Its been three weeks and neither has Destiny or Novian come around to check on me or at least sent me a text. I don’t even know why I expected them to. I intentionally pushed them away and this time they listened. Drama surrounds me and it seems like people only get hurt because of it; because of me. They’re two of the most important people left in my life and I don’t want them in danger because of me. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if something did. Too add salt to an open wound Jake won’t leave. He’s back with a set of rules that he’s demanding to be followed and he’s not bothering to hide who he truly is. He doesn’t have a job. He has another girl who has taken it upon herself to move in here also. I don’t care. The more that she is around the less that he bothers me. My childhood home doesn’t even feel the same to me anymore. This was my safe place and now I feel like a prisoner here. He won’t even let me leave the apartment. If I do I have to tell him where I’m going and call when I’m on my way back or take her with me. I don’t even know her! I definitely don’t want to be around her. He made it clear that failire to comply and he’d finished what he’d started two weeks ago. I don’t want to anger him so I do as he is told. I don’t want him pressing any charges on Novian so I agreed to this insanity. Novian is the only reason I allow this to continue. Somehow getting off all charges has made Jake one cocky bastard. I sighed. I needed to get away from here for a little while. In order to do that I would have to take that whore with me and that was the last thing I wanted to do. I already had to sneak out and get a second phone that he doesn’t know anything about when he was sleep. He’s ruthless.
“Um...Jake, I need somethings from the grocery store. Do you mind-”
“Go yourself. Matter of fact take as long as you need. I’m tired of seeing your face. Be back within the next two hours or I will find you and you’ll regret it.” I turned back towards my room trying desperately to keep from looking to eager. I didn’t know how I was going to do this, but I was going to get it done.
I sat in my room for thirty long excruciating minutes until he was yelling at me to leave already. I didn’t bother to cover the fresh bruising. I didn’t have time to anyways. Once I was out the door and it was shut and locked behind me I found myself running full sprint towards Novian’s apartment. For a minute I just stood there. What if he didn’t want to see me? What if he didn’t want to talk to me? What if he slammed the door in my face? I hadn’t thought any of this through and it was a chance it’ll be all for nothing. I was risking it all and it was chance it could bite me in the ass. Sighing I turned and began my defeated walk back to what use to be my apartment. Any confidence I had of this working was now gone.
“Hope?” Came a voice from behind me. I turned only to come face to face with Novian. Tears began to prick the corners of my eyes as she stared at me. There was no anger. There was no hate. There was only shame and concern. We stood there saying nothing and just staring at each other until he open his arms towards me. Within the blink of an eye I was holding on to him tightly finally letting out everything I’d been holding in. I didn’t care to know whatever caused him to feel ashamed. I just needed to be held by him again. Even if it was only.for thid moment. “I’m so sorry Hope. I should’ve known you were just trying to push me away to protect me. I’m suppose to protect you though Hope. I’m suppose to protect you.”
“Novian... Just please listen to me I don’t have much time before I have to get back. I’m sorry. I’m so fucking sorry and everything I said about Zach was a lie. I did have an abortion but the baby was yours and the doctors kept saying I was threatening a miscarriage. I love you and only you. I always have and I always will. Right now I need a huge favor from you and I need you not to freak out when I tell you this. It’s very important Novian. For both of us.”
“Tell me what?” He asked his grip on me getting tighter. This was going to be harder than I thought, but I needed this to happen.
“Promise me Novian.” I begged.
“I promise Hope. Come on now and tell me you’re starting to scare me.”
“Jake is back and he won’t leave.” I blurted. “He’s threatening to press charges against you agmonst other vile and violent things if you come around. He can never find out I was here or you just might not see me ever again. That’s not why I’m here though. What I’m about to tell you is so important to me that I’m risking my life to get it done. Promise me you’ll do this for me Novian. Despite all factors promise me you’ll do this. It’s all that I want and need right now.” I cried. I was running out of time and I could already tell he was going to be relunctant on letting me go and to do this favor. Not because he didn’t want to but because what and who it involved.
“Fine Hope.” He said. “I’ll do whatever you want me to do just name it.”
“Jake can never find out about Beniyah. I’m doing everything in my power to make sure he doesn’t. So for now I have to stay away even though it kills me, but I haven’t been able to get in contact with Zach. We meet up at the same place every Friday unless something comes up. Novian I....Novian I need you to go meet your son. He’s almost two. He’s still young and there’s still time to establish who you are; and yes Novian. Yes that means you have to talk to Zach. Beniyah knows who you are through pictures. I made sure of that, but it’s time to start a bond with him. Here’s the address he’ll be waiting there within the next hour or two. I have to go. Please tell Beniyah that I love him and that I’m sorry. Explain to Zach. Tell him whatever you need too and please hurry.” I placed the ripped piece of paper in his hands as I hurried off.
“Hope! Hope wait!” He yelled. I knew there was so much more that needed to be said, but it just wasn’t enough time. I had to get back. I willed the tears not to spill over as they pricked the corners of my eyes. The minute I was back in the apartment with the door closed I was knocked off of my feet from the force of Jake’s knuckles hitting me in the mouth.
“WHO THE FUCK IS ZACH AND WHY DO HE KEEP TEXTING YOU ABOUT SOME FUCKING KID?! DO YOU HAVE A BABY?!” he yelled. My eyes widen as tears began to spill over. ‘Novian please hurry.’ Was all I could think as he raised his fist again.
I sighed as I stood in front of the entrance. I was nervous, but still excited. I was going to meet my little boy. Sadly that meant having to talk to my brother again, but at this point I didn’t care. Taking a deep breath I stepped into the pizza place and immediately was meet with a pair of eyes that matched mine exactly. There was no words to describe the way I felt seeing my brother again, but all that became null and void when I saw who he was caring. My hearted skipped a beat as tears came to my eyes. He had his mother’s bright blue eyes with brown streaks. Despite everything else was entirely me. He was my spitting image.
“Can I- can I...” I couldn’t get the words out as I stared at my beautiful little boy.
“Of course. Been waiting for this moment for years.” He said placing Beniyah in my arms. He didn’t cry. He just stared at me. Soon he yawned and laid his head on my chest and was out within seconds.
“This is amazing.” I whispered rocking him back and forth.
“I can see.” He smiled. “Novian I was hoping to see Hope here also. I’ve been trying to contact her and she hasn’t responded. My temporary guardianship is up and I need to know if I have to file for it again.” I looked at my brother for a long while and all I could was concern. As much as I hated him for taking her virginity it wasn’t all on him.
“No you don’t have to, but I need your help. I hate having to come to you, but I have no choice. I can end up back in jail if I try.”
“How bad are things Novian?”
“I’m here without her and practically begging you. How bad do you think?” I spat trying desperately to remain calm and wake the angel in my arms.
“Sit down and explain.” He commanded. I jumped slightly as I did as told. If my anger scared Hope she would pass out from Zach’s anger. Zach’s anger scared me. I took a bite of the pizza on the table before taking a deep breath and beginning the story.
“Two months ago when I got out of jail and all the charges were dropped. Mom and dad told me that the old apartment was for rent and they’ll help me get started. They also threw in the Hope still lived there. I knew they wanted me to talk to Hope and I wanted to, but I ran into Destiny the day I moved in. She told me Hope hated me and never wanted to see me again. Took me a month before I got the courage to go up to her apartment. I can’t believe I was stupid enough to believe her.” I sighed placing a gentle kiss on Beniyah’s forehead.
“Novian we don’t have a lot of time. Go on.” I sighed as I told him everything. From the look on his face it wasn’t going to end well for any of us.
“I swear if you weren’t holding my nephew right now I’d treat yo ass like you were a stranger. How in the hell can you be my brother and still be so fucking dense?!” He yelled slapping table causing me. To jump so hard that I almost woke up Beniyah.
“I feel bad enough Zach I don’t need YOU to rub it in.” I spat.
“I outa run my fist in his face.” He threatened.
“I’m not five anymore Zach. I can hold my own.”
“Each day you grow strong I’ll only get stronger. Remember that little brother.” I groaned as I gritted my teeth. This was becoming a constant thing with my brother. Just because he was older and learned sooner how to handle his temper does not mean he was better than me. Still in his head it does.
“Zach I don’t have time for this. You didn’t hear how scared she was and there’s a good chance he’s beating her right now. So either help me or be prepared to visit me in jail over the next couple of years, and please be kind enough to bring my son to see me this time.” I spat my narrowing my eyes at him. “You spent three yeard coming to that place and you never told me she kept him. Or that you were the one raising him. What the hell Zach?”
“We’ll talk later. Now come on. While you go bond with your son I think I’ll take Hope some pizza.” He had a smirk on his face that sent chills up my spine. I really hope he had a better hold on his temper than he use to. Otherwise mom will be visiting both her sons in jail.
There was a knock on the door as I cowered in the corner holding one of my teeth in my hand. My tongue kept feeling the now vacant space. I wanted to cry,but crying only made the beating worse. I kept spitting blood on blood the floor. The more it piled up the sicker I felt. What had I done so bad to deserve to be treated like this a second time? My parents were probably turning over in the grave. Again a knock came at the door. I jumped as I heard Jake yell from the kitchen.
“GET THE FUCKING DOOR HOPE!” Scurrying to my feet I hurried over and damn near fell to my knees at the sight of Zach standing there. I’ve never seen Zach so angry before as he took in my appearance. I took a step back from him and could’ve sworn I saw steam coming out of his ears. Compared to Zach Novian was tamed.
“Get your things Hope you’re coming with me.”
“Like hell she is.” I turned around to see Jake standing there with a gun in his hand. I gasped wide eyed as I stood protectively in front of Zach.
“Jake don’t do this.” I pleaded. “I’ll do what you want. Just let him leave. Please.”
“Hope at this point the pussy is not even worth. I’ll admit it must be good though if you can brothers fighting over you, but I ain’t trying to get like that. I came back for revenge on your bitch ass boyfriend. I thought he would’ve came sooner, but I guess he sent big brother instead. It’s fine big brother will be just as good. If i aim this right. I can kill you both with one shot.” He laughed.
“Jake I loved you!” I cried. “Why are you doing this to me?”
“Bitch you ain’t love shit! If you did we wouldn’t be standing here like this right now. I was only place holder and you know that as well as I do. The only person who have ever loved is that bitch right there.” I turned around to see Novian standing there. No no no no.
“I told you not to come!” I yelled.
Pow! The gun went off.
The entire room went silent as blood began to pour out of my leg. It’s crazy that I didn’t feel it until after it punctured my skin. There was a fire there and even though everything in me was begging to scream out for some kind of release I could only fall forward onto Zach. There were no words I could say in that moment. Maybe this was it for me and I was content with it. This was my punishment for all that I had done.
“Hope!” Novian cried rushing over to me. Tears spilled over as he began to put pressure on the wound. I tried to smile at the blurry figure staring down at me. I would never get to kiss him again. I would never get to hug him again. I would never be able to see with Beniyah. I know he’ll be a great father, it’s too bad that I won’t be around to see it. “Zach we need to get her out of here!” He cried breaking me out of my thoughts just as everything was beginning to fade out.
“I told you not to come!” She yelled looking behind me. I should’ve known that he wouldn’t listen to either of us. He was hard headed and cared for her just as much as I did. Maybe even more. It was an unspoken rule between us that we’d always do whatever to protect her despite the odds. A gun was definitely something unexpected, but wasn’t going to stop me from protecting her. I’d rather it be me than either of them to get shot.
Pow! My eyes widen as the gunshot rang throughout the apartment. At first I thought he’d shot Novian, but the way she was staring at me proved to me that I had been wrong. She fell into my arms just as Novian screamed her named. The next thing I saw was the blood covering his hands and I lost it. I charged at him trying to knock the gun lose so I could kill him with my bare hands.
It was too much blood. So much blood and I couldn’t stop it no matter how much pressure I used to pressed down. The blood just kept coming.
“No. Stay with me Hope. Stay with me.” I begged. “Zach!” I yelled. I looked up to see Zach wrestling with Jake for the gun. I couldn’t move. So much was going wrong. I needed to help my brother, but moving could mean losing Hope. It was a choice I never thought I’d have to make.
“No-Novian w-where’s Beniyah?” She asked breathing hard. She was having trouble focusing her eyes and it was clear she was in and out of it. Something wasn’t right. I needed to get her help and soon. “Novian? W-where’s Beniyah?”
“He’s okay Hope. He’s somewhere safe.”
“With Mrs. Thompson.” I spat. Now was definitely not the time to tell her about Destiny. I jumped startled as a loud thud resonated through the apartment. My eyes landed on the gun as Zach threw punch after punch at Jake. Each punch sounded like a slap. Jake fell backwards as Zach got on top of him sending bone crushing punches.
“Novian you have to stop this.” She said weakly. I couldn’t believe after all of this she still hated fights. We were always only trying to protect her, yet she always tried to find a way to keep it from happening. “Please.” She whispered her eyes closing shut.
“Hope? Hope?” I called shaking her slightly. “No no no. Hope wake up. Please wake up. Don’t leave me Hope, I need you.
Beniyah needs you. Please. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean anything I said to you. You are the love of my life. I can’t live without you. You make me a better person. Without you I am nothing. Please Hope....please wake up.” I waited for her to say something or for her eyes to flutter open. Anything to indicate that she was alive. I got none of that. I laid my head against hers as I pulled her next to me tears filling my eyes. I couldn’t live without her. I didn’t deserve to. I needed her. Anger filled me as I realized something.
“Zach stopped!” I yelled as I picked up the gun and aimed it at my brother. “Who bailed you out Jake?” I spat.
I stared at Novian wondering what the hell he was talking about. I was so close to killing that man, but he had that look on his face and it was clear he wouldn’t care whoever he shot.
“Answer me!” He yelled. “Who the fuck bailed you out?”
“I did.” I turned to see Destiny standing in the doorway with Beniyah on her hip and a gun in her hand. “I bailed him out. Now put the gun down or I promise you I’ll end this bitch.” At first I thought she was talking about Hope, but the moment she turned the gun on Beniyah my heart dropped. I turned to Novian pleading with my eyes for him to just do as she said, but I was to late. She had pushed him to the edge.
Pow! Pow! Pow!
I dropped to my knees hearing as the clip was emptied.
I stood there shaking as Zach ran and grabbed a wailing Beniyah out of Destiny’s limp arms.
“I-I...” I stuttered unable to finish.
“She’s not dead.” Came the voice of a girl I didn’t know as she placed her fingers against their necks. “Neither of them are. Both of them are alive still, but barely. You too have to get out of here.”
“I’m not leaving her.” I cried staring at a limp Hope.
“If the police are to believe my story you have too.”
“And what story is that?” Asked Zach also suspicious of her.
“Jake forced me to move im here. He beat both of us. We were trying to escape when he pulled a gun on us. She,”
“Destiny was someone Hope thought she could trust, but was wrong. They got into a fight over an unnamed boy and she shot her and angering Jake. At that moment Zach came over to check on Hope because she wasn’t answering her phone. They began to fight and he tried to shot him. Instead he shot Destiny. I know who you are Novian and for that simple fact alone you can not be here. Now go.” I was relunctant to go as I begged Zach to try and find a different way. He only handed Beniyah back to me as shoved me out the door. I slow dragged my way back to my apartment as I tried to soothe Beniyah down. I needed to be there for Hope. Beniyah and I was all she had left.
*3 hours later*
“Let’s go up and down. Up and down. Now spiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnn.” Beniyah laughed as I spun him around. The sound of his laughter was soothing, but I kept thinking about Hope. I hadn’t heard anything in hours and I was getting concerned. I had done everything I could. Bathed him. Fed him. He took another nap and now we were playing. “Okay buddy let’s take a break.” I smiled at him.
“Mommy?” He asked pointing at an old picture of Hope sitting on the table.
“She’s okay buddy. I know it.”
“Moooommmmmmyyyyyyyy!” He screamed. My eyes widen as I tried to quiet him down again. He wasn’t looking at the picture anymore. He was staring at the door. At that point I got a call from Zach.
“Hello?” I rushed as Beniyah began to scream louder.
“Novian it’s bad. You have to get down here.”
“Zach what happened?”
“Her body is starting to reject the blood. They say if it doesn’t start accepting it and soon we could lose her.” Tears filled my eyes as Beniyah screamed louder.
“I’m on my way.” I said before hanging up. I couldn’t get him to stop crying. He was screaming for his mom and I had no idea what to tell him. I buckled him in his carseat as tight as I could before getting in the driver’s seat and speeding to the hospital.
I stood in the waiting room in complete disbelief as I held my sobbing brother in my arms. The love of his life was gone and I had no clue he felt that way about her. She was everything to him and betrayed him and everyone he cared about.
“I’m so sorry Zach. I had no idea.”
“She didn’t want to tell you guys. I thought it was because she was ashamed of us, but never once did it cross my mind that she was in love with you.”
“I didn’t know that. I never would’ve-”
“Doesn’t change anything though Novian. I might’ve been the one who Hope gave her virginity too, but you had sex with her and shot her dead a few days later.”
“She was going to kill my son.” I spat.
“I didn’t say you were wrong.” He sighed his face looking drained.
“Then what are you saying?” I asked.
“I’m saying we’re even little brother. We’re beyond even.” He pushed away from me as he went over to the vending machine and just stood there. I could see his shoulders shaking and knew he was crying again. My heart went out to him. So much came crashing down on him and we were yet to know if Hope was alright.
“Novian? Zach?” I turned around to see my parents heading towards. The look on my mother’s face said it all. She came over engulfing me in a hug as my father went over to Zach. It was something about being in my mother’s arms that had me breaking down.
“It’s all my fault mom. All of this happened because I came back. I should’ve stayed were I was. I knew I was no good for her mom. I was never good enough for her.” I cried as my mom hugged me tighter. I was a great deal taller than her, but that meant nothing in this moment.
“Hush child. You cannot blame yourself for someone else’s actions. God will not take away a beautiful spirit like hers. She may not know this, but she still has a family here. We won’t ever turn our backs on her. I already lost her mom and her father, and I refuse to leave her too. Go hug your son. Comfort him. Babies have a way of knowing what’s going on.” She smiled at me with sad eyes before kissing my cheek. Beniyah was sound asleep finally.
“If it’s only us buddy, I got you.” I whispered rubbing his head as I tried not to cry. I hated no knowing. I hated hospitals and I hated myself. If I lost Hope it would be like I was losing a part of myself. Taking a deep breath I walked over to my father and Zach.
“This isn’t up for discussion and I don’t want to hear anything about it. If Hope doesn’t make it I’m signing away my rights.” I said to Zach with a straight face.
“Nov-” he started.
“This isn’t up for discussion.” I spat. I went back over to Beniyah and tried to be strong for him. To think five weeks ago we were us...having sex the way we use to without a care in the world. Now we’re here in the hospital. She’s fighting for her life and I’m hoping she’s going to be around for awhile longer.
“Family for Hope Evans.” Called the doctor. I was the first one on my feet as we all crowded around him. “She is stabled now. Her body wasn’t rejecting as we initially thought. From all the blood loss she had began to have a miscarriage. We lost one, but managed to save the other.” He smiled at us as he turned around. I stood there frozen as someone touched my shoulder.
“Congrats bro. Looks like Beniyah is going to have a sibling.”