Rye smiled as he listened to the important lord of state. He was attentive and sweet, everything that someone of his personality type was expected to be. Kevin knew as he watched the boy that the friendly face he was showing to the outside world was covering the terrified jumble of emotions that he held in check.

He’d read the younger agent’s file. The boy had been in the house when his parents were killed, hiding in a safe room with his sister. His first mission by himself had proven disastrous and nearly lethal. His second mission, when the agency had consented to partnering him with his sister, had been nearly as disastrous. Kevin knew first-hand of another terrifying encounter the boy had had with a group of street thugs.

Despite the smile on his face, Rye was not nearly at ease with this group of strangers as he appeared. Kevin couldn’t imagine how he’d handle spending the night in the unfamiliar place.

When You’re Alone in Your Bed

Late that night, Rye sat up staring around the room. Part of him wanted to go to his sister’s room. Part of him wanted to go to one of the other boys’ rooms. Part of him was too scared to walk across the dark space of his own room.

Tears came to his eyes. He felt very much alone. He couldn’t say, even to himself, why he was so frightened. However, there was no way he could sleep alone in the strange room.

He startled when his door opened. A shadowy figure filled the doorway and Rye swallowed a whimper. “Rye, it’s me,” a familiar voice said.

“Kevin?” Rye whispered back.

“Hey, kid, having trouble sleeping?” the older boy asked. Kevin sat down on the foot of his bed and Rye nodded slightly. “Want me to stay for a little while?”

“Just until I’m asleep?” Rye replied.

“No problem,” came the easy reply. Rye smiled and lay down on the bed. With the familiar presence of Kevin, he could finally begin to relax. Sleep soon overtook him.