The Order: Hit and Run by Emma Cole Page 0,1

back to twisting my fingers around each other and staring out the passenger side window until a warm hand grips the both of mine, stalling my twisting.

“Baby, what’s wrong? Do you not want to do this? We don’t have to if you’re having second thoughts.” Deep and melodious, his tone alone helps to calm me. But I don't want him to think I don’t want him.

“That’s not it at all! I just worry you’re only doing this because you think you have to.” I wait pensively for his answer. In person is a lot different than a video chat from hundreds of miles away.

“Cora, I want you to be my wife so badly that I put in for a transfer so we could stay where you’re familiar. I love you, darlin’. Don’t fret. You’ll eventually understand that my lovin’ you won’t ever stop.” He loosens my left hand from my right, pulling it over onto his canvas-clad thigh and lacing our fingers together. The rest of the drive to the courthouse he just keeps rubbing soft circles with his calloused thumb above mine on the back of my hand.

I try to stay confident. I love him. He loves me. Baby makes three. Kael manages to find parking fairly close to the courthouse, and I pull the marriage license out of the glove box. I’d come and filled out the forms, and Kael had done his portion by mail since he was stationed out of state. He takes the papers and looks them over, before folding them up and hopping out of the truck. I still expect him to back out, but he takes my hand again and leads me in and up to the Justice of the Peace.

It’s over before I know it. I went in Cordelia Calliope Malbec and came out Mrs. Kael Shultz. In a fog of excitement and a slight sense of disbelief that it actually happened, I kiss the daylights out of Kael. “Can’t believe we’re married!” He laughs softly into my open mouth, and my mind goes from my new name to what usually follows a wedding, even simple ones like ours. My southbound thoughts are interrupted by Kael.

“I still wish at least your parents would have come down since I don’t have any family. I’m sorry, baby. After we have our lives started and have some friends, we’ll have a redo. A big shindig for you, promise.” His baby blues are begging me to believe him. I reach up to trace one black brow that matches the midnight crew cut on his head.

“I don’t need a big wedding, and I don’t need my family. I have you and the little bean here. You two are my family now.” I hope he believes me, and by the grin stretching over his even white teeth, I’d say he does, at least somewhat.

“Alright, then, I’ll ask again in a few years. How about you direct me to our new apartment and we’ll get down to christening it good and proper like, if you catch my drift.” I play along with him, giggling at his wagging eyebrows and elbowing him in the ribs. Even though I’d just been thinking the same thing.

“Yes, please, husband. Your wife needs servicing. Ignore the evidence that she’s been well tended to already.” I giggle again and dart out toward the truck.

“Cora, no!” A car backing out of its space nearly hits me as Kael pulls me to safety. “Baby, fuck. I think you nearly gave me a heart attack. Watch where you're going, please.”

Slightly embarrassed and shaken from the near miss, I nod my agreeance. It was dumb not to be paying attention. I could have hurt the baby. At that thought I cup my belly protectively, silently promising not to let anything happen to her.

“Let’s get home and relax. My butt is tired of being in a seat, and I’m sure you’re ready to get off your feet.” He’s pointedly looking at my feet that have begun to swell in the strappy sandals I’d worn under my summer dress.

I color up, pale skin turning red from my chest up, but give a toss of my white-blonde hair and march to the passenger door of the truck. After checking both ways for traffic. So not doing that twice. At the truck Kael barely beats me to open the door and picks me up to set me in the cab, giving me a peck on the lips before shutting the door and jogging