Quick links to the previous parts:

Part 1

Part 2
Part 3

A little refresher from part three:

I bend down to pickup the deflated beach-looking ball, but as I stand up with it, the boy roughly snatches it out of my hands and angrily shoves me back down to the ground.

The unforgiving concrete scrapes my knees and hands, and I grit my teeth in pain.

I pull myself back to my feet, but instead of facing the bully’s infuriated face and flaming eyes, Connor is standing between him and me.

“Leave her alone.”

And without further ado!

Issa’s POV

“Leave her alone,” Connor repeats, his voice strong and undaunted.

The bully glares at him and scoffs. “Or what?”

“Or I swear you’ll regret it.”

The bully rolls his eyes, but Connor seals the deal by swinging a fist toward his face and socking him in the nose

“Dude!” The boy shouts, followed by a groan of pain. “I wasn’t going to hurt her, I swear!”

I hide close behind Connor, and few just a few moments, I kind of feel like he’s my older brother.

“Then leave.”

The bully rolls his eyes and drops the deflated ball to the ground to put both hands over his bloody nose instead.

He walks away in shame, his pride hurt.

Connor turns to me. “Are you okay?”

I nod. Despite my grazed shins, I’m fine. But my heart is beating faster and harder than my brain can think of the words to thank him. Why did he do that?

“Guys!” We hear Emma snap behind us. “It’s time to go!”

I know Coconut is dead. I know Connor made one of my friends kill her. I know Connor’s hated me, and I hated him.

But not anymore. I’m not only going to help Connor—I’m going to do everything in the world that I possibly can to keep the authorities from taking him period.

“Crud!” Emma groans as she repeatedly presses the home button on her phone in a vain attempt to resurrect it. “Dead.”

She glares at me. “Come on, guys. We have to hurry home so I can charge this and call the authorities before the office closes.”

As Emma walks toward the car, Connor, Lexi and I all share a glance.

“Connor DaCosta,” I say in dedicated devotion, “I promise you I’m going to do everything in the world I can to keep Emma from making that phone call.”


The moment Emma steps through the door, Operation Prank On is… on.

Three hours until the office closes. We have to keep her from reaching a phone until then.

Lexi slips Emma’s phone out of her hand and carries it into her own in a matter of seconds like a ninja.

She and I exchange smirks and snicker as Emma unknowingly walks to her room, oblivious.

“What?” We hear her say when she enters her room and tries to look at the phone she is no longer holding. “Where did my phone go?”

We hear Emma tearing apart her room in search of it, and then she comes out and retreats her steps along the hall. “Guys!” She shouts. “Have you guys seen my phone anywhere?”

“No,” Connor says before dashing into her room and grabbing her charger.

He clenches it tightly and looks around for a place to hide it while I kneel down by the outlet.

I begin to sabotage it by inserting those annoyingly hard-to-remove plastic coverings to protect babies and toddlers into it.

I’ve added a bit of my own twist and drew faces on the plastic pieces, stifling a laugh.

Lexi grins and lays the phone back on her desk, and we all rush out when we hear Emma’s footsteps come back in our direction. “Found your phone, Emma!” Lexi calls as she ducks to hide. “It’s on your desk!”

“Oh, thanks!” Emma exclaims, rushing to her room and throwing herself at her desk. Her hands grasp her phone and then carry it with her as she goes over to the outlet, reaching for her charger.

She stops short when she notices it’s missing, then peers closer at the outlets. “Ugh!” She groans. “Have you guys seen my charger? And what in the world are these plastic things doing in the outlets? I’m not five.”

No one responds. We’re too busy grabbing the glue for our prank.

As Emma rummages through her room and closet for a charger, Connor and I quickly pour fast-drying gorilla glue all into the bottom section of the home phone. It’s so hard not to giggle when we press it down and grin as it dries.

Lexi’s been busy in the room we share, as well as Connor’s, confiscating all the chargers and hiding them in the best place ever:

The dishwasher.

Connor and I search the halls for any sign of Jackson and Amy before dashing across the hallway and entering into their room. We quickly confiscate both of their chargers and snatch their phones as well.

We’ve hidden them in the second best place ever:

 The kitchen cabinets.

We arrive in time to see Emma reaching for the home phone, and Connor quickly grabs my wrist and pulls me back into the shadows as Lexi dives to her hiding spot.

All three of us peek from our hiding places and watch as Emma’s hand grasps the phone and attempts to pull it from its base.

“What in the world?” Emma mutters, pulling so hard she eventually pulls along the base stuck to the phone. “The phone’s rigged!”

I grit my teeth to keep from chortling in laughter, and Connor’s jaw clenches in trying to keep down his guffaws as well.

“Mom! Dad!” Emma cries. “Someone pranked our phone!”

“What is it, Emma?” Amy’s voice sounds.

All three of our faces flash with panic as we share horrified glances.

In his quick thinking, Connor rapidly searches his mind and then instantly opens his mouth. In the most convincing Jackson Taylor impersonation I’ve ever heard, he says in nearly the exact voice of our foster dad, “Don’t worry about it, honey!”

“But Dad!” Emma argues, and my jaw drops. She’s totally fooled! Connor is incredible at this.

“No buts, Emma. I’m really busy. Please talk to me about this later.”

Conveniently, the laundry room door shuts, and I know Amy’s gone into it to wash some laundry. Lexi must have the same idea, while Emma thinks it’s Jackson who’s shut the door to his bedroom or something.

Lexi quickly speaks up in Amy’s voice. “You can talk to me about it, honey, but after dinner.”

“But Mom!” Emma cries. “It’s too late then! I want to call them today!”

“What did your father just tell you about not buts, Emma Carolyn Taylor? You’re an adult. You should know better.”

I want to burst out laughing. This is way too fun.

Emma blushes a little. “I’m sorry,” she says with a hint of shame.

Two hours left.

Beyond mad, Emma tosses the home phone back and storms back to her room, muttering to herself about trying to find her charger one more time… and something along the lines of “Shouldn’t Dad be at work?”

The moment Emma steps through the door and shuts it, Connor tosses me some string. “Get busy!” He hisses with a concealed laugh. “I’ll set up the walkie talkies.”

I smirk as I tie the string around the her doors.

There’s no way she’s getting out of this easily or painlessly.

I step back after I’m done and admire my finished work. It’s beautiful. I subconsciously laugh to myself, trying to keep it low and under my breath in hopes Emma doesn’t hear.

“Alexis Taylor!” Emma cries, and her voice grows nearer to the door. I scamper off to a hiding spot behind a corner as her hand sounds on the doorknob. “I need to borrow your charger—what?”

The door jostles as Emma tries to open it. “Ugh! Someone help! I’m locked in!”


Connor, Lexi and I all meet together outside her door to watch and grin.

“She won’t be getting out of that for quite a while, will she?” Connor asks.

“Nope,” I grin. “You should know.”

“Because I played that prank on you, right?” He laughs softly.

I laugh a little, too. It doesn’t bother me anymore. I’m still wondering why the change, but I like the change. I like pranking with Connor instead of against him. “It was awesome.”

Connor grins back. “I placed walkie talkies everywhere. Even in the bathroom.” He holds up the master talkie and flashes a smirk. “We’ve got this in our hip pockets.”

I give him a sincere smile. “I’m glad. You deserve to stay here.”

Connor’s grin fades a little. “I really don’t,” he says softly. “But thank you—”

Emma’s not that dumb. She’s pried the door open a little bit, and we all turn to see scissors peek out through the crack.

The moment they begin to snip away at the knots and string I’ve tied, we scamper for our hiding places again and prepare for our next prank.

“Ugh!” Emma cries once the knots are finally clear and she can squeeze through the thin space her door is able to make. “Lexi! I need to borrow your phone!”

I run to our room and quickly block the doorway, spreading my arms and legs widely so she can’t get past.

“Issa, where’s Lexi?”

“She’s not in here!” I cry.

Emma darkly furrows her eyebrows at me. “Liar. Don’t try to fool a detective. I can see right through you.”

To be continued… in HOTH Season 3, Part 5!

Coming up next on Hang on to Hope:

“Okay,” Connor mouths to me as he makes sure it’s perfectly situated. “On the count of three.”

Connor backs up, and I grin. “One, two, three.”

If you’re looking forward to part 5, let me know! Just hit “like” and leave a comment below!

And you DON’T want to miss the EPIC giveaway in celebration of DWOD’s 5-year anniversary tomorrow. Just saying! While you’re waiting, check out this awesome post of Reyna’s, in which I was able to participate in a fun interview!