Can you believe I almost missed this? Coming Friday, Release: the Alliance Chronicles, Book Three will be ONE year old! Of course, the best way to celebrate the big day is with a big sale!!
The chatter of repeated gunfire interrupted sixth period calculus. Students dove underneath desks along with Mr. Roosevelt, our teacher.
Principal Tate’s voice crackled over the PA system. “Students and faculty, please remain calm and stay in your classrooms. Once we have received an all clear, we will proceed to vacate the building in an orderly fashion.”
My heart skipped a beat with thoughts of Cindy. The last time we saw each other was at lunch. She had sixth-period P.E. Was she safe?
Minutes crawled by before we received permission to leave school. Shiloh waited for me at the curb. I still hadn’t seen Cindy. Something told me I needed to find her. “Shy, give me a minute. I need to find—”
“No, Asher. Get in. She’ll be fine.”
I climbed into the car and shut the door. “What’s up, Shy?”
Shiloh wore his camo gear. He steered the car into traffic and stared straightforward.
He cleared his throat and gritted out, “I’ve got to report for duty, Ash. Governor declared a mandatory curfew.”
I leaned back in the seat. We all knew this day would come, but I don’t think any of us had prepared for it. I swallowed past the huge lump forming in my throat and asked, “When?”
“I have to report by six o’clock tonight.” He glanced over at me. A flicker of fear danced in his eyes. Not good. “You know the drill?”
“Look out for Ruby and Junior.” I knew the routine—check in on them three times a day, take care of any needed chores, and watch the baby for at least an hour so Ruby could rest.
His fingers tapped an anxious rhythm on the steering wheel along with an old Bon Jovi tune. “They’ll be at the Millers. I don’t want her left alone. Baby’s due soon.”
Shiloh scraped a hand over his face. He continued staring forward and biting at his lip. Something was wrong.
“What’s bothering you, bro?”
He ignored my question and continued delivering instructions. “If she delivers while I’m in the field, we chose a name already. Rebecca Marie. It’s for Becky. She’ll love it.”
“Shy?” I muttered as my insides began to quake.
My brother removed his military cap and tossed it to me. “Hang on to this for me. I know you’ve had your eye on it.”
I looked at the item resting in my lap. An empty feeling settled in the pit of my stomach as I cleared my throat. “Talk to me, Shiloh. Like what’s going on?”
“Don’t tell Mom and Dad,” he replied, his voice growing shaky.
Right then, listening to the sound of Shiloh’s voice and not the words told me things were serious. Aww shit. “What’s wrong?”
“Just talk. Some of the patrol is calling this a suicide mission. You know… It’s the wrong frame of mind for going into the field. But still, just in case.”
Worry snaked through me. I never thought for a minute that Shiloh—my brother, my idol—might lose his life serving in the Guard. It wasn’t supposed to happen. It couldn’t happen. “You’re scaring me, dude.”
His eyes, filled with a sudden sadness, held mine for a minute. “Join the club.” Shiloh’s voice cracked.
The worry morphed into fear and hurt my chest. I looked out the window and prayed he’d stop talking.
“Ash, I want to see my daughter be born,” his voice shook with emotion. “I’d love to see the kids grow up together. You know, when Ruby told me she was pregnant with Junior, I was scared..too young to be a father and all. But I love being a dad, being married. I want to be there for them.”
I bounced my foot against the floorboard. Shiloh would be fine. He had to come back home to us. “It’s just talk, dude. Put it out of your head.”
“Yeah, yeah. But…make sure little Becky and Junior remember me. You got to do that for me.”
I forced a smile on my face and turned to him. “I got ya six.”
Shiloh pulled up in front of the house. I got out and leaned over the open window. “You coming in?”
“I’ll be back. Ruby and Junior are waiting for me.”
I dragged my feet walking toward the front door.
I whirled around. Shiloh rested an arm on the passenger seat. “I love you, little brother.”
“Same here, Shy.”
It was the last conversation we ever had.
Copyright © 2017 by Avanturine Press, LLC