She listened to the sound of the sea as it crashed into the shores of the sound. The tide level was high in the waterway and the winds were blowing strong. Kayla looked out, searching for his ship. There was nothing in sight except for storm clouds. “He better make it home safe,” she said to no one.
Kayla turned from the shore and walked sadly inland. She hated this waiting. She blamed herself for this anguish. Kayla had known before she married him that James was a sailor. She knew the risks as well, having lost her father to the sea. Yet she couldn't resist this man's charm, his wit, and his smile.
The courtship had been long. Kayla had spurned his affections more times than she could count, yet James had been persistent and patient. He had tried to woo her with flowers, gifts, kindnesses. She had rejected him. Then he would go out to sea and be gone for years at a time and she would miss his attention. She would go to the harbor and look out across the great expanse. “He better make it home safe,” she said to no one.
Today was her birthday. Kayla had received a letter from her beloved while he was in the Caribbean. He had written that his voyage would soon be over and he would return home by her birthday. The letter now sits on her desk, open and anxious. Kayla looks at it often, anticipating her husband's arrival.
Yet, the weather conspired against his safe homecoming. The sky was dark and ominous. The winds were wild and fierce. Perhaps he had been delayed by Poseidon's anger and the boat was being tossed about like a child's toy?
Kayla stood on the tower of their colonial home, looking out to the sea, the wind wet and cold, lashing at her hair and removing it from its bun. She watched, and waited, being as patient with James as he had been with her. And yet, the time she spent waiting for him required a return on her investment in the shape of his safe return. She prayed to God to bring him back, but could God return His favor?
Rain began to fall. Kayla pulled her cloak around herself more tightly, but she refused to go inside. She longed to see his ship and willed it to be there. Afraid to give up her vigilance, she refused to move, no matter what the sky threw at her. As the rain pelted her, she could barely make out a shadow in the surf. Was it the Concorde? Her heart leaping with excitement, Kayla rushed into her house to grab her spyglass.
Kayla returned to her deck on the tower. Extending the cylinder out, Kayla focused on the shape she saw in the waves. Could it be? Yes, it was definitely a ship! But was it the Concorde?
Wild with hope, Kayla fled the deck and raced down the stairs. She grabbed a second cloak, flung the wet one off to the floor, and threw the dry one on. Then she hurled herself out into the storm, driving herself towards the harbor, which would be protected from the brunt of the storm.
The cobblestones were slippery from the rain, making Kayla's journey excruciatingly slow. She stumbled multiple times, skinning her knee once, bashing her shoulder another. Her head bowed into the wind, she made her way closer and closer to the harbor she knew the ship bearing her husband would be. “He better make it home safe,” she said to no one.
Kayla could see the ship now as it struggled to get safely in the protective area of the sound. The wind whipped it along, most of its sails torn and flapping uselessly in the air. It was sheer skill that kept the ship on course, slowly making its way to safety. Kayla prayed with all of her being that the ship would reach its destination. She willed it with all of her strength that James would see her soon.
A bolt of lightning flashed across the sky, illuminating the ship completely. Kayla could clearly make out the shape of its figurehead. It was the Concorde! Overjoyed, Kayla doubled her efforts to reach the harbor. The wind lashed at her face, tearing at her cloak and her hair. Kayla pulled the cloak closer to her body, buffering the blast of the storm. She was close now.
The ship pulled into the alcove of the sound and reached calmer seas. Exhausted, it moved slowly towards the wharf stretching out into the sound. Kayla's foot touched the wooden boards of the wharf just as the Concorde dropped anchor and threw out its mooring ropes. Renewed, Kayla sprinted down the long dock to the ship's berth.
She arrived at the ship's place on the wharf just as the gangplank was extended from the ship to the dock. Fighting back the rain and the wind, Kayla struggled to see the faces of the men coming off the Concorde. Where was he? Where was James?
Thomas Collins walked past Kayla and gave her a weary nod. Kayla locked eyes with him, her face showing her growing panic. He smiled weakly and pointed towards the cargo hold. “Your Captain is safe,” he said kindly. “He is overseeing the unloading of the goods we brought back with us. The storm is getting worse and he's concerned about it remaining intact.” Kayla nearly hugged the wet, exhausted man. She simply shouted her thanks and dashed towards the gangplank.
The First Mate, Jonathon Harper, smiled as he saw Kayla's approach. “Happy birthday, M'am,” he shouted above the roar of the sea. “The Captain will be finished soon. You need to find some shelter, this storm refuses to let up.”
“I'm not leaving here until I see my husband,” she yelled back.
“If you insist, M'am,” he replied. He directed Kayla to stand in a place out of the blast of the wind. She calmly walked to the spot and watched for signs of James.
Several minutes later, the last of the cargo was unloaded from the ship and the last of the crew were leaving the ship for shore. Kayla heard James' voice as he advised the crew on guard duty to abandon the ship if the storm worsens and the ship is in danger. She then heard him walk to the gangplank and disembark from the ship. Once on the wharf, he turned towards the land and saw his soaking wet wife standing a few feet away from him. Elated, but concerned, he ran over to her and wrapped his arms around her.
“Happy Birthday, Darling,” he said as he held her tight. “Let us get out of this storm as quickly as we can. I have a surprise for you,” he said with a wink. With his arms around Kayla, they walked off the wooden dock, then up the wharf road to their home. James stoked the fire while Kayla removed her wet clothing and hung them up to dry. She gave James some dry clothes while he removed his sopping clothing. Once they were both dry and warm, James drew his bride to himself and gave her a long embrace.
“What do you wish for your birthday, My Love?” James asked once the hug was done.
“You already gave me the best gift you could have given me. You came home to me safe,” she replied. James bent over and kissed his short wife on the lips. Reaching into his wet clothes draped over a chair, James pulled out a parcel and handed it to Kayla. She looked at him in surprise and gingerly took the offering. They were now in the salon, sitting in front of a raging fire. Kayla put the gift onto her lap and began to unravel the wrappings. Once the paper was removed, Kayla examined the pieces of jewelry James had brought home. The diamond necklace caught the light of the fire and sparkled in her eyes. A matching diamond and emerald ring lay next to it, the diamonds catching the light and reflecting it back at her while the deep green of the emerald glowed bright in the firelight. Then a pair of diamond and emerald earrings rounded up the group, each of which had the same intensity and luster as the other two pieces. James helped his wife put on the necklace. “Happy Birthday, my Love,” he said once he had closed the clasp around her neck. She regarded her reflection in the mirror, fascinated by the clarity of the stones and their luster.
“It is beautiful, James! Thank you so much!” She ran over to him and gave him a passionate kiss on his lips. He smiled.
“Darling, I have come to a decision,” he said, taking her hands and guiding her to the love seat. “I fear it is time for me to retire from the sea and so I can stay here with you. We have enough funds for us to live this lifestyle for the rest of our lives.” He gestured to the beautiful things in their home.
Kayla smiled, then threw herself at James. “Now I'd say you just gave me the grandest birthday gift I have ever received! James, I think that is a wonderful idea! Finally, we can be together!”
They sealed the decision with a kiss.