Page 97 of Hopeful Hearts

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“Austin, there’s so much I have let you down with. Your dad–sorry–I mean Robbie and I were so young that all we focused on was what we couldn’t give you. Neither of us stopped to think about what we could.”

He didn’t reply, but he didn’t walk out either.

Sophia flashed him a warm smile and Mel did a little jump on the spot before squealing, “Can I hug you?”

“I’m not much of a–”

Before Austin could get the last word out, Mel already had her arms around him.

“We can take this at your pace, okay? Whatever you need, we are here for you. Let me find your dad. He's not going to believe you came back,” Mel said.

“Robbie,” she disappeared toward the kitchen area, glancing back at Austin now and then.

“I’ll leave you with Brodie for a minute. I need to go and make sure the girls aren’t talking Emmet to death,” Sophia said.

“I’ll be here,” Austin passed her a friendly wink.

“Emmet will be so happy you came.”

“It was the right thing to do.” Austin shrugged.

“Hey, I’m just happy we’ve got another guy around. We need all the testosterone we can get to balance things out.” Brodie arched a brow and glanced across at the girls who were all surrounding Emmet and chatting away.

“Do you think we should go and save him?” Austin suggested.

“Nah. I’ll bet he’s loving the attention,” Brodie replied, and they both scoffed.

A few moments later, he noticed Sophia about to push Emmet’s wheelchair.

He made a beeline for her. “Whoa, what are you doing?”

Sophia lowered her voice enough to protect her brother’s privacy.

“We’re just going to the bathroom.”

“Let go and stop trying to do too much,” his voice was low and infused with anger.

“Sorry, I didn’t even think,” Emmet said.

“Emmet, you’re fine,” Sophia was quick to reassure him, but grateful to Brodie for taking over and looking out for her like he did.


Brodie kissed Sophia on the forehead and crept out to work at the break of dawn. He was busier than ever and still struggling to get on top of things. Although Emmet had been home for a couple of weeks now, it still didn’t feel right to broach the subject of work with him.

Sophia woke just after he’d left. The sound of the door closing woke her and she stretched out across their Egyptian cotton sheets, wishing he was still there.

It was too early to do anything other than go back to sleep, yet she couldn’t. She was proud of all the extra hours her husband had been working while her brother recovered, but it made her feel as though she should be doing more.

If she wanted to, she could choose to never work again. Her dad had had the same conversation again last week when they had visited for lunch with her parents and Emmet. They had both refused to hear anything more of the offer. The Randalls had raised their children to take pride in their work and instilled the type of work ethic in them they’d needed to have throughout their years as parents. Now they were trying to sway them to do the opposite of everything they’d been brought up to believe in, and they were digging their heels in.

Sophia opened her laptop. It has become a habit of late. An addictive one that she couldn’t and didn’t want to shake. Even though she didn’t answer any emails, she read through them methodically and had pieced together three different vision boards for non- existent parties.

It wasn’t a planned thing, and she wasn’t quite sure how she was going to make it work, but by the time her alarm went off, she was sitting in front of a typed reply to the email from the Abrams.

Her finger was trembling as she reread it one last time before deciding whether to press send.

Dear Mr Abram, I apologise for the delay in my reply. I have been away from work due to some health issues, but I am thinking about returning soon and it would be an honour to work with you and your family again.

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