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Business as usual by Lilachigh
Chp 27 Plans
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Business as Usual

Chapter 27 Plans

Agnes Pringle eyed her destination from across the street. She was standing in the shade cast by the Sunnydale Library, but on a day as hot and sunny as this, the road in front of her was a death-trap. Even her trusty umbrella wouldn’t completely protect her.

Agnes sighed. She’d received a letter from the Sunnydale Bank that morning, asking her, quite curtly, she considered, to please arrange to speak to the manager about her account. Agnes had used Willie’s phone to ring and ask for an appointment late in the afternoon, but a very brisk woman had told her that the only time available was noon.

Agnes had found herself apologizing for disturbing the woman but then, when she’d hung up, she’d got cross. She was a customer! Even if she was of the vampire persuasion, shouldn’t she have some say as to when she saw the bank manager? But, to be fair, he was sure to be a very busy man and she thought she knew what he wanted to see her about.

Ever since Mr Nicholas Elder, the lawyer from Wolfram and Hart, had told her that dear Richard’s money was going to be deposited in a bank for her, she’d pushed the information to the back of her mind.

She hadn’t actually forgotten it; sometimes when she woke in the night, the thought that she didn’t have worry about money every again was like drinking a nice cup of hot tea, refreshing and comforting. But so much had been happening; what with the Slayer dying and coping with Spike, who was so dreadfully upset. A cheque-book had arrived and a very official looking card, all shiny with lots of numbers on it. Agnes had no idea what she was supposed to do with it.

Her last bank, in Winchester in England, had been a homely affair. You went in and queued at a little window where one of the two clerks – both of whom she had known since they were in infants school – took the bags of money she was depositing from her tea-shop takings, counted it and gave her a nice receipt, whatever spending money she needed, and they had a little chat about the weather and the clerk’s parents, whom Agnes knew as customers in the tea-shop.

Agnes understood cash and she was quite happy to send cheques if she had to, but the shiny plastic card bothered her.

She peered through the heat haze at the tall stone pillars that framed the imposing glass doors of the Sunnydale Bank. It didn’t look – well, very friendly. Agnes glanced down the street. She could see The Magic Box shop at the far end. She knew there would be a Closed sign on the door as a mark of respect for the Slayer from that nice Mr Giles. Several shops were closed for other reasons, of course. Their owners had left town when Glory arrived and were determined not to come back. It was going to take a little while for Sunnydale to recover.

There was a large clock on a building next to the bank. Goodness, it was ten past twelve already. “Well, needs must when the devil drives,” she muttered and buttoning up her cardigan (even though it was extremely hot, Agnes had a fear of draughts), she pulled her old straw gardening hat down as far towards her nose as it would go, put up her umbrella and scurried across the road.

She almost fell through the glass doors into the cool of the bank. She dropped her umbrella and wished the floor would open up and swallow her, as everyone turned round to look at the clatter. Picking it up and wishing her feet would stop smoking – her stockings were just not thick enough!

She sidled up to the counter marked “Can We Help You?” and whispered, “Miss Pringle. Agnes Pringle. I have a letter – ” she fumbled in her bag, and the bored girl at the desk screwed up her face in horror as a small glass bottle of some nasty looking red liquid tumbled out.

“Oh, I am so sorry! So sorry! I know it’s here somewhere, you see I was baking and time was going by and I thought I picked it up and – ”

The girl shuddered. Half a scone – Agnes had been testing it to see if it was stale – followed the little bottle. “Please take a seat. Mr Grant is very busy at the moment, but I’ll give him your name and see if he can fit you in some time this afternoon.”

“But I have an…..” Agnes’s voice trailed away as the girl turned to the next customer, smiling widely at the tanned, middle-aged man standing behind Agnes.
Recovering her possessions, the English vampire backed nervously away from the desk and sunk into one of the low seats the girl had indicated, giving a little gasp as her legs shot up in front of her. She wondered how she would ever get up again, but at least the seat was comfortable and she was nicely in the shade of a large potted palm.

To her surprise, the man who had been behind her in the line, sat down next to her. He turned and gave her a weak smile. “Seems we have arrived at a busy time for Mr Grant.”

Agnes glanced across the bank at a clock. “I think it is more likely to be his lunch hour,” she said and then felt deeply ashamed of such a catty remark. “No, that is unfair. Such an important person must be busy all day. I expect he eats at his desk. I wonder what he has? A packed lunch from home or - does he buy something on the way to work or – perhaps someone delivers sandwiches to the bank or - ”

The man obviously didn’t see any fascination in the bank manager’s eating habits. “Well, I have a plane to catch and I need to see him urgently.”

“A plane? Goodness, then do go in before me,” Agnes said swiftly. “I am in no hurry at all. And it is really very pleasant sitting here. Are you travelling far?”


“Oh how lovely! I went to Benidorm once for a week with my mother. It was wonderful, except that Mother and I were very upset by the way they treated their donkeys and we wanted to go and protest outside the bull ring but unfortunately we both got a nasty dose of Spanish tummy and so we were forced to stay in our rooms for three days. But Benidorm was lovely!”

The man looked a little surprised. “That must have been some time ago. I can’t imagine you enjoying Benidorm now. It’s mostly hotels and night-clubs.”

“Really?” Agnes was intrigued. She’d always wondered about nightclubs. She knew there was one in Sunnydale called The Bronze. Such a nice name. It sounded as if it would be a good venue for vampires and probably would need snacks to sell with all the drink. Oh dear, the drink, yes, that was a problem. Mother wouldn’t have liked her selling food in that sort of establishment. But then Mother was no longer here….

“You’re British,” the man said, obviously casting round for a subject of conversation.

“English,” Agnes corrected gently.

The man laughed, a little bitterly. “It isn’t hard to tell. I’ve just spent a couple of days in the company of an Englishman.”

“Oh, are you on business in Sunnydale?”

The man took off his dark glasses and Agnes winced to see how sad and red his eyes were. “No, I’ve been attending a funeral.”

“I am so sorry. I do hope no one close to you.”

“My daughter. My – ” He stopped for a second, frowned, then went on, “My eldest girl. Her name was Buffy.”

Agnes caught back the squeak that was just about to emerge from her mouth. This was the Slayer’s father! This was Joyce’s ex-husband. She fought back the lumps that were trying to appear on her face, pulling out a large handkerchief and pretending to blow her nose.

“How dreadfully sad. Was it an accident?”

Mr Summers sighed. “Yes, a fall, I believe. The details are a bit hazy. Seems she and Dawn – that’s my – my – my other daughter, were climbing some tower that a travelling circus had erected in town.”


“Yes, I know. Completely ridiculous. What Buffy was doing allowing Dawn to act in that way I have no idea. But that was Buffy. Irresponsible. Headstrong. Always in trouble. Well – ” he sighed again – “she’s paid for it with her life.”

“You must be devastated. Please may I offer you my sincere condolences?”

The man looked a little embarrassed, then nodded. “Thank you. She was such a sweet little girl, but – growing up – a difficult teenager. I blamed her mother. No control. Far too easy-going. Still – ” His voice trailed away, then, “I wish Mr Grant would hurry up with his lunch. I really do need to catch that plane. I have a lunch tomorrow in Spain.”

“I suppose your other daughter is going with you,” Agnes said, wondering if Spike knew that Dawn was leaving the country and how he would react to losing another Summers girl.

“Dawn? No.” Mr Summers looked uncomfortable for a moment, then his face cleared. “She has school over here and her friends and it would be difficult for her to fit into my way of life over there.”

Agnes frowned. Buffy’s father was a good-looking man, but his mouth and chin were weak. He reminded her very much of the Reverend Carlisle who had been a regular customer of her Winchester teashop. When he disappeared with the church funds, everyone had been surprised, except her. A weak man. She had no doubt that a grieving, needy teenager was not what Mr Summers wanted in his nice new Spanish life.

“That’s why I need to see the bank manager,” Mr Summers was continuing, almost to himself. “It’s the house. If Buffy left a will, it isn’t in the house, but I suppose she might have deposited it here in the bank. When my ex-wife died, she left the house to both the girls. I imagine Buffy would have left her share to Dawn, but if she didn’t, then of course, as her next of kin it comes to me. And even if Dawn has inherited the whole property, she certainly doesn’t need such a big place and I can’t afford to keep up the payments on it. I intend to sell the house and find Dawn a room to rent with a good family who are in need of the money.”

Agnes carefully folded her handkerchief and put it away. She was in perfect control of her face now and was only glad that Spike wasn’t around to hear what this man was saying. She hated to think of the blood that would have been spilt all over the bank floor. “Of course it’s none of my business, but don’t you think it would be a dreadful shock to your daughter to lose her home on top of her sister?”

Mr Summers shrugged and looked at his watch again, obviously bored. “Oh, children soon adapt. The only people who’ll be really upset are all the hangers-on that Buffy collected around her. Two of them have moved in already.” His neck went red. “Nice girls, but – I wonder – they share a room – my wife’s room – and ”

Just then the door to Mr Grant’s office was flung back so hard that it crashed against the wall and a large, portly man rushed out, crumbs smeared around his mouth, mustard staining his shirtfront.

“At last,” Mr Summers said and stood up as Agnes floundered in the soft depths of the chair, waving her legs in the air, trying to make them lever her upright.

“I am so sorry to keep you waiting! My secretary has only just told me you. A thousand apologies. What must you be thinking? Do come through to my office.”

And to Agnes’s astonishment, he brushed straight past the bewildered Mr Summers, pulled her to her feet and ushered Agnes across the bank and into the inner room. By the time he had settled Agnes in a nice hard chair with a firm back, asked her if she would like coffee, was she comfortable and apologised once more for his staff’s shortcomings, she had made up her mind.

“My dear Miss Pringle,” Mr Grant said at last, peering at her over his desk. “I have your account here in front of me. Such an amount – well – I have never – largest customer – anything I can do – advice on investments – a safe deposit box – anything at all, dear lady.” He stopped to draw breath, staring at the small figure wearing a shabby blue cotton dress, fawn cardigan and thick stockings, a battered straw hat pinned firmly to her fluffy curls.

Agnes was staring at the remains of his lunch that was still sitting on the desk. A cardboard box with half a roast beef sandwich lying limply inside. “Excuse my curiosity, but did you bring that meal from home?” she asked suddenly.

“What?” Mr Grant looked and sounded bewildered. “My lunch? No, er, I believe someone comes round with a basket of various goods and my secretary purchases whatever I want. They aren’t particularly good and indeed, I believe the company are about to close. There have been a lot of complaints.”

“Indeed. That’s a shame. I make a very good sandwich. The art is in freshly baked bread and interesting fillings.”

Mr Grant looked confused as to why they were discussing his lunch. Agnes took a deep breath, feeling a buzz of excitement flood through her. So this wasn’t exactly what dear Richard had wanted her to do with his money; it would mean a great deal of work and odd hours, but it would get her away from the garbage dump and out of Willie’s back room.

She had an idea she was going to be seeing quite a lot of Dawn Summers from now on and there was no way the dump was a suitable place for her to visit. And perhaps a little part-time job delivering sandwiches or helping to wait on tables – not late at night of course, because of the vampires and demons she might meet, but weekend lunchtimes – might help divert the child a little from her grief.

She sat up straight, wishing she were wearing her best black hat instead of the floppy straw. She looked so much more business-like in black. “Mr Grant, I shall be needing quite a lot of money. I am, you see, going to buy premises in Sunnydale and open a tea-room and cake shop!”


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