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Starting Over at 55 (A Buzby Beach Novel) Chapter 32

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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.

starting-over-at-55-a-buzby-beach-novel-chapter-32

Georgia returned to her seat. The emcee took the stage and began introducing the keynote speaker. Jack patiently endured the slightly less than half-an-hour presentation by the speaker. The announcements about the following day’s schedule of course offerings and meal times followed the speaker. Jack rose when everyone else did when the emcee invited the group to move into an adjacent meeting room where a disc jockey would provide music for a mixer for those interested.

Most of the attendees were interested. Jack wasn’t. When he caught up to Georgia, Jack suggested a walk on the beach instead of dancing in a crowded hall.

“That sounds perfect,” Georgia said. “But I really should put in an appearance at the dance. My firm is one of the sponsors of this year’s conference.”

Kevin appeared beside them and said, “I’d be glad to go to the dance with you, Georgia, if Jack isn’t up to it.”

Jack turned and looked at his friendly rival. “If the lady wants to dance, we’ll go to the dance.” He held out his arm to Georgia, who looped hers through his, and Jack led her into the dance.

Kevin decided not to go in himself but played one more card. “We are still on for dinner tomorrow night, right, Georgia?”

Georgia stopped and looked at him over her shoulder. “Of course we are,” she said. “Jack and I can hardly wait. Call me at the office tomorrow, but not too early, and I’ll let you know where and when to meet us. We can discuss how your talents might be of use to my firm then.”

She turned around without another word, leaving Kevin standing there, mouth agape, watching her walk into the dance hall with Jack. It was all Jack could do not to turn around and flash a victorious smile at Kevin.

As if she could sense what Jack was thinking, Georgia tugged his arm and said, “Don’t get cocky, Jack.” But her smile took the sting out of the rebuke.

Georgia and Jack danced a few slow dances. Jack spent some time alone holding up the bar and nursing his sweet tea while Georgia made the rounds, greeting old acquaintances, meeting new ones, and drinking several glasses of wine. It was starting to get late when she finally said to Jack, “Do you still want to take that walk on the beach? I’m ready to get out of here.”

“Sure,” Jack said. “I’d like that.”

Georgia led him out a back door from the hall, which opened onto a walk that led to the dunes separating the resort from the waters of the inlet between the ocean proper and Inter-coastal Waterway. When they were beyond the first dune and out of sight of the resort, Georgia stopped Jack, put one hand on his shoulder to steady herself, and with the other removed her shoes, which she handed to Jack. Then she bent over and rolled up the cuffs of her slacks.

“There, now we can walk along the beach.” She took back her shoes, put her arm through Jack’s, and laid her head on his shoulder.

“So,” Jack began. “This conference goes on all week.”

Georgia sighed and said, “Yup.”

“Do you have to be here every day?”

Georgia shook her head ever so slightly. “Nope.”

starting-over-at-55-a-buzby-beach-novel-chapter-32

They reached the water’s edge and turned east toward the ocean. Jack stopped them and removed his shoes and socks. He thought about rolling up the hem of his pants but decided not to.

They walked along a deserted section of the beach under a half-moon that cast enough light for them to see where they were going. The tide was going out, and the sea was calm. Jack was enjoying the feel of the cool, wet sand under his feet.

Not leaving well enough alone, Jack asked, “Is Kevin going to be here all week?”

Georgia stopped walking, let out a deep sigh, and turned to face Jack. “You probably know better than I do. You and Kevin had quite the long talk at dinner.”

Jack looked at the sand. “Well, yeah, but we didn’t talk about that. We…”

Georgia took Jack’s face in both her hands. “What’s it take to get you to shut up, Jack?” Then she pulled his face down to hers and kissed him, hard, on the mouth. Her tongue forced its way between his stunned lips, waking up his mouth and starting him kissing her back.

One of Georgia’s hands slipped behind Jack’s head, pulling him closer, while her other hand moved down over his shoulder, down his back, to his hips, pulling him closer there, too.

Jack’s hands didn’t stay idle. One found its way to Georgia’s hair, where his fingers twined in, pulling her head back so that he could deepen their kiss. The other moved down her back and onto her butt, pulling her tight against him. He pulled her close enough that she could feel his reaction to her through their pants.

Georgia pulled back, panted a moment, and then said. “I’m going to take you home now, Jack. Are you going to invite me in when we get there?”

Jack nodded, reluctant to let her move away even an inch.

“If I come in tonight,” Georgia asked, “are you going to ask me to stay for breakfast?”

It was her way of asking Jack if he wanted her to spend the night.

Jack, still not trusting himself to speak, looked into her eyes and nodded.

“Then there’s something you need to know,” Georgia said. She looked up and down the beach. Seeing no one and fortified with the courage of the drinks she’d imbibed, Georgia began to unbutton her blouse.

starting-over-at-55-a-buzby-beach-novel-chapter-32

Before Jack could protest, she put a finger to his lips and said, “Shush. I’ll explain.”

She finished unbuttoning her blouse and held it closed against the sea breeze as she told Jack, “Nine years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.”

She swallowed hard, and it took her a moment to get her voice under control so she could continue.

“I lost both my breasts but several rounds of chemo later, and I was declared cancer-free.”

Jack started to speak, but Georgia shushed him again.

She reached inside her blouse and undid the front clasp on her bra.

“What you think you see under this blouse,” Georgia said, “is an illusion. I never had reconstructive surgery. Ned and I talked and prayed about it for, well, for as long as the chemo took. By the time I could have the surgery, I’d, we’d, decided not to. I’ve used prosthetics and these special bras since, so it’d look like I had…” she gestured across her chest, “…boobs, but…”

Georgia took Jack’s hand and placed it inside her blouse, under the bra, against her chest's bare, scarred skin. Tears began to fall from her eyes.

“But this is all there is.”

Jack held his hand against Georgia’s chest, trying to process what she’d just revealed to him about herself, knowing what courage it had taken her to do so.

“Georgia,” Jack said. “I’m sorry…”

“Don’t say it if you’re going to tell me that you’re sorry, but you don’t want me because of this,” Georgia said, letting go of the blouse with the other hand and using both to press Jack’s hand more firmly against her chest. “If that’s the case, just walk away back to the Towers. I’ll put myself together and meet you there. I’ll drive you home, and we’ll forget we ever got to this point. Okay.”

Jack didn’t pull his hand away. It felt a little surreal, holding his hand against a woman’s chest and not feeling a breast, but he didn’t pull away.

“I was going to say I’m sorry you had to go through that,” Jack said softly. He began to move his hand, not away, but slowly and softly across her chest. “But if you think this is going to make me go away, you’ve got another think coming.”

Georgia let go of his hand and put her arms around his neck. “Oh, Jack,” she cried before his lips descended on hers and silenced her sobs.

© 2021 DW Davis

Comments

DW Davis (author) from Eastern NC on April 28, 2021:

I am so glad you continue to enjoy the story. Georgia's was a heartwrenching story to write. A good friend and colleague had just undergone a radical double mastectomy and Georgia is my way of honoring her.

I will continue to post chapters as they become ready.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 28, 2021:

This is a well-written story that if very interesting, DW. A women losing her breasts is not uncommon these days. I have a good friend that went through this two years ago. This story is very good, and I would like to continue reading the next chapters.

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