~Part 1~
I didn’t answer as I returned his piercing glare. What could I do about it, anyways?

IMG_0096We both heard the footsteps of Amy gently padding down the carpeted hallway and toward our bedroom to wish us goodnight. Instantly Connor shifted into the friendly little child he pretended to be.

IMG_0098He then turned to Amy. “Good night, Mrs. Taylor!”

Amy smiled pleasantly, very pleased by Connor’s good manners. “Good night, Connor. Do let me know if you need anything.”

IMG_0100After turning to me, she spoke, “Good night, Issa! Sleep well, you two.”

Sleep well? With Connor’s words haunting my mind knowing he would stop at nothing for revenge? That’s a tall order.

IMG_0101“Night, Issa,” cheerful Connor called casually as he turned away to his bedroom.

“Good night,” I returned just as sweetly.

IMG_0104Before Amy turned to go, I gave her a good night hug. Things were going to change for the worse, and I didn’t know how soon. But I wanted to feel Amy’s loving arms around me before it all began.

“Good night, Amy.”

“Good night, Issa. Sweet dreams.”

IMG_0106Sweet dreams were another tall order, I realized, as I trudged back to the bedroom Lexi and I shared.

IMG_0107I reached for a good book to read and help me relax before bed (if that was possible by then), but Lexi interrupted me.

“What was that all about?”

I stopped abruptly, my hand frozen in midair.

IMG_0108“What war?” She pressed. “You can keep things from my parents, but you can’t keep them from me.”

I sighed, knowing I had been busted. I turned around to face Lexi.

IMG_0110“You want the truth, huh?” I asked.

Lexi nodded. “All of it.”

I sighed again, beginning to open old wounds.

IMG_0111“As you know, I’ve been with the FCA, the Foster Care Association, since I was three. I was always being transferred to different foster homes – until I came here. Sometimes, in between foster home transitions, I would stay at my caretaker Martha’s house or at the FCA facility. You see, Martha was helping a lot of other foster kids as well, so some nights she was away late and I couldn’t stay at her house all the time. Most nights between different homes, sometimes for weeks, were spent at the FCA center.”

IMG_0113I paused to take a breath, and Lexi asked, “So where does Connor come in? And the war?”

IMG_0115I pulled out the chair from under the desk. “I’m getting to that,” I told her.

IMG_0116Sitting down, I continued, “Let’s see, if I’m twelve now, I met Connor when I was ten. That’s right after his mother died. At first, Connor was like any other kid I talked to during free time and meal time. But then the superintendent brought out what started as a friendly game but turned into much more.” I exhaled. “Too much more.”

IMG_0117Lexi furrowed her eyebrows. “What do you mean?”

“It was a game of Scrabble,” I muttered. “That’s all it was. Or all it was supposed to be.”

A discombobulated Lexi cocked her head, and I went on.

IMG_0118“I was picked first to play against three others in that game of Scrabble, one of whom was Connor. I was really close to winning, but he won the game.” I then rolled my eyes. “Connor is super competitive and totally unsportsmanlike. He hates to lose, especially to a girl. He said a lot of rude things when he won, just teasing and taunting and stuff like that. I shouldn’t have let it bother me, but all that time at the FCA, I was angry.”

IMG_0119“Angry, huh? Go on,” Lexi urged.

I proceeded to explain. “I was angry at the many foster parents I had seen for not keeping me. It was mostly my fault, of course, and I was angry at myself for not behaving better. I was also angry at the FCA. I had to take my anger out on something, because I didn’t know Jesus like I do now. I couldn’t cast my cares upon Him because I didn’t know Him.” I then grinned a little. “So I got angry at Connor.”

IMG_0120Lexi’s eyes widened. “You showed your angry side?” She joked.

“For real!” I chuckled.

IMG_0121“I demanded that he take back the unsportsmanlike words, but he insisted they were true. That ‘boys were smarter than girls’ and that ‘girls couldn’t do anything’. I shouldn’t have gotten upset, but I did. We argued and argued, our words turning rude and nasty. The superintendent finally had to get between us to get Connor and I to stop yelling at each other!” I paused, swallowing hard. “And so we became enemies.”

“Enemies?” Lexi inquired.

“It grew to be more than that as time went on. As insults changed from how well we played at games to very cruel things said about our parents, it grew serious. Most of it was emotional, but he hurt me deeply, Lexi. Words can really, really hurt. Connor and I hated each other in secret but pretended like we had apologized after our argument in front of the superintendent. We acted like we were friendly acquaintances, but we were arch nemeses.”

Lexi nodded. “Like at dinner tonight?”

“Yes,” I answered. “Exactly. The arguments grew into pranks, and pranks into prank battles. The battles turned into a full-fledged girls vs. boys war with the kids of the entire FCA facility – all under the adults’ noses. It was a war involving pranks that were actually dangerous and that could have hurt us and others; but of course, nothing could have hurt as bad as the words Connor and I said to each other. The ones about our late parents and dead family stung especially bad, and you just can’t take back words after you’ve said them. The worst part is that we didn’t even want to take them back. We wanted to hurt each other, all for stupid reasons.”

IMG_0122“And Connor still doesn’t like you?” Lexi questioned. “Is that why he said the war isn’t over?”

“Doesn’t like me?” I sputtered. “Lexi, he hates me.”

“What about you?”

IMG_0123I hesitated. Had my feelings changed toward Connor after all this time? After all he’s said? After all he’s done? Had my feelings changed after all the lies he spread, the wicked, hurtful pranks he played, and the stinging words about my parents he broke my heart with?

No. Not even close.

If anything, they’ve only gotten worse.

IMG_0124“I hate him,” I finally spat between grit teeth, looking down at my feet. “And I’ll make him sorry for everything he’s ever done and said.”

Hate is a pretty strong word, but it was accurate for the way I felt about Connor.

IMG_0125“So the war really isn’t over, huh?” Lexi observed.

I raised my gaze up to meet Lexi’s eyes. I felt the old, burning hatred flame up inside of me once more.

IMG_0128“Oh no, Lexi. It’s about to get a hundred times worse.”

MWAHAHAHAHAAA!! *cough again* Sorry not sorry. :P If my cliffhangers are super lame, don’t be afraid to tell me so. I love your feedback so I can make my posts better. But I’m having so much evil fun writing these parts! *bursts into another maliciously evil laugh* Did I mention every single one ends with a cliffhanger? So if you don’t like cliffhangers, I’m sorry. Not really. ;) *begins to cackle villainously* Okay, fine, I’ll stop now. ;)

Anyways. How do you like their room setup? Lexi is obsessed with posters, Issa not so much. ;P

Oh, big news! You awesome readers deserve to know. I can’t keep it a surprise. With my birthday money I received (all the way back in June, wow… I’m a bit of a procrastinator… :P ) I finally ordered two doll bunk beds! They’re scheduled to be here on Thursday. Hey, by the time you’re reading this, it will be Friday…So by now they’ve already arrived! As I’m writing this, I’m super excited, y’all. Expect some photos of the beauties when I open them! I can hardly wait. ?

In the mean time, do you mind taking this poll? Once again, your feedback is greatly appreciated!