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Setting Friday Free (A Buzby Beach Novel) Chapter 07


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.


Who's Texting Me

Garrison closed the pedestrian gate into the walled compound of his home and took only one step toward the house when his phone vibrated and dinged to let him know a text message had arrived. Thinking it was one of his parents, Garrison pulled the phone from his pocket, went through the unlocking ritual, and pressed the text icon.

The message wasn't from either of his parents or anyone else Garrison had in his contact list. All that appeared was a phone number and the words:

Hey, Gary. I got your number from the student directory. I hope you don't mind. I know you are taking tennis for PE and don't have class tomorrow. I thought we could meet at the court at your regular class time, and I could give you a few pointers. I could be your tennis tutor. The coach said it would be good for me. Let me know. BTW, this is Delaney, aka Lani.

"Yeah," Garrison said out loud to the phone. "I figured that out when you started with 'Hey, Gary.' No one else has ever called me Gary."

He pocketed the phone and let himself into his house. The hall light came on automatically when he opened the door.

Garrison made his way to the home office. There, he went through the things he needed for his classes the next day to make sure everything was done and ready to turn in. Satisfied his work was as prepared as he could make it, Garrison left the office and went to the family room. He sat down in the oversized recliner his grandfather once claimed as his favorite chair and puzzled over how to answer Delaney's text.

"She could be spoofing me," he said to the phone. "Inviting me to show up ready to play tennis and leaving me standing there alone, looking like an idiot.

"Then again, she could be trying to help. Maybe her coach told the team to find someone they could teach some skills to improve their own game.

"Either way, it doesn't matter. I can't meet her for tennis if I'm meeting Laurel for breakfast."

Garrison hit the reply icon on his phone and typed in his answer.

[Garrison] Thank you for the offer, Lani. I would take you up on it, but I already have other plans for tomorrow morning. Maybe we can try for next Friday.

Using Delaney's nickname felt odd. Her answer came in a few seconds.

[Delaney] Bummer. I was afraid you might. Another time then. See you in Spanish.

Garrison's lips twisted into a perplexed knot as he read Delaney's reply.

"Is this the same girl who barely spoke to me for two days?" he asked the phone. "Why the sudden change?"

[Garrison] okay. See you then.

This has been a weird couple of days. First Friday shows up in my pool yesterday and then again today and leaves with the idea I'm somehow, I don't know, in love with her or something. Now, a girl who acted as though she could barely stand me yet always sat near me is texting me, asking me to play tennis. On top of those things, I go out for a burger and wind up with a date for breakfast with the restaurant owner's little sister.

Garrison took a deep breath, held it for a five-count, and then blew it all out. He reached for the TV remote and then changed his mind.

"I think I'll just go to bed," he said to the blank television monitor. "Maybe when I wake up, all this will make more sense."


Breakfast for 2, 3, 5

Garrison arrived at Einstein Bros Bagels in the Varsity part of the Fisher Student Center a few minutes before eight o'clock the next morning. He checked around quickly to see if Laurel was there. She wasn't. Garrison ordered a hot twenty-ounce coffee with one cream and one sugar and sat down to wait. Thinking back on their conversation the night before, he realized they hadn't set a time at which to meet. And he had no way of contacting Laurel since they hadn't exchanged phone numbers.

"Or do I," Garrison said out loud, earning him looks from his fellow early-rising students.

Garrison ignored them and took his tablet out of his backpack. He was in the process of finding the on-line student directory when Laurel walked up to his table.

"Good morning. I see you beat me here. I wasn't sure what time we planned to meet, so I thought I'd better come now and make sure I didn't leave you thinking I'd stood you up."

Garrison laughed as he stood to greet Laurel. "I was thinking the same thing, only I wanted to be sure I didn't leave you here wondering if I was going to show up."

"Great minds think alike," Laurel said while hanging her backpack on the chair opposite Garrisons. "What are you drinking?"

"Hot coffee with cream and sugar," Garrison answered. "I'm still letting it cool. What would you like? Remember, I'm one of the annoyingly rich; you said so yourself. Order your favorite."

Laurel lowered her eyes and said, "You're never going to let me forget saying those things, are you?"

"We'll see how things are going after a few more dates," Garrison declared. "Seriously, though, let's go order. I'm hungry."

They walked over and joined the queue a the counter. When their turn arrived, Laurel told the student employee wearing a name tag that identified him as Bill that she wanted an iced caramel macchiato and a cinnamon-raisin bagel with plain cream cheese. Garrison ordered a whole wheat bagel with garden vegetable cream cheese.

"Y'all want those bagels toasted?" asked Bill as he rang up their order.

"Yes, please, both of them," Laurel answered.

Bill read them their total. Garrison used his meal plan card to pay the cost.

"I told you I was buying breakfast," Garrison reminded Laurel when she began to object. "After all, what kind of guy asks a girl to split the bill on their first date."

"Then this is a date," Laurel commented. "I wasn't sure."

Bill handed Garrison the receipt with their order number circled. "Please wait for your number to be called. You can pick up your order where the sign says 'Pick up Here,' just in case that wasn't clear."

Bill cracked a smile. Garrison and Laurel laughed politely at the young man's joke before moving back to their table to await their order.

"What did you think this was if you weren't sure it was a date?" Garrison asked Laurel after she sat down. He remained standing in the hope their order wouldn't take long.

"I did. I do think this is a date," Laurel told him. "I just wasn't sure if you thought of this as a date."

Garrison was about to assure her of his belief they were on a date when their order number was called. He hurried to the pick-up window, took the tray with Laurel's coffee and their bagels, and returned to the table where he carefully set her drink and breakfast before her. After putting his bagel on the table, he took the tray back.

Before he took his seat, Garrison said to Laurel, "I assure you, I am of a firm mind that we are on a date."

Laurel laughed and said, "Of a firm mind, are you? Am I going to have to get used to you talking like an English major all the time?"

Garrison reached out and took her hand in his. "I hope we wind up spending enough time together for you to get used to it."

Laurel blushed but didn't pull her hand away. "You should sit down and eat your bagel, English major."

The story continues in Chapter 08

© 2020 DW Davis


DW Davis (author) from Eastern NC on December 14, 2020:

At least one of these will be resolved in a way you probably (hopefully) don't see coming.

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on December 14, 2020:

Oh, I see this is going to get very interesting. He already has 3 girls on the go and hardly arrived!

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