The Golden Girl
by Cynthia Ellingsen
Marriage Matters, my new novel from Penguin-Berkley, is about a mother, daughter and grandmother who all get engaged at the same time and decide to share a wedding. The relationships between the three women and their antics are pretty hilarious, but I have to admit that there is a stand out in the crowd: June, the grandmother.
As much as I try to avoid playing favorites with my characters, I can’t help it with June. She’s a hoot! At 72 years old, she rocks a pair of stilettos and knows exactly what she wants out of life … and isn’t going to let anything stand in her way.
Apparently, June is a favorite with readers as well. Lately, I’ve had more and more women sharing stories with me about their grandmothers, which I love! Just the other day, I had a girl come up and tell me how much her grandmother has changed since becoming a widower.
“She doesn’t bake cookies anymore,” the girl told me, wide-eyed. “She drives a Mustang convertible, shops at Victoria’s Secret and whistles at construction workers. And they whistle back!”
These stories make me so happy. Maybe it was because I was raised watching the Golden Girls, but the idea of an expiration date for women just seems so blah to me. I love the idea that at 60, 70, or even 80, a whole new chapter in our lives can begin.
In Marriage Matters, 72-year-old June is just starting one of these chapters. A widower, she plans to stay single for the rest of her life … at least, until the silver fox Charley Montgomery moves in next door and disrupts her perfectly planned out world.
I hope you enjoy reading all about it!
Chloe, the granddaughter, has not heard from June in three days. Concerned that June has had a heart attack or fallen, Chloe enlists the assistance of her fiance, Geoff, to search her grandmother’s house.
Geoff searched the entire house from top to bottom. Nothing. In the kitchen, he walked over to the counter and eyed an apple on the cutting board. “This seems…” A note of hope crept into his voice. “Decently fresh.” He held it up. The apple was cut in half and only slightly brown at the edges.
Chloe’s heart pounded with relief. There might still be time to save her.
Geoff’s eyes darted to the window. “I think I just saw something move outside.”
Of course! June would have been working in her garden. Maybe she’d fallen out there. Chloe rushed for the back door. It was dark outside and she couldn’t see a thing, but she could hear the faintest muffle of laughter. “Grandma?” she called.
Abruptly, the laughter stopped. There was the sound of shuffling and nervous whispers. Chloe squinted. Through the dark night, she could swear she saw Charley Montgomery dart across the lawn. But he wasn’t wearing a shirt. And his hands were crossed in front of his …
Chloe froze. Her eyes fell on the wrought-iron table where her grandmother typically ate her breakfast. A checkered gardening shirt was neatly draped across it like a napkin. A few feet away, something white was suspended over a rosebush. Chloe put her hands over her mouth.
It was a brassiere.
She gasped in horror. No. This couldn’t be …
Geoff rushed into the yard, the beam of a flashlight bobbing in front of him. “Did you find her?”
With one hand, Chloe shielded her eyes. “Yes,” she whispered. “But something terrible is happening. Please turn off the …”
“Chloe?” June called, her voice high pitched and nervous. “Is that you?”
Geoff shined the light in the general direction. June was peeking out from behind a tree, a branch pulled over her form. Even though the tree was covering her, it was perfectly obvious that she was naked.
Chloe dove for the flashlight, turning it off. “Oh, no.” She clutched it in her fist, maintaining eye contact with Geoff, afraid of what else she’d see if she dared to look away. “Oh, no.”
“Chloe?” June called again. The leaves on the tree rustled.
“Don’t,” Chloe shrieked. “You stay right there!”
Geoff’s eyes widened as he, too, finally figured out what was happening. “Oh, no.”
Chloe closed her eyes, shaking her head. “Apparently,” she said, “my grandmother is not dead. Not even close.”
There was silence. Out in the garden, both June and Charley chuckled.
“Sorry,” June sang. “Didn’t mean to scare you. We just … um …”
“Got attacked by fire ants,” Charley said. “Had to wash the clothes out. But I think everyone’s okay now.”
“Yup.” June’s voice was cheerful. “Doing just fine.”
A small smirk settled at the corner of Geoff’s mouth. Raising his eyebrows, he said, “Fire ants. Is that what the kids are calling it these days?”
Cynthia Ellingsen is an author and screenwriter, who lives in Lexington, Kentucky with her husband. Marriage Matters is her second novel.