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The scream was with such urgency and danger that Graham dropped everything he was doing and promptly ran to its source.
"Sophie?" he panted, reaching out for her, his eyes busy looking over her form. "What's wrong?"
His eldest daughter didn't want to be held, instead tugging him toward the couch where Olivia stood. "Amanda's sick," said Sophie hysterically. "You need to make her better."
Graham knelt down beside the couch, looking at his fiancée in concern. "Hey."
"It's just a cold," she reassured him with a sniffle.
"She's heating up," said Olivia solemnly, a hand on her forehead.
"Let's get you some chicken soup and into bed," said Graham softly. Gathering her into his arms, he frowned at her light weight.
He needed to make sure she ate more.
Olivia was most helpful opening doors and the like, but he noticed Sophie huddled in the corner, her arms across over her chest.
He needed to sort that out soon.
Tucking Amanda's tired body into the sheets, he pressed a kiss to her forehead before ordering her youngest daughter to stay put, as he would return soon.
He planned a journey to the kitchen via the lounge room.
He found his eldest daughter hadn't moved. As he neared her and kneeled, he saw she was openly sobbing.
"Oh Soph," he said, his heart breaking. Tugging her little form into his arms, he held her tight. "What's wrong?"
"Is Amanda going to die?" she managed to ask between heaving sobs.
He was taken aback. "No, Amanda isn't going to die," he said. "She's just got a cold. She'll be better soon." He paused a moment to look into Sophie's tearstreaken face. "Why did you think Amanda would die?" he asked gently.
"Cos last time Mummy got sick, she died." This declaration was accompanied by a new round of tears.
Graham just held her close, tears in his own eyes. He hadn't thought she'd remember it like that.
He had no idea how long he stood there hugging his daughter, but when he eased back, they both shared a watery smile at the sight of crying mirror images.
He brushed the hair back from her face.
"Sophie," he began, then stopped. He needed to sit down for this and scooped his daughter into his arms. Comfortable, Sophie firm in his embrace on his lap, he took a deep breath and began again.
"Mummy was very sick for a very long time. The doctors tried very hard to make her better, but there wasn't anything they could do."
"Why didn't they just give her chicken soup?"
He choked on a laugh. "Our All Magic Chicken Soup just wasn't strong enough sweetheart."
"But it will be enough for Amanda?" Sophie pressed.
"Yes sweetheart, it will." Graham pressed a kiss to his little girl's forehead, tears threatening to spill yet again.
"Good," said Sophie in a definitive tone. "I don't want to lose her."
"Neither do I," agreed Graham. "So let's make some soup!"
He paused a moment to watch his resilient firstborn spring from his lap and sprint toward the kitchen. Sparing a glance upstairs, he thought of the other two females in his life.
Taking a shuddering breath, he collected himself and headed for the kitchen to whip up some All Magic Simpkens Chicken Soup.