The sea oats brushed against her bare shoulder, tanned, lithe, and she stepped out onto the beach, the sand hot against the soles of her feet. She dropped her sandals and slid them on and looked at him.
“You’re going to need your shoes soon.”
He walked faster. “I’ll be okay.”
“I warned you.”
The sun was a singular point of magnified warmth in the sky. Waves of heat rose from the long stretches of sand on either side of them as they hurried to the water.
He stopped and sat on the cooler, holding his feet above the sand.
“I told you you’d need your shoes.”
He stared up at her. Her sunglasses reflected his expression and her floppy hat shaded her face. “What can I say,” he said. “You were right.”
“Aren’t I always?”
“No one is always right.”
“But I’ve got a good record, you’d agree.”
He got up from the cooler, ready to make a run for it. “Yes. I’ll admit that. Let’s go.”
He took about five more steps, stopped again and got on the cooler and fanned his feet, their soles almost as red as the steamed crab they ate last night.
“Geez,” he said. “I should have worn my shoes.”
She smiled down at him from under the hat. “Where have I heard that before?”
He glanced up, a half-smile at the corners of his mouth. “You know how much I love you, don’t you?”
She shook her head. “Yes, but I’m not giving up my sandals.”
“You won’t even consider it? Not for just a few steps until I can get my feet in the water?”
“You like my feet,” she said. “Do you want to see them looking like yours?”
He thought for a moment. “You’re right. When we go to dinner later, I’d like to see you wearing those sexy high heels you bought this morning without your feet looking like they had been microwaved.”
“I thought you’d see it my way.”
He got up and started off again, faster this time, his multicolored swim shorts swishing about his legs, but he soon stopped and jumped back onto the cooler. He considered putting his feet inside but didn’t care to dirty their ice.
“You could wrap your feet in the towels,” she said.
“I don’t want to get them dirty. We’re going to lie on them in a few minutes.”
“Okay. It was just a suggestion, Mr. lobster feet.”
He glanced up at her and smiled.
She felt sorry for him, but she wasn’t about to give up her shoes.
A few moments later, they were off again, running toward the waves, each with a hand on a cooler handle and each hopping on one sandal a piece.
Isn’t love grand, whether standing, sitting, or running together toward the warm, wet sand?