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The Caffeinated Grape (A Buzby Beach Novelette) Chapter 07

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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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Will and Kate were showered and changed and sitting out on the patio drinking ice water when Dallas and Donovan got to the townhouse. They were still there when Donovan and Dallas, having taken their separate showers, came back downstairs. Carrying her overnight bag and beach bag, Dallas went out to the patio to say goodbye to Will and Kate. Then Donovan walked her to her car.

Dallas stowed her bags in the trunk. Donovan held the driver’s side door open for her. Dallas closed the door and stepped into his arms.

“I wish I didn’t have to go,” she whispered.

“I wish you could stay,” Donovan replied just as softly.

Their lips found their way to a kiss neither wanted to end.

When they finally parted, Donovan said, “Call me when you get home, so I’ll know you made it okay.”

Dallas stepped towards her Boxster and opened the car door. “I will. I promise.”

She got in the car, shut the door, and started the engine.

Donovan pressed the button to open the garage door. Dallas blew him a kiss through the windshield, backed out of the garage, and drove away. Donovan closed the garage door.

Back upstairs, he joined Will and Kate on the patio.

Will held up his glass of water and said, “You know, Dad, you really need to go grocery shopping. You’ve got nothing in the kitchen except coffee and creamer.”

“I don’t have any food in the house because I never eat at home,” Donovan explained. “It’s easier to go out to eat than to cook for one. I was never much of a cook anyway.”

“I have to admit you weren’t an excellent cook,” Will said with a laugh. “Whenever Mom had to be gone overnight, she’d cook our meals ahead of time and freeze them, so all you had to do was zap them in the microwave.”

“Your Mom is a smart woman,” Kate said.

“About some things, I suppose,” Donovan told the girl. “Speaking of meals, where do you two want to have dinner?”

Will grimaced. “I’m afraid we can’t stay for dinner, Dad. Kate has an early class, and I have to study for a test. We need to get on the road.”

Donovan stood. “I understand. I’m glad you came down. You made my day.”

He walked the young couple out to Will’s Jeep. Kate got a friendly goodbye hug. Will got a bear hug. Donovan stood in the driveway and watched until they were out of sight. Then, finding himself in the mood for chicken wings and onion rings, he walked to the Pirate’s Cave for dinner.

Donovan was finishing his plate of hot wings when he realized he didn’t know where Dallas lived or how long it should take her to get home. * I really should have asked her.*

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He finished his wings, ate his last onion ring, washed it all down with the rest of his ale, paid his bill, over tipped his server, and decided to take a walk on the beach. He’d gone about a hundred yards when his phone rang with Dallas’s ring tone.

Donovan slid his finger across the screen and said, “I was starting to get worried.”

“Where are you?” Dallas said by way of reply.

“I’m taking a walk on the beach,” Donovan answered. “Why? Where are you?”

“I’m in my car wondering if you’d please come home and open your garage so I can park my car inside,” Dallas informed him.

Donovan stared at his phone for several seconds before saying, “Give me three minutes.”

He pressed the button on his key fob that opened the garage door as soon as he was close enough. He saw the brake lights on Dallas’s Boxster come on, heard the engine start, and followed the car as Dallas pulled it into the garage. He reached the car just as Dallas climbed from the driver’s seat. Donovan stopped at the left rear fender and waited until Dallas turned toward him.

“Not that I’m not glad to see you, Dallas, but what are you doing here?”

Dallas licked her lips and said, “I noticed you had a washer and dryer. My laundry is in the trunk. I brought my work laptop, too. I assumed you have wifi.”

“You can use my washer and dryer, and yes, I have wifi,” Donovan conceded. “But, Dallas, what are you doing here?”

Dallas took a step toward Donovan. “Well, see, I got home, and I was sitting in my driveway, and this awful ache squeezed my heart.” She took another step closer to Donovan. “It was a terrible feeling, Donovan, and it was your fault.”

Donovan tilted his head. “How was it my fault?”

Dallas took another step. She was so close they were almost touching. “It was your fault because the ache was me missing you. I don’t know how you did it, you pirate, but you’ve already laid claim to my heart.”

Donovan reached out and cupped her face in his hands. “I hope you think it was a fair trade.”

Dallas smiled and blinked back a tear. “Are you saying...”

Donovan nodded and closed the remaining distance between them, taking Dallas in his arms and pressing his lips to hers with earnest and honest passion.

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Pulling away just enough to whisper, “Maybe we should go inside,” Dallas broke the spell.

Donovan took a couple of deep breaths to compose himself and said, “Pop the trunk, and I’ll grab your bags.”

Dallas’s shoulders drooped in disappointment. Donovan realized he’d totally misread her signal. He also recognized the moment had passed.

Dallas opened the trunk. Donovan picked up the cloth bag he assumed was full of laundry and a medium-sized suitcase. Dallas went around to the car’s right side and retrieved her laptop and purse from the passenger seat.

Donovan held up the cloth bag. “Should we leave this in the laundry room?”

“Leaving it makes more sense than bringing it down later,” Dallas replied. She shouldered her laptop bag and walked toward the elevator.

Donovan dropped the cloth bag in the laundry room and joined her.

“I figured we’d drop this stuff in my room, and then I’d come down and start my laundry,” Dallas said as they waited for the elevator to travel down from the second floor.

“You’re going to go on sleeping in the guest room?” Donovan asked after they’d squeezed into the tiny elevator car.

The car began to rise as Dallas said, “I’m an old-fashioned girl at heart, Donovan. I think you’re an old fashioned boy, too.”

The elevator reached the second floor. Donovan let Dallas exit first. Then he followed her to the guest room.

“You’re right,” Donovan said after setting her suitcase on the end of the bed. “While I’m thrilled to have you stay with me as long as you want, we shouldn’t rush into a more intimate physical relationship until we’re both sure we’re ready.”

Dallas turned to look at Donovan. “I’m glad you understand. I knew you would. As for the ‘as long as you want’ part, let’s give it a few days and see how it goes.”

The first few days of ‘as long as you want’ went very well. Donovan and Dallas rose early, walked together on the beach, had breakfast at EJ’s, and then returned to the townhouse where Dallas got ready for work, and Donovan settled down to work on the book he was trying to write.

Friday afternoon, like he did every afternoon, Donovan went to The Caffeinated Grape as soon as it opened. Dallas met him there when she got off work. Business was steady, heavier than weeknights, but not more than Becky and Cedric could handle. After a second ale for Donovan and a glass of wine for Dallas, the couple went to dinner at Neptune’s Palace.

“I was thinking,” Donovan said while they waited for their appetizer of fried calamari rings, “about turning the living room into a double office where we could both work, and then we could use the other upstairs room as our guest room.”

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Dallas took a sip of her raspberry-lemonade. “Does planning such rearrangements mean you feel our sharing your townhouse while dating is working out?”

Donovan leaned forward in his seat and pressed his hands together. “I feel so strongly that it’s working out I want to ask you to make it permanent. Dallas, will you give up your apartment and move in with me?”

Dallas let out a shaky breath. “I had a feeling this question was coming. I’ve given a lot of thought to how I’d answer it. You know I’ve been on my own for a long time. Giving up my independence isn’t going to be easy.” She reached across the table and pressed Donovan’s hands between hers. “Yes, I’ll move in with you, Donovan, on one condition. For now, we’ll continue to have our separate bedrooms. I need to keep that much of my independence, at least in the beginning.”

Donovan moved his hands and took hold of hers. He raised them to his lips and kissed each one. “Agreed!” he said with a broad smile.

Their server, an attractive young lady named Toni, brought their appetizer, refilled their drinks, and assured them their dinners would be out shortly. When she left, Dallas revived the idea of turning the living room into a combined office for the two of them.

“The living room has an open entrance,” Dallas pointed out after trying a calamari ring. “If we turn it into an office, we’ll probably want to put up a door. The office furniture you have would probably look okay in there. The assemble it yourself computer desk and filing cabinet I have probably won’t.”

Donovan polished off his second calamari ring before interrupting Dallas. “If we do this, we’ll get all new matching office furniture. I’m not a fan of early American eclectic.”

Dallas laughed. “Okay. One problem solved. What about furniture for the guest room? We could move the furniture in my room to that room and move my bedroom suite from my apartment into my room. My bedroom furniture is top-of-the-line. It’s nothing like my computer desk.”

Donovan looked at the basket of calamari rings and decided to stop at three. “We’ll move your bedroom furniture here if you want it here. The townhouse will feel more like home to you with more of your stuff around.”

“All I need to make the townhouse feel like home is to have you around,” Dallas said sweetly.

Donovan's story continues in Chapter 8

© 2021 DW Davis