The Home Stretch

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Monday morning, Broderick showed up at my house at five o'clock on the dot, but instead of staying for breakfast, he offered to take me on an early run for coffee before class. It was going to be a long day—a long week—with football and marching band practices immediately following our summer class. He wanted us to be prepared.

"We just have to make it through the week, Jules. Practices all week this week and our Algebra final this Friday. This is the home stretch before we start a new school year." He grinned, charged with excitement. Now, I can't promise fancy coffee like the Java House, but I can promise caffeine and a good sugar high."

He grabbed my flag and bag that had my change of clothes in it and threw them in the backseat with his football gear. We drove through the dark morning hour to the local breakfast diner, Donuts 'N More. He saw my apprehension that all the lights inside appeared to be off.

"I know the owner and I'm willing to bet that she's been here since about three this morning getting ready for the breakfast crowd." He put the jeep in park and walked to the back entrance as if he'd been doing it every morning for years. He knocked until a middle aged woman appeared smiling at the door, her gray and faded blond hair pulled back into a sloppy bun.

"Broderick!" she reached her arms up to hug him. "Taryn said you'd be by this morning. Who's your friend?" She eyed me as she allowed us inside the building.

"This is Jules Taylor," he introduced us. "Jules, this is Taryn's mom, Sarah Green, but we all call her 'Mama Green'."

"Nice meeting you." I smiled; still in a minor sleep state, trying to wake up.

"Same here." She thrust her hand out after wiping most of the flour onto her apron. Her down to earth manner quickly relaxed me, reminding me of my own mother.

"I have plenty of original glazed and chocolate icing ready for you two to grab." She walked us to a kitchen area with a tray full of fresh doughnuts. "The coffee is up at the front of the diner by the counter."

Broderick handed me a small plastic container. "You get the doughnuts. I like chocolate, so get me at least three of those. What do you want in your coffee?"

"Two creams and six sugars, please."

"Are you sure you don't want seven sugars?" he teased as he disappeared through the swinging doors that led to the front of the diner.

I placed one glazed doughnut for me and then three chocolates for Broderick into the plastic to-go container. Continuing with her work, Mama Green positioned at least a dozen more in the industrial sized fryer. Broderick breezed through the doors and set down the two cups long enough to grab another one of each doughnut—a glazed and chocolate—and added them to the original four.

"Mr. Muir may want one." He winked.

I narrowed my eyes and laughed. "You are such a suck up!"

He walked over to the fryer with the two drinks and set them on the empty tray that was waiting for a fresh batch of donuts. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small wad of cash and stuffed it in Mama Green's side apron pocket.

"Thanks, Mama Green!" He kissed her swiftly on the cheek and swooped up the drinks as he dashed toward the door, signaling me to follow him quickly.

She turned and glared at him sternly. "Broderick Cooper, you come back over here and take this money, right now!"

"I can't. My hands are full. You've been very generous, ma'am."

"You use this money to take this pretty girl out sometime or buy her something nice," she lectured as I blushed at her suggestion.

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