A Chapter by Julie Estes

In Honor of 9-11 Anniversary I wanted to post a Chapter from the Epiologue to A Thousand Miles that had to do with the events of that fateful day in our countries history.




I had early morning classes as usual. I will never forget where I was when the chaos began. So many people remember where they were, and what they were doing. I was sitting in History Class, required for my degree. Jonathan was in the chair next to me when we heard the commotion out in the hall. Students were running, one gentlemen stopped and opened our door he yelled, “Their flying planes into building in New York!” and shut the door to continue running up the hall.

I looked to Jonathan who was looking down at his cell phone. “It’s not a prank, my Dad’s office just sent me a message to stay indoors and get to a Television.” Jonathan stated, as I looked at him in disbelief. Jonathan stood up and grabbed my hand. “It’s for real Professor Russo…” Jonathan stated, as we began to head for the exit. The Professor announced dismissal to the rest of the class. Jonathan led me by the hand down the hall to a media area. A mob of students and faculty a like were gathered around the television hanging from the wall. Images of a plane flying into one of the twin towers kept replaying over and over on the screen. The building had smoke coming out the top for hundreds of feet up into the air.

My heart sank for the people involved, for the families who had lost loved ones and were witnessing it on television. They began to talk of hijackers taking over commercial flights, and my stomach began to feel nauseated. All of our family flying in from California for the Wedding this weekend, I thought. Just then another plane crashed into the tower, right before our eyes. “Oh’ my gosh Jonathan! Did you see that?” I asked in shock, as I began to panic. A feeling of wanting Luke came over me, fear for where he was or what was going to happen now. A fear for my family being unsafe.

“Delaney, are you okay? You look pale?” Jonathan asked, as fear bubbled in my stomach. “I have a lot of family flying in for the Wedding this weekend.. this just makes me nervous… This is terrible!” I explained, as Jonathan could see the fear of the unknown in my eyes. We sat on the bench and listened to what the reporters were reporting about several planes being hijacked, one crashing in a field in Pennsulvania. Then, the first tower came crashing down. My heart sank. The thought of all of those men, women, and the families they wouldn’t come home to tonight. A tear rolled down my cheek.

Jonathan looked to his phone again. “Another message from my father’s office… they are saying sources believe this is terrorist attacks.” Jonathan stated, as we were all surprised by why someone would want to fly planes into the World Trade Center. “They hit the Pentagon too.” Jonathan stated, as he looked at me surprised himself. “I can’t believe this..” I whispered. Another guy I didn’t even know yelled, “They don’t know who they’re screwin’ with! You just attacked America… we’re gonna’ kick your a*s!” My heart sank at his very words.

Another sorority boy overly anxious for war, who never so much as served in boy scouts as a child. Did he realize that when he shouted for war, he shouted for others to go in his place. So he could stay here, and watch it unfold on T.V. while partying at night, and achieving the higher education his family always wanted for him. Others began to cheer with him, and although the American Spirit within me wanted someone to pay for the lives that had been lost unjustly on this day. I did not want Luke to be the one battling for the apology that would never come. I couldn’t take anymore, and I stood to walk out of the building. There was Luke in the door way.

I knew by the look on his face he had bad news for me, and as much as my mind told me to stay strong and not cry. My spirit crumbled. Tears flowed from my cheeks as I slowly walked to meet him. He embraced me tightly in his arms, and I didn’t want to let go. I didn’t want to hear whatever bad news that was coming. I wanted to go back to yesterday when Luke was tickling me, and we laughed, and talked, and kissed the afternoon away. I wanted that moment, not this.

We walked outside by the fountain. Luke pulled me from his chest that I had buried my face in. “Laney… I love you! Please don’t hate me for what I’m about to tell you…” Luke stated, as I could see the pain in his eyes. “Just say it already..” I replied in a whisper, already bracing myself for the worst. “I’ve been called back to Paris Island for training… baby… we’re going active… I don’t even know where yet.. but this country is going to war with whoever attacked us, and we’ve got to decide now what we’re going to do..” Luke explained, as he held my head in his hands. My heart broke into a million pieces.

“When do you have to leave?” I questioned, tears still flowing from my eyes. Luke just looked at me, I knew he didn’t want to say and my heart sank a little more. “Tonight… I have to go tonight..” Luke answered, as he pulled me to him my arms clinging around his neck. “What are we going to do Luke… we can’t get married now unless we go to the justice of the peace!” I stated, as I clung to him waiting for him to come up with a plan. All I wanted was to hold him, as if I could keep the Marines from taking him from me. “I don’t know what the right thing to do is anymore Laney… I want to marry you, but I don’t want to waste all our time at a courthouse today… Momma’ said the state makes you wait twenty four hours before getting married once you get the license… we were supposed to go tomorrow and get it remember?” Luke asked, as all the thoughts raced through my mind.

“This is crazy Luke! We have a Wedding planned for Saturday… now we can’t even get married.. the justice of the peace won’t even take us! You’re leaving in a few hours… I’d say we don’t have a choice here Luke! The terrorists made it for us… we can’t get married until you’re home again and who knows when that will be…” I ranted, as I stomped off towards my dorm. Luke followed closely behind me. “Laney… Laney.. wait!” He demanded, as he grabbed my arm and spun me back around to face him. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! If I could take it back.. I would..” Luke said, as he pulled me tightly to him again.

“Luke.. I don’t care about the fancy Wedding I don’t! I would marry you tonight… but the Justice of the Peace won’t let us. I’ll wait for you to come home as long as it takes… but… I was just so..” I tried to explain, but couldn’t think of the words. “Ready to be married… ready to be with me?” Luke asked, as that boyish grin came to his face again. “Oh’ it’s impossible for you to be serious!” I replied, as I stomped off again heading for my dorm. Luke laughed, as he followed along behind me. Grabbing my arm again and turning me to be forced to look into his eyes.

“Laney Callaway.. I do love you with all my heart. If I could marry you tonight I would, I’m so sorry that I can’t marry you in four days now like we planned… and I am just ready to be with you now, and forever! I don’t want to wait anymore either… but we’re being dealt a different hand… we just have to play it out or fold the cards you know what I’m saying?” Luke asked quietly in my ear, as I could feel his breath on my neck. Tears came to my eyes at the thought of breaking up with him, why would he think such a thing, I thought. “I wouldn’t blame you Laney.. I couldn’t hate you for what I’ve put you through… I don’t even know how long I’m asking you to wait this time..” Luke explained, as my heart broke that he actually thought I would consider it.

“I refuse to fold!” I answered, pulling away to look into his eyes. “Luke Daniels don’t you ever think or talk that way again… if I have to wait forever I will… but you’ll come home to me… and I’ll be here waiting… don’t you ever think differently. You couldn’t get rid of me now if you tried.” I answered, as Luke came in to passionately kiss me. I didn’t want  him to stop, I pulled him to me. Our lips moved together, and Luke pulled away. “Come with me… I have to go get my things from my mom’s… and then I want you to take me to the airport..” Luke explained, as my heart broke again at the thought. “Okay..” I replied, as we made our way slowly to his truck.

I was pretty much in a daze as Luke packed his large bag he had brought home from boot camp. Kelly sobbed as she walked through the house gathering the freshly washed laundry. My heart broke for her, I knew the thought that this could be the last time she would see her only living son was a heavy load to bear. I couldn’t watch as Luke hugged her good-bye one last time. We got in his truck, and headed for the airport. I fought back tears all the way to the airport as I held Luke’s hand tightly as he drove. The sun had began to set, and my heart sank that I was supposed to be at my final fitting for my Wedding dress right now.

Luke turned instead of going straight into where departing flights enter the airport. He headed towards Airport Hotels. “Where are you going Luke?” I asked, as I could see how nervous he was by looking at him. “Okay… I have a confession to make… I don’t have to leave out tonight. They gave us twenty four hours to return to base, I don’t have to be there until tomorrow at noon. I just wanted time with you… and no one to interrupt that! So I told everyone I had to fly out tonight..” Luke explained, at first I wanted to be mad at him. Then I was so relieved that he had thought of the idea, and for the first time since he graduated we would have uninterrupted time together, I thought. “I would have never thought of that..” I replied, with a smile. As Luke’s nervousness seemed to disappear, and he was grinning again.

He pulled into the Hilton’s parking lot, and pulled up to the Vallet. “Luke.. there’s a Holiday Inn up the road a little further..” I stated, not wanting Luke to spend the money that staying here was going to cost. He laughed. “Laney.. please it is one night, and I don’t get to take you on a honeymoon anytime soon… I  can afford one night here. Plus… it’s not near the expense your parents are going to be out postponing a Wedding at the last minute!” Luke explained, as he grabbed two bags out of the back of the truck. One I recognized as mine from my dorm.

“How did you get that?” I asked, as I looked at the bag. “Kristi packed it for me.. I told her I didn’t know if you’d go for staying the night with me or not, but to pack me a bag so you’d be prepared in case you did..” Luke explained, as we made our way through the grand lobby of the hotel. “Luke… there is no telling what she packed in there! You should have seen some of the crazy things I got at that shower last night..” I replied in a whisper. Luke chuckled, and his face turned a hint of light red. “Oh’ I’m pretty sure I know.. Kristi already informed me.” Luke stated, as my cheeks flushed at the thoughts of the gifts I received.

Luke checked us in at the front desk, and we made our way up the elevators to our room. Thoughts of nervousness rushed through my mind as Luke held my hand tightly. I had never done anything like this before in my life. I knew Luke had been with other girls before me, but I had never done anything like this. Part of me wanted to scream and run down the hall. My heart was racing as we walked towards the room that had our room number on the door. I started to feel like I was going to have a panic attack as Luke slide the key card and the door opened.

The room was gorgeous, decorated to feel like you were in the lap of luxury. I looked out the window that over looked the city lights. Luke came up behind me, and kissed my neck. The feel of his touch calmed my nerves slightly. Luke turned me to face him, and began to kiss my lips passionately. His hands moved over the contours of my body, slowly removing my clothing as they went. As he removed my clothing, I removed his. I pulled away from him to catch my breath. “Luke… please.. you’re going to have to talk me through this.. I’ve never done this before..” I reminded him. “Well, I assure you.. you are doing just fine Laney! Don’t stop!” Luke insisted, as the last of our clothes hit the floor.

Feeling Luke’s warm bare skin against mine was amazing. Luke and I spent the entire night making love repeatedly, and learning each other even deeper than I ever knew was possible. Luke held me tightly in his arms, and we talked until sunlight broke through the large window. My heart trimbled inside at the sight of day break. Knowing that with the new day would come a new way of life apart for Luke and I. “We’ll make it Laney.. we can make it through anything.. right?” Luke asked as if needing my reassurance. “I don’t have my doubts… I just want you to promise me you’ll come home to me… because then I know you will.. you won’t break a promise!” I replied, as I looked into his deep brown eyes.

“I can’t promise that Laney.. I don’t even know where their sending us for sure..” Luke replied, as my heart hurt at his words. “Well you’re not leaving here until you promise me..” I demanded, as I rested my head against his. “You’re so damn stubborn Laney..” Luke replied, as he threw himself on top of me. “Do you really think you’re strong enough to take on a Marine?” Luke asked jokingly. “In this case yes! Promise me Luke Daniels… I need to hear you say it..” I requested again. “I promise Delaney Callaway.. I will come home to you, and be true to you and you alone as long as this war keeps us apart. You hold the key to my heart, there is no one else that even compares to you in my eyes… or ever could!” Luke explained, as he kissed me gently.

Two hours later I stood with him waiting on his plane to board. Security was as tight as I has ever seen, Soldiers were guarding the airport. Luke and Cole got them to let me past the regular point to tell them good-bye since they were Military they understood and made the acception. Replays of the towers falling yesterday played on televisions through out the airport. You could tell it ignited a fire in Luke and Cole, I wish it did the same for me. I still found myself longing for Luke to stay behind, even though everything with in him called him to go and serve. I knew to be the wife of a servicemen I was going to have to work on my attitude. Luke caressed my hand as we sat in the chairs waiting for their flight to be called. He and Cole talked about all the possibilities of where they might be deploying them to after completing their School of Infantry at Parris Island.

When their flight was called, my heart began to race and I began to feel sick at my stomach. Luke pulled me to my feet, as he and Cole swung their Camophlage large bags over their backs. I squeezed Luke’s hand unsure what the right thing to say at this very moment was. I fought back tears, but put a smile on my face because I had promised him I would not cry. Cole grabbed me up in his arms, ans swung me around. I hugged his neck tightly, and laughed. It was just the comic relief I needed at that moment. I looked the man Cole had become over as he stood in front of me one last time. The charming smile that always seemed to win every girl over but me.

“You take care of yourself Cole.. remember all that fancy fighting they taught you… don’t let any girls bloody your nose over there!” I stated with a huge smile on my face. Cole’s grin grew larger as he hugged me again, and grabbed me up for one more large hug. “I’ll take care of him too… I promise.” Cole whispered in my ear. I just squeezed him tighter to let him know I heard him. “When do I get my turn?” Luke asked, as he stood there watching. Cole put my feet back down on the tile floor and turned to walk towards the terminal. He winked and smiled as he often did as he turned to walk away. “Hey!” I called out to him. He turned back. “You better be good to Tatum.. I like her, and you know how rare it is that I like your women.” I explained. Cole laughed. “I will.. if only for the reason that it makes Delaney happy.” Cole replied.

I turned to look into Luke’s eyes one more time. It was getting harder to fight back the tears now. I could see the pain in his deep brown eyes that I knew so well. “Laney.. so you’ll still marry me the next time they send me home?” Luke asked, as he wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me to him. “Just as soon as you get here… no matter how long you keep me waiting for a change.” I replied with a smile. “Tell your parents again how sorry I am about this mess..” Luke began as I enterrupted. “Luke, their out a few deposits my father will be completely understanding he knows you didn’t fly planes into building to avoid marrying me Saturday! My mother on the other hand, well.. this won’t be the first or the last time you piss her off!” I explained as we both laughed.

His flight was called over head again. We were the last one’s standing outside the terminal. I hugged him tightly to me. “I just don’t want to let you go!” I stated, as I closed my eyes to fight back the tears. Luke held me so tight it actually hurt a little. “I don’t want to let go either.. I wish I knew how long it would be until I got to hold you again! God, I love you Delaney Callaway… I’m so sorry you’re not my wife yet.” Luke replied, as I could hear a quiver in his voice. “It’s not your fault Luke.. just go kick whoever’s butt is responsible for me.. and for my mother!” I said, as Luke smiled and kissed me gently. Our lips moved together and it became more passionate at the thoughts of how long it could be if ever before I kissed his lips or felt his touch again.

The flight attendants at the gate awed, causing us to pull away and look into each others eyes one last time. “I love you Luke Daniels with all my heart..” I said, as I had to look down trying to fight the tears again. He lifted my chin with his finger to look in his eyes again. One tear escaped out of the corner of my eye. “I love you more I bet.. I know I’m asking a lot of you to wait for me Delaney.. but I promise I’ll make it worth your while when I get back..” Luke stated, as tears welted in his eyes. “You’re not asking a lot of me, I want to.. I can’t live with out you Luke! So… remember that while you’re doing your thing over there… be careful and come home to me! That’s all I want is you..” I explained, as Luke kissed me one last time. He ran for his terminal, looking back over his shoulder all the way. He waved as he made the turn at the end where I could no longer see him. Then, I fell apart.


© 2010 Julie Estes

Author's Note

Julie Estes
Ignore the grammar problems I haven't even got to editing this section yet. You come in much later in the story of A Thousand Miles here, but to me this is where its at its best. You can read the first 4 chapters that will give you some history on these characters on my page. Hope you enjoy. Please let me know what you think!

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Added on September 11, 2010
Last Updated on September 11, 2010


Julie Estes
Julie Estes

Malakoff, TX

I'm a busy wife and mother of two little boys. I love to escape reality through my writing. I've wrote short stories for fun since the high school years. Friends loved to read them for entertainment. .. more..