Page 89 of Hopeful Hearts

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“I was always more of a whiskey guy.”

“Same here,” Brodie said as he set down a huge bowl of linguine in front of Sophia and then Austin.

“It smells so good. What would I do without you?”

“I’m hoping we never find out,” Brodie smiled.

Austin took a forkful of his pasta, though he eyed them as if he felt uncomfortable.

Sophia’s phone bleeped, and she quickly silenced it, typed something, and placed it upside down on the table in front of her. Was it the right thing to do? Probably not, but she had to find a way to make Austin see sense, and this could be her last chance.

“Stunning place you’ve got here.” He glanced around at the spacious living area scattered with blankets and rustic decor. It was cosy, casual and homely, but there was enough design about the layout to show that a lot of thought had gone into every detail of the decor.

“Brodie came to find you, you know,” Sophia blurted out.

“You did?” Austin eyed her husband with suspicion.

“I didn’t have much choice,” Brodie mumbled.

“He ended up on an oil rig. Is that where you used to work?” Sophia asked.

“Which one?” Austin asked Brodie.

“Puffin sands,” he replied.

“No way. Yeah, I just left last summer.”

The whole story came tumbling out and Austin found himself in stitches as Brodie told him how he had pretended to be an apprentice and although Austin decided he was a raving lunatic, he also remarked that it was incredibly endearing that he would go to such great lengths for Sophia.

By the time there was a knock on the door, Austin was relaxed and had begun to join in with the idle chitchat. He probably wouldn’t admit it, but Sophia was pretty certain he was enjoying himself.


Sophia stood, and Brodie eyed her with confusion. “I’ll get it,” she beamed.

Brodie knew from the level of enthusiasm with which she moved toward the door that she was up to something.

Mel and Robbie entered the room with caution. Mel was in her usual T-shirt and chino shorts combo, while Robbie had one of his well-worn plaid shirts on. Both looked casual and relaxed, but the lines around their eyes told a different story.

They probably hadn’t planned on coming over but had at least had a chance to prepare themselves on the drive over. Austin, on the other hand, looked like he’d seen two ghosts walk in. His body language became guarded.

Mel and Robbie were both smiling, but if they were hoping for some kind of reconciliation; they were probably going to be disappointed as Austin was clearly uncomfortable.

“Three days,” Austin muttered. “Three days I lay in a hospital bed just rooms away from Little Soph and they couldn't be bothered to check. I've got nothing to say to them.”

Brodie hated confrontation, but he knew Sophia had her reasons for inviting Mel and Robbie over. He didn’t necessarily agree with her decision, but he understood that family was the most important thing to her. Finding out that Austin was her brother and not her uncle had been a shock for her, but having no relationship with Austin would be tough on her. She and Emmet were so close and his wife wasn’t the type to let sleeping dogs lie.

He knew how much Sophia would want him to be part of their family, but judging by the look on Austin’s face, he could tell that was the last thing he wanted.

Sighing, he sat back down at the table. This was going to be a long night.

“Come in, come in, Austin’s having dinner with us. There’s plenty to spare if you want some. We were just finishing up,” Sophia smiled.

“Actually, I was just leaving,” Austin said as he shoved his seat away from the table and stood up.

“I’d really like it if you stayed. We have a lot to talk about.” Mel’s eyes burned into Austin’s stubbled cheek.

“Yeah, well, I know this might be difficult for you to comprehend, but it’s not all about you,” Austin snapped through gritted teeth.

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