As the tension builds, our heroine must find her backbone. Can she stand up to those who doubt her ability to lead? I hope you’re enjoying the story as much as I am. Just a reminder, there are more Connie Wright adventures to come.
Connie opened the door to her office and stepped aside to let Clint in. She started to shut it, and thought better of the action, leaving it halfway open.
“Where’s this plan you wanted to show me?” He eyed her mom’s bulletin board.
She gave it a once over. There was nothing there but thank you cards and a survey form from the grocery store. She snapped her finger at her side and smoothed her navy skirt. She pulled the survey from the board. “I thought a couple of my primary volunteers, the ones who establish our purchase orders, could make a list of items that are regularly purchased.”
“How is that supposed to help.” He didn’t bother to look at the form that she held out to him.
“Well, that way, you can either accept or reject the items on the list before anyone spends money on them. The purchaser can have a pretty good idea you will approve the purchase.” She sounded like an idiot, but at least she was keeping him out of his office.
Not that her brother would likely find anything on the computer in there. Not if what she’d just learned about the man was indeed true.
He clasped his hands together around the handle of his briefcase and eyed her with suspicion. “Exactly why am I here?”
She had a choice. She could continue with the charade and try to excuse herself out of the situation by pretending to be a dunderhead, or she could challenge him with some of her own questions. “If the donors aren’t giving very well, then why is it you decided on extra expenditures to fly out to meet with my uncle?”
“Wouldn’t you agree that some donors need a more personal touch.”
He made a point. “But that shouldn’t require an expensive hotel and a first-class seat on the flight.” He couldn’t very well talk his way out of that.
He set his case beside him and folded his arms over his chest. “Are you investigating me?”
Yes, actually. “As I said, I wasn’t sure where you were.” She wouldn’t throw her niece under the bus.
“Why didn’t you ask Hodges?”
“She had no idea where you were.” That was all beside the point anyway. “And it doesn’t explain why you would spend so much when you know the donors are no longer giving as much as they had been?”
“Where did you hear that donors are no longer giving?”
What was with all his questions? As she thought through it, he hadn’t given her a straight answer since they’d arrived at her office. “Are you saying that it’s not true?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“So, it is true?” Somehow, she needed to get an actual answer out of this guy.
“I didn’t say that either.”
That was it. She’d had it. “Mr. Rutherford, if you can’t or won’t answer my questions, then I’m not sure you need to continue working for the foundation.”
“You don’t have the authority to fire me, Miss Wright. I don’t answer to you.”
Oh, this was infuriating. Whether this guy was guilty of something or not, she’d be talking to Dad. This type of attitude was not what she signed up for.
He picked up his case and moved to the door.
“Wait, why is it that we don’t have access to the bank accounts anymore?”
He turned and glared at her. “You have not been here. There has been no reason for you to have access to the accounts.”
“Well, I’m here now.”
“And you can take it up with your father.” He put his back to her again.
“He doesn’t have access to the accounts either.” Not something the man could so easily wiggle out of.
He didn’t turn around but pushed through the open door.
She stopped him in the hallway as Mrs. Hodges came trotting toward them. “Why doesn’t Dad have access to the accounts anymore.”
“Have you spoken to him?”
“I’m speaking to you.”
“And you should answer her.” Mrs. Hodges stepped close, blocking his way. Her normal smile was replaced by a pointed look that bordered on fierceness.
Once again, he set his briefcase down. His neck was flushed under the collar of his shirt. “Your father is in charge of his own accounts. If things are changed there, he did the changing. I was tasked with giving more security to the finances since there has been . . .” He paused, glanced at Mrs. Hodges, and took a deep breath. Then he looked back at Connie. “There have been some inconsistencies in the books. Some of the numbers aren’t adding up.”
Of course, that could simply be a difference of accounting or simple clerical errors if the numbers were low, but he seemed to insinuate otherwise. And if the 1.5 M did stand for money, then it was serious indeed.
Diana Carson rounded the corner and stopped short as the man continued.
“Because the issues have been happening for such a long time, I limited access to your father and mother and me. That way, I could be sure to at least stop the embezzlement even if I couldn’t find the person responsible.”
The word had finally been said aloud. It had such a dirty sound to it. Mrs. Hodges flinched when he said it. Surely, she couldn’t be involved.
“But I have a good idea who that person might be.” He turned to the older woman. “Right?”
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