Maybe she would prefer being the wife of a bank’s vice president? An Unlikely Arrangement.

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A VG Serial: An Unlikely Arrangement

Chapter 7

The sun waxed brighter today than the day before, and Eric Horton whistled a jaunty tune, a spring in his step on the way to the office. Tomorrow the Squires will arrive home, and he would present his plan to the clueless couple. “They get what they want, and I get what I want.” He could virtually see his new promotion, and the status it would afford him. Decorators needed to be hired, gardeners consulted. The house he had his eye on was fresh in his mind. It was a gorgeous Effington structure, exquisite design—perfectly maintained, but needed a woman’s touch. Ruth was young, a breath of fresh air. He would feel young and vital again, a second chance at youth.

The bank bustled around the new business of the day, the noise rhythmic and soothing. When silence settled over the main lobby, he looked up to see a striking, blond gentleman enter and walk to the nearest teller. He leaned over and whispered something to the young woman. She nodded in Eric’s direction. The man swung around and walked with a determined step toward him.

“May I help you, sir?” Eric rose and reached out a hand.

“Yes, my name is Peter Kirby, and I need to adjust my accounts in order to accommodate an addition to our family.”

“Congratulations, a new baby! Please, have a seat. Is your wife doing well, Mr. Kirby? Is it a boy or a girl?”

“Ah, no, no. It is not a baby. I don’t have a wife, yet. That is why I am here. I need to set up a household account for my betrothed. We will marry in a month, and I want her to have access to an account to run the house.”

“Oh, I see. Yes, yes, of course, a new wife. I can appreciate your need to get things off on the right foot. I, too, am to be newly married. So, of course, I can guide you with this matter very easily.”

“Ah, we have something in common. Best wishes to you, as well.” Peter uncrossed his legs. ”I am in a bit of a hurry. If you could…”

“Certainly.” Eric pulled the necessary forms from his desk drawer and placed them on the table. “Now, what is your bride’s full name?”

“No, you don’t understand. I run a milk route, and I am late. Can you give me the forms I need so I can take them with me? We can fill them out and bring them back. Is that acceptable?”

“Of course, Mr. Kirby, I understand completely. Let me put these in a folder for you. Bring them back at your convenience.”

The two men stood and shook hands.

“Before you go, Mr. Kirby, may I ask your wife’s first name?”

Peter threw her name over his shoulder as he took long strides toward the door. “Ruth.”

****

Elizabeth leaned over the pot of homemade beef soup to savor the aroma of the tried and true family recipe. She chose it with Ruth in mind. Her secret ingredient would, without a doubt, peak her future daughter-in-law’s interest. “Once Ruth asks about the unknown addition, I will know she is hooked.” She checked on the roast in the oven and smiled.

Coming along nicely.

One by one, she checked off the items needed for the remainder of the meal. “Wheat rolls, Golden Glow Salad, fluffy mashed potatoes, steamed marmalade, and my special Chocolate Chiffon Pie. That should do the trick. She will see we eat very well. Now, I need to make sure the table is ready.”

She was bent over the buffet in the dining room counting linen napkins, when a shadow snuffed the sunlight from the room.

“What, who? Oh, Peter, you startled me. What are you doing home this time of day?”

“I didn’t mean to frighten you, Mother. I merely want to drop these papers off before I lose them. I went to the bank this morning, and Mr. Horton assembled the papers to set up a household account for Ruth. I told him I would return them once everything was settled.”

Peter’s long stride carried him across the room quickly. “What is that wonderful smell? Did you get carried away? We don’t want her think we are wealthy, you know. It’s been a while since I’ve noticed such rich aromas in the house.” He pecked her on the cheek and surveyed the abundant dining table, Mother’s finest china, and the sparkling silver and water goblets of German crystal.

She returned the kiss. “I don’t want her to think we are simpletons, either. She is used to a certain standard of living. I only wish to reaffirm her life style won’t change much, dear.”

Peter smiled broadly, and his eyes twinkled. “She will think we set table like this every week night. Surely you don’t intend for Charlie and Joseph to eat on the good china.”

“They can behave when properly coerced, Peter. I have promised them plum pudding if they will act like perfect gentleman.”

The two laughed together. Peter took his leave and returned to work.

Pleased to see her son in a happier mood, she hummed while she resumed the preparations. She knew he found Ruth attractive, but his kind nature sympathized with the girl’s situation.

I will make this work. Only an hour before school is out. I have enough time to finish dinner and make myself presentable. This cozy house and warm reception will win her over.

****

Eric Horton stood in the doorway of his office, mouth agape. Surely, he heard him wrong. Did he say Ruth?

“Anything amiss, Mr. Horton?” The head teller stopped in front of his desk.

“No, no, nothing, Mrs. Dudley. The young man…I wonder if I’ve seen him somewhere before. He looks very familiar.”

Her gray hair, swept too tightly into a severe bun, and overly tight navy business suit did nothing to soften the sour look on the secretary’s face. Eric found her a very unpleasant woman most of the time. He sat down in his chair and opened a drawer, in a gesture of dismissal.

“Well, our work wouldn’t get finished if we contemplated every customer who came through the door, would it Mr. Horton?”

“Of course not, Mrs. Dudley, I don’t make a habit of assessing our customers. This one caught my eye. Now if you’ll excuse me, I do have work to do.”

She gave him a curt nod and went back to her station.

“Why am I to suffer the displeasure of these old biddies? When I am promoted, I will see to it they all get an early retirement.”

He bent to his work, but his thoughts went back to Peter. “Ruth is a common name, purely coincidental. I’ll make a point to call his attention to this fact. He’ll get a jolly laugh out of it, I’m sure.”

He looked around the bank, satisfied. Soon, he will control it all, and life would change forever.

The office chair squeaked when he leaned back to study the ceiling.

The Squires come home tomorrow. I must make an appointment for them to come to the bank. Yes, it is much better if they come here…more formal and professional. It will make a bigger impact on them within the confines of the bank. They should not bring Ruth, however. She cannot be aware of the circumstances, only be convinced this is a perfect match for her. Being the wife of the Vice President of the bank should appeal to her, the thought of a fancy new house—why any girl would jump at the chance. Tomorrow can’t come too soon.”

 

Chapters of the novel appear on Monday and Wednesday.

You can learn more about An Unlikely Arrangement on Amazon.

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