The morning Ella Jones forces herself to sit down and make a true connection with the homeless teen living behind the café where she works, she changes both their lives.
A senior in high school and a barista, seventeen-year-old Ella seems to be going places. Yet her parents’ ideas for her future are as fractured as their marriage and neither wants her to pursue her own dreams.
Ayden Worth is a seventeen-year-old boy who lives on the streets.
Their friendship buds in alleys and public libraries. His quiet ways and his gentle treatment teach her about true courage. He inspires her to look beyond herself and to be a better person.
In the lobby, I hesitate. We didn’t say specifically where we would meet. I doubt he’ll be in the children’s library, so I climb the stairs to the second floor, guessing he’ll be in the teen section, since, as far as I know, that’s the only other place it’s okay to talk.
Sure enough, I find him sitting in a comfortable looking leather armchair, a matching seat empty beside him. His army jacket is draped over the back of his chair. Ayden looks remarkably not homeless in a button up shirt, sleeves rolled up, blue jeans, tennis shoes. Like a kid I would go to school with.
He doesn’t see me at first. His hair is flopped forward, his head bowed over a book in his lap. When I’m directly in front of him, he looks up, and my heart skips a beat from the haunted expression in his eyes.
“Hi,” I breathe. “Reading another horror story?”
“Oh.” I’m not surprised that he can, or is, reading Thoreau, but by the depth of emotion he appears to be experiencing from it.
“Here. Two sugars and a shake of cinnamon, just the way you like it.”
Our fingers brush as he takes the cup. The warmth of his is like a concussion bomb and makes me flop gracelessly into my chair.
“Thank you,” he says.The simplicity of his delivery resonates. Every inch of his being and every nuance of his voice are appreciative of anything I do for him. I’m not going to lie. It makes me want to do a lot of things for him.
WORTH THE EFFORT: Ella’s Story a young adult contemporary romance novella.
Why was Ayden in the alley that morning? What was he thinking during the confrontation in the den? Because there are two sides to every story, coming in August, WORTH THE EFFORT: Ayden's Story
Seventeen-year-old Ayden Worth shouldn’t have to seek peace of mind in the streets. But as family pressures mount, his anxieties increase, and he turns his back on comfort for a life in homeless camps and back alleys.
Then one fateful day he runs into the only person he ever wanted to know better. Ella Jones. His memories paint her as kind and undemanding, and it seems the years haven’t changed her. Her simple expectations draw him to her. Against all odds, a relationship buds and grows.
Yet, as Ayden repairs his life, Ella suggests he help others who also struggle. Will Ella turn out to be just like his dad, expecting more from him than he can give? Or will he prove that he is worth the effort?Ayden’s Story is a novella from his point of view.
About the author:
When her children were young and the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fireplace and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died. The end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers and short stories for the younger ones, Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults. Learn more about Kai and her books on her website, www.kaistrand.com.
Visit Kai's YouTube channel to see her read from Ella's Story.