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The Caffeinated Grape (A Buzby Beach Novelette) Chapter 03

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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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Flirting in the early morning light

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Donovan woke up at sunrise the next morning and went for his two-mile walk along the beach. After his walk, he stopped at EJ’s for his morning bagel and sweet tea. Then he hurried home for a shower and change of clothes before grabbing his laptop and his camera and heading for The Caffeinated Grape. Dallas was just pulling into a parking space as he reached Ocean Street.

“Good morning,” Donovan called out as Dallas climbed from her car.

Dallas momentarily ignored whatever she’d been reaching into the car for and turned to greet Donovan with a hug and another brief kiss on the lips.

“Good morning,” she said after the kiss. “Don’t you look like the public relations professional this morning?”

“Why, thank you kindly, ma’am,” Donovan replied with a thick southern drawl. “If I may say so, you’re looking quite lovely this morning.”

Dallas spun around, causing the tail of her peasant shirt to billow out and giving Donovan a momentary glimpse of her tanned flat belly. With the peasant shirt, Dallas wore a pair of Navy blue capri pants and Rainbow flip-flops.

“Thank you, kind sir,” Dallas said in an accent more southern than Donovan’s, one befitting a daughter of Mobile. “I was hoping you’d like this ensemble.”

“I do, Dallas. You look great.”

The door to The Caffeinated Grape opened, and Becky stuck her head out. “If you two are done flirting, why don’t you come inside and make yourselves useful. We open in thirty minutes.”

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Grand Opening Part 1

From that moment until they closed at one, with the promise of reopening at four for the wine tasting, neither Donovan, Dallas, Becky, or Cedric had a minute to call their own. When the doors were locked behind the last departing customer, the four of them sat at the tall four-top near the back wall and debriefed over a fresh pot of coffee.

“This morning went better than I ever expected,” Cedric announced after taking a healthy drink from his mug. “We had so many people here. People from the island, folks on vacation, day-trippers, old, young, and everything in between showed up.”

“A lot of them said they’d seen us on Facebook or Twitter,” Becky pointed out. “Thanks to you, Donovan.”

“I’m glad I could help. People seemed to enjoy taking part in live streaming on Facebook. I thought we could live stream the whole wine tasting.”

Dallas put her arm around Donovan’s shoulders. “I think live streaming tonight’s event is a great idea. Right now, though, I’m ready for some lunch.”

Cedric held up his cell phone and said, “Lunch is on the way, courtesy of EJ’s. They’re sending over some sandwiches and chips.”

After lunch, Donovan went home to change into something more suited to an evening of wine tasting: a burgundy dress shirt with a rose pink tie, black Dockers, and black loafers. He also grabbed his wireless webcam. Though he’d never used it, Donovan didn’t think he’d have trouble figuring it out.

Dallas wows Donovan

Back at The Caffeinated Grape, Becky and Cedric were just finishing with the wine tasting setup.

“The shop looks great, y’all,” Donovan said as he walked in. “Where should I set up my webcam?”

“How about over the counter where it can take in the whole seating area?” Cedric suggested.

Donovan nodded. “Let’s give it a try.”

Donovan finished getting the webcam talking to his computer a moment before Dallas returned. He spotted her first on his computer screen. Donovan was stunned by the vision of Dallas on his screen. He looked up from his laptop, and the real-life Dallas walking across the floor toward him took Donovan’s breath away. She was wearing a black mid-thigh length cage neck cold shoulder cocktail dress that fit her like it had been sewn on. Her long tan legs were bare, and on her feet, she wore three-inch black heels. She’d accessorized with gold hoop earrings, a discrete gold chain necklace, a gold watch on her left wrist, a gold tennis bracelet on her right, and a fancy gold ring on the ring finger of each hand. Her right ankle also sported a thin gold chain.

“You’re staring,” Dallas pointed out when she reached the counter.

“You’re fabulous,” Donovan replied without taking his eyes off her.

Dallas smiled and reached across the counter to softly touch Donovan’s cheek. “Fabulous is what I was going for. I wanted to wow you on our third date.”

“Is this our third date?” Donovan asked as he put his hand over hers.

Dallas counted on the fingers of her free hand. “One-dinner last night. Two- lunch today. Three-here at the wine tasting.”

Donovan turned his head and kissed the palm of her hand before saying, “I can’t argue with your math.”

“I should hope not,” Dallas said as she slowly reclaimed her hand. “Math was my best subject.”

Grand Opening Part 2, The Wine Tasting

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Once the doors opened, Donovan and Dallas barely had time to say two words to each other. Dallas was busy pouring wine. Donovan alternated between taking and posting pictures and monitoring the live stream. Closing time was scheduled for midnight, but it was after one in the morning before the last customers said good night and Cedric could lock the door. Donovan signed off from the live stream. The two couples sat down around a high four-top and enjoyed their glasses of wine.

“I would say our grand opening was a rousing success,” Cedric said as he raised his glass. “Here’s to The Caffeinated Grape.”

They clinked glasses, and each took a sip.

“Here’s to Becky and Cedric for their vision and all their hard work in making this place a reality,” Dallas said, raising her glass.

There was more clinking and sipping.

“And here’s to all the people who came out and gave The Caffeinated Grape a try,” Donovan added. “May they all become loyal customers.”

“Here, here,” chorused the others as they raised their glasses yet again.

When they finished their wine, Dallas yawned and said, “I wonder if I can get a room here on the island. I’m not sure I’m in any shape to drive home."

Extra room

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“I have an extra room at my place,” Donovan offered. “It’s just a short walk from here.”

Dallas smiled at him. “Yes, I remember. If you’re sure you don’t mind, I think I’ll take you up on your offer.”

“I don’t mind at all,” Donovan assured Dallas as he climbed off his stool. “You’ll be my first guest.”

Dallas slid off her stool and nearly fell into Donovan’s arms. “Oh, goodness! I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be,” Donovan said while helping her get steady on her feet. “I didn’t mind catching you one bit.”

“You two be careful walking home,” Cedric cautioned the couple. “We might need your help again tomorrow.”

The four of them laughed, and then Cedric let Donovan and Dallas out the door.

“What about my car?” Dallas asked. She began to look through her petite purse.

“We can park it in my garage next to my Mustang,” Donovan suggested. He took the keys from Dallas’s hand. “I’ll drive.”

Dallas lowered her chin and looked askance at Donovan. “No one but me has ever driven my baby.”

Donovan opened the passenger door for her and said, “There’s a first time for everything.”

Once Donovan got settled into the driver’s seat, Dallas asked, “Do you know how to drive a stick-shift?”

“My Mustang is a six-speed,” Donovan informed her. “Your baby’s in good hands.”

“In that case,” Dallas said with a smile, “why don’t we take the long way home?”

Donovan's story continues in chapter 4

© 2021 DW Davis