I’ll keep this short so we can get to the actual part, but I am SO. EXCITED.

Thousands upon thousands of words were written, hundreds upon hundreds of photos were taken, months upon months were spent, and even one all-nighter was pulled to bring about season 3 of Hang on to Hope!

What drove me on through the frustrations and obstacles was the reason season 3 even exists, and now I’m so excited to finally begin it!

A few of you were super smart and awesome and have been rereading season 1 and season 2 to refresh you for season 3, which blesses me beyond belief and continually makes my day! If you’d like to do that as well, below are the links to the parts for each season.

Though I will say that season 1 was just… the worst.

Goodness gracious. It’s not vital to season 2, so if you’d like to spare yourself the barf-inducing experience of terrible photo quality and a random, thrown-together plot, I’d recommend skipping season 1 entirely. ;) Season 2 is pretty important, though, so I’d definitely recommend reading that if you haven’t already!

Season 1 (skip skip skip skippp)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10 (Finale)

Season 2

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10 (Finale) (I highly recommend, if you read nothing else, to read this. There are very important clues and foreshadowing included in here.)

Of course, all of these parts are found on the Photostory Series Parts page as well.

It’s my deepest hope (haha, get it? Hang on to Hope? … sorry, sorry.) that you enjoy! To understand part one, be sure you haven’t missed the season 3 prologue I posted a few days ago, which also includes a snippet of the finale of HOTH season 2, which I actually recommend you read all of since it includes very important foreshadowing and clues.

(the very important) Season 3 Prologue

And the much-recommended…

(the very-much recommended) HOTH Season 2 Finale

Hehe, look at those awful 2016 editing skills.

Without further ado, I give you…

Hang on to Hope Season 3, Part 1!

Issa’s POV

“I’m so sorry. We’re going to have to put her down.”

I stare at the vet in shock and silence, unable to speak a word for the pain I feel in my heart right now. Her words strike me dumb, and my mouth opens and closes multiple times in an attempt to say the words.

But I can’t.

I reach out to touch Coconut’s unconscious body, unable to even sob my heart out.

Lexi wraps her arm around my shoulders and begins to cry, and that’s when the floodworks come.

I can’t believe Connor just killed my pet.

As we walk out of the office, Connor waits for Jackson and Amy to walk ahead of us before stepping in front of me.

“Gee, Issa,” he jeers. “What’s wrong with you? You look like your dog just died.” He holds back a laugh, and I only fight back more tears.

Lexi is walking next to me and hears. She shoots Connor a death glare and silences him with it.

Jackson and Amy have stopped walking and turn back in time to catch her glare. “Lexi? Issa? Anything wrong?”

Connor quickly turns around to face them and begins to say something, but I actually speak up instead. “Nothing’s wrong.”

The ride home is silent except for the sound of my crying, and that jerk of a kid Connor just has his nose in a book the entire time.

When we finally arrive back home, I run straight to my room, tired and embarrassed of crying like this in front of people.

I throw myself onto my bed and weep into my pillow for a long time.

Connor’s POV

I’m standing outside of Issa’s room, the heavy guilt in my stomach eating me alive and making me feel sick as I hear her cry.

Unable to stand another sob from her, I peel myself away from the wall and quickly walk back to my room. I have to put into action what I decided in the car today or I’m never going to get rid of this.

At breakfast the next morning, I’m the first one at the table. I’ve woken up early to brainstorm anything and everything I can do to further my decision and get it rolling.

My expression perks up when Issa and Lexi enter the room together.

Issa sits down, and I notice her eyelashes are wet from crying again. More guilt and remorse riddle through me, and I fight the urge to wince.

“You doing okay, Issa?” Amy says softly as she slides a plate of muffins on the table.

Issa shakes her head, blinking back more tears. I reach for a muffin, and Jackson enters the kitchen. “Maybe you should miss the last day of school today,” he suggests.

As Jackson sits down, Issa looks up and stares at him for a little while like it’s a good idea, but she doesn’t trust herself to speak for fear of bursting out into fresh sobs. Jackson just nods and wishes us goodbye before he leaves for work, then offers for Lexi and I to stay home, too.

“Yes, please,” I say before he gets up to leave, and Lexi just nods vacantly as she finishes eating her second muffin.

Issa and I both reach for a muffin at the same time, and I notice the fiery competitiveness is… gone. She pulls her hand back and turns her face away, but I slide the plate with the lonely muffin toward her.

I know Issa would usually never consent to receive any kindness from me, but today she feels too numb to even respond as she accepts the muffin. She hasn’t said a word the entire time.

I lean forward a little bit and clear my throat. “Issa?” I say quietly. “I—”

Amy doesn’t hear me and has already begun talking about something else. “Issa, do you remember Lexi mentioning that her sister Emma is at college studying to be a detective?”

Issa looks up at Amy through her wet eyes, and guilt punches me in the gut again. Amy smiles kindly and continues in sharing her news. “She’s coming on Sunday for Thanksgiving break next week! She’s so excited to meet you.”

Lexi squeals in excitement. “She is?” Her dark eyes dance with happiness for the first time since Coconut’s eyes closed in death. “I can’t wait! I haven’t seen her in forever! And there’s no gymnastics that week for Thanksgiving break, too—I’ll be able to spend as much time as I want to with her! I miss her so much.”
Issa glances at Lexi quizzically, confused at her happiness. She must be wondering why in the world Lexi is so happy—their pet’s just been put down.

Amy gives Issa another kind smile. “Maybe meeting and spending time with Emma will get your mind off of things.”

Issa’s POV

“Issa!” Lexi squeals. I groggily open my eyes to see her excited face and dancing eyes leaning over me, and I let out a groan.

Lexi leans back and scrunches her nose. “Ew, morning breath.”

I sit up, laughing a little for the first time since Friday. “You don’t want morning breath, don’t get in my face in the mornings.”

“Emma comes today!” Lexi squeals.

I sit up. “Lexi,” I moan. “She doesn’t come until, like, five. Why are you getting ready?”

Lexi rapidly runs a brush through her hair. “I want everything to be perfect!”

“We’ve spent the entire weekend getting the house ready for her.”

“So I’d better spend today double-checking!” Lexi sets down the brush and turns to me. “Hurry up and get ready!
It’s seven AM!”

“Seven!” I moan. “I wanted to sleep in for another half hour! It’s Thanksgiving break, Lexi, seriously.”

But Lexi isn’t there. I stand up and look around the room as I sigh. She must be off already, making final preparations for Emma’s visit.

Hours later, Lexi’s sister walks through the door, and Jackson, Amy, and Lexi all flock to hug her.

“And you must be Issa!” Emma smiles, extending her hand to shake mine.

“Hi,” I say, shaking hers back.

Jackson motions toward Connor, and Connor takes a small step forward. “This is our newest—Connor,” Jackson introduces.

“Nice to meet you, Connor,” Emma grins at him, and they shake hands. “I’m Lexi’s older sister, Emma.”

Connor smiles. “Nice to meet you too.”

Emma pauses, staring at him in curiosity for a little bit until Amy speaks next.

“Would you like to sit down?” She offers, wrapping her arm around her daughter.

“Sure,” Emma agrees, and soon we’re all having family time in the living room.

Emma talks all about college with her parents for the first fifteenish minutes, with Lexi jumping in
and peppering her with questions.
We all take a family picture on Emma’s phone so she can have it forever. It makes me happy to feel a part of the family—and Emma’s cool, I guess.
Connor does one of his annoying dabs, while I flail and try my best to even get in the photo.

“I’ve heard a lot about you, Issa,” Emma says after the photo with a smile.

I kind of give her a smile back. Nice as Emma is, I’m not really in the mood for a peppy conversation, and I think she kind of picks up on that,
studying to be a detective and all. Instead, she turns to Connor. “Sorry—what did you say your last name was?”
“I didn’t,” Connor smiles. “But it’s Cavanaugh. Connor Cavanaugh.”
Emma cocks her head. “Cavanaugh? Are you sure?”
Connor laughs. “I’m pretty sure.”
“Where are you from?”
Connor starts to say something, then pauses. “I’ve—ah—grown up in an orphanage and the Foster Care Act started transferring me from home to home when I was—nine or ten or something like that.”

“‘Something like that’,” Emma repeats as if she doesn’t believe him. “Think back. Where you nine or ten?”

Amy interrupts her with a laugh. “Emma, Emma!” She chortles. “He’s not a runaway, Miss Detective! Stop interrogating him.”

Emma relents and laughs too, and while Connor attempts to laugh it off with the rest, his face is slightly pale and he asks to be excused a minute later.

I watch him as he quickly shuffles to his room to escape Emma’s questions.

Lexi and I exchange glances. Is this about Connor’s secret?

I smirk a little, and a little of the furious flame of fire for him returns through the numbness and pain of losing Coconut just days before. For everything he’s done to me, he deserves for it to be blown. I know I said I was done with revenge and that I was going to tell Jackson and Amy, but…

Maybe I’ll just tell Emma about Connor’s dangerous secret myself.

To be continued in HOTH Season 3, Part 2!

Coming up next on Hang on to Hope:

I nervously bite my lip. No one at detective school knows I’ve hacked into my professor’s computer and downloaded the facial recognition app prototype for myself, but…

I load his photo in and sync it up with Google, Bing, Yahoo. FaceBook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat—anything and everything. It takes hours until I have every search engine and social media platform I can think of ready to sync and comply with my search.

My fingers nervously tap as the results load. Google deems it five seconds in pulling up the results, but it’s felt like an eternity.

I pop another caffeine pill in when I feel my eyes close after staring at the slow loading bar on my screen from my facial recognition software.

There. There they are. My results.

If you’re looking forward to part 2, would you mind letting me know? Just hit “like” and leave a comment below!