Hearts of Sacrifice

Hearts of Sacrifice

Status: Finished

Genre: Romance

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Romance

Summary

Bad boy Hunter Cartwright always has been the black sheep in his loving but prosperous family. He's overshadowed by his big brother Billy who everyone loves and looks up to. When tragedy strikes, it is a wound that cuts deep and one that separates Hunter from everyone who loves him. Eight years after his abrupt departure, Hunter makes his return home to Oregon. Much has changed including the girl he grew up with Sophie. She's always been around as his sister Michelle's best friend and his friend too once upon a time. Sophie dates his younger brother Evan now. The fiercely competitive Evan is none too thrilled with his return just like Sophie. Can Hunter make amends to his family and regain all he's lost including the friendship of the one girl Sophie who means more to him than he ever realized?

Summary

Bad boy Hunter Cartwright always has been the black sheep in his loving but prosperous family. He's overshadowed by his big brother Billy who everyone loves and looks up to. When tragedy strikes, it is a wound that cuts deep and one that separates Hunter from everyone who loves him.

Eight years after his abrupt departure, Hunter makes his return home to Oregon. Much has changed including the girl he grew up with Sophie. She's always been around as his sister Michelle's best friend and his friend too once upon a time. Sophie dates his younger brother Evan now. The fiercely competitive Evan is none too thrilled with his return just like Sophie.

Can Hunter make amends to his family and regain all he's lost including the friendship of the one girl Sophie who means more to him than he ever realized?

Chapter32 (v.1) - Blindsided

Author Chapter Note

Sophia shares dinner with the Cartwrights...<br /> <br /> “Honor and vigilance are what our nation’s armed forces represent. <br /> An act of valor…their willingness to answer our country’s call <br /> is a constant reminder of duty, honor, and sacrifice.”<br /> --Unknown <br />

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: March 27, 2018

Reads: 535

Comments: 4

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: March 27, 2018

A A A

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CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO – Blindsided

 

“How is Anita?” Aunt Flo asked as she glanced over to Sophie at the Cartwright family dining room table.  The centerpiece happened to be a favorite of hers.  Picked fresh from the garden was a beautiful bouquet of lilies with bright freckles of color which happened to match the blue of her summer dress.

Mrs. Riggs served Sunday afternoon lunch to the family of potato soup, Caesar salad, and halved chicken salad sandwiches.  She even cut off the crust.  No one made better comfort food on a rainy day.  Aunt Flo loved gathering the whole family together as often as she could, but the one constant remained that they all attended church together on Sunday and had supper afterward.  Even as the children grew up and fussed over this tradition being old fashioned, they never disappointed their mother for failing to show up.  None wanted to live under the burden of Uncle Dave's disappointment or Aunt Flo's guilt trip.

Sophie sipped her Chablis and smiled at how well it complimented the meal that seemed so simple but still elegant.  For her, having a meal with all the people she loved was always a blessing.  She did something similar with Mommy and Daddy during the week when both her parents were off work at the same time. 

"Stronger day by day.  Mommy looks forward to the physical therapy,” Sophie responded after a pleased sigh.

“I bet."  Uncle Dave chuckled from the head of the long oak table.  "I saw her on Friday, and she was eager to get walking around.”

“Thanks again, you guys for coming and visiting with her and me.  I was such a wreck,” Sophie reminisced with a glance around at the Cartwright crew including Hunter.  The oldest sibling smiled crookedly when he took a glimpse of her before winking at his sister Michelle seated next to him.

“Oh, honey, you’ve always been like family, and we love you and your momma much the same,” Uncle Dave assured with a winning smile before taking a bite of his sandwich.

“Speaking of like family,” Evan stated when he stood and took a deep breath, “I have an announcement to make.”

He turned and gazed down at Sophie who looked up at him smiling softly.  Evan took her hand and then produced a small black velvet box to put shakily in it. 

Her teak-brown eyes bulged at the gift in her hand while her mouth fell open.  There was no way this could be what she thought it was.  No, no, no...  Could it?

Michelle and her mother gasped as one.  Uncle Dave looked at his youngest son warmly.  Hunter’s smile fell from his face and swallowed a bite of salad.  Forgetting to chew, he nearly choked.  Tears came to his eyes as he coughed.  Once his throat was clear, he drained all of his wine.

Evan kneeled before Sophie wearing his khakis, a button-down shirt, and sportscoat.  His azure eyes glittered with nerves and love. “Will you become an official part of our family and be my wife?” he asked with an anxious smile.  He took the velvet box from her and opened it to reveal the gorgeous engagement ring.

Sophie stared at the multi-stone diamond on a platinum band.  Stunned still, her mouth remained open without a sound coming from it.  The dark curly-haired man kneeling before her had stolen her words.  However, her heart raced up and lodged in her throat.  She felt light-headed like she could not breathe.  In a panic, she pushed back from her seat.  Knocking it over, she fled the room.

“Sophie!”  Evan frowned with alarm. 

She ran by the living room, through the foyer, and out the house, slamming the door after her.  Rain misted everything outside.  The nebulous clouds churned above much like her emotions.  She stood just outside the front door under the awning for a moment watching it.  She tried her best to inhale in a slow, calm breath every few seconds. 

Evan followed her seeing that she did not venture far.  In the driveway now, she paced back and forth mumbling to herself as if upset.

“Sophie?” he asked in his careful approach.  The rain was not as heavy as earlier, but she seemed to ignore it as it stained her sleeveless dress.

She shook her head but would not look at him.  Sophie couldn’t.  This was just unreal.  Why hadn’t she seen this coming?  She felt blindsided.

“Sophie,” Evan said tentatively and caught her by the shoulders to halt her pacing.  “Look at me.”  He lifted her head with the curve of his finger on her chin when she refused.  He saw the frightened and stunned look on her face.  “I love you.”

Sophie shook her head and pulled away from him.  He used those three words like an effective weapon.  It irritated her and thrilled her at once whenever they fought.

She sighed, bewildered by this.  “Evan, I love you, too.”

He tilted his head at her knowing there was more.  “And?”

“We’ve only argued about living together."

"I know."

She raised and shook her finger to accentuate her point.  "We’ve not once talked about marriage.  Not one time.”

Evan nodded with a little smile.  “It only makes sense.”

Sophie gulped down with wide eyes in an attempt to understand his logic.  “Because I won’t move in with you?”

“Not just that.  I'm ready for what comes next.”

She closed her eyes for a brief moment and rubbed her temples.  “Right.  Never satisfied.  Forgot about that.”

He sighed with the shake of his head.  “Let’s talk about it now then, Sophie.  Will you marry me?”

Sophie turned her back on him and rubbed her arms.  Her throat went dry.  “I-I don’t know.”

“We’ve been dating over a year.  Things are good between us.  Really good.”

She scowled at the continued rubbing of her forehead attempting to wrap her mind around his proposal.  Why now?  “Yes, but…”

Evan frowned now and attempted to face her.  “But what?  Has something changed?”

Sophie glared at her boyfriend and shook her head in disbelief.  Typical Evan.  Why had he not talked to her about this first?  Was she supposed to read his mind?!  How could she tell him she didn’t feel ready for this without disappointing him and yet another fight?

At the same time, weren’t ladies jumping for joy when their man came around to the light and asked them for their hand in marriage?  What was wrong with her then?  All Sophie wanted to do was flee.  She felt like she couldn't breathe.  The only thing stopping her was the fact she hadn’t driven her own car.  Evan brought her since they went to church together that morning as they usually did.

“Why?  Do you think there’s someone else better out there?” he snapped sounding hurt, and she could see it in his azure eyes that he already jumped to his own conclusions.

Sophie felt exasperated by the old argument.  “Evan…”

“It’s Hunter isn’t it?” he implicated with complete hate filtering through his question.  “I’ve seen how close you seem to be to him again working all those late hours during the week.  Whatever barrier that was between you has fallen and you seem on friendlier terms again.”

Sophie blinked at him in shock as her mouth dropped open.  Evan's eyes filled with contempt.  It was so abrupt and not expected how his jealousy over his brother kicked in full throttle.

“You’re sleeping with him aren’t you?” he accused while searching her eyes.

Sophie slapped him before she knew what she had done.  Her eyes burned with the offense.  She did not bother to answer him as she stormed away.  Sleep with Hunter when she was with Evan?  How could he think that?  Had she ever given him the impression that she slept with his brother?  How could he contemplate that she would betray him like that?  While it was true that she had softened considerably in her interaction with Hunter, she certainly did not think to engage Evan’s brother in such a way.  That her boyfriend could actually suspect something like that from her spoke volumes about his trust.  It hurt more than she could believe.

“Sophie, wait!” Evan called after her rubbing his cheek that seemed to sting with her handprint on it.  Following her, he grabbed her arm.

Sophie turned to him as she reentered the house with fury in her eyes.  She yanked her arm out of his grasp.  “You don’t want to marry me.  You just want to one-up Hunter!  Tit for tat!  And, you would use me just to do it, you ass!”'

Evan shook his head astounded by her anger.  “Sophie…no, that’s not—”

She backed away from him with her hands in the air.  “That’s exactly what this is!” she hissed with narrowed eyes.  "Well, this is no damn competition, Evan!  I am not a damn trophy either!"

Sophie looked for Michelle and found her still in the dining room eating with the rest of the family.  They could hear everything said, and it sure didn't sound pretty. 

More civil than she felt at the moment, Sophie announced, “Excuse me all; I do not mean to ruin your meal or your time together, but I feel the need to leave.  Chelle, I’m sorry, but can you please take me home?  Otherwise, I can call a taxi?” 

"Sure, umm, of course."  Michelle stood instantly, looking uncomfortably to everyone at the table.  She saw the disappointed expressions of her parents and gave a small shrug.  “Excuse me please.” 

Neither of them said anything.  They only nodded sadly.

“Sophie, please don't go,” Evan implored as he watched Michelle grab her purse.  When he tried to touch his girlfriend, she yanked herself free from him and pointed at him in warning.  She said not a word otherwise and stormed out of the room again.

“Please…” Evan begged with wide eyes that watched her walk away from him.

Sophie ignored him and left the house with Michelle at her side.  Scully opened the passenger door of the Audi, and both ladies slid in.  Evan trailed them still trying to speak to Sophie, but she ignored him.  Scully took the driver’s seat and started the car before driving off.

“Sophie!” Evan cried after the car and then grabbed his curly hair.  How did he let this get so far out of hand? 

After Michelle's car vanished from sight, he sulked back into the house.  He walked back into the dining room and glowered at his brother making his mouth a hard line.  Hunter never bothered to look up.  He sipped his cheesy potato soup, which Mrs. Riggs knew was his favorite.

“This is all your fault!” Evan sneered as he pointed at his brother. 

Hunter rose both eyebrows as he glanced back at him.  “How?”

“You ruin everything!  I knew it!  Just a matter of time before you started screwing up everything I've cultivated.”

Hunter shook his head unsure what Evan was blaming him for this time.  He was used to being the scapegoat though.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Evan grumbled, “Why the hell did you have to come back anyway?  Everything was going great until you showed up.”

“I’m sorry you feel that way,” Hunter said quietly in his puzzlement.  That did sting a little.

“Do you really hate me this much?”

Hunter leaned back in his chair as he wiped his mouth.  He found it difficult to believe that his brother would think such a thing.  “I don’t hate you at all, Evan.  You’re my brother.”

Evan grimaced with his arms crossed over his chest.  “You’ve got a lousy way of showing it.”

“It’s never been easy between us, but I’m trying here.”

Evan laughed caustically.  “You’re trying?  You stole everything!  Now you’re trying to steal Sophie away from me!”

Hunter shook his head.  His brother was always the victim, and it was really starting to piss him off.  “I don’t know what delusions are going on in your head right now, but you need to stop drinking the Kool-Aid.”

“Enough!” Dad snapped for he could see how Flo frowned at the ugly exchange of her sons. 

“Fine!  Take his side as usual.”  Evan stomped out of the room and house once more.

Momma tossed her napkin on the dining room table and stood with the shake of her head.  She followed Evan out in the hope of stopping him from leaving.  He already made it to his car and sped away down the drive before Momma could reach him.  She merely watched him go.  Shaking her head, she wondered about her stubborn children and their need to hurt each other it seemed.

Hunter continued to eat his soup because he was hungry, and made well.  Mrs. Riggs had gone through all the trouble of fixing the meal they loved.  The least they could do was eat it up.  He always enjoyed coming back to his childhood home to find whatever it was that the old housekeeper was whipping up in the kitchen.  The house was full of such mouthwatering smells of wholesome goodness.  His memories of her were some of his favorites as he watched her go about her work, and she chatted with him in her funny accent.  As a child, he loved to hear the sound of her voice when she would tell him stories of her homeland on a faraway isle. He always found it soothing just like her manner. 


© Copyright 2020 Amy F. Turner. All rights reserved.

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