This is the good life, Nita thought as she walked along the beach. Though the weather was cold and cloudy, the weathermen predicting rain, she wouldn't change a single detail. Cozy and warm in her sweatshirt and jeans rolled up to the knee, she had the beach to herself, the dark clouds a dam against the floods of summer tourists.
No, Nita had the beach to herself and she was going to enjoy it. High tide had peaked about forty five minutes ago, so seaweed and shells lined the shoreline, a veritable treasure trove to a marine biology major. Picking her way through the maze of kelp, eyes peeled for a rare find, she listened to the world around her. Red-winged blackbirds darted around the grey sky above, weaving in and out of the grasses of the bird sanctuary, safe from humanities pollution. Listening as only a wizard can, Nita eavesdropped on their conversations, the chattered warnings of coming predators, the caws of mating rituals, and the screamed territory disputes. The sand whispered around her ankles, and sank under her weight, molding to her feet, exercising muscles her legs had previously forgotten. However, upon reaching a rhythm for walking along the sand, a wave galloped up the shore, crashing into Nita's legs and cascading up the beach, turning the semi-stable base of sand into a quagmire, sucking her toes into the depths.
Looking down into the now retreating whitecap, a small scallop shell caught Nita's eye, and she surged after it, however it was caught in the pulsing ocean, and moved quickly out of reach. She followed it out a step or two deeper, fixated on the small shell, before plunging her hand in after it. She emerged victorious, shell firmly in hand, but with the bottoms of her jeans and entire right sleeve soaked. Sighing and moving up to dryer land, she considered using magic to dry off. After a moment of debate, she decided it would be impossible. She'd probably pass out from the exertion, having had barely enough power to transport home after her last errantry. She needed time to recover the lost energy, and not being as young as she used to be, it took time.
So instead she sat in the dunes, watching the waves roll in and out and inspecting her shell. It was in remarkably good condition, and she studied it intensely, noting how the shell's gentle curves blended into harsh lines, the deep black pigmentation holding a surprising amount of iridescence. A solid half hour later, she considered moving, only to notice a familiar Hispanic form meandering down the beach towards her. Smiling to herself, she decided to stay right where she was, anticipating the company to come.
"Hey, stranger," Christopher Rodriquez chortled out as he plopped into the sand, an ever-present smile on his lips. Nita's all-time best friend, and more recently boyfriend, zipped his coat up the rest of the way before wrapping an arm around her waist and pulling her close to plant a kiss on her lips. Shivering, Nita leaned into his warm embrace and laid her head on his shoulder, only to be suddenly jostled as he jerked away. She sent a curious glace his way.
"What?" She inquired playfully.
He answered playfully, "One of us is wet. And though my sweatshirt is the offending article of clothing, I don't seem to be wet."
"Sorry, Kit," Nita said with little remorse, "I needed a jacket, and all of my own sweatshirts were unavailable. And by 'unavailable' I mean they're currently residing in the laundry basket."
"As much as I would love to harass you about stealing my clothing, seeing you in them is just too cute to get angry about."
"I'm always cute," Nita said flippantly before breaking out in a grin.
Chatting about everything and nothing, the two sat on the beach watching the tide slowly back out to sea. The sun, though unseen, dipped below the horizon, causing the beach to become yet colder, even as the rain started to fall from the sky in a light mist, blurring the horizon. Suddenly being wet was no longer fun, but a nuisance. Shivering, Nita tried to hide her discomfort from Kit, who was enjoying the rare time off from studying. Due to his double major in computer science and engineering, he rarely had enough time to eat dinner, never mind take time off to sit with his girlfriend on the beach. But she had never been able to hide anything from Kit, and today was no exception.
"Cold?" He asked, his gaze gliding over her face, seeing the truth in the blue-tinged lips, the small tremors from her shivers. Knowing that he had already discovered the truth, she reluctantly responded, "Yes." Kit stared at her, making sure she wasn't getting sick. Untangling himself from her limbs, he leaned back and unzipped his windbreaker, placing it on the ground beside him. As he turned to face her, Nita found herself lost in his brown eyes, a brown as rich and subtle as the soils and mulches that she planted her precious flowers in. Kit leaned in slowly, planting a languid kiss on her lips, a kiss of lovers who have all the time in eternity to love. Caught in his embrace, Nita surrendered herself to him , trusting Kit implicitly, even as she felt his hands at the edge of her sweatshirt, his fingers brushing against the skin at her waist left uncovered by her bunched up t-shirt. Pulling out of the kiss, Kit looked her in the eye as he pulled her sweatshirt over her head. Tossing the wet jacket aside, he grabbed his windbreaker once more, and handed it to Nita with an affectionate grin.
Nita hesitated. "Won't you get cold?" she felt obliged to inquire.
"Take it," he murmured. "I want nothing more than to see you happy." Drowning in Kit's love, she smiled at him, slowly and gently, eyes glowing with happiness. Nita shrugged on the jacket, still warm and smelling like Kit, jamming her hands deep into the pockets, where she encountered obstructions to her burrowing. From the left she withdrew what appeared to be crumpled up notes on force vectors, and from the right a pile of tissues.
"Ew!" she exclaimed, dropping the hankies with haste.
"They're clean, I swear!" Kit assured her, picking them up before they blew away on the wind. A spot of blue sticking out from the voluminous pile of white caught Nita's eye.
"What's that," she said playfully, snatching the small item out from Kit's hand.
"NO! It's just a…." Kit dropped off the end of the sentence, blushing like he was back in kindergarten and caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
In her hands was a little blue velvet box, with some kind of golden symbol embroidered on the top. It was a ring box, and Nita feared what it could mean.
"Kit," she whispered, hating how small her voice sounded. His hands wrapped around hers, encasing them as well as the box.
"Juanita Louise Callahan, I'm deeply and madly in love with you. You are my life, the light from the heavens which help me navigate through the wild ocean of my life. Some days I'm so filled with love, I feel like I'm about to burst, unable to contain it anymore." Kit's voice cracked, and Nita could feel his hands shaking. She squeezed gently, reassuring him that she wasn't about to bolt. He took a deep breath and continued, "I've known for a while now that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you, but I wasn't sure how you felt. I didn't want to rush you into anything you weren't ready for." He moved so he was sitting in front of her, gazing softly into her eyes. "I guess what I'm trying to ask is…Nita, will you marry me?" He opened up the jewelry box.
Within lay a simple diamond ring, two gold bands interweaving delicately before joining under a small, .20 carat diamond, emerald cut.
The silence grew long as Nita looked at the ring, tear pouring out of her eyes. Finally she looked up, the hint of a smile gracing her lips. "Yes, I'll marry you. Yes." She whispered out, and Kit leaped for joy, laughing as he kissed her, long and slow. Finally they broke apart, and Kit slipped the ring onto her finger. Suddenly Nita laughed long and hard.
"What?" Kit asked, confused.
Nita smiled at him before answering, "Of everything I hoped to find at the beach, this was the last thing I expected."