Hope Is Lost (Ocean Beach #2)

By: Emma James

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

- Jimi Hendrix

Mini-me wondered why I didn’t dedicate A Little Faith to her.

I dedicate Hope Is Lost to my three children.

You make me want to try harder in life.

Reaching for something in the distance

So close you can almost taste it

Release your inhibitions

- Natasha Bedingfield

My boxing session has loosened me up, and I’m feeling relaxed. I always feel good after I’ve sweated it out. I’m showered and carrying my gym bag back around to find Faith, who should be finished with her yoga lesson, when I hear a cry and a loud thump.

What the hell? I do a slow jog down to the open part of the gym where the mats are to find somebody is laid out on the ground beside the stairs. My brain instantly kicks in to gear. I’d know those legs anywhere.

Jesus. It’s Faith. What the fuck!

Levi’s down on the mats beside Faith, frantically talking to her. “Short Stuff, I’m so sorry. Are you all right?”

I make it over to Levi in double time and kneel down next to him. “What happened, man?”

There’s blood pouring out of her head, and her previous gash has been opened up wide. With the gash looking like it’s deeper and longer now, it’s bubbling up like a drinking fountain.

“I happened.” Levi has no humor in his voice. “Harley, can you grab a towel to help stop the bleeding. She’s going to need to get her head stitched up again. Honestly, she took one look at me, cried out, and then she turned away and shot forward. But she didn’t realize the stairs were behind her, and she ran straight into the side of them, hitting the cement edge of one of the stairs. She split her head open again and knocked herself on her back from the impact.”

I concentrate on Faith who is dazed and trying to sit up while Levi tries to keep her lying down. I’m not sure if she knows what just happened.

“Faith, honey, just relax, we’ve got you. Just stay down until we can get your head under control. You’re going to be okay.” She visibly relaxes when she hears my voice.

When I unzip my sports bag which I dropped by my leg, pulling out a clean, spare hand towel, Levi snatches it from me. Then I hear my brother’s office door slam and look up.

He’s standing outside of his office at the top of the stairs, looking down on us over the side of the handrail, his eyes widening in shock. Once his mind catches up with what he is seeing, I can see the fear and panic on his face as he rushes down the stairs.

Aahh, hell. Here we go.

I hold one hand up to him, trying to reassure him. “She’ll be okay,” I call up to him. I can only imagine what this looks like to my brother. “It looks worse than it is.”

He isn’t listening to me. He’s too busy concentrating on flying down the stairs.

I hang my head, knowing my brother will be going through his own private little hell at the moment until he sees for himself what I’ve been trying to tell him. His head will be filled with flashbacks of the island. He won’t be seeing Faith and a split open head; he’ll be seeing death and a bloody massacre.

My words seem to have sunken into Levi’s head, though. He’s handling the situation a lot better now, gently holding the towel to her head as blood seeps into it.

Text drops to his knees to move in behind her carefully, lifting Faith’s shoulders and placing her head in his lap. He takes a deep breath then shoves Levi in the shoulder to get his attention before he takes the towel from him with an anger directed solely at Levi.

“Hey! Cut it out. It’s not Levi’s fault.” I warn my brother in a voice that gets his attention.

It’s such a punch to the gut seeing my brother treat Levi like this. My brother is afraid for Faith, and he’s hurting his friend in the process. I can see how upset he is, but it’s not Levi’s fault. It’s nobody’s.

My brother’s been able to hide himself away these past six years, but now that Faith’s arrived, she’s pushing his emotional buttons. He’s buried them deep. They are tucked away into little boxes where he doesn’t have to acknowledge them if he doesn’t want to, and now Faith’s messing with all that.

Levi holds his hands up in front of him. “Whoa. Text, buddy, I was just minding my own business. I just got here to do a work out. I think Faith saw me, and I shocked the hell out of her… head-meet-stairs.” He points to the stairs above us, a bloody smear on the side. “Those stitches of hers split open like a smashed tomato, and she knocked herself right off her feet. I don’t know how well she’s doing… I think she was seeing stars for a bit, because she wasn’t tracking me.”

My brother’s staring at the red smear above us, his eyes glazed over. I don’t think he’s even in The Cage at the moment. I think he’s on the island.

I snap my fingers in front of his face to try to break through. “Text, I want you to look around and see where you are. You and everybody else here is safe. We’re all in your gym, The Cage.” I talk slowly and confidently to him.

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