That's right, it's me again!
A couple of you have wondered where this story is coming from. It's a direct continuation of "Recruiting Kendra", which is in Adam's book "Into the Black". It's on sale on the website right now, just go over to the STORE page when you finish with this!
Anyway, time for more story.
I was twenty-one, looking at twenty-two in a few months, and had been in a total of one serious relationship in my life before Rose: Aiyana. Given we were teenagers, you could argue about how serious it could have been, but we won’t go there.
I loved her. I chased down a gang of thugs to rescue her, used my body as bait, did horrible things to the people who’d snatched her, all without thinking twice. We had fun, both in and out of bed, and I’d already agreed we’d move in together after getting away from OutLook.
What I knew about marriage came from my childhood. My adoptive parents had been together for decades when I dropped into their lives and were still going strong. Aiyana’s parents had married after college but had beat the odds. Their twenty-fifth anniversary was coming up fast.
What did that tell me about marrying someone I’d known less than two months? Did intensity trump time? Or was I setting myself up for heartache down the road?
I wasn’t ready.
I wasn’t ready for the question.
I wasn’t ready for what my answer might be.
I don’t know what I looked like; probably a landed fish. It certainly wasn’t the reaction Rosie was hoping for, and Rollie saw it before I did.
“I’ll give you a moment.” He disappeared down the corridor.
Rose’s hand snuck out of mine. “Kendra? Don’t you want to marry me?”
The hurt in her voice shattered me and knocked my mind out of the spin it was in.
My immediate answer brought her brilliant smile back to her face, and I reveled in it. Then what I said hit me, and I took a close look at my motivation. Was I doing this for her? For us? Or just to fend off her disappointment?
No, I decided. Whatever we ended up as didn’t matter; what we were, now, did.
He returned, having only gone far enough to give us an illusion of privacy.
“We’re getting married.”
No reaction from him except a nod, so I continued.
“What are the rules here?”
“Rules?” He snorted. “This is Louisiana. The only rules are what people make up as they go.”
I groaned. I knew the Border States were lawless, but there had to be something on the books for weddings.
Rose took charge. I think she surprised both of us.
“It doesn’t matter. We’ll figure it out. Rollie, we need permission to leave campus, a vehicle, our ID, and an escort. Kendra won’t make it walking through the streets, and I don’t have the skills to defend us both.” When he nodded, too stunned to argue, she carried on. “And you need to get our housing assignment straightened out. We’re not cramming ourselves into a barracks, or into separate quarters, just to move when we have all of our t’s crossed.” He nodded again. “We need a place to clean up, change, and then wait for our IDs.”
Rollie recovered his equilibrium, at least enough o give her a coherent answer. I simply stood there and goggled at her. My Rose had quite the backbone!
“You can use the gym showers, and then wait in the cafeteria. I’ll find you there.”
Always loquacious, Rollie headed off, and I found myself wrapped in Rose’s arms.
“I know this is sudden, Kendra, but I’ve never felt anything so right as being with you. I’m happy you agreed, but I don’t want you to feel trapped. If you want to do a short-term contract, we can. Long enough for the rest of our training, but then we can let it lapse and—”
I cut her off. “No.”
“No contract, short-term or otherwise. I’m going to marry you. Rose Emmons, but I’m not going to have a Hera-blasted time limit on it. If we don’t end up working, well, that’ll suck. But if we don’t, we’ll have to make an effort to get out.” I cupped her face in my hands and kissed her. “I intend to put my effort into making it work.”