DW is a veteran, a father, a husband, and a teacher. He's published 9 YA/NA novels thus far. The story you're reading might be next.
At the bar
Mack parked his truck near the side street entrance to the tiki bar and outdoor seating area of The Pirate's Cave. He checked the clock on the truck's display screen and noted it was 11:25 am.
I think they open at eleven, Mack told himself. I wonder where everyone is.
There weren't any customers visible in the tiki bar. One of the bartenders working behind the bar spotted Mack and called out to him.
"I'm sorry, sir, we don't open until noon."
The bartender was a slender, petite young lady with sandy blond hair and a slightly crooked smile.
"Oh, I thought you opened at eleven," Mack replied. "I can come back."
"Don't move," the second bartender commanded of Mack. This other bartender was a head taller than the first, appeared fit yet with nice curves. Her off-the-shoulder black hair framed a smiling face and sparkling brown eyes. "I love your shirt. I have a schnauzer."
Mack smiled and walked toward the bar. At his age, he was glad for any positive attention from a pretty young lady, and here he had the attention of two.
"The shirt was a gift from my ex before she became my ex," Mack explained. "When we split up, she got the dog, and I got the shirt."
"Can I take a picture of your shirt?" the dark-haired young lady asked. "I want to show my mom. She's going to love it."
Mack shrugged his shoulders and said, "Sure. I guess that would be okay."
The dark-haired young lady pulled out her iPhone and took two pictures of Mack's shirt.
The bartender who first spoke laughed at her co-worker and said to Mack, "If you want to, you can sit here at the bar and drink a soda or some water until we open if you don't mind watching us finish getting the bar set up."
"My first job was working in a restaurant. I used to help the bartender set up for the lunch trade every day," Mack told her. "I won't mind waiting."
Mack sat on a stool near the corner of the bar. The first bartender, the shorter girl with the sandy blond hair whose eyes, Mack could now see, were a pale green, informed him they served Pepsi products.
"Well, of course," Mack replied with a chuckle. "All businesses in North Carolina should serve Pepsi products."
The blond-haired, green-eyed bartender shook her head. "I like Coke products better than Pepsi."
"Most people do," Mack conceded.
"Would you like a Pepsi?" the bartender asked, holding up an empty glass.
Mack nodded and joked, "Since you don't have Coke, Pepsi will have to do."
The dark-haired bartender, who had momentarily gone inside the restaurant, reappeared with a rack of bar glasses. "By the way," she said to Mack. "I'm Sarah. This is my friend Paige."
"I'm Mack. It's very nice to meet you."
Paige handed Mack his Pepsi and turned to resume the conversation she'd been having with Sarah before Mack walked in.
While Paige cut up lemons and limes, Sarah put away the clean bar glasses she brought from the kitchen. Mack opened his tablet and started to read. He had not read very far when Paige interrupted him.
"That's country," she said. "I'm just a country girl from Oklahoma."
Mack played back in his mind Paige's last few words and realized she was referring to her use of the expression "I reckon." He laughed and told her, "I grew up cropping tobacco. You don't have to explain country to me."
"Do you live close by?" Paige asked as she finished cutting the last piece of lime and putting the pieces in the tray.
"I used to," Mack told her after taking a sip of his Pepsi. "I grew up just up the road at Wrightsville Beach."
Paige nodded and refilled Mack's Pepsi from the soda gun. "Where do you live now?"
"Until the divorce, I lived up in Raleigh," Mack replied. "Right now, I'm living on my boat over in the Yacht Club marina."
Paige turned her full attention to Mark. "You live on a boat? What kind of boat?"
"It's 37 foot sloop," Mack said. "A sailboat."
A bright smile lit Paige's face. "One of the reasons I moved here from Oklahoma was to learn how to sail. One day I'm going to own a sailboat and sail it from here to the Bahamas. I just need someone to teach me how to sail."
The invitation to offer to teach her was evident in the hopeful look in Paige's eyes.
"I'd be glad to teach you," Mack said. "I was a sailing instructor at Camp Riversail up on the Neuse River on the other side of New Bern in my much younger days."
Paige scoffed. "You don't look that old to me."
"Thank you," Mack said with a bow of his head. "I do try to stay in shape."
"Whatever you're doing is working," Paige complimented him. "Can you really teach me to sail?"
"When is your next day off?" Mack asked.
"If you're serious," Paige said as she handed him a lunch menu, "I'm off on Monday."
"Meet me on the beach at Shoefits Cove Monday morning at eight o'clock," Mack instructed her. "Wear something you don't mind getting wet in."
Paige scrunched her brows. "Am I going to get wet?"
Mack laughed. "If you want to learn how to sail, and not just how to steer the boat, then you're going to get wet."
At the cove
Monday morning at eight o'clock, a bleary-eyed Paige found a wide-awake Mack waiting for her on the beach at Shoefits Cove. Mack was wearing a pair of red beach britches, a light blue swim shirt, and Chaco sandals. A pair of sports sunglasses protected his eyes Arctic blue eyes from the morning sun.
He might be too old for me to date, Paige thought as she walked toward Mack. But he looks damn good standing there next to that little sailboat.
Mack watched Paige approaching, taking in the tight-fitting t-shirt she was wearing that stopped just short of hiding the yellow bikini top she wore underneath. On her feet, she wore a pair of Sperry boat shoes.
Paige's sandy blond hair hung loosely around her shoulders. A pair of aviator sunglasses hid her pale green eyes. Mack patted the pocket of his beach britches to make sure the Croakie he'd brought for her was there.
"Good morning," Mack called out when Paige was close enough to hear him without his having to shout. "Are you ready for your first sailing lesson?"
"That's why I'm here," Paige answered. "Where's your boat?"
Mack pointed at the small sailboat pulled up on the beach. "For your first lesson, this is our boat."
Paige took a step back. "I should have known. You don't even own a sailboat, do you?"
A puzzled look crossed Mack's face, and then a scowl. "Did you think I was going to take you out on a thirty-seven-foot cruiser for your first lesson?" He shook his head and then said, "I tell you what, let's leave this boat here for a few minutes, and I'll take you over to my boat so you can see I actually do have one. Once you're convinced, if you still want to learn how to sail, we can come back here and start your lesson."
Paige's shoulders slumped as she realized she'd managed to insult Mack. She'd insinuated that he was both a liar and a dirty old man.
A guy like Mack wouldn't have to lie to get girls, Paige berated herself. Women! A guy like Mack socializes with women. He's a member of the Yacht Club, for Pete's sake. He's just trying to do something nice for me, and I practically call him a pervert. I'm such a jerk.
"I'm sorry, Mack," Paige started. "I shouldn't have said what I said. It was stupid of me. I guess I'm just so used to guys hitting on me all the time at work. For a minute, I was afraid you were just another one of those guys."
Mack took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I should have met you on the dock and introduced you to my Casa en el Mar before bringing you down here to the beach to begin your lesson. Come on. I think you'll like her."
"Her?" Paige said, her warning lights flashing again.
"My boat," Mack explained. "Her name is Casa en el Mar.
Paige's warning lights stopped flashing and an amused smile formed on her lips.
"Home on the sea," Paige translated. "Yes, I'd like to meet her."
© 2021 DW Davis