Broken Hope (ON HOLD)

Just one second after a truck smashed into her mother’s Volkswagen, Hope Callian collapsed in the middle of her science class, screaming in pain. An hour later, her mother was dead, leaving Hope as an orphan.
Now, almost 4 years later, Hope is living with her aunt in Elmira, New York.
Hope has one rule that she swears she’ll never break: Don’t love anyone. Hope has discovered something terrible about herself: when someone she loves dies or feels extreme pain, Hope feels it, too.
She does a good job of following her one rule...until Peter Hannetty arrives in town. He’s mysterious, stubborn, and insanely attractive. All of the other girls flock around him like love-struck birds, but the only girl he cares about is the only one who refuses to love him: Hope.
Will Hope break her rule for Peter? Or are they destined to suffer from untreated desire?

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2. Chapter 1

“Hope! Hooope...hello, this is Houston to Hope Callian. Can you hear us up there?”

    I blink, and the world refocuses around me as Izzy’s voice penetrates the fog that’s surrounding my brain. “Oh, sorry, Iz. I’m kinda tired.”

    “Another nightmare?” Izzy asks, brown eyes wide and warm and full of genuine concern.

    “Yeah...” I don’t say anything more. Izzy seems to innately understand that my nightmares are not something I want to share, and she’s never questioned me about their content.

    She also knows to change the subject quickly when they pop up, before I can start remembering the details. “So, did you hear the latest on the gossip chain?”

Her curly brown locks bounce joyfully as she grins.

    “What?” I ask, closing my locker carefully so it doesn’t slam. Despite my best efforts, it still swings forward rebelliously, and the resounding smash of metal against metal echoes down the hall. I wince.

    “There’s a new guy coming today.”

    I turn to face her, raising a single disbelieving eyebrow. “You’re kidding. We never get new students. This is Elmira. It’s not like Rochester or Corning or any other decent places to live around here. We’re barely any better than Big Flats.”

    “I know, I know, but that’s what I heard.”

    “From who?” I ask, crossing my arms.
    “Umm...Sasha McCoor.”

    I shake my head at my friend. “Iz. You know better than to listen to her, she’s the worst gossip in town.”

    Izzy tosses her arms up. “I know, but she is actually right sometimes! Like when Kaylie and Will started dating? No one believed her, but then we all saw them at Homecoming, very clingy and very in love. And, possibly a bit horny. I spotted them hiding in a dark corner making out near the end, and he had his hand down her bodice...”

    I hold up a hand to silence her. “More than I needed to know, Izzy. And no one says ‘bodice’ anymore.”

    “Well, what am I supposed to say? That he had his hand down her cleavage? And she’s wearing a dress, so I can’t say shirt...”

    I sigh, grabbing her and dragging her behind me. “Just call them boobs, Iz. It’s the twenty-first century. And we’re going to be late to class if you don’t get a move on.”

    Izzy scowls. “But that word is so childish...not to mention just plain stupid-sounding-”

    Isabella.

    She scowls, but shuts up. “Fine, fine, I’ll stop.”

    “Thank you.” I say as we enter our first period class.

 

-+-+-+-

 

    I guess I should probably explain Izzy. I said that a part of the rule was no best friends, right?

    Technically, I’m kind of breaking that rule with Izzy.

    We started out as just lab partners our freshman year, but that somehow changed into a deeper friendship. Before I could even realize what I was doing, Izzy and I were close and trusted friends.

    But, while I’m angry at myself for breaking my rule so quickly, I’m extremely grateful to have Izzy. She’s my rock, the one I know I can always talk to. If I didn’t have her, I might have just offed myself at some point during our freshman year. It was a rough year; I was bullied frequently. Kids that I went to middle school with picked on me because of my “freak-outs”, which were the moments when I felt the pain of someone I loved. Eighth grade was painful, because my uncle was struggling with heart problems. He passed away over the summer, leaving my aunt and I alone.

    As old bullies descended on me, new ones joined the forces. I was a spaz, and a freak, and a retard. Rumors flew that I had some kind of mental illness. I found a note in my locker saying: “As a freak, you feel no emotions. You are stupid. You do not know what pain and love are. You are not alive. You should not be alive. So just go self-destruct, robot-girl. No one wants you here.”

    I snapped.

    It was Izzy who found me standing beside the railroad tracks, waiting for death to come roaring towards me. She stood next to me.

    “Pretty day.”

    “Hm.”

    “Too pretty for death. Especially a gory death by train. Especially a gory death by train that is intentional.”

    “And your point?”

    “You should wait until it rains. At least then it would make sense. And the blood will wash away.”

    Izzy convinced me to come over to her house, and we talked for hours. I ended up staying over.

    She was able to talk me out of killing myself, and gave me new confidence, a confidence that I carry close to my heart.

 

-+-+-+-

 

I don’t have to wait until lunch to see the new guy. He pops up in the doorway of my English class, second block, knocking quietly on the open door. Mrs. Lill scowls at the interruption, eyes flitting towards the door. “What?” she barks, annoyed.

The entire class turns to look, and I immediately hear swoony sighs from the girls in the room.

He’s gorgeous, with bright blue eyes that would normally only be seen on California movie stars and dark brown hair that is messy, but cute. His face is sculpted in a way that belongs on a movie screen, like his eyes, and I can just make out the outlines of muscles under his simple blue T-shirt.

“I’m a new student? Peter Hannetty? This is Mrs. Lill’s English 11 class, right?” Even his voice is smooth, silky, and just plain beautiful. I hear more sighs punctuating the shocked air.

Mrs. Lill’s eyes widen. “Oh, Mr. Hannetty. I forgot you were coming today.” She scans the room, searching for an empty seat.

The only unoccupied desk is right next to mine, thanks to my anti-social behavior.

Mrs. Lill points at me, looking back over at Peter. “You can sit next to Hope, there.”

What.

Peter flashes a smile my way.

I turn away and focus on my latest looseleaf doodle: a dove, clutching a strand of barbed wire in its beak. How symbolic.

I can hear the squeak of the chair next to me as Peter sits. I stubbornly keep my eyes off of him and ignore the jealous grumbles of the girls - and a couple of guys - in the room.

 

As Mrs. Lill turns back to her SmartBoard, Peter leans over to me and taps my arm. “Do you have a pencil, um, Hope? I lost mine earlier...”

    “Lost? Or have it snatched by Sticky Stan?” I can’t help responding.

    Peter raises and eyebrow, surprised. “Actually, now that you say it, I did see some grimy looking kid in my first class clutching it as he left the room.”

    “Tangly black hair? Bad acne?”

    “Yeah.”

    “That’s Stanley. We all call him Sticky Stan, because he’s always stealing from people. Just little things, like your pencil or my earring a few weeks ago. I honestly don’t know how he does that.”

    “Your earring? Wasn’t that expensive?”

    I shake my head. “Nah. It was just a flower. Plastic. I don’t really care.”

    Peter lets out a “hmm” noise. “But what will you do with the other one?”

    I lift the strap of my messenger bag, showing him the collection of partnerless earrings that I’ve pinned on. “He steals my earrings a lot, for some reason. After the fifth one, I decided to just put the singles to good use.”

    “Huh! Clever.” Peter says, looking impressed.

    I suddenly realize what I’m doing and scowl, dropping my bag and turning away. “It’s nothing.”

    Even without looking at him, I can feel his frown, his confusion, trying to figure out what he did wrong. I’m startled when he suddenly says, “Do you have a grudge against new guys or something?”

    I glance over at him. “What?”

    He sighs, then repeats slowly, “Do you have a grudge against new guys or something?”

    “No. Why would you think that?”

    “You don’t even know me, and you’re just giving me the cold shoulder. We were talking just fine a minute ago, then you went all cold bitch on me.”

    “Cold bitch? Cold bitch?! What the-”

    Mrs. Lill turns. Oops. Too loud. “Who’s talking?”

    The room goes silent. Mrs. Lill harrumphs and turns back to her presentation. “As I was saying, Jane Austen uses excellent dialogue here...”

    I turn back to Peter. “I am not a cold bitch.”

    “Then why did you diss me all of a sudden?”

    “I’m an introvert. I don’t like talking to people.”

    He smirks, causing me to grit my teeth. He’s so cute smirking like that. “You’re talking to me just fine. Or you were, before you decided that you hated me. Are you bipolar?”

    “What?! No, I am not bipolar! Ugh!” I am extremely relieved to hear the bell’s piercing drone. I fly out of my seat, more than happy to leave Peter Hannetty far behind me.

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