“Come in,” I said to the two men at the door. “You’re FBI investigators?”
“Yes, Mam,” said the man who had introduced himself as Blake Stedman. “We’ll try not to keep you long, but we’re hoping we can clarify some things for you.”
“Please sit down, gentlemen. Can I get you some coffee or tea?”
“We’re fine, thank you.” Again it was Blake Stedman who spoke. I noticed the second guy took out a notepad and pen.
“What is this about?” I couldn’t wait to hear the answer to that one. What else could go wrong, today?
“We understand you have been working with the team originally put together by your late mother, Claire Spencer. We also know you have concerns about the trustworthiness of some of your teammates.
“I would really like to know what the FBI has to do with this, but I would like to say something first. May I speak frankly?”
“Of course. We are quite aware of the Truth or Consequences project and the good work it has done in the past. We are also aware of the present discord among some of the members. We have a vested interest in the project, but we are not the directors. Ms. Spencer, we know you have been treated unfairly.”
I didn’t know where to begin, but I took a deep breath and didn’t hold back.
“I had not seen or heard from my mother since the day I graduated from college. All these years later, I get word from her that she has deeded her property, this house, to me. She asked that she and Stella remain here until after Thanksgiving. When I arrived, I found my mother was quite ill. She had planned a big Thanksgiving party and wanted me to host it. She went to her home in Seattle so ‘the team’ wouldn’t know the extent of her illness. Sometime later, she asked Jack Stein to bring me to her. She died a few days later. By that time we were in the throws of a project assignment. I believed it had a successful outcome, but right after that, I noticed there were cracks in the dam. Here are my concerns. My mother questioned where Jack’s loyalties lie. I overheard disturbing conversations concerning Jack and Annette.
Tonight, I came home to Annette with a gun, accompanied by a man who had been posing as my housekeeper’s piano teacher. Apparently he has a vendetta against the group. I told them all I want out. There is nothing any of them or the FBI can do to change my mind.”
“I understand, Ms. Spencer. I would just ask that you hear me out before you make that decision.”
“I will, but only out of curiosity,” I said.
“None of members of project T or C will ever know who makes the assignments. Although the FBI plays a roll, we know nothing about where the assignments originate. We only know the directors operate with authority. Your mother was already doing good work with a good team when the assignments began coming to her. Each case has been a humanitarian success, however it has not gone unnoticed that Annette Morris has acted inappropriately, recently. She has become somewhat of a rogue operator. She tracked down Carl Drake and asked him to persue the job of giving your Stella piano lessons. He was really here to spy on you. His other crimes are very serious, but not violent. Mr. Drake is back in jail and Annette Morris is out of the group. A decision made by those who make the assignments and have the ultimate responsibility for the team. You can be assured Ms. Morris will not fight this and her position will be filled by someone who has been properly vetted.”
The two men got up to leave.
“One other thing you should know…Mr. Stein has agreed that you be the one to be approached with the assignments. Please consider all that I have told you. We’ll be in touch tomorrow to answer any questions you might have before you make a final decision. We’ll see ouselves out. Enjoy your evening. Ms. Spencer.
I made sure Stella was okay before I went upstairs and got ready for bed. I slept rather fitfully. One minute I was actually thinking about doing what my mother had hoped I would, and the next minute I came up with a thousand reasons not to.
In the morning I called Jack. I had to know if I could really trust him.