Hi again, mystery/suspense readers … or just readers who like some drama and uncertainly in their daily reading.
. I hope you enjoyed reading the first chapter of The Visitor Misses a Visit.
Here’s the second installment.
(And when I’ve finished posting all the chapters, you can read the whole prequel on my newsletter. Sign up on my website home page if you’d like to receive regular updates on my books.)
THE VISITOR Misses a Visit
Chapter Two – Impressions From the Golden Boy
The front door chimed and from Mrs. Hodges’ greeting, Connie wouldn’t have to wait for very long to finally meet the fair-haired golden child.
“Miss Wright, I presume.”
Connie looked up into a beaming face. “You must be Mr. Rutherford.” He didn’t look all that golden. Didn’t have a sparkle in his teeth or a shine to his gold hair, though he was on the handsome side with a clean-shaven, angular chin and piercing blue eyes.
“Call me Clint, please.” He came around the desk. “I have so been looking forward to meeting you.” He opened his arms wide and took a step closer.
A moment of indecision passed, but then Connie reached for his hand and pumped it several times hoping to match his cheerleader-like exuberance. “It’s odd that we haven’t met before now. But I hope you’re feeling at home here.” He hadn’t been involved with the foundation that long, but with the busyness of her last year in school, she’d hardly visited at all.
He placed his hand over her own. “I sincerely feel as if I’ve found something of a home here at the Wright Foundation.” His eyes got a little misty.
Well, he was nothing if not sincere. And it was nice of him to give them such a discounted rate to his work. Connie gave him a slight smile. “I understand that you’re able to lend us a few hours per week?”
“Yes, yes.” He released her hand. “I’ve done freelance work for a number of 501C3s. Though I still have a full-time position at the tax firm. Must keep my nose to the grindstone, as it were.” He furrowed his eyebrows and shook his head like some type of cartoon character. “But this is where I want to be. If I had my choice, I would work here full time.”
“Ah.” Connie merely smiled. “Well, I’m sure Mama and Dad are both delighted to have you here. I’m certainly glad that I don’t have to be the one to balance all the accounts.” Thankfully, Diana Carson had a financial background and hadn’t minded adding a little light bookkeeping to her volunteer hours.
Did she still do that or had Clint taken over the finances entirely? Oh …financials … She slipped past her chair to her backpack and pulled out the reimbursement form that she’d tucked in there. “I guess you should have this, then. It’s for the storage unit for my furniture.” She hated giving up her sweet little apartment, but the foundation only covered living expenses at the brownstone where her parents had lived all their married lives. Her suite on one side of the unit proved large enough for Connie to still feel like she lived on her own. Without the hassle of cooking or dishes.
Back to the business at hand. She held out the invoice. “If you’ll send the direct payment to my account, I’d appreciate it. It took years to get Dad to stop using checks. I don’t want him to go back to doing it that way.” She chuckled, and Clint joined her, taking the paper from her.
He glanced ed at it. “We’re actually doing reimbursements a little differently. I’ll have to make sure this purchase falls into accord with the new program.”
“A new program?” Sort of changing rules mid-game. “With no notice?”
He shrugged. “Your father asked me to do whatever necessary to keep the foundation working. This is part of my number one goal. But don’t worry. I’m sure something can be done for you if the charges don’t clear.” He squeezed his lips together for a moment and turned the sides up in a slim smile. “I’m not here to make waves.”
Connie attempted to duplicate his puckered gesture, but more than likely she only wrinkled her nose in his direction.
For someone not wanting to make waves, he sure did seem to be stirring the waters. “Well, it was wonderful to finally meet you.” She nodded and moved back to her desk, pulling out her computer cords. “And I’m sure we’ll be talking soon. I’m working out the details to support a pregnancy center. As soon as I unearth the files, I’ll send them to you.”
His smile faltered a bit. “Of course. I’d be happy to look into it.” He gave her a nod. “I’ll let you get back to it then.”
She frowned at the doorway that he’d just vacated. He’d look into it? What did he mean by that? She only needed Dad’s approval, and since Aunt Fanny sent her the information about this program, he’d certainly go for it.
Unless this Clint Rutherford held more sway over her parents than she knew.
Between moving all of her worldly belongings either into storage or back to the brownstone where her family had lived all her life, and jumping flat out into the middle of three fiendishly clever events that her mom had been planning, Connie barely saw her parents for the next few days. But she caught her dad just before bed one evening in the family room. “Any more news from that detective?”
He gave her a sideways look over the edge of his newspaper. “Are we borrowing trouble?”
“Just a simple question. I haven’t heard anything. I thought maybe you had.” She adjusted her denim shorts and drew her feet into the comfy chair seat with her, resting her chin on her knees.
He turned the page of his newspaper. “There was a small article about the death.”
He glanced at her again, moving nothing but his eyes; “They aren’t calling it murder. Suspicious death at the very most.” Again, he gave the financial section his attention. “They’ve given us access to our warehouse again.”
Connie hadn’t even been aware of that much. “Do they know who the man was?”
“Some poor vagrant trying to make a home on the docks, likely.” He gave a slight shrug. “There’s nothing you can do for him now, my dear.”
True. as much as she’d loved reading Nancy Drew mysteries when she was growing up, she didn’t have the observation skills to solve any crime like the Titian-haired detective. Especially not something as critical as murder. Um, make that a suspicious death.
She leaned against the am of the wingback and focused on her dad’s face as he sat in the recliner. “So, what about the pregnancy center? the project is really important to Aunt Fanny.”
“Yes, yes. But Aunt Fanny has important projects come up all the time.”
Not like this one, but Connie wouldn’t interrupt his thoughts.
“I’ve left this in Clint’s hands. He’ll do whatever is right.”
Clint’s hands? :Daddy, you hardly know him. Are you really willing to give the man that much authority?” She straightened. “He’s the one making the foundation decisions now?”
“There’s more to it than that, Sweetheart.” He closed his newspaper as he rose from his chair. “I’ll consider the matter.” He folded the paper and tucked it under his arm. “That’s the best I can tell you right now.”
Dad’s best tied a knot in Connie’s stomach that wouldn’t go away. Perhaps a call to Aunt Fanny was in order tomorrow morning?
Stay tuned for Chapter Three tomorrow!