“Yes, Your Honor,” Sharon answered on Rosie’s behalf.

The judge set aside the paperwork and sighed heavily. “That being the case, I’m going to put your word to the test. Both of you have stated that your main concern in this divorce is your two children. That’s what I want to hear. Both of you seem determined to stay in their lives and I commend you for that. I hope you mean it. I agree to accept all conditions and terms as submitted to this court with one exception: joint custody.”

“Your Honor!” Zach roared to his feet.

“Hear me out, Mr. Cox,” the judge ordered and Zach sat back down.

Smugly Rosie crossed her arms, pleased that this insightful judge had seen through her husband.

“As I stated earlier, it’s important for the children to have a stable home. You two—not the children—are the ones who’ve decided to end this marriage. Therefore, the children are to remain in the house and the parents are the ones who’ll be moving in and out every few days.”

“But Your Honor—”

“These are my terms. Either accept them now or delay the divorce.”

Horrified, Rosie looked at Zach. How could they go along with this after they’d struggled over every single detail?

“Have you made a decision?” the judge asked.

Zach and his attorney were whispering. Soon afterward Otto stood. “Your Honor, my client agrees.”

Sharon glanced at Rosie and she too nodded. “My client agrees also.”

“Very well,” Judge Lockhart said, “the marriage is dissolved. I hope you can make this work, for the sake of your children.”

Rosie hoped so, too.

“Call him,” Charlotte urged Olivia. “He’s miserable and so are you.”

“No, Mother.” Olivia put her teacup down. “Not this time.” She was still furious with Jack, and she refused to approach him. If he could so easily give up on her, then she considered herself better off without him. But she asked, “How do you know he’s miserable?”

Her mother set aside her knitting and reached for the teapot in the middle of the kitchen table. She replenished her cup and then Olivia’s. “He asks about you every week when I drop off my column.”

That was encouraging. Still, Olivia had seen no actual evidence of his concern. If Jack cared for her as much as he said he did, then he should take her advice and fight for her.

The phone rang, and Olivia absently reached for it. “Hello.”

“It’s Seth.” Her son-in-law didn’t sound like himself. “Justine’s water just broke and her labor’s started. We’re leaving for the hospital now.”

“But it’s early,” Olivia cried. Three and a half weeks early, and that couldn’t be good for Justine or the baby.

“No one bothered to tell the baby that.”

What she heard in Seth’s voice was a sense of panic. “I’m leaving now,” she assured him. “Everything’s going to be fine. Babies are born early every day.”

“Yes, I know. This just caught me off guard. Can you call Stan for me?”

“Of course. Take a deep breath and I’ll meet you at the hospital.”

As soon as Seth was gone, Olivia punched out Stan’s work number and was put through immediately. “Stan Lockhart.”

“Hello, Grandpa,” she said, bubbling over with mingled excitement and concern. “Justine’s in labor and on her way to the hospital. Do you want to meet us there?”

Stan laughed, sounding delighted and equally thrilled. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Tell her I’ll see her soon, Grandma.”

“No need to rush,” her mother said as Olivia set the portable phone in its base. “These things take time.”

So spoke the wisdom of age, but Olivia knew she’d be hopeless anyplace but at the hospital. A baby was about to be born into their family, and she felt too much joy to hold inside. She couldn’t sit still, and began pacing compulsively through the house.

“Go,” Charlotte advised a few minutes later. “I’ll take care of everything here. Call me later.”

“Thanks, Mom.” Olivia kissed her mother’s cheek, grabbed her purse and car keys and was out the door.

For nearly an hour she sat alone in the waiting area. Seth came out to give her bits of information every now and then; so far, everything was going smoothly. Stan arrived, looking frazzled, two hours later. They sat and drank coffee and chatted.

“Remember the night James was born?”

“I don’t think I could forget that.” She gave an exaggerated shudder. “We barely made it to the hospital.”

Soon they were laughing, caught up in memories of the early years of their marriage.

“Remember the Christmas Eve you decided to assemble Jordan’s bicycle?” she asked.

“Don’t remind me,” Stan groaned. “As I recall, the instructions were in Japanese and you were the one who said assembling a bike couldn’t possibly be that difficult.”

“My mistake.”

“What about the time you decided to teach Justine how to bake bread?”

Olivia rolled her eyes at the memory. In an effort to be helpful, Justine had picked up—and dropped—a ten-pound bag of flour that exploded on impact. For years afterward, Olivia found traces of the powdery substance all over the kitchen—beneath the sink, behind the refrigerator, in the backs of drawers.

The hours passed with barely a notice as they immersed themselves in laughter and memories.

At close to nine, Seth appeared, wearing the biggest grin Olivia had ever seen. She’d almost forgotten the reason they were at the hospital. She leaped to her feet, ready for the news.

“We have a son,” Seth announced. “Leif Jordan Gunderson. He’s a big boy for arriving early. Six pounds, two ounces. The doctor said he’s a mite premature, but his lungs sound like they’re working just fine.”

Olivia promptly burst into tears.

By the time Olivia got home, she was happy but exhausted. Her mother had left a note on the kitchen table.

Think about what I said.

Jack misses you.

Call him.


Jack. Olivia hadn’t give him a thought since she’d left for the hospital. In fact, she’d had a perfectly wonderful time reminiscing with Stan. All of a sudden she wasn’t sure what she wanted anymore. All of a sudden there was more to think about than she’d realized. If her ex-husband wanted back in her life, then maybe she should let him. Maybe she should consider all her options. Maybe it wasn’t too late for her and Stan….

Getting ready for bed, Olivia thought about her divorce, and the couple she’d seen earlier that morning came to mind. Her decision to take them at their word and force them to put their children first had been a bold one. The kids were to stay in the home, and the parents would move in and out. Everyone who lived at 311 Pelican Court

would be going through a big adjustment and for the sake of their children, she sincerely hoped they could make it work.

As for her…well, Olivia would watch and wait. She’d see how things went at 311 Pelican Court—and she’d be keeping an eye on events at 204 Rosewood Lane, too. Just making sure that Grace continued to regain her confidence, her emotional equilibrium.

And with two men in her own life, who could tell what might happen at 16 Lighthouse Road?