After studying the living room one last time, Caitlin gave a big sigh of relief. Finally, the beach house was decorated the way she wanted it. Her grandparents now deceased, would approve of her creative flair for design. Each room had a nautical theme of colorful seashells and ocean treasures, accented with pastel-shaded walls. She was within minutes of the Anna Maria Island beach in Florida, and spent most of her days writing on her laptop computer by the ocean.

As a beginning freelance writer from New York, it was a complete change for Caitlin. Her days were much more flexible and carefree here. She could make her own schedule and not work under short deadlines. It was also the time in Caitlin’s life to find a career which revealed her creativity more fully. She was still unsure about where her writing career would take her, but at thirty-three, Caitlin knew that she had to follow her long-lost passion before it was too late.

One summer morning before heading off to the beach, Caitlin decided to plant flowers in her garden. The weather was in the mid-eighties so, it wasn’t too hot to work outdoors. While she was leaning over with her hands in the soil, she could hear a masculine voice and footsteps approaching.

“Good morning miss. I have a few parcels to deliver to you.” He said in a friendly tone. Startled at first, she quickly turned around and stood up. Wiping her soiled hands on her pant leg, she retrieved them from his hand. A tall slightly built man with medium brown hair smiled at her as he handed Caitlin several large envelopes.

He looked around Caitlin’s age or a bit older. They stared at one another for a moment before speaking. “Thank you so much.” She said with a coy smile. “You’re welcome, miss.”

“Oh, you can call me Caitlin.”

“Well it’s nice to meet you, Caitlin. I’m Nick Kramer. You’ll be seeing me around regularly.” He said with a jubilant grin.

Caitlin also smiled again. “You must be new in Anna Maria. I haven’t seen you before.” He said.

“Yes, I am. My grandparents used to live here before they passed away. This house was given to me as an inheritance.” Caitlin said.

“Well that is certainly a special gift to receive. I knew your grandparents quite well. They were such friendly and caring people.”

“Yes, they certainly were. I miss them very much.” “Likewise. Well maybe I will see you again tomorrow. Have a nice day.” Nick said with a friendly wave.

Caitlin waved back with a smile, and thought to herself what a nice man he was. After an hour of gardening, she washed up and headed down to the beach.

After reading through several rejection letters with returned manuscripts, she began to feel discouraged. Caitlin started thinking that maybe she was just kidding herself about becoming a successful writer.

Each day, Nick came by to deliver the mail, carrying several large envelopes in his hand. Caitlin always dreaded opening them, because she knew what to expect. One morning, while Nick was on his mail route, he commented about the envelopes.

“You must be a writer because you receive several publisher envelopes a day. Are you getting many offers to promote your work?” He asked with an inquisitive and curious smile.

Looking away with an embarassed look, Caitlin hesitated on telling him. Downplaying her discouragement, she said “Not yet, but there’s always tomorrow.” After saying it like that, she made herself feel better.

“Well, that’s a good attitude to have. I admire your courage to venture off into the unknown.” “Thank you. I’ll let you know when my first book is published.” They both laughed and then said goodbye.

As the weeks passed by, Nick continued delivering Caitlin’s mail and inquiring about her writing. She told him that she was beginning to receive less rejections and more acceptance letters. During each visit, they began talking longer than usual about various subjects. Caitlin was comfortable with Nick in a way that she hadn’t felt with any other man. He was down to earth, relaxed, outgoing, and very handsome. without being obnoxious.

He listened intently with deep interest as Caitlin talked; nodding or smiling with a twinkle in his hazel eyes. Caitlin felt nothing but joy whenever Nick was around. She felt tingly inside like a young schoolgirl. This felt like more than a simple crush. She was a powerful believer in destiny, and knew in her heart that she was meant to meet Nick. However, Caitlin didn’t know if Nick would feel the same for her. She only hoped he would in time.

The following week, Nick was on vacation, so a different mail carrier made the deliveries. He was a nice older gentleman with gray hair, but she still missed seeing Nick’s friendly face. One humid morning instead of being handed her usual manuscript envelopes, she received a single pink envelope with no return address on it. After opening the letter and reading it, Caitlin was surprised and perplexed.

Rather than a note, she received a poem about the ocean. It expressed finding peace by the beach and peering into the water to see your soul. No one had signed it, so she began to wonder who had written it. Pondering it for awhile without any luck, Caitlin tucked the poem back in the envelope and put it on her desk.

The next day, she received a similar poem in the mail. This time, the poem was about love. Throughout the week, she continued to receive more poems like these. Caitlin was puzzled yet deeply moved by the words being expressed to her. It was almost as if the person was speaking directly to her. Who could have written them? Did she have a secret admirer or fan? Caitlin wanted desperately to find out. The following Monday after Nick came back from vacation, she showed him the poems. He seemed just as stunned as she did, but had no idea as to who could have sent them.

When Nick delivered her mail on Tuesday, she was greeted with yet another pastel envelope. Expecting a poem inside, Caitlin was surprised to discover an invitation.

“You are cordially invited to attend a special gathering with a writer at Anna Maria Island Beach at 7:00 p.m. tomorrow. Your presence is requested.” She slowly gazed up at Nick in astonishment.

“What is it?” He said nonchalantly.

“It’s an invitation to meet the mystery writer.”

As he read it, his face looked straight. He didn’t offer any comments other than “So are you planning on attending this literary gala?”

“Do you think I should? I mean what if it’s some crazy stalker who’s after me? Then again, maybe it’s a writer who has read my work. I must admit that my curiosity is starting to get the better of me. I guess it can’t hurt to go.” Caitlin said with a casual shrug.

“Sure, why not. What could it hurt? You never know if a writer might want to work with you on a future project.” On that note, Nick handed her the rest of her mail with his usual smile, and continued about his mail route.

When Nick left, Caitlin kept thinking about the invitation she received. She couldn’t for the life of her figure out who this mystery writer was. She put it out of her mind for awhile, and went about her day running errands and writing at the beach. On Wednesday, when Nick came by to deliver the mail, Caitlin was surprised not to receive any pastel envelopes. Instead Nick handed her the usual manuscript parcels. By the straight face she wore, Caitlin wasn’t able to disguise her disappointment very easily.

After a moment, Nick glanced at her and spoke. “Looks like you didn’t receive any poems today.”

“Yeah, I was really beginning to enjoy reading them each day. I wonder what happened? Well, I guess I shall find out tonight,” she said.

“Oh, that’s right! You are going to finally meet the writer. It should be interesting. Maybe it will turn out to be a handsome prince.” He said with an inquisitive smile.

Laughing, Caitlin said “That would be a dream come true, but somehow I doubt it. I always seem to have the worst luck with blind dates.”

Nick stared at her in astonishment for a minute and then spoke. “You? I find that hard to believe. I pictured men lining up at your door for a date.”

Caitlin grinned. “Oh, that would be great, but I haven’t quite found the perfect mate yet. I am still searching for him and wonder if he even exists. I’m not too worried though. My life is good right now with a new career and home. What more could I ask for, right?”

“Of course.” He said casually. At this point, Nick had to finish his mail route. So he left with a cheery smile, leaving Caitlin to her thoughts about finding the perfect man.

That evening before her meeting on the beach, Caitlin went through her closet deciding on an appropriate outfit to wear. After trying on four dresses, she finally came up with a blue floral sundress. Her auburn locks were draped around her head in a French twist, which accented her cream complexion and green eyes. She was nervous but excited at the same time. Caitlin had a million questions swirling around in her head about the writer’s identity. Was it a man or a woman? How did the person look? Will I make a good impression?

As she approached the beach just before 7:00 p.m., not a soul was in sight. The sun was starting to go down and illuminated its pinkish-red reflection on the shore. When Caitlin walked a little further along the beach, she could see a candlelit table for two. She looked around but didn’t see anyone. Finally, she decided to sit down and wait for the writer to reveal their identity. Within seconds, she could here classical music playing and was then greeted by the presence of a string quartet. In amazement, she could see a man walking towards her.

His face looked very familiar and at first, she thought that it must be some mistake. However, as he began to join her at the table, Caitlin knew that her wish had come true. For the man appeared wearing white pants and a blue silk shirt. His brown hair moved in rhythm with the ocean waves. He presented her with his dimpled smile and twinkly hazel eyes. For a moment, they both just stared at one another in astonishment.

Finally, the man spoke. “Thank you for coming, Caitlin. I am so glad you were able to make it. In honor of your presence, I would like to read you a poem entitled “Lingering Affection.”

As he stood up to read it, the words just flowed from his lips as he professed his devotion for her. Tears rolled down Caitlin’s cheeks as she listened to these profound verses of adoration.

When he finished reading the poem, Nick walked closer to Caitlin and gazed into her eyes. Then, Caitlin responded. “I never knew that you were such a beautiful writer. How come you never pursued it?”

Nick hesitated for a moment and then responded. “Like yourself, I was afraid of rejection and not making any money. But, when you started telling me about your enthusiasm for writing, I decided to try my hand at it again. After our conversations, I decided to send you anonymous poems. I knew that if someone else could read them without revealing my identity, then maybe I would gain confidence again. Something else happened while I wrote them. I began to develop feelings for you and the words in those poems became real.”

“Wow! I never would have suspected that you were interested in me. I actually hoped that you might be, but I was afraid of being disappointed once again,” she said with a fresh tear in her eye.

Reaching over to clasp her hand in his, Nick replied. “So, what do you think of your mystery writer, now?”

With a wide grin, Caitlin said “You are everything I ever hoped for. From the first day we met, I had a good feeling about you.” Leaning closer, she whispered “Now I know in my heart that I was right.”

Then without a second thought, they stood on the beach engaged in a passionate embrace while the sun’s rays melted between the turquoise waves.

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