“Johnny, what are you doing here?”

“Hey, sis, can I come in?” He started calling me that back in high school. It used to make me feel special, like I had two big brothers. But not anymore.

I hesitate briefly, knowing that Ryder would not want me to let him in. But if I plan on getting him help, I have to.

“Sure, come on in. I was just getting ready to leave, but I can talk for a few minutes.”

He walks in and sits on my couch. I sit on the chair across from him and ask him how he’s doing.

“I’m fine.”

I know he’s lying. He looks worse than I’ve ever seen him. “I’m going to get a drink,” I say. “Do you want something?”

“Sure, whatever.” He shrugs.

I walk into the kitchen and grab my phone off the counter to send Ryder a text. Johnny is here. In my apartment. I’m okay.

I grab some bottles of water out of the refrigerator and look at my phone when it dings. I’m on my way.

Putting my phone back into my pocket, I walk back into the living room. Johnny is standing in front of my TV looking at it appreciatively. I instantly get mad with the reminder that he took my old one.

“Why are you here, Johnny?”

He looks all around me and won’t look into my face. “I need some money, Sierra.”

“I don’t think…” I start to tell him I don’t think it’s a good idea I give him money but he interrupts me.

“I wouldn’t ask you if I didn’t really need it. I’m in trouble, sis. I need your help.”

“You need to go to rehab, Johnny. You need to get off the drugs. It’s killing you. I mean, just look at you.” I can’t help myself; I have to tell him the truth.

I see the rage in his eyes and I realize then that I don’t even know him anymore. He’s not the same person and I could kick myself for letting him in.

“You don’t understand. I don’t have a problem. Now are you going to help me or not?” He’s leaned over top of me on the couch and he’s looking at me menacingly. I never dreamed in a million years that I would ever be afraid of him.

“She’s not,” I hear right before Johnny is pulled away from me. Ryder must have come in while Johnny was standing over me. His face is livid and his whole body is taut, veins bulging out of his neck and arms.

“Who the hell do you think you are?” he screams as he slams his fist into Johnny’s face.

Johnny just takes it and I have to get in front of Ryder to stop him before he kills him.

“Ryder, Ryder.” I keep saying his name with my hands on each side of his face. It’s like he is in a trance and I’m trying to wake him up. I lean up and kiss his lips. “I’m okay, Ryder. I’m okay. Please stop.”

Ryder grabs on to my hips and pulls me toward him, holding me until his breathing evens out. “I’m calling the police.” He pulls his phone out of his pocket but I grab it from him.

“Ryder, listen. This isn’t the same boy that was my brother’s best friend. But I know he’s in there. I know if he got help, if he would just accept help, he could be okay.”

He thinks about it for only a second. “I won’t put you in jeopardy, honey. If he doesn’t agree to be committed to rehab then I am calling the police. I won’t bend on this.”

“Okay,” I tell him before I kiss him one more time.

It took some convincing, but finally after Ryder threatened him and laid on the guilt for everything he had done to me, his dead best friend’s little sister, he agreed. Some of the things that Ryder said were pretty harsh, but obviously something that Johnny needed to hear.

Ryder had me drive over to his house to wait while he took Johnny to the hospital. Ryder had it all arranged by the time they got there. He stayed and helped him get admitted with the promise to bring him some clothes the next day. When Ryder finally got home, I was waiting for him naked in his bed.

Instead of trying to have sex with me, he just held me in his arms. “I don’t know what I would do if something had happened to you tonight,” he whispers in my ear.

I thought about that too, while I was waiting on him to get home. There’s so much I haven’t said to him that I know I should. “I love you, Ryder. I’ve loved you for a while now and I just want you to know.”

“I love you…”

I interrupt him before he finishes. “You don’t have to say it just because I did. I was thinking the same thing tonight and I was wishing that you knew I loved you.”

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