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Chapter 9

At 7:30 Saturday morning, Trixie raced out the back door of Crabapple Farm and started up the path toward the Manor House. She had gotten only a few hours of sleep after Jim left last night, but she was surprisingly energized. The path wasn't as wide now as it had been when she was in school but Trixie's excitement over finding out what the lawyer had to say made her feel like she was solving a Bob-White mystery again.

As she jogged around the last turn of the path, Trixie spotted Jim on the patio, pacing back and forth with Sherlock on his heels. She paused to admire his broad-shouldered, tall frame and the way the early morning sun highlighted the lighter copper strands in his auburn hair.

Suddenly, Jim froze and looked toward where Trixie stood in the deep shadows. It was as if he sensed her there. With a sharp bark, Sherlock bounded off the patio and down the path to Trixie with a smiling Jim walking briskly behind.

A happy giggle broke free as Trixie took off at a run. In one easy leap, she was in his arms, her legs locked around his waist. She twined her arms around Jim's neck and rained kisses on his face as he gathered her close in a bear hug. Trixie laughed happily and said, "Good morning, Jim."

Caught off guard, it was instinct that had him gripping her tight bottom and holding her close. As she adjusted her hold around his neck, Jim's emerald-green eyes flashed darkly just before his lips captured hers. Breaking the kiss, Jim pressed his forehead to Trixie's and between ragged breaths said, "Good morning, Trix." Seeing Trixie's glazed blue eyes and kiss-swollen lips, Jim smiled contentedly at her. "How's my special girl this morning?" he asked just as Sherlock barked.

The puppy placed her paws on Jim's leg to get their attention.

Mischief twinkled in Trixie's blue eyes as she looked at Jim. She released her crossed ankles and slid down to stand in front of Jim while still in his arms.

Groaning in frustration at the sensation of Trixie's body running down his, Jim closed his eyes and accused, "You did that on purpose to try to kill me, didn't you?" He snapped his flashing-green eyes open, and then warned, "You just wait, Ms. Belden. You'll get yours."

Snickering, Trixie stepped back to pet Sherlock good morning. Straightening, she moved closer to the path and walkway to the house. Rolling her eyes, Trixie smirked then countered, "Promises, promises, Frayne." Laughing at the shocked look on Jim's face, she took off at a run toward the patio with Jim and Sherlock in pursuit.

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Giggling, Trixie slowed as she entered the kitchen and greeted the cook. "Hi, Mrs. White," she said as she caught her breath.

Suddenly she was picked up from behind by a strong arm. "Ooofff!" she gasped as the wind went back out of her by being held like a football.

"Morning, Mrs. White," Jim grinned happily as he carried Trixie through the kitchen.

Mrs. White smiled with amusement as she watched the young couple pass through. Cheerfully she replied, "Good morning, Trixie, Jim and Sherlock. It's good to see you again. Eggs and bacon will be in shortly. Your parents are in the dining room."

"Thanks, Mrs. White," Jim responded as he pushed open the door to the dining room and held it for Sherlock to follow him through.

"Jim Frayne, you put me down this instant," Trixie hissed.

"Morning, Mother, Dad," Jim called loudly. "Lovely morning isn't it? We're so excited about seeing what the key is all about and what Mr. Reynolds says today. Aren't we, Trixie?" Planting her gently in a chair across from his mother, Jim kissed her on the forehead and queried, "Coffee, baby?"

Matt and Maddie had choked on their coffee when they saw Jim enter with Trixie under his arm. They looked at each other with secret smiles as they remembered acting very similarly when they were a newly married couple.

"Hello, Jim, Trixie. We can't wait ourselves to see what mystery James left you," Maddie commented over her coffee cup.

"Maddie, you and Matt have a Neanderthal as a son," Trixie said flipping her curls out of her sparkling eyes and snorting softly. "And, yes, I need coffee, please, Jim," she replied with a wink at him.

"Where are your parents?" Matt inquired as he reached down to scratch Sherlock behind the ears. "We invited them to have breakfast with us and wait for Reynolds to show up."

As Mrs. White set platters of eggs and bacon on the table, Maddie added, "They are coming this morning, aren't they?"

"They should be along shortly. Moms said not to wait on them to eat. Daddy had a slight headache this morning, she said," Trixie explained with a wink as she helped herself to a croissant, bacon and eggs. "They were going to drive over around eight fifteen."

Jim placed a cup of coffee by Trixie then sat beside her. "I really didn't sleep well last night," he claimed quietly. "My mind was going 100 miles a minute trying to think of what we may find today."

"I didn't sleep well myself," Maddie admitted. "I think I'm as excited as you and Trixie about what the key opens." She darted her eyes quickly to Jim and Trixie. "It is all right if I tag along, isn't it?" she requested softly.

"Of course, Mother," Jim exclaimed. "I want you, Dad and the Beldens there with Trixie and me. We'll need all the moral support we can get."

"Jim," Matt started before clearing his throat. "I hope you don't mind but I called my accountant, Harold Stevens, and asked him to join us this morning. I thought he should be there in case there is something of a financial nature that needs to be dealt with right away. Between him and Peter, you should be well represented. In fact, he should be here shortly."

"Dad, I hadn't even considered that there would be something financial behind the key and what Mr. Reynolds has to say," Jim answered softly. "Thanks for thinking of asking Harold."

Trixie fidgeted in her chair, staring at Jim. "It's been hard waiting for the clock to crawl to eight thirty," she declared. "I want it to be time to get into the car so we can get to wherever we need to be to use the key and find out what's there," Trixie stated with a head nod that bounced her curls. She glanced toward Maddie just in time to see her slip a bite of bacon off her plate and feed it to Sherlock. Suppressing a giggle, Trixie covered it with a cough.

"Sherlock, go lay down," Jim commanded with a grin and wink at Trixie.

Sherlock did a good impression of Trixie's sniff and head toss by shaking her head before lifting her nose to walk out of the dining room toward the den.

Miss Trask entered the room with a gray-haired, middle-aged man behind her. "Mr. Stevens is here," she announced as she moved to the sideboard to pour coffee for their guest.

"Harold, thank you for coming," Matt said, standing and shaking the newcomer's hand. "You know Maddie and Jim," he acknowledged as they nodded hello. Matt turned to Trixie and said, "Trixie, I'd like to introduce my accountant, Harold Stevens." Turning back to Harold he continued, "Harold, this is Trixie Belden. She's Jim's fia-, um, girlfriend, Honey's best friend and, well, she might as well be our daughter." He laughed.

"It's nice to meet you, Trixie." Harold smiled as he shook her hand. "I've heard a great deal about you over the years from Matt and Maddie. I've actually seen some of Matt's hairs turn gray in front of my very eyes when he received calls about some of your adventures."

Trixie's face turned rosy as she smiled at the accountant. He reminds me of a cross between Dad and Matt, she thought. She chuckled, then said, "We didn't mean to cause our parents to gray prematurely but I know we did cause them lots of worry." Looking at Jim, she saw him nodding agreement.

"Well, I know I started seeing my hairdresser more often," Maddie said with a laugh, patting her honey-colored hair. "Of course, many of the adventures were wonderful rather than stressful. Finding Jim and having him in our lives has been a joy to our family."

Trixie looked into Jim's eyes and said softly, "He is the greatest, most precious treasure I have ever found."

Jim took Trixie's hand in his and gave it a gentle squeeze.

Peter and Helen had quietly entered the dining room from the kitchen during the introductions.

Peter placed his arm around Trixie and gave her a hug. "Trixie has always been the inquisitive member of the family," he related as he introduced himself and his wife. "Helen and I have just been guides to the children through their lives. I hate to say it but I'm glad it was the Wheelers, Lynches, or my brother Andrew, who had to deal with their trips. Helen and I would have had to be placed in a psych ward. I think Margery deserves an award and a bonus," he added.

Miss Trask grinned at the Wheelers and Beldens as she laughed. "Believe me, I've been well compensated over the years. I have earned every penny of my salary plus all the vacations Matt and Maddie sent me on over the years. Even all those extra days off they gave me," she commented with a large smile.

As everyone took a seat around the table, Trixie insisted, "Miss Trask, you were one of the reasons we always had fun on our trips." Winking at Jim, she stated, "Of course, the mysteries were fun, too."

The parents all smiled and groaned before joining Trixie and Jim in laughter.

The doorbell rang in the hallway. Everyone at the table became quiet as they heard Celia's shoes cross the tile foyer, followed by murmured voices and footfalls getting closer.

Celia appeared in the doorway followed by a small man in a pinstripe suit carrying an overcoat and a briefcase. "Mr. Reynolds of Rainsford & Reynolds is here to meet with you," Celia announced before taking the man's coat.

Jim and Matt both eagerly stood and walked to the man to shake hands before they introduced themselves and the others in the room.

"I'm Phillip Reynolds. Please call me Phillip," he said, taking a seat beside Jim and smiling his thanks to Miss Trask for a cup of coffee. "I'm sorry that George was out of town this week and unavailable. He and Dorothy should be home from their cruise no later than tomorrow. They were going to spend an extra day in Miami after the ship docked yesterday. I, myself, was out of town through Thursday. I couldn't believe Mildred didn't tell me you had called. I was shocked when George called from the ship to tell me what was needed."

"It's not a problem, Phillip," Maddie reassured. "These things happen in offices. You are here now. Would you like something more than coffee?" she offered graciously.

"No, thank you. I've already had breakfast. Coffee is all I need," he answered. "I can assure you all that this will not happen again by our firm," Phillip said adamantly. "Now, should we get started?"

"Yes, please," Jim responded. "I will admit we have been anxious to know about Uncle James, the key and what it fits."

Phillip placed his briefcase on the chair next to him before opening it to remove a folder. Glancing around the table before looking at Jim, Phillip inquired, "Before I begin, I need to ask, is it all right to discuss this in front of everyone present?"

Taking Trixie's hand, Jim eyes flashed at the lawyer as he answered, "Phillip, these people are all my family. Yes, please proceed."

Phillip smiled kindly at Jim. "Certainly," he spoke, opening the folder. Glancing around the room before focusing again on Jim, he began, "James Winthrop Frayne, as you know, left his entire estate to you. At the time of his death, the whereabouts of you as well as your birth mother were unknown. George was more focused on finding you and your mother, had she been alive, than he was clearing the estate. I suspect that key matches the one we have to James's safety deposit box."

Trixie squeezed Jim's hand reassuringly before leaning forward to look around him at the lawyer. "Phillip, the only thing that Mr. Rainsford ever mentioned was Jim inheriting a half-million dollars. Why wasn't the safety deposit box mentioned then?" she questioned.

Phillip flushed and tugged on his starched white collar. "Well, I asked that same question when I was talking with George, as he was the primary for James as a client. Just before James died, he was so weak and ill that he could barely come to the office to handle matters with his estate. As you know, he was virtually a hermit after Nell died," he confirmed. "Around that same time, our office instituted a computer record-keeping system and hired an accountant to handle the expenses for various clients and their estates."

Phillip looked down at the file again as his neck and face turned red with embarrassment. "I'm not blaming her really but Mildred had James's record input and then filed the original away during the transition to the new system, even though it was an active working file and should have been left in George's desk. Mildred, on behalf of the firm, had the deposit box record put under JNFT Joint Tenant Trust at Sleepyside National Bank. She and the accountant then set up an automatic payment each year when the box became due. Mildred had done several clients' estate boxes that way. She thought she was supposed to do all of them. The name JNFT was for James and Nell Frayne Trust. I'm truly sorry for this unfortunate situation," he finished, looking at Jim before darting glances at the others.

Peter shifted forward in his chair and commented, "No wonder I couldn't find it in the bank's database. I was looking for James or Nell Frayne. I never would have looked for that." Raising a brow, he asked, "Do you or George also have a key to the box? You know we can't allow access to anyone but the owner who appears on the signature card unless we get a court order to open it."

Phillip smiled reassuringly at Peter before turning to Jim and confirming, "James had placed George and I on the account as trustees right before Nell died." Flipping through the folder, Phillip stopped at a faded piece of paper with an envelope attached. "Box number 79 at Sleepyside National Bank was assigned to James Frayne on Wednesday, July 8, 1979."

"The day after my birth date," Jim whispered as Trixie and everyone looked at each other in shock.

"Yes, Jim," Phillip repeated. "James set up the trust that day for their estate to go to your father and his 'heirs per stirpes,' which means your father's legal heirs. Your uncle was a very savvy business man and investor, much like Matt. Since he retired so young and went a little crazy after Nell died, George and I always figured the half-million was all he had left."

Peter leaned and whispered into Helen's ear before leaving the room.

"You mean you don't have any idea what is in the box?" Trixie asked in amazement.

"No, my dear," Phillip responded. "I have no idea whatsoever. James was a very private man and with all the confusion at the time of his death, the search for Jim and the new database, we never went back to review the physical file." Phillip looked apologetically at Jim, adding, "There was just so much excitement and mystery with all the events that George and I just dealt with what information was in the new system. We truly and humbly apologize to you, Jim."

Jim eyes flashed anger then became solemn as he noted, "That was quite an eventful time in my life. Phillip, there is no need to apologize." He smiled softly with a contented look at Trixie, his adopted parents and friends. "If things would have happened differently, I might not be here now and this is definitely where I want to be," he vowed. "I'm here with the people and family I love," he explained as he leaned to give Trixie a kiss on the cheek.

Matt cleared his throat and with his voice gruff with emotion pointed out, "Jim, we are the lucky ones to have you as our son. Maddie and I could not have been more blessed with you and Honey as our children. Win and Katje would have been so very proud of you had they lived."

Peter observed from the doorway to the hall, "And all your other family is proud of you, too." As he moved to take his seat, he advised, "I stepped into Matt's den and called the bank. Patsy is already there getting set up to open the lobby at nine, so I had her check the records for box number 79. Phillip is correct about the name and that it is being paid for by Pitts Accounting Services, LLC, out of Manhattan."

Phillip noted with a frown, "Well, actually, the physical file should have been reviewed last year for Jim's twenty-fifth birthday but whoever entered the data typed his birthday wrong. The file had a manual change to show your twenty-fifth birthday as this year." Looking at Jim, he admitted, "At least with this typo, you would have learned about the box in July regardless of the discovery in the summerhouse."

"The photographs and jewelry we found in the summerhouse are priceless to me," Jim declared. "I am so glad we found them."

Trixie sat forward and looked earnestly at the lawyer. "Phillip, is there anything else in the physical file that Jim needs to have or know about?" she asked. "Can Jim look through it himself?"

"Certainly," Phillip said, placing the file in front of Jim. "As you can see, the first page has general information about James and Nell. There is a certified copy of the will here. George never found the original will in James's papers."

"We have that," Jim informed him. "It was in the summerhouse with the photographs. Do you need it?" Jim asked as he started to stand.

"No, you may keep it. The will has already been processed and you are James's only legal heir. Let's continue with the folder," Phillip told Jim as he settled back into the chair.

Phillip flipped through the next pages, revealing bank and savings account information. "These were all the accounts where the half-million dollars was located. Matt had these accounts closed and a single brokerage account created for you when the adoption was complete. He has handled the management of the funds since that time," Phillip mentioned.

Jim smiled confidently at his father and mother. "My parents have been marvelous and taken excellent care of me ever since they adopted me," Jim boasted.

"Here is the paperwork about the deposit box and our copy of the key," Phillip pointed out. "Behind it are additional banking records of closed accounts that James and Nell had at the time the trust was established to the time of their deaths."

The grandfather clock in the hallway struck nine, as Phillip queried, "Do you have any questions about the file?"

Jim looked at Trixie and raised a brow. Seeing her negative head shake, he looked to his parents for confirmation they had none. "There aren't any questions about the file. The only thing that I want to do is go to the bank to see what, if anything, is in the box," Jim said as he stood from his chair and took Trixie's hand when she rose beside him. "I'm ready to go. Tom said he'd have the limo in front at nine sharp. Who is riding with us in the limo?" he asked, stepping toward the door.

"Jim, I think I'll stay here and watch Sherlock," Margery suggested. "Celia and Mrs. White each have a half day today. I don't want them to stay past noon to mind the puppy. I'll hear all about it when you get back."

"Thanks, Miss Trask," Jim said, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek.

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It was decided that Phillip Reynolds would take his own vehicle to the bank so he could head home from there. After Trixie, Jim, Harold Stevens, the Beldens and Wheelers all got comfortable, Tom put the limousine in drive and headed toward town and the bank.

All the passengers were quiet as they made the fifteen minute drive to the Sleepyside.

Jim sat forward on the seat with a nervous movement. "We're here," he advised as Tom pulled the limo up in front of the bank building and parked. Exiting the vehicle, Tom opened the door for his passengers to get out of the vehicle.

"Come on into the bank, Tom," Matt requested. "You can have some coffee while we take care of business."

"Sure," Tom agreed, locking the car and following them inside.

As Jim and Trixie entered the bank lobby, she glanced around, looking at all the familiar sights and sounds of her father's work place. Near the customer service area, she saw a familiar face. Tugging on Jim's hand, she called, "Mr. Rainsford!"

A tall, gray-haired man dressed in khaki slacks and a heavy cable-knit sweater turned and walked toward the young couple. "Trixie. Jim. It is so good to see you both again," George Rainsford said, hugging Trixie before shaking hands with Jim and clapping him on the back. "I can't believe how long it's been."

"It's great to see you, too, sir," Jim said with a smile as the rest of the group joined them and greeted the lawyer.

"We thought you were still in Miami, George, taking an extra day with your cruise. How did you get here?" Matt asked his friend as George greeted his law partner, Phillip.

George Rainsford looked sheepishly around the group, admitting, "I bribed Dorothy to come home last night so I could come here to see what is in the mysterious deposit box. I've never been in on the end of a Trixie and Jim mystery. I have to say my curiosity has been killing me." George smiled with amusement. "Let's get started," he exclaimed, clapping his hands together as walked to the deposit box check-in desk followed closely by Peter.

"Hello, Patsy," Peter greeted the vice president of customer relations. "This entourage is the group I mentioned. We need to access box number 79, but first things first." Peter turned to George and inquired, "Jim, and probably Matt, should be added to the box. Don't you think so, George?"

George glanced at Phillip then smiled at Peter and Jim before turning to Patsy and withdrawing his driver's license from his wallet. "My name is George Rainsford. We need access to box number 79. Here is my identification," he said handing her the ID. "After we access the box today, we'd like to change the box ownership card to strictly Mr. Frayne and his father," George instructed.

Patsy took the license to verify the information and ensure the picture matched the holder. "Certainly, Mr. Rainsford, we can take care of that before you leave," she assured, handing back the license. "Please sign this signature card right here," she ordered placing the card in front of him. "Will you need to use a booth to review the box?" Patsy asked politely as she stood up to lead the way to the vault.

"Patsy, I think we'll use the conference room," Peter decided. "George, why don't you and Jim go with Patsy to retrieve the box? Then you can bring it back to the conference room. That way you will have plenty of room and everyone can be on hand to see what's in the box," he recommended.

As he gave Trixie's hand a squeeze, Jim ordered, "Save us a seat, Shamus."

Trixie rose up and kissed Jim's cheek. "Hurry back, Jim," she instructed as he walked away.

Peter led everyone to the conference room. Leaving a seat at the head of the table for Jim, Trixie and her parents sat to the left, with Matt and Maddie to the right. There was a chair kept by Maddie for George. Beyond his chair, Harold Stevens set up a laptop toward the end of the table near Phillip Reynolds.

It was only a few minutes but it seemed like an hour to Trixie before Jim and George returned with a metal box five inches high by ten inches wide and twenty or so inches long.

Jim placed the box on the end of the table, then sat in the chair staring at it. Trixie reached over and touched his arm gently, giving it a reassuring squeeze and a confident smile. "Go on, Jim," she encouraged him. "It will be fine. Open it up."

Jim set his warm hand over hers for a moment before he winked at her. His hand shook slightly as he lifted the lid.

At the top of the box was a thick legal envelope with his name written on it. Jim recognized the handwriting as that of his Uncle James. Turning the envelope over, Jim saw that it was sealed with wax. Handing the letter to Trixie, he said, "Hold this for me, Trix. I want to read it later." Looking at the others with glittering eyes, Jim stated, "It's an envelope from Uncle James addressed to me."

Next in the deposit box was a faded, green velvet drawstring bag. Opening the bag, Jim turned out the contents into his hand. Trixie gasped as she saw the five cameos pendants in the palm of Jim's hand. The cameo face was identical on each pendant but there were five distinct background colors made of precious stones. Tiger's eye, sapphire, emerald, ruby and amethyst ovals each held the delicate face of a time gone by.

"Oh, Jim, those are amazingly beautiful," Maddie exclaimed as she and Helen stood to walk near for a closer look. "Aunt Nell had exquisite taste in jewelry." Taking the bag from Jim, Maddie, Helen and Trixie admired each pendant before returning it to the bag.

Jim reached into the box and pulled out another small, black bag. Holding it gently in his hand but moving his fingers slowly, Jim commented, "This feels like marbles." As he moved to open the bag, a dark stone rolled out of the bag.

Maddie picked it up and gasped loudly. "Jim, you need to be careful with that bag. Set it on the table and open it very carefully," she commanded.

Jim frowned as he did as his mother asked. The bag fell open to reveal more than a dozen marquis cut emeralds and sapphires. Each jewel was about one-half inch long.
 
Maddie held a sapphire up to the light and looked through the stone. "Jim, these are flawless and priceless. I wonder where James and Nell got them," she mused, as she returned the stone carefully to the bag.

"Jim, is there more in the box besides the jewels?" Trixie asked, stunned over the discovery thus far.

Jim flashed an amused smile as he reached to tug 'his' curl. "Patience, baby. Yes, there is more and I'm getting there," he answered with a wink.

Three checkbooks came out of the box next. Jim flipped open the covers and read, "Citizens Bank of White Plains, Bank of New York and People's Bank of Rochester. They each have balances around ten thousand dollars," Jim advised. "Hey, wait." He slowly flipped each open again before looking up in confusion. "Each one has my name on it as well as Uncle James's. How is that possible?"

Peter joined the group surrounding Jim and picked up one of the checkbooks. "Let me look at something," he requested, taking the checkbook to the bank computer in the corner of the room. Peter logged in, accessed the state banking system and keyed in the account information. Opening the record, his eyes scanned the screen quickly before they widened in shock. Glancing around the room, he focused on Jim and advised, "Son, this account that shows ten thousand…" He paused as Jim nodded and returned his stare. "Well, it is in your name and has your pertinent information affixed to it but the account is worth well over two hundred thousand."

"What!" Matt exclaimed. Taking the other two checkbooks from Jim, Matt delivered them to Peter. "Here, look at these, too," he requested.

Peter reviewed the other two accounts with the same results. "Each of these accounts shows a sizable annual deposit like a dividend payment and there also appears to be some kind of monthly interest payments or deposits," Peter guessed. "Until we can get a hold of the records, I don't know exactly where the deposits are coming from," he related, as he logged off and returned to stand by his wife.

Trixie was as shocked as everyone else in the room but she saw the astonishment and worry on Jim's face. She leaned in and hugged him then whispered, "I know you are overwhelmed by all of this, sweetie, but you need to finish it to see what else is in the box. You can use every bit of it to help build and support your school. Just think of all the kids this will help." Kissing him on the cheek, Trixie sat back and urged, "What else is there, Jim?"

Jim smiled proudly at Trixie's confidence then pulled a folder out of the box. Picking up the box, he tilted it to see if there was anything else in it. "Whatever is in the folder is it, Trix," he stated.

Moving the box to one side, Jim opened the folder and his eyes popped. "Wow, D-d-dad, look at this," he stammered, glancing at his father.

Matt Wheeler stepped forward at the tone of Jim's voice and looked at the folder contents. "Holy smokes!" Matt exclaimed. "Harold, I know you've been taking some notes as an inventory for me but open the internet and tell me how much ten thousand dollars or rather five thousand shares of Walt Disney purchased in 1972 would be worth today."

"Matt, you have to be kidding," Harold accused as he started to rise.

"Sit and find me the answer," Matt demanded. "Please."

After typing for several minutes and making several notes, Harold finally replied, "Ten thousand dollars of Disney stock bought in 1972 would be worth roughly twenty million dollars today." Looking down the table, Harold saw the shock and then excitement pass on everyone's faces.

Flipping the top paper out of the way, Matt requested, "Harold, what about ten thousand of Microsoft bought in 1986? Wasn't that the initial purchase offering?"

Harold keyed rapidly into his computer. "Yes, it was Matt. Roughly, three million today. What have you got in that folder?"

"The mother lode, Harold. The mother lode! Maddie, darling, I want you, Harold and Peter to take this folder to the nearest copier and make copies of each certificate in it so Harold can use the copies to determine the worth. Please make a set for us to take home, too," he directed. Looking at Peter's stunned face, Matt said, "We can make copies, can't we, Peter? I want to find out the worth of these stocks. Get Harold and his staff working on this along with my broker but I want those original certificates locked back up in your vault ASAP."

"Sure, Matt," Peter agreed, as he turned to lead Harold and Maddie with the folder from the room.

"Dad, did you see how many stocks certificates there were in that folder?" Jim asked, taken aback at how thick the folder had been.

Matt glanced at Trixie's amazed face before focusing back on his son. "Jim, I flipped through the folder when I handed it to your mother," Matt said, placing his hand on Jim's shoulder. "Son, not only were there certificates for Disney and Microsoft but also General Electric, AT&T, Eastman Kodak, Johnson & Johnson and Wal-Mart, plus at least ten others." Seeing the wide-eyed, deer in the headlight look on Jim and Trixie's faces, Matt spoke gently, "Jim, I know it's astonishing and impossible to believe but, if I know my stocks, your Uncle James left you a massive fortune. He must have been an investment genius. This will be such a wonderful contribution to your school, plus even more future security for you and a family."

"I know, Dad," Jim agreed in an undertone, looking bewildered at Trixie. "I'm just so stunned right now. I never expected something like this."

A soft knock on the door preceded Patsy coming into the room. "Excuse me, but I'd like to get the signature card and name change information for the box recorded."

George Rainsford and Phillip Reynolds had been sitting quietly at the end of the table watching the events unfold. "Phillip and I would appreciate that, Patsy," Mr. Rainsford agreed. "We'd like to get on the road since the mystery has been solved and our work here is done for now."

"I can understand that," Patsy said. "Peter asked me to work today because you were coming in to open this box. Normally, I don't work Saturday but he felt it would be a good idea to have someone who is a notary on hand." Placing the card and transfer form on the table, she indicated signature sites. "I need you and Mr. Reynolds to sign here, authorizing Jim to be added to the box and then here to relinquish your access."

George glanced toward Jim as Phillip signed the card. "Jim, I can't tell you again how sorry Phillip and I are about this entire situation," he said humbly. "You and the Wheelers should have had the contents of this box delivered to you when we found you, instead of eleven years later. I wish I knew a way to make it up to you," he apologized.

Jim smiled kindly at the lawyer who had helped him get free from Jonesy. "I can think of one thing, Mr. Rainsford," he started.

"Name it, Jim," George said immediately.

Winking at Trixie and with a quick glance at his dad, he requested, "Be on the board of my school and the foundation we plan to create."

"Done!" George barked, sticking out his hand for Jim to shake. "Before I forget," he said, drawing Matt over to the conversation with a look. "First thing Monday morning, I will request copies of James's death certificate and provide the documents you would need to transfer or sell these stocks. If there is anything Phillip or I can do, please let us know."

Patsy placed the card and form in front of Jim and Matt, pointing and smiling as they signed. "I'll make each of you copies. I'll be right back," she advised before leaving the room.

Phillip gathered his briefcase and coat before walking to Jim's end of the table. "Here is the key we had, Jim," Phillip said, placing it beside the box. "As George said, we are extremely sorry you didn't know about the deposit box but we are glad you found the key at Ten Acres and pursued it."

Standing, Jim smiled as he shook hands with Phillip and then George before Trixie and everyone else also bid them goodbye.

Jim resumed his seat and quietly looked at the jewelry and checkbooks. Trixie toyed with the box lid and eyed Jim with concern. "Are you all right, Jim?" Trixie asked quietly, laying her hand on his arm. "You've gone pale and quiet," she murmured. "I worry about how you're handling this."

Jim placed his hand around the back of Trixie's neck and pulled her close to him to rest his forehead on hers. "As long as you are here by my side, Trixie, I can handle anything at all life throws at me," he whispered as his lips tasted hers. "Everything is fine but I have to say this is a lot to take in."

"I love you, Jim," Trixie murmured in his ear.

"Here we are," Patsy announced, returning with the copies of the forms.

Maddie, Peter and Harold followed her into the room. "It is going to take several months to determine exactly how much all these stocks are worth. There are over twenty certificates in the folder dating back to the sixties and seventies. James had an unreal portfolio," Harold said, amazed.

"Let's get the folder, and whatever else Jim wants, secured, put back into the box and locked up," Matt suggested. "Then we should head for home so Harold can get back to his weekend."

Everyone moved at once, preparing to leave. Maddie handed a solemn Jim the folder to be placed in the bottom of the box. On top of that he added the two bags of jewelry before handing the three checkbooks to Trixie to hold.

"Take care of these for me, Shamus," he requested softly before closing the box lid. "Patsy and Peter, would you go with me to return this to the vault?" Jim asked quietly.

As soon as they left the room, a concerned Matt turned to Trixie and queried, "How do you think Jim is doing?"

Trixie thoughtfully considered the question for a moment before answering. As she looked into green eyes very much like Jim's, she simply said, "Matt, I think Jim is overwhelmed by the contents of the box not just because of the amount and what was inside. Knowing him, he's thinking he'd give it all up to have known his great-uncle before he died." Matt, Maddie and Helen all nodded in agreement of Jim's strong feelings about family. "My guess is he will be fine in a few days and talking with all of us to determine the best use of the money for his school," she said with confidence.

"Good. I think we are all in agreement that Jim is a strong person to have endured through all the hardships he has in his young life," Matt said firmly, showing unwavering faith in his son.

"I never would have thought that our buying a place in the country for Honey's health would change all of our lives so much for the better," Maddie observed with a watery-eyed smile. "Just think of all the health, fun, happiness, love and family we would have missed if we'd stayed in the city," she added with a giggle.

"You are so right, darling," Matt said, pressing a kiss to her temple. "Moving to Glen Road was one of the best decisions we ever made." Seeing Jim and Peter approaching the doorway, he added, "Let's go home."

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AUTHOR'S NOTES

We wouldn't post without the 'holp' of our editors, BonnieH, Donnis, Mylee, Pam (ps9906) and WendyM. Thank you all very much!! Any boo-boos are purely Jenny and Jo's.

BonnieH was our web-host extraordinaire for the original post. She is fantastic. {hugs}

We would like to thank our chat crew of Donna and CarrieLynn for naming Harold Stevens, our wonderful accountant. Without them, he would be a nameless drone!

Rainsford & Reynolds is purely made up but it really sounds like a law firm. Pitts Accounting Services, LLC is also a made up name.

Sleepyside National Bank, Citizens Bank of White Plains, Bank of New York and People's Bank of Rochester are all good bank names that we pulled out of thin air. They may exist and, if so, we used the names with respect because, seriously, they are great bank names.

Walt Disney Company, General Electric, AT&T, Eastman Kodak, Johnson & Johnson and Wal-Mart are all companies that we wish we had stocks from in the late 70's and 80's. If we did own them, we would be sitting on a tropical island dictating our fanfiction to our male personal assistants.

Header photo is of Jo's grandma.

Background and dividers are from All Free Backgrounds.