The Order: Hit and Run by Emma Cole

Chapter One

Have you ever had that moment, that one instant, that will forever be a line of demarcation? There will always be a ‘before’ and ‘after’, featured prominently in your history? This story is about my moment, the one that will live eternal in my heart for the rest of my days.

Three Days After Graduation

Standing nervously, twisting my fingers together in front of my swollen belly, I wait for the passengers to begin entering the baggage claim in the Sea-Tac Airport. The carousel had started up shortly after the scheduled landing time popped up on the overhead screen for arrivals, and I’m checking every few seconds for baggage or people to appear, but my bladder is about to pop.

Chancing a quick trip to the nearby bathroom, I try to hurry, barely drying my hands after washing them. I take one quick second to shake the white flowy skirt of my dress down to make sure it's not stuck in my underwear before I’m rushing back out.

Still no baggage or passengers. I’m relieved yet disappointed at the same time and move closer to the screen to check the information again, as well as my phone for messages.

“Boo,” a voice whispers in my ear as hands grip my pear-shaped waist. I screech in fright, briefly gaining the attention of nearby commuters, and spin to discover a tall, dark-haired man dressed in a military uniform.

“Kael, you’re here!” I launch into his arms, momentarily forgetting my protruding stomach, and nearly bounce off his hard body.

Laughing, he embraces and steadies me, while I blush profusely at the near mishap. At least my bladder is empty. He drops a kiss on my lips before just resting his forehead on mine for a moment.

“Missed you, baby.” Kael is usually soft-spoken, but now he's even more so as he steps back enough to address my gigantic baby bump and rub small circles over it. “Cupcake, I think you’ve grown a bit since I last saw your mama.” The tiny terror that delights in kicking my insides out of her way is true to form and gives Kael’s hand a good thump. The look of awe that dawns across his face sends hormones raging through me, inducing tears.

“I think she recognizes your voice from all the video chats.” I blink back the moisture, doing my best to regain composure. “You really came.”

Kael’s attention pops up to my face at my quiet words. “Of course I came, Cora. I promised you I would. I wouldn’t you leave you, even if it weren’t for this little darlin’ cookin’ in here.” He taps my belly as he reassures me, making relief course through my body.

I give him a nod and a shy smile, attempting to lighten the mood. “Let’s see if your bags are out yet.” I don’t want to bring up our next destination even though he’s just reassured me. We move toward the carousel where passengers are pulling their luggage but I stay back far enough to avoid the jostling crowd.

Kael quickly locates and retrieves his large duffel bag after it spits out of the fringey rubber flaps on the conveyor belt and comes back to where I stand waiting for him. “You want me to go get the truck and pick you up, or are you gonna be alright walking to it?”

“I'm fine to walk. It’s good for me, and baby too. I’ll let you drive though. The steering wheel nearly presses on me, and I have the seat adjusted back as far as I can reach with my legs and still be able to drive.” He eyes my belly with worry but doesn't comment; instead, he laces the fingers of his free hand with mine.

We make our way out of the baggage terminal and out to the parking area. Thank goodness there’s an elevator. I was truthful when I said that walking was good for me and baby, but at seven months, nearly eight, pregnant, it’s a chore to do stairs without getting winded. We reach my truck that was a graduation present from my aunt, the only family I have left that will speak to me. Well, my older step-brother would, except his best friend is a total jerk, and I won’t associate with him, or my step-brother, anymore.

We get in the truck after Kael tosses his duffel in the backseat, and he helps me into the cab. When he gets in, I direct him out and to the interstate, the butterflies kicking up with a vengeance. I’m