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.
Jack wasn’t familiar with why Kevin moaned when he saw what was on the menu for dinner.
“Braised capon on rice with a side of mixed vegetables,” Kevin said with a rueful smile as he read the menu posted by the door into the banquet room. “The official meal of the CPA.”
The three of them joined three other CPAs from local firms, two of whom were accompanied by their wives, around a table set for eight. They were all younger than Jack by at least a decade. One couple was so young that Jack estimated he could have taught them in high school if they’d grown up in Wayne County.
Because they’d arrived after the others had been seated, Georgia wound up taking the single chair available on one side of the table while Jack and Kevin wound up next to each other on the opposite side. Georgia spent a fair bit of the dinner talking to the youngest CPA at the table - a new employee at her firm - and his wife. She’d introduced them to Jack and Kevin, but Jack couldn’t recall their names.
The CPA who was there alone was a tall black man built like a linebacker and with a voice like James Earl Jones. Jack remembered the man had introduced himself as Les Thompson. Mr. Thompson struck up a conversation with the other married CPA when they learned they were both North Carolina State alumni.
The two wives had wound up sitting next to each other and spent the meal exchanging pleasantries while ignoring the rest of the table.
As neither Jack nor Kevin knew any of the others, they wound up talking to each other.
“How do you know Georgia?” Jack asked Kevin while they were eating their salads.
“We dated in high school,” Kevin replied. “Junior and senior years. Georgia was student government president, and I was vice-president of the chess club.”
“Hey, don’t laugh. I was very good at chess,” Kevin said after seeing the look on Jack’s face.
“No offense,” Jack said. “Hey, I was secretary of the French Club.”
“Really,” Kevin said. “Is that supposed to make me feel better?”
Jack laughed. “No, I guess not.” He paused to pour some water from the metal pitcher into his water glass. “So, what happened after high school?”
“The usual,” Kevin said. “We lost touch. My family moved up north right after graduation. I went to school at a little private college in Springfield, Mass, called Western New England. It’s graduated to being a university now. They even mailed me a new degree.
“Georgia and I tried to stay in touch but, you know how it happens, she met someone, I met someone, marriage, kids. Then one day, you wake up, your kids are grown and out of the house, and your wife decides she’s missed out on life and up and leaves.
“I sulked around for a while,” Kevin continued. “Finally, I realized I was never going to make partner, Stella wasn’t coming back, and I was sick of New England winters. So I quit my job, packed up the house, and came home.”
“Did you know about Georgia’s husband when you decided to come home?” Jack said, suspecting she was the reason Kevin had come back to North Carolina.
“Believe it or not,” Kevin said while he buttered a roll. “I learned about Ned on Facebook a couple of weeks after Stella left. I was sitting around, feeling sorry for myself, and started looking up old friends when I came across Georgia’s page and saw the posts.
“And if you’re wondering if the idea of coming back here and seeing if there might still be something there crossed my mind, yeah, it did.” Kevin took a bite of the roll and looked across the table at Georgia while he chewed it. When he finished with the roll, he turned to Jack and said, “Okay, your turn. How do you know Georgia?”
Jack told him how Jennifer had introduced them at Mass. “I was dead set against the idea at first, and I think I hurt Georgia’s feelings. But having just lost Ned a few months before, she understands what I’m going through.”
Kevin pushed his salad plate forward, making a face and muttering something about rabbit food slathered with grease, before holding up a hand to stop Jack.
“Wait a minute. What is it you’re going through that Georgia understands?”
Jack licked his lips and let out a slow breath. “I lost my wife about five months ago in a car wreck. My mother got it in her mind that Georgia and I should meet, seeing as how we’re both recently bereft.”
“Five months!” Kevin exclaimed. “Geez! I’d have freaked out if my mom tried to set me up with someone after just five months.”
“I kinda did,” Jack admitted. “But Georgia was cool about it. She suggested we meet for coffee and talk, no pressure, just a friendly cup of coffee.
“I realized I’d made something of an ass out of myself and wanted to make it up to her, so we met for coffee, and things grew from there. We’ve been out a couple of times since, and she wound up inviting me here.”
Kevin looked at Georgia across the table. Jack followed his gaze. When Georgia realized they were looking at her, she favored each of them with a smile but added a blown kiss for Jack.
Kevin turned to Jack. “Then you two really are here on a date. Some date, huh? You don’t even get to sit together for dinner.”
As Kevin said dinner, the wait staff began taking up the salad plates and distributing the chicken dinners.
Conversation around the table dribbled to a halt as the main course was served but resumed again when it was time for dessert and coffee. Jack passed on the peach cobbler dessert but accepted a cup of decaffeinated coffee.
Kevin took two bites of the cobbler and said to Jack, “You were right to turn it down. It tastes like canned peaches covered in under cooked biscuit mix.” He signaled one of the waitstaff as they passed. “May I have a cup of decaf, please?”
“Right away, sir,” the young lady said. When she returned with Kevin’s coffee, Jack noticed her name tag.
“Hi, Naomi,” Jack said.
Naomi looked at Jack but didn’t recognize him. “Hello, sir. Would you like some more coffee?”
“Uh, no thanks,” Jack said, disappointed she hadn’t recognized him.
Kevin was looking at Jack, obviously awaiting an explanation.
“She’s a waitress at the place I go for breakfast,” Jack told him. “She waited on my folks and me the other morning.”
“Are my boys flirting with the waitress now?” Georgia asked, placing a hand on each of their shoulders. Jack and Kevin both flinched. They hadn’t seen Georgia leave her seat and come around the table. “I can’t leave you two alone for a minute.”
“Jack was flirting,” Kevin said. “I just asked for a cup of coffee.”
Jack favored Kevin with a hurt look before Georgia placed a finger under Jack’s chin and turned his head up so she could look him in the eye. “Remember, we’re on a date. No flirting with the pretty girls.”
“I wouldn’t think of it,” Jack said. “Not when I’m here with the most attractive woman.”
Georgia felt a tingle in her belly at Jack’s remark and, on impulse, leaned over and kissed him quickly on the lips. “You say the sweetest things. You’re forgiven for flirting with the waitress.”
© 2021 DW Davis
DW Davis (author) from Eastern NC on April 11, 2021:
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 11, 2021:
It appears that Georgie is going to date Jack, so Kevin is out of luck. I know the next chapter could change things, or maybe Georgia will date both of them. This has been an interesting story, DW,