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One Fall in New Hampshire (A Buzby Beach Novella) Chapter 04


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.


Breakfast at the Inn

Leslie and I did make it downstairs in time for breakfast. The hostess asked us if we'd slept well.

"I don't know about my fiancé," Leslie said, "but I slept great."

The hostess smiled. "I didn't realize you two were engaged."

"Other than Leslie and me, you're only the third person who knows," I told the hostess. "She asked me last week, and I just said yes last night."

The smile faltered. The hostess looked at Leslie and said, "You asked him to marry you. Somewhat out of the ordinary, I'd say."

"You haven't tasted his cooking," Leslie replied, earning a laugh from the hostess.

"Indeed, I have not. Nor have you had a chance to sample ours as we missed you at dinner last night. Please have a seat. We'll correct that oversight by serving you a delicious breakfast."

She showed us to our table. Another couple was already seated and gave us a friendly welcome.

"Good morning," the man seated at the table said. "I'm Joe, and this is my wife, Mary. Glad to have you join us."

I held Leslie's chair and waited for her to sit down before responding.

"I'm Darren, but my friends call me Ren, and this is my fiancé, Leslie."

I shook Joe's hand and then Mary's.

"I hope you don't think we were eavesdropping," Mary began, "but I heard you tell Glennis the two of you became engaged only yesterday."

"Yes, we did," Leslie acknowledged. "I asked Ren to marry me last week after having a taste of his fried chicken. He's a great cook. He finally said yes last night."

Joe chuckled. "You're marrying him for his cooking, are you? I did the same thing. Mary is a fine cook."

Mary gave Joe a scathing look.

"Of course, there were other things I liked about her, too," Joe added.

Mary snorted. "Sometimes, I have a hard time remembering what I ever saw in him forty years ago."

"You couldn't resist my charm and good looks," Joe reminded her, "or how dashing I was in my uniform."

Mary sighed. "You did cut quite a figure in your dress blues, Joe."

"Have you ever thought about serving in the military, Darren?" Joe asked.

"I took Navy JROTC in high school, but my grades weren't good enough to get into Annapolis," I admitted. "My dad was in the Navy. He convinced me to go to college instead of enlisting."

"I take it your father didn't have a good experience in the Navy," Joe said.

"He liked it well enough," I said. "He just thought I'd be better off to get my degree and then apply to Officer Candidate School instead of enlisting as he did."

The arrival of breakfast halted any further conversation about my future military aspirations. I was glad. Joe gave me the feeling he'd be disappointed to learn I'd decide not to join the service.

The inn served breakfast family-style. There was a big bowl of scrambled eggs, a plate of bacon, another of sausage, hash browns, home fries, white toast, and wheat toast. Though I knew that finding them served in New Hampshire was a long-shot, I was still disappointed when there were no grits or biscuits on the table.

Joe and Mary finished before Leslie and me. They excused themselves and wished us well.

"They were a nice couple," Leslie said when Joe and Mary were gone. Then she abruptly changed the subject. "I didn't know you wanted to join the Navy."

"I don't want to," I said. "At least, not anymore. I thought about it when I was in high school. I even applied to the Naval Academy. When I didn't get a nomination because my SAT score wasn't high enough, I gave up on the idea."

"That's too bad," Leslie said with a wink. "I imagine you'd look quite dashing in uniform."

Mick's Broken Heart

Leslie and I arrived on campus around lunchtime.

"I'm not very hungry after the big breakfast we had," Leslie informed me. "Are you?"

"No, not really," I said. "I do have some studying I need to do and some homework."

"Me, too," Leslie admitted. "Why don't we stop by my dorm? I'll grab my books, and we can go over to your room to study."

Mick and Laurie were there when we got to my room. They were sitting on his bed. Laurie had her arms around him. From the look on Mick's face, I knew something was wrong.

"Hey, man, is everything all right?" I asked my roommate.

"Dianne broke up with me," Mick said sadly. "Out of the blue. This morning we were eating breakfast at BJ's, and she says she thinks we should stop seeing each other."

"I am so sorry, Mick. Did she say why?"

Mick heaved a sigh and said, "She said we were getting too serious, and she didn't think a guy my age should tie himself down to one girl. She tried to make it sound like she was doing me a favor."

Laurie tightened her arms around Mick. "Maybe she did, Mick. Other girls around here like you beside Dianne. Maybe now you'll notice them."

I knew Laurie was talking about herself, but Mick didn't seem to pick up on it.

"But I really like her, Laur. I thought she was something special and that I was something special to her. Now I feel like an idiot."

"You're not an idiot, Mick," Laurie assured him. "Dianne is the idiot for letting you go."

Mick looked at Laurie and smiled. "You always stick up for me, don't you?"

"You know it," Laurie said proudly. Then she kissed his cheek. "Now, if you're ready to drop this funk you're in, I'll let you take me to lunch."

Letting the Cat out of the Bag

Mick stood up. "I'll be fine," he declared. He turned to Leslie and me. "How about you guys? Do you want to come with us for lunch?"

"No," Leslie nearly spat out. "We had a big breakfast not too long ago."

Laurie wagged a finger at me. "Wasn't this your big weekend away? How did it go?"

"Better than I ever could have hoped," I said. "We had a great time."

I looked at Leslie and asked, "Should we tell them?"

Leslie squeezed my hand and said, "Yes, I think we should."

"Do you want to tell them, or should I?"

"You should tell them," Leslie said.

"Tell us what?" Mick asked with a touch of impatience.

"We're engaged!" Leslie practically shouted.

"What?" Mick and Laurie both exclaimed.

"I thought I was going to tell them," I said to Leslie.

"You can tell them how we got engaged," Leslie suggested.

"I don't care if you eat or not," Laurie said. "You're coming with us to lunch and giving us the whole story."

Lunch was at the Dining Hall. Leslie and I told Mick and Laurie our story.

"Oh, that is just so romantic," Laurie gushed.

Telling Mick and Laurie about our engagement was easy. Telling our parents was going to be hard. I knew my parents would throw a fit. Leslie told me she feared her parents would do the same.

We finished our lunch with Mick and Laurie and returned to the dorm. Once in my room, we discussed how to go about telling our parents about our engagement. Much discussion led to our decision to travel the next Saturday down to Hooksett to visit Leslie's parents and spend the night. On Sunday, we'll drive over to Rye to visit my parents before heading back to Plymouth.

Leslie called her parents about us coming on Saturday. She didn't mention our engagement. Her parents were amenable to the idea of Leslie bringing a boy home for them to meet. They were less enamored with the idea of me spending the night and made sure Leslie and I understood I'd be sleeping on the couch in the family room and not with Leslie in her bedroom.

My mother hemmed and hawed when I told her I'd be coming to visit the next Sunday and bringing a girlfriend with me. She first suggested I come home alone since it would only be my second stay at Rye's house. After I explained how Leslie and I were going to Hooksett to visit her parents on Saturday, my mother acquiesced to having us to Sunday dinner.

When my father got on the phone, I got the impression he was much more agreeable with the idea of me bringing home a girl than my mother had been.


The school week passed with lightning speed. Leslie and I spent every moment out of class together. One afternoon while she was giving a piano lesson, I made a secret trip to the Main Street Jewelry store. On Friday, after dinner with Mick and Laurie at the dining hall, as Leslie and I walked along the river, I revealed the reason for my shopping trip.

I stopped at a spot along the path just south of the bridge where the bushes along the bank cleared and the trail ran right along the river. I turned to face Leslie and got down on one knee. I took the jewel box from my pocket, opened it, and presented Leslie with a round cut half carat diamond engagement ring.

"You asked me to marry you, Leslie, and I said yes. Now I'm asking you if you will wear my engagement ring so everyone will know of our love and commitment to one another."

Leslie sniffed, and a tear rolled down her cheek. "Of course I will, Ren. It's beautiful."

I rose to my feet and carefully took the ring from the box. Leslie held out her left hand. I gently placed the ring on her finger.

Leslie held her hand up so her ring could catch the fading light. "I love it, Ren. I love you."

I pulled her into my arms and, with my kiss, showed Leslie how glad I was to have her wearing my ring.

Ren's story continues in Chapter 05

© 2020 DW Davis


RoadMonkey on December 16, 2020:

Oh dear, I fear there are tears ahead.

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