Hope Is Lost(2)

By: Emma James


My rip cord has been pulled, and I can’t seem to get ahold of myself. I’m not finished giving them all hell.

“I mean, do I look like I can’t handle it? Well, apart from the fact”—I wave my hand in front of my head—“that the staircase really should not be there; it’s dangerous. This wouldn’t have happened if I’d been told already.” My words are sounding a little groggy, and my head’s stinging like a bitch. I know I must look like a mess, but I will not complain in front of these guys who have lost so much.

The pain Levi must have endured… I can’t even begin to fathom.

“Why the hell wasn’t I told about Levi? I mean, Keanu and I have been through this already, and I would have thought that was an icebreaker. I would’ve thought I was good to go for knowing about Levi, but obviously not!” I snap out.

Now it’s Levi’s turn for a dressing down, so I soften my voice. “Levi, when were you going to tell me, honey? Are you sure there are no more surprises waiting around the corner that you lot don’t think I’m capable of knowing about?” I pause to get myself under control. “This is the perfect opportunity to tell me because I really can’t hit anything else from this position.” I feel so many emotions at the moment. I’m having trouble sorting through them all.

They are all watching me like I’ve lost it, but I can’t seem to stop myself. I think the combination of seeing Levi and cracking my head open has me babbling and a little unhinged. As my world starts to spin a little, I begin feeling nauseous. A small groan escapes me, and Jase nearly jumps out of his skin.

“Sorry Jase, I’m feeling like I’m going to puke from my head hurting so freakin’ much. Not that I’m complaining.” I wasn’t supposed to let that slip out, but the darn room won’t stop spinning, so I flop back against Jase’s hard chest. “I think I might need a bucket...”

In my rant, I let the towel slip, and Jase picks it up and wipes my face then places it back over my forehead.

“I’m sorry for making a mess all over your mats,” I mumble out because I really am not feeling very hot. I just can’t seem to shut up. “I’m doing really well with my reactions to you and Keanu. Sorry, Levi, I’m not trying to be insensitive.” I take a moment to try and stay quiet, but I simply can’t. “I’m not sure why I have to make such a spectacle out of myself each time. It really is starting to get a little embarrassing.”

I’m waving my hand around now slowly, hoping it will counteract me being a blabbermouth.

Nope.

“Levi what do you call your leg prosthetic?” Oh, God, is that even an appropriate thing to ask? “What I mean is, do you have a personalized name for it that I need to know?”

Somebody shut me up.

Gag me.

Trying to hide underneath the towel that’s on my forehead, I nudge Jase’s hand down a bit. When Levi nudges it back up so he can see me, he’s smiling a little.

“Wow, I would honestly have never known. You look beautiful.” I pause, hoping it’s enough to shut me up.

Nope

“I’m babbling... I know... It’s not you Levi; it’s me. Please know that. I shouldn’t have reacted the way I did, I—”

Levi silences me with a finger on my lips and a bit more of a smile appears. “It’s a running blade, Short Stuff. I use it in here so I can be light on my feet when I’m boxing, and like Keanu, I have different prosthetics, depending on what my day to day activities are, but we can talk about that later. Rest assured, I don’t have any fancy names like Keanu, although I do have a fancy prosthetic called the X3, and it’s the bomb.” He cringes slightly. “Maybe not the best word choice.”

One of the trainers brings over a plastic lined bucket for Jase to put beside my head, and when he hovers, Jase waves him away, knowing I wouldn’t want an audience if I’m going to puke my guts up.

“Well, you look as beautiful as always.” My voice is rising as I try to keep the nausea I’m feeling at bay.

God, I feel awful.

I try to sit up straighter, hoping that might help. “Levi, honey, I need you to understand that in no way do I want you to feel upset for my lunatic behavior. I got a shock and tried to hide it in true klutz fashion that didn’t end well for me. I’ve just made an ass out of myself... again.”

Whoa, this isn’t going to end well.

I clutch my stomach, and then my hand flies to my mouth. “I feel sick.”





Text helps Faith to hold the bucket as she empties her breakfast into it. When she’s finished he moves her slightly so he can use one arm to pull his T-shirt off over his head. Then he hands it to her to wipe herself up with it.

“Sorry about that everybody.” She lies back against Text’s chest and closes her eyes. “I think I might just stay here a bit longer”—she holds a finger up at nobody in particular—“and nobody tells my parents.” She lets the hand holding the towel slide down.

Faith sure has made a mess of her face. She looks like a victim of a college horror movie with a gaping gash and more blood spilt than should be necessary.

Faith opens her eyes briefly. “I’m good,” she mumbles.

Keanu has perfect timing. He appears over Levi’s shoulder, ready to hit the gym. “Shit! What happened to Faith? Is she going to be all right?” Now he’s looking accusingly at all of us with his hands on his hips in the way only Keanu can. “Who’s causing Faith to swoon? That’s my job?” Then he looks down at Faith who has her eyes open, smiling a bit of a crazy smile at him. “Hey, honey, whatcha doing making a mess of Text’s gym? He has a blood rule in here, you know.”

Levi steps away from Keanu a little defensively. “Nobody hurt her. She did it to herself. Short Stuff’s making it into an art form.” Levi’s attempting some humor in light of what has happened.

Keanu looks a little worriedly at Levi. “I gather she got a look at that leg of yours. I can see a shirt here for Faith.” He holds his hand up dramatically, using it to express each word. “CAUTION: LOSS OF LIMB AND SHITTY MOCKTAILS CAUSES SWOONING. She could wear a nice tank top with that printed on it, and on the back, it could say, THESE ARE MY TRIGGERS.” Now he’s looking at us all and pointing his finger at us. “Nobody else lose a limb. That’s an order.”

“Keannnuuu.” I know it’s his way of coping, and I love him, but he really does need a filter sometimes.

He ignores my warning and focuses on Faith. “This is shaping up to be quite a memorable few days for you, honey. Gotta admit, you’re not boring.” His attention settles on all of us. “On a more serious note, what are y’all standing around for? She’s bleeding all over the place, and that head of hers isn’t gonna fix itself. Chop! Chop!”

Then he leans over and gently kisses Faith on the top of her head.

“Sorry to see you are in the trenches again.” He drops his voice. “Don’t worry about Levi. I’ve got him.” He gives her a wink that puts a small smile on her face. “You might also wanna pick up some toothpaste on the way out.” He screws his face up and waves his hand in front of his face, and she smiles a little bit more. “That’s my girl.”

Once I help her get up, my brother is attached to her before I can do anything else, his arm secured around her waist.

“Okay, looks like we are off for a trip to Doc’s office.”

Text turns and starts heading towards the front entrance of the gym with Faith.

I call out to my brother. “I’ll drive, and you look after Faith in the back seat.”

With the fierce protectiveness vibe coming off him, I know there’s no way he’s letting go of her or being separated from her. He’s marked his territory, and nobody is getting between him and Faith at the moment.

“Whoever else wants to come along for the ride can pile into the Hummer; otherwise, I’ll talk to you later.”

Keanu and Levi follow us out to the front entrance.

“I’ll stay here with Levi. I’ve been through this already with Faith, so I’ll do some counselling with my good buddy here.” Keanu looks over at his best friend, slapping Levi on the shoulder. It looks like he needs some reassurance about his manly good looks and a dose of, it’s-not-your-fault. “You can call me Dr. Phil.” Levi rolls his eyes. “I expect Faith to be looking as good as new by the time we see her next. Or at least in the condition you brought her to The Cage in.”

I shake my head at Keanu. He’s always the humorous one when things get a bit sticky, but it’s part of what makes Keanu so special.

He waves us off. “Keep in touch. I’ll let Retro know Faith has bonked herself again. We’ll come over later and say hi. ”





Fuck! I can’t stop my hands from shaking, and my heart needs to slow its pounding beat. When I looked over the stairs and saw Faith laid out, my worst fears hit me like a derailed train. I can’t lose Faith, too.

I nearly lost it on those stairs until my brother told me what she had done. I saw two things: blood and Faith. And that was enough to bring my worst fears to my mind. When she was flat on her back, I was looking around for a gunman. My first thoughts were somebody had shot her. What else was I supposed to think? I’ve been in one massacre, and it does crazy things to your mind. Stuff stays there and haunts you.