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Setting Friday Free (A Buzby Beach Novel) Chapter 21

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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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Garrison turned from the window and asked Laurel if she'd like something to drink.

"Some hot chocolate would be good right about now," Laurel declared as she sat down on one of the stools at the breakfast bar. "You wouldn't happen to have any, would you?"

Garrison opened a storage drawer for K-Cups and pulled out two Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate cups. "Mrs. Nelson thinks of everything."

"Who is Mrs. Nelson?" Laurel asked, suddenly suspicious.

"She was my mother's housekeeper for years," Garrison explained as he retrieved a mug from the cabinet above the Keurig and placed it under the spout. "When Mom moved into her condo on Wrightsville Beach, she decided she didn't need a housekeeper anymore but thought I would. My mother, my financial manager, and Mrs. Nelson worked out the details. She comes three days a week and takes care of things around the house. One of those things is making sure I have fresh groceries."

"It must be nice," Laurel said, unable to hide her snarkiness.

"I'm not going to apologize for having Mrs. Nelson looking after me," Garrison declared. "She's been more of a mother to me than my real mother. Mrs. Nelson and a parade of nannies and au pairs raised me. My mom just paid the bills."

"Is momma still paying your bills?" Laurel asked, not willing to let Garrison off the hook so quickly.

"No, she's not," Garrison retorted. "I guess you could say my dead ancestors are paying my bills now. Look, it's not my fault that I inherited this house and their money. I had no say in the matter. If it bothers you, if it makes you so uncomfortable, maybe you should go."

Laurel stood and walked beside Garrison. "I don't want to leave. I don't even know why I act like you having money is such a big deal. My parents did well, and they started with a good chunk of change from their parents. I mean, they retired to Florida, live in a condo costing twice what they paid for the house Denver and I live in and can afford to let us live in the house rent-free."

Her confession did not mollify Garrison's ire, so she added, "I promise, I won't pick on you about having money anymore." She held out her hand with her smallest finger extended. "Pinky swear."

Garrison wrapped his pinky around hers. "We should seal the deal with a kiss."

Laurel smiled. "You're right. We should."

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Garrison's phone buzzed just as their lips met.

[Calvin] We're here. Can you open the gate?

[Garrison] Wait one.

He walked over to the panel on the kitchen wall and pushed the switch to open the driveway entrance gate.

[Garrison] Come on in. Park under the portico so you won't get wet.

Garrison put his phone down on the counter and said to Laurel, "I believe we were right in the middle of something."

Laurel pulled him toward her. "I believe you're right."

Calvin and Mariah rang the doorbell moments later, effectively ending the kiss consummating Garrison and Laurel's deal. Garrison met them at the door while Laurel prepared two more hot chocolates. The four friends then adjoined to the family room.

"So, this rain, huh?" Calvin commented when they were all seated. "I hope it's not like this for Labor Day weekend. Mariah and I are going to meet up with her family down in Myrtle Beach."

"My parents have a Class A motor home, and they always spend Labor Day weekend at the State Park south of Myrtle Beach," Mariah told Garrison and Laurel. "My sister and her husband are coming up with their Fifth Wheel, too."

"Are you two staying in the Class A or the Fifth Wheel?" Laurel asked.

Calvin grunted. "We're staying in a tent."

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Mariah scowled at her boyfriend. "It's not a pup tent. It's a nice big tent with room for cots and chairs. The site we're in has electricity and water. It's not as if we're going to be out in the boonies."

"I've never gone camping," Garrison confessed. "I went to science camps but never to a fun camp. Staying in a dorm at a college isn't exactly real camping."

Calvin almost choked on his hot chocolate. "Didn't you ever do Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts?"

Garrison shook his head. "My mother thought it frivolous and a distraction from real learning."

Calvin pulled out his wallet and drew forth a card. He handed the card to Garrison. "I was in Scouts from Tiger Cubs all the way to making Eagle. My Troop went to all the high adventure camps: Philmont, Sea Base, Northern Tier, and we were one of the first to go to Summit Bechtel.

"Man, I can't believe you've never even been camping. We'll have to go one of these days."

A flash of lightning drew Garrison's eyes to the windows. The rain was still coming down so hard the pool looked like it was boiling. The crack of thunder coming on the heels of the lightning shook the house.

Mariah moved closer to Calvin on the couch.

Laurel whistled softly through her teeth and said, "Something tells me we won't be spending any time on the beach this afternoon."

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Another bolt of lightning and an almost instant crack of thunder caused the lights to flicker and then go out.

"Oh, man," Calvin whined. "I was just going to suggest we watch a movie or something."

"Give it a minute," Garrison said.

From behind the house, the teens heard a low growling sound. Only seconds later, the lights came back on again.

"The house has a backup generator," Garrison explained to his stunned friends. "My grandpa had it installed years ago after Hurricane Floyd, I think. Floyd was the storm that hit about a month before I was born."

Calvin rubbed his hands together and asked, "Does the generator throw enough juice to run the TV and a DVD player?"

"According to the guy who comes around and checks it once a month," Garrison said as he reached for the TV remote, "the generator has enough power to run all the lights, electrical appliances, and electronics in the house."

"All right, then," Calvin said with glee. "Ladies and gentlemen, let's pick out a movie to watch."

Garrison's story continues in Chapter 22

© 2021 DW Davis