Page 66 of Hopeful Hearts

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The look Robbie and Mel passed to each other told Sophia they hadn’t. Disappointment shrouded her face, and she did not try to hide it.

“We tried, but it’s not that easy. Bert and Susan have raised Austin his whole life. They haven’t left his side and now is not the time for confrontation.”

“Your mum's right. Austin needs to focus on his recovery, as do you, and all of this worrying isn’t going to do you any good.”

“You need to go and spend some time with him. He’s your son, not theirs. It’s not fair that you’re both here with me. This is just going to make him feel pushed out all over again.”

“Did he say that to you? That he felt pushed out?”

“He didn’t have to. It’s pretty obvious and you guys not even going to see if he’s okay is only making things worse.”

“Give 'em hell, babe.” Brodie filled the doorway, his head almost skimming the frame.

“You’re back.” She felt the pull she always felt, just at his nearness.

Brodie nodded and strode toward her. “And you have a new kidney. How are you doing? Do you feel any better?”

“I don’t think it works that quickly,” Sophia replied.

“No, I know you still need to continue with the dialysis for a while. You’ve still got a long recovery ahead, but I feel better already just knowing it’s in there.”

Sophia nodded. She knew how much everyone hoped the operation had been successful and none of them more than her, but she also knew the risks and reality. As much as she could see the excitement bursting out of Brodie, she was trying to keep a level head until her body had a chance to react to the new kidney.

“We’ll give you two a minute,” Robbie said.

Mel hesitated, but followed him out of the room, leaving Sophia and Brodie alone.

“Don’t forget to check on Austin,” Sophia called after them, but neither of them answered.

“Are you alright? I was so worried about you.’

“I’m okay,” he reassured her. “It’s mostly just cuts and bruises. A bit of concussion but nothing serious.”

“It sounds like you’re both lucky to be alive from what my dad said.”

“I’m just so sorry.”

“Sorry? What do you have to be sorry for?”

“Everything. I should never have left your side in the first place.”

“Why did you go?”

“To find Austin.”

“You knew about Austin?”

“I couldn’t tell you. What if we didn’t find him? It seemed like such a long shot and you were so hopeless already. If I hadn't been so stubborn, Emmet would never have had to come and pick me up. He would never have been in the car with me.”

Brodie broke down, all of the guilt of the chain of events he felt solely responsible for spilling out of him at once.

“Shhh. None of this is your fault.” Sophia stroked his hair as he sat next to her with his head dropped onto the pillow next to hers.

“We both know that’s not true.”

“You did what you thought was right at the time. Everyone knows you’d never do anything to put anyone in danger.”

“But, I did,” he argued.

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