Zoë smiled at Hope and winked as she got out of her seat.  Hope smiled back, but it was a nervous smile.  She was worried that Ethan might not be happy to see her.  She hid this fear from her friend, because Zoë was excited to see her brother and her cousins, and Hope didn’t want to mar that outlook. 

            Zoë had been more than worried by their disappearance, she had been plagued with concern and paranoia.  Normally cheerful and warm, the possibility of losing Neal, Alex and Jay had transformed Zoë into a withdrawn, depressed shadow of her formerly bright self.  Hope understood that reaction all too well.  After all, the boys were Zoë and Mr. Osborne’s entire family, ever since the accident that took Mrs. Osborne, her sister and her brother-in-law.

            To say that Zoë had been relieved when she heard that the boys were alive wasn’t just an understatement, it was the grandmother of all understatements.  She had been ecstatic, and so Zoë easily convinced her father to book plane tickets out to the coast to see them.  His law business had a sudden emergency, however, so he offered his ticket to Hope, Zoë’s best friend.

            Now, as the two girls disembarked from the plane, Hope wondered if maybe she should have stayed at home.  The closer she got to the moment where she’d be reunited with Ethan and her other friends, the more her heart pounded and her blood raced.  She felt like it would burst from her body in a violent explosion if it went any faster.

            It wasn’t excitement, like that which Zoë felt.  It was apprehension that Ethan would turn his back on her, the way she had once abandoned him.  She felt guilt because of those events in their past, but she also felt the need to redeem herself.  Those two conflicting feelings pulled at her, one demanding that she turn and run, the other urging her forward.  She was caught in the middle as the tension between these two warring sides built up towards the inevitable moment when she would find out, one way or another, how Ethan felt.

            Redemption or abandonment, which would he offer her?  She was afraid of the moment where she’d have to ask him to choose between the two possible outcomes.  She never expected the third.

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or, if you haven’t read about Hope already, check out Gwen’s chapters