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Owen's Love (A Buzby Beach Novella) Chapter 07

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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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Owen walked slowly back to the condo after seeing his father and Regina at the Yacht Club, where Regina had given him the nickel tour of the thirty-seven-foot schooner she and her late husband once sailed up and down the east coast and as far out as Bermuda. He went inside to gather the few things he needed to take back to Bragg. Then he locked the front door and got in his Civic. After a moment's hesitation, he cranked the motor, drove out of the townhouse complex driveway, turned left onto Ocean Street, and then left again onto Bridge Street when he reached the north end of the island.

The drawbridge wasn't raised, and the traffic light at the intersection of Bridge Street and Sound Street was green. Owen drove onto and over the bridge, wondering if he would be back in a week or if the world had other plans.

He was almost to I-95 when Owen's stomach reminded him that he hadn't eaten since the Danish he’d picked at while brunching with Ben and Regina at the Trident. Since he was near the exit to Chadbourn where Jasper's was, Owen decided to find out if their dinners were as good as their breakfast. The soldier didn't lie to himself. He also hoped Kenzie might be working.

Maggie, Kenzie's mother, greeted him when he walked into the diner.

"Hello, soldier boy," Maggie called when she spotted Owen. "Decided to give us another try, I see. Jasper must not have burned your breakfast too badly yesterday."

"No, ma'am, he didn't," Owen assured the diner owner's wife. "Breakfast was so good I thought I'd give dinner a try."

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Maggie grinned and winked at Owen. "Are you sure the food is the only thing that brought you back? If it isn't, I've got bad news for you. Kenzie ain't working tonight. She done left to go back to State about an hour ago. The girl will be real disappointed she missed you, though. She talked about you the whole rest of the weekend."

"My wife tends to exaggerate a bit," a man Owen assumed was Junior said from the window between the kitchen and the dining area. "Kenzie only mentioned you two or three dozen times before she left. Mostly, she wondered if you might ever stop by again. She seemed to recollect you better after I reminded her that you’re Jimmy Carlyle’s nephew. Oh, yeah, I recognized you right off. Didn't say nothing to Kenzie until after you left. I was wondering if she'd figure it out for herself."

"I'm sorry I missed her then," Owen said to them both. "I did stop by because I was getting hungry on the drive back to Bragg and was hoping you cooked dinner as well as you make breakfast."

"Tonight's special is meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy and a side of green beans," Maggie announced. "How's that sound to you?"

"It sounds just about perfect," Owen told her as his mouth began to water.

"Then you take you a seat there at the counter, and Junior will have a plate up of you in no time at all."

Owen was finishing his dinner when Maggie's cell phone rang. Maggie answered in a voice Owen believed he was meant to overhear.

"Hello, Kenzie. You made it back to school okay?"

Maggie listened for a moment and then said, "How was traffic? Did it hold you up much?"

Another moment passed while Maggie listened.

"I'm glad to hear it. Say, Kenzie, guess who stopped by the diner for dinner about an hour after you left."

Maggie chuckled as she listened to Kenzie's reply. Then she said, "No child, not her. The soldier fella who stopped by for breakfast yesterday morning. The one you thought was so good looking."

Maggie winked at Owen and listened to Kenzie's response to her remark.

"Yes, he's still here," Maggie said into the phone. "Why; do you want to talk to him?"

Maggie's eyes popped wide open. "Okay, let me see if he's done eating."

She waited a couple of seconds and then handed the phone to Owen.

"Hi, Kenzie," Owen said. "You didn't mention that you go to State."

"There's a lot of things we didn't have a chance to talk about," Kenzie answered. "You didn’t mention you were kin to Jimmy Carlyle and used to come to the diner. Speaking of which, what are you doing there?"

Owen sensed the girl was pleased by his arrival at her parents' place of business if a tad annoyed by his timing. "I'm on my way back to Fort Bragg and decided to stop for supper. The meatloaf special is excellent, by the way."

"You couldn't just pull through a drive-thru and keep going?" Kenzie persisted.

"As a rule, I avoid fast-food restaurants like the plague," Owen informed the girl. He was becoming irritated at her tone. "One of my best friend's parents own a gourmet restaurant, and they taught me how to appreciate good food; food like your dad cooks."

"Oh, I didn't know," Kenzie said, her tone softening.

"Then we're even," Owen joked. "One IDK apiece."

"One, IDK?" Kenzie asked.

"One I Didn't Know for each of us," Owen explained.

"So, is my dad's cooking the only reason you stopped at the diner for dinner?" Kenzie asked again.

"His good food isn't the only reason," Owen admitted. "The young lady who waited on me last time I was here left a rather positive impression on me. I was hoping to sit in her section again."

Owen was relieved to hear Kenzie laugh on the other end of the phone. "Is that so? She must have been an excellent waitress or very good looking to make such an impression."

"She was both, actually," Owen told the girl. "The meatloaf special is small consolation for not getting to see her again."

"I'm glad to know I compare favorably to my dad's meatloaf," Kenzie jested. "When do you think you might be stopping by for another of my father's famous meals?"

"As long as nothing happens to change my schedule," Owen began, "I should be stopping for breakfast on my way home next Saturday. Do you think the young lady to whom I've referred will be here then?"

"As long as nothing happens to change her schedule," Kenzie echoed, "she will be."

"Then let's hope nothing happens to change either one’s schedule," Owen said. "I'm looking forward to seeing her again."

Kenzie's tone changed from playful to earnest. "I hope so, too, Owen. I only wish we didn't have to wait until next Saturday."

Owen's story continues in Chapter 8

© 2021 DW Davis

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