I won’t delay!

Here are the previous parts if you missed them or need a refresher:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

And another quick refresher from part 6:

“Okay,” the other line—the police—says after Amy gives them the directions to our house. “We’re coming.”

And without further ado!

Issa’s POV

This isn’t it. It’s not over.

“Come on,” I hiss, grabbing Connor’s wrist and practically dragging him behind me until he walks for himself. Lexi sheepishly trots after us.

“Where are you taking me?” Connor asks as I open the laundry room door.

“This isn’t over,” I promise.

As soon we’re all in and I’ve shut the laundry room door, I continue, “We’re going to hide.”

I slide open the glass door to the garage and motion for Connor and Lexi to step through.

I shut it and look around. “They’ll have to do some serious looking for us in here.”

Using all my strength until gymnast Lexi comes and helps me, I move a few boxes from some shelves and keep a look out for snakes and spiders on the floor of the garage.

Then Connor drags over a large slab of wood to use as a final hiding door, and I grin.

I reach up to the garage’s light and pull the cord, turning off the light.

“Come on, guys.” I sit down, and Connor follows me in the little hole of boxes we’ve made for ourselves. Once we’re all crammed inside and avoid sitting on the lantern that’s in there, Lexi leans forward to pull the box back toward us, shutting out the light and enclosing us in darkness.

It takes a few minutes of our eyes adjusting to the darkness before I turn on the lantern inside our little space.

As the light reflects off of Connor’s wet eyes, I realize he’s trying so hard to keep from crying for fear of the police taking him away.

“I love this family now,” are his first whispered words spoken in our cramped and stuffy hiding spot. “It was the only one who loved me and wanted me and don’t view me as a nuisance.”

“What?” I whisper softly.

Connor doesn’t meet my eyes. “My parents,” he murmurs, staring off into the distance like he’s imagining something different than the cardboard box wall in front of his face. “They…”

“The famous movie actors? Caleb and Aleksandra DaCosta?”

Connor nods. “That’s them.” He sniffs before continuing. “I was more or less an accident. They didn’t have time for a child during the midst of their busy acting lives. I don’t know why I was born instead of aborted.” He blinks rapidly to keep back raging tears that flood his eyes. “They never cared. Ever. They were never around.” His voice is thick. “I think they hated me.”

He takes a deep, shaky breath. “They sent me to boarding school, but I—ran away and faked it for years. Nobody knew I was missing until the kid I got to pretend he was me obviously… did something. Now everyone is searching for Connor DaCosta.” He shrugs. “I did a good job, hiding in foster care as Connor Cavanaugh for all these years.”

“Why foster care?” Lexi asks.

“I—I wanted a chance at getting into a family that would love me.”

“Nobody cared about you?” I question in disbelief. He must not know Who I know.

Connor nods. “Actually—I guess the only person that kind of cared was my parents’ lousy chauffeur who drove way too fast. But they trust him, and if my parents were to ever die, he’d be my legal guardian.”

He shrugs again, trying to keep this casual. “But in reality… nobody—nobody—nobody cares—” a sob chokes his throat and he finds himself unable to say another word.

“Connor,” I say softly, so soft I don’t know if he can hear me. “It’s okay to cry.”

Connor turns his face away in embarrassment. I don’t think he wants to cry in front of me.

I take a deep breath and decide to find my answer to why the change? “Um—so—if you weren’t already aware, we used to be—really—mean. To each other.”

Connor looks back at me in interest.

“Do you recall?” I ask.

Connor nods, his lips turning up in a little bit of a smile.

“I know why we hated each other—you would agree it was hate, right?”

Connor nods again.

“… but I don’t—I don’t hate you anymore.”

Connor smiles a little bit as if he’s pleasantly surprised.

“Even though Coconut’s death was your fault, I—I forgive you.”

Connor stares at me like he can’t believe it, and I continue.

“I don’t hate you anymore. And—recently you’ve been really just nice. You keep going out of your way to do whatever you can do to try to make me feel better about, like, everything. Why?” The question that kept repeating itself in my mind and heart finally escapes my lips. “Why the change?”

Connor’s eyes shine through his tears as he smiles a little more. “I—I found this book,” he says. “It said ‘Holy Bible’ on it. It was in the car, and I read it on the way home from the vet.” It begins to get harder and harder for him to swallow down his sobs. “It said that no one with sin can enter Heaven. I’m so sorry, Issa! I’m trying to make it up to you to ensure I don’t go to hell for everything I’ve done to hurt you. I’m so, so sorry.”

“Oh—oh, Connor.” I’m shocked. I don’t know what to say. His genuine sincerity touches me. But he’s going about this all wrong.

“You can’t earn salvation,” I explain. “It’s a free gift from God because He loves you and gives it to everyone who believes.”

“God loves me?” Connor is shocked, but he’s smiling and wider and wider. “He—he won’t reject me despite the fact I’ve done so many mean things to hurt you?”

I shake my head. “God takes you as you are—then changes you from the inside out.”

Connor nods vigorously. “Oh my gosh. I want Him to do that.”

Lexi and I exchange a glance. I get to help someone experience the same thing I did back when Bible Club was happening over the summer.

I grab Connor’s hand, and he holds mine. Lexi joins and closes the circle, and I lead Connor in the prayer that changes his life.

When Connor has finished repeating my words and has asked Jesus Christ to change his life, he’s crying and not ashamed about it in the least. He laughs through his tears and swipes his hands over his eyes right before we jump at the words shouted next.

“Police! Open up!”

To be continued… in HOTH Season 3, Part 8 (coming Friday)!

Heh heh. Sorry. Cliffhangers are just so much fun.

What do you think happens to Connor?


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