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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11. Chapter 10

When I get to my locker on Monday, I’m shocked to find a word spray-painted in a neon orange that collides with the puke-green of the locker’s original paint:

    SLUT!!!

    When Izzy sees it, she nearly explodes. “That bitch! Oh, this is totally Lauren’s work. She’s the slut, not you! Oooh, I’m gonna give it to her so good-”

    I place a hand over Izzy’s mouth, raising a warning eyebrow at her, then turn and head down to the office.

    “Where are you going?” Izzy asks, trailing behind me.

    “To get some soap.”

 

    Peter is waiting by my locker when I return, and he and Izzy help me scrub the offensive letters away. A couple of teachers and the occasional student wander past with raised eyebrows, but say nothing. We just scrub, ignoring the students that do comment on the grafitti. By the time we finally get it all off, the bell for first period has already rung, and the tardy bell after that, and we’re thirty minutes late for class.

    “Mrs. Darien is going to kill us,” I mutter to Peter as we leave the office after returning the soap and sponges.. “And this is not going to help my grade any.”

    “Want me to tutor you?” he asks, grinning at me. He suddenly winks, yanking a giggle out from between my lips.

    “Well, that depends. Are you actually planning on tutoring me in US History? Or something else entirely?” My face immediately flushes as the last word leaves my lips. Did I really just say that?

    Peter laugh. “Whoah, there, Stonewall. Where’s your head at?”

    I press my lips together, feeling my face redden even more. Peter laughs at my silence, and eventually a smile sneaks onto my face again. I suddenly realize something. “Did you just call me ‘Stonewall’?”

    “Yep. ‘Cause you stonewall everybody, no emotions, no response.”

    I roll my eyes, but at the same time I’m grinning.

    If anyone else called me that, I would have been pissed. But with Peter...somehow, I love it.


 

-+-+-+-

 

    “Slut.”

    The whisper sneaks over my shoulder and into my ear as Lauren Hoffman slides into the lunch line behind me. Peter, who’s ahead of me, doesn’t notice.

    “You’re going to regret it, you know. I’ll make your life a living hell.”

    I say nothing, being the stonewall that Peter has deemed me to be.

    Lauren keeps going. “I heard you tried to kill yourself a few years ago. Maybe you should try that again. Or are you so weak and miserable that you can’t even get that right? Poor little Hope, living without her mother, who can’t even watch a stupid Disney movie because she might break down and cry.”

 

    She didn’t.

    She did not just say that.

 

    “God, you’re such an embarassment, Hope. You don’t belong here. Go join your mother in hell, slut.”

 

    The worls suddenly goes red.

 

    I see Peter turn to me just as  I spin to face Lauren. “Listen, bitch. You don’t know anything about me, or my mother, or my life. So you didn’t get your boy toy. Well, that’s just too bad, princess. Guess what? You can’t always get what you want. I can’t have breakfast with my mother and father every morning, because they’re dead. And I want nothing more than to have just one more day with my mother. Yeah, it does suck. It hurts like a fucking bitch, even years later. I have nightmares about her death. But you know what? I’m not dead. I have a life to live, I have an aunt and a best friend...and now a boyfriend to live my life for. Yeah, so I wanted to die once. You would, too, if you spent every day missing your mother and being shoved around all day, with words tossed at you the sharp knives.

    “And Peter? He was never meant to be another toy for you to abuse. He doesn’t deserve that. He deserves love, real love, and that’s what I want him to have from me, because that’s what he’s shown me since the day we meant, even as I was stonewalling him. You don’t even know what love is, do you, Lauren? You don’t know what any emotions are, besides anger and lust and vengeance. If anyone is an embarassment here, it’s you.”

    I finally stop talking, looking Lauren in the eye.

    She looks completely dumbfounded.

    In fact, from where we’re standing just outside of the lunchline, the whole cafeteria looks dumbfounded, including Peter, who’s gaping at me, and Izzy, who’s sitting at our table with food hanging out of her dropped jaw.

    

    Lauren, after staring a me like a deer in headlights for several long seconds, finally turns away, walking to her table in the center of the room at a fast clip.


    My eyes meet Peter’s. A grin slowly grows on his face. “Impressive, Stonewall.”

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