The next morning the sun was already brightening the room when Richard awoke. He looked at the clock on the night stand next to his bed.
He was late for work.
Richard laid back to collect his thoughts about the day when it hit him. He bolted straight up in bed remembering that he was not alone. There was someone else sleeping in the house.
He got out of bed and searched out the door to the other bedroom door across the hall. Cory's door was still closed, and Richard assumed Cory was still sleeping. He would let him sleep knowing he needed it.
Richard stepped into the bathroom to take his morning shower, and as he finished shaving, he decided to call his office and tell them he wouldn't be there for a day or two. It was beneficial to own your own business. Richard could make his own schedule. He quickly dressed in his weekend attire: jeans, tee shirt and deck shoes.
When he arrived downstairs to get himself his first cup of coffee, he found steam rising from a hot cup of coffee, a spoon, a carton of milk and a sugar bowl already sitting on the counter. Cory had already been there.
"I didn't know if you took cream or sugar in your coffee, so I got them both out just in case."
Richard turned to see Cory coming around the corner from the family room wearing the terry cloth robe.
"No, I take my coffee black. Thank you for this though. It was nice of you. And by the way, how do you feel this morning? You were pretty strung-out last night."
"I feel great now. I guess I really needed the sleep. I was out like a light and didn't wake up until I heard you get in the shower this morning."
"I can understand that. I'm glad that you're in a better mood this morning."
Richard walked around the cooking island, opened the refrigerator and pulled out a carton of orange juice.
Turning back toward Cory, Richard asked, "Would you like some?"
"Yeah, I love OJ."
Richard got two glasses from the cupboard and filled each of them with orange juice. After handing one of the glasses to Cory, Richard leaned against the counter silently watching Cory drink noisily. He lowered his head slightly. He knew he had to say this.
"I called your dad last night."
Cory turned toward Richard staring with the coldness of an Arctic freeze. The silence was so loud, Richard's ears hurt. Tension in the air was thick.
"I thought that he had a right to know where you were and that you were all right," continued Richard.
"You shouldn't have done that," Cory glared.
"I had to."
"Look, you were nice to me, and I thought that you might care about me, but guess I was wrong. You said that I could sleep here for one night. Well, that night's up."
Cory turned to leave, but Richard grabbed his arm to stop him. Cory turned quickly, throwing off Richard's hand, his eyes focused on Richard.
"Cory, shut up and listen to me. I had to call your dad. I'm NOT your legal guardian, and you can't stay here without his permission. Do you understand that?"
"Well, did he give it?" Cory sarcastically shot back.
"You don't want to go back to him, do you?"
"NO! I don't ever want to see that bastard again."
Richard was silent, waiting for Cory to calm down. After a moment he heard Cory sigh, and Richard knew that he could now explain what he had to do.
"Last night you got to me. And when you gave me a hug and I held you, I was crying right along with you. I made a vow that I would try to help you if I could. I figured that your dad was probably worried about you, so I had to call him and let him know that you were alright and that I would get you back to your family. Well, it didn't go too well."
"So, you actually talked to him? How'd you get my number?"
"I found it in your wallet. I'm sorry Cory. I know your wallet is kinda private, but I had to find out where to contact your family."
Cory's fears returned, and he felt like his stomach had been hit with a lead pipe. Cory looked at Richard feeling his life drain away.
"I told you, Richard. I don't ever want to go back there."
Cory had started to trust Richard earlier, just a little. He had given in to a small amount of hope, but he now knew that he had no one to trust. No one was going help him.
"Cory?" asked Richard, seeing a state of panic envelop Cory.
Cory didn't respond.
"Cory!" Richard yelled.
Hearing his name, Cory returned to this world, and then he just glared at Richard, saying nothing.
"Cory, I didn't expect the reaction that I got from your father. Like I said, it didn't go well."
"So how did it go?" Cory asked defiantly.
Richard was unsure of how to say what he knew he had to say next. He knew what he had to say, but he didn't know how Cory was going to react. Just tell him the truth was all he could come up with.
"Cory, your father doesn't want you back there." Richard bit his lip.
Cory was silent for a moment, showing no emotion. This surprised Richard.
"I know. He's never wanted me."
Richard heard those words and he had to remember back to the words Cory had used in the car last night. He knew that he should have listened to him, no, should have understood what Cory was saying to him.
"I'm sorry, Cory. I really am. I should have heard what you were trying to tell me last night."
Cory shook his head, slowly from side to side. He knew he was on his own now, his dad had said it to Richard, his dad didn't want him, and he feared his dad around him again. He had nowhere to go now. His one night with a roof over his head was over.
He looked at Richard, directly into Richard's eye, and what he saw startled him. He saw a sparkle. What he saw was hope. Maybe hope for him, he thought. Maybe Richard really did want to help him. Cory knew that he needed help. He had no money, nowhere to go. He knew he couldn't even get a job because he was only 15.
"Richard? What's going to happen to me?" Cory finally asked.
"What's going to happen to you is that we're going to find a better place for you to live."
Cory continued to stare at Richard.
"But where? Who's going to take me in?"
"Don't worry about that yet. We're going to find you a place, okay? Just keep believing in that."
"I don't know yet. But we'll find somebody."
Cory wanted to trust Richard; he really did. He wanted to believe that he might help him find a home. 'Did Richard really care enough about him?' he kept asking himself. If he did, Cory sure didn't know why.
"Why are you doing this? Why are you willing to help some dumb kid that you don't even know?" Cory asked.
"Look Cory, I want you to be safe. That's all. Well, maybe there's a little more to it than that. You see, there comes a time in everyone's life when he knows that he can do something worthwhile, something that is right. Cory, I'm going to take a chance with you. Right now, you need some help, and I've made a commitment to try to get you the help that you need."
Richard waited for a response from Cory, but Cory silently stared at him, so he continued.
"We need to find you a place to live. You can stay here for a while until we can do that."
"I can stay here?" Cory's eyes opened wide.
"For the time being, yes."
"But you don't know anything about me. And, uh, I don't really know you."
"Right now, Cory, I don't think you have a choice."
Cory thought for a moment watching Richard, his smile missing.
"I guess I have to take a chance, too, don't I? I have nowhere else to go," Cory finally said.
"Cory, I'm just trying to help you. You're going to be fine. But we have a lot of work to do to find you a home."
Richard shifted his head sideways slightly to look at Cory's cheek.
How's that bruise coming?"
Cory touched his cheek but wrenched away at his own touch.
"Let me look for a second." as Richard walked to Cory and put his finger on his cheek just under the bruise. A thought startled Richard as he touched his skin. He had touched Cory once before, but it was through the robe. This was the first time that he had touched his skin. Cory wasn't imaginary to Richard anymore. This game Richard was playing wasn't a dream or fantasy. This was a real boy in front of him now. This was real. He had made a commitment, but feeling his skin, realizing this wasn't a game, he understood how real this was. This frightened Richard.
Richard pressed ever so slightly.
Cory reacted to the pressure and threw his head back.
"Those hurts, doesn't it?" Richard asked.
"Yeah, a lot!" Cory almost yelled while throwing up his hand, holding his cheek.
"Okay. You're going to the doctor."
As Cory headed to the laundry room to get his clothes, Richard picked up the phone.
Knowing Dr. Stone personally Richard was able to get an appointment for 60 minutes from the time he placed the call. Not only was Dr. Stone a golfing partner, but he had also been a friend for years.
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