Frank and Marka are at the small blue house on the corner of the Sheltering Oaks property. They have managed to tie Jeff to the office break-in. They have also figured out who destroyed Frank’s car–The Prom Date from Hell who drugged Frank on prom night and forced him to have sex with her. Shay still wants Marka to regress Frank to see what he can remember. She refuses. Since they have no idea how this was accomplished, the process could kill him.
“Oh, this keeps getting better! What do we do?”
“See if he remembers on his own.”
“I don’t have time for that, Doctor. . . .”
“I found something!” Frank called from the living room. “Whoot!”
Marka and Shay ran in from the kitchen. Frank stood by the computers, doing a sexy happy dance. When Marka joined him, he spun her around before lowering her into a deep dip. Running his fingers down her chest, he whispered huskily.
“Tell me how good I am.”
“How good are you?” Cherry asked instead.
It was just as well she spoke. Marka was struck dumb by his actions. He raised her slowly, dark eyes glittering in the light of the screens.
“So, good,” he replied, his voice dropping an octave as it caressed the words.
Marka shivered delightedly, her body tingling where it touched his. Their moment was broken by Shay’s loud voice.
“What did you find, kid?”
Frank blinked slowly, his attention drawn quickly from Marka and back to his work. Only something significant would have taken him away.
“Better than tying him to the office, his motive.” He sat at the computer, inviting them all to sit and gather around. “If I hadn’t been so distracted by this other shit, I would’ve seen it before.”
He tapped a few keys and a ledger came up. On another screen, another set of ledger pages appeared. The Sheltering Oaks logo graced the upper right corner. On a third screen, he opened another page. This was a bank statement. On a split screen, another statement came up. No one said anything as a fourth screen warmed to life and a third bank statement opened. On this one, there were a lot of numbers in red.
“What are we looking at?”
Frank leaned back, hands clasped behind his head. “We’ve had several long time residents meet with financial problems. People who have no family to watch after their finances. They didn’t have any surrogates either. They were mentally competent, handled their own affairs. However. . . .”
He tapped a few more commands. A split screen display came up. Jeff’s name was clearly visible.
“At some point before I started working here, Jeff got them to sign a power of attorney for him.”
“Isn’t that illegal?” Marka asked.
“Not exactly, but it’s shady. Of course, they’d have no reason to suspect him of malfeasance. But you can see by their bank statements that they should have.” He shook his head sadly. “Taking advantage of the elderly. I’d like to shoot him myself.”
“He slowly bled them dry,” Marka said after looking over the files.
“So, why suddenly escalate? Why all this vandalism?”
“When I took over as assistant, I took over doing the books. The other guy was incompetent—or at least I thought so. Based on this, I’d say Jeff was making him look bad to use him as a fall guy. Or maybe he figured out what Jeff was doing.”
“Why not report him?” Cherry asked.
“Jeff’s pretty well connected around here. It would take more than suspicions to get him arrested.”
Marka clicked an advance arrow and it switched to another file. She kept clicking until she came to Penwarren, Mabel. The columns weren’t red, but there was a decidedly downward trend which ended abruptly.
“He was doing the same to Mabel. But once Rachel took over, that stopped. He no longer had access to her lucrative account.”
He closed out some of the windows and did another search. This time, they saw Ralph Penwarren’s bank accounts. Each of the losses in Mabel’s account coincided with deposits in his. Exactly half of what was taken from Mabel. Jeff’s bank accounts came up next and the same trend was obvious there.
“They were working together to rob Mabel? Why would Ralph rob his own mother?” Marka asked.
“She’s not really his mother, remember? There’s bound to be some resentment for the woman who took his mother’s place, tried to rein him in, and supplanted him by having another son. His father was a cold fish, but you can bet he was proud of that boy. Everyone thought Frankie was his, remember?”
Shay and the others stared at him in confusion. Frank explained very briefly about his connection to the Frank Penwarren and Thomas Cortland.
“Did Jeff know any of this?” Shay asked.
“No idea. Not the kind of thing Mabel was likely to talk to him about. Based on his ramblings at the hospital, Ralph must have.”
“So, Jeff and Ralph were in cahoots,” Shay said calmly. “Why trash your office? Why involve you at all?”
“The Cortland fortune,” Marka said. “The Majority of the money is in trust for Tom’s heirs. Frank died long ago, so the money was set in trust for his sons. They declined it, so it would then go to Frank and Jennifer and their cousins.”
“And if they decline?” Shay asked.
© Dellani Oakes