After Mike left, Vivian asked Bunny if she could talk with her. "Certainly," Bunny said and suggested they talk in her office. As they had earlier, the two ladies sat on the sofa.
"Bunny, I don't know where to start. Ever since I can remember my life has been a mystery. No one ever wanted to be very specific about my family. I came to Gallagher to find my roots. I am realistic and understand that I would not be warmly welcomed into the Wells family. But at least I would know who my family was."
"And, we are all glad you are here."
"But why didn't you tell me that you lived at Ivy Lane?"
Bunny hesitated, "It is so complicated, I did not want to add to the confusion. But, I think you need to know. Harrison and Mary Wells were the last of the family to live in the house. Mary died several years ago leaving Harrison as a widower. Harrison and I started seeing each other and fell in love." Bunny looked at Vivian to check her reaction.
She continued,"Well, he proposed."
"Really, so we are kin,?"
"Well sort of," Bunny continued. "We never told anyone, because he did it at the spur of the moment and did not have a ring. Anyone who knew Harrison, knew he was very thoughtful and methodical and did not rush into anything. Two days later he dropped dead."
Vivian gasped,"Oh Bunny, I am so sorry. That must have been horrible."
"Well it was. He and Mary had 2 adult daughters, Liza and Belva. They despise me, call me white trash. The idea that their father would even be seen in public with him, much less fall in love with me was something they just could not tolerate."
"So Harrison was torn between you and his daughters?"
"No, not really. He dearly loved his girls, but he made it clear to them that he was happy again and it was his life. He would appreciate it if they would accept me, be nice, and move on. But they never have." Bunny sighed. "It was so painful to watch him deal with them."
Vivian shook her head.
"Oh, it got worse after he died. They prevented me from attending his funeral service or burial."
"Did they threaten you?"
"No, they physically shut the church doors in my face." Bunny was silent for a moment remembering that day." Anyway," she continued, "when the will was read, Harrison had reorganized his entire estate and left Ivy Lane to me with a generous trust to care for both me and the home place. Needless to say, that did not go over too well with Belva and Liza. They took me to probate court but there were several witnesses who testified, under oath, that Harrison was in sound mind when he made the changes. That he discussed the family emotional implications his decision would have, and why he was doing it."
"So they got nothing?"
"Oh, gosh no. They inherited his investment accounts, bank accounts, and proceeds from his life insurance. They are well cared for."
"So you and Harrison were never married?"
"No," said Bunny, "I'm afraid, I'm not a Wells after all. But I want you to know that you are more than welcome at Ivy Lane any time you want to come. I will say, it is almost a magical place. Harrison had family books and albums in his study I'm sure you would be interested in."
Vivian slid across the sofa and gave Bunny a big hug, "This is the best news I have had after moving to Gallagher. I get to visit Ivy Lane and I feel like I have a sister no one told me about."
Bunny agreed, but felt terribly guilty, not telling Vivian everything. Bunny just could not handle all that emotion right now.
The two of them talked for a while, then Vivian stood up and laughed, "I've got to get back to work, otherwise I will not have a job."
Bunny laughed, "I don't think you have to worry about that right now".
Vivian gave her another hug, left Bunny's office, and headed down the hall to her own.
By this time word had gotten back to the rental company about the Eldridge twins' operation. Della and Bunny got a good laugh out of it. They explained the story of Flora and Cora, their quirks, including the gnomes to Vivian. Della's description of how she thought they made moonshine in their backyard under the cover of night, had bootleggers back up their cars to load their trunks with the bottles, then the image of them hiding all the evidence,had Bunny and Vivian in stitches. Then she added," All the while, everyone in town just thought they were eccentric sisters who collected gnomes."
Della had checked the company's records to get the name of the person leasing the property at the address Mike had given her. It was Hugh McKissick, a young man in his late 20's who had moved to Gallagher about 18 months ago. He said he worked at the Pen Company, however, he must have an odd shift because he was seen in and around town at all hours of the day and night. From what Della had heard, he did not frequent any of the local watering holes, did not have a close friendship with anyone, and pretty much stayed to himself. He always payed his rent on time and did not cause any trouble so, as far as the rental company was concerned, he was a model customer.
She emailed all this to Mike without saying a word. Della was most curious but knew better than to ask.