~Book Blogging~

Being a first time published author is hard work! But enjoyable and exciting all the same. I love it. I love watching my career start taking off and watching the progress. So…I’m working on my second novel now. About a singer who gets into a really bad car accident that puts her into a coma and her family is around her sharing memories so you get to learn about who she really is…because when she wakes up she doesn’t remember. There are many ugly twists and heart wrenching parts in the book. 

Anyway, those of you that have followed my first book Hopes and Destinies from the beginning, you all know that I didn’t post the last 2 chapters. This is a must read book! A five star review already! So, if you haven’t please buy and read it both ebook and paperback are available! Ebook is available for $3.99 and paperback is available for $5.99. Next week, I have a week promotion on it where ebook sells for $1.99 and paperback is $2.99. If you like what I write, stay tuned for more novels by me. This is just the beginning!! 

 Here is an image of my paperback book! 

A mysterious romance novel about a girl who is living a double life to stay alive. She experiences murder and love all in the same life not knowing that one day both of her lives she is living are about to merge into one. She realizes the man she is so desperately in love with isn’t who he says he is, but neither is she. She starts to learn that sometimes fate gets in the way…maybe her destiny of living a double life. What was once destinies, is now hopes of finding solitude and love again. -About the book-

amazon.com/author/jesspagor  

Read the sample and leave a review. (There’s free sample of my ebook). An author wouldn’t be an author without the readers. Even for a little light reading 🙂

I do have a twitter account now for those that would like to follow me for more updates. You can find me at @jesspagor

The weather here is crappy; rainy and thunderstorms. Lots of wind too!! You would think we had a tornado…. We had a tornado last week. That was pretty scary! We had to hide in our little bathroom…(we don’t have a cellar or a basement). Every sound of the tornado was heard…luckily we were all safe. 

Life has been pretty crazy with advertising and marketing for my books and home stuff. Of course the tornadoes played a huge part in my time lol crazy crazy. 

Here is an image of my ebook of Hopes and Destinies. Everyone has to start their career somewhere and its always at the bottom. It always gets better from here! Tell your friends and anyone else you may think will like my books! My saying is: There’s always an author out there for every person. Just like there’s a hairstylist for every person and a doctor for every person, a mechanic for every car. My books are classified as suspicious romance and dramatic romance. If this is your genre or an interesting genre to you, then these books are right up your alley!! Try the free samples today!! 

~PUBLISHED!~

Hey guys!! I know it has been a while since I wrote on here but things have been busy. First off, if you have been following my novel Hopes and Destinies you know I didn’t post the last few chapters. I DID finish the book and have published a kindle copy and a paperback copy. Below is the link to my author page on amazon so if you loved the book please please please go on there and purchase and find out what happens next! By the way, I am doing a promotion on this novel starting next month so be sure to buy it then!! Right now, it sells for $5.95 on kindle. Starting next month it goes down to $2.99 that’s half price!! Only for the month of June though. Also, if you purchase the kindle version, you can purchase the paperback version for $1.99!! That’s quite the deal because the paperback alone sells for $10. 

amazon.com/author/jesspagor

You all have been such a great inspiration to me because I thrive to write stories for those that love to read them. You all made this possible for me and that just makes my day making your days. This blog is going to be short, but I just wanted to give an update for those that have been wondering. I am now a published author and the happiest I’ve ever been!! You all can expect more from me in the times to come. With that being said, I am working on a new book right now. It’s actually a rewrite on my very first novel I wrote in highschool and never got it published. So I will be posting a link also to my author facebook page. Be sure to like it to follow me for more details and updates on new novels. I will be starting a twitter account soon for my author page as well for those of you that like to follow on twitter. I will post on this blog site when I get that up and going. 

@jpagorauthorpage – on facebook!

Anyway, go check it all out!! 

 

~Chapter 8!!! Time to wrap it up!~

Finally finished chapter 8!! Some big twists so this is not the chapter to miss!!!  Only a few more chapters left until I publish!! I am starting chapter 9 as we speak. I have all night to write so let’s see how far I get in chapter 9! So enjoy chapter 8 below!! It is a little short..we are getting to the end, readers!! 

 

I’m sitting on the couch next to him. He has a pad of paper open to a blank page, pen in hand. My head is in my hands as I slowly explain to Jason exactly what happened ten years ago. He is quiet as he takes notes and listens to me cry and tell my story again. I tell him about how my father used to beat my mother, how he killed her, how he went after me next, and how I stabbed him in self-defense. I tell him about how he was supposed to spend life in prison, but he must’ve pulled strings to get out early because he is Chicago’s best defense attorney. I tell him about how my father is after me to kill me, and about why I changed my name. I even tell him about Aunt Bethany and the part she played in my life protecting me. I tell him everything including how he was right; I never intended on falling in love with him. I tried avoiding him at all costs. I never once notice Shayna standing in the doorway listening as tears stream down her face. I hurt her, too, and I feel ashamed of myself for letting all of this go on for so long. I try to get any emotion out of Jason’s expression, but as always, he is so hard to read. He isn’t Jason anymore, he is Deputy Steth.

Jason remains silent as he paraphrases on his note pad everything I’m saying to him. Never once does he look up at me which makes me cry even more. What would life be like with him if I was a normal girl with no problems I was hiding from? Lately, that question has been running through my head like wildfire.

When I am finished talking, he closes his note pad and without looking at me he says, “OK, I will take this into the office tomorrow and start working on a plan of protection with Sheriff Williams. Until then, this is all we can do is stay here for tonight.”

“Do you think Sherriff Williams will help you, Jason?” Shayna asks quietly from the doorway. First time she has spoken throughout this entire confession.

“He has no choice if I make him,” Jason responds in a quiet voice as he stands up from the couch where we are sitting. “I’ll figure it out tomorrow.”

He walks slowly into the guest bedroom that is off to the side of the living area we are in, and closes the door softly behind him leaving me and Shayna to stare silently at each other.

“I know I’ve hurt you, too, Shayna. Just know that everything I said to you about being the best worker I’ve ever had was all true. I understand if you don’t believe me right now. I know one day you will.”

“I always believed you, Hope,” Shayna says softly. “What I can’t understand is that if I was your best friend, why didn’t you tell me before now? It just hurts to know that you didn’t even trust me like you should’ve. All the times I was there for you and confided in you about things I’ve never told anyone…you couldn’t even do the same for me. If anyone should be sorry, it should be me for allowing myself to trust you like that.”

“Shayna…” More tears are rolling down my face.

“It’s done, Hope. Whatever comes of this will be. I’ve always had your back…even now. I just feel like the fool for doing so.”

“You will always be my best friend,” I choke out as she turns away from me, and walks away; wiping tears from her eyes as she does so.

I am alone. Not in the sense of physically being alone in the room, but alone in the sense of knowing I’m by myself in this situation. I always have been. I can’t count on anyone being there and understanding what I’m going through; what I’ve been going through for the last ten years of my life. It’s always down to me, myself, and I. This is why Aunt Bethany didn’t want me getting too close to anyone. I now understand the meaning behind her protection and her words of trying to keep me away from everyone. Aunt Bethany

My mind wanders to Aunt Bethany. I know I should go visit her again to see how she is doing. I know she isn’t getting any better, and she won’t, but she needs to hear me say I was wrong before she decides to leave this earth and leave me alone. She is, and was, the only person that was ever there for me; the only person that kept me from feeling alone in this world.

Immediately, I scramble with all my belongings, and run out of the house…again. This time without anyone realizing I’m running. I pull my phone out of my pocket and call for a cab because my car is locked up in the garage of Jason’s house. I’m too frazzled to go back now and try to get it out, especially if I don’t want them knowing I’m running again.

The cab takes me all the way to UW-Madison hospital, where Aunt Bethany has been staying for the last few days. The driver takes me all the way without me even glancing back into the distance. I don’t think about Jason or Shayna or even the situation that we are all in because of me. All I think about is staring straight ahead into the future; to keep moving forward.

The cab drops me off at the front door. I don’t hesitate when I get out and throw the driver a fifty-dollar bill. He looks at me astonished as I turn and run into the hospital building. I take the elevator to the ICU floor; once there, I run all the way down to Aunt Bethany’s room. I pass nurses and doctors on the way, all of them yelling at me to slow down. I don’t listen to them. I barely hear them as thoughts of Aunt Bethany run through my head. I must get to her…

Doctor Dalorez is in her room once I reach it. I come to an abrupt halt at the doorway. Everyone in the room is quiet. All I hear is my heart pounding profusely. What is happening? I watch as Doctor Dalorez walks around the room looking distraught. After a few moments, she spots me. Her expression grows saddened as she makes her way slowly toward me; almost like she’s contemplating what she’s about to say to me.

“Destiny…” she says quietly in recognition.

“Doctor Dalorez…what’s going on?” I choke out.

She sighs. That is when I notice the bags under her eyes. She must’ve been called in last night and been here ever since.

“Please talk to me!” I exclaim. I hadn’t noticed how loud I was until I spot every doctor and nurse looking at me from every angle on the floor.

She shakes her head. “Go in and see her. When you are finished, please come to my office. We can talk there.”

She leaves me without saying another word.

I walk into Aunt Bethany’s room to find the same setup of tubes on her. The only difference is that it appears she can no longer talk according to the handwritten message on the white board. There is a tube going down her throat which I assume is for food. Her breathing is very raspy as I come closer to her so she can see me.

“I must leave, Aunt Bethany. I can’t stay here anymore. I don’t know how much longer I am safe here now that my secret is getting out. God only knows when that man is going to come here and find me again…I just…couldn’t leave without saying…goodbye to you,” I stutter out as tears come flowing down my cheeks. How do I do this? How do I say goodbye to my Aunt that is already dying? How do I say goodbye early? How do I let her know I will not be attending her funeral? This is the last time her and I will see each other…

She stares up at me as tears form in her eyes as well. I can tell she wants to say something, but can’t.

“I’m leaving today. I’m going out and starting a new life where I will be safe again. I know you will find me…your spirit will. I believe that. I have to. I need you to know something before I leave…you were right. You always were. I was stupid for fighting with you and for disobeying you. I want you to know you will always be in my heart…I will be using the tools to survive you always taught to me growing up…so, don’t worry about me.” I lean in and give her a kiss on the forehead. “I love you, Aunt Bethany. I always will and I will never forget you.”

Just as I say what I need to say to her, the machine starts beeping indicating she had flat lined. No longer breathing. She stayed with me as long as she could because she knew this day would come where I would come in and explain everything to her and say my goodbyes. She held on for that.

I put my hand to my mouth trying to keep in the choking sobs as I back away from her. Nurses start filing into the room one by one. As soon as there’s enough nurses in the room, I run for the door and down the hallway before the doctor comes in. She said she wanted to speak to me, and honestly, I have nothing to hear form her or say to her. My time here is done.

I run until I am outside the hospital again, but don’t stop there. I keep running with the road in my focus; I’ll call a cab once I’m walking down the road.

SMACK! I am on the ground, hurting. My lungs are fighting for air. It all happened so fast I barely had time to register the arms wrapping around me, one around my body and the other one around my neck. Those same arms holding me tight, and then throwing me on the asphalt ground. I continue to lay there as the pain through my head throbs harder with every second that passes. My lungs are stinging from the lack of air in those short seconds. I move a hand to my head, which is then instantly covered in blood. I am bleeding…badly.

A foot is pushing me over to face the person whom hurt me. I close my eyes not wanting to see them, but a voice makes me open them in shock.

“I told you no more running!” The voice says, angrily.

Jason? Why…what…?” I stumble on my words trying to make sense of this situation. All the while, trying to ignore the throbbing pain in my head.

Jason bends down, and picks me up by the collar of my shirt. He holds me up to him by the collar of my shirt, which makes me lose even more air in my lungs.

“Hope, the things you have done to me…when I tell you not to run, you run anyway. What is wrong with you?!” He shouts in my face as he shakes me vigorously.

“Jason…you…hurt me,” I whisper out in as much feeling as I possibly can.

“Now, you know how it feels to be hurt, Hope…”

“Put her down,” a deeper voice says calmly from the behind Jason.

My heart instantly stops as I realize that voice belongs to my father. What is going on? My eyes never leave him as he makes his way up to us, to me. Jason lowers me to the ground, not taking his angry eyes off me, and keeping my arms in his tight grasp.

“Hmm, you’re bleeding, Destiny,” my father says matter-of-factly, running on hand across my forehead.

I flinch at the touch as my body tenses, Jason’s grasp growing tighter.

“Listen, Destiny, we need to talk. Let’s catch up! It has been, what, ten years?” Angst says in what seems to be a professional voice.

I nod, scared of what is about to happen. Confused as to why Jason is helping him. Was this part of the plan all along? Was I the fool from the beginning when I thought I had fooled everyone else?

“Why are you helping him?” I choke out, looking right at Jason.

His eyes grow saddened at the creases, but keeps his eyes locked on mine the entire time my father explains.

“You see, Destiny, he was always on my side right from the beginning. I hired him to follow you, and keep an eye on you. He would report to me daily on your whereabouts and the things you had been up to. I met him while I was in prison. He was one of the academy students touring the prison one day. Right after he graduated, he had gotten the job as the courtroom bailiff. When I was relieved of prison time, I paid him to drive me back to our home in Chicago. That is where I hired him as my detective. I gave him the necessary tools he needed to get a job in Arlington as the new night police officer, so he could spy on you and not get caught. I also hired his sister to get close to you as well. Why do you think your aunt didn’t want them in your life? She knew this entire time about them the moment those detectives spotted you and her at that restaurant ten years ago. You see, I was always in the loop just waiting on the perfect time to make my final move.”

I look over at Jason, whom is still staring at me and holding me by my wrists as tightly as he can.

“Now I see why you were always so eager to turn me in. Why? Why would you make me fall in love with you? Why would you lie to me? Did you even have a girlfriend that died or was that some bullshit story you were feeding me all this time?”

Jason sighs and looks at my father. My father nudges him the OK to speak.

“Yes, I did have a girlfriend I loved very much. However, the man who killed her happened to be your father. He ran her off the road causing her car to flip four times down into the ditch on the side of the road. I was the first officer that arrived on the scene and your father was there. I recognized him from the trip to the prison in Chicago.” Jason takes a deep breath and looks at the ground as he continues the rest of his explanation. “He killed her because I had failed to do what he asked of me. As soon as I graduated from the academy, he sent me to find you…I had a very small time limit window. He said if I couldn’t get you to him by the time he had asked, I was going to pay…and I did. I lost her…because of my actions. I went on and resented myself for losing her the way I did…” Tears are now streaming down his face, but he keeps talking. “I made it my mission then to find you…to repay her memory. Shayna wanted to turn you in right away…but I wouldn’t let her…”

“Why?” I almost shout.

He looks at me just then at the sound of harshness in my voice.

“Because I fell in love with you, and I’ll be damned if I lose you, too.”

Just then, the sound of gun shots being fired run through my ears, but only aimed at one thing: my father. Jason has me pinned on the ground as he tries to cover me from the bullets flying through the air.

I am so confused…what is going on? What do I believe? The last forty-eight hours of my life have been all sorts of inside out, and twisted. Is all of this for real?

I push against Jason to try and free myself from underneath his body that has me pinned in this awkward position on the hard ground. He notices my struggle and pushes my body harder into the asphalt, making it impossible to even try to escape.

Out of the side of my eye, I see the salute of my father fall to the ground after hearing what seemed like hundreds of gun shots being fired. He falls next to me and remains motionless.

“Come check him!” Jason is yelling at the person whom was shooting at my father.

As the person approaches my father’s dead body, I am taken by surprise that much more because the person holding the rifle is Shayna; a tiny girl that I didn’t think was capable of even operating a gun. Her brother is law enforcement, so she probably took lessons from him…

She pokes his body a few times and announces he’s dead. She shoots him one more time just to make sure.

I am frozen in shock at the entire scene that played out before my eyes as Jason picks me up off the ground. He carries me as he follows Shayna back towards the hospital doors.

The first nurse he sees he flags down and tells her to take me to a room, and that I’ve been a victim in a violent crime. He assures the nurse he’s a police officer by showing her his badge after he sets me down on top of a bed she brings over. Once she starts taking me to a room, I hear Jason tell Shayna to call the sheriff and get them down here to take care of my dead father in the parking lot.

Once the nurse has the bed arranged in a room, Jason tells her to inspect my entire body. I try to sit up and tell him I’m fine, only to be pushed back down by him, and told to lay still.

“Can you be more specific, sir, about the violent crimes she was a victim of?” The nurse asks Jason as she starts to undress me in front of him. “I need to know what kind of injuries I’m checking her for.”

My eyes are wide as I realize his eyes are on me; all of me.

“A shooting that happened right outside in the parking lot,” he replies quietly.

The nurse nods and continues her pursuit in undressing me and checking for injuries. Jason keeps is eyes on me as I become more and more naked. I am frozen in shock as I realize that Jason has never seen all of me naked. We had that touchy-feely make out session that got quickly interrupted…

I feel a pang of hurt as I remember that day. Feels like forever ago…when it was only just days ago. So much has changed and happened since then, including finding out he was working with my father this whole time. He made me fall in love with him…only to turn me in.

He sees the flicker of hurt and disappointment in my eyes. His eyes grow sad as he turns and looks away from me as the nurse continues to examine my naked body.

“Mr. Steth, I found an open wound on the back of her head that needs a few stitches. Otherwise she is good to go,” the nurse explains a few moments later. “I’m going to go get the doctor to clean it up for you.”

“Thank you,” Jason replies, not once turning around to face me or the nurse as she walks out of the room.

We are alone in the room. Neither of us says anything while we wait for the doctor which isn’t long at all. The doctor sedates the spot on my head after she cleans it, and it takes her what feels like thirty seconds to stitch it up. Jason tells her to medicate me for the pain, which puts me to sleep.

The only thing I hear as sleep consumes me is the low humble of Jason’s voice and the beep of the heartrate monitor next to me.

~Chapter 7 to Hopes and Destinies is now complete!~

Sorry it took so long guys! It has definitely been a crazy few weeks. I was dealing with the passing of my aunt. Was constantly going back and forth to Illinois (3 hour drive one way) for a few days which took away writing time. Started a new job so for a little while I was working 12 hour days 7 days a week ugh. Got engaged! Now things are starting to cool down a little bit thank goodness! I finally had time to finish chapter 7 today. I tried to keep everyone updated as much as I could because I don’t want you guys to think I just stopped writing. No No No! Anyway, here is chapter 7! I am starting chapter 8 today! (Also, now it is fishing season so watch out for my fishing and gardening blogs!) 

My body is melted into the bed. I couldn’t get out of it even if I tried. Even with the smell of bacon and eggs wafting in from downstairs. I roll over and put the pillow over my head to block out the smell. That does smell delicious, though.

I try to lift my body up into a sitting position wipe my eyes, but the pounding headache from lack of sleep isn’t helping matters. Even though this bed is so comfortable to the point where it causes my body to melt into it, doesn’t mean I slept. My mind wandered all over the place from the events of yesterday to Jason hurting to the thoughts of what could possibly happen today. All of that makes me curl up even deeper in this bed. Maybe the bed will eventually swallow me up and I’ll be gone forever…

“Hope,” a tiny voice says from the bedroom door. I try to sit up enough to see whom the voice belongs to, but fail at every desperate attempt.

“Yeah?”

“Are you awake?”

What kind of question is that? Of course, I’m awake if I’m talking…

“Yeah.”

“Can I come in?” The tiny voice whispers.

“Yeah…”

A long shadow covers the bed now as the person with the tiny voice walks into the bedroom. My eyes follow the shadow to its owner. Shayna. Her eyes look sad as she stands over me.

“What’s wrong?” I ask her.

She sits down on the bed beside me, and takes a few deep breaths.

“It’s Jason,” she says without looking at me. Her eyes are trained on the floor with her hands in her lap.

“What about him?”

“I’m not supposed to tell you…”

“Shayna! Tell me!”

She closes her eyes as she responds with, “he wants to turn you in.”

What?! I am shocked. I feel winded, like I was just punched in the stomach. Hard.

“Are you sure?” I ask her in a choked voice.

“Yes. Last night, I tried talking to him about this whole situation like I promised you. He didn’t want to talk about it, so I let him go to bed and sleep on it. Well…this morning he gets up…the first thing he says to me is…he is going to do the right thing. He doesn’t want to harbor a fugitive…he doesn’t want anything to do with you anymore.” Tears are now streaming down her face. She looks defeated. “I can’t let him do that to you, Hope. You’ll die…”

“Why does he want that?”

“He said he doesn’t want to lose his career he’s worked so hard for…”

I interrupt her by throwing the covers at her. I am half way out of the bed when she starts asking me what I’m doing. I ignore her by storming out of the room, down the stairs to the bedroom where Jason is at this moment. I push the door open hard, and see him putting on his uniform. He looks at me in surprise, his shirt half way buttoned.

“WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?” I shout at him, walking forward so he walks back against the wall. Exactly where I want him.

“Hope…”

“No, don’t you dare start with that! You want to feel closer to the dead, right? Is that why you are doing this to me? Why don’t you just take your gun and shoot me in the head, then!”

His eyes are wide with fear as he stands in the corner against the wall he backed into; too speechless for words.

“I trusted you, Jason! Yeah, I may have lied to you, and I’m sorry. If I could take it back, I would, but I can’t. At least I came clean to you last night! This is how you show your feelings for me? By turning me in? I guess I know where I stand in your eyes. You never loved me the way you say you did…”

“Hope, you’re a goddam fugitive! It is my job to turn people like you in…”

“No! It is your job to protect people like me who are hiding from the bad people! Haven’t they taught you anything in police academy? Or do they just teach you to be the biggest assholes that only think about yourselves?”

“Hope, you lied to me! How can I believe that you are who you say you are, not to mention innocent…?” Jason counters. The words hit me like knives all over the moment they leave his mouth.

“Jason, you have to understand…”

“No, what I understand is that I fell hard for you. Something I haven’t done to anyone since her,” he says indicating the ex-girlfriend story he told me a few days ago. “Then, you have to lie to my face about everything you are. What a slap in the face, right? Nice way to make me look like the fool in this situation, Hope. Now, you expect me to protect you?!” He scoffs and walks away not finishing his thought.

I am wounded deep. Deep into the pit of my heart. A wound that will never go away no matter how hard I try to fix it.

“Explain something to me, then!” I yell after him. He stops short in the doorway, his back facing me.  “Why did you come after me yesterday?”

He doesn’t say anything as he ponders his answer. He takes a deep breath and slowly turns to face me.

“I don’t know,” he says, then turns and walks out of the room leaving me alone; speechless. My heart has officially been ripped from my chest and stabbed a million times. My chest hurts as I try to breathe in deep breaths to stay calm; my lungs are fighting for air.

The room is caving in around me, and I can’t take the feeling anymore so I run. I run for the front door in tears. I make it to the door, swing it open and run. I keep running down the front porch steps, through the yard, and down the street. I don’t bother to look back at the screaming from Shayna as she screams after me. I don’t bother to slow down until I see the supermarket in my view. I make the rickety steps two at a time, fumble with my apartment keys until I get the door unlocked, and dart inside. I slam the door shut, locking it quick behind me. I lean against the door, breathing heavy, and cry. I cry for what feels like hours, until my tears run dry; my body dry heaving.

What am I going to do, now? I think to myself. I should go to Aunt Bethany, but I don’t want to hear the I told you so’s. I should go see how she’s doing anyway…

I take a moment to compose myself, grab my purse, and make my way back down the creepy stairs. I don’t pay attention as I run across the street to the parking lot. Once I reach my car, I am in it and driving down the road towards the highway to the hospital in Madison.

The atmosphere at the hospital feels different today, somehow. I notice there are hardly any nurses or doctors on staff today as I walk down the hallway towards the intensive care units. Aunt Bethany is hooked up to more machines today, I notice as I walk into her room. I have to stop and collect myself again before walking any further into the room from the sight I see.

“Aunt Bethany?” I choke out, walking toward the end of her bed.

“I’m here, honey,” she whispers. “Come to me so I can see you.”

I walk slowly to the front of the bed. She is looking at me with dark grey eyes that are sunken in now. Her skin a pasty white; a yellow tint to it. I hear her ragged breathing as she tries to keep her breathing even.

“Come to me, dear,” she whispers as she sees me. I kneel toward her face close enough so she can attempt to give me a kiss on the cheek.

“You’re worse,” I mention as I stand back up.

“It is God’s way,” she whispers back. “What upsets you? I see…by your face…you’ve been crying.” This sentence alone takes all her energy away. I see it by how she struggles to say it; like she is fighting her lungs with air.

“I hate seeing you like this, Aunt Bethany. You need to fight this.”

“It is my time, Destiny. It has been my time for a very long time…”

“No! Because you say it is? Because you want it to be?” Tears are streaming down my face again.

“Don’t be upset…I will always be there right next to you. Even when…you don’t know…it.”

I take a quick breath and look her dead in the face as I tell her what has happened. “Jason wants to turn me in.”

Her breath catches as she tries to breathe. Her eyes never leave mine.

“Aunt Bethany…I saw my father yesterday. The detectives cornered me outside of the hospital when we were leaving…took me to jail. My father came and tried to take me back with him…Jason saved me. I told him everything…now he wants to turn me in because he thinks I’m a fugitive running…because of you I lied to him in the beginning…because of you is why I hurt so much right now…because of you I hurt him…” More tears come streaming down my face as I choke out everything that has happened because of her.

“How…can you…think…that?” She whispers as tears start streaming down her face as well.

“Because it’s true, Aunt Bethany. I love him and now I hurt him. I love him and now he is going to turn me in…”

“Listen to me, Destiny…If he loves you…too…he will not turn…you in…”

I am sobbing now. I turn away from her so she doesn’t see me cry hysterically.

“I just came by to tell you thanks for everything.”

“Destiny…wait…”

I stop, wipe away the tears, and turn around to face her again.

“Chuck…passed away…last night…” she whispers out in a soft, choked up voice.

No…I start to cry again as I walk out of her hospital room. This is a nightmare. This all cannot be happening…any moment I will wake up…any moment…

I continue walking out of the hospital aware that in this moment, it may be the last time I see Aunt Bethany alive. She is dying fast. A lot faster than expected. Don’t think about it, Destiny. You have a lot more to think about right now…

“Hope!” A man’s voice yells my name as I’m halfway to my car in the parking lot. The sound of his voice makes me jump and instantly freeze up.

A hand is on my shoulder. I spin around to come face to face with…

“Jason!” I exclaim. “What are you doing here? Are you here to turn me in?”

“Will you listen to me?” He asks in an irritated voice.

“No, I will not. The time for listening has come and gone, Jason. Right now, I’ve got to get out of town…”

“Not without me, you’re not.” He retorts in a stern manner.

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me. You are not leaving this town without me.”

“Have you gone insane? I confided in you and you wanted to turn me in. Do the right thing, remember?”

“Hope, I’m sorry. I honestly don’t know why I’m here because I should turn you in instead of helping you…”

“How are you helping me, Jason? All you’ve done was get in my way and threaten to take me back to Chicago.”

“Hope, I’m scared, OK?”

I take a step closer to him. “You don’t think I’m not? Do you have any idea how hard it is to wake up every day and keep pretending to be someone else for ten years straight? I’ve wanted to tell you since day one, Jason, but I can’t get turned in. I can’t go back because if I do my father will kill me. That is the only reason he came here yesterday.”

“No, but I’ve never felt this way about anyone before. Not until I met you. You make me want to look up for once in my life instead of down at the shadows. I don’t feel the need to be close to the dead anymore, Hope…all because of you. I guess that’s why I’m here putting my entire life on the line for you…”

“So, you don’t think I’m a fugitive…?” I ask sarcastically as I fold my arms across my chest. This boy is a roller coaster ride, literally.

He takes an exaggerated breath before responding. “I don’t know, Hope. I do…but, somehow, I don’t. Shayna believes you. She told me last night to follow you, and stick by you because you need it. I’m just not sure if that’s what I truly believe…”

“Yes, you do,” a tiny voice sounds from the distance behind us.

We both turn around and see Shayna making her way over to us.

“Yes, you do, Jason,” she says once more as she reaches us. “Otherwise you wouldn’t be right now apologizing to her.”

“Shayna, what are you doing here? I thought I told you to stay home,” Jason says, angrily.

“Yeah, well, she needs you, and you need me.”

“For what?”

“To help you keep your mind straight. We are twins, Jason, remember that. No matter what we need each other. Right now, in this situation, you need me to help you straighten out your thoughts because your scared. You are scared to follow your instincts for once. No offense, but you would kind of fall apart without me,” she says matter-of-factly.

“Shayna, sometimes I hate you,” he says as he shakes his head.

“I know,” she responds with the brightest smile. Anyone could see it from space. Then, she turns to me and says, “Will you please forgive my jackass of a brother so he can be your body guard?”

I can’t help, but to laugh at the way she words that question. She always has a way of making me laugh, somehow. No matter if we are in a situation like this or buried in paperwork in my office.

“What is your plan, then, genius?” Jason asks Shayna before I have time to respond to her question.

“We go with it, of course.”

“No, that’s not how this works. Protecting her means we have to keep her hidden…”

“And not turning her in,” Shayna says as she casually interrupts her brother like he was boring her.

I shake my head as they make plans concerning me right in front of me like I’m not here.

“You guys, can we go back to my place and discuss this so I can shower and change my clothes?” I ask, interrupting their bickering.

They both stop and stare at me like I have gone insane. The expression on Jason’s face just went from angry to angrier, and I didn’t think that was possible. Every muscle in my body clenches tight.

“Have you both gone insane?” Jason exclaims to both of us.

“What?” Shayna asks, clearly confused now as to why Jason is yelling at her, too.

Jason ignores her and continues yelling, not once taking his eyes from mine. “We are going back to my place until we can figure this out!”

“As much as I love you, Jason, you are the biggest pain in the ass ever!” I start yelling back, not realizing the words flowing from my mouth. “I’ve slept in these same clothes for the last two days! Not to mention I’ve been hiding for the last ten years of my life, I think I’m OK going back to my place to shower!”

“Absolutely not!”

“Now all of a sudden you want to care when just a few hours ago you wanted to turn me in?!” I’m yelling at the top of my lungs now. “I am going back to my place whether it’s with you or without you.”

I start walking towards my car, leaving him there to stew.

“I’ll go with you!” Shayna shouts after me. She runs to the passenger side of my car. Once we both reach my car, we look at Jason one last time before climbing in it.

“Shayna, make sure you guys get what she needs and head back to my place. She can shower there,” Jason says calmly before he turns and starts to make his way back to his car.

Shayna nods and climbs into my car. Once her and I are inside, I ask her where her car is.

“It’s at home,” she responds.

“How’d you get here if you didn’t ride with Jason?”

“I took the bus,” she says casually.  “I would’ve climbed into the backseat of his car, but he would’ve known. I didn’t want him to know I was coming because he would’ve never come here.”

I nod showing her I understand. Then, we drive in awkward, thick silence all the way back to my apartment. Once we are there, I pull the car up to the front of the grocery store, and we both get out of the car. She follows me up to my apartment, and I realize she has never been inside my apartment before. What kind of friend am I? I unlock the door and allow her to walk in first.

Shayna walks in slowly taking in everything around her. Her eyes are wide as she looks around at my tiny, unkempt apartment.

“This is where you live?” She asks in shock.

I nod, afraid to use my voice to answer her; afraid of what she might think of me now.

“Why?” She asks, turning to face me.

My expression grows puzzled at the sound of her question.

“What do you mean?” I ask her.

“I mean, you are the general manager of a good business and you live in a tiny apartment that, no offense, looks like could give you hepatitis,” she responds as she continues to look around her.

“It’s a nice place to live for now, and cheap…”

“Why not buy a house? You can do that, you know.”

“I’m in the process of buying a house, actually,” I lie to her.

She looks at me and narrows her eyes. “Really?”

“Yep.”

“Where?”

I take a moment before I answer her. Crap, she knows I’m lying…

“Not too far from here…” I say, slowly.

“Why do you insist on lying to me, Hope? I know you’re full of shit the moment you start talking. That’s how I knew you were telling us the truth about you and your…situation. You are so easy to read it’s not funny.”

“Look, my plan is to buy a house once I find something I like. For now, this place is home.’

“This place doesn’t have wallpaper!” She exclaims.

“So?”

“Or walls that are painted! Looks like a jail cell in here if you ask me.”

“Well, no one did, Shayna,” I respond in a flat tone that makes her shut her mouth.

I roll my eyes at her, and make my way to the clothes pile in the corner of the living area/bedroom. I dig through the clothes to find something that isn’t horrible smelling or extremely dirty. Once I’m happy with what I find to wear, I take it to the bathroom to shower. I feel dirty. Not like I was outside rolling around in the dirt dirty, but dirty like a…whore? Who am I? I turn the water on as hot as I can stand it, undress, and get into the shower to wash it all off; wash everything off.

Once I’m out of the shower, I get dressed in the new clothes I picked out for today, and go back to the clothes pile to find a few more outfits to last me a few days. I put them all into a Walmart bag along with all my toiletries I’m going to need every day. I am aware of Shayna standing behind me the entire time watching me; watching my every move. I can’t help but wonder if she was telling the truth about Jason not knowing about her plan or if he knew all along and meant to send her with me to watch me…

I turn around and look right at Shayna once I’m finished packing my bag. Her face instantly goes red from embarrassment. Caught.

“You lied to me, didn’t you?” I ask her in a quiet voice.

She continues to stare back at me without a change of expression or even a blink of an eye. I take a step towards her and repeat my question a little louder this time.

“You lied to me, Shayna, didn’t you?”

“I don’t understand, Hope…” she starts to say.

“Your brother knew you were coming along, didn’t he? It was the plan all along to get you to come up here with me to watch me.”

She doesn’t say anything. Her eyes are wider than ever. She’s shocked that I caught on to their plan.

“I’m not stupid, Shayna. I’ve been watching the way you hover over me. I’m not dangerous. I’m not going to run away.”

“He’s just worried…” She says quietly, her eyes trained on the floor the entire time like she’s ashamed of herself for lying to me.

“Yeah, he sure seems worried about me,” I say sarcastically to her. I am so annoyed at everyone right now. I wish the last two days didn’t happen.

We don’t talk to each other the rest of the time inside my apartment. As soon as I have everything together, we are walking out of the apartment and descending the rickety stairs. We make it to my car, and all the way to Jason’s house without saying a word; all the while the atmosphere is growing thick with awkwardness.

Jason is waiting in the screened in porch when we arrive. He runs to the garage to open it for us so I can drive my car into the garage to keep it hidden from view. Shayna is already out of the car by the time it comes to a full stop, and I’m throwing it into park.

“She’s mad at us,” I hear her say to Jason as I’m getting out of the car.

He is glaring at me as I shut the car door behind me. I glare back and make my way to the front porch where he is grabbing my arm, making me spin around to face him. I rip my arm away as soon as I am face to face with him.

“You have no reason to be mad at us,” he says in a stern voice.

“Yes, I do. Where am I sleeping since I’m not allowed to go back to my place?” I say in the same tone.

“Hope, we need to talk…”

“No, we don’t. Not anymore. By the way, my name is Destiny,” I spit out at him with no feeling or emotion in my words.

He winces at my words like knives were hitting him.

“You can take my bedroom again.”

“I’d rather not.”

“Look, you wanted a body guard. Now you got one…”

“I’ll sleep on the couch downstairs,” I say, interrupting him.

I push him aside, and make my way into the house. I find my way somehow to the living area on the main level, and make myself at home by putting my bag on the floor next to the couch and grabbing blankets from the top of the couch to lay them across the couch in a pallet form.

Jason walks in to watch me. He stands in the doorway with his arms crossed, a straight face expression on his face.

“Maybe I overreacted,” he says after a few moments of silently watching me make myself at home.

I’m sitting on the couch taking my shoes off as he says that. I stop in mid-action and look up at him.

“A little?” I ask in a flat tone. “You know, Jason, I would’ve though you would’ve done your research after I gave you my statement. That’s what good cops do, isn’t it? Or do they not teach you that anymore in the academy?”

“Will you stop throwing my job in my face, please?”

“Why?”

“Because, Hope…Destiny, you have no idea what it’s like being me or doing what I do on a daily basis. I strive to be the best, plain and simple. I follow the rules and yes, I did my research on you that night you were here and told me your story,” Jason explains not moving from his spot in the doorway.

“Then why did you still accuse me?” I exclaim. I am standing now as I throw my arms in the air.

“Because all the reports said was yes, your father was guilty of murdering your mother, but it also stated that you are a wanted felon in Chicago for the attempted murder of your father.” I am silent. I think my lungs have left my body because I can’t breathe. He goes on. “The report stated that you tried to murder your father after watching him murder your mother. After you stabbed him, you ran away never to be seen again. I follow the law, Destiny. My job is to bring people like you in especially after seeing a report like that.”

“Then what am I doing here?” I choke out.

Jason takes a deep breath as he runs a hand through his hair.

“Last night, your father pressed charges against you. He put a price on your head so high the entire area of Madison will be looking for you. I almost lost you once, I’m not going to lose you again.”

“What about the law?”

“I don’t believe you’re a killer, Destiny. Am I confused? Majorly. I need you to tell me everything, and please don’t ever lie to me again.”

“I never intended to hurt you, Jason.”

“No, Destiny, you never intended to fall in love with me.”

~Ehh…What to say?~

I am lost in thought…What do you say? 

This past week has been rough. I haven’t had much time to write chapter 7 which makes me sad. Tonight when I am done writing this blog I will sit down and write. I have to get it done. 

Let’s take a minute and collect ourselves…catch up on the events of the week…

I quit my job early in the week which left me without a job. Not a very smart thing to do since my boyfriend was left paying the bills (our bills exceed his paycheck). I had no choice but to quit. I was being taken advantage of, my boss wasn’t listening to my schedule requests (I have a family that I barely got to see which led to fights with my boyfriend), but the biggest thing was that since since the shop is losing money they wanted me to go over and beyond…basically do more for less pay. I can’t do that. Nobody can. So I had more time to write since I quit which led me to post 2 chapters a week. GREAT!! I got a new job though so expect the chapters to come once a week sometime. I got a job at an embroidery company. They have better work hours so I am able to see my family and have a set schedule every day. I am very structured and I like my routines. Anything outside my routines I hate. So, I’m nervous but excited to start my job tomorrow. 

Aside from that, my aunt passed away on Friday. It has been a very emotional weekend all around. She was a stubborn fighter, but the virus that hit her this last time was too much for her. She is now with my grandfather and not suffering anymore. I was close with her and this is all tearing me apart…

My boyfriend took me to see Logan Friday night after my aunt passed. Such a good movie and a must see if you are a fan of the wolverine like me! I am so upset, though, that this is the last of the wolverine. It can’t be!! Who’s with me?? Anyway, go see it! We are waiting on the fast and furious movie to come out too. Counting down the days. 

It has been warming up by our house so we are getting ready to go fishing soon. Very soon. Maybe tomorrow? We are anxious to go fishing! Hopefully we catch some big ones this year! Last year was a good season. 

I am going to try and have chapter 7 done by the end of the week for weekend reading material. It is a big chapter meaning a very important chapter so I want everything to be perfect. Therefore, it will take me the rest of the week to finish. Also, now that is coming of fishing season I may write a lot of fishing blogs. We have been watching a lot of fishing videos on youtube, hopefully the techniques work. They usually do! It will definitely be fun to see what all kinds of fish are hiding out on the lake, and to see HOW BIG! I will also be building my garden outside this year, so I may write a few gardening blogs as well. So much material! 

I am going to leave this blog here, though, for today. I have got so much to do with chapter 7. I do ask of you all to keep my family in your thoughts especially my 2 little cousins whom are now without their mother. Thank you so much for reading. Stay tuned for more updates about my novel and the chapters. Have a safe week everyone! 

~Anyone ready for Chapter 6 to Hopes and Destinies?~

So chapter 6 is done. It is a little shorter than the rest of the chapters, only because this is where it gets serious. How is everyone enjoying the chapters so far? How did you all like that twist and cliffhanger at the end of chapter 5? Story isn’t over yet! Anyway, I have decided I am going to dedicate this novel to my aunt that is passing away when I publish it. On my off time, I’ve been struggling with this. Anyway, chapter 7 will be done early next week. Expect it to be longer because this is when everything starts to happen. Chapter 6 is kind of just the middle pulling it all together. I hope everyone enjoys their weekend! Please leave comments or like the blog page. You can even follow me here on my blog site if you like what you read. Otherwise stay tuned  because the next few chapters you don’t want to miss! We will be coming to a close soon and I am going to publish it so be sure to look for it on the Amazon kindle (I will be sending out updates of when I’m finished with it.) Don’t worry we have a few more chapters yet! Enjoy reading!!

Chapter 6:

The jail cell is dirty and cold. There is one cot next to the wall that is harder than a rock, and cold to the touch. I have to pee, but I am not sitting on the crusty old toilet bowl in the cell, especially when there is no privacy.

I continue to watch the two detectives that brought me into the police station; they are talking frantically to someone on the phone only five feet away from me. I am scared; this must do something with my father. My father…My heart stops because I suddenly recognize the two detectives. I remember them like it was yesterday; it was ten years ago at the Perkins restaurant that I had seen them last. How could I forget?

“Miss Connor,” one of the detectives say to me once he has hung up the phone. “Your father has been looking for a long time for you. He will be pleased to see you again.”

“He’s in prison!” I spit out at him through the bars.

He takes a quick step backward, and then says with caution, “No…Not anymore. He is actually on his way here to pick you up.”

No, no, no, no. How can this be? My father was supposed to be in prison for life. What is happening? I feel my whole world being ripped out from underneath me, as well as all the air in my lungs.

I grip the bars in front of me and bow my head, trying to breathe. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. I remind myself with every breath of the next step. Once I’m calm enough to stand straight, I look around. Every cop in on duty seems to be in the office today; talking on phones, playing on the computers, chatting in the corner by the coffee machine. Why is no one fighting with these detectives? These cops know me, they know Aunt Bethany.

A bald middle-aged cop by the Name of Carl Sanders walks by my cell just then. I know him because he’s always Aunt Bethany’s partner on cases they have to solve together. I reach out to him suddenly.

“Carl!”

Carl turns and looks at me surprised. “Hope, what are you doing?”

“Help me!” I whisper to him frantically. “You know this is wrong. You know me! You need to get me out of here!”

He looks hurt, then. Like I had just stolen his favorite puppy. “Hope…I…I can’t…I’m sorry.”

“What do you mean you can’t?”

“These detectives are the FBI from Chicago. We don’t have a say anymore. Therefore, there’s nothing I can do to help you. I’m sorry.” He continues walking away like our conversation never happened.

I hear the slamming of the double doors and look over to see none other than Angst Connor storming through the police station with two other detectives following behind him. My father. What is this madness? How can he be strolling in here like a free man after what he did to my mother ten years ago? Something doesn’t add up…

He looks the same as I remember him. Salt and pepper hair slicked back with tons of hair gel, wearing a grey business suit looking like he came straight from the court house. He walks up to my cell and stares at me with a big grin across his face. His beady eyes staring right into my soul burning a hole there.  It is at this point I can see some of the old age wrinkles starting to form on his face.

He continues to stand there and stare at me, smiling for a moment. I take a step backward, my heart pounding wanting out of my chest.

“Hello, Destiny. It’s been a very long time, has it not?” Angst sneers with a smile still on his face.

I am frozen. It has been ten years since I went by that name. Destiny…I gasp.

“I am here to take you home. Where you belong.”

“I am home. This is where I belong,” I spit out in a defensive manner. I am beside myself at how confident I am standing up to my own father. This same man whom murdered my mother in front of my eyes and then tried to murder me as well. This same man whom is supposed to serve life in prison. This same very man whom is standing in front of me now…Ten years later.

“My, my, Destiny,” he says to me, shaking his head. “Have you forgotten where your roots lie? Chicago is your home. Not this tiny town in the middle of nowhere. Your home is with me, your father. We have so much time lost to catch up on. These detectives have been working around the clock for the last ten years trying to find you to bring you home to me. Where you belong!

I jump when he says that last sentence. His voice is familiar, but so unfamiliar it startles me.

My cell door is opening, suddenly. Two men are stepping inside towards me. I am backing away frantically. Hands are all around me; all over me, pulling. Pulling me out of the cell. Handcuffing me. Dragging me out to the black Escalade my father apparently arrived in. I am stopped short right as the back door to the Escalade opens. My father is jumping in. I am being pulled again towards the vehicle, and I see my chance. I start to resist by pulling the other way, kicking and screaming. The two detectives that have a hold on me keep their firm grip and start dragging me even more.

“LET GO!” I am screaming, but no one is around that can help me. “HELP!”

“Shut her up, now!” I hear my father snap from the open door of the Escalade.

“HEL-“ I am on the ground, head hitting the cement hard. I can feel the wind being knocked out of me as well as the throbbing start on the side of my head. I close my eyes and concentrate on the pain. It is the only thing in this moment that lets me know I’m still alive.

“What did we tell you, you little bitch?” I hear one of the detectives hiss at me. It is in that moment I feel something hard hit me in the side knocking more air out of my lungs. A foot, I would assume, with a hard steeled-toe boot.

The pain hits my stomach and I must hold back tears and vomit. My eyes remain closed; squinted now from the pain.

“Get her up before we start to create a scene.” My father’s voice sounds far away, now. Almost like we are in a tunnel. Must be the pain in my head that is messing with the sound around me.

The sun is shining so I can see shadows behind my closed eyelids. Therefore, I can make out the shadows of the two detectives walking over me to pick me up off the ground. Right as I feel their hands grip both my wrists, I hear something. A familiar sound. A familiar voice.

“Don’t touch her!” The familiar voice says with clarity and confidence.

“Boy, you have no business being here. Would you like us to revoke your badge and gun?” One of the detectives say in response to the familiar voice as they pick me up off the ground.

I keep my eyes closed because I refuse to look at my reality around me. My life being ripped apart from where I stand.

“Oh, you mean this gun?” I open my eyes just then to see who that familiar voice belongs to. Jason is standing only a few feet in front of us looking exactly the same as earlier, holding a gun to the two detectives. “Now, I said to let her go!”

I see out of the corner of my eye my father descend from the vehicle and stand in front of us facing Jason.

“Ah, Mr. Steth. How are you on this fine day?” He asks Jason very calm-like. I can see the expression on Jason’s face is downright confusion. As it should be, because I have no idea why my father is being so…civil?

“Fine, and yourself?” Jason answers in a stern manner never once putting his gun down or breaking eye contact with anyone. He doesn’t even flinch. Damn, he’s good! I think I’m even deeper in love with him, now.

“Very good. You see, I think there’s been some sort of confusion, here. Why don’t you put your gun down so we can explain?” My father says acting very professional like he’s back in a court room again.

I’ve never witnessed my father at work. I’ve never witnessed him being civil with anyone. This is a complete new side that I am seeing. The professional one that says “this is just business”. Seeing this side of him makes me even more afraid of what is going to happen next…or at some point. I am more scared for Jason in this moment, though. He has no idea what my father is capable of or even who he is.

Jason doesn’t say anything; his poker face remains.

“You see, Mr. Steth, this girl you are risking your life to save,” my father points to me, “she isn’t the person you think she is or ever was for that matter. I am here to take her away back to where she came from. Now, it is in your best interest to put your gun away and walk away while I give you the chance. Think about it, you can’t take all of us.”

“You have no idea what I’m capable of,” Jason says as he turns the safety off on the gun. His finger already on the trigger as he points the gun at my father.

My father takes a step toward him laughing. I recognize that laugh. That is the laugh he used to make right before he would beat my mother; like he thought she was being ridiculous or something and he found it funny.

“Give up, son. You’re not going to win this fight.”

“I give up the moment you let her go,” Jason says, nodding toward me.

“Very well, have it your way. I warned you,” my father says as he pulls a gun out from his belt the same moment Jason fires his gun.

I watch in horror as my father stumbles backward a few steps and falls back. He is clutching his shoulder while the blood comes pouring out. Jason doesn’t miss a beat, though. As soon as my father hits the pavement, he is aiming his gun at the two detectives holding me, and he shoots them in the chest right before they have the time to think about grabbing their weapon. They both let go of me as soon as they are hit, and I am running again. Instead of running to Aunt Bethany’s house this time, I run for Jason. He is motioning for me to run across the street toward the only car parked there as soon as more police officers come barreling out of the police station to see what the commotion is all about.

A brand new black Dodge Charger is the car I’m sprinting to. When I reach it, the driver side window rolls down and Shayna is smiling up at me.

“Shayna?” I ask out of breath and surprised.

“Who else would come save your butt?” She says sarcastically. “Hurry, get in! It’s unlocked.”

I wait for Jason to reach me so he can open the car door for me. He opens the door to the backseat and waits for me to slide in, then slides in after me. The car is peeling away from the police station before Jason can shut the car door.

As soon as we are safely away from the police station, Jason grabs a bobby-pin off the floor board of the car, and unlocks the handcuffs from my wrists.

“Shayna, take us to my place,” Jason orders, never taking his eyes off me. He looks hurt; genuinely hurt. I know I have a lot of explaining to do, but I don’t know where to start or how to start.

Shayna doesn’t respond as she drives the car toward Jason’s house. I know she is ashamed in me as well, and I need to make it up to them. If it wasn’t for them, I would be on my way back to Chicago in cuffs to face whatever fate my father had in store for me. I am forever in their debt since they put their lives in danger for me without even knowing who I really am.

Minutes pass like this until we reach what seems to be Jason’s house. We are back in Arlington, parking in his driveway. I look out the window to look at his beautiful two-story house. There’s an indoor porch right out front going into the house. A white picket fence surrounds the yard; like every girl’s fantasy dream house. The house is a beautiful beige color. I’ve always dreamed of having a house like this someday. A two-car garage the same color as the house is what stops us from going any further into his driveway.

“I’ll go open the garage doors, Shayna. When I do, pull the car in. We want to keep it hidden for a while,” Jason says as he pulls his seatbelt off, and opens the car door to get out.

Shayna nods, no words which is unusual for her, and Jason slams the door behind him as he gets out of the car. We watch him walk up to the house and disappears inside of it. The awkwardness is tense in the car which makes me want to open the door and run away from all of this that much more. I can’t keep putting them in danger like this. It isn’t fair to them, but somehow, I stay glued to the car seat and wait for Jason to come back.

As directed, Shayna drives the car into the spacious garage as soon as Jason opens it. He is standing in the garage off to the side waiting for her to pull it inside and shut it off. Once inside, Jason shuts the garage door as soon as the car is clear of the door. Shayna shuts the car off and gets out of it, I follow suit. Jason doesn’t say a word, instead he motions for us to go inside the house. We do as directed. I follow Shayna out the side door of the garage to the front porch of the house. I can’t help but notice the lawn care done; very well maintained like seen on rich property. My breath is instantly taken away. He can’t possibly take care of all of this himself?

Shayna holds the door to the house open for me once we are inside the indoor porch. I walk into the house and am instantly taken back by how fancy the house looks. There is a spiral staircase in the middle of the walkway we are standing in, now. There are rooms on both sides of this area. The house looks very well kept, almost like he’s barely here. Which makes me wonder where else he would be…

“Upstairs,” is all Jason says as he walks in behind us and locks the doors.

There is no time to look around anymore than I just did as I’m being pushed toward the stairs by Shayna. I grip the railing tight and slowly make my way up the spiral staircase, trying to peak around at what I can see of the house which isn’t much. All I’m able to see is part of the kitchen which appears to be one of the rooms on the side, and the dining room which happens to be the room right across from the kitchen. The higher up we go, the less of the downstairs I can see. Once we reach the top, we are met with another room. The living room? There is a flat screen TV on the wall across from us, a stereo system with surround sound sitting on a shelf next to it. There is a two-piece black leather sectional couch that separates the stair case from the TV; a room divider. I notice the floor is polished wood and the walls are an off-white color, nothing hanging on the walls.

Shayna slips by me once we reach the top of the stairs and plops down onto the couch, waiting. I follow her assuming this is where Jason wanted us to sit. Jason appears at the top of the stairs seconds later, and follows us to the leather couch. He sits down next to me leaving a few inches in between us. Shayna is on the other side of me, eyeing me up and down also a few inches away from me. I suddenly feel like a disease in this house that nobody wants. I want to go home.

“Hope, I need you to be one hundred percent honest with us right now, OK?” Jason says at last, putting his head in his hands.

I hate seeing him hurt like this all because of me. I nod and wait for him to continue with the interrogation.

“Who was that man that I shot?” He asks quietly and as calm as possible.

I take a deep breath and close my eyes. I don’t open them as I respond with, “My father.”

“Your father?” Jason asks as if he doesn’t believe me.

I open my eyes this time and raise my voice a little bit. “Yes, my father. I haven’t seen him in ten years.”

“Did he abandon you or something?” Jason sneers. I hate his tone right now, but I know I’ve hurt him.

I don’t respond right away because I don’t want to be honest with him anymore. I’m scared.

“Hope, you need to tell me,” Jason says when he realizes I’ve clammed up.

I gulp down my tears and say, “Do you remember when I told you that my mother had died when I was a kid?”

Jason nods.

“My father was the one that murdered her…right in front of my eyes. I was twelve…”

Shayna gasps. She covers her mouth once she realizes she made sound, her eyes wide and full to the brim with tears.

Jason sits all the way back against the couch cushion, his expression soft now. He feels bad.

“What does that have to do with him taking you away?”

“I’m originally from Chicago. After he murdered my mother, he came into my room and tried to kill me, too. I was smart, though. I had a pair of scissors and stabbed him in the neck…almost killed him. I moved in with Aunt Bethany afterward, and we moved out here to be protected…and safe…”

Jason shakes his head. “Hope, that still doesn’t explain anything to me…”

I put my hand on his lap to stop him from talking. “I lied to you, Jason. This whole time because I needed to be safe…”

“I don’t understand…”

“My name isn’t Hope, Jason. It’s Destiny. Destiny Hope Connor, a wanted woman in Chicago for the attempted murder of Angst Connor; the best defense lawyer in Chicago and my father. I am also considered a runaway fugitive, have been for the last ten years.”

Jason stands just then, putting his hands on the back of his neck, and walking away from me towards the TV.

He turns around slowly and stares at me. “Can’t they see it was self-defense?”

I shake my head. “No, because it wasn’t the police that issued those offenses. My father was. I was so surprised to see him here! He was supposed to be in prison for life. Being Chicago’s best lawyer its perks, I guess. He can do stuff like that. So many criminals walk the streets in Chicago because of him.”

“I can’t believe this.”

“Jason…”

“YOU’RE A WANTED PERSON, HOPE!” Jason shouts suddenly, making me and Shayna jump a little in our seats. “There’s nothing I can do about it! Not to mention you lied to me instead of being honest with me in the beginning. Even when I told you that you could tell me everything. I wanted to know everything, Hope. I feel like I don’t even know who you are.”

“Jason, I’m sorry,” I choke out as the tears break free.

“Don’t. You’re lucky I came after you today, especially after leaving me speechless in the parking lot of the hospital. Do you have any idea how that felt? Watching them take you away like that, and knowing there was nothing I could do? It was like the biggest slap in the face you could’ve ever given me, Hope…sorry, Destiny, if that is even your real name I have no idea.” I instantly hate how he says my real name. It rolls of his tongue like it leaves a bad taste in his mouth. It makes me wince at the sound of it.

Jason starts to walk toward the stairs without even looking at me.

“Jason,” I plead trying to get him to stop and listen to me.

“You know what, Hope? I trusted you! I told you everything and things that I have never told anyone! For once, I thought I found a girl that was worth being with, but it turns out you’re just another girl,” he spits at me. “You can sleep in the guest bedroom for tonight. Shayna will show you where everything is. As of tomorrow…” He shakes his head like he can’t bear the thought running through his head right now. He descends the stairs two at a time. We hear a door slam shut downstairs moments later. I assume it was his bedroom door.

I look to Shayna whom is still wide eyed with shock at the confessions just made.

“Shayna, I’m sorry. You know me! You’ve worked with me for the last seven months! You’re my best friend…” I plead to her.

She closes her eyes like it hurts too much to look at me. I wait until she opens them again.

“You’re right, Hope. I do know you…or the person you were being…”

“I’ve been me this whole time, Shayna. Just a different name. You have to believe me!”

She puts a consoling hand on my shoulder to stop me from talking.

“I know. You must understand something…my brother doesn’t like breaking the law. He follows it pretty well. Do I believe he thinks you’re at fault? No. Do I think he is never going to speak to you again? No, you just have to give him time. This was a big blow to him, Hope. It was to all of us. He killed two men tonight because of you. FBI men to be exact. My brother has never pulled his gun on anyone before let alone shoot somebody with it. Do you have any idea what kind of trouble he is probably going to be in because of you? Just to learn the truth about you…I’m on your side, Hope. I believe your story. I’m sorry all of that happened to you and that your past is now catching up with you. Let my brother toss and turn over it tonight, OK? I’ll talk to him. I’m not letting him turn you in.”

“Thank you, Shayna.”

“I’m going to go to bed. I’m going to sleep on the couch downstairs tonight. Let me show you your bedroom.” Shayna gets up and I follow.

I follow her to a door off to the right side of the living area. She opens it and turns on the light to reveal a master bedroom with a king-sized bed, and walk in closet. Walls are white with beige color carpeting. There is a bathroom connected to this bedroom that I can see from the doorway. A full bathroom with a sink, toilet, shower and…is that a jacuzzi tub? I think I’m in love…no, I think it’s shock. I look at Shayna and she smiles and turns away toward the stairs.

“Oh, he may have told you it’s the guest bedroom, but it’s actually his bedroom he gave you for the night,” Shayna says before she starts to make her way down the stairs.

I stand in the doorway of the bedroom with that new piece of information, and ponder the idea of sleeping in Jason’s bed for the night. He really does care…even if I have hurt him deeply.

~Chapter 5 to Hopes and Destinies! We are half way there people!~

Welcome my readers to yet another spectacular chapter in my novel Hopes and Destinies! I am excited to announce I quit my job so I am now working from home which means I have alot more time on my hands to write and to finish the books I write! Like promised though I have chapter 5 finished for you all to read for the weekend! I am going to be starting chapter 6 tonight! Hoping to have it done by Tuesday! Until then, like always thanks for reading and enjoy! 

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping…What time is it?

I roll over, pull the blankets off my face, open one eye to realize the clock on the microwave reads 09:45AM. I jump off the futon in a hurry. Oh, no! I am forty-five minutes late to my breakfast date!

I scramble around trying to gather myself, wishing I had grabbed the cop’s number last night so I could call him now and apologize about being late. I can’t believe I overslept!

Forty-five minutes gone out of our date…am I feeling saddened by that? Yes, I think I am.

KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!

I stop in my tracks realizing the knocking sound is coming from my front door. Who could that be this early in the morning? No one ever knocks on my door…

I walk cautiously towards the door on high alert. This is the part where I wish I had a peep hole on my door…but I don’t. There are two chains that lock the door; top corner and right above the door knob. I open the door slightly without removing the chains. What I see on the other side of the door baffles me. I am shocked because on the other side of the door staring back at me with bright grey eyes on this sunny Tuesday morning is Jason with a big smile across his face.

“Sorry, I would’ve called, but you didn’t give me your cell phone number,” Jason says when he sees my face appear through the space of the opened door.

I am speechless and frozen. I stand there looking like an idiot not saying a word, eyes wide.

Jason starts laughing and continues talking. “I’ve been waiting for almost an hour downstairs in my car. I figured I’d come up here and check on you. Did you know your stairs are very dangerous?”

I nod, still unable to speak. Nodding Is all I got going for myself right now. Oh, my goodness he looks so fine in the street clothes he’s wearing today. He must be off duty today because he appeared at my door wearing Oakley sunglasses, khaki shorts, a plaid button up shirt that hung tight to his muscular body, and tennis shoes. His medium brown hair was even spiked in the front with a little bit of hair gel. Wait…did he just say he was waiting an hour for me? I think I’m in love…no, that was yesterday. Today, I’m definitely in love with this guy. Oh, this is bad…

“Are you going to be a good house guest and let me in, or am I going to have to stand out here all day looking at your beautiful morning face through this space in the door?” His voice brings me back to reality.

I close the door suddenly, scaring myself even, and undo the chains. When I open the door again, he’s still standing there, but he’s holding something out to me. Roses. A dozen of pink roses. I take them cautiously, watching him as I do.

“What’s wrong? No one ever give you roses before?”

I shake my head. I’ve dated other guys in the past, but none of them were ever “gentlemen” enough to do anything like that for me or even wait almost an hour for me. Anyone else would’ve given up after fifteen minutes.

“Well, I would’ve gotten you a single rose for every time I thought of you last night, but I don’t make that kind of money, yet. So, I hope you’re OK with a dozen roses,” he explains with a sincere look in his eyes.

Why does he have to be so charming?

I am suddenly embarrassed because I realize I am standing in the middle of my doorway holding a bouquet of roses, dressed in my black sweatpants and white camisole; the clothes I fell asleep in last night. I am now self-conscious to the fact that my nipples are clearly visible through the white camisole because Jason is staring right at it with the biggest grin possible spread across his face. I turn to walk toward my clothes bin that is sitting next to the futon, setting the flowers on top of the counter as I pass. Jason follows me into the apartment and closes the door softly behind him.

“Wow. Small,” is all Jason says after he has had time to look around a little bit. I think he says it more to himself, though because it came out more like a whisper.

I turn back around to watch him for a moment as he takes everything in, then I dig through the clothes basket to find a sweatshirt I can put over my camisole to cover up the thin, see-through fabric. I find one near the top and put it on quick; my favorite purple zip up sweatshirt from Aeropostale. When I turn back around to look at him, he’s standing in the middle of my living room/bedroom staring at me with a confused look on his face.

“You look even more beautiful in your pajamas and morning hair than when you’re dressed up for the day. Please don’t cover up,” he begs. That comment alone with how honest he was about it has me numb in every place of my body. Wanting more.

I fold my arms across my chest indicating the sweatshirt stays on…for now. He doesn’t argue, instead he gives a simple nod and turns his attention to my tiny one-person kitchenette.

“So, since you slept in today, which is perfectly fine, how about I familiarize myself with your closet sized kitchen over here and cook you breakfast,” he suggests as he walks into the kitchen and starts opening cabinets.

“Like breakfast in bed?” The only thing that pops into my head.

“Yep, exactly like breakfast in bed. Now, do you prefer pancakes or waffles?”

Is he serious right now? First, he waits almost an hour for me outside in his car. Then, he gets this brilliant idea of walking up the rickety steps to my apartment to check on me. He doesn’t stop there, though. He comes into my apartment, compliments my pajamas in a way that make me love compliments now, whereas before I used to hate hearing them. Now, he insists on cooking me breakfast. There is no way somebody can like me that much…what is he buttering me up for?

“What about our original breakfast plans?” I ask, trying to get him to stop digging around in my cabinets.

“I just made new breakfast plans with you. Now, go sit down and let me make you the Breakfast of Champions,” he says it like it’s a real thing. He says it with such dramatic effect as well and it makes me giggle a little. I try hard to hide it, but he notices the sound and his eyes light up like lights on a Christmas Tree.

“I’m so glad I decided to come up here after all,” Jason says as he finds all the ingredients he needs to cook with.

“Why’s that?” I ask as I make myself comfortable on the futon.

“Because I just got to witness the cutest sound I think I’ve ever heard come from you since I’ve known you.”

That makes me smile, so I try to hide it with a sarcastic comment. “Yeah, well to be fair, you’ve only known me for like three days.”

He gasps. “Wow, way to kill the mood.”

I roll my eyes and turn the TV on. Oprah is on. I never watch TV this early on any day, so all the morning shows are new to me. I get even more comfortable, and decide to chill with Oprah while Jason figures out “the Breakfast of Champions” in my kitchen.

Oprah is talking about politics right off the bat this morning. The presidential election to be exact. The rumor buzzing around the media these days is how Oprah, herself, is going to run for the next presidential election. Now I know why I don’t watch TV this early in the morning. Who wants to hear about the elections and whose running for what this early in the morning? Not unless you’re ninety-years-old and this is the only drama you can get in your life…Who wants drama, anyway? I turn the TV off after leaving it on for a few minutes, and that catches Jason’s attention.

“Nothing interesting on?” He asks.

“Not unless you find politics and Oprah’s speech about herself running for president enjoyable and interesting,” I retort.

“Not a fan. What about any other channels?”

“That is the only channel I get. I usually don’t watch TV this early in the morning. Whenever I watch TV it is right before I go to bed at night and I watch the reruns of the show The Bachelor,” I explain.

“What about movies?”

“Don’t have any.”

“Who doesn’t own movies?” He exclaims, taken back by the fact that I might be the first person he’s ever met that doesn’t own any movies.

“This girl!”

“Can I ask why?”

“I never watched movies growing up.” This is true. I never watched any kind of television living with my mother and father. My father said the television was only for him to watch; my mother wasn’t even allowed to watch it, although she did occasionally when he wasn’t around. He would always find out, though. When I moved out here with Aunt Bethany, we hardly ever watched movies. We always found a better way to spend our time together through conversation and doing things together such as shopping, or gardening, or walking around town. I even picked up stitching when I lived with her because she loved to stitch and it was something we did together almost every night until I left for college; she still does. When I left for college, I was always studying or out partying with friends. Aunt Bethany doesn’t know I partied and she will never know.

“When did you grow up, in the stone age era?” Jason jokes.

“No, as a matter of fact, I grew up in a decent household where we did other activities together that made us laugh and grow stronger together rather than miss out on all those opportunities by sitting in front of the television screen watching dumb movies!” I defend.

“OK, OK, I’m sorry,” Jason says as he puts his hands up in defeat. “I didn’t mean to offend you, Hope. I see you take pride in that aspect of your life and I think that’s awesome, therefore I will not be the one to shoot it down. Besides, I would make a very bad breakfast date if I did so.”

That is one hell of an apology I wasn’t expecting.

“Will you please answer my question?” Jason suddenly asks after his apology that rendered me speechless and feeling like a jerk for exploding on him.

I look at him with confusion because I know he didn’t ask a question just now.

“What question?” I ask.

“Do you like pancakes or waffles better?” He says the question with the voice of a two-year-old and it makes me laugh. He is cute and I know I’m falling deeper and deeper for him every day. I just can’t believe he’s going through all this trouble just for me.

“Waffles,” I say with a smile on my face using the same childish tone he had used.

“Good answer!” He turns toward the cabinet where I have all the equipment to make waffles such as the obnoxiously large waffle maker. It takes him a moment to dig it out, but when he does he turns it on right away and starts beating the waffle mix in a plastic bowl.

A few moments of silence pass between us with me sitting on the futon fiddling with the strings in the pocket of my sweatshirt, and Jason standing at the counter concentrating on cooking. I watch him maneuver around the kitchen as he’s cooking. I want to melt into this futon cushion every time he moves; his muscles in his arms, sides, and abdomen contrast with every movement and are clearly visible through the tight, thin fabric of his t-shirt. Living my life as invisible as I could, I never thought would result in a sexy cop standing in my kitchen cooking me breakfast.

“Do you cook often?” I ask out of the blue. I am genuinely curious if he’s going to poison my food or if it’s going to turn out burnt.

“I do, actually. You see, I have to survive since I live on my own,” he says sarcastically with a smile on his face as he pours batter into the waffle maker, and closes the lid.

“Oh, I thought you lived with your parents…Just how Shayna talked about you and all…You never mentioned you lived by yourself…” I say as I stumble over my words nervously, trying not to sound like an idiot, but failing horribly at it.

He is laughing now. He throws his head back in a fit of laughter. The sound of his laugh makes me jump; loud and boisterous.

“You never asked me, silly,” he responds once he’s finished laughing. “You don’t ever ask me anything about myself. If you would’ve asked, I would’ve told you. Besides, where do you think I take all the ladies to get what I want?”

My eyes are wide now as I stare at him in shock. Did he just confess to me there are more girls besides me, and that he’s after one thing only? I can feel my body tense up at that comment as I watch him pour the rest of what’s left of the pancake batter into the waffle maker after he’s taken out the already cooked waffle. He looks at me as he pours the batter into the maker. His eyes grow dark and serious as he notices my body posture now; I’m holding myself at the knees with a terrified look on my face.

“Hey, Hope,” Jason says softly. “It was a joke. There is no other girl, you know this. I’ve told you everything. If I wanted you for sex only, do you think I would’ve waited an hour outside your apartment? Do you think I would’ve bought you flowers? Do you think I would be standing here right now in your tiny ass kitchen making you waffles?” His voice getting louder with every question he asks. I know I hit a nerve this time.

I nod. I am still frozen on the futon, lost for words. Jason brings the plate of waffles over to me with the butter and syrup. He sits down next to me on the futon, turning his body so he’s facing me.

“Today, it’s your turn to ask the questions, OK? I promise I’ll answer them honestly. I don’t care what it is because I don’t want to lie to you, Hope. I don’t want to hide anything from you. I want you to be able to look at me and trust me. I want you to stop seeing me as that cop that pulled you over the other night and see me as Jason. That is why I took today off work and showed up at your apartment in khakis and a t-shirt,” he explains, his eyes are soft and sincere as he looks at me. I know he’s being as truthful as he can be.

The smell of his cologne is strong and sweet. I inch closer to him to catch more of the scent. Intoxicating. Why does he have to smell so intoxicating as well?

Next thing I know, there are hands on me. On my shoulders. These hands are big hands that look like they have been worked with a lot. Rough and calloused. I realize suddenly to whom these hands belong. They belong to Jason as he sits there holding me at the shoulders, his eyes are wide. It looks as though he’s trying to say something; his lips are moving, but I hear no sound.

“HOPE!” I heard that sound. That was the sound of Jason yelling my name. He is shaking me vigorously. “Are you OK?”

“Yeah…sorry…it’s just that…you smell so good, and I couldn’t help myself,” I stammer as I shake my head to clear it from his scent so I can concentrate on the present.

I look up at him ashamed, and see him smirking. He is having the time of his life right now.

“Wow. I didn’t know my scent had that kind of an effect on someone before. I’ve never had girls fainting over it,” he chuckles. I was fainting?

I feel my face flush and turn away from him.

“What are you doing? No, no. Don’t you dare turn away from me, young lady,” Jason says, grabbing my face with his hands to ensure I look back at him. “Let me see that beautiful face get red. That means you have feelings, you know.”

I pull away from him with all my might, but his grip only tightens on my face. I start using other methods such as my hands and feet to push him away, but his body is made of stone so he doesn’t even budge. He starts using his feet to hold mine down. We do this for a few moments until we are entangled in each other, and out of breath.

“Are you finished? Can we eat now?” Jason asks once he notices my body relax from underneath him. He slowly removes his hands from my face and his legs from my legs.

Once we aren’t entangled anymore, Jason gives me a plate with a waffle on it. He stays facing me on the futon as he dresses the waffle for me before giving it to me.

“Bon appetit!” Jason says when he’s finished dressing up the waffle with butter and syrup.

“Thank you, but I can dress my own waffle, you know,” I tell him sarcastically.

“Yes, I am aware of that, but what kind of chef would I be if I didn’t do it for you?” He counters.

“But, you’re not a chef. You’re a police officer.”

“Only on my days to be a police officer, otherwise I am Chef Steth!” He says with an Italian accent as he puts his fingers together, kisses them, and puts them in the air like the chefs do on TV.

That makes me laugh which makes his eyes light up again. I love seeing the glow in his eyes. They bring life to his face.

“OK, what about the other days, though?” I ask as I finally take a bite of the waffle.

“What do you mean?” He asks in return, taking a bite of his waffle.

“You know, the days you’re not a police officer or Chef Steth.”

“Well, I guess you’ll have to go on more dates with me to see, huh?” Jason states, winking at me. Why did I have to go there? Now, I have to open my calendar to schedule more dates with this guy. Aunt Bethany is going to be so mad at me, but I don’t even care anymore. I want more dates with this guy. I want them all…

“You’re sneaky.”

“You asked.”

We finish our waffles in silence. A good silence, though. Not an awkward heavy silence. It’s the kind of silence that is heavy with emotion; the kind that has visible love and lust in the air that would make the hair on your arms stand on end. It is tempting to push aside our plates and attack him right here on this futon because my body aches for his touch with every passing second of silence.

I put my plate of half-eaten waffle on the floor, and push it away.

“The food not to your standards, Miss?” Jason asks in that sweet hot Italian voice he used moments ago.

“No, it’s delicious. I’m just never usually hungry in the mornings,” I say as I fold my feet in underneath me.

Jason eats the last bite of his waffle, sets his plate on the floor also, and looks at me. He swallows his food before he proceeds with his next question.

“Can I ask you something without you getting offended?”

“Sure,” I nod.

“Do you have feelings for me?”

I’m not sure how to answer this question. Do I tell him no? Do I keep him guessing? Do I tell him hell yes, I do…? I am frozen in thought which builds anticipation.

“I mean…I have to know, Hope. I have to know before I put my heart any deeper than it already is with you…”

What? Did he just confess his love to me? I mean, I already had an idea with his comments and the way he’s been hanging around…but it’s too soon, isn’t it?

Jason scoots a little closer to me on the futon which has my heart racing. “Hope, I can’t help it…the night I pulled you over and you freaked out on me the way you did…it did something to my heart. It woke my heart up, and I never thought I would ever find anyone ever again that would have that effect on me. I’m not ashamed to say that I am falling deeper in love with you every single day, and it tears me apart inside not knowing how you feel. I saw your face turn read earlier, so that must mean something? Don’t leave me guessing, Hope…please. Every night I lay down in my bed I’m wishing you were there beside me. All I do is think about you…I can’t seem to get you out of my head. It drives me crazy, Hope. You drive me crazy…and what it did to me seeing you in nothing but sweat pants and a camisole when you opened that door for me…” He shuts his eyes, hurt by the thought running through his head right now. “I need to know if I can keep seeing you like this…or if I should just move on…”

I should tell him how I really feel because all of this is clearly tearing him apart, and I hate to see him like this. Fighting everything he feels for me because he doesn’t know if I feel the same way. I’m just afraid he might eventually find out who I really am, and I don’t want to have to lie to him. I must be careful.

I put my hand on his face softly and watch as he opens his sad grey eyes to look at me.

“Jason,” I say softly, and he sucks in a breath at the sound of his name coming from my mouth. Like it was the sweetest thing he has ever heard. I realize it is the first time I’ve called him by his name as well. “The day you pulled me over, I hated you. I swore up and down I never wanted to see you again. Then, you show up at my work days later and kidnap me for a dinner date.” He is even more saddened by this statement and tries to pull away from me, but I don’t let him. I put both of my hands on his face firmly to make him look at me. “I still refused to like you that night. It was that same night, however, that you made me start falling in love with you. I was deceived by my own emotions. It is also in this same moment that makes it so very hard for me to sit here next to you with these emotions running through me without ripping all of your clothes off, and giving all of myself to you.”

I am shocked in myself that I said all of that with pure confidence. I don’t want to see him hurt anymore. I want him to know what he does to me every time I’m in his presence.

His eyes grow wide with shock. Then, his lips are on mine like a freight train. Warm, soft lips that mesh perfectly with mine. He parts his lips, and I take full advantage of it. He tastes so good in every crevice my tongue touches.

He slowly pushes me down on the futon so I’m lying on my back, never breaking free from my mouth. He crawls on top of me and braces himself up on his arms that are now on either side of me. I see the muscles bulge in his arms and that makes me moan. He swallows my moan as his lips grow more rapid against mine. He fixes his posture so he can brace himself on one arm, and with the other arm he unzips my sweatshirt slowly. I can feel the blood racing in my veins with every kiss, and every movement he makes.

Once he has my sweatshirt all the way unzipped, he slowly slides his hand underneath the camisole, and lets it rest flat on my stomach, holding me there as we make out.

“Your skin is so soft,” he says quietly against my lips.

I giggle and he’s back on my mouth, kissing all the giggles my body is capable of producing. Then, his hand that’s resting on my stomach starts traveling. It travels northward little by little, tracing circles all over my skin. His mouth never leaves mine as he does this. He gets to my breasts and, without thinking about it, he grabs onto one. He squeezes and rubs repeatedly which has me in a fit of pleasure. I grab onto his hair; fistfuls of brown hair, and start yanking as I kiss him deeper than before. He moans into my mouth, the sound so sweet and addicting. That is when I feel it between my legs; his erection hard as he rubs his body against mine. Oh, this moment is so perfect, bad, and everything I want…

RING! RING!

A cell phone is ringing. Jason doesn’t stop right away, so I make him stop by pushing him off me.

“What’s wrong?” He asks as he sits up.

“My cell phone is ringing. Help me find it,” I say, trying to roll off the futon in search of my phone.

Instead of arguing with me, he straightens up and starts searching for my phone as well. I like the way he doesn’t push anything. He has respect, and I feel like I just fell even more in love with him because of that.

“Found it!” He says as he hands me the cell phone.

I look at the number, not a number I recognize. I hit the green button to answer it.

“Hello?”

“Is this Hope Connor?” A tiny female voice asks on the other end of the call.

I look quickly at Jason hoping he can’t hear. He Is gathering the plates on the floor and taking them to the kitchen.

“Uhm, Morris. Hope Morris…but, yeah this,” I correct quickly in the event he did hear.

“Hi, there, Hope. This is Doctor Dalorez with UW Health in Madison, Wisconsin. We have a patient that checked in here early this morning by the name of Bethany Morris…”

“Oh, my God! Is she OK?” I interrupt frantically. Jason can see the worry on my face and comes back into the living room to sit next to me again.

“Well, that is why I’m calling. Is there any way you could make it in to the office today to speak with me?” The tiny nasally voice says.

“Yes, I can leave my house right now.”

“OK. When you get here, go straight to emergency and ask for Doctor Dalorez.” Then the line is dead.

“What was that about?” Jason asks when I put my phone down away from my ear.

“The hospital in Madison. Aunt Bethany was admitted there this morning.” Tears start to swell up in my eyes. Jason sees this too, and he wraps me in a tight hug.

“I have to go…” I start to say as Jason stands up and grabs his things.

“I’m going with you. Let’s go.”

“What? You really don’t have to…”

He’s cupping my face in his hands again. “Yes, I do, Hope. You need me whether you want to admit it or not. What kind of boyfriend would I be if I wasn’t there with my girlfriend when she needed someone the most?”

I cringe a little. I don’t know if I like how loosely he uses the terms boyfriend and girlfriend. We haven’t even discussed what level we are on, yet.

“Oh, come on! You can’t tell me that after what just happened between us there’s nothing there,” Jason explains obviously noticing the cringe.

“We haven’t discussed it yet, Jason. Your tongue wouldn’t leave my mouth long enough for us to discuss it.”

“No need to. It’s obvious how we feel about each other, especially after our confessions. You can’t tell me that if we went all the way that we wouldn’t be anything.”

He has a point. I am too confused, and worried to even care at this moment. I put my messy brown hair up into a messy bun, zip up my sweatshirt again, grab my purse, and walk out the door. Jason follows suite locking the apartment door behind us. He grabs my arms quickly before we walk any further.

“Hope, don’t make me beg. I want to be a part of your life and I want you to be in mine. I think I proved that enough to you already, and by the way you kissed me back in there moments ago, I know you feel the same way.”

I stare at him, speechless because at this point I don’t know what I want or what is anymore. He has clogged so much of my thinking, I’m afraid I’ll start to get careless with it just like what I did a few moments ago.

“Think about it, OK?”

I nod in agreement just to get him to let go of me. He is everything I want, and the way he makes me feel is out of this world. Am I ready to give all of myself to that? I did tell him that a few moments ago. I need to tell him and it should be soon because I can’t keep doing this to him or to myself.

We make our way down the rickety steps, and across the street to his parked car. I look around for his squad car, but don’t see it. He points to the red Toyota Camry parked right next to my Honda. He unlocks the doors and we hop inside. The scent of new car meets my nostrils.

“New car?” I ask as he starts it up.

“Nope. You’re just used to seeing me in my squad car.”

“But the new car scent?”

“I don’t drive it much. I’ve had this car for about two years now. This is literally the third time I’ve driven it,” he explains as we drive out of the parking lot and down the road toward the highway to Madison.

As soon as we get on the highway, Jason puts his hand in my lap. I take it carefully in mine and squeeze it tight. I do want him in my life, but I know I shouldn’t. I should be truthful with him first…about everything. Now is not the time, though.

Thirty minutes later, we are pulling into the hospital parking lot. He finds a spot in the second row of parking. We get out of the car, he locks it, and together we walk up toward the hospital doors. Once inside, we make our way toward the emergency room. There is a fat old woman with hair as white as snow perched at the reception desk in the emergency room.

“Can I help you?” She whispers very quietly you have to lean in all the way to hear her.

“Yes, we are here to see Doctor Dalorez, please,” I whisper back.

“Please hold one second.” The fat woman stands and wobbles away down the hall leaving Jason and I alone in the waiting area.

Cartoons are being played on the big flat screen TV in the waiting area. Spongebob to be exact. I’m surprised I know that because I never watched that show. Probably because everyone these days knows who Spongebob is. Even elders. His face is everywhere; on pillows for kids, posters, lunch boxes, the internet.

A moment later, the fat lady appears in the walkway.

“Come this way.” She motions for us to follow her. We follow her all the way down the corridor to the last room on the right. An ICU room. Immediately I start crying. I can feel Jason’s hands on my back, rubbing. Soothing.

“Wait right here,” the fat lady says as she enters the ICU room. Please let Aunt Bethany be OK. Please let Aunt Bethany be OK.

A moment later, the fat lady walks back out followed by who must be the doctor. She is at least four-feet tall and scrawny. Her face is sunken in from either lack of sleep or maybe she drinks a lot. Her hair is salt and pepper colored, and pulled back into a ponytail. She wears absolutely no makeup so every wrinkle line is noticed.

“Doctor Dalorez?” I ask in an unsure manner.

“Yes, Hope? Right?” Her voice sounds even more nasally in person.

“Yes, how is my aunt?” I ask in a rush, tears still spilling down my face.

“She’s stable now. Can I ask you how much you knew about your aunt’s medical condition?”

“Medical condition? What medical condition? She’s fine…she always was, I mean. There was never anything unusual.”

“Did she ever look sick or pale to you?”

I take a moment to reflect on the past with Aunt Bethany. She always seemed fine like nothing was ever wrong with her. Normal. Except for last week when I had dinner with her. She looked exhausted, like more than normal.

“I had supper with her last week. Friday to be exact. She looked a little more exhausted than usual, but I thought it was just because she had worn herself out cleaning the house or something,” I explain to the doctor.

Doctor Dalorez sighs. It’s not a good sigh either. It’s one of those sighs that you hear right before bad news is delivered.

Jason grabs onto my hand and squeezes it to let me know he’s here for me. Perfect timing because I nearly forgot he was.

“Hope,” the doctor starts to say with a saddened tone. “Your aunt fainted this morning at work. Her coworkers called 9-1-1 to get her here right away. She wasn’t responding to anyone. After she arrived, I hooked up the IV and started running tests because her body wasn’t stabilizing at all. I found bruising all over legs and arms which led me to do one more test on her hoping I was wrong…” She takes a breath and lets it out before saying, “Hope, Bethany has Stage Four Leukemia.”

I am truly frozen in my spot and lost for words. The hospital feels as though it is closing in on me. How can this be? When did this happen? How could I have not known?

“What are you saying?” I whisper.

“I’m saying your aunt knew for a while she was sick and never told anyone. If she would’ve told someone a lot sooner we would be able to do bone marrow transplants, but Stage Four Leukemia is impossible to treat. I’m saying I’m sorry, Hope. Your aunt is dying,” Doctor Dalorez explains to me very calmly. She touches my arm showing me sympathy, then guides us into the ICU room.

Aunt Bethany is barely visible underneath the blankets and tubes she’s hooked up to. I can immediately tell she has lost a lot of weight; she was petite to begin with.

“Bethany will stay here in this room for the remainder of her time,” the doctor whispers to me before leaving us alone. “If you need anything, I’ll be out by the nurse’s desk. Let me know when you decide to leave.” Then she pulls the curtain closed to give us privacy, and walks out of the room.

“Hope? Is that you?” Aunt Bethany says in a weak voice that nearly rips me in half.

I walk up to her bedside where she can see me, Jason following right behind me. The look on his face is sorrow. He isn’t a bad guy that Aunt Bethany makes him out to be. He’s a little curious, but mostly he has a big heart he just wants to share with everyone. He means well.

“Yeah, Aunt Bethany, it’s me. I brought a friend, too.” I turn to look at Jason. His expression just went sour at the sound of the word friend. I give him a look that says I need him to understand and not do this right now.

Aunt Bethany is strapped down to the bed by buckles. My guess is so she doesn’t move due to all the machines and tubes she’s hooked up to. Her eyes, though, can travel. They travel to the person standing behind me.

“Is there something you want to tell me, Hope?” She asks angrily.

“Aunt Bethany, no, don’t do this,” I protest.

“Do what?” Jason asks in my ear.

I shrug him off and pay attention to Aunt Bethany whom, in her sick state, still looks aggressive when she is angry.

“Why did you bring him here?” She spits at me, her eyes still locked on Jason.

“Aunt Bethany! Stop! You need your rest!”

“Tell me!” Her shouting voice is like a loud whisper now with how weak her body is.

“Why don’t you tell me why you never told me you were sick, huh?” I counter back, leaning over her so I’m in her face now.

She starts tearing up. “Because I didn’t want you to know I was dying. I wanted you to believe everything was going to be OK.”

“They could’ve helped you, Aunt Bethany! The doctor just told me so.”

“It doesn’t matter, Hope, because sooner or later we all die. Even if they could help me, I would live another five, maybe ten years but that would be it…”

“Yes, but that would be another five to ten years from now. You would be old enough and ready! You’re too young to die, Aunt Bethany. You can’t give up this easily.” I feel water on my cheeks. I wipe at it and notice I had been crying this entire time, just too worked up to notice.

“Hope, honey, the day I found out I was sick was the day I gave up. I’m ready to go be with your mother,” she says to me through tears.

“When did you find out you were sick?” I ask her quietly.

“The day your mother died. I had just gotten back from the hospital to receive my test results and moments later you came knocking on my door. I was going to fight it, but when you told me that my sister was dead, I knew I didn’t want to fight it anymore.”

“How did you live this long with it?”

“When I took you to the police station to talk to Chuck Grady, he pulled me aside and told me I had to do everything I could to ensure your safety. I told him I couldn’t because I was dying. I told him I had given up and that I wasn’t going to ask for help because my sister was dead. He told me to at least ensure I live long enough to make sure you make I through school safely. He said once I knew you were safe, I could go peacefully. That was his last mission for me.

“So, I would go to the hospital twice a month to receive blood transfusions. The week I told you I took off for vacation? Was spent in the hospital on and off receiving blood transfusions. I received them more often as time passed because the worse it became,” she explained to me softly. “That’s why Chuck Grady would call me all the time to check in. He wasn’t just checking in, he was making sure I was still alive and protecting you.”

I take a step back feeling like I was just slapped in the face. I can’t believe this…

“Now, you promised me you wouldn’t hang around this boy. He’s a snake, Hope…” She starts to say, but I’m quick to interrupt her.

“What do you know about him? Probably not near enough as I do!”

“I know well enough of what he’s capable of.”

“What? Capable of caring? Capable of love?” I sneer.

I see out of the corner of my eye Jason has moved back slowly, the look on his face horrifying. I instantly feel bad that he has to hear all of this. Now he will know the truth no questions about it. He needs to after this.

“After all this time of trying to protect you, you go off and risk it by hanging around a cop. Has my life meant nothing to you? Has your mother’s life?”

“Don’t you dare throw my mother into this! Is it such a crime to be happy, Aunt Bethany? Is it really that much of a crime to be happy with someone! To be in love!”

I can’t help but notice Jason’s eyes light up at that last part. That should be all the indication he needs about how I feel about him.

“Be in love with someone else, Hope. If he finds out, you can kiss your life goodbye.”

Just then the nurse comes in and says she has to feed Aunt Bethany. I say my goodbyes and walk out the door, Jason trailing right behind me. None of us says a word until we are outside the building, walking to his car. He grabs my arms to stop me and spins me around so I’m facing him.

“You mind telling me what I’m not supposed to know? Why doesn’t your aunt want you to see me?” He explodes in my face.

“Jason, you wouldn’t understand. Yes, I believe I’m truly in love with you which makes all of this hurt so much. It is also why I can’t keep putting you through this. This is why I refuse to tell you what we are or what I want us to be,” I explain as truthful as I can. I turn to walk away the moment he shouts back at me.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean, Hope? Don’t walk away from this, dammit! Talk to me!”

Just then, two men dressed in black come at me from both directions. I notice they are detectives right away by their ear pieces and badges hanging from their belts.

“Miss Connor, please come with us,” one of them says to me as they approach me.

I start to fight them and scream for help as they grab both of my arms. Jason tries to step in, but is confused on why the detectives are taking me away.

“Stay out of this, Mr. Steth. We will have you fired for hiding a fugitive if you don’t,” the other man says to Jason. Jason takes a step back completely dumbfounded at the situation happening right before his eyes.

“Miss Connor,” the first one says to me. “You are being transported back to Chicago, tonight. For now, we have to take you into the town police station to sign your release papers to have you transported back.” He puts my arms behind my back and handcuffs me.

I can’t believe this is happening right now. I can’t even look at Jason because I feel too ashamed and the look on his face will break me into pieces knowing I hurt him. I lied to him. No, I just refused to tell him the truth. The whole truth.

“Please follow us, Miss Connor.”

I am being thrown into the back of a squad car. I am crying now as I watch Jason get smaller and smaller until he’s no longer visible. I am crying because for once in my life I felt safe. That no one would ever find me, but they did. Ten years later.