Page 71 of Hopeful Hearts

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“Nuh-uh.” She held the book up and he read the cover aloud.

“'Exquisite Event Planning'. Tell me you're not thinking about getting back to work already?”

“I’m just curious. I’ve been out of the game for a while. Now, I’m not saying I could go back tomorrow, but I can’t wait to sink my teeth into something again.”

He arched a brow and bit his lip.

“Have you thought about the business? I know you and Emmet hadn’t agreed about anything formally, but he won’t be able to do much for a while now. Who knows how long it’s going to take him to be able to walk again?”

“It’s going to be awhile, that’s for sure,” Brodie said. “But I’m going to keep busy in the meantime. There’s no way I’m letting everything we’ve been working toward go under. Especially when it’s my fault, he’s in this mess.”


“You’re not seriously thinking you had any part to play in what happened, are you?”

“He was only making that journey to pick me up, Sophia.”

“So? You said yourself the van came out of nowhere.”

“It did, but he wouldn’t have been driving if I was in any fit state.”

“What do you mean? Why couldn’t you drive?”

“I was wasted.” Brodie’s head hung low as he related the whole story to his wife, and Sophia said nothing. Her eyes were wide in disbelief as she learned the lengths he had gone to, to find Austin, and how he was mugged on the street.

“We’ll have to send the guy who helped you something. He sounds like such a good guy.”

“Who knows what would have happened if he hadn’t found me and called Emmet?”

“It doesn’t bear thinking about.”

“So, let's not. Let’s not allow anything to ruin tonight. I just want to enjoy having you home.”

“Brodie. You have to promise me that you never repeat what you said about this being your fault. To yourself or anyone else, okay? It’s crap and there’s not an ounce of truth in it. You’ll drive yourself crazy if you think that way.”

He didn't look at her. Eyes to the ground, he stood tall and powerful in his stature, yet she could see straight through his rock-solid exterior to the broken parts inside.

“You know everything happens for a reason and this awful, unthinkable thing that’s happened was always going to happen. I don’t know why and as unfair as it seems, there must be some reason why. We just don’t know it yet.”

“I just wish I hadn't left you. I should have been there when you needed me. What was I thinking?”

“You were doing what you thought was for the best. That’s all anyone can ever do, and this is the end of it, okay?”

Brodie nodded.


“Okay,” he said, without conviction.

“Now go and get that barbecue going before I crash out on you.”

“You wouldn’t dare,” he teased.

“Try me.” She snuggled down on the sofa, threatening to fall asleep, but she was wide awake, thoughts of Emmet flickering through her mind, images of Brodie drunk in a doorway somewhere looking for Austin, and questions about where her older brother could be.

She could have shared them with Brodie, instead she opened her book and pretended to read the pages until he left her to it. She had a funny feeling that he needed tonight to be stress free, maybe even more than she did.