Here’s a peek at my release from last November, Finding the Way Back.
Hazel turned to face the director and Mr. Wolenczek behind him. “I want to speak with Ian for a moment before I make a final decision. If all goes well, I will take him in and do whatever I can to aid his recovery.”
A furrow formed between Director Cole’s eyebrows, and he drew in a breath. “I’m not sure—”
“Let me go in first,” Mr. Wolenczek said. “Ian knows me, so it might go better if I introduce you before you talk to him.”
“That’s fine.” Hazel ignored the director’s displeased expression and followed Mr. Wolenczek to the door of the observation room.
He typed a code into the keypad by the door, and the light turned red. Opening the door, he stepped inside and spoke in a low, even tone. “Ian, let me know you hear me.”
Ian lifted a hand in a halfhearted wave before letting it fall into his lap again. Mr. Wolenczek stepped farther into the room and motioned for Hazel to join him.
“Ian, this is Hazel Baker. She’s a nurse practitioner and would like to speak with you. All right?”
The same hand lifted briefly in acknowledgement, but otherwise Ian showed no sign that he was aware of the world around him.
Hazel glanced at Mr. Wolenczek, and he nodded. Drawing in a calming breath, she stepped forward and knelt before her soon-to-be patient and housemate. “Ian, they’ve asked that I bring you to my home so you won’t have to stay here any longer. Would you like that?”
He lifted his head ever so slightly and met her gaze with chocolate brown eyes. The shadows of horror were unmistakable, but she suddenly had a feeling he was aware of a lot more than he let on.
She gave him a smile and laid her hand on his arm in a show of friendship. “I have a four-year-old daughter. Her name is Ellie.”
Ian studied her for what felt like an eternity before he finally gave a single small nod. He dropped his gaze again, and Hazel glanced at Mr. Wolenczek. He shrugged, offering no help in deciphering the nod. She turned back to Ian.
“Does that mean you want to come stay with me?” He nodded again, and Hazel gave his arm a gentle squeeze. “All right, then. We’ll make arrangements to transport you to my house.”
She stood and followed Mr. Wolenczek out of the room. As he and the others discussed the transportation plan, she glanced through the glass wall. Ian met her gaze and held it for a few seconds before looking away again. He stretched out on the bench with his back to the hall, and Hazel tried to return her attention to the discussion around her. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get those troubled brown eyes out of her mind. It felt like he was trying to tell her something, but what?
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