“Almost kissed who?” Sophia asked, but would have bet her house that the next word out of Callie’s mouth would be Emmet. She wasn’t going to freak out because she had half seen this coming, but it frustrated her that neither of them had kept her in the loop about how much their feelings for each other had come flooding back. Not that it was anything to do with her, but after she’d been on both of their shoulders to cry on for a lifetime, she was invested and couldn’t shake the feeling that it had everything to do with her.
Sophia’s stomach dropped.
“Austin?” She repeated the word, and Callie looked as though she was about to burst into tears any minute.
“I know. I’m sorry. Believe me, I know how messed up this is.”
Sophia wanted to yell at her that, yes, it was more than screwed up. Callie had only just met Austin, meaning he was basically a stranger. Except he wasn’t a stranger. He was her brother and Emmet’s brother, and Callie was Emmet’s Callie. Whether she knew it or not was irrelevant.
“I don’t know. It just happened?”
‘I’m not sure. He was there, on the beach. I was walking. You know how I power walk when I need to clear my head and I was stressing out. I was desperate to see Emmet after what happened. Oh god, Emmet.”
A fresh bout of pain shaded Callie’s usually sky-blue eyes.
“He can’t know about this.”
“I know. It’s such a mess. Who does something like that? I walked the length of the beach and when I came to the rocks, you know the ones?”
“He was just there, just as stressed out as me. He looked lost, and we started talking. Well, I was doing most of the talking, obviously. I don’t even know why. I think he was just in the wrong place at a shitty time.”
What were you talking about? Did he tell you why he discharged himself from the hospital? You know he just walked out, right?”
“He said he had a lot going on and something about love being the worst kind of drug he’d ever known. I agreed with him about that part. Since I found out about Emmett, all I’ve wanted to do is go to him and be there for him, but I know I don’t have that right.”
Callie burst into tears, and Sophia got up off the sofa. Setting her own feelings about the situation aside, she hugged her friend until she stopped crying enough to get things off her chest.
“I really am sorry, Sophia. This is the last thing you need today.”
“It’s the last thing Emmet needed.” She couldn’t stop herself from stating the fact.
“You know I’m not the violent type, but honestly, I could take a swing at Austin right now. He’s got my mum and dad in pieces; Doctor Gunner is out of his mind with worry. Even though he can’t do anything about the fact that he discharged himself, he’s the type of guy to feel responsible if anything goes wrong since he did the operation and now this. I can’t believe he would try to take advantage of you like that. What an arsehole.”
Sophia shook her head, and Callie dabbed her cheeks.
“You were pouring your heart out to the guy and what? He thinks kissing you is a good idea?”
“It wasn’t like that,” Callie said.
“Then how would you explain it? You were clearly in a state of anxiety. I know how much you get in your own head when you are stressed out.”
“It was me. I was the one who went to kiss him. I stopped myself in time, thank God but I still feel rotten about the whole thing.”
Sophia dropped Callie from her embrace and looked at her friend. If she could have found the words, the lump in her throat would have stopped her from saying them, anyway. This made zero sense, and what confused her most was that she never saw this coming for a second. Sophia had known Callie all of their adult lives. There wasn’t much that caught her off guard when it came to their friendship, but this revelation had done exactly that.
Callie and Sophia sat side by side in hospital as Doctor Gunner checked Sophia over and neither of them said much. Callie had shared way more than she should have, and Sophia was lost for words. The whole thing made no sense, and she needed to keep her focus on the things that mattered. Like visiting Emmet and listening intently as Doctor Gunner delivered her the good news.