"Come on, this way!" Kai's voice rang.
After the arrest of Pam and Channie, I was taken to the hospital for an evaluation. Kai and his security guard, Ahiko, stayed by my side through it all. I just remember grabbing his hand and even though it may have been odd for boys to hold hands, he never let go. Not once. All he did was smile and reassure me that I was safe. It seemed so simple, but it put my mind and body at ease.
After I was cleared, Ahiko told the cops that the Yanaka's would take me in. The police didn't utter another word...or ask any questions. That was enough for me to know that the sentor was a powerful man. Maybe too powerful, but I didn't hesitate when Ahiko opened the Chevy Suburban's door and drove us to Kai's mother's house.
The second we arrived at the manor; I was honestly in shock. I had never seen such massive grounds that were fit for a king or queen outside of movies and pictures. I wanted to pinch myself, thinking I'd wake back up in the horrible home until Kai's call shook me back to my new reality.
At the sound of his voice, and merry smile, I hurried after him. With me I had a backpack I stuffed with some clothes, my school items, and a birth certificate that only had my mother's name: Emilia Santos. I never had much to my name after being placed in several homes and honestly just seeing how lucky some kids ended up in life...it made me jealous. Hell...it even made me sad: sad that I wasn't afforded such an opportunity. But, after talking with Kai, I knew that looks could be deceiving.
On the drive over, Kai explained that his father had been cheating on his mother for quite some time. Because of that, his parents frequented their own residences, and this manor, which Kai referred to as the Belle, was passed down to Kai's mother once her father died. Kai, taking his mother's side due to his father's infidelities, usually stayed with her. However, the grounds were currently vacant because his mother was away in Japan. Apparently, she was a well-known fashion designer in Tokyo, but when Kai mentioned the brand name, it went in one ear and out the other. I almost think he forgot I was a boy from the streets and not some chum from his polo club.
Due to his parents hushed separation, the senator appointed Ahiko to watch over Kai whenever he left his father's residence. Kai was mandated to spend time with his father at least three times a week, and of course whenever the senator needed to save face for the cameras. Kai laughed at the fact that they needed to present themselves as a well-put-together family in order for his father to win the upcoming re-election. It was evident that Kai's family was far from that. To me, they were puzzle pieces that just did not fit.
After we sat in silence, Kai turned to me.
"Look, my father doesn't know about this."
I returned his statement with a confused expression.
"My dad's name was enough to get you to stay with me. I don't want him getting involved because he won't approve."
Kai sighed, loosening the collar of his school shirt. "My father...is strict. Anything that he himself does not ask or initiate is out of the question."
I looked down at the seat then, understanding what he was saying. This was temporary. Of course it was...I knew that from the start.
I looked up at him, smiling so that I did not upset him. "It's fine, I understand. I appreciate what you've done for me. I'll figure the rest out."
"What?" Kai gawked, looking as if I had said something outlandish. "No...no, sorry that's not what I meant. I'm saying you can stay with me."
My ears perked up at that. "Really?!"
"But there's one condition...or maybe a few. In order for this to work, at least until I can speak with my mother, Ahiko will pick you up and drop you off at school. With or without me because father will get suspicious if I'm not at his house as we have agreed."
Yahiko mumbled something but with Kai's quick snap, he quieted.
"Ok." I said, knowing there was more to this discussion.
"However, if I'm away, don't go out on your own outside of the Belle grounds. That even includes if we are together or if I have to make a stop in-between school and home. This suburban is known to my father and his colleagues...I don't want you thrown out into the streets until I can get everything sorted. Is that fine?"
Not go out. That's what he was asking of me? I sat and thought, and I honestly couldn't remember when I left the home outside of school or working the streets. So, without having to be on the streets...I didn't really have a need to be anywhere at all.
"Yes." I said.
At that moment in time, I didn't mind those stipulations.
"So," Kai said as Ahiko unlocked the door to the house, "do you mind if I give you a tour tomorrow? You've had a long day and the doctor said you need to get some rest."
He was right, I was exhausted.
The thing was, when I was shown my new room, I was scared. It wasn't something I wanted to admit or for anyone to know. But it was dark...there was barely any light save from the moon that shone through the window. The scenery brought back my small space within the closet where I shrunk away from my captors. I never felt safe...I was always on guard from the creaking floor boards.
Darkness...my whole life had been painted with fear.
I knew I shouldn't be so ungrateful. This was the first bed I had ever had in my life. The first fully furnished room with furniture that cost more than I knew I was worth. I finally got to be somewhere safe. Yet, being alone only set my mind down a path of torment.
The lightning shook the house as I jumped, my heart throbbed through my chest. The sound brought back the slamming of the closet door, the gun shot that whizzed past my eardrum, and the revving engine of the gangster's bikes after they swarmed me downtown. I lost sight of where I physically was and the unfamiliarity of my surroundings made me move. I got up, the lightning flashing through my window: hearing my feet thud against the wooden floors as I headed to Kai's room.
Rounding the corner, I took his doorknob in my hand. It was only until I opened the door that I felt pathetic. But in those moments, I started to believe that Pam and Channie were still out there...waiting to drag me back to hell.
I began to hyperventilate at the thought. They'll get out...they'll get out of jail and once they do...
A hand...Kai's hand was on my shoulder. My eyes adjusted in the dimly-lit room to see him squatting in front of me in his boxers. He looked gallant there, his body more muscular than I'd ever seen for a kid his age. I barely noticed he was fit in his school clothes. Yet, my cheeks began to burn with embarrassment when I realized I was cowering on the floor a foot away from his bed.
His gentle hand brushed under my eyelid, pulling back the long hair that covered my face. It was then that I realized I had been crying.
"Hey, it's alright." Kai said, helping me to my feet.
The thunder bellowed, shaking the house once more.
"I'm...I'm sorry." I stuttered, not realizing that my bones were quaking.
"It's fine." Kai reassured me, "You know what helped me get through hard times?"
"What?" I asked.
"Being close to someone who cared."
I almost blushed at that comment, but only watched him climb back up in his bed.
"Well, come along." He gestured.
So I did, pulling back the silk sheets, and made myself comfortable under the covers opposite of Kai.
"Really? I meant for you to come over here." He chuckled, beckoning me with his finger.
I knew my face echoed confusion.
"You can use me as a pillow. Trust me, it works."
"What?! We're guys!" I shrieked, highly uncomfortable with it.
Sure, I wanted to be near someone...anyone right now, but not in that way.
"Stop making it weird. Just try it, I promise it'll help. I used to do the same thing with my mother when I was younger to make the daily shit in my life fade to black."
His comment only made things worse, but I guess he had a point. I just...just had never done that with anyone...ever. Physical contact meant out of kindness was not in my playbook. It just didn't exist...but it still drew me to him. Whether it was the way he talked or because I wanted to prove that I wasn't a coward, I made up my mind to try.
So, I moved closer, begrudgingly laying my head on Kai's chest: feeling his comforting hand on my back.
"See, it's not so bad is it?"
No, it wasn't. As I lay there in his embrace, the sounds around me quieted. Instead I listened to his heart beat. It was slow...entrancing, and my eyelids closed to its beat. It reminded me of the only memory I had of my birth mother. Or at least, that's where I thought the song originated from...because it was stuck in my mind after all these years:
"In space there was a beauty, yes a little beauty."
"She was called a 'purty' blue eyed bee."
"She gave me a present, a lovely little present."
"Yep, she gave you to me."
"Because you were the present, a lovely little present."
"I'll love you till eternity."