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Pen Your Pride

3.

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3. 

'Why if it isnt Mr. Hunter Brigley," a faint voice cooed to him. he turned in the study of the De Exter Plantation, gripping tight on to Hope's hand. "Who's there!" Hunter called out, he couldnt see anyone. "Sassy, if this is your idea of a joke Im not buying it!" A gust of cold air flew past him, and he brought Hope closer to his side. 

Someone tapped him on his shoulder and he spun quickly. "BOO!" a spectral being said, then she laughed manically. She had long curled hair, doe brown eyes, and she was wearing a nightgown, and not touching the ground. 

Hunter took a step back, dragging Hope with him. "Daniella?" he managed to spit out. She spun in a circle laughing as she did so. "Caught on a little faster than your momma," she said as she stopped spinning. She glided over to Hunter. "She won because there was not anyone I could hurt, but you, you have Hope...and I. WANT. HER!" and before Hunter could even move a muscle, Hope was up in the air, in Daniella's grasp. Daniella cackled as Hope screamed and Hunter ran after them. 

Hunter woke with a start. He couldnt catch his breath. he was dripping sweat and his heart was pounding. It finally slowed once he calmed down and realized he was safe in his room. He kicked back his covers and pulled a pair of sweat pants on over his boxers. He opened his bedroom door and walked down the hallways to Hopes room. 

The door was open a crack, her Barbie Nightlight was casting a soft glow over her sleeping form, he let out a sigh and leaned against the door frame. She was safe. 

It was Tuesday, the official "first day" off of school for the week. Hope slept in, for a whole extra 30 minutes, and well, Hunter had never gone back to bed. He laid on his bed, staring at the ceiling. The whole dream felt to real for him. 

When Hope woke up, he could hear her rummaging around in the cupboards for cereal. He forced himself to get up and get out there. 

"Hey Little Bear," he said as he walked into the kitchen. Hope, who had just poured a bowl of Fruit Loops, growled, making Hunter chuckle. "Im Hope, not Little Bear." she said simply before taking a bite of her cereal. Hunter nodded, and sat down beside her. "So," he said after a while. "How do you feel about this whole Lottery thing?" he asked finally. 

She put her spoon down. "Where do the losers go?" she asked. Hunter didnt have an answer for that, hell, he wished he knew where the losers went. "I dont know Little Bear, everyone seems to think they leave town due to embarrassment," he told her. She shrugged off his Little Bear comment. "Has anyone my age ever been picked?" she asked, her voice quavering. Hunter thought back.

"Truthfully, not that I remember," he told her. She smiled. "Good because I dont want to leave Exter," she told him. "You're not going anywhere kiddo," he told her, ruffling her hair to annoy her, and then he got up from the table to get a bowl. 

A few hours later, due to Hope's school free schedule and Hunters paid week off from work, he was able to take her to the park for a bit. She didnt seem to mind being alone, since alot of the towns people never wanted to stay around them long. He took her out to the corner of Corrina Road, where an old park was located and she played by herself, content. 

He sat on a park bench and watched her. She had friends at school, the stupid citizens of Exter couldnt control who their kids talked to at school, but after school, she was alone. He hated it. 

A car stopped on the road a few moments later. He turned to see who it was, surprised, no one ever came out here. When she got out of the car, he froze. Sassafras "AKA Sassy"  Jones. Oh how he hated her. Well, he felt for a her a bit, since her baby's dad ran out and left Exter after he lost the 24 hour lock-down 4 years prior. She was 17 then and had a 2 year old. Hunter tried to think of who the hell her baby's dad was but he was coming up with a blank. He shook his head, it didnt matter, Sassafras was a bitch, and whatever inkling of whatever feelings he had towards her would be gone the moment she opened her mouth. 

He had to admit, she had a gorgeous daughter though. Sage had long black hair, and it curled in cute little banana curls, she had Sassy's electric blue eyes and she was tall, like her daddy who Hunter couldnt remember the name of for the life of him. Sassy had done good raising Sage on her own, but God she could use an attitude adjustment. Half of Exter was scared of her. 

Sassy sent Sage to play with Hope and then she plopped right on down on the bench next to Hunter. Hunter stared at her. maybe she was sick? After a moment of silence she started to speak. 'She had a dream her name was picked. She turned 6 two months ago," she said. Hunter said nothing. Sassafras Jones was talking to him? He was afraid to speak. So he just admired her as she kept talking. 

She had black hair like Sage did, but it was shorter, around her ears, her eyes were dull today and she looked tired. "She wont get picked right?" she asked, she faced him, scared. "No one that young has been picked in years, right?" Hunter snapped back into reality, he had just gotten lost in her eyes, they looked so sad. "She wont be picked," he reassured her. Sassy let out a sigh and sat back against the bench and watched as Sage and Hope played.

Hunter watched her. 

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