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.
Owen and Ben met Owen's Uncle Mike at Francesca's Restaurant in the Coastal Towers resort at four o'clock. The meeting with his uncle went easier than Owen expected.
Michael explained to Owen and Ben what Owen's options were regarding the management of the assets in Owen's trust - including the penthouse condo at Coastal Towers. Owen chose to leave the assets with the financial management firm that had handled the Lanier family fortune since Michael was born.
Michael explained that a monthly disbursement from the asset management account would go to Owen's regular bank account. The monthly amount was more than Owen's gross annual military salary.
"What am I supposed to do with all that money?" Owen asked, incredulous over the amount.
His Uncle Mike laughed and shook his head. "You can do anything you want. Do you want to buy a new car, a house, learn to fly and buy an airplane, or give it all to charity? The money is yours to do with as you please."
According to Michael, the first monthly disbursement from the asset management account hit Owen's bank account at midnight the previous night.
Owen signed the paperwork necessary to make the arrangements he'd agreed to official. Then the three of them ordered dinner.
When dinner was over, and they'd said good-bye to Michael, Owen drove Ben back to the townhouse.
"You don't have to hang around with me all evening, Owen," Ben suggested when they reached home. "Why don't you call Sean and see what he's up to?"
"To be honest, Dad," Owen said with a yawn. "I'd just as soon stay in tonight, go to bed early, and sleep late."
"Oh," Ben said, seeming startled. "I thought you'd want to go out and catch up with your friends."
Owen cocked his head. "Did you have plans for tonight, Dad? If you did, don't stay home on my account. I'll just watch something on Netflix and hit the sack."
"Well, yes, I do have plans," Ben admitted. "A new friend, a lady friend, invited me to meet her at the Yacht Club for drinks and dancing this evening. If I hurry, I'll just have time to change and get there before she decides I'm not coming."
Owen smiled and punched his father playfully on the shoulder. "Way to go Dad. Why didn't you tell me you were seeing someone? Do I know her?"
Ben shook his head. "No. Regina only recently moved to the island. We met at the grocery store over a head of lettuce."
Owen chuckled. "Tell me more. How many dates have you been on?"
"This will be our first date," Ben admitted with a shy grin. "We've met for lunch a few times, and coffee once or twice, but this will be our first time out together as a couple."
"This is great, Dad. Don't worry about me. I'll appreciate some alone time. When you live in the barracks and share a latrine with forty other guys, you come to treasure those moments you get to spend alone."
Ben smiled and nodded. "I imagine it's something like living in a college dorm and having everyone on the hall share a bathroom."
"Yes," Owen agreed. "It's just like that."
Ben prepared for his date, and Owen prepared for a night in front of the TV with a bowl of freshly popped popcorn and a big glass of cold milk. He waited until Ben departed before starting the movie. Barely had the credits run when there came a knock at the front door.
"Did you forget your wallet?" Owen called out after he paused the movie and started for the front foyer.
A girl's voice called out from beyond the door, "Are you charging old friends for your company now?"
Owen shook his head and opened the door to find Braelyn Exum standing on his front porch.
"What are you doing here?" Owen asked the tall, slender, attractive brunette who'd interrupted his alone time.
Braelyn, whose friends called her Brae, stuck her tongue out at Owen. "Is that any way to great your best friend when she shows up at your door?"
"I'm just surprised to see you. How did you know I was here?" Owen offered as an excuse. Then he remembered his manners and invited his friend inside.
"Sean messaged Braxton who messaged Stone who messaged Charlie who messaged me," Brae explained. "Simple."
"When are the others showing up?" Owen asked as they moved into the family room.
"Sorry, Owen," Brae said after pilfering a handful of his popcorn. "Hm, needs salt. I'm all you get for tonight. Sean already had plans with Francesca - you know she goes to UNCW now. The two of them are going out with Braxton and Kari. Stone and Charlie didn't come home this weekend. So, it's just you and me. What do you want to do?"
"Why are you all alone on a Saturday night, Brae?" Owen inquired as he rescued his popcorn from further insult by moving it out of Braelyn's reach. "I thought you were seeing someone."
"So, did I," Braelyn confirmed. "He decided he wanted to see several someones and not just me. Thus, I find myself alone again, naturally - to quote the song.
"When I heard you were home, I thought I'd drop by and see how you were doing. None of us have seen you since you left for basic training. I must say you're looking good, Owen, short hair and all."
"Thanks, I think," Owen responded. "You're looking pretty good yourself. You changed the way you wear your hair. I like the new style."
At first, Braelyn looked puzzled by Owen's compliment. Then she laughed. "You have been gone for a long time. I cut my hair months ago. You should have seen it when I first had it chopped. That was right after Mark sent me the Dear Jane text message. It's grown out some since then. I'm glad you like it, though.
"Sean told me you're stationed at Fort Bragg. Does that mean we'll be seeing more of you here on the island?"
"Maybe," Owen replied. "How often I get home will depend mostly on the Army and what they have me doing. I plan to come home as often as I can.
"What about you? Are you still taking classes at Cape Fear Community?"
"Yeah," Braelyn acknowledged. "I plan to go there until I finish my associates and then I'll transfer to a four-year school.
"Um, if I promise not to make fun or your popcorn, will you share some more with me?"
Owen put slid the popcorn down the coffee table closer to the end of the couch where Braelyn was sitting.
"I just started a movie on Netflix," he explained. "Do you want to hang around and watch it with me?"
"If you'll get me a glass of whatever your drinking, I will," Braelyn said as she grabbed a handful of popcorn.
"One glass of ice-cold milk coming up," Owen said with a chuckle. He returned shortly with Braelyn's glass of milk. Then he resumed playing the movie he'd been about to watch.
When the movie ended, Braelyn informed Owen that she should probably be heading home.
"Since I'm still living under my parents' roof, I still have to follow their rules," she explained. "Not that I'm complaining, mind you. My parents are pretty cool, and they're footing the bill for CFCC."
Owen walked her to the door. Before leaving, Braelyn said, "Let's stay in touch better than we did this past year, Owen. I've really missed you."
She threw her arms around Owen and hugged him close. He returned the gesture and tried to match her level of sincerity in the act. Braelyn concluded with a quick kiss on Owen's cheek before hurrying to her car. Owen stood on the porch and watched until her car pulled out through the gate and disappeared down the street.
Owen stayed on the porch after Braelyn's car disappeared pondering the unlikelihood of her having shown up at his door in the first place. Sure, they'd been friends in high school, but they'd never dated. Braelyn was too hung upon Mark from the track team. The two of them were already a couple when Owen met Braelyn sophomore year in Mrs. King's Chemistry class. Braelyn and Owen were lab partners and soon became close friends. Eventually, Owen began to think there was a slight chance Braelyn would choose him over Mark if he told her how he felt about her. Owen never did. He was afraid a negative response on her part would be the end of their friendship.
Senior year brought a rift between Owen and Braelyn. All Braelyn talked about was how she was going to go to college where Mark was attending on a track-and-field scholarship. Owen grew weary of her continually going on about Mark, and the two of them drifted apart. By graduation, they were nearly strangers.
Owen did learn that Braelyn didn't get into the school Mark was going to. She had been certain about getting accepted and never applied anywhere else. She barely beat the deadline for taking classes at Cape Fear Community College.
The two did wind up at the same graduation party. When Braelyn asked Owen what school he was going to and he replied, "Fort Benning," she was puzzled until she remembered all Owen's talk about joining the Army to be a medic. Braelyn knew it was why Owen worked so hard to finish his EMT training and earn his certification before graduating high school. They made a mutual promise to stay in touch, but neither of them meant it, and they had not.
Owen's story continues in Chapter 5
- Owen's Love (A Buzby Beach Novella) Chapter 05
Braelyn's visit leaves Owen with a conundrum. In high school, she kept him firmly in the Friend Zone. Now, she was acting like she wanted more from him than friendship.
© 2020 DW Davis