The Offering

The Offering by Angela Hunt

Book: The Offering by Angela Hunt Read Free Book Online
Authors: Angela Hunt
cranked the engine as the last strains of “¡Feliz Navidad!” faded from the radio, then the announcer’s voice cut in. Something in the man’s tone snagged my attention, and when I heard the words “jetliner” and “terrorist,” my heart congealed into a small lump of dread.
    â€œTwo Florida men were arrested today,” the announcer said, “for allegedly attempting to carry Tasers aboard an American Airlines jet leaving Tampa International Airport. No one was injured during the scuffle at the security checkpoint, but the men screamed out threats as they were led away, increasing fears and tension during this busy holiday season.”
    I looked out the window as my heart began to thump almost painfully in my chest. Fools like those two men were going to getmy husband injured or killed in some stupid international incident. I hated worrying about Gideon, but I simply couldn’t bear it if he were hurt or disabled. The military was pretty good about taking care of its own, but what would become of our dreams if Gideon spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair or a hospital bed?
    A darker prospect loomed as well, but I couldn’t think about that. Losing Gideon would be horrible for me, but even worse for our daughter. So I refused to consider the possibility.
    I watched the young activities director hold out her hand and herd the remaining senior adults onto the bus. Those people had enjoyed a long life, but with crazy people making threats every week, was my generation going to be able to do the same? How could I help my daughter thrive in a world where the man seated next to her on a plane might be determined to kill everyone on board? Or when the next piece of mail she opened might be filled with some variety of powdered poison? Gideon and his men were risking their lives to keep our country safe, but they were only a few men, and the world brimmed with lunatics. . . .
    The little bus had just pulled out of the parking lot when angry voices shattered the sudden stillness in the store. After checking to be sure none of the seniors lingered in the aisles, I left the checkout stand and walked toward the back. I found Amelia and Mario standing in the stockroom, their faces tight with frustration.
    â€œYou can’t blame me,” Mario yelled, apparently not caring that they were no longer alone. “It’s not my fault you’re not pregnant.” He followed with a stream of Spanish so intense I couldn’t catch a word.
    Anger blossomed in Amelia’s taut face. “Oh, yeah? Maybe it is your fault.” She switched to Spanish, too, and spoke so precisely, so sharply, that I caught something about staying out too late and leaving nothing for her.
    â€œMaybe I should find a woman who sees me as a man and not a stud service.” Maybe Mario spoke in Spanish; maybe English, I don’t know. But his meaning would have been clear in any language.
    Knowing I could be setting myself up for a full dose of Cuban fury, I stepped between them and held up my hands. “Hey, guys.” I looked from Amelia to Mario. “Anything you want to talk about . . . outside?”
    Amelia turned away, her lower lip quivering, while Mario stormed out the back door without even looking at his wife. I watched him go, then moved to comfort my cousin.
    â€œHey.” I squeezed her shoulder. “Things are gonna be okay.”
    She shook her head. “I don’t see how they can be. I love Mario, honestly I do, but sometimes he can be so bullheaded.”
    â€œSo—this is about getting pregnant, right?”
    She laughed hoarsely. “I guess it’s no longer a secret, huh? Mario yelled it out for the entire world to hear.”
    â€œNo one heard. The store is pretty much empty now. Your mama went outside to say good-bye to the old folks.”
    â€œThen we were lucky, because these days Mario isn’t thinking before he

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