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Starting Over at 55 (A Buzby Beach Novel) Chapter 28

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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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Clothes shopping with Corie

starting-over-at-55-a-buzby-beach-novel-chapter-28

Jack was utterly perplexed to find himself shopping with Corie in the Old Navy store on South College Road, putting together an outfit for him to wear to dinner with Georgia that night.

Corie’s explanation for why she wanted to help him was simple, though she didn’t share it with Jack.

Yes, they’ve had a few dates, but Jack and I have something, too, I know it. Now we’re going clothes shopping together. He’s more of a gentleman than I am a lady and won’t break his date with this Georgia, but the whole time he’s there with her, he’ll be thinking about the time he spent with me today.

Corie had already dismissed Wanda, the woman from Jack’s past who wouldn’t stay away, as simply what Jack described her, an old friend from his old town who just dropped by to say hi on her way to a day at the beach.

Jack had been in the changing room for a long time, and Corie was about to call out to him when he came walking out. He was wearing the fourth outfit that she’d picked for him. He hadn’t liked any of the first three.

Jack held his arms out and turned around. So far, the blue polo shirt and stone-white khakis was the combination he liked best.

“Well, what do you think?”

Corie titled her head to one side and then the other. “I think it looks good on you.”

“I think so, too,” Jack said. He tugged the waistband to pull the pants up. “I guess I’ll need a belt.”

Corie had a brown leather belt picked out and handed it to him.

“What about shoes?” Jack asked. “All I’ve got are sneakers or an old pair of Top-Siders.”

Corie shook her head and frowned at Jack. “What would you do without me? There’s a Rack Room Shoes over on Oleander Drive unless you want to spend a ton of money somewhere else.”

Jack didn’t want to spend a ton of money somewhere else. They found him an attractive pair of brown Timberland slip-ons that looked good with his new outfit and matched his new belt.

starting-over-at-55-a-buzby-beach-novel-chapter-28

Georgia confirms their date

Corie and Jack were about to climb into his Mustang when his phone vibrated. He pulled it out of his pocket and saw that Georgia was calling him.

“It’s Georgia,” Jack said to Corie, holding the screen toward her so she could see the Caller ID screen.

“Then you’d better answer it,” Corie said, forcing a smile. “Didn’t you say she was going to call you for directions to your place?”

Jack nodded and pressed the TALK icon.

“Jack Callaghan,” he answered. Corie laughed.

Georgia said, “Hi, Jack. Do you always answer your phone by stating your name?”

“It’s an old habit from Army days,” Jack said, giving Corie a warning look to make her stop laughing. “How are you?”

“I’m doing well,” Georgia said. “I’m looking forward to this evening.”

“Me, too,” Jack replied. “In fact, I’m out shopping for appropriately professional-casual attire.”

“You didn’t have to do that,” Georgia insisted. “I’m sure you had something in your closet that would have been fine.”

Corie, who couldn’t hear Georgia’s side of the conversation, kept bobbing her head at Jack, silently prodding him for details. He waved his hand at her and pointed into the car. A mischievous grin spread across her face as Corie shook her head slowly ‘no.’

Into the phone, Jack said, “Everything I had was embroidered with West Wayne High or the Hoplite logo. I didn’t think wearing it would be a good idea.”

Corie mouthed, “What’s a hoplite?” Even as Georgia asked the same question on the phone.

“A hoplite,” Jack explained simultaneously to both women, “was a citizen-soldier in Ancient Greece. It’s also the mascot for West Wayne High School.”

“Oh,” Corie said silently as Georgia did aloud.

“I’m sure it would have been fine,” Georgia added. “But if you’ve already picked up something new, I’m sure it will be fine also.”

“Are you still planning to come by my place at six?” Jack asked, hoping to bring the conversation to a close before the faces Corie was making made him laugh. He didn’t want to have to explain a sudden outburst of laughter to Georgia. He doubted she’d buy any reason he could think of why he’d taken his waitress shopping with him.

“Yes, six,” Georgia answered. “And your mom gave me your address when I saw her at the fitness center last night. I’ll plug it into my GPS, and it’ll lead me right to your door.”

Jack took the phone away from his ear and looked at it a second before putting it back and saying, “My mom was at the fitness center? What fitness center?”

“We have a fitness center at Landfall,” Georgia answered. “Your mom and dad go there several times a week to use the treadmills. Especially when it gets hot.”

“I didn’t know that,” Jack said. “They never mentioned it.”

“I’ve got to go,” Georgia said. “I’ve got a client coming in. I’ll see you at six.”

“Okay,” Jack said. “I’ll see you then.” He started to press END to hang up, but Georgia had already disconnected.

His waitress is doing his laundry?

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“If she’s gonna pick you up at six,” Corie said, finally climbing into the Mustang’s passenger seat, “we’d better get back to your place so we can get these new duds washed and dried and make sure they’re wrinkle-free before your date arrives.”

Jack took his seat behind the wheel. Already feeling odd about Corie accompanying him to shop for clothes, her offer to launder his new duds set off alarm bells in the back of his mind.

"You are kidding about doing my wash, right?"

Corie shrugged. "Maybe I am. Maybe I'm not."

When they got back to his house, Corie grabbed the bag with his new clothes and headed toward his front door.

“You’re really planning to do my laundry for me, are you?” Jack asked with a laugh.

“If you don’t want to wind up with a pale blue shirt and matching pants, you’d better let me,” Corie replied, gesturing impatiently for Jack to unlock the front door. “Just point me at your laundry room, and I’ll take care of the rest.”

“The washer and dryer are in the storage room off the carport,” Jack said, pointing at the carport.

“Is it locked?” Corie asked.

“I don’t think so,” Jack replied. “I’ve never locked it. I’ve only used it a couple of times. At least I know the washer and dryer work.”

Corie dropped her chin and looked at him through hooded eyes. “How often do you do your laundry?”

“Well,” Jack said, hesitantly. “As often as I need to. So far, all I needed to wash were the sheets I bought for my new bed and the sheets I brought from Goldsboro that I used on the old bed.”

With a sigh, Corie said, “Open the door, Jack. I might as well do it all if I’m going to wash these.”

“Won’t that turn all my clothes blue?” Jack said, his lips twitching in a mischievous grin.

Corie rolled her eyes. “I do know how to sort laundry, Jack. I won’t let that happen.”

Jack unlocked the door and held it open for Corie.

“Where do you keep your dirty clothes?” she asked.

“I’ll go get them,” Jack said. “They’re in a pile behind my bathroom door.”

Thrusting the bag of new clothes into Jack’s hands, Corie said, “You get busy pulling the tags off of these, and I’ll get those.”

Before Jack could protest, Corie was on her way down the hall. Jack shrugged and pulled his new blue golf shirt from the bag and set about removing the tags.

Family pictures

Corie slowed her headlong rush down the hall when she realized she had no idea which room was Jack’s. Looking over her shoulder to assure herself Jack was still pulling tags, Corie lucked out when she looked in the first room on the left and spotted the new bedroom set Jack had told her he bought. Corie flipped the light switch and walked into the room, taking a good look around as she did so.

Not much in here to give away who sleeps here, Corie thought to herself before seeing the pictures on the dresser.

There were three pictures, one of a girl in a graduation gown and a similar one of a boy - Corie assumed they were Jack’s daughter and son - and a third of the two children together. They’re no doubt his children, but they aren’t just kids. The girl in that picture must be over twenty. They’re both obviously out of high school.

“What’s taking so long back there?” Jack called out from the kitchen. “Can’t you find it?”

“Uh, yeah,” Corie said. She hadn’t realized she’d spent so long looking at the pictures. “I found it,” she lied. “I’m just trying to decide if it’s safe to pick up.”

After opening and closing the door to the closet, Corie finally turned the knob on the right door and discovered a pile of gamey clothes behind it. Wrinkling her nose, she gathered the bundle together and lifted it from the floor.

There weren’t any pictures of his wife, Corie noted. I wonder what she looked like.

© 2021 DW Davis