“Ruby?” I leaned over to stroke her hair the next morning. I was already up and dressed but Ruby was not a morning person. She was still in bed, curled up like a cat under a pile of blankets. She made a muffled sound of annoyance and burrowed deeper into her blanket cocoon. I stifled a laugh and rubbed her shoulder.
“I know, I know, it’s early but it’s worth getting up, I promise.” I leaned down and kissed what little of her head I could see poking out from the blankets. “There’s a really good cafe down the street but I heard it gets so busy after 10am that they’re out of all the best pastries by 11am. Come on, quality European coffee first thing in the morning,” I tempted her. I knew she’d never be able to resist. The first thing Ruby always makes a beeline for when she wakes up is the coffee machine.
A long sigh rose up from the blankets and Ruby finally poked her head out to blink blearily at me. “In the name of good coffee… I suppose I can cope with consciousness during morning hours,” she mumbled. She probably didn’t even realise that she’d just made a joke. I didn’t point it out to her. She’d be grumpy until she got some coffee in her.
After getting dressed and calling the house (she called the house half a dozen times yesterday, too, to ask about Nereus and Hope. I think Leander was about to blacklist her cell number), Ruby stumbled her way to the cafe with me in a foggy stupor. She didn’t talk much for a good few minutes after we sat down with our orders, she just clung to her espresso with a hazy, dazed expression until the caffeine started kicking in and I think she finally noticed we were sitting outside in a beautiful centre square. “I don’t remember Germany being so… picturesque when I lived here,” Ruby commented. “It is very peaceful, despite the activity and the shoreline’s attractions.” I had to agree but then again, I never lived here, I just visited and it was for a massive Science and Medicine Conference, the atmosphere was very different.
Ruby was feeling much better once she got some coffee in her and something sweet to eat. I was, too, so after a bit of convincing, I managed to get her to come with me to the island bluff to see if we could catch a glimpse of the sea monster Emily. We didn’t see Emily which didn’t surprise me. I didn’t actually expect to see her but hey, if she really is out there and she isn’t just a local myth like Ruby thinks, she could be a distant relative of mine, right? It was worth a shot trying to catch a glimpse.
Even Ruby was impressed by the beauty of the bluffs (but remarked on what a tragedy all the graffiti on historic architecture was), and we ended up spending the rest of the day enjoying the water and trying to outdo each other diving. We were both pretty bad but it was just the two of us for miles so it didn’t really matter. We stayed out at the bluffs until well after dark. I noticed Ruby was shivering but neither of us wanted to call it a night yet. I lit up a fire on the edge of the island and held her close, watching the embers float up into the darkness and fade away. It was a beautiful night but I couldn’t take my eyes off Ruby. She was the highlight of it all.
“Sebastian?” Ruby asked softly in the stillness of the dark as the last embers crackled and died out in the fire in front of us.
“I love you.”
I smiled and leaned down to kiss her. I would have told her I love her, too, except the kiss lengthened and then broke into more kisses and suddenly, we couldn’t stop kissing each other. I ended up uh, showing her how much I love her instead when we fell into a nearby bush… if you know what I mean. I felt like I was in university again, except I was a huge nerd in university and never did any of those wild, crazy things that Ruby and I were doing now on this trip. Maybe we were making up for lost time or something. I wasn’t complaining, that’s for sure!
The trip that I had planned to make things up to my wife for the way I treated her was going better than I could have imagined but I actually had one last really big surprise up my sleeve that I was saving for the end of our trip. Ruby and I had made several trips to the ancient ruins that had peaked Ruby’s interest during the month and a half that we ended up staying in Windenburg but today, I sent her there alone, pretending to not be feeling well.
As soon as she left the house, I got dressed in my best formal attire and left a note on the bed for Ruby.
Put on your favourite dress and meet me at the Von Haunt Estate.
It’s another surprise. (Sorry)
The sun was just starting to set when Ruby made her appearance. She’d let her hair down, put on makeup and swapped out her glasses for contacts. She was wearing a new dress I hadn’t seen before but it looked amazing on her. Maybe she just bought it today in Windenburg for the occasion.
“Sebastian, your cryptic note was highly irregular, although admittedly intriguing. I thought you were ill. What–” she stopped mid-sentence when she realised I was standing underneath a wedding arch. I held my hand out to her and she took it, joining me underneath the arch in front of a rushing waterfall at the edge of the estate’s sprawling gardens.
“I’m fine,” I assured her, kissing her forehead. “I’m not sick. I just needed an excuse to send you out alone for a while.”
“Like when you proposed to me,” Ruby commented with a slightly sly tone. I had pretended something was wrong then, too, in order to set up the proposal. I stroked her cheek.
“And I’m proposing again now,” I told her. “Several years, a few house remodels and a son later, I’m still just as in love with you as I was the day I married you, Ruby, but I forgot that when we started fighting back home and I want to keep those memories fresh. I don’t want to forget how important you are to me ever again. Ruby Sword… will you marry me? Again?” I asked her, taking her hands in mine.
It took Ruby a moment to respond because she was crying. “What a foolish question,” she choked out. “I’ve told you before… my answer will always be yes, Sebastian.”
We renewed our wedding vows right there under that arch with the sun setting over the estate’s gardens, making the whole world glow but my wife shone the brightest of all. She always has and she always will.