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Setting Friday Free (A Buzby Beach Novel) Chapter 34

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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 was in the kitchen, dicing a green pepper, when Laurel came down the stairs wearing the clothes she'd worn to dinner the night before.

"Good morning," Garrison greeted her. "Have a seat. I'm just about ready to start making our omelets."

Laurel graced Garrison with a weak smile, pushed her hair back behind her ears, and asked, "What time did you get up this morning?"

"The same time as I do every morning," Garrison replied. He finished dicing the pepper and used the knife to pick up the bits and put them in a small bowl. The bowl of diced pepper then joined similar bowls holding diced onion, mushroom, ham, and one of grated sharp cheddar cheese. "So, how do you like your omelet?"

"How can you be so cheerful at this hour of the morning?" Laurel grumped. "It's barely six o'clock."

"I don't know," Garrison told her. "Maybe because I get to cook your breakfast this morning. Now, how do you like your omelet?"

His compliment had the desired effect. Laurel's face lost its grumpiness, and her bright smile reached all the way to Garrison's heart.

"I like mine with everything but the mushrooms," Laurel instructed him. She pointed to the bowl with the mushroom's diced bits and drew an X in the air over it.

"Coming right up," Garrison said. He took an egg from the carton on the counter and, with a quick flip of his wrist, broke it into a bigger bowl with one hand. Another egg followed immediately after and met the same fate. Garrison added a splash of whole milk, sprinkled in some seasoning salt, and beat the egg until into a froth.

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Laurel sat and watched, wide-eyed and smiling. "You do know what you're doing."

Garrison tilted his head, grinning at her but saying nothing. He lit a burner on the gas stove and placed an omelet pan over it. After giving the pan time to heat, Garrison poured the beaten egg mixture into the pan. The mixture made a satisfying sizzle as it hit the hot pan. Garrison carefully maneuvered the pan to spread the eggs evenly.

While the eggs cooked, Garrison reached over to the four-slice toaster and pushed the lever to lower the four English muffin halves into the device to toast. Then he glanced at the eggs and nodded before reaching for the coffee pot.

"Do you want some coffee with your breakfast?" he asked Laurel, holding the pot over the mug sitting on the counter nearest her.

Laurel turned the mug right-side up and said, "Sure. Do you have any cream?"

Garrison filled her mug not quite full and then pointed the carafe at a thermal picture next to the coffee maker.

"Thanks," Laurel said as she climbed for her stool and retrieved the pitcher.

Garrison was adding ingredients to Laurel's omelet when she returned to her seat with the cream pitcher. He stopped at the mushrooms and raised a brow. Laurel wrinkled her nose.

“No fungus with my eggs, thank you,” Laurel said, shaking her head.

Garrison shrugged and passed it by. Once he added the ingredients, Garrison expertly folded Laurel's omelet, turned the gas off, and slid her breakfast onto a waiting plate already adorned with a slice of orange.

"Should I wait for you to make yours before I start?" Laurel asked.

"No need," Garrison said. He set her plate on a serving tray he'd positioned at the end of the counter and reached into the oven. From within, he drew his plate, without the orange slice, which he added from a small plate of such slices before placing his breakfast on the tray next to Laurel's. The toaster popped the English muffins up at just that moment. Garrison gingerly removed the muffins from the toaster and added them to the plates.

He lifted the tray and said, "I thought we'd enjoy our breakfast in the sunroom this morning."

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Laurel used the remains of her English muffin to push the last bite of her omelet onto her fork.

"Breakfast was delicious, Garrison," she gushed. "You have to tell me how you learned to cook like this."

"Mrs. Nelson taught me," Garrison confessed. "Remember, she was my mother's housekeeper and cook when we lived in Landsgate. Mom didn't need her after she sold the house and moved into her condo at Wrightsville Beach. I immediately hired her to work for me here.

"It was Mrs. Nelson who taught me how to cook, do laundry, keep house, sew buttons, all those kinds of things. She doesn't cook for me, but she does go grocery shopping for me, and she takes care of the house."

Laurel downed the last of her coffee. "Why can't you do your own grocery shopping?"

Garrison shifted in his seat. "I could, but I think it would hurt Mrs. Nelson's feelings if I told her not to anymore."

"How often does Mrs. Nelson come around?" Laurel asked as she started picking up the plates and cups and putting them back on the serving tray.

Garrison reached to stop her. "You don't have to clean up. I'll take care of it."

"You or Mrs. Nelson?" Laurel asked sharply.

"Mrs. Nelson doesn't do my dishes or wash my clothes," Garrison retorted. "She cleans the house on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings - a different part of the house each day. Once a week, she brings groceries and stocks my refrigerator and cabinets. Do you want to know why Mrs. Nelson does these things for me?"

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Laurel stopped picking up the breakfast dishes and sat down. "Why?" she asked quietly.

Garrison licked his lips and took several breaths to calm himself down. "Because she asked me if she could. When my mother sold our house after I graduated from high school and told me I was on my own from then on out because, hey, I had a house, so why should I continue to live with her and clutter up her life, Mrs. Nelson came to me and offered to help me."

Laurel stood and said, "I had no idea your mother kicked you to the curb, Garrison. What kind of a mother does such a thing?"

Garrison snorted. "A mother whose priority was always her work and who resented having a child around expecting some of her attention."

Laurel must not have had an answer for Garrison's assertion because she resumed picking up from breakfast and carried the tray into the kitchen. Garrison followed a few minutes later.

"We should probably get going," Garrison said. He pointed to the clock on the microwave. "I don't want to be late for Calculus."

"I'll just run up and get my things," Laurel said. "Do you think I have time to go home and change first?"

Garrison stared at the clock for several seconds and then said, "If the bridge isn't up, I should be able to drop you at your house in time to make it to my class."

"Oh," Laurel said, stopping at the foot of the stairs. "Okay, then, I guess if the bridge is up, I'll just have to go to class looking like this."

Garrison's story continues in Chapter 35

© 2021 DW Davis