Chapter 22

Silence. Only the occasional chirp of the birds and the rustling of the trees in the wind made sound. Together, Nat and Kit walked down the dusty path to the cabin she had ironically grown so fond of. She had never been so close to her sea-faring friend until now, arm in arm. A bit awkward she must admit, but she liked it and never loosened the hold.

Five minutes passed, and still they both said nothing. It was starting to irritate Kit. How boring! A mischievous smile played upon her lips as an idea popped into her head. Without warning, she dropped Nat's arm and ran in front of him, hands behind her back, giggling.

The youth stopped abruptly, almost bumping into the girl who appeared suddenly before him. "What's all this?" he asked, confused, yet a small smile also danced across his lips.

"I'll race you to the cabin!" Kit was already pulling off her shoes without acknowledging Nat's consent.

The boy just stared at her, and after a few seconds, slowly shook his head with a laugh. "You can't be serious, Kit. You're a woman now! You can't possibly --."

"Excuses," the girl cut in. "You're just afraid that I'm going to beat you." Kit stuck out her tongue.

Nat lifted an eyebrow and bit his lips. "What happens if I win?" He moved his face strangely closer to hers.

Kit stumbled backwards, seeing him so close again, and fell onto the ground.

Nat leaned back and laughed. He offered her a hand, but the girl ignored his kind gesture and stood up herself.

"You won't win," Kit stated flatly with determination, brushing the dirt of her skirt.

Nat shrugged. "All right, what happens when you win then?"

Kit looked up and grinned. "I will win."

The boy snorted, but secretly admired her willpower. It was absolutely adorable the way she resisted him. It made him want to win her over even more. Before he realized it, Kit lifted her skirt above her ankle, and began running. "Hey, you cheated! You didn't say 'start'!" Nat ran after her, like a child trying to keep up with his mother.

Kit laughed and continued running. She could see the cabin ahead of her, growing larger by the second. Yes, she was going to win! However though, right before she reached the porch, Nat ran past her and up the steps, easily.

Kit skidded to a halt, panting for a full, decent breath of air, and looked up at her adversary. Her eyes narrowed and her lips tightened into a frown.

Nat bent down, his hands on his knees, and looked at her. "I won, " he whispered, gasping for air. His intense blue eyes bore into hers, twinkling with triumph. His sandy hair, which had grown long since she last saw him, billowed faintly in the wind.

Kit looked away, ashamed, and replied nothing. She felt like such a fool and forced a pout upon her lips.

"So, I guess I get to decide on what happens now, don't I?" he asked with a smirk.

Kit put on her shoes, and sighed with a slow nod.

As she tugged the last shoe on, she realized that Nat was extremely close to her, even more so than before.

"Well, can I kiss you?" he asked. His bright blue eyes were cast downwards, his feet shuffling nervously.

Kit didn't dare to look up, expecting to swoon if she saw those blue eyes again. Meekly, she nodded once more and wondered if Nat saw her answer.

Ever so gently, like the slightest breeze on a summer's day, it was planted upon her forehead, so soft that she barely even felt it, like gossamer. Kit swore she would have swooned if Nat's strong hands weren't upon her shoulders at that moment, holding her steady.

"Kit," Nat began, his voice shaky. His head was hung low.

"What's wrong?" Kit tilted her head to meet his gaze, but failed to see his face even. Did she do something wrong? Was she supposed to kiss him back? It wasn't her fault that she wasn't familiar with the etiquette of flirting.

Unexpectedly, Nat began laughing and his hands smoothed down her shoulders to her arms and then to her hands. He grasped them tight in his own and finally looked up at her with a mien of a merry child. "Kit," he tried again, "Ever since I saw you on the Dolphin for the first time, I thought you were the prettiest girl I had ever seen."

Kit was speechless, and averted her gaze elsewhere to preoccupy her thoughts. She could feel the heat rising in her cheeks.

But Nat tenderly shifted her chin towards him, locking his attention with hers. "I like you, Kit, very much. I felt so guilty leaving you that night by yourself on the beach. I blamed myself for your impending death at the witch trials." He paused and looked at the sky. "I had to come back for you, Kit. I had to. You make my life exciting. Plus, I love teasing you!"

"Oh, hush!" Kit giggled and lightheartedly punched his chest, relieved that Nat still possessed his humorous side.

Nat straightened up and folded his hands into his pants pockets. "I'm still curious though. What would have happened if you won?"

Kit's eyes sparkled, and she twisted her body back and forth in the dirt, her lips forming into an all-knowing smile. "You really want to know, Nat?"

"Tell me already!"

Kit giggled, ready to play mind games with him.

"Ah, come on, Kit. Please?"

The girl skipped up the steps and did a twirl around the boy. Right when he was least expecting it, she leaped at him with an enormous hug.

"Whoa, there!" Nat, unprepared, smashed into a wall from her sudden lunge. "Was that it?"

Kit shook her head mildly. Cautiously, she whispered into his ears enthusiastically, "I can't wait to be Mrs. Eaton!" Then, without warning, she sealed her statement with a quick light peck upon his cheek. With that, she pranced to the door and knocked on it, waiting to tell everyone inside the good news.