She opened her eyes and saw her uncle standing in front of her. He had one hand against the wall and he was tucking his phone into his back pocket.
“Trey and his sister are here,” he said. “Everything alright?” he asked, noticing the faint glimmer of tears running down her face.
She nodded and wiped away the tears with the edge of her hands. Uncle Tim helped her back to her feet.
“You’re going to have to lead me back downstairs,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t have your superpower.”
Ren rolled her eyes, but still smiled. “I wish I had a different superpower,” she said wistfully as she led her uncle through her dark floor to the stairs.
“So your aunt told me some about this boy. He was the one who led the others to you?”
She nodded, then replied verbally, reminding herself that her uncle couldn’t see in the dark like she could. “Tray also helped protect me from a lot of things. Until I learned to defend myself, he took care of me. I’ve really missed him the past few years.”
When they reached the second floor of the house, the role of guide was usually switched, but instead, the lights were dim enough for Ren to see on her own. She raised an eyebrow in question at her uncle.
“We wanted you to feel comfortable tonight. Trey is one of your friends, and seeing as how you two know each other, I figured the situation would be stressful enough without you being blind,” he replied to her unspoken query.
She hugged her uncle tightly. “Thanks. For everything. You and Aunt Kathy have done so much for me, sacrificed so much.”
He hugged her back. “You are our daughter, Ren. There’s nothing we wouldn’t do for you. My brother and his wife would have done the same for you if they were still alive.”
She sighed. “I’m glad they’re dead, though. I couldn’t bear them seeing me like this,” she responded quickly to his shocked face.
A half smile graced Tim’s face. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of. They would be very proud of the beautiful and strong young woman you’ve become. Most of the people with PTSD like yours would have killed themselves years ago. You’re a survivor. Those are rare nowadays. Band-Aid solutions are the ‘thing’ now, and you had enough strength to realize that you needed more than that.”
She returned his smile and walked downstairs. The stairs between the first and second floor were a burnished metal spiral staircase. As she rounded the final turn, she saw Trey standing there in the living room, waiting for her. He turned and smiled when he saw her coming.
“So you’re the famous Ren,” said a tall, dark haired woman, rising from the leather couch to greet her. “I’m Venitia, Tray’s big sister.” She offered her hand for Ren to shake.
“It’s nice to meet you,” Ren replied, taking stock in Venitia Mitchell’s appearance. She was striking, from the bottom of her black patent-leather pumps to the top of her flawless makeup and hair.
“I work in DC,” she informed Ren. “I had just got off work when you called. That’s why I’m still in the fancy clothes.”
“There’s nothing wrong with that,” Tim said, coming to stand behind his niece. “Fancy clothes are always a good thing to wear when meeting someone new,” he continued, eyeing Trey’s worn appearance with a smile and wink.
“You’re Ren’s uncle, right?” Trey asked, extending his hand.
Tim nodded and shook the offered hand. “Now as much as I’d like to stay and chat, dinner is getting cold. And regardless of what Kathy will tell you, I cooked. The only thing she contributed to the meal was the wine.”
“That’s because I had to find a last minute babysitter for Beka,” she called from the dining room.
The trio entered the room and took their seats at the oak table. Red wine was poured in each glass, and a fresh salad and bruschetta greeted each person as they sat. Trey pulled out a seat for Ren, who sat with a shy smile in his direction. Venitia noted, but kept her observations to herself. Venitia had just taken a sip of her wine when her phone began to ring.
“Excuse me, please,” she said as she viewed the caller ID. “It’s work.” She stepped back into the living room.
“Trey, thanks for walking Ren back to my store today. I didn’t realize it was going to get that bright before her appointment was over,” Kathy said with a smile, which he returned.
“No problem. I couldn’t leave her stranded like that,” he replied.
Ren began to feel slightly uncomfortable at the attention suddenly directed toward her and her blindness, and hid behind a mouthful of iceberg lettuce and spinach. Tim had just opened his mouth to ask Trey a question when Venitia ran back into the room with a panicked look on her face.
“Something awful has happened.”