This tidbit is from my forthcoming novella, Blood at Haught Springs.
Wes scraped up a smile for the new customer. “I'm sorry for the wait, sir. I'm Wesley Haught. What can I do for you?”
“My name is Ferrell Badger. I was informed that this is the place to lease property in town. Is that correct?” The man's voice held a no-nonsense note.
Wes's smile broadened. I thought that suit meant money. “Yes, sir. Haught Enterprises handles such transactions. I'm at your service.” He wouldn't bother calling Lonnie to take on the job like he was supposed to do, since he'd been acting like a jerk this morning. It would serve him right if Wes brought in the business instead. Maybe Dad will spare me a little praise, for once.
“I was given the name of Grove Haught.” The man pursed his lips. “Is he here?”
“He's my father,” Wes replied. He shook his head. “He's home mending from a broken leg.” Dad's injuries were somewhat more serious than merely a broken leg, but the stranger didn't need to know that. “I can help you, sir.” Much better than Lonnie can. “Does this concern a house?” He hoped it did. His glance shifted briefly to the girl, who was presently occupied in inspecting a bolt of lavender-colored cloth, feeling the texture of the fabric as she ran her fingers over the surface.
When Mr. Badger made a sound, Wes pulled his attention back to the man.
“A house, yes, but also a building. I noticed the brick structure at the corner appears to be vacant.”
Wes felt his pulse quicken. Two leases! “Ah. That was the bank, but the crisis a few . . .” His words trailed off as he realized he wasn't putting the town's best foot forward. “Yes, that building is available, Mr. Badger. I can show it to you right away.” I hope Lonnie swept it out this week.
He stooped to rummage for the key in a box beneath the counter, and ran the housing possibilities through his mind. The same financial downturn that had forced Banker Pierce from his business had left his large house empty, as well. The no-nonsense set of Mr. Badger's shoulders, combined with his fine suit, spoke of wealth and privilege. The man wouldn't look twice at the rundown Peterson homestead, but the banker's home was a much grander affair, well suited to a rich gentleman's needs.
Wes remembered the place well. After all, his father had built it for his mother when times had been better. Before she and his little sister had died. Before the pain of living in an empty house had become too overwhelming. Before Dad had sold the mansion to Mr. Pierce.
He straightened, holding two tagged keys in his palm. “We can also lease you a fine house, Mr. Badger. You may have seen it as you drove into town. The large white house beside the river?” He gestured in the direction of the site out of town.
The man seemed to consider his recall of the property for a moment. “That could fit my requirements,” he said, frowning a bit, as though he must inspect every inch to be sure.
“Since we can walk over to the bank building, I'll show you around that first, then I'll hitch up the buggy and take you out to see the house,” Wes said, his eyes wandering toward the daughter. “The young lady might like to give her thoughts on the habitation.” He hoped his voice held the same firm note of confidence that his father's always had as he tended to land and property affairs. Wes very much wanted to make the girl's acquaintance, as soon as he could.
“Yes, I suppose Nina should approve of the house,” Mr. Badger said.
Nina. That was her name. Wes's toes tingled. That hadn't happened over a female since Mary Beth Cockrum threw him over in favor of Calvin Greenwood six months before. Now the sensation had returned. Woo-eee! Nina!