“Just right. Are you up for meetings this morning? A lady waits in your study. A reporter to be precise.”
I sigh without answering and wait for coffee. Some mornings I wake and don’t feel right in my head. A meeting? It’s too early for all that, I’m still chasing the remnants of dreams. Father and Ray, always and forever.
George places a cup in front of me on the desk and begins searching my closet for clothing.
“The black dress,” I say, staring out the window into the garden.
“It’s going to be warm…” George begins to answer, but I wave my hand.
“I won’t be going outside.”
Stepping into the dress, I remain still while he zips the back and tightens the bow near the neck. Following him in silence to the study, I fight to remember the dream of Ray, but it flutters out of reach. George opens the door and introduces me to a tall thin woman with pale skin and a hawk like nose that gives her a severe appearance. What can this be about? A reporter? Why didn’t I stay in bed?
“Ms. Thomas,” she says, extending a hand.
I grip her clammy flesh in something of a handshake before taking a seat at my desk. “How can I help you?”
“May I call you Ella?”
George enters to serve coffee and cookies and I wait for him to leave before answering. “You may not.”
The lady pulls her shoulders back and sips the coffee. “I wanted to ask about your husband’s investments.”
Tapping a remote built into the desk, I select music. Barber’s Adagio for Strings. Closing my eyes, I hum with the violins.
“My husband’s investments? I don’t follow. Who do you work for?”
“Business ____ magazine. We’re doing a piece on the Holden fortune and I had questions about some of the investments in your husband’s portfolio.”
Increasing the volume a few notches, I let several bars play. “You mean my portfolio. I am not married. What husband? Someone gave you incorrect information.”
The lady reaches for a cookie and takes a small bite. “These are very good.”
“Yes, George is a wizard in the kitchen.”
She takes a small notebook from her purse and scans the notes, turning a few pages before looking at me once more.
“You aren’t married to Ray Holden III?” she asks, returning the notebook to her purse.
“Ray Holden committed suicide on my 13th birthday. In his will, he named me beneficiary of his assets. As you can tell from my dress, I’m still in mourning.” I wait for a sign of understanding from the lady, but her eyes are empty. “This is all a matter of public record for people with the right…connections.”
I hold the cup in both hands, absorbing the warmth. The lady’s face turns a shade of gray and I smile. “Did you know Samuel Barber composed his first piece at age 7?”
She shakes her head in the negative.
“You should learn more about him, he led a fascinating life. Amazing what you can discover with a little research.”
George enters to announce the FBI waits for a meeting.
“I’m afraid business calls. George, be a doll and box some cookies for our guest to take home.”
The lady stands and does indeed accept the box of cookies from George before exiting.
“Where do these reporters get all this fake news?" I detect a smile on George's face, but it vanishes quickly.
"I can't answer that, Ella. They must be reading tabloids or listening to the President."
It's my turn to smile and think secret thoughts. "Very well, George. Send in the FBI."