~Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6~
img_0200
“Go ahead!” I was all riled up now. “What do you have to say for yourself? Why are you suddenly Connor’s accomplice? Were you his ‘friend’ this entire time? I can’t believe you!”

Emma shook her head, looking like she was about to cry. I knew she was sensitive, and I almost felt bad for yelling at her. But she had obviously lost some of her sensitivity to turn against her very own friends, that backstabber!

img_0201
“Issa!” Lexi scolded in a breathless gasp, suddenly appearing on the scene. “Give her a chance to speak!”

img_0202
“Issa, Lexi,” Emma began, her voice thick with emotion. “Please believe me. I had no idea… I’m so sorry… Connor didn’t tell me!”

“What do you mean?” I snapped in vexation, pulling one of my very frizzy curls behind my ear. My hair was a mess from all that tree stake-outting, and my outfit was pretty rumpled. I was breathing hard from anger and my mad dart from the tree all the way to Emma. But I was also too upset to care.

“Issa!” Lexi scolded again. “Let her finish!” Emma took a deep breath, and then it was Lexi’s turn to interrupt.

img_0203
“Let’s sit down in the shade,” Lexi suggested quickly. “It’s pretty hot out, and we’re both tired.”

img_0205
Once we took our seats underneath the shade of the tree Lexi and I had stake-outed in, Emma’s story began. “Let me start from the beginning…”

img_0206
“On the second day of school, Connor told me that he wanted me to help him with something. I knew that he was new and that he was staying with y’all, and I wanted to be nice, so I said ‘sure.’ Connor told me that he and some other kids were battling to see who could raise the most money for the FCA, and that it was all in good fun. He wanted me to help him out, and he said that if I did, he would give me all the money that he raised for the FCA.”

img_0207
I nodded. “Go on.”

img_0208
Emma sighed before continuing, “Connor told me to take down all the flyers along this street, telling me it was okay because it was just a little game he was playing with some other kids. I wanted the money to donate to an organization of my own that I am passionate about.”

img_0210
“What’s that?” asked Lexi.

img_0217
“It’s called Paws and Claws. It’s an organization that helps wounded animals.”

Interesting. I wasn’t a big fan of animals, but I nodded my head.

“The first day of school, you asked me how I had been. I told you that I couldn’t complain and that others had it worse, and that’s because I was feeling really sad but didn’t want to complain. My kitten, Sneakers, had died that week. I adopted Sneakers with my own money from Paws and Claws, who helped his broken leg. When Connor told me that the money he raised would be given to me instead of the FCA, I jumped at the chance to give back to Paws and Claws. They had helped Sneakers so much,” Emma explained.

img_0213
Then she smiled with longing, her eyes trailing off dreamily. “I also wanted to raise enough for myself to adopt another kitten just like Sneakers.”

img_0215
“But why would you take down our flyers?” I demanded. “No matter how badly you want to raise money to help animals, that’s wrong, Emma!”

img_0217Emma shook her head again quickly. “No, no!” She tried to make me understand. “I didn’t know they were your flyers! Connor didn’t tell me that you two were the kids he was playing the joke on. He told me the joke was harmless, but I never would have done it if I had known you guys were the ones who had put up those flyers, no matter how harmless it was.”

img_0218
Should I tell her about the war? I wondered silently, looking over at Lexi. Lexi seemed to know what I was thinking, and she gave me a nod, signaling she thought it would be okay.

img_0219
“Emma, it wasn’t a harmless joke. Connor is a very mean person, but you didn’t know. It’s okay about the flyers; but never believe what Connor tells you.”

Emma looked confused. “Why?”

I proceeded to explain briefly about the war at the FCA and how it’s continuing. Emma seemed shocked and horrified.

img_0220
“You should tell an adult!” Emma gasped.

img_0221
“No!” Came my quick resistance. “Nobody needs to know. I can do this on my own. Without an adult’s help.”

“Adults aren’t going to join you against Connor. They would stop this whole thing. Isn’t that what you want?” Emma asked.

img_0222
I hesitated. I hated Connor, but I also hated this war. Broken hearts are hard to glue back together. You’re never quite the same after you’ve been hurt by someone.

But had revenge helped at all?

img_0223“I can stop it on my own,” I insisted stubbornly, forgetting that Lexi had been faithfully helping me. “Without an adult’s help.”

img_0224
Lexi stood up and sat next to me. I felt her slip an arm around my shoulders. “You might not want Jackson or Amy to help,” she reminded with a smile. “But I’m with you every step of the way.”

img_0225
Emma sweetly scooted closer and put her arm around me as well. “Me too,” she agreed, then echoed, “Every step of the way.”

img_0226
“Thanks, guys,” I mumbled, touched by their friendship even when I hadn’t always been the most patient to either of them. “Y’all rock.”

But when the steps grew tougher to take and the road to revenge seemed endless, would they remember their promise?

The only comforting thought was that now Connor had no one on his side to help him, whereas I had two.

img_0230
Connor hadn’t planned for this to happen, and I could see his eyes smoldering with intense, loathing hatred as I caught his gaze which had been on us this entire time.

img_0232Fear gripped my heart; you never see those eyes unless Connor has something huge planned up his sleeve.

img_0233But “something huge” didn’t even hold a candle to the horrid plan he carried out.


MWAHAHAHAAA!

I couldn’t hold the evil laughter in any longer. What’s the plan?! That’s for me to know and you to find out… IN PART 8! 😉 Or how about never? ?

I’m almost done writing the finale. It will be part 10. I hope y’all have enjoyed season 2 of HOTH as much as I have! I thought of the most epic cliffhanger ever to end it with…. and then I’ll make y’all wait until season 2 of both Little Orphan Emmi and Mines of Malaysia are over before season 3 of HOTH! 😉

I’m partly kidding. ?