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The Caffeinated Grape (A Buzby Beach Novelette) Chapter 09

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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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On Friday night, Donovan took Dallas to dinner at Deluca’s, a fancy Italian Restaurant on Market Street in Wilmington. After dinner, they attended a play at Thalian Hall. Upon returning to the island, Donovan suggested they stop by The Caffeinated Grape for a nightcap.

When they walked in, Dallas looked at the candles and roses and said, “Donovan, what is going on?”

Donovan put a finger to his lips and led her to a two-top with a single candle and a single red rose. Once she was seated, Donovan took the seat opposite her. Then he began to speak.

“Dallas, you know that there had only been one woman in my life before I met you. Amelia and I were childhood sweethearts who grew up, got married, raised a family, and then someone took her from me. One thing you may not know is despite knowing each other from such a young age, Amelia and I were never intimate until our wedding night.

“I tell you this because I want you to know where I’ve been, because Dallas, I want to ask you to join with me in where I’m going.”

Donovan got out of his chair, moved around the table, got down on one knee, and pulled a diamond ring from his pocket.

“Dallas, will you join me on this journey and make it our journey. Will you marry me?”

Dallas, tears streaming down her cheeks, let Donovan slip the ring on her finger before she slid out of the chair and onto her knees on the floor with him.

“Yes, Donovan! Yes, I’ll marry you!”

She threw her arms around his neck, and their lips met in a loving and passionate kiss.

Becky, who’d been watching from the backroom, signaled Cedric, and the two of them came out with a bottle of champagne.

“Congratulations, you two!” Cedric called out. “Let’s toast to your future.”

Donovan and Dallas stood, smiles on their faces, arms around another. “Thank you, Cedric,” Dallas said. “Thank you both.”

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Donovan and Dallas stayed for one glass of champagne at The Caffeinated Grape before walking home. They went in the front door and up the stairs to the second floor. There in the hall between their two rooms, they stood facing each other, palms raised and pressed together, fingers entwined. They locked eyes, and the passion building between them arced like an electric charge.

Donovan swallowed hard and said, “I’ve never been intimate with anyone but Amelia.”

Dallas smiled and moved closer until she was pressing her body against his. “I know, my love, but I think tonight it’s time for that to change.”

Donovan released Dallas’s hands and put his arms around her, and said, “tonight, I want to show you how much I love you.”

He picked Dallas up and carried her into his bedroom, kicking the door closed behind him.

The wee early hours of Saturday morning found Donovan and Dallas wrapped in his bedspread, cuddling on the chaise lounge on the balcony outside his bedroom, overlooking the courtyard and pool. Dallas was asleep with her head on Donovan’s shoulder. Donovan lay awake, staring up into the stars and wondering what Amelia thought of him taking Dallas to his bed, or if she even knew at all.

His fiance stirred, and Donovan looked down to see her pale blue eyes staring up at him.

“I hope I didn’t wake you,” Donovan said.

Dallas shook her head so slightly Donovan would have missed it had there been any less light. “It wasn’t you, Love. It was the arm of this chaise sticking into my back.”

“I think it’s time we went back inside anyway,” Donovan suggested. “You’re sure to be more comfortable in bed than on this chaise.”

Dallas answered by extricating herself from the bedspread and hurrying into the bedroom. Donovan joined her in the bed a moment later. Dallas snuggled up against him, her head once more on his shoulder. Donovan kissed her forehead and then drifted off to sleep himself.

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The next time Donovan woke up, he was all alone in bed. The smell of coffee brewing told him where Dallas was. He got out of bed, found a pair of gym shorts to put on, and headed downstairs to join her.

Dallas was standing by the Keurig wearing even less than Donovan, which is to say nothing at all, when Donovan entered the kitchen.

“Good morning, Love,” Dallas said with a smile as she picked up the two mugs of coffee she’d prepared. “I was just about to bring these upstairs and wake you up.”

“Seeing you standing in our kitchen looking like you do is all the wakeup I need,” Donovan informed his fiance. “But the coffee is a nice touch.”

“You were supposed to stay in bed until I got back with the coffee,” Dallas scolded Donovan as she crossed to the kitchen table and put the mugs down. “Since you’re already awake, why don’t you take our coffee out onto the patio while I run up and put something on I can wear in front of the neighbors.”

Without waiting for Donovan to reply, Dallas breezed by him, stopping only long enough to kiss him, and hurried up the stairs. When she returned a few moments late wearing one of Donovan’s oversized t-shirts, he was sitting at the patio table waiting for her. She tossed him one of his to shirts as she approached the table.

“Here, put this on. If I have to cover up for the neighbors, so do you.”

Donovan laughed and shook his head but put the shirt on.

Dallas sat down, took a sip of her coffee, and said, “I guess we have a lot to talk about after last night.”

“Yes, we do,” Donovan agreed after sitting back down. “Where do you want to start?”

“First,” Dallas said after a sip of her coffee, “I think we need to discuss what our sleeping arrangements are going to be between now and the wedding.”

Donovan nodded and said, “Are you thinking we should go on sleeping in separate rooms until the wedding?”

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“Last night was wonderful, Donovan,” Dallas assured him. “It was everything I’d imagined it would be and more.” She moved from her chair across from Donovan to the chair next to him. “But if we start sharing a bed now as if we’re already husband and wife, is there any point in actually becoming husband and wife?”

Donovan took a slow breath while staring into his coffee cup. He gathered his thoughts and then said, “I’m glad we agree about that. Last night was wonderful, and I hope our wedding night will be just as wonderful, but you’re right; we should wait until we are husband and wife before we start living as husband and wife.”

The disappointed look on Dallas’s face was the last reaction Donovan expected.

Dallas leaned back in her chair and asked, “Is that how you really feel?”

Donovan, realizing he’d somehow said precisely the wrong thing by agreeing with Dallas, thought quickly. “Honestly, no, it isn’t. I believe we crossed a threshold last night, rang a bell that can’t be unrung. Married or not, we are engaged, and we’re mature adults. If, as an engaged couple, we decide to share a bed, then we should. I’m not going to want to marry you any less because we do.”

Dallas stood up and looked down at him. “Then why didn’t you say so in the first place?”

Very calmly, Donovan slid his chair back from the table and said, “Because I didn’t think it was what you wanted. If you thought we should wait, then I was willing to wait.”

Dallas sat down on Donovan’s lap and draped her arms around his neck. “Oh, you stupid man, I don’t want to spend one more night without you in bed beside me.”

Donovan stood and lifted Dallas in his arms as he did.

“What are you doing?” Dallas asked.

“I’m taking you up to our room,” Donovan replied.

Shaking her head, Dallas said, “You are not carrying me up those stairs, Donovan.”

Donovan smiled, tightened his hold, and said, “I’m not; you’re right. We’ve got an elevator, remember.”

If you just found this story, I invite you to go to where it all started.

© 2021 DW Davis