Right after we got out of school, Aden was given his own command, a military ship designed to go from base to base carrying intel and to occasionally to mount small recon missions on its own. It was deemed a low risk situation—and Aden was permitted to bring any legal family over the age of fourteen. He hired his sister as the medic, and married me. My only official job was to be a captain’s wife, but I’d never been the homebody type—so I spent a lot of my time teaching anyone who wanted to learn to shoot better, and even spent some time one-upping Aden’s best men in the shooting range. It was especially fun to beat the rookies who thought I was just an arm candy wife who’d hitched my wagon to a military star.
We were a good little family, Demi, Aden, and I. Aden I decided to wait until we were stationed in a city to start a proper family of our own. I thought our life was perfect. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
I should have known that it was never going to last. Aden, as the captain, spent a lot of time on the ship ordering other people around—but he was still young and strong headed and occasionally restless. Because of that, when a recon mission was determined to be the lowest risk, Aden liked to handle it himself. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t even worried. After all, he’d always come home to me—why should I worry about his abilities now? He left in midmorning ship time with a kiss and an I love you, and an I’ll see you soon. I beat three newbies in the shooting range, took a run in the gym, and ate dinner with Demi. My thoughts as I crawled into bed were I hoped that Aden showered before getting in bed because I didn’t want to wake up covered in secondhand dust from a sandy planet.
I didn’t wake up in secondhand dust. I woke up to Demi shaking me away, and Aden’s side of the bed still empty.
They had received a mayday and a rescue team had gone in—but all they could find was a lot of blood and part of a leg. They were going to keep looking and put out feelers for hope against hope—but Demi was honest with me. They’d found too much blood in one area. No one could survive losing that much blood. I didn’t really want to hear it, but I appreciated not having false hope.
We had to wait six months. It was standard procedure for an assumed death with no proper body. But then, he was given a proper funeral—paid for by the military—with a staggering number of servicemen and women there to pay their respects. He’d touched a lot of people in his short career.
So—I was twenty-two years old, widowed, and left without a home or income. I didn’t know what to do.
I never expected him to come back.