Survivor’s Trust by Ellen Seltz

Survivor’s Trust by Ellen Seltz

“Smile when you’re scared. Laugh when you’re angry. Never tell what you’re really thinking. Cordelia Simms was always a quick study. Her brilliant mind and dysfunctional family prepared her perfectly for a career in the snakepit of an Old-South, old-money law firm, but she took a few detours along the way. Now the shameful secrets in her past put her future – and her child – at risk.” Previously… Tasha found an incriminating letter at Zoe Ackerman’s house. Cordelia decides to call Marj immediately to disclose the contents.

Episode 17

Marj’s phone rings five times and goes to voicemail. That’s not good. I’ve heard her answer that thing on the toilet. I don’t even want to think about what could keep her from it.

I send a quick text: “Urgent. Please call.”

Tasha’s biting her lip. “You try,” I tell her.

She dials, listens and shakes her head.

I take a deep breath. I feel like a doctor working a code. When is it time to call this thing? “One more.”

The fourth ring gets her. “What?” I didn’t know you could slur a word of one syllable, but Marj does. I tell her about Mrs. Norris’ letter.

She hollers so loud I put the phone at arm’s length. Tasha cringes. I thought I had a good vocabulary of cusses, but Marj is surprisingly creative. When it dies back, I ask her what to do.

“Bring me the original. I’ll deal with it.”

When she clicks off, I turn to Tasha.

“I heard,” she says. She spreads the letter out on the desk and pokes at her phone screen. “Crap,” she mutters. She digs in her carryall. “We need a .jpg for the document system, but I don’t have enough battery. Can you email me a photo before you go?”

I take a couple of shots and zap them to her.

Tasha sighs. “I’ve got the rest of this to get through. See you tomorrow.”

“Yeah. But then the party!”

She circles one finger in the air. “Whee.”

On the way out, I see the housekeeper lugging a bucket into the kitchen. A phrase from Mrs. Norris’ letter echoes in my mind: “I do think we could have the thermostat higher.” A lady who died with ten million dollars. A chill creeps up my neck.

I whip out my cell phone and run a quick search. I write the results on the back of a business card.

“Perdoneme?” I call.

The housekeeper peeks out.

I hand her the card. “Oiga…” I tell her the legal minimum wage is $8.50. I show her the phone number I found. It’s the local Hispanic Coalition for worker’s rights.

I can’t read her face. I blush. She just watches me leave.

* * * * *

Lois is gone and Marj isn’t at her desk. I dither at the doorway — no way I’m getting caught in her office again.

Scott waves from down the hall. “I was looking for you!”

“Just a sec.” I pull a Tyvek envelope from Lois’ rack and write Marj’s name on it. I pull the tab, seal the Norris letter inside, and leave it in Lois’ inbox.

“Listen,” Scott perches on Lois’ desk. Perching is a good look for him. “I feel stupid asking, but how flexible is your guest list for that networking event tomorrow?”

I give him the full side-eye. “You’re fishing in the wrong lake, Chastain. EP Department only.”

He holds up his hands “Hey, it’s not like that. My parents heard at the Club that DeeDee Simms was throwing a party. They’ve been eating their livers for years to get on her list.”

I squint. “They aren’t clients already?”

“Sure, sure!” He swings a silk-socked ankle. “Your mom used to be Queen Bee in their crowd. They want into the hive.”

I cross my arms. “What are you after, Scott?”

“Me?” He goes wide-eyed. I don’t buy it.

He folds. “Let’s just say I need some brownie points, okay?” He cocks his head. “Are you going to help me out or not?”

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