Loved, Settled and Understood

by Kirsty Grant

Following the death of her best friend, Laura, Sophie's life is thrown into turmoil. Torn between the stability of her long term relationship with her boyfriend, Jeff, and the unexpected raw desire for Laura's sister, Jane, Sophie finds herself questioning her sexuality. Acting upon her desire, Sophie discovers that following her heart has unforeseen consequences and she finds herself tangled in a web of complicated love and heartache.

Loved, Settled and Understood is a passionate love story which takes Sophie on a life altering journey of grief, lust, love and anger.

How many hearts will be broken in the quest for true love? Is it easier to walk away from love to avoid heartache? Will the words of her late friend, Laura, echo true and will Sophie ever be loved, settled and understood?


Chapter One


I was once told by a good friend of mine that there were three simple things a woman needed to be fulfilled in life:


To feel loved

To be settled down

To be whole heartedly understood.


At the time this story began I was loved.

Was I settled? Not even a little.

But I was understood, at least by one person. I consider myself an optimist; therefore, when fate unexpectedly lands on my doorstep I try to grab it with both hands. It gives my life substance, at least that’s how I justify my decision making.

Somehow, one year ago, fate took me along a strange path.

This is my story.

*  *  *

My name is Sophie; I am twenty-nine years old and five foot tall, (or short). I have shoulder length brown hair and my eyes are blue/green. Some would say they are my best asset. I live in a small village just outside Edinburgh.

My life is average. I rent my own flat and I have a steady boyfriend. My job is boring and predictable, but the hours are good and I get every weekend off.

My boyfriend, Jeff, stays at my flat most weekends. He’s thirty two but looks twenty two. We get on like an old married couple, although we don’t live together. We’ve been together for four years and have different ideas about how our relationship should be progressing.

I like my own space, but Jeff wants to get married. I’m not ready to give up my freedom just yet. I guess that when the time comes, he will be the one and I will settle down but not this month, in fact not even this year.

I juggle most of my spare time between Jeff and my best friend, Laura. Laura and I met in secondary school and bonded right away. While most kids gathered in groups, we were happy when it was just the two of us. We were a force to be reckoned with; we were usually up to mischief and always in trouble.

Unfortunately, Laura found out a year ago that she had breast cancer. She is in hospital at the moment, following surgery to have her breast removed. Everything seemed to be going well, but a recent checkup came back with very upsetting news; they found the cancer had spread to her kidney. She has been fighting it ever since. The treatment she is receiving is hard on her and it breaks my heart. She’s lost her hair and her weight has plummeted due to her loss of appetite and severe vomiting. My Laura is a fighter though and has such a positive attitude about life. It tears me apart to see her looking so tired, and I often wonder if there is fear behind her bright smile.

So when I’m not at work, I’m with my two favorite people.

It was October last year when I heard the most devastating news that was beyond acceptance.

I had gone to the hospital right after work. I stopped at the shop and picked up some junk food to sneak in. Laura is on a strict diet but I think a person should be allowed a Mars bar no matter how poorly they are.

When I went into her room she was propped up in bed. Her diary was open and she was busy writing, I couldn’t imagine how she found things to write when she was stuck in a hospital bed all day.

She stopped writing when she saw me and opened her arms for a hug. Today she looked very pale and her face was thin and drawn.

“Hey, girlfriend.” I held her tight but not enough to hurt her. “How are you?” I kissed her forehead.

“I’ve been better.” She smiled at me but the smile stopped at her mouth and never quite reached her eyes. I saw it right away and a bolt of panic hit me and caught my breath; Laura always has a sparkle in her blue eyes no matter how bad she is feeling.

I swallowed my fear.

“Tell me about your day,” she instructed, obviously reading my reaction.

“Nothing much to report I’m afraid. Went to work, blah blah blah.” I scowled then and said, “Same rubbish, different day, oh and Jeff’s coming for dinner tonight.”

“How is he?” This was our usual daily conversation that had become a routine before we spent the rest of her visiting time reminiscing about the past.

“Jeff’s fine but never mind him. How has your treatment been today?”

“Same old, I’m a fighter though, you know that.” She avoided my eyes. “Jane’s coming in to visit tonight.”

Jane is Laura’s younger sister; she is twenty three years old and offers no resemblance to her older sister. She is tall and thin with brown almost black hair; her eyes are dark brown and her skin olive. She does have the same cheeky smile as Laura though. I hadn’t seen Jane in a long while. I missed her on her last visit. She moved to England a few years ago after travelling the world and lives somewhere rural in amongst lakes and hills where she runs the village pub.

It worried me that Jane was coming up; she only visited when things were really bad and otherwise she was updated daily by phone. My stomach was in knots, and my heart was pounding in my chest. I had a bad feeling and I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear what was going on. I held Laura’s hand and she stroked mine. I tried to keep the conversation alive but I felt it strained.

As if on cue Jane walked in. She looked a little older and prettier than I remembered but still the same Jane. She hugged her sister then hugged me.

“It’s been a while, Sophie.” She smiled. “You’re looking good. How is that gorgeous man of yours?”

“He’s fine, thanks, still the same and still gorgeous.”

“Are you married yet, because if so my invitation must have got lost in the post?”

“Absolutely not.” I laughed. “He’s a great guy, but I like my alone time. I’m so not ready for the twenty four hour seven days a week thing.”

Jane shook her head.

We all sat and laughed and joked. Laura’s spirit had lifted with the arrival of her little sister. When we left at eight o’clock I felt better than I did when I had first seen her today.

“I think we need to go for a drink,” Jane said, taking my arm.

“I agree,” I replied, “but just a quick one. I’ll need to get home for Jeff.”

We sat in my local pub, had a drink and made polite conversation. I was just about to tell her I needed to get home when the tears started streaming down her face.

“Jane?” I stared at her, and it was then that she hit me with a sentence I’ll never forget.

“She’s only got two weeks to live.”

The words hung in the air. I closed my eyes and stopped breathing. I shook my head and hoped with all my might that I was dreaming. It seemed like an hour before I breathed again and I stared at her face for a lie. The tears in her eyes and the pain on her face confirmed my biggest fears. I felt a bolt of pain in my chest.

“How long have you known?” I choked, my words barely a whisper.

“Since this morning. I got a phone call and got here as quick as I could.” She put her head into her hands and wept. “I don’t know if I can cope, Sophie. She’s my big sister, and I thought she was getting better. I love her so much. How can I just sit around and wait for her to die?”

How could I give her hope and tell her everything would be okay when I could feel the ground crumbling beneath my own feet. How could I be strong when my best friend was leaving me forever? My heart was pounding in my chest, my head was bursting, my eyes stung but the tears I held back. I wanted to run away from everyone, run from the truth. My thoughts were screaming at me. No, it can’t be true.

Without thinking, I grabbed Jane and wrapped my arms around her. I held her close while she wept on my shoulder for what felt like an eternity.

We finished our drinks and walked back to Laura’s house.

“Do you want to come in?” she asked me.

“Yes.” I wanted to talk. I needed to know more. I wanted to be as close to Laura as I could and seeing as visiting hours were over; this was as close as I could get.

The flat was cold and unlived in; Jane’s suitcases were still in the hall, unopened. She made coffee and we sat in silence, I looked around at what was my best friend’s life.

She had photographs everywhere. Her mum and dad had died tragically in a car accident six years previous and there was a wall dedicated to them. The biggest majority of pictures were of the two of us, in Blackpool on the rollercoasters. In Spain, half naked on the beach and in our favorite place, in the park and at the top of the hill. We’d sit there on a warm summers day and talk until it got dark, then we’d lie back and look at the stars. I feel like I’ve known her forever. She truly is the best friend a girl could ever have.

“Does she know?” I asked, breaking the silence.

“Not yet. The doctors will tell her tomorrow.” Jane was distraught and I stayed with her until she fell asleep. I put a blanket over her and tucked her in before I kissed her on the cheek and quietly left. My heart was breaking. Jane was losing the only family she had left; god only knows what was going through her head.

My place wasn’t far away so I walked home. The pavements were glistening and white, and there was a real bite in the air, but I felt nothing.

Jeff was sitting up when I got in. He knew instantly that something was wrong and opened his arms for me. I walked right into them and the tears came. When I started to cry I feared I wouldn’t stop. I couldn’t open my mouth to talk—the words lay dormant. I felt angry, sad, destroyed. I couldn’t imagine my life without Laura in it. I couldn’t imagine visiting a grave. We had so many plans, including plans for a skiing holiday next year. We’d been saving for ages and it would have been so much fun.

I don’t remember going to bed, but I remembered Jeff stroking my hair and singing to me.

Fortunately, the next day was Saturday; I woke with a pounding headache. Jeff was already up and in the kitchen. I could smell bacon cooking and heard the clatter of pots and pans. I lay and pulled the duvet up to my chin. I rocked back and forth and tried to shut out the screaming in my head. Jeff strolled into the bedroom ten minutes later with a plate of bacon, eggs, and fried bread. It was the last thing I wanted, but I appreciated the effort, and the huge mug off coffee that came along with breakfast was just what I needed.

Jeff wasn’t dressed yet. He sat at the end of my bed while I struggled to swallow the food he had made me. I did manage to finish it to his delight. I had to smile as he took my empties and rushed to the kitchen to clean up. Jeff is a really good guy and I know he thinks the world of me. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner.

He came back into the bedroom and pulled the duvet from me, I must have looked a sight in my old baggy t shirt and Bridget Jones pants that were too big for me. My greasy hair stood on end and in all directions, and my eyes must have been swollen. He stood at the end of the bed, dressed in tight boxer shorts, flexing his hard toned biceps, proud as punch with himself. He is good to look at and his body is in great shape. It annoyed me, though, to see his obvious arousal as he paraded in front of me.


"Loved, Settled and Understood" by Kirsty Grant


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