Fate on Fire - E. L. Todd



Neil was gone.

I sat up in bed, my big dog beside me for comfort. He rested his chin on my thigh, his eyes opening occasionally to check on me. Without my sharing a single word with him, he somehow knew something was wrong. He could feel it in the air, feel my negative energy.

It was a strange feeling, to be so happy about something but also so miserable. After accepting that I was infertile, I’d had to make peace with the reality that I’d never be able to give birth to children. It was so devastating, watching my dream slip away, and there was nothing I could do about it.

So, having this baby inside me felt like a miracle.

The greatest miracle of my life.

I already imagined raising it, decorating the baby’s room, and painting it pink if it was a girl and blue if it was a boy. The fact that Neil was the father made me love it more, because I’d made this baby with the man I loved.

But the additional fact that Neil didn’t want children ruined my high. He didn’t want marriage or kids, and he would be gone for three years. He was in that rocket right now, having no idea that his son or daughter was growing inside me.

Stacy was the person I would talk to about this, but she wasn’t an option. She and Vic would have a biased opinion about the situation. I was growing their niece or nephew inside me. They would probably send a message to Neil and inform him, and that would distract him for the next three years.

I couldn’t let that happen.

I also didn’t want my baby to have a father who didn’t want them around. I would rather them have a single parent who was so happy they were there than feel the disappointment from Neil.

Neil was an honorable guy. He would step up to the plate in a heartbeat. He would be a decent father, but he would also resent me for what happened. I didn’t go on birth control because I thought I didn’t need it. It was all my fault, and Neil was trapped by a pregnancy he didn’t want.

I almost felt guilty about it.

Neil had been gone for three days, so my feelings were conflicted. I was devastated he was gone but so thrilled to have a baby growing inside me.

My phone was on the bedspread beside me, and I got a text from Kyle. You doing okay?

I hadn’t heard from him in months. He probably saw the news and realized Neil was on that rocket. He knew Neil would be gone for three years, which was an eternity to anyone who could grasp the passage of time. I still didn’t want to talk to him because nothing had changed. I wanted Kyle to move on with his life, to be free of the spell I apparently cast over him. I wanted him to find a woman who was stupidly and deeply in love with him.

When I didn’t text back, he didn’t try to get my attention again.

He just let it be.

It was nine in the evening when the doorbell rang.

Torpedo ran down the hallway, barking loudly in defense of his territory.

I didn’t answer the door for strangers, especially this late at night, so I assumed it was someone I knew. It could be Stacy, but with a newborn at home, that didn’t seem plausible. It could be Vic, but he worked so early in the morning. I looked through the peephole and saw Kyle on the other side.


“Char, come on.”

I could see his dark green jacket and his black t-shirt underneath. His hair was shorter than the last time I saw him. His blue eyes were the same color, slightly hostile but also beautiful.

“I just want to see if you’re alright. You never texted me back.”

Torpedo stopped whining when he recognized Kyle’s voice. Now, he clawed the door with his paws and whined.

“I’m fine, Kyle. Please go home.”

“Charlotte, open this door, or I’ll break it down.”

“You’re being dramatic.”

“I’ll show you dramatic…”

I knew Kyle didn’t make threats idly, so I opened the door.

It was raining, but the porch protected him from the drops. His jacket had spots of wetness from when he’d walked up the driveway from his truck. The hostility in his eyes slowly faded as he looked at me, becoming more concerned with every passing second. I was sad over the loss of another man, but he was still there for me anyway.