Page 78 of Hopeful Hearts

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The lunch began to arrive and everyone tucked in.

Callie tapped her glass of soda water with the tip of her knife.

“Can we raise a toast, please? To Sophia coming home.”

“Hell, yes,” Paige lifted her glass and the group all shared their well wishes.

“I’ll make a toast to all of you sticking around so long, you really didn’t have to.”

“We really did, actually. I’ve almost finished an entire song. Do you know how long I haven’t finished anything I’ve written for?” Lennon looked exasperated.

“I’ve taken some stunning shots for my blog. The sunset over the cliff top is to die for here.”

“What about you, Jayda? I swear to shit you have fewer wrinkles on your face than when you got here.” Paige stated.

“I don’t have wrinkles, you horror.” Jayda accused.

“Well, you were on your way. When I spoke to you last month, I envisaged grey hair and wrinkles the next time we met up and not because we left it too long.” Paige tapped her own head.

“I guess my job is more stressful than I thought.” Jayda pulled out a compact and looked over her hair.

“Social work is the most stressful job in the world,” Lennon sympathised.

“That and stripping.” Paige added.

‘What’s stressful about stripping? At least you don’t have to think about that once you’ve clocked off,” Jayda smiled.

“I couldn’t think of anything worse. Everyone wanting extras. Ick.” Lennon wrinkled her nose, making everyone giggle.

“Anyway, I may be sticking around some more if that’s okay with you, Sophia. I don’t know where I’m going to stay yet. If Emmet will have me, I could help him get back on his feet.” Paige shrugged.

“I’m sure he’d be fine with you staying but see what he says,” Sophia suggested.

“Well, I can pay him in endless cups of tea but that’s about it. My dad’s completely cut me off at this point. Financially I mean, not emotionally. At least that’s what I keep telling myself but it kind of feels like it.”

“I’m sure he thinks there’s some kind of life lesson in it for you. He would never want to see you upset from what you’ve told me about him,” Sophia reassured her.

“I guess. He did say he’d consider reinstating it when I can prove I can stand on my own two feet, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

“You’re going to get a job in the bay?” Callie asked.

“Better,” Paige grinned.

“Just spit it out,” Jayda demanded.

“I’m trying. This is major. I need a build-up,” Paige chuckled. She cleared her throat and then her words came tumbling out so fast that they could barely understand them.

“I’ve put an offer in on the bed-and-breakfast. You know, the old one up on the hill. I think it’s got real potential, and it fulfils two purposes. It gives me somewhere to stay for free once it’s fit for that purpose, and, if I can pull it off, then it proves to my family that I can be taken seriously as a businesswoman in my own right and I'm not the dumb kid they still think I am.”

“How? Did your dad already give you your allowance back?”

Paige shook her head. “No, but he said I could have a business loan for investment purposes. No cash. I just send along the investment and he will back me as long as I believe it’s a lucrative deal.”

“And do you?” Callie asked.

“I do. I saw this program about a couple who bought an old chateau in France and fixed it up. How hard can it be?”

“I can’t believe you put in an offer. When will you know if you’ve been accepted?” Jayda asked.