Part Seven


            “Justus knew from the beginning,” Jason said, “that something like this could happen to him.  It is a part of the life we live.”  He ignored Keesha’s hardened expression and pressed on.  “He was worried about this place.”

            “Then Justus worried for nothing,” Keesha retorted.  “Ward House is my legacy, too.  I intend to make sure that it becomes everything that I can.”

            “Justus wasn’t worried about you running the place.  He was worried that the Old Man or somebody like him would take advantage of the situation and try to grab control of Ward House.”

            Keesha thought immediately of the effortless manner in which Edward had drawn all the Ward House benefactors and board members to him after Justus’ memorial service.  At the time she had been too caught up in her own thoughts to concern herself with it.  But Jason’s emotionless words provided Keesha with a bit of food for thought.

            “When Edward comes to you and offers to help Ward House, you have to turn him down.”  Jason reached inside his leather jacket and brought forth a small folded slip of paper.  “Justus put aside some money for you.”

            Keesha stared at Jason’s outstretched hand.  “To use at Ward House, you mean?”  It was not really a question.

            “If you want.”  Jason thrust the paper toward Keesha once again.  “There’s enough there,” he said when she gingerly plucked it from his fingers, “to do whatever you want.”

            The young woman’s eyes widened at the figure written on the tiny slip.  For a moment Keesha could not decide if she was more overwhelmed by the sum of money listed or by the nagging question of just what her cousin Justus had done to amass such an amount.

            She decided to put that particular concern aside for the moment.  “What is this?” she pointed to another set of figures on the slip.

            “My cell phone number.  Only Emily and Carly and Sonny have it.  Use it when you need some of the money.”

            “Why can’t I just go to the bank and withdraw the money myself?  Or write a check?”  Keesha was just curious.  She had already decided not to touch any of what were obviously ill gotten gains.

            Jason replied evenly.  “No banks.  When you need money, call me.  I will bring you the cash.”

            “Cash…” Keesha’s voice trailed off.  “Did Justus really believe I would accept Sonny’s dirty money?”

            For the first time in the conversation Jason’s expression showed something other than disinterest.  He rose abruptly from his seat and stared down at Keesha.  His blue eyes were icy with irritation.  “I give it a week before the Old Man backs you into a corner about this place.  So you can either use the money to stop him, or let him steal Ward House away.  But either way, it is totally up to you.”