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Starting Over at 55 (A Buzby Beach Novel) Chapter 16


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...


Jack Arrives at the Parisian Bean


After his morning walk and swim, Jack showered, shaved, and dressed in a pair of off-white cargo shorts and a blue patterned, light-weight, button-up shirt. He left the Mustang in the carport and walked the half-mile over to the Parisian Bean on Sound Street. The old wooden door clanged a bell when Jack entered the coffee shop a few minutes before nine.

Jack had no sooner stepped over the threshold than four gray-haired older ladies followed him through the door and moved straight to the only empty table. A full-figured woman Jack guessed to be in her late twenties immediately came from behind the counter to take care of them.

There was a short line of people waiting at the counter, and as Jack watched, a young man, whom Jack recognized as Jacques from the pier, filled orders as fast as he could. Jack looked around at the occupied tables to see if Georgia might have already arrived and was waiting for him. A quick scan of the room showed she was not.

The aroma of fresh ground coffee and freshly baked pastry gave the Parisian Bean a pleasant atmosphere. The shop's comfortable and uncomplicated decor made Jack feel right at home.

A lady wearing a white apron and carrying a tray of croissants appeared from the back of the shop. Jack was stunned by how beautiful the lady was despite the hairnet and flour on her face. She set the pastries on a table to the left of the service counter, behind a display case showing off various tasty looking baked goods and donuts, and walked over to the young man taking orders.

Jack heard the woman say, “Let me give you a hand, JQ,” and heard the young man answer, “Thanks, Mom,” before moving away from the register to make the next customer’s beverage.

With Jacques and his mom working together, the line began to move more quickly.
The younger lady who’d moved from behind the counter to meet the four older ladies who’d followed Jack through the door went back behind the counter and started making coffees and teas for those same ladies.

Jacques finished making a white chocolate mocha and a caramel macchiato for the couple ahead of Jack. Before Jacques could ask Jack for his order, the bell over the door rang again, and Georgia rushed through the door.


Georgia Joins Jack

Seeing Jack already in line, Georgia smiled and moved to stand beside him.

“I was trying to get here early so I’d be here to meet you when you got here,” she said. “But I got to the drawbridge just as was being lowered and had to wait for the traffic to clear. Sorry if I kept you waiting.”

“No problem,” Jack said. “I just got in line myself. Jacques here hasn’t even had a chance to take my order.”

Georgia turned to the young man behind the counter. “Hi, Jacques. How’s your summer going? Working hard?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Jacques replied. “We’ve been very busy this summer, so far.”

“That’s good to hear,” Georgia said. She turned to the lady helping Jacques out at the counter and said, “How about you, Marie? How’s the pastry business doing?”

“Almost more than I can handle,” Marie said with a smile. “Not that I’m complaining, mind you. Now, what can we get for you two this morning?”

Georgia said, “I’ll just have a cheese Danish and a large, black.”

Jack looked at Georgia and raised his brow. “How big is a large?”

Georgia smiled and said, “It’s a twenty-ounce cup of the house blend. I take it black. The house blend here is to die for.”

“We get our beans fresh roasted from a roaster in Wilmington and grind them here in the store,” Jacques informed Jack. “The roaster imports them fresh every week.”

“That sounds good,” Jack said. “I’ll have the same.”

“Do you want a cheese Danish, too?” Jacques asked.

Jack shook his head. “I’d rather have a plain bagel, toasted, with cream cheese. Can you do that?”

“No problem,” Jacques assured him. “Do you want plain cream cheese or garden veggie?”

Jack’s brow rose in thought. “Hm, garden veggie sounds good. I’ll have that.”

“Coming right up,” Jacques said as he rang up their order. He watched with amusement when Jack and Georgia squabbled good-naturedly about who was going to pay. In the end, Georgia won out.

“After all,” Georgia said in her winning argument, “I invited you for coffee. It’s only fair that this date is on me.”


Another is this a Date Conundrum

Jack had acquiesced though he wasn’t sure about her classification of their meeting as a date. As they waited for their order, Jack told himself, What the hell, I’m having coffee with an attractive woman in a quaint beach town cafe on a beautiful summer morning. Why not call it a date?

He looked at Georgia, noting how the conservative skirt and jacket she wore did nothing to hide the fact that she had a nice - if not buxom - figure. There is no way this woman is - Jack stopped to do the math based on what his mother told him the night before - forty-four years old.

Catching him checking her out, Georgia asked, “What are you thinking about, Jack?”

Knowing he’d been caught and, surprising himself, not feeling embarrassed about it, he told her the truth.

“I think you look very nice in that outfit.”

A shy grin crossed Georgia’s face, and her eyes sparkled at the compliment. She tilted her head and said, “Why, thank you, Jack.”

Inside, Georgia felt her heartbeat speed up and a flutter in her stomach. How did he do that to me with a simple compliment?

Jacques set their coffees on the counter and handed Georgia her cheese Danish. To Jack, he said, “Sir, I’ll bring your bagel out to you when it’s ready.”

“Thanks,” Jack said absently to Jacques as he picked up his coffee. He turned and scanned the tables to find a seat for himself and Georgia. A couple of older ladies who’d been sitting at a table by the front window appeared to be leaving.

Jack touched Georgia lightly on her arm to get her attention and when she looked at him, said, “How about that table by the window?”

“Yes,” Georgia said. “That’ll do nicely.” She was disappointed when Jack took his hand off her arm and let her lead the way to the table.

Their conversation started with Georgia telling Jack about her work at the CPA firm. Jack told Georgia about his years teaching high school and what it had been like going back to college after leaving the Army.

Gradually, the talk turned to their children, what they’d been like growing up and what they were doing now. Before the subject of their deceased spouses became something more than an occasional mention in regard to the other topics, Georgia announced that she had to be going.

Making a Real, Honest to Goodness, Date


Glancing at the beautiful gold watch she wore, Georgia frowned and said, “I really do have to go. I wish I didn’t.”

“So do I,” Jack said, giving her an easy smile. “I’ve enjoyed this morning. Will you still be on the island for lunch?”

Georgia consulted the calendar on her iPhone and shook her head. “No, I’m afraid I’ve got a lunch meeting back at the office.”

“Oh,” Jack said. His shoulders slumped. “Perhaps another time.”

He pushed his chair back and started to get up.

Georgia smiled up at Jack and said, “I’m not doing anything this evening. I’ll probably finish up at the office around six.”

Jack hesitated at pushing his chair under the table. “I was probably just going to order a calzone or something from Mama Leone’s.”

Georgia stood up and said, “I know the place well. They have a pizzeria on one side and an Italian Restaurant that doesn’t serve pizza on the other?”

Jack nodded, so Georgia continued, “Tell me what you think of this idea: You order and pick us up a couple of calzones from Mama Leone’s and meet me at the picnic shelter in the park, the one on the south side of the lake. Do you know the place I’m talking about?”

Jack nodded and said, “I walked by it this morning.”

“Good,” Georgia said. “You bring the food, and I’ll bring the drinks. Is sweat tea okay with you?”

Georgia’s assuming I want to do this picnic thing she’s dreamed up, Jack thought. Why not? It’s not like I had other plans.

“Sweat tea sounds fine,” Jack told Georgia. “Should I bring anything else besides the calzones?”

“We’ll need forks and things like that, paper plates, napkins,” Georgia said. “Can you get those, or should I pick some up on my way?”

“I’ll bring those, and some cups for the tea,” Jack said. He smiled. “This is going to be fun.”

“Fun is what I’m going for,” Georgia said. “And after we fill up with food, we can take a walk around the park to work it off.”

She glanced at her watch and gasped. “I’m really going to be late if I don’t go right now.”

Much to Jack’s surprise, she leaned towards him and kissed him lightly on the cheek. Georgia pulled back, seemed almost as surprised as Jack was, and wiped at the lipstick on his face.

“I have to go,” Georgia said. “See you, Jack.”

Jack stood there and managed to say, “Okay, see you.”

He walked with her to the door and watched as Georgia got into her car. A moment later she turned the car off and got out.

“My client is right next door,” she said, explaining why she’d gotten out of her car. “Mr. Mumples, at The Beach Cone.”

“Oh,” Jack said and tried not to laugh. “I see.”

Georgia reached behind the seat of her Mercedes and picked up her laptop and attaché cases.

“I think that’s everything,” she said. “See you, Jack.”

Jack hadn’t moved. He was making a heroic effort not to laugh. Not trusting himself to speak, he merely nodded at Georgia before she turned and walked over to The Beach Cone.

Starting over at 55 continues in Chapter 17.

© 2019 DW Davis

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