Clarissa gazed at the horizon as she sat on the beach. The breeze provided little relief from the oppressive heat and humidity. Her cotton shirt clung to the contours of her body as sweat dripped down the back of her neck. The wind and humidity disheveled her long brunette hair.
She paused and whispered under her breath. “Here I am, again. Back in Miami.”
They say history repeats itself. From her perspective, she concurred.
So much heartache, so much love, and such beautiful memories. The smell of the ocean brought a tear to her eye. The tear slowly trickled down her cheek, dropping from her chin into the ocean.
She smiled as she thought of her last summer in Miami. Some would categorize it as a summer fling, but the passion and intense emotions they shared were real.
Jack was twenty-seven and designed custom yachts. She was twenty-one, a sophomore at Berklee College of Music. An unlikely pair, but perhaps their paths collided for a reason.
She strolled to the water’s edge. The sand stuck to her feet, leaving deep imprints on the beach. The waves crashed against her legs, throwing her slightly off balance. She steadied herself as she walked back to her towel.
Her mind drifted back to her job last summer at the Purple Penguin Café. Where it all began.
As she remembered when she first met Jack, her heart pounded in her chest and her breathing became slightly labored.
Last summer at 6:30 p.m. on June 25th Jack walked into The Purple Penguin. She chided her silliness for remembering the exact date and time, but she did, and the memory was as crisp as if it had happened yesterday.
All teal chairs and tables were occupied at the eclectic-furnished café. Loud conversations inundated the room.
Several people waved, trying to get her attention. She was exhausted, and her feet ached. She wished her shift would end.
As she served a table, he entered the café and waited to be seated.
A table soon opened, and the hostess assigned him to her section. She finished serving her current table and approached him, greeting him warmly.
“Hi. My name is Clarissa. What can I get for you?”
His warm brown eyes glanced up from the menu and met hers. “Hi, nice to meet you, Clarissa.”
It surprised her to hear her name. Although she always introduced herself, the customers rarely repeated her name.
“What’s in that silver penguin shaker thing I saw you take to the other table?”
“Shake Your Penguin, our signature cocktail. It’s a mix of Absolut Vodka, pomegranate juice, lime soda, and berries. It’s very popular and tastes great. I should know. I’ve sampled a few of them.” She winked and laughed.
He smiled. “I’ll take your word for it. Let’s start with one of those Shaky Penguin things.”
She returned a few minutes later with his drink.
He took a sip. “Wow, this is good!” Jack continued. “Listening to your accent, you don’t seem to be from around here. Sorry, I don’t mean to pry. You don’t have to tell me anything if you don’t want.”
Clarissa laughed, “It’s okay. The short answer is, I’m from everywhere.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”
“Well, when I was growing up, I was an Army brat. Between the ages of two and nineteen, I lived in eight states, and three years in Stuttgart, Germany.”
Jack smiled at her. “Sie müssen dann fließend Deutsch sprechen?”
Clarissa smiled. “Yes, I speak German, but fluent is an exceptionally strong word. Let’s just say I can converse in German with few errors.”
She found him intriguing. Perhaps it was the warm manner he talked to her. She calculated he was slightly older than her, maybe in his late twenties. He had a sincere smile and kind eyes.
“Most of our clientele are tourists and stay at the Purple Penguin Hotel next door,” she said. “We don’t get many locals. Are you from around here?”
“I’m originally from Boerne, Texas, just northwest of San Antonio. I’ve lived in Miami for five years. A business client is staying at the Penguin Hotel. I just dropped him off, saw the restaurant, and here I am. Never been here before.”
“How’d you get from Texas to Miami Beach?” she asked.
“I’ve always loved the ocean. Growing up, I spent my weekends in Aransas Pass hanging out on the beach. I’m experienced in construction, saw an opening in Miami, and here I am.”