Reggie woke up in a funk. She laid in bed for awhile, not feeling like getting up. Instead, she stared out the window from her bed, thinking of Twister's house right around the corner. Twister had been acting weird and he wouldn't talk to her about it. It had been going on ever since he and Otto had hung out so she assumed it was something Otto had said but Otto was being weird too. Sam was the only one she'd felt like she'd been able to talk to the past few days and he didn't know what was going on with them either. She hoped Otto wasn't planning any crazy schemes that he was trying to rope Twister into, but usually when that happened, she could get Twister to confess the plan to her. He was just feeling so distant. She knew couples went through slumps and that they would get through it. She just wished he would talk to her about what was going on.
She looked at the clock. She needed to get up and get ready. She and Otto were supposed to meet up with sam and she wanted to go by twisters first. She climbed out of bed, not bothering to change out of the t-shirt and shorts she was already wearing.
When she got to his house, she was a little surprised to see him already up, not that it was that early.
"Hey," she said, walking towards him.
"Hey," he still sounded off. "Um, coffee?"
She nodded and watched him pour some in both cups. "Thanks," she took the cup from him and leaned against the counter. "So, uh, I just wanted to wish you luck in the competition today. I know you're really excited about it."
"Thanks," he said, looking like he was trying to find something more to say.
Reggie wasn't entirely sure what to say either, which was ridiculous. Things were always so easy with Twister. They'd known each other their whole lives, they'd been dating for the past three years. They shouldn't be at a loss for conversation. "So," she started, unsure of where to go with it. "What are you going to make?"
"Oh," Twister looked at the ground and rubbed his hand on the back of his neck. "Right. Well, I was going to, um, surprise you. Um, all of you I mean. When you come see it."
"Cool." She was at another loss for words. "Well, I hope you make sure to stay clear of the tide." They both gave a weak laugh, remembering their last sandcastle competition. "And bring lots of water. It's supposed to be pretty hot out today."
He nodded. "Will do."
There was another awkward silence. She hated feeling this way around him. "Well, I guess I'd better get going then."
"Okay." He kissed her goodbye but even that felt weird, not like them.
She had hoped going to see him would make her feel better, but she ended up feeling worse. She wasn't even sure she wanted to hang out with Otto and sam anymore. She walked upstairs, contemplating crawling back into bed but she ran into Otto before she could.
"You look awful," he said bluntly.
"Gee, thanks," she remarked sarcastically.
"What's up? Why are you all bummed?"
"I'm not bummed." Otto shot her a look and she gave in. "Fine, maybe a little. I don't really wanna talk about it."
"Whatever. Hurry up and get ready. We're supposed to meet Sam like now."
"Alright, let's go," she sighed, deciding to go with them after all.
Otto looked skeptical. "You're not gonna get dressed?"
"I am dressed."
"That's what you wore to bed."
"It's what I wear all the time," she said, getting annoyed with her brother. He kept giving her a disapproving look. "What?"
"Nothing," Otto put his hands up. "Just maybe you could put your hair up or put on some makeup or something."
Suddenly, it clicked. Otto and Twister acting weird with her the past few days. That painfully awkward conversation with Twister. Otto suddenly caring about her appearance.
"What do you know?" she asked as a smirk appeared across her face.
"I don't know what you're talking about." Otto tried to walk down the stairs but Reggie grabbed his arm to pull him back.
"Why do you suddenly care about how I look?" She couldn't hide her smile.
"I don't!" he was acting way too defensively."Wear whatever you want."
"Reg, quit. I don't know what you're talking about."
She tried to pull his arm at a painful angle behind his back to get him to talk but he was too quick and deflected it. "You know that hasn't worked since I was like 10, right?"
"Tell me what you know," she demanded.
"I told you. I don't know anything."
"Just about the proposal," she said casually, hoping her guess was right.
Otto looked shocked. "You knew? Who told you?"
Her smile widened. "You just did."
"I did not! You tricked me!"
"So it's true? Twisters going to propose?"
"You can't tell him I told you. You have to act surprised."
"Of course I'll act surprised. Why did he tell you in the first place?"
Otto looked surprised that she would even ask that question. "Um, maybe because I'm his best bro!"
"Who can't keep a secret," she teased.
"I can keep a secret! Just because you manipulated me into telling you doesn't mean I can't keep a secret!"
"Uh-huh," she said sarcastically.
"Whatever, just go get dressed and meet me and Sam out front."
She went into her room and shut the door, smiling as she leaned against it. Twister was going to propose. All the weirdness that had been between them the past few days was because he was going to propose. She couldn't stop smiling. What did you even wear to get engaged? She took Otto's advice by putting her hair up into a top knot and putting on some light makeup. After looking through her closet, she settled on jean shorts and a fitted tank top. She looked in the mirror, pleased with her casual but cute look. She finished the look by putting on the necklace twister had gotten her two Christmases ago. She smiled as she looked at it, thinking back to how happy he was that she liked it. She was ready, so ready to take this next step with Twister. She wondered when he would do it. That night, maybe? She could hardly wait.
As she walked down the pier with Otto and Sam, her mind was elsewhere. She was pretty sure Twister was going to propose at the sandcastle competition. Why else would he have decided to do it the same day he was planning on proposing? It also explained why it had been so important to him. And why Otto and Sam were trying to keep her occupied when it started.
"Don't you want any?" Sam asked her, looking towards the funnel cake.
"Huh?" She snapped back into reality and broke off a piece. "Oh, yeah."
"Reggie, you sure you're okay?" Sam asked. She knew he could tell she was acting off, luckily Otto had been covering for her so Sam didn't find out he had told her.
"She's fine, Squid. Quit worrying."
Where would they live? Maybe in an apartment by campus, assuming they got married before the school year ended. Maybe they would wait until after school and get a starter house. Could they even afford that? Probably not. She hated throwing money away on rent though. She had a pretty good amount saved up already if she could save more over the summer, maybe they could afford the down payment. Especially if she continued writing articles for the online magazine again this year. It didn't pay great, but it was something.
"Hello? Earth to Reggie?" Otto said, getting her attention. "You wanna ride the Side Winder again or what?"
"After eating funnel cake? Pass."
"I second that," Sam said.
Otto gave him an annoyed look. "You didn't even eat any," he directed his attention to Reggie, who was appreciating the nice breeze until she looked up at the sky. The boys followed her gaze and saw the dark storm clouds coming in that seemed to appear out of nowhere.
"You don't think...?" Sam started but he didn't have to finish. They were all thinking the same thing.
"Twister," Reggie said under her breath.
"Maybe it'll hold off until after the competition," Otto offered.
Reggie looked out towards the beach, where they could vaguely see the people building sandcastles in the distance. "The competitions barely started."
"I'm sure it'll be fine," Sam offered though none of them truly believed it.
After walking down the boardwalk for a few minutes, they felt heavy drops of rain start falling sporadically. The storm had moved quickly and was practically right on top of them and they could hear thunder. Almost immediately the heavy raindrops turned into a downpour.
"Come on!" She said, running towards the beach.
"Reggie, I don't know if we should—" Sam started as he ran behind her, all three of them already drenched.
"Sam, the competitions obviously not happening," she looked behind her shoulder as she continued running. "He's not going to get to propose."
"You told her?" Sam turned to Otto, outraged.
"No! I—" a loud boom of thunder interrupted him. "she figured it out on her own!"
"Oh, I'm sure," Sam remarked sarcastically as people leaving the beach ran past them.
"Will you two stop?" Reggie yelled back at them, aggravated.
When they got further down the beach, most everyone had cleared out. The waves were huge; the wind was blowing hard as the rain continued beating down on them. Twister was alone trying to gather things into his backpack next to a wet pile of sand that had been his sand sculpture.
"What are you guys doing here?" he yelled over the roar of the waves.
"Coming to get you!" Reggie answered, not caring about the rain when she saw him. He looked so disappointed and she wished she could do something to make him feel better. Another boom of thunder sounded and they watched a bolt of lightning in the distance. She took his hand in hers and the four of them ran back towards the Shack. At least, they tried to. It seemed like everyone on the beach had had the same idea. It was overflowing with so many people, there was no way they were even going to get in. The wind was blowing the rain so the people crammed up against the edge were still getting soaked.
"Let's go to the back," Reggie suggested. They went around the alley and into the kitchen, which they really weren't supposed to do unless they were working. Given the circumstances, Reggie didn't think her dad and Tito would mind.
"Oh good," Raymundo looked relieved to see them when they walked in. "We need all the help we can get."
He disappeared back through the door before saying anything else so Reggie took over. "Otto, Sam, you go help Dad and Tito with grill and serving. Twister and I will start on some of these dishes," she gestured to a huge stack piled up in every open space by the sink.
Sam and Otto grabbed aprons and walked out to the front without argument. Twister started towards the sink and Reggie grabbed his shoulder before he could walk away. He turned around and she pressed her hands against his shoulders and kissed him for longer than she probably should've given all the chaos.
She looked into his eyes and pressed her hand on his cheek. "I'm sorry about the competition. I know you were really excited about it."
He gave a weak smile and lifted his hand to rest on the back of hers. "Thanks, Reg."
Although the beginning of the day had seemed to go by so slowly, the rest of the day was all a blur. The rain continued for most of the day, which meant the Shack seemed to have a never-ending amount of customers. At one point, she overheard her dad trying to ask Sam about Twister but he spotted her and quickly changed the subject. They stayed until close and piled up in her dad's car to go back to the house. They ordered pizza and ate it all almost immediately as they all hung out in the living room. Twister was quiet for most of the night and Reggie had to stop herself from continuing to glance over at him and make sure he was okay. Shortly after Raymundo went to bed, Sam caught Reggie looking over at Twister and decided they should have some time alone.
"I think we should probably call it a night too, right Otto?"
"What? It's like, not even ten yet!" Sam glared at Otto until he understood. "Oh, right. I was just, uh, gonna do some stuff tonight anyway. So, uh, later."
Once they were both gone, Reggie looked at Twister. "Wanna go for a walk?"
He nodded, "Sure."
Reggie tried making small talk about some of the customers or the craziness from earlier that day. Twister responded but the conversation wasn't really going anywhere. They walked hand-in-hand in silence for awhile. Reggie looked over at him. "Are you okay?"
He faked a smile. "Yeah. Just tired. Long day, you know."
"Yeah." Reggie thought for a minute and then had an idea. "I know where we can go."
Soon, they were arriving at a section of the beach they both knew well. Reggie had always called it Ocean Shores' sweet spot. He looked a little cheered up just by being there, which was encouraging to her. They climbed up on the rocks, which were still wet. Reggie almost slipped on one and twister caught her but then slipped himself. They braced themselves on the rocks and sat down, twister looking at his skimmed elbow. They laughed as they leaned against the rocks and Reggie leaned into twister.
"Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all the rain," she commented as they continued laughing.
"No, this was a great idea," he wrapped his arms around her stomach as she leaned back into his chest.
She could hear the happiness in his voice. She closed her eyes for a minute, appreciating that moment, the feeling of him holding her, the scent of him and the ocean.
"What are you thinking about, Rocket Girl?"
"Just how happy I am here with you," she smiled to herself and resting her hands over Twister's. "Remember when we first started dating and you surprised me by taking me here?"
She thought back to how excited he was to surprise her with it. He knew it was her favorite spot in Ocean Shores. He had a special picnic all set up and they watched the sunset together.
"Yeah, I remember I was still really nervous around you back then."
"Which was funny because you were never nervous around me until we actually started dating."
"Well, can you blame me? I didn't want to mess it up. Your dad would probably kill me for taking you here tonight."
"I took you here," she laughed.
"Well, still. Slippery rocks in the dark right next to the edge of the ocean."
"You're right," she admitted. "He probably would kill you."
"He doesn't have to know," Twister hugged her a little tighter.
They were quiet for a little while, enjoying the night. "The stars are-" Reggie started at the same time Twister said, "Hey, Reggie."
"Sorry, go ahead," Reggie said.
"Oh, that's okay. What were you saying?"
"Right, um. Just the stars. They're really pretty."
"Yeah," he agreed. "They are."
"Um," Reggie felt herself unexpectedly blushing for some reason. "So what were you going to say?"
"Oh, right." She felt his chest rise and fall as he silently let out a big breath. "Just that I love you." He didn't sound like he was finished so she didn't respond yet. "And that you make me so, so happy." She felt her heart seem to stop and race at the same time as she realized what was happening. She lifted up to look at him. He was nervous; very nervous, she could tell. But he gave her a smile. "And I just don't know I ever got so lucky that you would choose me but," he reached into his pocket. "Man, I better not drop this," he nervously commented as he pulled a small box out. "But I can't imagine not having you in my life. And I want to spend the rest of my life with you." His hand was shaky as he opened the box. "Reggie, will you marry me?"
"Yes," she nodded with a huge smile, holding out her left hand.
Twister's smile stretched across his face as he reached for the ring. "Sorry you can't really see it."
"That's okay," she assured him as he slid it on her finger. She closed her fingers, clutching it tight so it wouldn't fall off.
"It's too big," he sounded a little disappointed.
"It doesn't matter; I'm not letting it fall off," she showed him her hand closed around it as she used her other hand to pull his face in towards hers.