Kristofer “Kris” O’Dwyer had worked with Malcolm at the halfway house since he’d opened it almost ten years ago. He thought he’d seen just about everything since then. Maybe he had. He knew he was getting burned out. The emotional toll it took on him to counsel the men who came through halfway house was extreme. Kris couldn’t count the days he’d gone home and cried. Cried for the horror a lot of these men had gone through, the pain and anger and despair and hopelessness. It was invasive and difficult to get them past such obstacles and it was wearing him down.
It didn’t help his sister and mother, were constantly nagging him to move home. He didn’t want to go home, back to the town that had tortured him from high school until he’d left, determined never to return. What he’d gone through was the reason he’d gone into counseling in the first place. He knew several of the men who came to see him were gay and he was pleased when he helped them, whether to reconcile their sexual orientation, to dealing with the drug and alcohol cravings, to self-esteem and confidence building.
But he was tired, so very tired. Sometimes, it took everything he had to drag himself from bed in the mornings. But he refused to be selfish, refused to let these men down. Just one day he might not be here could be the turning point for any one of them, good or bad. Kris refused to lose a man just because he was exhausted.
Jaime Patrickson was new to the halfway house, volunteering for his community service. It still galled him that his boyfriend had let him take the fall for the ½ ounce of pot he’d been carrying. It sucked and he’d broken up with Carmine for it. Carmine’s addiction wasn’t worth Jaime getting into any more trouble than he already was. At least there’d been no restitution, since he’d been out of work and living at his mom’s for the last six months.
He didn’t really mind coming to the halfway house. Of course he’d have to attribute that to the gorgeous man that worked there. He didn’t know much about him, didn’t know what he did there, but he always made an effort to say hi to him.
What he usually got back was a very tired smile, as if the man didn’t have the energy for any more than that. It worried Jaime, but there wasn’t a whole lot he could do. At least not until the day the pretty man collapsed.