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Sam rang the doorbell of a small Craftsman style home on a quiet, tree lined street; she smiled as soon as she heard the voice calling from inside. The door opened and Sam looked down at the little girl with pigtails who definitely had her dad’s eyes. Matias’ wife Sophia came down the hall right behind the child who had just introduced herself as Ana, Princess of the Party.

“She always thinks she’s the princess of something!” Sophia explained with a laugh and a hug. “I’m so happy to see you!”

Sam remembered the first time she met the young woman when Matias had taken the job at the hospital; she knew instantly how truly sincere and warm she was. The couple had hosted a party at their home to thank everyone for the support they received from people and to show that their chief of surgery wasn’t too straight laced. She recalled some of the women being pretty jealous but she had loved Sophia from the moment she met her. The woman always spoke her mind but she had an enormous amount of love and compassion that she shared with everyone around her.

“Come in and take a seat.”

Sophia ushered Sam out to the back patio and got her settled into one of the lounge chairs. Rushing in at the call of her daughter, she promised Sam she’d be back in a minute with a massive margarita for her.

She had just laid her head back on the cushioned headrest when she heard the slider open again. Matias handed her a drink and took a seat next to her.

“I see you met the princess.” he said with a laugh. “And she definitely is a princess.”

Sam could see the love in Matias’ eyes for his wife and daughter. She remembered the moment when he came rushing into the ER to tell everyone that Sofia was pregnant with a little girl; his eyes had lit up like a Christmas tree and he walked on air for days. Unfortunately, Ryan had convinced Sam to quit her job before Sophia gave birth so she had never actually met the little girl that had her father completely wrapped around her little finger.

“She’s beautiful Matias,” Sam responded, “and it’s really a good thing she takes after her mother!”

Matias stuck his tongue out at her and stood up to greet his wife who, as promised, came back with an enormous drink in her hands.

“I’m never going to be able to drink all that!”

“I think you deserve one this big considering what you’ve been through!”

Sophia took a seat on the lounger her husband had just vacated. Taking Sam’s empty hand in hers, she let a little tear slide down her face. Matias knew that the women probably need a male free minute so he went back into the house to look for Ana.

“I’m so sorry,” Sophia said once they were alone. “I hope you don’t mind Matias telling me.”

“I figured he would once he invited me for dinner.”

“I’m just glad you came. I would have hated not to see you while you were here. How long are you planning to stay?”

Sam just shrugged her shoulders; she felt like her life was spinning out in the universe and it hadn’t decided which direction she was going in. Sophia, never one to beat around the bush, brought the topic straight home to her.

“Are you going back to AJ? That’s his name right?”

Sam laughed.

“Hey, you know me, I’ve never had a question that went unasked!”

“I know.” Sam said as she laid her head back down on the pillow. “I honestly don’t know.”

“Because you aren’t happy with him or because you’re scared?”

Sam hated to admit it but Sophia was right about one thing, she was scared to go back to AJ. She had left the whole situation a mess and she knew he was angry at her for coming out here. He was probably even more upset because she hadn’t reached out the entire time she’d been here.

“I don’t know Sophia, I really don’t. I was a disaster while I was hiding from Ryan, always afraid, never really allowing myself to be me. Plus, I know I hurt him when I told him I was coming out here alone.”

“Maybe he was angry or maybe he was just hurting for you. From what you told Mathias, he seems to have upended his life to help you. No man would do that for someone they weren’t completely in love with.”

“What if he hates me anyway?”

“Seriously girl? You really think a man like that is going to tell you to take a leap if you were to call and tell him you miss him?”

Sam had been thinking about that for the last few days. AJ told her, repeatedly, how much he loved her while she was living with him. She knew she loved him but what if he didn’t feel the same about this new woman? Sophia seemed to read her mind.

“He’s still going to love you Sam. In fact, he might love you even more now that you can actually go outside with him!”

Sam laughed out loud; Matias’ wife always had a way to lighten up a mood and she smiled to herself when she thought about the fact that she and AJ would actually be able to leave the house without hiding if she went back.

“I think you’ve made up your mind,” Sophia pointed out, “you just need to be brave enough to ask for what you want.”

The two women broke off their conversation when Matias came outside with Ana. The three adults enjoyed a casual dinner and when the little girl started to yawn, Sam thanked them and told them she needed to head out as well. Sophia hugged her and told her to call them whenever she needed to and that she was always welcome in their home. Matias walked her to the door and handed her a card; he explained that it was the name of a new therapist at the hospital. She specialized in treating woman who had been the victim of abuse and he thought it would be a good idea to give her a call.

Sam thanked him for the advice and for dinner just as the taxi arrived to get her. She promised that she would give the woman a call and she gave her friend a hug; she had a few things to think about when she got back to the hotel.