… Why else would he say HER name?
THE PAST… It’s a low budget room, but through the open door the Pacific view is glistening blue. Sarah and Dax, backpacks on their shoulders, stand just inside the doorway staring at the bed.
Sarah smiles like a cat in front of a giant bowl of milk. “A real bed.”
Dax slams the door with his foot. “And real air conditioning.”
Sarah drops her pack at her feet. “Are we getting soft?”
Dax drops his pack. “Never.” Sarah takes a running start and jumps chest first onto the bed. Dax follows her. Within moments they both snore stretched out on top of the bed covers, shoes still on.
Hours later, Dax stands barefoot in the open doorway. The late afternoon sun bounces golden light in. Sarah stirs awake in the bed behind him. “Have we been sleeping for days?”
Dax turns and smiles at her. “Feels good, huh?”
Sarah rolls over and stretches from her fingers to her toes. She looks down to see her shoes still on. “Mmm Hmm.” She bends to remove her shoes and then walks barefoot to Dax and wraps her arms around his waist. They look out at the ocean.
Dax holds her tight. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you. Don’t freak out. And before you jump to conclusions, I’m not saying we should stop.”
Sarah looks nervous. “What?”
Dax turns to face her. “I think its time we put down some roots.”
Sarah smiles. “You want to start a garden.” She couldn’t resist.
Dax looks serious. “I’m not kidding.” He lifts her chin to look her in the face. “I want to marry you.” Sarah swallows hard. Dax clarifies himself. “One day.”
Sarah smiles. “I want to marry you one day, too.”
Dax’s shoulders relax. “Then why don’t we ever talk about it?”
Sarah leans her head on his chest. “I don’t know. I guess we just know its there. We’re just not done with what we’re doing yet.”
Dax leans down to spy her against his chest. “You know, we can be married and still be on an adventure.”
Sarah nods into his chest. “Let’s get some dinner.” She unravels herself from their embrace.
Dax grabs her arm. “Are you changing the subject?”
Sarah smiles coyly and walks to get changed.
Later that night, Sarah and Dax stumble through the door kissing. Dax drops a bag of Chinese take-out on the small table. They stagger toward the bed, slipping off their shoes.
Sarah falls on the floor when she pulls at her left shoe. “We shouldn’t have had that last drink.”
Dax kisses her neck and lifts her to her feet. “Sure we should have.”
Sarah looks over at the containers of Chinese on the table. “The food’s getting cold.”
Dax kisses her neck some more. “That’s why God made microwaves.” He plants a sloppy kiss on her lips and they stumble to the bed. They tumble on top of one another. They are giddy with laughter, as they start to disrobe one another.
Dax stops mid zipper and looks seriously into Sarah’s eyes. “Did you mean what you said about marrying me one day?
Sarah leans up and kisses him. “Yes.”
Dax leans his forehead against hers. “Even if it was now?”
Sarah’s not sure if it’s the margaritas or emotion fueling her. She cups his face in her hands. “Especially if it was now.”
Dax sits up in shocked surprise. He presses a clumsy kiss on her lips then stops and smiles from ear to ear. “Stay right here.” He rushes off the bed, rummages through his backpack, tossing its innards all over the floor until he finds what he was looking for. Then he rushes back next to her on the bed.
He opens the palm of Sarah’s hand. And places a ring in the center. “It was my grandmother’s.”
Sarah stares at the ring in her palm. She feels tears well in her eyes. Where did this come from. “You’ve been carrying it all of this time?”
Dax nods and swallows hard. She closes her hand around the ring and wraps her arms around Dax’s neck. They kiss and make sloppy tipsy love, then pass out in embracing one another.
Sarah wakes the next morning tangled in the sheets with Dax. He’s slow to wake. The ring is still clutched in the palm of her hand. She puts it on her finger and admires it on her hand.
Dax’s eyes crack open slowly, and he spies her admiring it. He smiles and then on second thought buries his face in the pillow. “No, no no.”
She turns toward him. “Dax?”
Dax looks at her slightly ashamed. “That is not at all how I planned to do it.”
She smiles and gives him a kiss. “It was perfect.” Okay, she was slightly exaggerating.
He closes his eyes. “No. I have to do this right.” He jumps out of bed naked, then throws on some clothes. “I’ll be right back.”
She watches with a bit of surprise. He rushes to the door and then comes back to stand over her. “Give me the ring.”
Sarah sits up stunned. “What?”
He smiles and leans down to kiss her. “Trust me, baby. I’ll be right back.” He slips the ring off her finger and is out the door in seconds. But quickly pokes his head back in. “Meet me on the beach by the big rock at sunset.” He smiles and disappears.
Sarah lies in bed staring at the finger that most recently held her engagement ring. It’s been a whirlwind. Dax had actually asked her to marry him. Well … did he? The whole night was a blur. They talked about getting married and then hours later in a tipsy stupor he gave her a ring. She’s not really sure that he ever said the words. Well maybe he’ll rectify that fact when she sees him. She hopes so.
There are a bunch of nerves that come along with him asking for her hand, and none of them are the usual second thoughts or nerves that couples reveal later. Sarah is plain, old-fashioned scared that this change, any change, will ruin the most perfect relationship on the planet. She is petrified of losing him. Flat-out petrified.
The time has ticked away while she sat on the bed worrying. It’s almost sunset and she needs to take a shower. Not to mention look beautiful for the occasion… if there is an occasion. She slaps some sense into herself. Damn, pull your shit together, girl.
On the beach, near the big rock, a small white canopy has been set up… Under which, are beach blankets and giant pillows.
Sarah walks onto the sand. She wanted to look special, but the simple slip dress was all that she had. It would have to do. She smiles when she sees the canopy. She assumes it’s for her, since this big rock is the only big rock on the beach. She looks around but doesn’t spy Dax yet. She takes a few steps closer.
Dax quickly slides up behind her and covers her eyes. “You’re beautiful.” He kisses the back of her neck. “Cover your eyes.”
Sarah smiles. “You already are.”
Dax smiles to himself. “I have other things to do with my hands.”
Sarah slips her hand over her eyes, freeing Dax for his other duties. He swoops her off her feet. A squeal escapes Sarah’s lips, but she doesn’t peek. Dax whispers in her ear. “Don’t worry. I got you.” He carries her across the sand to the canopy and sets her on her feet. “Okay, you can look now.”
Dax stands in front of her in a white linen shirt, holding a single crimson rose. The sun begins to set behind him. There are flower petals speckling the ground around her and white candles along the perimeter.
Sarah smiles delighted. “How did you …”
Dax playfully cuts her off. “Let me have my secrets.” He gives her the rose and a sweet peck on the lips.
Sarah’s eyes well with happiness. The sun touches the horizon. Dax takes her hand. She might burst from the inside out. He bends on one knee. “Sarah, there is no doubt that you know what I’m doing here. But just in case there’s any hint of uncertainty, let me be clear.” He kisses her hand. “I love you. You have filled my life with a joy and a purpose that is beyond my wildest imaginings. I want nothing more than to fill your life with love and adoration.” He pulls his grandmother’s ring from his pocket. “I want to make you beyond happy. I will make you beyond happy. Sarah, will you marry me?”
A tear slides down Sarah’s cheek and a smile spreads across her face. “Oh Dax… Yes. Yes.”
Dax rises and pulls her into his arms. He kisses her softly and lingers. He slides the ring on her finger.
Sarah can feel the warm metal around her finger. Dax must have been holding it all day. His warm energy has filled the ring that will forever be a part of her hand.. and his warm lips on hers, is something that she will never get enough of.
They lie down next to each other under the canopy as the sun fully sets and the candlelight takes over. Dax’s lips brush hers. “Thank you for letting me do this right.”
Sarah caresses his face and brushes his lips back. “Oh Dax, it’s perfect.”
Dax feels her breath in his mouth. “There are no words to convey how much I love you. And I will for an eternity.”
And they lose themselves in their kiss.
PRESENT DAY… Dax’s Parents have gone off to ask the doctor about Dax’s supposed dream episode. Beth’s Parents remain in the waiting room with Sarah who has dozed off for a few minutes. She’s woken by an orderly who approaches Beth’s Parents with a box of Beth’s personal effects.
They both sob as they rummage through the box – Beth’s purse, her phone, a pair of sunglasses and an envelope. Sarah tries to maintain the facade that she’s sleeping.
Beth’s mom rips open the envelope and turns it upside down. Rings fall out onto the floor and roll over by Sarah.
Sarah breaks her facade and picks them up. She freezes when she recognizes the engagement ring. She breathes in heavily to block out the well of tears and vomit just below the surface. She’s not sure what will come first.