He wasn’t there.
She knew it before she’d even walked out onto the pier. She could feel it.
But he had promised. No matter how much he hated this little town, no matter how stuck he felt – she didn’t think he would actually leave her. Not again.
She let her feet carry her cross the planks of wood, but her vision glazed. She hardly let herself see the people scattered about – some fishing, a couple linked arm-in-arm as they grinned at each other, a mother giving her child cotton candy from the busy vendor. None of them seemed important. None of them wore his smiling face.
She let herself drift to the very end, and she sat down, letting her feet dangle high above the water. She had been so sure he would stay. Now, she just felt stupid.
Humbled again, it would seem. She would be stuck in this sorry little town forever. Without him. Again.
She waited until the sun started to go down, sitting at the edge of the pier for almost half an hour. Then, when there was little left to do, she pushed herself to her feet and made her way back towards the parking lot.
She was lost in the flow of people, nearly to the start of the pier, when she heard a familiar car lock beeping. Her head jerked up in alarm, her eyes widening in disbelief.
And there he was. Running towards her and shaking his head, his arms half-lifted in a shrug of apology.
She didn’t even hesitate to run to him, and a grin stretched across his face just before he wrapped his arms around her, picking her up and spinning around.
“I couldn’t go,” he says, the words muffled by her hair. “I couldn’t leave this stupid town after all.” He laughed, and when he looked down at her, his eyes were bright, without any sign of doubt.
“You’re staying?” she asked, still disbelieving. “You know all the reasons I can’t leave.”
His eyes softened, and he slipped a hand into her hair, lifting her face to his. “Then we’ll be stuck together,” he says, and he brought his lips to hers, tasting of sun and love and kept promises.