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“With child,” Bex said. “Expecting. Bun in the oven. Knocked up.”

“Hey,” Jared said, disapproving of Bex's last choice of words.

“Pregnant,” Claire said, her eyes bright.

Kim sighed. “You total y ruined my Spring Break. Just saying.”

I took internal stock of my body, waiting to feel different, but it never happened. “No. I mean...I don't feel pregnant.”

Kim raised her hands, letting them fal with a slap on her thighs. “Seriously. How are we going to travel to Jerusalem with Preggo over here?”

“She'l go,” Jared said, letting a smal smile pass over his lips.

The nurse knocked on the window, gesturing to the gurney she was wheeling down the hal . It was Ryan. She whispered into his ear, and he lifted his hand, giving us the thumbs-up.

Claire stood to fol ow, pausing at the door way. “We'l al go.”

“Looks like we'l be waiting until Ryan is better before we're going on our trip,” Jared said, pul ing my hand to his lips. “We could tend to a few things while he heals.”

“What's that?” I asked, feeling a bit overwhelmed.

“There's a pretty little chapel on an island I'd like to take you to.”

I couldn't help but smile. “I guess we'd better.”

“What are you doing Saturday?” he asked.

“Homework,” I said flatly. “Mountains of homework.”

Jared frowned. “Sunday?”

I mirrored his expression. “I guess you're busy tonight?”

Jared's brows shot up. “You want to go tonight?”

I nodded.

He shook his head enthusiastical y. “We can go tonight if you want. We can go now.”

“I'm ready,” I said.

Jared grabbed each side of my face, pressing his warm, wonderful lips to mine. “How is is possible that I just went from almost losing everything I've ever loved, to getting everything I've ever in the same night?”

“Do you believe in guardian angels?” I asked, kissing him again.


“One bathing suit, one white dress, and a few undergarments. That's what I've packed for my wedding getaway,” I said, watching as Jared effortlessly clicked closed the buckle of my seat belt.

“That's al you need, Sweetheart,” he smiled, checking the buckle one last time.

The stewardess went through her routine, and then the pilot came over the speaker, informing us of our place in line for takeoff and the current weather in Nicaragua.

“Should be a pleasant flight, Mr. and the soon-to-be Mrs. Ryel,” the pilot said.

Jared's grin stretched the width of his face. “I might have paid him extra to say that.”

“I figured as much,” I teased. I looked out the window to the dreary Providence weather. In just a few hours, I would be lying on my favorite Caribbean beach with my husband. It didn't seem real.

The chartered jet taxied out to the runway, and within moments gained momentum, shuttering until the wheels left the ground. The lights of Providence became smal er, until they were just a cluster, separated from other cities by the dark countryside.

I relaxed against Jared, my eyes heavy.

Jared kissed my hair. “Do you think you'l have good dreams?”

“Yes,” I said without pause. “Maybe I'l dream about our baby. Maybe I'l see what she'l look like.”


“Yes, it's a girl,” I assured him.

“And what if it's a boy?” Jared asked, playful y nudging me.

“It's not. It's a girl.”

“Blonde, of course,” Jared said.

“With blue-grey eyes,” I sighed.

“No. She'l have your eyes,” Jared insisted.

Before long, I dozed off, sleeping deeper than I had in months. I didn't dream of our baby, or of Jack or Gabe, or anything at al . I closed my eyes and was lost in a peaceful darkness until Jared kissed me awake when we were about to land.

The pilot made his announcements on the intercom, and Jared checked my seat belt one last time.

“It's fastened,” I said, smiling.

“I just want to make sure....” he said, laughing once to himself.

We landed without event, and once we set foot on the pavement, I grinned. “It hasn't changed a bit, except for the number of people waiting on us this time.”

“We only have two suitcases, and no tech cargo. It's been an easier trip for me this go-round.”

“I'd say so,” I laughed.

Jared carried our suitcases to an old, rusted pick up truck, after a short drive, our island chauffeur slowed to a stop beside the pier. As we boarded the smal boat Jared had secured for us, it occurred to me how unlikely it would have been for anyone else to have made arrangements at such late notice, and so early in the morning. Jared, however, had enough connections to do whatever he set his mind to.

“It's awful y dark to be wandering around in the ocean, isn't it?” I said, unsure as the boat captain steered in the general direction of the island.

The boat was quickly swal owed by the night, and the cool air off the water won over the thin fabric of my jacket.

“Cold?” Jared said, wrapping his arms around me.

“Not now,” I smiled.

“He's made this trip enough times, I'm sure he could do it blind-folded.”

“When it's this dark, he pretty much is,” I said, a bit anxious.

A half-hour later, the boat docked at the smal pier of Little Corn, and I sighed with relief. The waves had just begun to rock the boat a little more than I was comfortable with, and lightening had begun to spark across the horizon.

We met another smal truck with our luggage, and a smal , sleepy man by the name of Jose drove us to the same Casita we'd stayed in during our previous trip.

Speaking above the distant thunder, Jared spoke kindly to Jose in Spanish, and then pul ed our suitcases from the back of the truck, opening the door for me.

It had just begun to rain when he set our suitcases on the floor beside the bed, and the smell of the rain combined with the sound of raindrops tapping on the roof and bouncing off the palm fronds took me back to a not-so-distant past when everything seemed innocent and exciting.

Inside was the same simple accommodations, with only two differences: every surface was adorned with glowing candles, and a tal fan stood at the end of the bed. It stood stationary, ready to serve it's purpose while I slept next to Jared's feverish body in the Caribbean heat and humidity.