On the first of the month a new chapter is posted from an as yet to be released book. The current book is Tansy Moves In. This is the first book of the upcoming Oak Hill Series. I hope you enjoy January’s chapter.
Besides giving her a large amount of paper to read over, there was little left for Tansy to discuss with Peter. She now knew her aunt left her quite a great deal of money, property and investments. She knew she would be meeting with Peter once a month to make certain the books balanced, she knew that there was a second bank in the city where Eunice kept further funds she didn’t want gossiped about in Oak Hill and that Tansy’s boss captained the legal team for the affairs Eunice didn’t want Oak Hill to know about either.
As Peter went to see if Mr. Wallace was free, Tansy wondered how inheriting Eunice’s estate would affect her job. Would she be allowed to remain at her position with Hampton, Lowell and Carmichael or would she need to leave the job? While there was plenty of money in the accounts, Eunice seemed to have created a balance. Tansy wasn’t certain she could take money from any of the accounts without disturbing the balance.
‘Perhaps I need to create my own wall of notes to figure out which account I can use to pay bills,’ Tansy thought.
Peter returned an older man who looked as though he was built to exact banking specifications was with him. The older man wore a pinstriped three piece suit. His white shirt looked so sharp she knew it had to be starched to within an inch of its life and his plain black tie looked knotted tight enough to choke him. As Tansy stood up, she wondered if that was why he was slightly red in the face.
Standing Tansy could see the marks of his comb across his light brown locks. The man pushed past Peter, actually knocking him aside and causing him to knock his shoulder into the door frame.
“Ms. MacDougal,” The man said as he moved forward. He held his arm out and grasped her hand in both of his, clasping it between them rather than shaking it. “Jared Wallace,” he introduced himself. “I am so saddened by Ms. Eunice’s passing. How are you holding up?”
“I’m doing the best I can,” Tansy replied. Mr. Wallace’s hands were cold, yet slightly sweaty at the same time, it was a disconcerting feeling to have her hand imprisoned by them. His fingers clamped around her wrist like a cuff. She wasn’t certain what would happen if she tried to pull free.
“Of course, of course,” he said. “We must all soldier on. I understand you have been to see Roderick?”
“Yes, he gave me the keys and the papers from his office last week.”
“And now you have finished with Peter?” he continued.
“I…believe so,” Tansy replied. She looked around Mr. Wallace to Peter.
“We are done,” Peter assured her. “You are welcome to leave the paperwork stack in here until you are finished with Mr. Wallace.”
“Thank you,” Tansy replied. Mr. Wallace looked slightly disappointed and cast what looked like a longing look towards the stack of papers Peter compiled for her.
“Well, then let’s get started,” Mr. Wallace said. He drew Tansy towards the door by her imprisoned arm and Tansy followed. Peter stepped to the side. He looked vaguely amused and as she passed, he gave her a wink. Tansy smiled back.
As they stepped into the hallway, Mr. Wallace dropped her hand and Tansy resisted the urge to rub it on her trouser leg. Her hand felt cold and moist as though Mr. Wallace sucked away her warmth and left her chill and damp. She ignored the sensation and followed him back towards his office. As they walked, Tansy recalled the Weathersby’s mentioning someone named Jared telling them of her upcoming bank meetings. She suspected this was the Jared they meant.
‘I also suspect that he was one of the gossips Eunice didn’t want to know of her business.’ Tansy thought as they stepped into Mr. Wallace’s office.
His space was much grander than Peter’s. His table was a veritable island of mahogany. The seats were tufted leather and the carpet laid over the more industrial bank flooring was thick and expensive looking. The walls were painted a light beige color and for some reason all of the paintings on the wall had a nautical theme to them. One was of ships docked at a port, their masts and tied down sails forming a line of posts. The one behind his desk was of some sort of sailing ship caught in the middle of a storm at sea.
As Mr. Wallace moved behind his desk, it was placed just over his head. The painting was quite realistic. Even though she knew it was oil on canvas, the lightning fairly crackled and the water felt as though it was going to be blown out of the frame by the wind sending the painted sea and distressed ship down onto the neatly combed rows of Mr. Wallace’s head.
‘Maybe that’s why he is cold and damp,’ Tansy thought as she settled herself in the guest chair. Although she focused on Mr. Wallace, she couldn’t help glancing up at the painting every so often, just to make certain the ship stayed in its frame.
“I’m sure Peter has gone over his end of things,” Mr. Wallace began. “Although if you feel you need anything broken out in more detail, I would be happy to be of service.”
“I appreciate that, Mr. Wallace,” Tansy replied.
“Please, call me Jared.”
Tansy smiled politely.
“As you know Ms. Eunice kept both a savings and a checking account with us. I know she often transferred money in from accounts held at another bank although I told her that wasn’t really necessary. We could easily manage all of her accounts here if she wished. I believe she was on the verge of transferring them over when… well, she didn’t really get the chance, I suppose.”
His face drooped into sad lines as though it was melting. Tansy flicked her gaze upward and for just a moment, she thought she saw a flicker of movement in the frame, as though one of the waves shifted in the wind.
‘A trick of the light,’ she thought.
“I suppose not,” she answered Mr. Wallace, looking back at his drooping face.
“Should you decide to consolidate and merge the accounts I would be more than willing to handle the transaction personally,” he continued.
“I appreciate that,” Tansy said. “But I would like to figure out Aunt Eunice’s system before I start making adjustments.”
“Of course, of course, very sensible.” His droopy grief faded and his face shifted into lines of approval. He nodded and Tansy risked another glance at the painting. This time she was certain one of the waves moved. She saw the prow of the ship dip slightly as though beginning it’s descent into the trough of a wave.
“Thank you, Mr. Wallace,” Tansy replied. Her eyes darted from the painting to the banker and then back again. She just couldn’t stop looking.
“I told you, Jared.” His voice was chiding.
“Of …of course…Jared.” Tansy replied. As Jared Wallace began talking about her Aunt, Tansy realized that her meeting with him was mostly a way for him to explain to her how he could be of use to her. The account information she was getting from him was the same information she could have gotten from the teller at the front counter. She assumed the personal touch was due to the large amounts of cash in Eunice’s accounts as well as the large sums he assumed she had stashed elsewhere. It was quite clear that he wanted her to with the other accounts from wherever they were to his bank.
As he talked Tansy also realized that water was beginning to pool at the bottom of the picture frame. A dropped formed at the edge and rolled off, falling with a soft plop to the carpeted floor behind Mr. Wallace. Mr. Wallace ended his sentence. She waited for him to comment on the water as a second drop gathered and then fell to join the first. He didn’t seem to hear it. He did however seem to be waiting for some sort of response from her.
“Mmm,” Tansy said in a non-committal tone. “Something to consider.” A third drop began to gather and Tansy couldn’t take it anymore, she pushed to her feet. As she stood, so did Mr. Wallace. To her relief his body blocked the lower edge of the painting.
“Of course, you must have so much to do,” he said. “Especially with spending the week in the city. We’ll have a much longer chat once you are settled a little more.” He followed her to the door.
“Just out of curiosity, he said as they reached his door. “Will you be moving back to Oak Hill?”
“I plan to,” Tansy said. “I have a month left on my lease so I am going to be ferrying items over and then officially moving once my lease is up.” She told him. “At least that is the plan.”
“Excellent,” He said. “I look forward to welcoming you back as an official resident.” Jared walked her to Peter’s door and left her there. Peter handed her papers and walked her out of the back offices and towards the main lobby. Tansy crossed out of the private office space and into the more public areas. Here there were no paintings, just framed posters under Plexiglas advertising different savings plans and account options. While there were people and objects in them, everything appeared to stay stationary.
‘Maybe it is just oil that moves,’ Tansy thought as she thanked Peter for his help.
“No problem and if you want to keep Ms. Eunice’s appointment at the end of the month just let me know. Send an e-mail or something and we’ll set it up.”
“I appreciate that,” Tansy replied. The tassel in the graduation cap decorating the ‘save for college’ banking poster wiggled in a nonexistent breeze and Tansy decided it was definitely time to leave the bank. She turned away and as Peter returned to his office, Tansy left the bank and returned to her car. She settled the new paperwork into the passenger’s seat, closed the car door and took a look around. Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary.
For a moment, Tansy wondered if she was actually going crazy. Then she thought of Roderick and Margaret and the green fire. She thought of the two strangers at the back door and how they called her Aunt Eunice a witch.
“Right,” Tansy said. “Prying or not, it is time to look for Eunice’s latest diary.”