Serafine looked over the pond remembering her carefree days as a child. Grammy made sure she wanted for nothing. She was loved. She was cared for. But as she grew up that wasn’t enough. Her parents left a hole in her heart. And nothing Grammy did helped repair it, no matter how hard she tried.
“Can I help you?”
Serafine turned around and her breathe caught. He looked familiar.
“No. This is my property so you are trespassing.”
Serafine quickly scanned the land and saw they were alone. She pulled her purse strap up her shoulder and slid her hand inside. She gripped the spray without breaking eye contact with the stranger.
“I’m sorry ma’am but I work here.”
“Work here?” She did not recall her grandmother mentioning another employee. She had a groundskeeper but she couldn’t remember his name.
“Yes, my name is Cooper. You must be Miss Jo’s granddaughter.”
Cooper extended his hand and stepped closer to shake her hand. But she wasn’t buying it.
“Stay right there. How do I know you’re telling the truth?”
“Look miss…I think Miss Jo said your name is,” Cooper looked to the sky as if petitioning for help with remembering, “Sara…Stephanie…I know it started with an S.”
She did not help him in recalling her name. However, she had no way of confirming his identity.
“Stay right there.” She held her free hand towards him, staying his position.
“Look, I am no harm to you. I am just here walking the grounds checking on the animals and tending the garden.”
“Yeah…yeah. Just don’t move until I make a call or I’ll call the police.”
“That won’t be necessary. Make your call. I’ll sit over here.” His hands were up in a gesture of surrender. He backed up and sat on the stone bench on the path near the dirt road leading to the main house.
Serafine watched him back up and reached for her cellphone. Her father would know, at least she hoped so.
She dialed her father’s number. He answered after the first ring.
“Hey Baby Girl.”
“Hey Daddy.” She wanted to turn around for privacy but decided to keep Cooper in view. “I’m at Grammy’s and there is a man here. Do you know the groundskeeper?”
“Yes, I should have warned you. His name is Cooper.”
“Really.” He was watching her just as hard as he was watching him. “What is his full name and what does he look like?”
“Cooper…Cooper… Oh hell…. Sorry,” He laughed nervously, “that one slipped. I think its Banks. He’s a little taller than me, so I guess about 6’2. He’s a brother. Young man. About your age. Why? Did you meet him?”
Serafine turned directing her next question to Cooper.
“Let me see your ID please.”
“Sure. I’m going in my back pocket.”
“I’m no harm to you,” he said reaching in his back pocket. He opened his wallet and turned it in her direction. “Promise.”
She looked at his ID. Cooper Banks.
“Is everything okay? Let me talked to him,” James asked.
Serafine passed the phone to him. “Here. My Dad is asking to speak with you.”
“Sure,” he nodded with a slight smile that caused little lines to crease near his eyes. “Mr. Morgan.”
For the next few minutes Cooper talked with James with an occasional “yes sir” here and a “yes sir” there.
“I look forward to it. I’ll help in anyway I can. Here,” he said in her direction. “I told you I’m harmless.”
“Whatever,” Serafine said regaining control of her phone.
“Baby Girl you are fine. I should have introduced you two but since you were not ready to visit we took care of everything. Do you want me to come out there? I could be there in about an hour.”
“No, not unless you think I need you here.”
“No, he is good people. You may remember his family. The Banks that live a few miles down and own the general store in town. Those are his people.”
“Oh, I played with Amanda as a kid.”
“That’s his sister.”
“Oh,” her eyes shot to his. That’s how she knew him. “Thanks Dad. I’ll call you when I’m leaving.”
“Sure. Be careful and let me know if you change your mind.”
She disconnected the call.
“I’m sorry we had to meet this way,” he said. “Cooper Banks.”
They shook hands.
“I was actually preparing to leave. But I can walk you around the grounds to reacquaint you with the property and the changes Miss Jo made in preparation for you.”
With another soft smile, “Yes, let’s start this way…”
Serafine glanced at her watch.
“I won’t keep you long. I promise you’ll want to see the updates. And I won’t keep you long.”
“I guess. Just a second.” She sent a quick text to Rachel.
“Lead the way.”
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