Helping Ian: An Excerpt

helping Ian cover

I will not panic. I will not panic.
I told myself this as I sat on a toilet seat in the bathroom, rocking back in forth with my head rested in my hands. I didn’t understand why Kinsey would just leave me, but at the same time I understood perfectly. Kinsey had always been there for me, but when it came to guys it was a no brainer who she would rather choose. I’m her goody-goody cousin after all who isn’t that in to taking risks and Kinsey had always been in to breaking all the rules. She’s the free-spirit in the family and the one who just wants to live her life fearlessly.
I walked out of the stall and checked to make sure I didn’t look like a train-wreck in the mirror. My cheeks were a little flushed from where my hands were, but that was it. I took a few deep breaths and then walked out the door…and right into Seth.
“I’ve been looking everywhere for you. Why did you leave?” Seth asked, using himself as a wall to keep me from running away again.
“Go away!” I yelled.
Before he could respond, I shoved him away from me and then took off running. I almost tripped over a stairwell in the ground. Because it looked like there wasn’t much light (thus making it easier for me to hide from Seth), I carefully took the steps downward. I was wondering why there weren’t as many people down there when I saw a neon sign glowing on the wall. Make your bets. Earn your cash. Confused by what the sign meant, I stopped a random guy who was walking past me to ask him.
“Excuse me, but what is this place?” I asked, and he chuckled.
“It’s a way for the homeless to make a little money. You see, you make a bet on who’s going to win and if you’re right, you walk away with a certain amount of cash. I don’t think you qualify to make a bet though, little girl. This place is only for those who don’t have money,” he said.
“Oh. Well, I wasn’t exactly thinking about making a bet. I’m just trying to avoid someone. Thanks for the info though. I really appreciate it.”
The guy gave me a weird look before walking away up the stairs. I watched him disappear before beginning to look around. The few people who were down there looked as if they hadn’t changed their clothes in months…or showered for that matter either. Instead of being disgusted, though, as I knew Kinsey would be, I felt bad for them. I found myself wishing I had enough cash in my wallet to pay for all of them.
I was turning a corner when I rammed right into a guy who looked to be around my age with unruly, dark curly hair and an extremely tired look on his face. He was wearing slightly baggy jeans and a worn-out, black hoodie and was just…standing there. When I looked closer at him I could see the deep, dark circles under his eyes. Out of all the people I had seen down there, he was by far the worst one.
“Oh my gosh, are you okay?” I asked, placing a hand on his arm instinctively.
“Yeah…I’m just…tired. I haven’t slept in days. I have to earn some money…I can’t make it without some. Do I…do I know you?” he answered sluggishly.
“No, you don’t know me, but I really think you should get some sleep. Do your parents know where you are?”
“My parents? No, my parents are gone. Everyone is gone, but don’t…don’t tell anyone okay? I know people in foster care. It’s not good and I don’t want to go there. I can make it on my own. I know I can.”
I looked around, debating on what I should do. I knew one thing was for sure though: I was not just going to leave him here. However, could I really go against his wishes and get him sent to foster care? The answer was no. So that meant there was only one other thing I could do.
“Okay, I’m not just going to leave you here so come with me. You can stay at my house for a while until we figure out what’s going on, okay? My parents won’t mind. Just…follow me.”
I took his hand and began leading him out of the arcade as I dialed my dad so he could come pick us up. I knew he’d be the most understanding in this situation and wouldn’t yell at me for leaving the house. Sure enough, he told me he’d be there in a flash without asking any questions.
As I waited outside the building, I sat the guy down on the ground and he immediately fell over. I watched him lay on the cold, stone ground for a moment before seating myself down next to him and putting his head in my lap. I wasn’t trying to be affectionate at all. I just wanted him to be comfortable.
My dad pulled up ten minutes later and helped me get him situated in the car.
“What’s his name?” my dad asked me once we were on our way back home.
“I don’t know yet. I’ll know more tomorrow when I try to figure things out, but can he stay until he’s better and we know what to do with him? I mean, look at him: he’s not well. I just cleaned the theater room. He could stay in there.”
“That’s fine sweetheart. I trust you. I just want you to keep in mind that he may not turn out to be who you think he is now. Guys will do anything these days—” I cut him off then.
“Dad, I know and if that’s the case then I’m sorry I dragged you into this, but right now he just needs a place to stay for the night. If that’s not the case, though, can we help him? You should have seen the other people in the room I found him in. They could really use some help, Dad.”
“I promise you that we’ll do everything we can to help him.”
That was all that was said on that topic for the rest of the ride home. I woke the guy up as we were pulling into the driveway so I could take him to his room for the night and helped him out of the car.
“I’ll be in the lab with your mother if you need anything,” my dad assured me and I nodded as I helped the stranger inside to the nearest door. 
“This may feel a little weird, but just hold onto me and it will be over before you know it,” I told the stranger once we reached the door.
“Wait; what? What are we doing?” he asked sleepily, opening his eyes.
“My house isn’t like ordinary houses. It doesn’t have a normal door system. You have to teleport places here, but don’t freak out, okay? Nothing unusual is going to happen to you or anything. You’re just going to have to trust me,” I explained.
He looked at me with half-lidded eyes before responding.
“I trust you,” he said and I smiled.
“Thank you. Now hold onto me.”
Since he was taller than me, he had to squat down a bit in order to wrap his arms tightly around my waist, but he didn’t seem to mind. I opened the door and we stepped through. I’d been through it many times so the drop in my stomach didn’t bother me anymore, but I could tell it surprised him a bit because his grasp tightened around me. He didn’t get a chance to say anything, though, because then we were standing in the theater room and everything was normal again.
“This will be your room for the night. I know it’s rather spacious for just one person, but all our guest rooms are taken up for the night so it will have to do. Um…the remote for the screen is on the table over there, but be careful because it’s really loud. I guess I’ll see you in the morning. Don’t worry about food or anything like that. I’ll bring it to you when I wake up. I know the whole teleporting thing takes a little getting used to,” I said after helping him onto one of the couches and putting a warm blanket on him.
“Thanks,” he said before falling asleep again.
I smiled at him before dimming the lights and heading to my room.
It felt good to help someone. So good in fact, that I wasn’t even mad at Kinsey when I heard her sneaking back into my room way later that night. 
“I am so sorry I left you tonight, Jenni!” she whispered as she climbed into bed beside me.
“It’s fine, Kinsey. I’m not mad. I had fun actually. Let’s just get some sleep.” 
Even though my eyes were closed, I could tell that she had a puzzled look on her face. She was probably expecting me to blow up at her, but I wasn’t going to. I was too busy thinking about the things that I would have to get done tomorrow. I was determined to help this boy.

And indeed I would.

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