She shook her head. “No.”
“Yes.” He stepped toward her. “I love you.”
She was afraid to believe it. “Do you tell all of your girlfriends you love them before you leave them? Now that’s just mean.”
She backed into the dining room. “Who?”
“Jill Murdock,” he repeated, coming toward her. “When she called the house, you told her I hadn’t made bail yet.”
“I don’t recall—”
“Heather Conroy.” He kept coming; she kept backing away. “You told her you were my wife, but you and I were keeping it quiet because we were first cousins.”
Kate smiled. She’d forgotten that one. “Actually, Jordan came up with that.”
She bit her lower lip. “I don’t remember her.”
“I couldn’t take her out because I had bubonic plague and was quarantined,” he reminded.
“Those constant phone calls were irritating people.”
“They irritated your mother.”
He looked absolutely incredulous for a couple of seconds and then burst out laughing. “My mother?”
She shrugged. “I suppose they may have irritated me, too,” she admitted.
He was looking a little too arrogantly pleased. She wagged the cereal box at him. Cheerios exploded everywhere. A few landed in the chandelier above the dining room table. Two more landed in her hair. She had never behaved like this before, but then she’d never felt like this before. Dylan trapped her in the corner. The only way out was through him. “And why were you so irritated, Kate?” Dylan asked.
She was afraid to believe him. He couldn’t love her . . . could he? There was only one way to find out: commitment. If there was anything that would make him disappear, it was the truth.
“Because I love you,” she said.
But he didn’t vanish. He just smiled. Shaking her head and frowning, she repeated. “I love you. The door’s behind you.”
He planted his hands on either side of her and leaned down. His mouth was just an inch from hers when he whispered, “Marry me.”
On a glorious Friday afternoon, Kate—with her sisters, Isabel and Kiera—walked into the First National Bank of Silver Springs and happily ruined three lives.
It was a fine day indeed.
Following her instructions, Anderson had had a long chat with the new bank president, Andy Radcliffe, and had set up the meeting. There was quite a group assembled in Radcliffe’s office. Leah MacKenna’s former accountant, the weasel, Tucker Simmons, and his insipid wife, Randy, were waiting for what they believed was the transfer of Kate’s company to them. Edward Wallace was also there. He was the loan officer who had added a few extras to the loan papers after Leah had signed them.
Chief Drummond was waiting for the sisters in the lobby and followed them into the office. Isabel and Kiera refused to sit. They stood with the chief by the door.
Kate didn’t bother to introduce herself or say hello. She simply handed the president a file. “Inside you’ll find loan papers my mother, Leah MacKenna, signed. You’ll note she listed all of her assets. Now please read the copy of the original that’s filed here at the bank.”
“You broke into bank files,” Wallace protested. “That’s illegal.”
“Illegal? Did you hear that, Chief Drummond?” Kate asked.
Radcliffe stopped Wallace from saying anything further. “I pulled the files for Miss MacKenna.” He turned back to Kate. “Now, what can I do for you?”
“Do you see what was added?” she asked. “Whoever changed the document didn’t even bother to imitate my mother’s handwriting.”
“ ‘And all other assets including the Kate MacKenna Company,’ ” Radcliffe read. “Yes, there’s no question this was added.”
Everyone looked at Wallace. He jumped to his feet. “I remember now. I had forgotten to add that little extra. I had done a search . . . yes, a search, and I found that Leah MacKenna was a partner in the Kate MacKenna Company.”
“Excuse me for interrupting, but who are you?” Randy Simmons asked Kate.
Kate refused to look at the woman. Chief Drummond answered for her. “She’s Kate MacKenna, that’s who she is.”
Randy grabbed her purse. “I think we should leave now, Tucker. There’s no reason for us to stay.”
“Sit right back down,” Drummond commanded.
“May I have a look at those loan papers?” Tucker asked. He pulled his glasses out of his pocket and put them on. Leaning forward, he read the fine print and Wallace’s notations.
He must have seen the incriminating proof because he suddenly stiffened. His head snapped back, and he discreetly but frantically signaled Wallace to stop talking. He was trying not to be obvious as he shook his head a bit, coughed to get his attention, and wide-eyed, shook his head again.
The not-too-subtle hint to keep quiet didn’t register. Wallace plunged ahead, cocky now because he was certain no one could prove he’d done anything wrong.
“This is all just a big misunderstanding. I added the Kate MacKenna Company to the list of assets, and I advised Mrs. MacKenna of the addition.”
“You notified my mother,” Kate said.
Tucker coughed and shook his head again.
“I most certainly did,” Wallace said. “I called her and advised her of the change over the phone, and she stopped by the bank to initial it.” Turning to Radcliffe, he said, “I like to be thorough, and I try to do everything by the book. You’ll see at the bottom of the page I wrote down the date and time I talked to Mrs. MacKenna.”
“You spoke to my mother?” Kate asked.
Tucker was doing everything but the wave to get Wallace to stop.
“Yes, I most certainly did speak to her.”
“That must have been tricky.”
“No, not at all.”
“According to the date you wrote, you spoke to my mother three weeks after she died.” Kate lost her composure then. “My mother was dying, and you knew it. She came to you for a loan to help her pay her medical bills. You saw an opportunity, and you took it. You hooked her up with Tucker Simmons and his wife, and the three of you had it all worked out.”
“Did you think Kate would just roll over and accept it?” Kiera asked.
“Or did you think that by the time she figured it out and realized what you had done, it would be too late?” Isabel added. “Shame on you,” she railed. “Our mother would never have jeopardized Kate’s company. Never.”
“How many others have you fleeced?” Kate asked.
“Don’t worry, Kate. I’ll find out,” Drummond said.
“If I lose my job because of these false accusations—” Wallace began.
Drummond interrupted him. “I doubt you’ll be able to do your job from jail.”
“Tucker, take me home. Now,” Randy pleaded.
“Oh, I don’t think you’ll be going home just yet,” Drummond told her. “The prosecuting attorney has been busy all morning reading the evidence. I think he’s going to have a few things to say about conspiracy charges first. Why don’t you all come down to the station with me?”
Drummond herded the unhappy suspects out of the bank.
Once the office was quiet, Mr. Radcliffe turned to Kate. “I assure you the bank will give Chief Drummond its full cooperation in the investigation. We are also prepared to accept payment of your mother’s loan with another loan—an unsecured loan. If you’ll drop by the bank tomorrow, I’ll have the papers drawn up.”
“Thank you,” Kate said.
“No, it is I who should thank you,” he answered. “First National Bank is honored that you’ve chosen us—under Anderson Smith’s supervision, of course—to hold the funds for the charitable trust.”
Kate and her sisters were smiling when they left the bank. The second they stepped outside, Isabel started laughing. “You just took out a loan and gave away millions of dollars. You wouldn’t use any of your inheritance to pay Mom’s loan.”
“She wouldn’t have wanted me to,” Kate explained.
“What am I going to do with land in Scotland?” Isabel asked.
“After you graduate, go see it, and then decide.”
“What about you, Kiera? What will you do with the bonds you received?”
Kiera shrugged. “I’m not sure yet, but whatever I decide, it will have Mom’s name on it.”
They stood outside Kiera’s car and waited while she dug through her purse for her keys.
“Hey, guess what?” Isabel said. “I heard the funniest news. Reece Crowell is engaged. Some European girl, I think.”
“Poor girl,” Kiera said.
“Hurry up and find the key,” Kate urged. “Dylan is coming this afternoon.”
“Have you set the wedding date, and am I in the wedding?” Isabel asked.
“No, we haven’t set the date, and yes, you’re in the wedding.”
“I knew you were destined to marry Dylan.”
“Because you’re so smart about men,” Kiera said. She found the keys, and they were soon on their way home.
“I am smart about men,” Isabel insisted.
“You wanted me to go out with Nate Hallinger,” Kate reminded. “How smart was that?”
“I offered that man a beverage.” Isabel was outraged.
Kate stopped paying attention to her sisters’ conversation when they pulled into their driveway. She saw Dylan standing on the porch waiting for her. His flight must have been early. Excitement surged through her.
Giving away millions of dollars and taking out a huge loan seemed inconsequential now.
Dylan waved to her and smiled.
She had it all.