The showdown with her aunts was as ferocious as Hailey anticipated, but she didn’t expect to find herself standing up to Aunt Alicia—and prevailing.
She sat trembling as Alicia stormed out of the office with the other two aunts close behind.
Thomas Gunn followed their exit with his eyes but made no effort to stop them. Meanwhile Dorin sat head down, her shoulders heaving.
“I think that went well,” he said acerbically after they were gone, gathering the papers and shuffling them into a legal size manila folder.
“My aunts are offended,” Hailey whispered.
“It is you who ought to be offended,” he replied. “You did the right thing—your mother would have been proud.”
“Really?” She looked up at him, eyes huge with amazement.
A smile of affection briefly crossed his face.
Whether embarrassed by the indiscretion, or simply reminding himself of his place, he took the folder, got up and filed it in one of the tall black cabinets that lined the wall.
When he turned back to face her, he had resumed his professional demeanor.
“The documents are all ready for both of you to sign, if you’re ready—no need to come back another day.”
Hailey nodded. “When might I be able to move in?”
“Once you sign the papers, you can both commence to occupy the premises immediately. Dorin is already living on site, and you, Hailey, will have to decide what you wish to do with your townhouse.”
“That’ll be easy—there’s always faculty looking for rentals close to the campus, especially fully furnished.”
“Then that will work out nicely for you,” he smiled.
Birdie suddenly seemed energized by the thought.
“Oh, Miss Hailey, it’ll be so nice to have you home again. It’s been so hard since your mother’s been gone.” Her chin quavered and anticipating another bout of tears, Hailey quickly tried to head off the water works.
“Enough weeping now, Birdie,” she said sternly. “Mother would disapprove.”
“For certain she would, Miss Hailey, but now, she’ll just have to put up with me.” Her eyes glistened, but she managed to give a trembling smile. Hailey patted her shoulder. “Chin up!” she ordered. Birdie nodded.
Mr. Gunn was back with another folder. He spread the documents on the huge oak table and handed Dorin a silver Cross fountain pen.
“You can read this over and sign and date it on the bottom, Dorin.” Turning to Hailey, he also gave her the matching pen and repeated the instructions. Both women signed without reading.
“Well, I guess congratulations are in order. I hope you both are comfortable and happy with your new arrangements. Your mother has left you a considerable amount in savings and investments, Hailey, but I think it best that we discuss that on another occasion—I suppose this was sufficient for today.”
“Thank you, Mr. Gunn, for everything.” To her surprise and his amazement, she found herself hugging the older man.
Not to be outdone, Birdie gave him a big hug as well. “I appreciate all of your kindness, Mr. Gunn.”
“It’s all in a day’s work,” he protested, but seemed evidently pleased. “If there are any concerns, don’t hesitate to phone.”
“We will,” Hailey laughed, bemused by the attorney’s fluster.
He showed them to the door and waved as they exited and stopped outside of Hailey’s car.
“Can I give you a lift home, Birdie?”
“No thank you, Miss Hailey. I’m meeting a friend for tea and we’ll do a bit of window shopping—but, thank you for the offer.”
“I’ll probably drop some things by the house later. It’ll probably take a few days before I’m completely moved in.”
Birdie hugged her. “You take your time, Miss Hailey. I’ll be watching out for things, same as usual. I’ll make you a tea and we’ll have a chat.”
Hailey watched Birdie walk away. It was strange but in all the years of knowing her, she was amazed to realize that Birdie had a life outside the walls of the manse—she had friends of her own, and places to go and things to do.
Funny that she’d think otherwise, but then, apart from her own friends, the family and the people connected to it had always remained a mystery to her—a closed circle she intended to break into and learn its secrets.
At least, that was the plan—the outcome of her endeavours, was far less certain.
© 2017, John J Geddes. All rights reserved.