by D'Ann Mateer
Emma gripped Thad’s arm as she watched the monitor change Jenny’s flight status from On Time to Arrived.
“She’s here!” Emma brushed her lips against Thad’s, her heels bouncing up and down. “Three years. I can’t believe she stayed gone so long!” Her gaze fixed on the revolving door leading from the gates to the baggage claim area. “I hope she gets over her jet lag before tomorrow night. Otherwise, she might fall asleep during the ceremony.” Emma giggled at the thought.
Thad cleared his throat and stepped away from her grasp, thrusting his hands deep into the pockets of his jeans. Emma frowned. Was he nervous about the wedding? She’d heard that happened to other men, she just never imagined it of Thad. Maybe meeting her sister scared him. After all, Jenny was a bit of a legend in their family. After graduating at the top of her law school class, she’d forsaken the six-figure job offers and taken off for China, to serve as the director of an orphanage there.
The thought of Jenny's work stirred old memories to life, the stench of Emma's shortcomings churning her stomach. Then the memory of her mother’s ominous prediction, worked its way into the mix. Emma crossed her arms over her middle, pushing down the lid on her past just as she spied Jenny’s head above the crowd, her long hair falling in natural ringlets around her oval face.
Jenny’s eyes lit up as she secured her bag on her shoulder and ran toward the revolving door. Then she stopped. Her mouth fell open and her eyes grew wide. Emma stepped forward as her breath came fast. She ran her tongue over her dry lips. What had spooked her unshakable sister?
“Jenny?” Emma mouthed through the glass. Jenny blinked several times before she shook her head as if awakening from a dream. Then her lips lifted in a smile and she charged into empty space that soon spit her out in front of Emma. Jenny’s bag slipped to the ground as she wrapped her arms around Emma’s small frame.
Emma pulled away and put her hands on her sister’s cheeks. “Thad?” She felt his hand on the small of her back. “This is my Jenny. And Jenny, this is Thad, the love of my life.”
Jenny studied her feet as Thad stumbled over his words. Emma turned. Thad never stumbled over his words. “Thad?” Emma reached for his hand, her engagement ring winking at her as it caught the light.
He looked over Emma's head, his eyes narrowing. “Jenny and I have met.”
Emma heard Jenny gasp. Without warning, Emma’s knees buckled. She heard her name called as from far away. One pair of soft hands and one pair of strong ones kept her from hitting the floor as blackness engulfed her.
* * *
Thad held Emma, but his eyes held Jenny. “I kept waiting for you to tell her.”
Jenny fanned her sister’s face. “Let’s not discuss that now. Emma? Emma?”
Emma’s eyes fluttered open as Thad settled her in a chair. “What happened?” she asked. She looked into his eyes, so trusting, so sure of him.
He lowered himself into the seat beside her and pushed her hair from her eyes. “You fainted, Emma.”
“Fainted?” Her eyes roamed the room, until they found Jenny. Then they stopped. She captured her bottom lip in her teeth, the cherry red of her lipstick marring the whiteness of her teeth. “You’ve met.” Her statement sent a shot of fear through Thad's belly and into his heart.
Help me, Lord. Help her. His involuntary prayer stopped him cold. Where had it come from? He hadn’t prayed since—
He raked a hand through his hair and sucked in a deep breath. If only he could make Emma understand.