Sera: I felt a kick and gently rubbed my growing stomach. I was five months along. Her name was going to be Marci.
I stood in my art gallery and waited for Thom to come pick me up. I heard the familiar ringing of the bell on the front door. I turned around and jumped. It wasn’t Thom; it was a man I didn’t know.
“Are you interested in some art?” I asked.
“You could say that,” he said and smirked. He suddenly reached out and put his strong hands around my throat.
I clawed at his hands in an attempt to get them off of me. They stayed firmly in place. I gasped desperately for air. He pushed me backwards into the wall, then slowly slid me to the ground.
My hands dropped to the ground. Black spots dotted my vision. As I slipped into unconsciousness, I heard the bell ring again, and saw Thom’s familiar messy brown hair.
Thom: The man turned around when I entered. He let go of Sera and she slumped onto her side. He charged toward me and knocked me to the ground. I grabbed his head and violently jerked it to the side. I heard a crack and he fell off of me, his head twisted at a bizarre angle.
I hurried over to Sera. She was breathing so slowly and shallowly it was hard to tell she was breathing at all. Her heartbeat was erratic. I frantically pulled out my cell phone and called 9-1-1.
I touched Sera’s cheek. It was cold.
“Please be okay, Sera,” I whispered. “Please.”
Sera: I woke up to harsh, artificial light. I was in the hospital. I slowly got into an upright position. The bed creaked, and Thom looked over from his chair across the room. His face was wet with tears.
I knew immediately what had happened. We’d lost the baby. Thom walked over to me and held my hand.
“I’m sorry, Sera,” he whispered. “It was lack of oxygen to her brain. I almost lost you, too.” We cried together for a while.
“When do I get out of here?” I asked.
“In a couple of hours. The doctor wants to keep you here for observation but you’ll be fine.” He smiled weakly at me. I spun my wedding ring around my finger; it was a nervous habit.
“I love you, Sera,” he whispered. “I could never lose you.”
“I love you, too,” I said and I gently kissed him.
Thom: We went home later that night. Sera walked to what would have been Marci’s room and started crying. I came up behind her and brushed her arm. She turned around.
She dug her face into the middle of my chest, and cried long and hard. I ran my fingers through her long, black hair.
“I should probably go back to work tomorrow,” she murmured.
“No. Not yet. I don’t want you there alone,” I said.
“Fine. I’ll get a few more employees to work later in the day,” she said. She looked up at me and I kissed her.
Sera: I was looking through job applications when Thom walked in.
“I have some interesting news about your attempted murderer,” he said as he sat down next to me.
“What?” I asked, looking into his big brown eyes.
“You’re not the first person he’s gone after. You’re the fourth. He succeeded in killing the others.” He brushed my cheek before continuing. “One guy, two girls. One of the girls was pregnant.”
“I’m not following. Why us?” I asked.
He lightly touched the scar on my back. “You were all shot by Nathern’s men. The bullet put some sort of tracker in your bloodstream. There are still Nathern’s followers out there. They’re going after the runaways.”
“What about you?” I asked nervously.
“I’ll be fine,” he said. He kissed me, and smiled. I smiled back.
Thom: My work sent me to a building to pick up some supplies. Sera came with me. I hadn’t been to the building before. We walked through the front door, and into a very industrial building.
I was supposed to go to an office on the third floor. I held Sera’s hand as we walked up a flight of concrete steps. When we got to the third floor we were confused. There weren’t any offices around.
A guy in his early twenties walked toward us. He was wearing a gray uniform. The nametag on the left side of his shirt read KLATER.
He reached into his pocket. As he walked past me, I felt an incredible stinging pain in my chest. I cried out and fell to my knees.