Chapter Twenty-Four ~Travis~

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Hope is such a powerful thing. It can't be touched, bought, or sold...it's priceless. Hope sets us free. It empowers our dreams and it eases our sorrow. It allows us to believe good things are possible for ourselves and those we love, even when life keeps showing us otherwise.

Twisting the bracelet around my wrist, I fight to understand why it's now, after Maddie finally gets why I'm here, that I seem to have lost the hope I've been holding onto all this time.

My mind keeps replaying the moment Maddie saw her bracelet tied to my wrist. I haven't taken it off once since the day I found it, promising myself that the only time I would, was when I placed it back on her. The sentimental value it holds for her, spoke volumes about how much I meant to her when she left it for me, and thankfully, seeing it on me seemed to do the same for her. It bridged the gap, closing some of the distance that stretched out between us, reminding her of who I am and what we once meant to each other.

Yet, I'm struggling to make sense of why what I felt then is so different from what I'm feeling now, because that moment we shared was real. But the relief I felt when she finally understood seems to have disappeared somewhere between then and now, and I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I'm not as happy as I thought I'd be once Maddie figured out why I'm really here.

More than anything, it all feels pretty fucking bittersweet, because while that moment may have quieted her doubts, it seems to have magnified mine.

I hear someone clear their throat as they enter the room, and I'm immediately annoyed when I see it's Jenkins. He's the last fucking person I want to deal with right now, especially considering the smirk he has plastered upon his black and blue face. Does this guy ever learn?

"So," he begins as he saunters across the room, heading towards the kitchen counter. "I wanted to believe you when you said there was nothing between you and that Breeder, but," he pauses, "I'm starting to think you lied to me." He grabs a coffee cup from the cabinet and moves to pour himself a cup.

Saying nothing in response, I just smirk and shake my head as though he's completely delusional, but of course the asshole continues. "There was a code blue called on her earlier. It was pretty pathetic actually. She was so upset," he says, stepping in front of the table I'm sitting at. "I just happened to be downstairs when it occurred, so of course I ran to help."

There was a code blue called on Maddie? Hot Doctor said she had started to panic a little so they administered a mild sedative to help relax her, but she made no mention of a code blue.

"That kind of thing happens all the time around here with those poor girls," he continues, feigning concern. "So that's not surprising."

Mindfully forcing myself not to react to what's being said, again I don't respond. And instead of looking him dead in the eyes like I always have, my focus remains steady on his busted up looking cheekbone while making sure a subtle smirk plays across my lips.

But inside? I feel the stirrings of my rage as it begins to ripple within my veins. I continue to talk myself down, reminding myself repeatedly that he's just not worth it. Remaining passive has to be my only revenge. I can't let this asshole see me sweat or it will hurt much more than just Maddie. Too many lives are at stake, lives that are my responsibility now.

"What's surprising though," he continues in a sarcastic tone, "is what I heard her say when I was restraining her, so the Doc could slam the sedative in her neck. At first, she cried out asking for anyone to help her, then just before going nighty night, she cried out for someone specifically, and it wasn't mommy or daddy like most of 'em do. No. She cried out... for you."

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