Chapter 3: Aunt Sissy
Four months had now passed since Phillip walked out on Cassie the night of her fortieth birthday. The divorce papers from him had arrived a week later. Louisiana law required a six-month separation before declaring the divorce final. Cassie immediately began marking the days off on her calendar.
Having received her broker’s license once the kids reached school-age, she had worked part-time for at a small real estate agency created, owned, and managed by her aunt, Cecilia (Sissy) Barstow. Aunt Sissy, an elderly widow, was known for her eccentric lifestyle and her love for all things pink, including the pink facade of her mansion on the outskirts of town and her collection of large pink Cadillacs, which she insisted all her agents drive during showings. Cassie had been somewhat embarrassed to do so but loved Aunt Sissy dearly and enjoyed working with her. She had been heartbroken when her aunt had passed away just over a year before. Ted Larson, another broker who had been with the company since its inception, had taken over for Cecilia, keeping the business going while her estate was in probate.
When Cassie received a call from an attorney with the same firm as Phillip’s attorney a month after the divorce papers arrived via Federal Express Priority Mail, she assumed the meeting he requested with her would be related to their divorce settlement. She was surprised to learn that the attorney was handling Aunt Sissy’s affairs. She was even more shocked when that attorney informed her that her aunt, who had never married or borne children of her own, had willed the real estate agency and the Cadillacs to Ted Larson, but had left everything else, including her mansion and her substantial life savings, to Cassie.
Moving into her aunt’s pink mansion the next week, Cassie spent the next three months sorting through her aunt’s belongings and holding multiple estate sales. Her dear aunt had been quite the packrat, making the task quite complicated and time-consuming. Once done, she scrubbed the entire house from top to bottom, then hired professionals to paint both inside and outside with the intent of placing the property on the market, deeming it much too big reside on her own.
With the mansion finally listed, she prepared to move on with her life, beginning with the hunt that would allow her to do just that.