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Starting Over at 55 (A Buzby Beach Novel) Chapter 26

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DW is 55 Plus & married for 30 years. He once nearly lost his wife in a horseback riding accident. He wondered if he could start over if...

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Jack arrived at Saint Mark’s just after six the evening of the ice cream social. His mind was a jumble of confusing thoughts about Georgia, Wanda, and Corie.

How did I get into a mess like this? Maybe I should have seen the Wanda situation coming. Now that I look back on it, I guess the signs were there. But I just don’t feel that way about her. Sure, she’s a good-looking woman, and we’ve been friends for years, but I’m just not attracted to her like she wants me to be.

And Corie. Corie is a nice girl. The keyword is girl. I’m old enough to be her father. I’m flattered she’s interested in me, but where would a relationship with her go. Eventually, she’d tire of the old man and want someone closer to her own age, someone she could start a family with. Right now, the last thing on my mind is starting another family, not with two grown kids of my own. I’m ready to be a grandparent, not a new parent.

Now Georgia, on the other hand, seems perfect. She understands what I’ve been through better than anyone could. There’s definitely chemistry between us. And we’re both mature enough to know to take it slow and let things develop naturally, without forcing it. But there’s something Georgia is holding back. Something she’s not told me yet. How can I let myself get too involved with her if she’s hiding something from me?

Jack took a deep breath and reached for the car door handle. He’d just climbed from his Mustang when he saw his parents' SUV pull into the parking lot.’

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I’m busted, Jack thought as he watched the Tahoe cross the lot and pull in beside his Mustang. I never thought to call and let them know I’d be here. I should have known Mom and Dad would be here. Dad never misses a KofC event if he can help it.

Jack walked around the back of his parents’ vehicle and held the door open for his mother, giving her his arm to hold as she lowered herself from the passenger seat.

“Why, thank you, Jack,” Jennifer said as she gained her footing. “Glad to see you’re here on time.”

“You were expecting me?” Jack asked.

“Oh, yes,” Jennifer said. “I was talking to Georgia yesterday, and she mentioned you were coming. I’m glad she told me since you didn’t seem to think it was something I should know.”

“Honestly, Mom,” Jack said with a shrug, “it hadn’t dawned on me that you and Dad would be here.”

“How often have you known your father to miss a Knights’ event?” Jennifer asked, patting Jack patronizingly on the shoulder.

“Good evening, Jack,” John said as he came around the front of the Tahoe. “Shall we go inside?”

The Fellowship Hall was starting to fill up with folks and families when Jack and his parents walked in. Most were still in line waiting for the homemade ice cream that Jack was about to learn was the hallmark of Saint Mark’s KofC Lady’s Auxiliary Annual Ice Cream Social. Those who already had their ice cream were at the toppings table, adding sprinkles, nuts, syrups, and whipped cream to their bowls. The few who’d arrived early were at tables enjoying their cold creations.

Georgia was at the ice cream table scooping homemade butter-pecan ice cream into Styrofoam bowls. She looked up when Jack walked in and, spotting him, towering a head above most of the people in the Hall, waved and smiled.

Georgia’s friend Clara, who was dipping the cookies-and-cream ice cream next to Georgia, nudged her and asked, “Who’s that tall, dark, and handsome fella?”

Georgia cast Clara a sidelong look, served two scoops of ice cream to a young girl with pigtails waiting patiently at the table, and replied, “That’s my new friend, Jack. He’s Jennifer and John’s son. The one who just moved here from Goldsboro.”

“He looks like a keeper,” Clara said before plopping a large scoop of cookies-and-cream into the bowl of a little boy who looked like he was probably the other girl’s brother. “Are you two going out?”

“We’ve had a couple of dates,” Georgia said, looking up to see where Jack was in line and nearly missing the little boy’s mother’s bowl. “Oops, sorry about that,” she said to the woman, who smiled back.

“It’s okay. It all made it into the bowl.”

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Jack’s head kept swiveling about as he took in the growing crowd in the Fellowship Hall, but his eyes kept returning to Georgia. Under her apron, she was wearing a blue, three-quarter sleeve lemme blouse buttoned nearly to her neck.

Jack chuckled when he saw Georgia nearly drop a scoop of ice cream because she was looking his way instead of at the bowl the ice cream was destined for. I wonder what flavor ice cream Georgia is serving. Not that it matters, I’ll have to get what she’s scooping out, won’t I?

Jack was nearly finished with his bowl of butter-almond ice cream - he’d decided against adding any toppings - when Georgia came and sat down beside him with her own bowl of cookies-and-cream topped with mini-M&Ms and whipped cream.

“Hello, John, Jennifer,” Georgia said as she took her seat. “Hi, Jack.”

Jack and John both rose from their seats, John first, Jack following his father’s example. Jennifer merely nodded at the younger woman and said, “Good to see you, Georgia.”

John sat back down and said, “It looks like y’all had a great turnout this year. I don’t think there were nearly as many people last year, were there?”

“No,” Georgia said, gesturing toward the window through which could be seen several people congregating around picnic tables under the dining flies the churches Boy Scout Troop had set up as one of their service projects. “But then, last year, it rained most of the day and didn’t let up until right before we got started.”

John nodded sagely, “I remember now. Well, you couldn’t have asked for much better weather than you’ve had this year.”

“How did you like your ice cream, Jack?” Georgia asked between spoonfuls of her own.

“It was delicious,” Jack said. “It had a rich flavor and creamy texture I really enjoyed.”

“Mmm,” Georgia murmured as she finished off her treat. “I’m glad you enjoyed it. That makes it easier for me to ask you to volunteer to stay and help clean up after everyone leaves.”

John laughed. Jennifer grinned and shook her head.

“It looks like you’ve been drafted, son,” John said. “But don’t worry, I’m planning on helping out, too. The Knights usually handle the cleanup, with a little help from the Scouts.”

“Don’t let him fool you,” Jennifer said, poking her husband lightly in the ribs. “The Scouts do all the work while the Knights supervise.”

“Being clean and helpful are two of the points in the Scout Law,” Jack pointed out. “As an Eagle Scout and a Wood Badge Scouter, I suppose I should cheerfully assist in the cleanup.”

“And for being such a good Scout about it,” Georgia said, “I’ll take you out for a cup of good coffee after we’re done.”

Jack's story continues in Chapter 27

  • Starting Over at 55 (A Buzby Beach Novel) Chapter 27
    Jack received the call about his wife's death on the highway nearly five months ago. When school ended, Jack left the life they had and moved into the house his aunt left him on Buzby Beach. How old is too old to start over? Jack needs the answer.

© 2020 DW Davis

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