Losing Hope:A Novel

By: Colleen Hoover

Chapter Three

“Beth, why don’t you go to bed?” Brian says to my mother. “You’re exhausted. Go get some sleep.”

My mother shakes her head and continues stirring, despite the pleas from my stepdad for her to take a break. We’ve got enough food in the refrigerator to feed an army, yet she insists on cooking for everyone just so we don’t have to eat the sympathy food, as she refers to it. I’m so sick of fried chicken. It seems to be the go-to meal for anyone dropping food off at the house. I’ve had fried chicken for every meal since the morning after Les died, and that was four days ago.

I walk to the stove and take the spoon out of her hands, then rub her shoulder with my free hand while I stir. She leans against me and sighs. It’s not a good sigh, either. It’s a sigh that all but says, “I’m done.”

“Please, go sit on the couch. I can finish this,” I say to her. She nods and walks aimlessly into the living room. I watch from the kitchen as she takes a seat and leans her head back into the couch, looking up to the ceiling. Brian takes a seat next to her and pulls her to him. I don’t even have to hear her to know she’s crying again. I can see it in the way she slumps against him and grabs hold of his shirt.

I look away.

“Maybe you should come stay with us, Dean,” my father says, leaning against the counter. “Just for a little while. It might do you some good to get away.”

He’s the only one who still calls me Dean. I’ve been going by Holder since I was eight, but the fact that I was named after him may be why he never took to calling me anything other than Dean. I only see him a couple of times a year, so it doesn’t bother me too much that he still calls me Dean. I still hate the name, though.

I look at him, then back to my mother still holding on to Brian in the living room. “I can’t, Dad. I’m not leaving her. Especially now.”

He’s been trying to get me to move to Austin with him since they divorced. The truth is, I like it here. I haven’t liked visiting my old hometown since I moved away. Too many things remind me of Hope when I’m there.

But I guess too many things are going to start reminding me of Les, here.

“Well, my offer doesn’t expire,” he says. “You know that.”

I nod and switch off the burner. “It’s ready,” I say.

Brian comes back to the kitchen with Pam and we all take seats at the table, but my mother remains in the living room, softly crying into the couch throughout dinner.

? ? ?

I’m waving good-bye to my father and Pam when Amy pulls up in front of our house. She waits for my father’s car to clear, then she pulls into our driveway. I walk to the driver’s side door and open it for her.

She smiles half-heartedly and flips the visor down, wiping the mascara from underneath the frame of her sunglasses. It’s been dark for over an hour now, yet she’s still wearing sunglasses. That can only mean she’s been crying.

I haven’t really talked to her much in the past four days, but I don’t have to ask her how she’s holding up. She and Les have been best friends for seven years. If there’s anyone that feels like I do right now, it’s her. And I’m not even sure if I’m holding up all that well.

“Where’s Thomas?” I ask when she steps out of the car.

She pushes her blonde hair away from her face with her sunglasses, adjusting them on top of her head. “He’s at his house. He had to go help his dad with some yard stuff after school.”

I don’t know how long the two of them have been dating, but they were together before Les and I even moved here. And we moved here in the fourth grade, so it’s been a while.

“How’s your mom?” she asks. As soon as she says it, she shakes her head apologetically. “I’m sorry, Holder. That was a really stupid question. I promised myself I wouldn’t be one of those people.”

“Believe me, you’re not,” I assure her. I motion behind me. “You coming inside?”

She nods and glances at the house, then to me. “Do you mind if I go up to her room? It’s fine if you don’t want me up there yet. It’s just that she had a few pictures I’d really like to have.”

“No, it’s fine.” Based on the relationship she had with Les, Amy has just as much right to be in Les’s bedroom as I do. I know Les would want Amy to take whatever it is she wants.

She follows me into the house and up the stairs. I notice my mother isn’t on the couch anymore. Brian must have finally coaxed her into going to bed. I walk to the top of the stairs with Amy, but have no desire to go into Les’s room with her. I nudge my head toward my bedroom. “I’ll be in my room if you need me.”

She inhales a deep, nervous breath and nods while releasing it. “Thanks,” she says, eyeing Les’s door warily. She takes a reluctant step toward the bedroom, so I turn away and head to my room. I shut the door behind me and take a seat on the bed, picking up Les’s notebook while I lean back against my headboard. I’ve already written her today, but I grab a pen because I’ve got nothing better to do than write to her again. Or at least there’s nothing else I want to do because it all leads back to thoughts of her anyway.

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