Page 54 of Hopeful Hearts

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“I’m just a firm believer in karma, is all. You put enough good into the world. Sure enough, some will find its way back to you.”

“Makes sense to me,” Brodie mumbled.

Now able to focus, he could see the sun coming up on the horizon. The water seemed to still, but it was an illusion. Just like his time with Sophia. It was always moving. However, sturdy the sandcastles that lined the shore were built, the water was guaranteed to come and steal them away. Slowly but surely, each carefully sculptured castle would crumble and inevitably disappear.

The door to the café swung open and Emmet busted in, looking dishevelled from the long drive. “Jesus, Brodie, you look like shit.”

He strode forward to offer a handshake to the café owner. “Thanks for calling me.”

“Of course. Do you need somewhere to stay before you head back?”

“I’ve already caused you too much trouble.”

“It’s no trouble at all. I’d rather send you on your way, rested. It would put my mind at ease,” he grinned, and Emmet eyed Brodie. The worry was evident in his furrowed brow and another kicker for Brodie. If anything, it should have been him picking Emmet up because he was a drunken mess, not the other way around. He was the one who was supposed to hold it all together, not Sophia’s little brother.

“What do you think,” he asked Emmet.

“I’m inclined to agree. No offence but you look like shit, and you’ve had a blow to the head. Let’s take up his offer, get our heads down for a few hours and then we can head back. Sophia will worry if she lays eyes on you in this state.”

Brodie nodded in agreement.

“That’s settled then. Let’s get this place locked up, I only live down the street.”

“Thanks so much for this,” Brodie said with sincerity before glancing at Emmet.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

Emmet shook his head. “No need. What’s done is done, but I’ve gotta ask; what are you doing out here?”

“Long story. Which I shouldn’t be telling you, but I really don’t have any other explanation than the truth, so I’m just going to say it. Don’t freak out, okay?”

“Brodie, I got a call from a stranger to pick you from Puffin Sands in the middle of the night. I’m already freaking out.”

“I know, but that’s nothing compared to this.”

“You’re scaring me now, Bro. Just spit it out.”

“Basically, your dad swore me to secrecy so you can’t tell anyone I’ve shared this with you, but you have a brother. His name is Austin.”

“Austin?” Emmet wracked his brain for a moment, trying to think of what he could be talking about, and Brodie continued.

“Yeah. You knew him as your uncle when you were little, but he was your brother. Your grandparents raised him because your mum and dad were teenagers when they had him.”

“This is insane,” Emmet reels. “And my dad definitely told you this?”

Brodie nodded.

“Why would he tell you and not me?”

“Because I was a mess, Emmet. I couldn’t see a way out for Sophia and I can’t be without your sister. I know how much you love her. How much everyone is willing her to get better, but I’m at breaking point. If she doesn’t live, I don’t think I’ll survive it.”

“What’s that got to do with Austin?”

“He’s your blood brother. Your dad’s been looking for him because he could be a match.”

“Holy shit,” Emmet’s eyes widened and Brodie felt like shit for telling him. He shouldn’t have been the one to explain it and not like this. His brother-in-law deserved better.

“We gotta find him,” Emmet said.