To lead up to my official date of October 9th, I am going to post an excerpt a day from Sixth South to introduce you to the four main characters. Today’s excerpt features Kelsey. Although I think an author having a favorite character is akin to a parent having a favorite child, I will be the first to admit that Kelsey is my favorite. I hope my readers like her as well. Here’s an introduction to Kelsey and a glimpse into her family life:
Their son met up with a few friends as soon as they arrived at Pizza Playland and disappeared with five dollars’ worth of quarters in the direction of the games. Emily, meanwhile, colored on a placemat, seemingly oblivious to the rest of the world. Kelsey leaned back against the red vinyl booth. These were moments to cherish.
“Did you get everything ready to go for tomorrow?” Sarah asked.
“Hopefully. I think so.” Kelsey sipped her Diet Coke through a straw. “I met our new science teacher, the one replacing Kate. Her name is Megan Cassady.”
“Yeah? What’s she like?”
Kelsey shrugged as she set her glass down. “Nice enough, but pretty green. Straight out of UNH and ready to save the world, one sixth grader at a time.” She smiled, thinking of herself at that age. “I won’t hold her naïveté against her.”
“Big of you.” Sarah chuckled. “How long can she hang on to that, anyway?”
“At a school like Ramson? Maybe a year, at least if it’s not like last year.” Kelsey bent down to pick up a crayon that Emily had dropped to the floor. “I think she’ll work out okay.”
“And the others? How are they?”
“Liv is the same. She made chocolate peanut butter cookies for our meeting. May she never retire.”
“I’ll second that sentiment. I sure hope you brought a few home?” Sarah asked with a laugh.
“No. I brought a whole dozen. She baked extra for us and the kids.”
“I’ve got dibs on it first. I’m older and have a harder time keeping weight off,” Kelsey joked. The age difference was only two years, but she used it to her advantage whenever she could.
Sarah rolled her eyes. “If you say so. Thank Olivia for me. I think I love her.”
“Hey, watch it. You’re a married woman.” Kelsey grinned.
“That’s right, and happily so. I married the best cook in New England, even if I have to rely on her colleagues for baked goods.”
Kelsey feigned offense. “I can bake, too.”
“Yes, but your baking, while quite good, pales in comparison to your cooking.” Their server set two pizzas on their table, one with mushrooms and black olives, the other pepperoni, for the kids. Sarah reached for a slice of the first one.
“So that’s it?” Kelsey asked indignantly. “You just love me for my cooking?” She put a piece of veggie pizza on her plate and then cut up a slice of pepperoni for Emily.
“That pretty much covers it.” Sarah paused, as if pondering that. “Well, okay, there are maybe a few other things.”
“I thought so,” Sarah said with a laugh. “Are we still having a dinner party for all the gang?”
Kelsey liked the way Sarah said we, as if it were truly their dinner party rather than just hers. “I planned to, yeah, if you’re up for it.” She hesitated for a second. “You know what it means, though.”
“Tom.” Sarah twisted her straw around in her drink glass, using it break up some of the ice. “I don’t want him in our house, Kel.”
“You think I do?” It came out harsher than she intended.
“No. I know you don’t.” Sarah sighed and took a drink of her soda. “It’s fine. We’ll deal with it.”
“Thank you.” Kelsey reached across the table and touched Sarah’s hand. “I don’t want to talk about Tom right now.”
“Me neither.” Sarah smiled. “So we agree to drop it?”
“Consider it dropped.” Except Kelsey knew the subject would come up again, and eventually they wouldn’t be able to drop it. Sooner or later, they’d have to face Joni’s husband again.
“Can I have more quarters?” Ryan asked as he returned to the table. “Please?”
“Eat something first.” Sarah pointed at the pizza. “You were the one that wanted pepperoni.”
Ryan slid into the booth, grabbed a slice and wolfed it down. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Now, please?” He looked from one to the other. “I’m about to get a high score.”
Kelsey exchanged a glance with Sarah, who nodded and mouthed the word ‘one.’ She reached into her pocket and pulled out four quarters. “Here you go, but it’s the last of our hard earned money you’re spending tonight. If you don’t get the high score, it waits ‘til next time, pal,” she said firmly.
Sarah smiled in amusement as Ryan disappeared again. “He’ll get it.”
Kelsey nodded. “Most likely.” She reached for another slice of pizza. “This was a great idea.”
Across the booth, Sarah shrugged. “Every once in a while I have a few.”
“More than a few.” Kelsey smiled. “Maybe save a few for when you’re actually on the bench, though.”
“If I get there.”
“You’ll get there. We’ve already been over this.” For as long as she’d known Sarah, her aspiration had been to be a juvenile court judge. Now she had her chance. “No negative talk.” They both knew her application would be controversial, but for now, Kelsey wanted to focus on the positive. “You’re a shoe in.”
“Guilty.” Kelsey grinned. “What can I say? I’m crazy in love with you.”
“And you’re ready for the fallout?”
“Bring it on,” Kelsey said. “How bad can it get, anyway?”
I hope you enjoyed this excerpt. Please stop back tomorrow for a an introduction to Megan.