I nodded glumly, cheered only a little by sweet little Coconut snuggling by my leg. Jackson and I were having a little foster-father-daughter time while he cooked supper. He might not be the most outgoing person ever, but he sure can cook. “We worked really hard on earning that money – all three of us!” I then dared to share my concern just mildly. “Uh, I think Connor might’ve stolen it.”
Or maybe one of my own, I realized miserably. But which one of my friends would side with Connor? Is Emma still partial?
“Now, Issa,” Jackson began, stirring a pot of spaghetti on the stove. “I don’t think Connor would do that. He’s a fair, honest young man. He wouldn’t cheat to raise more money than you. It’s just a friendly competition.”
Ha! I sputtered in my mind. You don’t know Connor like I do.
“You’re right,” I fibbed. “Maybe a random passerby stole the money while we ran to get Coconut. But that doesn’t make very much sense – Emma and Lexi were there until I caught Coconut, and then they ran over to me.”
Jackson nodded, turning down the heat to a simmering pot of spaghetti sauce, it all making perfect sense to him. “Then it sounds to me as if stealing the money must have been a planned operation. Perhaps a mean kid was watching your lemonade stand and waiting for the perfect chance to snatch the money.”
I closed my eyes. I hadn’t seen anyone suspicious. Had I? Nah, certainly not. It has to be one of Connor’s plans, I figured. Jackson said himself it must be a planned operation. Speaking of Connor, where is he?
“Hey, Connor!” Amy called cheerfully as he walked in beside her. “Jackson’s got the food ready, everyone. He’s bringing the rest in shortly. Did you hear about how the girls’ money was stolen, Connor?”
I tried to catch Connor’s eye, but he wouldn’t meet my gaze directly. Which was a sure sign of something.
Connor began to lift the small money bag he had been holding. It wasn’t ours – could he have possibly not been the thief?
So I had a perfect moment to confront Connor with nobody around.
I studied his eyes, my mouth hanging open. “Why would you care?” I repeated. “The FCA is what got you into this home in the first place!” I grew angrier with every word. “Would you rather have continued to be transferred from home to home because nobody wants you? The FCA helped direct you to Jackson and Amy. They actually care!”
“The FCA isn’t owned by the government!” I argued.
“But the FCA partners with them. By fostering kids from the FCA, the foster parents just want money the government pays them for that. Don’t they all?” His voice grew heavier with emotion. “They don’t care about us, Issa.” For a split second I thought I saw his eyes wet and shiny with angry tears.
Despite his claims, I could tell he had indeed been very hurt. I didn’t know what to say for a second, and I almost felt sorry for him.
Connor swallowed hard, flashing his blazing glare back at me. “If God really cared, why would He let my parents completely abandon me? Why would he let the FCA transport me from place to place like a missing UPS package?”
I opened my mouth to say something, but for once, I was speechless. Connor was hurting, try as he might to not let it show. Well, so was I. It hurt to have your parents, as well as countless of heartless foster parents, completely reject you – I knew.
But it also hurt when you had had them spoken smack about by another foster kid in the exact same situation!
I studied his eyes hard. He seemed like he was telling the truth, but how else could have have gotten that money?
I decided to ask.
UGH! He absolutely infuriated me!
“But you care about the FCA, don’t you?” He questioned.
I grit my teeth, not answering. He knew how badly the FCA needed all the donations they could get, their facility not being the best my any means, but he was obviously not going to give the money to them.
…Hurt you. That’s the goal. Why else would your mom have left you on the steps of the FCA like a bag of trash?
“Lexi,” I began, my voice wavering, but I swallowed hard and forced myself to harden my heart. Hatred enlaced my toughened words spoken between my grit teeth. “It’s time to get ahead of the game and do the next ‘prank’ before Connor does.”
“But this one will top all others,” I hissed with hot, angry tears streaming down. “It shouldn’t even be considered a ‘prank’.”
Lexi bit her lip, not wanting to take any part in it.
“I need you to be honest. Promise me you can be honest?”
Lexi nodded, avoiding my eyes.
I was kind of on a roll when I wrote it (literally – it took me more than four and a half hours from start to finish to write it, and it wasn’t even that long. I took my time, LOL. O.o), but I wanted to fit everything I wanted to in. I’m still not able to fit everything in that I wanted to into this season, however, but there’s always season 3. ;)
I know this part is kind of sad. But it doesn’t end here. Stay tuned for the finale! I’m going to try and have it ready by next Friday, but because there is so much involved and with all my surprises debuting around that time, it could take me longer. Oh, and it will be the longest part, so I hope you like long parts. :P
Oh, and if you don’t like cliffhangers… I don’t know how you’re going to survive until season 3. ;)
Are you looking forward to the finale?