Every piece had a story, a past, which was important to her. And though she loved it all, everything had a price—except the things she had stored in a special trunk that she kept for herself. Those things were pieces of her past, and her only luxury.
As she looked around the shop, it was with the usual surge of complicated emotions. Pride, which was easy to understand. And relief, which wasn’t.
She’d left her old world, although, granted, not on her own terms. In fact, she’d been cut out of her old world, separated from everything and everyone she’d ever known.
In hindsight, it was easy to see that it hadn’t been anything personal. Her show had come to an end, and that was Hollywood, baby.
But when she’d been in it, when the sets, her trailer, the food service, and the studio had been all the home she’d ever needed, losing it had been devastating. And yeah, she’d lost her way and gone a little wild. There was no disputing that it’d taken her a long time and a lot of screw-ups to figure her shit out, but she had figured it out.
So maybe the relief wasn’t so hard to explain after all.
The shop bell rang, and three older women walked in. They were in polyester tracksuits in varying colors of the rainbow. Purple, pink, and green, all with bright white tennis shoes.
The leader, the one in purple, was Lucille. Hard to determine her exact age, but it was somewhere near the three-quarters-of-a-millennium mark.
“Heard you landed yourself in the drink and got saved by Captain Hottie,” Lucille said in lieu of a greeting.
“Captain Hottie?” Olivia repeated.
Lucille grinned. “Sorry. I forget you’re not a born-and-bred local. I’m talking about Cole Donovan. Did he give you mouth-to-mouth?”
“Uh, no,” Olivia said. “And that’s not exactly how it went, by the way.”
Lucille’s face fell. “Well, better luck next time, then.”
Her cohorts nodded sagely.
Lucille leaned in close to Olivia. “You may not know this, either,” she whispered like she was imparting a state secret, “but just about every woman in town would like to get with that.”
Olivia just blinked.
“Get with that,” Lucille repeated, enunciating each word as if she thought Olivia was half-deaf, or maybe just a little slow on the uptake. “It means—”
“I know what it means,” Olivia said quickly, not wanting to hear Lucille spell it out. Good Lord. “I just…I don’t know why you’re telling me this.”
“Because many have gone before you, but no one has succeeded,” she said.
The others nodded like bobbleheads.
“Succeeded in what?” Olivia asked.
“Why, getting into his heart, of course,” Lucille said. “Not since…” She hesitated. “Well,” she said demurely, “far be it from me to spread rumors.”
“It’s just that he’s such a good man,” Lucille said. “And though women line up to try to catch him, he’s been laying low, not nibbling at any lines.”
“You are aware that he’s not actually a fish,” Olivia said.
“If he were, he’d be a really great fish,” Lucille said. “You’ve seen him, you know what I’m talking about.”
Olivia thought back to the Blanket Incident three days prior, when she’d taken a good, solid look at Cole in all his naked glory. And there’d been a lot of glory.
So she had to agree—she knew exactly what Lucille was talking about.
“And on top of looking so fine, he can fix anything,” Lucille said. “You have any idea how rare that is in a man these days? And he coaches his five-year-old nephew’s baseball team. He’s worth a test drive, is all I’m saying.”
“Now you’re making him sound like a used car,” Olivia joked, trying to think of a way to get out of this conversation without turning away customers. “How many miles does he have on him?”
Lucille didn’t smile. “I’m serious, honey. He’s…special. I want you to take very good care of him.”
Olivia paused. “He’s not mine to take care of.”
A look of disappointment crossed Lucille’s face, and Olivia sensed any purchase opportunities going down the drain. “Tea,” she said. “How about tea?”
“You got the good stuff?” Lucille asked.
She was talking about the Keurig machine that Olivia had splurged on to serve her customers. Each cup she made cost a mint, but even though some people came in just for the tea—cough, Lucille, cough—it was worth it. “Always,” Olivia said.
Lucille smiled. “Well, then, of course. We’re here looking for some pearls.” She gestured to the woman in the bright pink tracksuit next to her. “Mary needs a strand to wear to her sister’s birthday party. Problem is, she already spent her social security check on bingo this week, so she’s hoping you got something that looks real expensive but isn’t, know what I’m saying?”
“Sure. What’s the budget?” Olivia asked, trying to figure out if they wanted real pearls or imitation.
Imitation it was, then. “I have just the thing,” Olivia said. And she did. She’d been gifted with the ability to collect what others didn’t even know they wanted to buy until they saw it. From a young age she could recognize a Chanel at a garage sale as opposed to a Kohl’s knockoff, and she could bargain like no other.