Woman and Flame Part 1

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Ch. 4


I did the 16-hour drive in two days. Most of it was easy on interstate five, which I was thankful for. It gave me time and space to attempt to sort the mess out in my mind.

The first day I drove for twelve hours, only stopping for restroom breaks and to get food. At the hotel, I did some quick research on my laptop, which I packed with me, about Spillwater.

Spillwater Washington is located on the west coast of the state, a few hours south of Forks. It’s a unique town in that it is surrounded by water but is connected to the land by two bridges on either side of the large island. The town has its own police force, shopping and business district, energy plant, hospital, schools, and two large grocery stores. It is completely sustainable on its own without any outside help.

When reading the Spillwater Tribune newspaper website, I learned the town’s motto is Spillwater, too great to leave. And with everything provided within a forty-five-mile radius of the island, I don’t think you’d ever have to.

In the morning, I studied the Google Maps of Spillwater. The plan was to drive what is called Route 18, a two-lane highway that circles the rim of the entire island, up until the North end of the island where it merges into a road that comes down the West coast of Spillwater called, Look Out Way, which will lead me back to the town center, where Blackwell and Mason is located. The drive of Spillwater should take just about an hour.

Brushing out my wavy mess of hair, I tuck it back neatly into a spiral bun at the nape of my neck. Adding two coats of mascara to my top lashes and lastly my trusty moisturizer to finish off my face. My olive skin is still tanned from the California sunshine, and my dark eyebrows frame my dark eyes so I don’t use much makeup. Compared to my sister, I’m incredibly low maintenance.

Dressing in a white button-up silk blouse that I tuck into my high-waisted dark skinny jeans. I finish my outfit off with my beige belt with a gold buckle and my matching beige ankle boots with a chunky heel.

I begin to pack my belongings up and feel the anxiety build inside with the impending meeting with Benjamin Blackwell at 11:00 am.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about everything still. But I can’t lie to myself and say that this isn’t everything I’ve ever wished for. I wish I could say that not knowing who and where I came from didn’t bother me, but it always did.

I check out of my hotel at 8 a.m. and head further north, crossing into the state of Washington, and instantly feel like I won’t be returning for a while.

Sporadic rain is in the forecast for today. And while I get closer and closer to Spillwater, I notice the clouds are darkening and taking up the skyline. Once I cross the town line, just before South Bridge and enter Spillwater, the rain finally begins to pour.

Flipping on my windshield wipers and gripping my steering wheel tightly, I drive over the grated copper bridge into a thin veil of fog. The rumbling beneath my tires and vibration in my thighs ends once my tires find the pavement. I slow to a stop at the intersection and take a look around.

It’s a four-way stop and from the red stop sign to the pavement, everything has what seems like a constant wet sloshy layer of water on it. The road to the left leads to Look Out Way, while the road directly straight ahead winds into town. And to my right: Route 18.

I go right.

The blanket of fog continues and seems to cover the entire island. I loop around the island, passing a Power Plant, a lake, and then near the north end of the island, a hospital. Cruising back down the west side of the island, I steal glances of the ocean and a large beach out the right side of my jeep.

The 45-mile drive takes about an hour, and I arrive at Blackwell and Mason exactly on time. I park outside the stone building that looks more like a two-story house rather than an office building with black wood shutters and flower boxes beneath the windows. The soft pinging sound of rain on the soft top of my jeep fills my ears. So, I reach around to the back bench seat and grab the dark green hooded coat on top of my suitcase, and put it on while I’m still inside.

In my passenger seat, I double-check to make sure I have the documents Benjamin mailed to me, and then I shut my car off.

Taking one last look at the building, pushing my anxiety aside, I fix my bag to my shoulder and step out into the rain, pulling my hood up quickly, jogging around the front of my car to the slick sidewalk.

Sauntering up the three stone steps to the front door I swing it open and step inside, feeling the dry air combat the wet humid air behind me. The sound of a bell chimes in the small quiet room, filled with chairs seated around a wooden coffee table.

“Go ahead and have a seat,” I hear a woman’s crackly voice come from somewhere down the narrow hall. I nod, and set my shoulder bag into a nearby chair, and then peel my coat off and hang it on an empty coat rack just to the left of the door. There are framed certificates hanging on the wall in the waiting room and I start to snoop around, unable to sit down.

Just as I’m growing impatient, and just about studied everything there was on the walls, I hear the sound of quick footfalls coming down the hallway. “Hello, Miss Walker?” A middle-aged woman who dresses in a long skirt and cardigan approaches me.

I nod, and she smiles.

“Mr. Blackwell is ready for you, dear.”

“Okay, thank you.” Walking back to the chair, I grab my shoulder bag and then follow behind her.

The woman is around my height, about five foot five or six, but thinner. I can tell by the exaggerated wrinkles above and below her tough lips she’s a smoker and has been for a while.

I’ve got no issues with smokers, I partake when drinking and socializing. I figure as long as I’m not addicted to them, then there’s not a problem. Right?

“This office, dear.” She leads me to a polished wooden door and opens it, stepping in first, holding the door open for me.

An incredibly large, overweight man dressed in a cream-colored shirt stands from behind his desk and holds out his hand.

“Miss Walker, I presume?” He asks, the whiskers of his mustache are curled over his top lip, and a million thoughts run through my mind about how he keeps food out of it by the way it dips under his top lip.

“Uh, uh-huh,” I mumble, quickly looking away from the mustache situation and up to the man’s tired brown eyes. “I mean, yes.”

“Mrs. Skellars, please bring us some coffee or tea?” He looks from Mrs. Skellars behind me still holding the door, and then to me.

“I’m fine, thanks.” I shake my head with a thankful smile.

“Yes, sir. I’ll be right back.” Mrs. Skellars shuts the door behind her and then I look at Benjamin across from me.

His eyes wander around my face, narrowing slightly, “Please, Miss. Walker, sit.”

“It’s Townsend.” I sit and drape my bag across the chair back behind me and then turn back to Benjamin.

“Of course,” he nods, and digs into his pocket and pulls out a white handkerchief, dabbing the shine on his forehead. “Did you have a safe drive up, Townsend?”

“Yes, it was mostly the interstate. So, easy driving.” I shrug.

“Good, that’s good to hear.” Benjamin clears his throat and breathes loudly so I’m unable to focus on anything else.

I can’t stand mouth breathers.

Thankfully, Mrs. Skellars opens the door with a scolding coffee in a ceramic mug and hands it over to Benjamin, then offers me a water bottle. Which I do take. “Thanks.” I nod.

“You’re welcome.” Mrs. Skellars nods once and her eyes flit all around my face and then linger longer than normal on my eyes.

“Thank you, Helen. Miss Wal- Townsend and I should get underway.” Benjamin clears his throat again and then blows the coffee to cool it.

Helen blinks and then looks to her boss and nods, then vanishes quickly out of the office and shuts the door closed behind her.

“Did you bring the documents I mailed to you?” Benjamin asks, setting his coffee down onto his cluttered desk and bends to one of the nearby drawers.

“Yes.” I turn and retrieve the envelope from my bag and remove the documents, just as he lays out what looks like copies of the paperwork I have. “Before we get started, I have a question.” I wet my lips.

“Yes?” Benjamin plucks his reading glasses from his desk and holds them between his fingers as he waits for my question.

“I’d like to know where...” I consider the words for a moment, for where my birth family is buried, “the cemetery is? Do you have the name or address?”

I want to go there. To see their graves. It might be a little morbid, but up until a few days ago, my birth family was more of an abstract thought. I knew they were out there in the world somewhere. And now, knowing their names, where they lived, seeing Spillwater and driving the same roads they drove, I need to know where they are buried.

“Oh,” he seems slightly shocked, but collects himself and grabs a business card from the desk and quickly jots down the name and address of the cemetery on the back of it. He slides it over to me, and I take it, stuffing it into my bag without looking at it. “Right, shall we begin?”

I nod.

“Do you have any stipulations or questions regarding the Will?” Benjamin places his glasses onto the bridge of his nose and peers down at the photocopy he holds in his hands.

We go over the Last Will and Testament in great detail. I learn that along with the historic property, I’m also inheriting my uncle’s wealth, which is huge. Already, with my trust fund, I never had to work a day in my life, and with the addition of my incredible career, I could do what I wanted as often, or as little, as I wanted.

I know the house my uncle lived in needs a lot of work done. And the age of the property along with the restrictions on historic properties, I know it’s going to be quite expensive to fix the place up. Which is completely fine. Even if my uncle didn’t leave me any money, I’d use my own to bring the family home back to its original glory.

“Now, I came across-” Benjamin sifts through the paperwork in front of him after we finished with the Will. He slides the single check with the infinite amount of zeros in the dollar area.

I interject, “Sorry, one last question. The witnesses? In the Will. Walter Faulkner and William Skarsgard? Who are they?”

I have a million questions and meeting anyone close to my uncle or my family will be the first place I need to start. But, Benjamin freezes at my question and I can hear his loud breathing catch.

“Y-yes, Mr. Faulkner...” He avoids my eyes as he’s done this entire meeting and continues looking through the paperwork in front of him. “He was an old friend of Cash’s. And Dr. Skarsgard was his attending physician.”

That makes sense. If my uncle and I were the last ones, why wouldn’t his oldest friend be a witness to his will? And of course, his doctor.

“Oh, okay. Does Mr. Faulkner live in Spillwater?”

Benjamin’s eyes finally pin mine from behind his glasses as he shifts in his chair making it creak loudly under his weight.

He clears his throat and pauses a moment, then finally speaks, “Miss Walker” I don’t correct him this time, “Cash and Walter had a bad falling out around the time your parents died. They haven’t been close in years, I was incredibly astonished he had Walter be a witness in his Will.”

Okay? My left brow raises, waiting for a better reason than some bad blood. Clearly, they worked their shit out if the man was his only witness. I mean, he is not the only witness but I can’t really count his doctor.

“Cash wanted you to inherit Wolfe House. Here, just take a look at this. It’s not much, but,” He quickly pulls a thin paper from the bottom of the paperwork stack and hands it over to me. It’s written on a lined journal paper and the small messy writing makes me squint as I begin to read it:

Dear Townsend,

I know you must have a million questions, and I can’t pretend to know what it must be like to be in your shoes.

I just want you to know, your parents loved you very much. And I put you up for adoption because that was what was best for you at the time.

I’m sorry I’ve kept my distance, and I want you to know everything I have done has been for a reason.

I’m sorry I’m leaving you Wolfe House. But, as you’ll learn, the deed is specific. Only a Wolfe can own the rights to the property. The property is worth more than any amount of money the world can offer. It holds secrets.

Restore it, and you’ll find the answers you are looking for.

Just remember:

Benjamin Blackwell is a friend.

Beware the prodigal sons

With love,

Cash

Who could the prodigal sons be? And why the warning?

Thanks for reading!

Fee free to leave any and all theories, I love them all!

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Chapter 5 is a big one! You won’t want to miss it! 😘

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