A soft knock at the door interrupted Mark’s inner contemplation as he stared at himself in the bathroom mirror of his childhood bedroom suite. He was trying to visualize how he would look with a crown on his head. All he could see was an old man because he always thought he’d have grey hair and grandchildren before taking on this responsibility.
He ran his hand over his shaggy wet hair and headed for the door. His lightweight summer pajama bottoms were his only clothes on this tropical evening. It didn’t occur to him to cover his bare chest until he opened his bedroom door to Hazel standing there with two steaming mugs of herbal tea.
Her jaw dropped as she looked him up and down and let out a low whistle. “Dang, and I thought you looked good in swim trunks and a tank top.”
A tiny smirk lifted the corners of his mouth as he reached out for one of the mugs. He placed a kiss on her cheek and whispered, “Right back at ya.”
The light blue baby doll pajamas fit her personality perfectly. He couldn’t understand why she tried the pretense of being a tough girl when he first met her. She was femininity personified and radiated confidence and vulnerability simultaneously.
Mark sipped his mint tea and wished for a cold beverage instead. But she promised something to ease his upset stomach and apparently this was the cure for whatever ailed him. Sorrow, overwhelm, trepidation, fear, and excitement all wrapped into one. He took another sip and set it down on his bedside table.
He wasn’t really nervous having her climb onto his bed and sit cross legged facing him, her mug held tightly between her hands and her hair in wet French braids. He propped himself on several pillows and leaned against his headboard. “Big day, huh?”
“Yeah, I’m not even sure what to think.” Hazel took a sip of her tea. “What did your dad say that had you so flustered?”
“That guy he was talking to is our attorney,” Mark said. “He’ll be the one reading the will and apparently I’m slated to inherit a small fortune.”
“And that upset you?”
“It’s just a lot to take in, ya know?” Mark leaned his head back and stared at the ceiling. “I just want to mourn the loss of my grandpa without all this other crap.”
“I’ve never really lost a family member, so I’ve never had to go through this.”
“Can I marry you?” Mark asked suddenly. “I mean, in a few years. Not right now. We should probably finish college first.”
“What if we don’t like each other in a few years?” She bit her lips as if trying to keep from smiling.
“Uh… well, then you’d be unhappily married to an incredibly rich prince and you can divorce me, take half my money, demand that I name you queen, and have me banished from my own kingdom.”
“That sounds fun.” She giggled an adorable giggle and Mark wished he could pull her into his arms. Oh, what the heck.
Mark leaned forward and lifted Hazel’s mug of tea then set it next to his on the bedside table. Then he pulled her forward and gathered her into the crook of his arm resting her head on his shoulder. He inhaled deeply the rich scent of her shampoo or body wash or lotion.
“You smell really good,” Hazel whispered.
“I was just thinking the same thing about you,” his husky whisper answered her.
“I wish we were married, and I could just fall asleep right here in your arms.” Her voice was sleepy, and he wondered if she would indeed fall asleep in his arms.
“If we were married this cute little nighty would be on the floor beside our bed.” That was a stupid thought to vocalize. Now it was all he could think about. Her body stilled at the implication of his words. Maybe they should fall asleep. He wouldn’t be thinking impure thoughts about her if he wasn’t conscious. “Sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”
Hazel relaxed into his arms again. “I want you to feel like you can tell me anything.”
“If that’s the case, I’ll tell you how I feel, holding you like this.” Mark yawned and snuggled a little closer. “I promised I’d wait until we were married. But I didn’t specify a date for our wedding. We could get married sooner rather than later. I could move up to the D.C. area and we could get a little apartment. My college credits would probably transfer, and we could sleep in each other’s arms every night.”
“That sounds wonderful…” Hazel’s sleepy voice drifted off and he kissed her forehead, wishing he could do more. Her breathing evened out and he rested his head against hers, letting his eyes close.