? I could have guessed your day would end like this when you bought that morning coffee, this morning.”

The thought of coffee caused Brodie to throw up all over the guy’s shoes.

“Sorry.” He said, coming to his senses. “God, I’m so sorry. I’m not usually like this.”

“Come on, let’s get you inside and cleaned up.”

Brodie nodded at him, and the man shook his head.

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