Woken in the middle of the night by the horrific news that her estranged sister has been killed in a fatal car crash, Sophie abruptly finds herself guardian to a niece, Alana, she never knew existed. The baby gives Sophie a way to cope with her grief, and a new focus to her life, but the unexpected appearance of Samson, Alana’s father, wanting his daughter to now live with him, threatens to destroy Sophie’s newly formed family.
Can Sophie and the seemingly feckless Samson, reach a compromise, or will Sophie be forced to give up her sister’s baby?
Sophie was in such a deep sleep, it took a little while before she came to and realised the telephone was distantly ringing. Her mobile on the nightstand showed 01:17. Sleep fogged and as disorientated as she was, her heart immediately began thumping faster, her body instinctively reacting with fear to a call in the middle of the night.
She stumbled out of the tangle of bedclothes and hurried into the hall, the slight chill of night air unheeded. Rubbing her eyes, she found the handset and answered with a cautious, “Hello?”
“Is that Sophie Perring?” asked a tired, flat female voice.
“I’m a nurse calling from the Royal Sussex County Hospital.” A pause. “Your sister, Natasha, has been in a car accident.”
Sophie felt herself take a sharp intake of breath, “Is she okay?”
“I’m afraid not, she’s in a very serious condition.” There was another second’s pause before the nurse continued, her matter-of-fact tone tinged now with sympathy, “You should get here as soon as you can.”
“I’m on my way,” Sophie said automatically, already making a mental plan of how to get to the hospital. Now the phone had delivered its crushing news, strangely her heart had ceased pounding, an empty iciness freezing it, and her stunned emotions, in place. She felt on the precipice of a vertiginous drop, not daring to feel lest she lose all control and fall. She had to focus on getting to the hospital, to Natasha.
Quickly, Sophie pulled on a pair of jeans and a hoodie onto her small 5’2’’ frame. She found trainers, then tied back her shoulder-length brown hair. She clumsily grabbed her mobile, purse and car keys and was out of the door only a few minutes after putting down the phone.
She hadn’t visited Natasha in Brighton since her sister had moved down there a couple of years before, and wasn’t familiar with the route. Thankfully the sat nav flawlessly guided her through the ghostly London suburbs and away from the security of her little South Norwood flat. The further coast-ward she went, the lonelier Sophie became as the sparse number of her fellow nocturnal travellers dwindled to nothing in the dark open countryside; leaving just the odd pair of headlights glaring in the opposite lane. She futilely tried to divert her spiralling panic by wondering what their stories were – happy? Sad? Mundane?
No hour and a half journey had ever taken so long, or the destination arrived at so resentfully quickly.
She pulled into a space at random in the largely empty hospital car park, her breath quickening painfully. An irreverent liturgy of ‘Oh Christ, oh Christ,’ filled her thoughts, accompanying each reluctant, queasy step in the walk to the Accident and Emergency Department. She headed in, everything other than the Reception Desk subconsciously blocked out.
. “My sister was brought in a couple of hours ago, her name’s Natasha Perring,” she heard herself blurting out.
Did she imagine the wash of pity flooding the receptionist’s face? Had this woman even got any idea who Natasha was as she replied, “Take a seat love, I’ll send someone over.”
Sophie did as instructed and sat down on a hard, plastic orange chair. She contemplated getting a coffee from the vending machine in the corner both from habit and to occupy herself, but knew it would be dreadful. And perhaps caffeine wouldn’t be the best idea in her current shaky state.
Her foot tapped uncontrollably on the floor. She focused on it intently, not wanting to make eye contact with anyone. Her emotions contained completely within herself.
“Ms Perring?” she heard and looked up. A young female doctor was in front of her, shapeless in ill-fitting scrubs Her face and eyes were too carefully expressionless.
“Would you mind coming with me?”
Sophie followed the doctor through a set of swing doors, along a dreary, antiseptic-smelling corridor and into a small, empty consulting room.
“Take a seat,” suggested the doctor, gesturing towards a chair behind Sophie.
“I’m alright standing,” Sophie responded, despite the sudden shaking which had taken control of her.
Thank you, Emma Bennet and Zooloo’s Book Tours
About the author
Emma grew up and lived in London, before falling in love and moving to Wales to marry her own hero. Emma now lives with her husband, 4 children, and many animals a few miles outside of a small Welsh market town. She can often be found in rivers attempting to control two overexcited chocolate labradors.
Emma likes (in no particular order): cake, books, Cary Grant films, prosecco, chocolate, guinea pigs, knitting, quilting and happily ever afters!
Website : http://www.emma-bennet.co.uk/