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Always Say I Love You (A Buzby Beach Novella) Part 02

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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.

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The Trident Restaurant opened for lunch at eleven-thirty in the morning during the summer. Will reported for work at eleven after picking up Reba on his way. He usually worked the lunch shift Wednesday through Sunday with Monday and Tuesday off. Mari usually worked the same schedule. Either or both were liable to be called in when someone didn't show. It happened often enough over the summer.

After Labor Day, The Trident only opened for dinner during the week. They served lunch on Saturdays and brunch on Sundays.

Will, Mari, and Mark had already been asked to work those weekend shifts, and they'd gladly agreed.

His job at The Trident was Will's first regular employment. Before landing the job as a dishwasher, he earned his money doing odd jobs for people around the neighborhood. He earned a reputation for reliability and good work, but the pay wasn't great, and the work wasn't steady.

Washing dishes at The Trident, Will brought home a couple of hundred a week. It was enough to cover insurance, gas, and upkeep on his old truck, put some aside for news clothes for school, give his mom twenty bucks a week to help with the grocery bill, and still have enough left to go out with his friends.


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Will was thinking about money and how his pay would drop when school started in two weeks while he prepared the dishwasher for that day's dirty dishes and helped Roberta, the lunch shift bartender, carry glasses cleaned the night before by his dinner shift counterpart to the bar.

"Thanks, Will," Roberta said. She pulled down a tumbler. "Let me get you a soda." She filled the glass with ice. "Coke or Sprite?"

"Coke, please," Will said.

Roberta filled the glass with dark soda and handed it to Will. He took a sip before heading back to the kitchen.

Things were slow for Will for the first thirty minutes after opening until the first round of diners finished their meals, and the bus staff started bringing in their dirty dishes. From that point until the lunch rush started to peter out, Will didn't have a free moment. He got to see Mari every few minutes as she brought in dirty dishes to be washed on the plus side.

The flow of customers trickled to nearly none shortly after two. Mari and Will spent their fifteen-minute break together in the staff break area behind the restaurant.

"We were pretty busy for a Wednesday lunch," Mari remarked after taking a swig of her sweet tea.

Will nodded and said, "I like being busy. Makes the time go by faster. The rest of the afternoon is going to drag."

Mari laughed. Their breaks always started with some version of those same lines.

"How was Kit's going away party last night?"

"Okay, I guess," Mari replied. She leaned her head against the back of the Adirondack Chair - one of four in the break area - she chose as her seat. "We went to The Melting Pot up in Mayfair. By the time we finished everything, it was after ten."

"Ain't never been to The Melting Pot," Will said. He leaned forward in his own Adirondack Chair. "How was it?"

Mari smiled. "Actually, it was a lot of fun. They bring the food out raw, cut it up into these bite-sized pieces, and you cook 'em yourself in pots of boiling water.

"The best part was the cheese fondue we had for an appetizer. I tell you, Will, it was delicious."

Their fifteen minutes was up. After a surreptitious kiss, they went back to work.

The remainder of the afternoon dragged by for Will the way he predicted it would. He couldn't wait to hand over dish-washing duties to Stevie, the lady who ran the dishwasher during the dinner shift. He and Mari clocked out and went right to his truck.

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"Home or beach?" he asked Mari after cranking his truck.

"Beach, north end, in the Park," Mari answered.

By five-thirty in the afternoon, the north end of the Park was nearly deserted. Will parked away from other cars, so he and Mari could change out of their work clothes into their bathing suits without worrying about prying eyes. Suitably attired, they ran onto the beach, dropped their towels, and hit the water.

They stayed in the water long enough for the waves to wash the seafood restaurant smell from them before returning to the sand and lying down on their beach towels. Mari snuggled up to Will with her head on his shoulder. She had her arm across his chest and her leg across his thighs.

After several minutes of enjoying each other's closeness, Will's stomach growled.

"I think my man is hungry," Mari observed, rubbing Will's belly as she did. "What does he want to eat?"

"Anything but seafood," Will quipped as they stood and started back toward his truck.

"How about some Chick-fil-A?" Mari suggested. "I'm in the mood for some waffle fries."

Will drove to the Chick-fil-A in Monkey Junction. As he waited for the light to change so he could pull into the shopping plaza where the restaurant was located, he asked Mari, "Drive through or go inside?"

Mari, who had pulled on a pair of shorts over her bikini bottoms as they drove, said, "Drive through. Then we can eat on the drive home. I really want a shower."


Will pulled up to the window and told the box he wanted the Chick-fil-A Sandwich Combo with large fries and a large sweet tea.

"Is that you, Will?" a girl's voice asked from the box.

Will threw Mari a look of innocence before saying, "Yeah, Sally, it's me. How'd you guess?"

Sally, whose parents bought a house a street over from Will's and Mari's when they were all in eighth grade, said, "I recognized your truck when you pulled around the store."

A car pulled up behind Will's truck. "I'd better finish ordering," he told Sally through the box. "Let me have a Spicy Chicken Deluxe Combo with a large fries and Mountain Dew."

"Oh, okay, you want the Dew large, too?"

Will noticed a change in Sally's tone and looked at Mari. Mari shrugged and gave him a smug grin.

"Yes, please, a large on the Mountain Dew, too."

Sally told Will what the meal was going to cost and instructed him to pull forward to the window. At the window, she took his money and handed him the drinks. Sally then worked out Will's change and handed it to him along with the bag containing their sandwiches and fries. Other than restating how much Will owed and wishing him the required by management parting salutation, Sally didn't utter another word to Will.

Once they'd pulled away, Mari released her pent up laughter and said, "Old Sally sure was disappointed to find out her Will wasn't alone. I'd better check my food before I eat it."

Will shook his head. "I can't help it if Sally has a crush on me. I've never done anything to give her hope I'll ever have feelings for her."

Mari scrutinized a waffle fry before eating it. "She thinks you haven't shown romantic interest in her is because you spend too much time with your BFF."

"What's Mark got to do with it?" Will teased, knowing full well who Mari meant.

Mari tossed a waffle fry at Will's head. Then she said, "I think it's time we let everybody know we're not just good friends or just," she paused and put her hand on the upper part of his thigh, "friends with benefits. I want to be able to kiss you no matter who's watching."

"Then let's tell your folks tonight," Will suggested. "If that goes well, we'll figure out a time to tell my folks."

"Okay," Mari replied, calling Will's bluff. "We'll tell my folks as soon as we get to my house."

Will and Mari's story continues in Part 3

© 2020 DW Davis