~Who’s ready for Chapter 2 of Hopes and Destinies??~

Chapter 1 did so well and I am so excited to release Chapter 2!! Before the weekend at that! I will be starting Chapter 3 tomorrow (Friday), but won’t finish it until next week sometime. The pro to working from home and writing is that you can make up your own hours. So, don’t worry readers! Chapter 3 will come! I am taking the weekend off because this is the weekend we get the boy. I may write here and there this weekend but don’t expect chapter 3 until next week. I will keep updates going so please make sure you follow me to get the latest news on the novel! Below is Chapter 2 to Hopes and Destinies…what you all have been waiting for!! 

It’s been ten years since I witnessed my father murdering my mother which means it has been ten years since I buried her. The Judge was in shock about my father’s actions because my father is a very well-known defense attorney back in Chicago, where I am from. He told my father he was going to spend life in prison without the possibility of getting out early on good behavior. My father was furious. If he was not chained to himself, he probably would’ve killed the judge as well that day. I was twelve years old when I watched the guards take away my father in an orange jump suit. I didn’t even get to say goodbye nor did I even want to. That man may have been my father by blood, but he was far from father material. I know that now, ten years later. Right after the court sentencing, Aunt Bethany and I jumped in her car and drove away…far away. We drove all the way to this small town in Wisconsin. Arlington, Wisconsin. This small town from then on would become my home with Aunt Bethany. I was happy, though, because I was finally in a place where I could lay outside in my yard and see the stars. You could think here. There was wildlife like no other near our new home in Arlington, Wisconsin. I was so happy, I was soon to forget all about life in Chicago. I think Aunt Bethany wanted that. She wanted me happy and to be able to live somewhat of a normal life after going through what I witnessed as a child.

I started and finished middle school in Arlington with barely any friends and still scared of my father ever finding me. Shortly after, I moved onto high school and slowly started to gain my confidence in myself and the realization of my father was never getting out of prison so I was truly one hundred percent safe here. I graduated high school with high honors and started right into college in Stevens Point, Wisconsin for business management. I wasn’t going to drive from Arlington to Stevens Point every day for classes so I decided to rent a five-bedroom house in Stevens Point with a few friends I made before leaving for college. Aunt Bethany was a nervous wreck the day I moved out. She told me call twice or even three times a day so she could make sure I was still alive and well. I always told her she was overreacting. Four years later, I graduated college with a perfect GPA with a bachelor’s degree in business management and moved back home to Arlington, Wisconsin only to become the next general manager at the local supermarket. I know I could’ve went off to bigger and better places, but I’m happy living in this small town, using my degree just to manage the tiny, run down grocery store. To me, it’s home and like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz always says, “there’s no place like home”.

I did not move back in with Aunt Bethany, of course. She cried when I moved back home and got my own little run-down apartment. She begged me every day for a whole month to move back in with her.

“It’s your home,” she would say. “Plus, you won’t catch any diseases like hepatitis like you can from your tiny apartment.”

I would just roll my eyes at her and tell her to stop.

“You’re just saying that because I chose to live on my own versus move back in with you,” I would tell her.

I admit, my apartment isn’t the best place on the planet to live, but I can call it home for now. It’s a good little place for starting out. My apartment is a little studio apartment above the grocery store I work in. One window that overlooks the small town in the living room/bedroom, but that’s it. I guess it feels more like home to me because it reminds me of my childhood bedroom with no windows and looked as though it could’ve been part of a storage room. Better yet, a room that wasn’t supposed to be there.

After climbing two sets of stairs behind the grocery store building, the door to the apartment opens first to the small kitchenette area; big enough for one counter that is attached to the stove and a tiny refrigerator that is big enough to barely hold a gallon of milk, eggs, and a loaf of bread…the essentials. There is one cabinet above the stove that holds half dishes and the other half canned food. The door to the cabinet is barely holding on by one little screw. There isn’t enough room for a small table, or even a microwave. Moving farther into the apartment, is the living room/bedroom area with a desk in one corner, the television set on the floor by the wall in the center, and a small futon I sleep on every night in the opposite corner. The bathroom is off to the side of the room without a door; privacy was not believed in by the past tenants, apparently. Not great, but it is home for now, considering I’m never home. I’m either working late or having supper at Aunt Bethany’s house which is only a few blocks down the road from my apartment. I like being on my own, but it does get lonely from time to time. Believe it or not, I do miss Aunt Bethany; she saved my life and gave me the best childhood I could ask for.

RING! RING! The phone rings. My cellphone. It is 7:00PM on a Friday night and I’m supposed to be having supper right now with Aunt Bethany at her house for the fourth time this week. I know it is her calling me right now, so I forward her to voicemail. I make a mental note to call her when I’m off work. I have so many receipts from vendors and returns to figure out right now; finding a routine with this job since I left college has been difficult and Aunt Bethany knows that. To be fair, I walked into this mess when I took the job as the new general manager.

“You’re still here?” A voice says from the door way of my office.

I look up to see one of my employees whom was about to leave for the day I assume. The glare from the window due to the sun setting makes it hard to see the face of this person.

“Someone has to straighten out this mess and get this place making money again,” I say with a little bit of an attitude.

“Hope,” the person responds as they step into my office and close the door. That is when I see that it is not just an employee, she is my assistant manager. “Call it a day, OK? You’ve been here since five this morning. That’s twelve hours plucking away at whatever mess this is. If you don’t leave now, you’ll be here another twelve hours.”

I know she’s right, that’s why I hired her as my assistant manager to keep me in line. I am just so sick and tired of coming into work every day staring at the same mess from the day before. It’s almost like I’m not getting anywhere with it.

“Go home, take a hot bath and enjoy your night with your aunt. This mess will be here tomorrow,” the girl says. She has such a sweet, soft voice. After all, she is only five foot tall and petite. So am I, but she is almost see-through skinny. She did mention she works out three times a day. I at least have some muscle tone to my body. Some people would mistake me for an athlete; always having my long brown hair up in a ponytail and a body with the perfect muscle tone to it.

“Shayna, thank you,” I respond, whole-heartedly as I make to stand up from my desk chair.

Shayna, my assistant manager, looks confused like I just spoke Chinese to her. “For what?”

I grab my coat from the back of the desk chair and when I turn around, I respond with, “For being the best assistant manager any general manager could ask for.”

“Well, thank you for the compliment…” she sputters, trying to figure out the meaning of my words.

“You keep me in line. Just like an assistant manager should do for her boss,” I say to clarify the confusion as we walk out the office door.

“Oh,” is all she says as I lock up the office and we head out to the front door of the building.

It’s a perfect night out. The breeze isn’t too cold, yet not too warm as the fall season approaches. It is a mid-September night, perfect night to sit next to the fire and gaze out at the wilderness. Maybe see a shooting star or two; listen to the coyotes sing their nightly song as they prance around along the fields. None of us say anything as I lock up the doors, both of us too engaged in appreciating the night outside.

“Must be nice,” Shayna finally says after a few moments, still staring out at the fields across the road.

“What must be nice?”

“Living right upstairs. I mean, you lock up the store every night and then all you have to do is walk upstairs.”

I turn to face Shayna. The way the sun is setting behind her, it has this neat way of making her blue eyes shine even bluer at this moment. Her shoulder length blond hair can’t even do justice right now.

“Not really. It gets lonely considering I don’t have any neighbors. My apartment is the only apartment up there,” I respond in a semi-sarcastic tone. I’m tired so my attitude tends to come out often.

“That’s dumb,” is all Shayna says. I love how sometimes she is a woman of a few words, especially when she has nothing to say but must say something anyway.

“It is what it is. OK, well I’d better be going. I’m sure Aunt Bethany is close to having one of her panic attacks because I’m not there by now and haven’t answered any of her phone calls,” I say just as I look at my cellphone again in time to see her name pop up on my phone as an incoming call. This is the fifth one in the last hour. She needs to calm down, I think to myself as Shayna is walking to her car and waving her goodbye.

“Promise me you’ll sleep tonight, Hope. Don’t you dare go back to the store when you get home tonight,” she yells at me from her car as she’s getting inside it.

“And what if I do?” I yell back, a smile appearing on my face because I know just as well as she does she will come back tomorrow and rip out my soul…if that were even possible. I don’t have any friends that I talk to anymore, so I’d like to think of Shayna as my best friend at times. She acts like it more than any of my other friends ever did. I can always count on her when I need her for something and lately that something has been keeping me in line with my work. I don’t know what I would ever do without her anymore.

“Do you want to find out?” She counters. “Go have a goodnight with your aunt, Hope. Enjoy the night while it’s still young. I better see you walking in the door at 8:00AM not before that!” She points a finger at me like I’m five years old again and in trouble for the first time.

I wave my agreeance and she waves back right before she slams the car door shut behind her and drives away down the road. I stand there a few moments taking in a few breaths of the fresh air as I watch her tail lights disappear around a corner. It is peaceful out here.

I play with the keys in my hand until I find my apartment key and head for the rickety stairs that head up to my apartment. I wonder how many people have fallen off these stairs or worse…killed themselves on these stairs. They are wooden stairs that are worn out and falling apart with every other step. This is a law suit waiting to happen. Good thing there are only ten steps to climb before I reach the door to my apartment. Once I’m inside the apartment, I decide to call Aunt Bethany back. If I don’t, she will eventually send a rescue search team out to find me.

“WHERE ARE YOU?!” A frantic Aunt Bethany sounds as soon as the first ring hits my ear.

“At home…”

“WHY?! OH, MY GOSH! ARE YOU OK?”

“Yes, Aunt Bethany, I’m fine. I just worked late tonight. I just walked into my apartment…” I start to say, only to be interrupted again by her frantic voice.

“You know we had plans tonight. I tried calling you and calling you, but you never answered. If you would’ve told me you were working late tonight I would’ve waited a little longer to start supper. Now, it is cold,” she explains.

“Aunt Bethany, I love you and all, but sometimes you’re such an old lady,” I respond without thinking. As soon as I realize what I’ve said I quickly respond with, “I’m changing now. I’ll see you in a few minutes,” and hang up the phone call before she can respond to what I’ve just said to her.

I throw the phone down on my futon so I’m not tempted to answer it if she calls back. She can keep calling back and talk to my voicemail. She can wait a few minutes to talk to me. I grab a clean shirt and jeans and quickly change out of my business attire. Once I’ve changed, I grab the keys and my phone again and make the journey back down the rickety stairs outside. I was in my apartment no longer than five minutes today aside from sleeping.

There is a public parking area across the street from the grocery store. That is where all the employees and customers park. That is where I also park my brand new black 2016 Honda Accord that Aunt Bethany bought for me as a graduation present from college. I barely drive it; only to Aunt Bethany’s is as far as I drive nowadays. Whenever I don’t drive to her house for supper, my car sits so I usually park it in the back of the parking area so it isn’t in the way of customers being able to get a good parking spot. I tell all my employees to do the same thing, but some of them like to make up their own rules. One day the store will have enough money to redo that parking area and I swear all the time I’m going to invest in signs for designated parking for certain people.

Living above the supermarket and being the general manager there has its perks. The best one is I don’t drive anywhere for groceries or things I need. I can easily walk down the stairs rain or shine, snowy and cold or hotter than the tamales, and pick up groceries for no more than a few dollars which makes it a lot easier to save money faster. All my savings goes into an account I have designated for buying a house one day; doesn’t have to be anything spectacular, but something small and decent I will be able to make my “forever” home. Aunt Bethany has no idea my plans and she won’t know until it happens because I know she won’t like my decisions at all. It was a fight with her just to rent this tiny apartment because I chose to be on my own versus live with her again. I am a twenty-two-year-old woman who needs to start branching out on her own. I want to tell her that she can’t protect me from life forever, but I choose to not have that sort of conflict with her right now that is why I make her happy by eating supper with her almost every night after work. She has done her best to raise me from a hard age without having any children to begin with and I will never take her for granted, it is just that she needs to find her way to let go and allow me to be a young adult at times.

I notice the sun has set the rest of the way as I make my way across the street to the parking area. The moon is full and rising big, high above the sky. It is indeed a beautiful night.

I spot my car in the back of the parking lot and make my way toward it. It is nice living in a small area because there is no fear about being attacked by someone or robbed. Back in Chicago, that would be a different story. Walking forward ten paces at night on the streets in Chicago was grounds for being attacked or robbed. There is absolutely no fear in this small town of Wisconsin and it is lovely.

The car unlocks when I hit the unlock button on the key ring remote. I open the door and hop inside. I’ve had this car for a few months now, the new car sent still like the first day I drove it. Aunt Bethany always says that this car should last me a lifetime considering I barely drive it. I think it was her way of reassuring herself I would be fine and that I would be set for life.

Minutes later, the black Honda Accord is rolling nicely down the quiet streets of Arlington towards Aunt Bethany’s house. I’m enjoying the scenery as I pass by each residential house; each family sitting at their big dinner room table enjoying a big family meal, laughing and telling stories. All of them have big smiles on their faces like tonight is the best night they’ve ever had with each other. I wish I knew what that was like with my parents; being able to be happy and laugh while enjoying a big family feast Mother cooked. She was an amazing cook; the best there ever was. However, I was not destined to grow up with that. No matter how hard Aunt Bethany tried to give me that life, nothing in this world compares to having both parents there to enjoy life with.

House after house I pass, as I watch each family in their own home doing the exact same thing as the previous family. The car rounds the corner, goes straight for a few seconds, then I pull it over to the curb in front of Aunt Bethany’s house.

TAP! TAP! TAP!

There is a loud tapping noise on my window as I shut the car off. I look over to see what it is and notice it is a police officer standing outside my car window, shining his flashlight in my eyes. What the hell?

I try to keep calm as I’m putting the key back into the ignition, and roll my window half way down; enough to talk to him.

“Is there a problem, Officer?” I hesitantly ask. I hope he doesn’t pick up on my hesitance. He might construe it as something else.

“Ma’am, are you aware you ran a stop sign about two blocks back?” He says to me, still shining that damn light in my eyes.

His voice sounds sexy, like something you would hear from the main guy character in a major motion picture film. His voice makes me wonder if he is as hot as his voice makes him out to be. That would be a real shame if he wasn’t…What am I doing? I can’t be having these thoughts right about now; nobody has ever had this sort of effect on me. I must stop these teenage thoughts right now! Take a breather…OK, back to reality and being an adult, I think to myself, closing my eyes a few times to regain myself.

“No, Officer, I wasn’t aware…” I say, but no excuses come out of my mouth. My sentence trials off as if the wind took a hold of it and whisked it away in mid-sentence.

“I’m going to need to see your Driver’s License and Proof of Insurance, please.”

I hope Aunt Bethany isn’t watching. I’m sure if she was she would come storming out here like a bat out of hell, yelling and screaming; causing a scene.

Instantly, I freeze up. The sexy-voice cop is asking for my ID. I’m fumbling in my purse for the correct ID card, stumbling across both; one that says Hope Morris, an extra Alias Aunt Bethany made up for me, and another that says Hope Connor, my original name that was legally changed by the detective when I was twelve before we left Chicago forever. Aunt Bethany always said “there is never a such thing as having too many Alias’s”.

I hand the officer the one that says “Hope Morris” along with my Proof of Insurance card. He takes both and walks back toward his car. Paranoia is real. I am hyperventilating as I’m praying he doesn’t find out who I really am; Destiny Hope Connor.

Long minutes pass, and I’m still waiting…. Oh, no. I should make a break for it. Just as I’m about to get out of the car on the passenger side and run, the officer reappears at my window without his flashlight this time. He is tall, maybe six-foot and lean, the kind of guy that could easily be an underwear model. Why is he a cop?

“Can you get out of the car please?” He says as he reaches my open car window again.

I do as he says. “Is there a bigger problem, officer?”

“I would appreciate it if you lose the attitude with me and cooperate, OK, Ms. Morris?” Even when he’s stern and laying down the law he’s sexy. Why is this happening to me tonight? Is it because I was a few hours late to dinner with Aunt Bethany? If that is why I’m being punished right now I swear on my life I will never be late again.

As I’m standing directly in front of him, I notice he can’t be more than twenty-four years old; a newbie on the force that recently graduated from the police academy.

Neither of us say anything as we stare at each other for a moment or two. Is he sizing me up? The awkwardness starts to become apparent, so I clear my throat showing I’m uncomfortable.

“You live here?” He finally asks. What an odd question for a police officer to ask a suspect he just pulled out of the car. He notices the confusion on my face and adds, “it’s what your Driver’s License say.”

“No, I live down the street. Above the supermarket,” I say with a crackled voice.

“Oh.”

“My…mother lives here,” I say hesitantly, thinking my story all the way through my head as I speak to him.

“Your mother is Bethany Morris? The town sheriff?” He sounds surprised. Even with his deep, sexy voice it makes me melt inside.

“You sound surprised.”

“Yea, well…I didn’t know she had any kids. Especially ones that are grown adults. She doesn’t talk much about her life. She’s more about her work than making small talk,” he explains.

“Maybe that’s how she likes it to be. That way nobody can put their nose in and start drama,” I say, confidently.

He takes an unconscious step forward as I take one backward.

“You don’t look like her, though. Like at all.”

“I look like my father,” I respond just as quickly as his question is out of his mouth.

“So, she is married?” He asks.

“You know, this is kind of personal for a cop like you to be asking,” I say with attitude. “Is this why you pulled me over? To snoop on my mother and her personal life?”

“No, I was just…”

“Look, you look like a newbie fresh out of school and this may be a small town where everyone knows everyone, but that doesn’t mean you get the right to pull someone over and snoop. No matter your looks and how charming you can be,” I blurt out.

The moment it all comes out of my mouth, I realize what I’ve said and freeze up. It’s a good thing it’s dark out so he can’t see me blushing. I can barely make out his face expression; shock, like he’s never had anyone, especially a female talk back to him like I just did.

“OK,” he straightens up after a few moments of silence again. “Let me get your citation for running the stop sign.”

Is he serious? Even knowing I’m “the daughter” of the town sheriff? It’s probably because I hurt his ego after everything I said just now. This guy is such a prick; such a newbie.

He’s walking back toward me with the citation in his hand and another piece of paper in his other hand. “Here is your citation for the running the stop sign. And this,” he hands me the other paper that looks to have his number scrawled across it, “is in case you need anything. I usually do the night shift around town. I assume you live alone so…feel free to call me if you need anything. That number is my personal number so I do get text messages as well.”

I’m staring at him with this blank “are you serious” stare the entire time he’s talking to me. He’s so close to me I didn’t even realize his eye color; grey, too hard to read. Eyes that are easily lost in.

“Are you serious?” I blurt out.

“What?”

“After giving me the citation, and everything I said to you, you’re still giving me your number and expect me to call you?” I don’t notice I’m yelling until I see out of the corner of my eye Aunt Bethany, whom looks seasoned now, is standing on her doorstep watching this entire episode. Great, I’ll have to answer to her now when he’s gone.

“No need to yell at me, Hope.” He just called me by my first name and I think I melted the rest of the way. “Look, your right and I think we got off on the wrong foot.  I’m sorry. I’m just trying to make it right by being a nice guy here.”

“A nice guy who still hands out tickets! A nice guy would be a guy who lets you off on a warning!” I’m yelling louder this time and I don’t even care. He’s backing off and that’s what I want from him. I am so furious with him I’m seeing red everywhere. “Thanks for ruining my night.”

“I didn’t mean to ruin your night. I’m just doing my job. I can’t just not give you a ticket because you’re the sheriff’s daughter…” he starts to say.

“Whatever,” I say, interrupting him. I’m done arguing with this newbie. He officially has ruined my mood for the night, and I am not wasting anymore time or energy on this prick tonight. I want him to leave me in peace.

He sighs, “OK. I see this isn’t going anywhere tonight.” He turns to walk back to his car, lights still flashing away. Blue and red, blue and red. He turns back to me when he reaches his car door and says, “Have a good night, Hope. I’ll see you around,” then gets in his car, shutting the door hard behind him.

I hate how he says “I’ll see you around” like it’s a promise not a threat. Thinking about it sends chills down my back. I don’t want to see that gorgeous face or hear that hot, sexy voice again.

He waves and pulls his car out into the middle of the road. I watch him as he drives down the street and rounds the corner when I can no longer see him. Even though I don’t want to see him again, a part of me hopes I do. I hate that part of me right now. How can I allow my brain to deceive me like that? Not just my brain, but my heart as well. Where did I get the nerve to fight back with cops? Probably from the fear of him finding out who I really am, and sending me away or having the media involved. It has been ten years, I don’t need someone like him screwing up everything I’ve worked for since that day.

I look up at Aunt Bethany, whom is looking down at me with the sternest look possible, her arms are crossed across her chest. She is angry with me. I decide to deal with her when I go inside, but for now I motion to her to give me a minute of peace. She nods and walks back inside the house, shutting the door behind her leaving me completely alone. I lean against the car and look up to the night sky. There are more stars out now than before. I wonder if my mother is one of them always looking down on me. I wonder what kind of advice she would have for me now. I don’t want to be afraid to fall in love, but I am. I am always afraid my past will eventually catch up to me. Aunt Bethany always says it won’t if I play my cards right, but what cards do I play now to keep safe? I suddenly feel like my life has been dealt with a bad hand of cards and instead of trading them in I’m forced to play with them. No matter what move I make I lose the hand.

I take a few deep breaths of fresh air to calm down a little so I can think more clearly. The coyotes are out prancing about, their song can be heard all over town at this time of night. I listen to them bark and yowl for a little while as I feel my heart rate start to slow and my face begins to cool. Suddenly, I have the urge to look at the piece of paper the cop handed me with his number on it. It reads, “Call me anytime. 608-715-2335. Signed by Jason Steth”. I crumble up the paper and throw it on the ground, furious again. What makes him think I’m going to call him? I take one more huge breath of fresh air and slowly make my way up the concrete steps to Aunt Bethany’s front door. I must face her sometime, what better time than in this moment?

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