2 months later
It was Beniyah’s birthday. He was finally two and he definitely deserved my undivided attention and I hated that I couldn’t do that much for him. Zach was in a constant sour mood, but I understood why. I never knew how deep their relationship was, but it was clear that he truly cared for her. Novian had been avoiding all of us and he refuses to tell me what happened that day. Says all that I need to know is that Beniyah and I were both safe now. On top of it all my best-friend was killed. No one will tell me who shot her, but I’ll bet my money on it being Jake. I mean why else would Zach killed him with his bare hands at least that’s what Novian said. There’s no words to describe how much I hated all the violence that I caused in which only ended in two deaths. One being more innocent than the other, but still no one deserves to die an untimely death like that.
I was on crutches still after begging for a cast so I wouldn’t pop my stitches. It had been ruled incredibly dangerous to try and remove the bullet from my thigh seeing as I’m pregnant. Something that I don’t even know how it happened. Everything was just happening too fast and I really needed it all to slow down. If you’re wondering Novian and I aren’t together. He can barely look at me anymore.
Despite all these downsides good things have happened also. Mrs. James has been the biggest help I could’ve ever asked for. She spent weeks helping me not only with Beniyah, but with myself also. Beniyah refuses to leave my side and is practically the only reason that Novian can stand to be around me nowadays. Personally I think he’s hiding something from me and it’s something big. So big that he can’t even look me in the eye. Mr. James reminds me of the dad. He tells all the same corny dad jokes that my dad use too and they both spend hours telling me about their and my parents school years. I love that I’ve reconnected with them but I hate that it’s taken so long and for something like this for it to happen.
I moved in with my step-mom. Or more like I finally moved into my own house. All these years and I hadn’t known that my dad put the house in my name. I’m beyond grateful. I couldn’t stay in that apartment anymore. The blood had stain the carpets and it definitely looked like some kind of crime scene. Being in that apartment only made me sick. Sighing I smoothed down the creme dress I was wearing seeing as it was the only thing I owned that came close to the color of my cast. Since getting out of the hospital I’ve spent more time with the James. Mrs.James has been in full on smother mode, it takes some getting use to but I’ve never felt better.
None of this should matter though. It’s my baby boy’s birthday. I’m almost four months pregnant. I’m alive and have the rest of my life to be the best mother I could be. Whether that be with or without Novian.
“Hey Zach.” I said standing in the doorway of his room. He too had moved back home for awhile. He looked at me, but didn’t say a word to me. I sighed tears pricking the corner of my eyes. “Feel like a being a big brother? I could use one.” He smirked as he opened his arms for me. For a moment it felt like old times. Our parents would be in the kitchen hashing out about their younger days. I’d be in the playroom with Novian. That is until he pissed me off and then I’ll come running to Zach asking for a big brother. He’d open his arms and we’d just lay there, and Novian would come in and jump on top of us. “I missed you Zach.” I smiled getting comfortable as I laid on his chest.
“I missed you too Bumpkin.” He laughed as I hit him.
“I told you to stop calling me that.” I pouted.
“Never.” I shook my head as I laid back down. For a moment we sat there in silence. I knew he was hurting, but I didn’t know what to say.
“Zach are you okay?” I breathed.
“I’m fine Bumpkin. I promise.”
“It’s okay not to be, trust me. Zach Destiny loved you.” I smiled. To my surprise he scoffed and pushed me off of him.
“How would you know Hope?” He spat. I narrowed my eyebrows at him. I hadn’t meant to hit a nerve, but he didn’t have to be so rude.
“Because she told me endlessly that’s how.”
“Pft. I find that hard to believe.” He spat.
“You shouldn’t. We had an on going thing about it. She called you Mr.James endlessly it was cute. I mean she was my best friend Zach.”
“You can’t trust everyone Hope!” He yelled causing me to jump up and almost fall in the process.
“What the hell Zach? Am I missing something?”
“N-no.... Look it’s just been a trying few months. Word of advice, our name may help to shape who we are, but you let yours take over who you are. At that point it’s not having hope. It’s called being naive.”
“Let’s just go. Today isn’t about either of us or past. It’s about Beniyah. Remember him? Your son.” He spat before shaking his head and storming off. I felt tears prick the corner of my eyes. What was his problem and why had he snapped at me like that? I was losing both of them and I had no idea why.
“Happy birthday baby boy.” I smiled kissing his cheek as he laughed.
“Stop mommy!” He screamed. Whoever said a baby’s laugh would bring you joy definitely knew what they were talking about. There were little kids everywhere. It was so much noise up until someone had the bright idea to turn the tv on while serving them hot dogs. It was completely silent as I watched Beniyah pick up a balloon and pop it. I jumped scared as a memory overtook my mind.
“Answer me!” Novian yelled. “Who the fuck bailed you out?”
“I did.” There she was. Destiny was standing in the doorway with Beniyah on her hip and a gun in her hand. He was safe. That’s all I cared about. “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 the girl, but I hadn’t even known she was in the room with us. The moment she turned the gun on Beniyah my heart dropped. I tried to scream but my body was only getting weaker.
I gasped as tears flowed down my cheeks. Everyone was staring at me, but the only eyes I could find were Zach’s and Novian’s. Shaking my head I tired to stand on to fall on the floor.
“Oh my god! Hope are you okay?” Novian yelled as both of them came rushing towards me.
“Dont! Don’t either you fucking touch me!” I yelled glaring at them. I smiled thankfully as Mr.James helped me to my feet before returning my glare towards them.
“Hope, I’m sorry about earlier-”
“Fuck off Zach and fuck you.” I spat.
“Don’t Hope me. Fuck the both you.” They stood there shock as more hot angry tears ran down my cheeks. “Why didn’t either of you tell me that bitch pulled a gun on my baby? She was going to kill Beniyah and neither of you thought that was something I should know?! And he isn’t dead!” I yelled.
“For fucksakes you let me continue to call her my best-friend! She tried to kill my child...OUR FUCKING CHILD NOVIAN and still you let me weep for her!” I yelled.
“Hope that’s enough!” Yelled Novian shutting me up immediately. “If you want to talk let’s go upstairs, but don’t you dare have a meltdown. Not here and not now.”
“I have nothing to say to you.” I spat.
“That’s it.” He took a step forward and honestly I was scared. My eyes widen as I took a step back. He stopped the hurt clear in his eyes. “Really Hope? Really?” He whispered. I opened my mouth to speak but no words would come out. We stared at each other. I could practically feel every emotion flashing in his eyes and I was positive he was feeling the same. “Wow.” He said shaking his head before heading over to Beniyah and walking out the apartment.
“Um...I’m so sorry everyone, but the party is going to end a bit early. Don’t forget your party favors.” Yelled Mrs.James shooting me a concern glance. I sighed as I sat in a chair letting the tears flow freely. I couldn’t remember anything that happened past the day that Novian messaged me and it was starting to get the best of me. I couldn’t do it anymore.
“Hope? Hope sweetie are you okay?” I looked up only to be met with the concern eyes of Mrs.James. I shook my head no as my sobs became full on cries of pain. “Sweetie it’s okay.” She cooed as she embraced me tightly in her arms.
“It’s not okay. It’s not and I can’t take it anymore.”
“Hope that’s something serious to say.”
“I can’t Clara, I just can’t. I can’t remember anything. I’m pregnant and I have no idea who the father of my baby is. A balloon popping triggered a piece of my memory and it only made things worse. Novian knows more than he’s letting on and Zach was at my apartment that day for a reason, but I have no clue what that reason is. My apartment was a crime scene and blood was everywhere. It’s killing me not knowing.” I whined.
“Sweetie they are only trying to do what the doctor told them. He said to not to try and force your memory back. The best way to describe to you what happened is that you are blocking your own memories.”
“So it’s my fault that I can’t remember? Great.”
“No Hope. All that means is what you went through was so traumatic that your mind is blocking it out.”
“I just want to know why Novian won’t talk to me. Why was I just so afraid of him right now?” I cried feeling defeated as I laid my head against her chest.
“We can’t tell you that sweetie. Trust me we all want too, but we can’t. The doctor doesn’t think it’s a good idea.” I said nothing as I cried harder into her shoulder.
Where was Jake and why wasn’t he around anymore? Why would Novian lie about him being dead?
Novian had never hurt me in anyway and I doubt that he could hurt a fly, but for some reason he scared the shit out of me now.
Zach had always been the person that I knew I could trust. Who would always be there for me. It was part of the reason I gave him temporary guardianship of Beniyah and now he felt like a stranger.
Destiny was my bestfriend, but in that clip of memory I hardly recognized her. What was her deal and why did she feel the need to threaten a child? Why would someone who was supposed to have been like a sister to me hold a gun up to my child’s head? None of it was making sense to me. None of it was adding up.
Why was Jake in jail and why did Destiny feel the need to bail him out? Did he ask me or was he in there because of me?
I couldn’t take it as I cried into Mrs.James chest and soon my screams were surrounding me, suffocating me. Mrs.James held onto me tighter cooeing soothing words to calm me down, but nothing was working.
“It’s okay Hope I’m here. I’m right here.” Said Novian as he sat on the floor with me. I wanted my dad. I missed him so much. Today was his birthday and all I wanted was to hear his voice. So much had already happened today and I nearly forgot. I hadn’t decorated or gotten him a cake. I was a useless daughter. I failed him. Again a scream pierced though my apartment.
I felt myself being lifted onto his lap as he rocked me back and forth.
“I’m right here Hope. I’ll always be here.” He kept repeating the same eight words over and over as he rocked me until I finally calmed down. He stood up carrying me to my room and laying me in bed.
“I’m right here Hope. I’ll always be here.” Again I was being rocked. I looked up to see the tear filled almond chocolate eyes as he held me. We were the only ones left in here.
“You were there that night. It was dad’s birthday and I was crying, but I was crying about more than just that. You were there to calm me down and your here now.”
“But-” he asked.
“But it still feels like we’re miles apart.” I whispered holding my head down. I heard him sigh.
“Hope you don’t know how much I wish I could just tell you everything. It would literally feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders, but I can’t. Until I can it’s that we only speak when it concerns Beniyah, but I’m always here if you need to be held.” I said nothing as he walked away. I wanted to call him back, but I just didn’t have the strength in me anymore. I needed some answers and I needed them now. Pulling out my phone I quickly dialed a number I hadn’t used in forever.
“Hey Marcus.” I breathed.
“If it isn’t Novian’s other half. What can I help you with? Don’t tell me the two of you are trying to become stoners again.”
“No it’s not like that. I need a ride and I need you to promise not to tell Novian. Can you do that?”
“I’ll be there in five.” I hung up the phone as I placed my hands on my stomach.
“Mommy’s sorry, but I need some answers and it’s only one way I’m going to get them. I need to go back. I need to go back to where everything happened.”
We met him when we were sophomores and he was a junior. He claimed he was talking us under his wing. In other words he was showing us how to ditch classes and still be marked for perfect attendance. Having him around became handy. Senior year we had a falling out and I had no idea why. After Novian and I became an official thing we rarely spoke to him anymore. Novian never explained. Just told me to stay away from him. I sat there for a moment more as I contemplating calling him back and just canceling everything. Maybe Novian was right and I needed to wait for everything to come back instead of pushing myself. I heard a car horn outside followed by Novian’s voice yelling.
“What the hell are you doing here?!” Oh no. I gasped a memory came back to me.
“I told you not to come Novian. I told you not to come.” I cried.
“I don’t care. You were foolish to think I wouldn’t.” He spat.
“He threaten to kill you. I didn’t want to lose you.”
“And you thought putting yourself in arms length of danger was a better idea? Hope I told you I’ll always be there for you. Despite it all I’m here for you.”
“I wanted to protect you.”
“Now let me protect you.” I watched as he looked at his hands. They were covered in blood and even though he was trying to keep calm for my sake I know he was panicking from the look in his eyes. My eyelids were growing heavy and even though I tried to fight it I couldn’t keep them open.
“No. Stay with me Hope. Stay with me.” He begged. “Zach!” He yelled. I could hear fighting in the background and could see the indecision on his face. I knew Zach could handle his self, but things were rapidly growing out of control.
“No-Novian w-where’s Beniyah?” I asked breathing hard. I was having trouble focusing and I was going in and out of it, I needed to know that he was ok. I hadn’t had a real meal in weeks and even less water. I could die happy knowing that he was safe. “Novian? W-where’s Beniyah?”
“He’s okay Hope. He’s somewhere safe.”
“With Mrs. Thompson.” He spat. His eyes kept shifting over to Zach and Jake. I knew he was trying to figure out ways he could help the both us. There was a loud thud and his eyes landed on where it came from. It had to be the gun and I knew what he was thinking. I didn’t want anyone to die. The gun needed to be gotten rid of and it had to be now.
“Novian you have to stop this.” I cried. I hated all of this violence and I needed it to stop. All of this was because of me and I couldn’t live with myself of someone got seriously hurt. “Please.” A single tear rolled down my cheeks before I passed out.
I stood in the doorway tears in my eyes. It made sense now. Novian was arguing with Marcus, but it all sounded like buzzing to me.
“Novian.” I tried to call for him, but it was barely coming out louder than a whisper. “NOVIAN!” I yelled. He turned around so sharply and just one look told me he knew.
“Hope let’s go inside and you...you get the fuck away from here.”
“Here’s fifty. Get the fuck on.” He said nothing else as he grabbed the money and got back in his car. Novian turned back towards me and was quick to help me back inside.
“Novian. Novian stop!” I yelled. “Did you...did you kill Destiny?” He sighed heavily before nodding. He had his head down. “You saved us? Both Beniyah and me?” Again he nodded. “Thank you.”
His head shot up as he stared at me.
“I thought you hated violence.”
“I do, but anyone willing to put a gun to a baby’s head deserve whatever they got coming to them.” For the first time in months he smiled at me before pulling me into a hug. I melted against his touch. “I’m sorry for ruining the party.” I apologized.
“It’s okay. None of us were really ready for it anyways.”
“Should’ve just had a pizza night instead.” I laughed.
“It’s not too late.” I smiled up at him. Now that I knew he was the one who pulled the trigger on Destiny he was like a weight had been lifted off of his chest. I was finally getting the Novian I knew back.
Finally it time to go to bed. I sat in the chair lift as I went upstairs. Before going to sleep I needed to talk to Zach. To my surprise he was already by my door.
“Hope I’m so sorry. About everything. I-”
“Zach,” I said cutting him off with a smile. “It’s okay. I talked to Novian and I understand. I’m okay with what he did. Eventually people show their true colors.”
“Huh? I thought you’d be more upset about it.”
“Why would I? I don’t need the stress. In the end forgiveness is key.” I shrugged.
“Well you better than me. I hate knowing she was in love with him while I loved her. To know they had sex after you two got into that argument makes me sick to my stomach. I find it hard to be around him some days.” My heart dropped.
“What?” He stopped as his eyes widen.
“Shit. That’s not what he told you is it?” He asked. “Fuck he’s going to kill me.”
“Zach, did Novian and Destiny have sex?” He nodded sadly as I fell foward into his arms sobs shaking my body. I can’t believe this. Why would he do that?
“Do you love him?”
The flashes wouldn’t stop as I cried into Zach’s shoulders.
“Do you wish I would’ve died that night instead? Do you wish it was my brother that got you pregnant? Tell me have you ever cheated on me with him. He was your first right? You gave yourself to him before you ever thought about me in that way. You say the kid is mines and you really expect me to believe that, but you gave him away to literally the last person I’d want raising him. Whose to say the kid isn’t my nephew instead of my son. Whose to say you aren’t a whore with some very loose lips.”
Why would he say something like that to me? He was supposed to know me like no one else. He was supposed to know when I was lying.
“I DON’T CARE! ANSWER ME HOPE! Is the kid my son or my nephew?”
“He’s your son Novian! He’s your son!” I yelled as someone tried to calm me.
GET THE FUCK OUT HOPE! JUST GET AWAY FROM ME! I don’t want to ever see you again, hear your voice or anything else that involves you. You’re absolutely nothing to me. You might as well be dead.”
“No! Novian stop! Let me explain! Please let me explain.” I cried.
“Hope! Hope!” I snapped out of it and came eye to eye with Novian. He eyes were full of concern, but the only thing I saw was hate.
“I’m nothing to you? I might as well be dead?” I cried. “You threw me out just to turn around and have sex with her? With Destiny of all people? She pretended to care for me and about only so she could get to you and you gave her exactly what she wanted.” I spat taking a step away from him. I hated this stupid cast. Why did I even need it? It only slowed me down.
“Hope it’s not as simple as you think.” He pleaded.
“Really? You gave me shit because you believed what I said about Zach and you knew it was all lies. You knew it?! You’ve told me multiple times that one look in my eyes and you’d know all my secrets. So don’t you dare sit there and claim you thought it was the truth. You wanted to hurt me. Congratulations you’ve succeeded.”
“Hope you had just told me you had an abortion because you were pregnant by my brother. I don’t care if it was just to push me away, but you don’t play with someone’s feelings like that. You expected me to be able to look in your eyes and decipher the truth when I was so disgusted to just glance at you. Hope in that moment I hated you and I didn’t care if you were dead-”
“Then why did you save me!”
“Because our son needs you. I need you.”
“I feel so needed right now.” I watched as he clenched and unclenched his fists.
“Look, you don’t have all the facts and until you remember everything that happened for damn near two months you won’t.”
“Why did you leave me for three years?” I questioned getting fed up with everyone skating around me. “My dad was dead and I needed you, but your weren’t there.”
“Hope come with me. Give him a moment.”
“No Zach. I needed answers. Why did you leave me for three years?”
“NO! Why did you leave me for three years Novian? Why?”
“BECAUSE I WAS IN JAIL! I WAS IN THE CAR THAT KILLED YOUR FATHER! I FLED THE SCENE AND THEN I TURNED MYSELF BECAUSE I THOUGHT YOU WERE PREGNANT AND I DIDN’T WANT TO RAISE A CHILD WITH YOU! ARE YOU HAPPY NOW? IS THAT WHAT YOU WANTED TO KNOW?!” He stomped away pulling at his hair as I hobbled my way to my room and fell in bed tears streaming down my cheeks.
“Just bring me my son Zach and please leave me the hell alone.”
“I’m sorry.” He said before leaving out. I sat there for a moment wiping the tears away and changing into my pajamas. Soon Zach came back with a sleeping Beniyah. “Sorry it took so long Novian was with him.” I said nothing as I laid down and cuddled him against me. He was all I had left. “I love you Hope. Despite whatever happens between you and Novian you’ll still be my little sister.” He said kissing me on my forehead.
“How can you forgive him?”
“Because of what you said earlier. Destiny nickname for me was Zachy-pooh. She only ever called Novian Mr.James. she a manipluative and she played us all.”
“How could he not have wanted Beniyah before he even knee about him?” I cried kissing my baby boy on the forehead.
“For the reason you gave him to me. He was scared. The both of us had gottem your associates and were barely starting your lives. I wasn’t the right time for a child.”
“And now?” I asked pointing to my stomach.
“Now don’t let the fear of the past and what you went through scare you of the future. You two need to work things out and you can’t start until you remember.”
“I hate him.” I spat more tears coming out.
“That’s only because you love him.” I gasped as he grabbed my hand and another flash came back to me.
“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 he 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 the 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.”
“I don’t care anymore Zach. I’m tired of us tearing each other down one minute and being in love the next. It’s not healthy for either of us.”
“If you don’t like it change it. Stop just yelling at each other and talk. Don’t just listen when the words hurt. Listen regardless. It shouldn’t matter of it’s something you don’t want to hear.”
“I just don’t have it in me anymore Zach.”
“Then neither of you really love each other and it’s time to stop thinking that you do.” I laid there shocked as he stomped out of the room. Was I actually confusing dependency for love? I looked at Beniyah and sighed.
“Maybe I should file for sole custody of you baby. Do you want to come and live with just mommy?” I smiled. “I know. It sounds pefect to me to. Just you and me. Forever.