Word Count: 13,889
Have you heard of the term: Busier than a one-armed paper hanger.
Well, that would be me! I'm so excited to on the publishing side, but on the writing side, all I have are scenes in my head that play over and over because until I get them down on paper, they don't leave me alone. It's gotten so bad that my hunny is cooking dinner for us. He's a great cook, but usually I like to feed us. Also, the loss of my beloved Allie, our German Shepard mix, the loss of my best trail partner Neo, my mom and dad's Laberdoodle, has left me out of sorts. Two dogs and two relatives are gone from our lives and I fear this story--being subjected to my moods--will be very dark indeed.
I have more inspirations for Kai...I'm going for an attitude and I think these guys have something I want to take away from certain scenes.
While I'm busy preparing others stories for publication, I'm far from dropping this story. I must get my writing in while I can and it looks like winter will be a writing productive time this year. And since I have 7K more words than I did last month, I at least have something to show you! Ready for the teaser? Awesome! Here we go!
Handle With Care
It took every trick I’d learned, both from the street and under sheets but I finally had an address. And a full name.
The first month, during my hospitalization, he’d been that man. I asked for him. They called him The Wall. I asked nurse after nurse who that man was. I got a lot of confused looks, a few head shakes and that CCS agent. But finally, it was my intensivist in the ICU that had given me something real. A name. Kai.
For years that’s all I had to go on. Kai with the hard-soft eyes. Kai “The Wall” CCS agent. Kai, my savior—and my hell.
I didn’t know whether to hug him for saving me or punch him in the gut for breaking his promise. He said he wouldn’t leave me. To a twelve-year-old boy, promises were magic. Oh, I’d been disillusioned way before my adolescent years, but his words were not given lightly. He’d meant what he’d said. But it took me a while to figure out what he’d meant. He wouldn’t leave that house without me, but he wouldn’t stay forever.
I’d wanted forever. Starting that first night he knocked on my parent’s door he’d kindled hope to escape that hell. I never knew he’d break into my nightmare to bring me a different kind of misery. Some kids were runaways. I was a throwaway. Too much work for my own parents, too much of a hassle for teachers to notice, too much baggage for foster’s to take.
No one wanted me, so I became my own man. I’d found out the streets were a home, “friends” treated you like punching bags, and school could be a sanctuary.
Standing across the street of a gated community in Woodland Hills, I found my moment of truth. Getting this far took years of research. Now, everything fell into place. I had two options, meet Kai at work or meet him at his house. I figured this was personal. Plus, I had a plan. Sort-of.
In the cooling fall and the Santa Ana breeze, I slung my duffle bag over my shoulder and crossed the street to my destiny. Obstacles towards my goal were welcome. Hell, if things were easy, I’d become suspicious.
Gated communities were a trial and error on how to get inside. Some had cameras. Some had guards. Some had security theatre, and some took the privacy of their tenants seriously. Kai’s place was just gated. Clicker entrance. A few cameras easy to spot and work around. I walked down the gate, to the blind corner and jumped the fence.
Once inside, it was all access.
The place was nice. Nicer than I thought a social worker could afford. The kind of place me and my “friends” might like for its lax security and high-profile status. I went down a corridor between a pool and tent cabanas, past a stairwell, walked under balconies and through a hallway. Up close the Tuscany theme with tan and white paint, brick work and high ceilings could make you forget this was Woodland Hills and not apartments in Italy. I was way out of my league.
I stepped up to his front door, my stomach in knots. My gut churned so much I just might knock and ask him for a bathroom before anything. This was the kind of place that had bathrooms for pool-side goers, I might just try and find one before reuniting with my savior.
Standing on his plain, efficient door mat, I took a breath. I had nothing planned, no prepared conversation, just hope he’d remember me and faith we’d have that connection once more. The magnetism might have only been during that moment five years ago. I might not have the same reaction to him. But the least I could do is say thank you.
No. Think positive. There will be more.
I knocked and waited.
He took forever. Not enough for me to count ten heartbeats, but an eternity.
Kai Akiyama, the man who saved my life, opened the door wide. He looked exactly the same as he had when we first meet. Dark, silky hair tossed in his cat-like eyes, shielding his gaze roaming over me. His evaluation was an up, then down, passed over the scar on my neck then back to my eyes.
Living in the streets taught me things. Things like when a person measured you, they were probably skilled in handling themselves. They were the people you didn’t want to mess with. I knew Kai could handle himself. I’d seen him take down my three-hundred-pound father in under two seconds. Every time I thought about it, my prick got excited.
“Do I know you?” Kai tilted his head, then he threw up his mask. The one he used the night he told me not to die.
“Yeah, you do.” I cocked my hip to one side.
His dark eyes threw a little suspicion mixed in with a dash of hope my way.
“You said you’d take me with you, so since you didn’t, I’ve come to you.”
There was a hint of recognition and I used his confusion to my advantage. I slipped in his house before he could protest. He didn’t stop me, though I knew he could.
Kai turned to face me, holding the door. “What is your name?”
Odd. I expected Get the hell out! or Why the fuck are you here? or How did you get in? Not Kai. He waited, seemingly with my name on the tip of his tongue, but like the intelligent man I expected he was, he wouldn’t give anything away. No cold reader was going to get the upper hand on Kai.
“Liam Kroll.” I smiled.
My name put a hairline fracture along his indifferent mask. “I am glad to see you are well.”
The duffle bag in my hand slipped out and landed with a soft whoomph. After two-thousand and six nights of wanting to see his face once more… after having been reunited with the man I admired—hell I’d go so far as to say loved—my anger got the better of me.
“Glad? Glad I’m well? That’s it you motherfucker?” Tears welled up in my eyes. “I didn’t mean that.” I slapped a hand over my mouth because otherwise, I was going to let him have it.
Kai stared at me with his impartial expression. I’d held that same face in memory for years. He blinked over and over. His lips parted but he didn’t speak. That intense attraction we’d had that first night we met returned at the most awful moment.
We held each other’s gaze. His calm confidence washed over me as it had five years ago. That answered question number one. Our connection snapped alive as though we never parted. I squirmed under his gaze. My breath hitched. It felt the same as standing next to a Tesla coil. Energy flowed through me and it wasn’t uncomfortable, but it made me want to run. Imagine touching pure electricity. Being close to Kai would fry my brain.
“Liam, this is an inconvenient time.”
Of all the crass bullshit, I couldn’t help it, he asked for this. “Oh, that’s fine. I’ll just settle in here. Is it a one bedroom? Two?”
Shit. What if he was married? What if he had kids of his own? I hadn’t researched that. I’d built in my head how he was going to be thrilled to see me, that I’d be wanted. That, to him, I wasn’t a throwaway. Stupid. If I was someone he wanted, he’d had plenty of time to pick me up.
Kai opened his mouth.
I cut him off. “I don’t care, asshole. You don’t tell someone they can’t die and then abandon them. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve found you and now I’m sticking to you. I’m all yours.”
Below are pictures of what Liam is describing as Kai's place.
That's all I have for now! Until next time!
♥ ~ Stephy
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