Niles reached the door of the Harbor Inn and turned for one more look at the street. He thought, “I can’t help but think it; how is Annie doing on this night. I think she might envy me. That was such a good walk. Any walk you don’t have to step over a drunk laying on the sidewalk or without fear of being followed is a good walk. The truth is, if I had to choose between fear and loneliness, I’d prefer loneliness. I wonder if she is afraid tonight.”
Niles walked in. At the far end of the dining room, a table with candlelight cast a dim soft glow on the room.
Niles squinted. A woman sat with her back to him. It was not Shelly. “It can’t be,” Niles whispered to himself.” But, it was—it was Annie! He was certain his heart stopped beating and only started again at his will. His eyes closed. “It is an apparition,” he thought. “I’ve been thinking about her so much, that is not really her.” Yet he hoped beyond all the power of thought that it really was Annie.
He slowly walked to the table. He looked at her reflection in the window.
“Annie,” his voice quivered.
She did not turn to him but waited until Niles sat beside her to look gently and longingly into his eyes.
“What are you doing here?” Niles said he said tenderly and placed his hand on her’s.
“Six weeks ago I received a call from a man named Ernie Appleton,” Annie said.
“Ernie Appleton!” Niles said. “Why would he call you?”
“We talked for quite a while,” Annie said. “He told me about the circumstance of how you two met and what you did for him. He told me about what occurred over the winter. Lastly, he read a poem to me that you read to him. He said when you first read it to him that he nearly cried. He told me a man loves like that only once. And I told him so does a woman.”
“How on earth did he get a hold of that poem?” Niles said.
“Jessica, your town clerk,” Annie said.
“She called you too?” Niles said.
“No and yes,” Annie said, “I called her first. Then, we started calling each other. I pestered her too much. She and Ernie got to talking about you. Jessica got into your desk drawer and found the poem. She made a copy for Ernie.”
“That girl has got some ‘splainin’ to do,” Niles said. “Ernie too.”
“Well, then I get a call from Charley and Shelly,” Annie said.
“I suppose Steve called you too,” Niles said.
“Just to give me directions,” Annie said.
“I know you, Annie,” Niles said, “you wouldn’t come up here unless…”
“Unless, I was certain of me and you,” Annie said.
“You mean us?” Niles said.
“Yes,” Annie said.
“What about what’s his name?” Niles said.
“He was scared to death of you,” Annie said. “A grad student moved in with him before you left town.”
“Why didn’t you say something?” Niles said.
“You would have never left the city,” Annie said. “You had every right to pursue what you wanted. If you knew I was free, you would have never left the city.”
“Maybe this is really jumping ahead,” Niles said, “but where do we go from here.”
“I’m not going anyplace without you,” Annie said.
“What does that mean?” Niles said.
“This town has no lawyer,” Annie said. “I’m going to have to familiarize myself with maritime law. In the discussion for directions, Steve offered to retain me as the town’s solicitor.”
“Do you have an office?” Niles said.
“Yes,” Annie said, “There’s a small place next to The Beacon.
“So Izzy knows,” Niles said. “That’s it, no more exclusives for her.”
“These folks don’t want you running off with the likes of Lucinda,” Annie said.
“You heard about her?” Niles said.
“Yes,” Annie said. “I’d like to meet her.”
“Well,” Niles said. “She left town, but I have her on tape.”
“Do you have a place?” Niles said.
Annie reached down beside her chair. She removed a piece of paper from her purse. She placed it on the table. “It’s a marriage license. I’m not leaving this place until you sign it.”
Niles reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out his pen. He clicked it open. “Annie, are you sure?”
“Sign it, please,” Annie said.
Niles quickly signed it. “Now we got to find somebody to marry us.”
“No problem,” Steve said walking from the kitchen. “As mayor, I can perform marriages.”
“So we’re the two out of state lunatics,” Niles said.
“I was only half right,” Steve said, “you both live here now.”
“It there anything you haven’t thought of?” Niles said.
“Well we need a bridesmaid and best man,” Annie said. “Charley. Shelly.”
Charley and Shelly walked in from the kitchen.
“Are you sure he signed?” Charley joked.
“We need guests,” Annie said. “If you had to pick three guests who would you pick?”
“Well,” Niles said. “absolutely my dad and I suppose those responsible for this; Ernie and Jessica.”
“I’m so glad you’re predictable,” Nile’s dad said entering the room from the kitchen followed by Jessica and Ernie.
Niles and Annie were married. The evening at the Harbor Inn was good.
Niles and Annie walked the quaint street toward their home.
“When starting out tonight, I never thought someone would be walking home with me tonight,” Niles said.
Annie stopped to look out at the harbor.
“The tide is in,” Niles said.
“Do you know why the tides return?” Annie said.
“Something to do with gravitational pull,” Niles said.
“And it has no place else to go,” Annie said.