Finally, to mark the official release of Sixth South, I’d like to introduce you to the last of the four main characters, Olivia:
“Honey, I’m home,” Olivia called out as she walked into the house, and then chuckled at her own silliness.
She knew no one would answer—and no one had for two years—but it was a part of her evening routine that Olivia had no intention of stopping.
If nothing else, it helped the house feel a little less empty in the days since she’d lost Rich.
Olivia’s two daughters were long since grown and out of the house. One lived much too far away to suit Olivia and seemed married to her career. The other, at least, lived nearby, and even had children of her own. Olivia still struggled with the title of grandmother, even though Mason had arrived in the world seven years before, followed by Madison three years later. She might not be thrilled with the title, but Olivia had settled easily into the role, spoiling both of them over the protests of her daughter Amy.
Her children had moved out of their own volition when the time was right, and Olivia didn’t stop them. Nor would she let them move back in now, because she believed in teaching them to be self-sufficient.
A heart attack had claimed her beloved husband’s life; no discussion, no choice, three months shy of their fortieth anniversary. Two years later, Olivia still wasn’t used to being alone.
Baking kept her sane. Knitting calmed her nerves. Teaching filled her days and reading allowed her an escape. People regularly asked the inevitable question about the dreaded ‘R’ word. When was she going to retire? Her standard response usually garnered a chuckle or the occasional eye roll. Whenever she got tired of teaching or they ran her out of the classroom on a rail. She still enjoyed teaching, and after so many years she was fairly confident the school district would never run her out of the classroom, on a rail or otherwise. She would leave when she was good and ready. Olivia didn’t expect that would be anytime soon.
Her new colleague may have thought she’d been kidding about being the hall mother. Having worked with both Joni and Kelsey since they started teaching at Ramson, she’d been there with baked goods when Joni’s children were born, as well as to celebrate the momentous days when Kelsey adopted her kids. More than colleagues, they were her closest friends, and she loved them as she did her own children. Olivia looked forward to developing the same sort of relationship with Megan, although the generational difference might be difficult to overcome.
It was another night of a simple bowl of soup for dinner, this time bean and ham, with a buttered hard roll on the side. She had just settled down with a serving of her famous—at least in her mind—crème brûlée and her knitting when the doorbell rang. She made a point of checking through the peephole first, and smiled as she pulled the door open.
“Amy! This is a surprise.”
“I hope I didn’t scare you, Mom,” her daughter said.
“Nah. I don’t scare easily. You know that. Come on in.” Olivia opened the door wider and gestured Amy inside, noticing that she carried a shopping bag. “What’s that? A present for me?” Her smile turned to a frown as she read the name of the electronics store on the bag. “You didn’t.”
“Yep. I did.” Amy grinned as she pulled the box out of the bag and handed it to Olivia.
She took one look at it, groaned, and set it on the table. “An iPad?” She shook her head. “We’ve been over this. I have a computer I can use at school. I don’t need, or want, an iPad.”
“You can’t get on Facebook on the computers at school.”
“For which I am eternally grateful.”
Amy opened the box, removing the offending device. “I don’t know why you’re so opposed. If you were on Facebook, then we could be friends.”
“I like to think we’re already friends.”
Her daughter rolled her eyes. “Of course we are. You know what I mean.” She did. That was the problem. “You could see all the cute pictures of the kids I have posted on my page.”
“If I have to get on Facebook to see pictures of my grandkids who live in the same town, it’s a sure sign of the apocalypse,” Olivia retorted.
“I doubt it.” Amy let out a sigh. “Okay, fine. I won’t bug you about Facebook anymore. At least for today.” She held out the tablet and tapped one of the icons. “You’re going to love this, though. You can download music—”
“Me? Download music?” That was about as likely as Facebook.
“Well, okay, probably not that,” Amy acknowledged and tapped another icon. “You can read books on it. All your favorite novels.”
“I like holding a real book. I like the feel of the pages. I even like the way the pages smell and the sound it makes when you open it for the first time.”
Another eye roll. “Anyone ever tell you you’re stubborn, Mom?”
“Your father. Every day.”
Amy grinned. “He was a very wise man.” She forged on in her determination to find something Olivia would like about the tablet. “What about knitting?”
“What about it?”
“You like knitting.” Amy tapped on the screen and then smiled as she apparently found what she was looking for. “Here, look.” She held it out for Olivia to see. “There’s a knitting app.”
Since when did knitting need an app? “What does that do?”
“Well, let’s find out.”
For the next fifteen minutes, Olivia watched as her daughter went through the set up of the tablet and pointed out various functions. She still thought it was an unnecessary purchase, but she knew Amy must have spent a great deal of money on it, and with the best of intentions. “I’ll give it a try. Who knows, maybe I’ll even like it.”
“Stranger things have happened,” Amy quipped. “I need to get home, so I’ll let you just play around with this and see what you like. There’s just one more thing I want to show you.” Olivia watched, curious, as Amy opened up one of the applications she’d installed. “This is an online dating app. I think you should give it a try.”
It took a few seconds for that to sink in. A dating app? “Amy Nicole Rimer Kent—”
“It’s been a while since you’ve used all four names.” Amy grinned. “Gotta run. Have fun, Mom.”
I hope you’ve enjoyed these introductions to the characters and the brief glimpse into their lives. If you’d like to read more, Sixth South is now available from the following retailers:
Barnes & Noble: