The Last Wallace
Ben Esra telefonda seni bosaltmami ister misin?
Telefon Numaram: 00237 8000 92 32
Andrew Wallace was a real estate developer and created Wallace Town in 1973. It’s close to Knoxville, Tennessee. Andrew wanted his new development to be different, so he made it car-free. No cars or trucks are allowed in the town. The people get around by trolleys, bicycles or walking. That’s how Wallace Town earned the nickname “Walkville”.
When Andrew died in 1989, ownership of Wallace Town went to the Wallace Trust, which was controlled by his direct descendants. At age 18, all direct descendants of Andrew Wallace become members of the Trust’s board and are eligible for profit disbursements.
My father was a jackass named Jeffrey Wallace. He was a direct descendant of Andrew, and that made me a direct descendant too.
I’m Ellie Wallace, and this is my story.
I played guitar and sang backup vocals for the Orange Morning Sunlight band. We didn’t make much money so everyone else in the band had a day job. I lived on the $300,000 a year I got from the Wallace Trust. It wasn’t a bad life for a 22 year old girl.
We finished our last set at one o’clock in the morning and there were still a lot of people in the bar, so we stayed for a while to drink. Our lead singer Trevor always had beautiful girlfriends and his latest whispered in my ear, “Trevor wants to watch me with another girl. Want to help me out, Ellie?”
I was tempted because she was a hot little blonde, but I whispered back, “I don’t perform sex acts for the amusement of men, Shelly.”
“Are you sure?” she asked coyly. She leaned in to kiss me and I allowed it. Her lips tasted like the rum and coke she was drinking.
“I’m sure,” I replied.
Beautiful Shelly pouted. “You’re no fun, Ellie.”
I laughed and challenged her, “Ditch Trevor and come home with me. I’ll show you how much fun I am.”
She considered it for a moment before shaking her pretty head. “I want Trevor’s dick tonight.”
“Your loss,” I told her. I put a hand behind her head and drew her to me for another kiss. My tongue stabbed between her soft lips and she sucked it like a good girl.
“Ellie, are you trying to seduce my girlfriend?” I heard Trevor tease.
I reluctantly pulled my lips away from the sexy girl and replied, “I’m trying but not getting anywhere.”
Shelly grinned and gave me a quick peck on the lips. “Maybe some other time, Ellie.”
“Time for me to go home, guys,” I announced to the group. “I’m beat.” I stood and my head spun. Fuck. I was drunk again. It happened too often.
I grabbed my guitar and took a taxi home. The night was frosty cold and a light snow fell.
The next morning, I woke to someone knocking on the front door of my apartment. “What the fuck?” I groaned. My head throbbed and my tummy grumbled. Stupid hangover.
My clock read 9:00. The shithead at the door knocked again.
“Okay! Okay! I’m coming,” I called out. I pulled on my robe and stumbled to the door. I looked through the peephole and saw my mom standing outside. I yanked the door open and whined, “What the heck, Mom?”
She walked right in and demanded, “Why aren’t you answering your phone?”
I checked my phone and noticed that I’d silenced the ringer. Oops. There were 8 missed calls. 6 from the Wallace Trust and 2 from Mom. I suddenly had a very bad feeling. “What’s going on?” I asked.
Mom visibly braced herself. “There’s been an accident,” she explained. “A terrible accident.”
“All the other Wallaces were on a private jet, coming back from a family trip to Florida,” Mom told me. She swallowed hard and struggled to continue. “The plane crashed. There were no survivors.”
My mouth hung open and it felt like my heart stopped. I knew there were 8 adult members of the Wallace family other than me receiving payments from the Wallace Trust. “They’re all dead?” I asked.
Mom nodded sadly.
A terrible thought occurred to me. “What about their kids?” There were 4 Wallace children who were too young to receive payments from the Trust yet.
“Them too,” Mom replied. Her voice quivered and she began to cry.
My legs wobbled and I sat on the sofa. Mom sat beside me and we hugged.
I’d never met anyone in the Wallace family. My father, Jeffrey Wallace, dumped Mom and divorced her while she was pregnant with me. Mom vowed to never have anything to do with the Wallaces ever again. She moved from Tennessee to Maryland, and that’s where I’d always lived.
I also lived by Mom’s vow to have nothing to do with the Wallaces. Nothing except take their money, of course. If they wanted to send me truckloads of cash just because my father was a Wallace, I was all for it.
I’d vowed to never go to Wallace Town… and now I’d inherited the place. Fuck.
I returned the calls from Jack Warner, CEO of the Wallace Trust. He wasn’t in the family; but he was the top employee who managed the operations of Wallace Town. “My condolences, Ms Wallace,” he immediately said. He was an older man with a deep voice. I’d talked to him a couple times bursa escort when I turned 18 and had to sign papers to begin receiving payments from the Trust.
“Thanks,” I replied. “I never met them but it’s still heartbreaking. Especially the kids. Are you sure nobody survived?”
“We’re sure,” he gravely informed me.
“You must have known them well. I’m sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you. We’re all in shock and disbelief down here,” Mr Warner replied. “Has the media contacted you yet?”
I hadn’t thought of that. “No. Will they?”
“When they figure out that you’ve inherited Wallace Town and the entire Wallace family fortune, they will descend on you like locusts.”
My head spun and my stomach churned. “I don’t feel good, Mr Warner,” I quickly told him. I handed the phone to Mom and dashed to the bathroom.
Puking my guts out was the cherry on top of a terrible, rotten, fucked up morning.
Mr Warner persuaded me to go to Wallace Town right away. Lots of business and family issues needed my input and approval. Yay for me.
I didn’t want make decisions for some fucking place where I’d never been. And I didn’t want to deal with whatever issues arose from the deaths of relatives I never met. Fuck fuck fuck. My poor stomach twisted in a knot again.
Obviously I wasn’t a business person. I was just a 22-year-old girl who played guitar in a band. I wanted to go back to yesterday when my life was simple.
I tried to convince Mom to come to Wallace Town with me, but she was a dedicated teacher who’d rather educate her students than go to Tennessee to do whatever it was that I was headed for.
“But I don’t know anything about business or money,” I groaned.
“They own real estate, Ellie. It’s not rocket science. When they explain things I’m sure you’ll understand,” Mom told me. “If you really want me to go I will, but I think you can handle this.”
I sighed. “Okay. I’ll go by myself, but expect phone calls from your confused daughter.”
Three hours later I was on a flight to Tennessee.
At the Knoxville airport, I was met by a middle-age man holding a sign that read “Eleanor Wallace”. “I’m Ellie Wallace,” I informed him.
He seemed surprised. I guess in my red hoodie and blue jeans I didn’t look like an heiress.
Obviously he couldn’t drive me into Wallace City because it’s car-free. He drove to the outer edge and I rolled my luggage onto a trolley that took me to my hotel.
“Welcome to the Foothills Inn,” the front desk woman cheerfully greeted me. “Checking in?”
“Yes. The name is Wallace. Ellie Wallace.”
The woman’s eyes widened. “Oh! Welcome to the Inn, Ms Wallace. We’re so sorry about the loss of your family.”
“Thank you,” I simply replied. I didn’t want to explain to everyone that I didn’t know my own relatives.
“We have you in the presidential suite. If there’s anything we can do for you, please don’t hesitate to ask.” She handed me a key card and seemed both excited and intimidated by my presence.
I blinked a couple of times and looked at the key card. “You don’t need my credit card or anything?” I asked.
“No ma’am. The Trust is paying for everything. The porter will take your bag and show you to your suite.”
It’s good to be a Wallace in Wallace Town, I thought as I followed the porter into the elevator. But I wasn’t sure I liked being called “ma’am”. I was only 22!
The porter showed me around my huge suite on the top floor of the 8-story hotel. I thanked him and remembered to tip before he left.
Mr Warner wanted me to come to his office as soon as I arrived, so I quickly changed clothes.
I stepped into my strappy black high-heels and fidgeted with my dress. The little black dress was the closest thing to “office wear” I owned. The design was simple and had a high neckline… but it was short. Way too damn short. Hence the “little” in “little black dress”.
I never had a reason to buy clothes to wear to an office, so my choices were the little black dress, jeans or leggings.
“At least it’s black,” I grumbled, trying to make the best of the situation.
My heels were too high too. Perfect for a night out, but wrong for the office.
I called Mom. After assuring her that the flight was uneventful, I complained, “My stupid dress is too short and my heels are too high. They’re going to be really impressed by the trashy girl who just inherited their company.” Tears formed in my eyes.
Mom calmly said, “You don’t have to impress anyone. Remember that you own Wallace Town now. Not the CEO or anyone else. You. Don’t take any shit from them.” She had a way with words.
I wiped my eyes. “Thanks, Mom. I have to go. Warner is expecting me.”
I put on my winter jacket and groaned. It wasn’t long enough to help with the short dress situation. In fact it highlighted my long, bare legs. Fuck.
I grabbed my black purse and left to meet the CEO of the Wallace Trust.
The hotel was only six blocks from the office, so I walked. It was a weekday afternoon, but the street was alive with bursa escort bayan people walking or riding bikes. The trolley went by. Trees planted along the street had dropped their leaves but I imagined they provided welcome shade in the summer.
The buildings along my route had stores, restaurants or offices on the ground floor. The upper stories looked like apartments or offices. The buildings ranged from three to eight stories tall.
I was surprised at how much of a difference it made not having cars and trucks on the street. It was quiet and the air was clean. People spread out and walked or biked wherever they wanted in the street.
I liked it.
The Wallace Trust offices were in an impressive brick building on a corner. I entered and saw a young man at the receptionist desk. He stared at my long, bare legs then slowly took in the rest of my body before reaching my eyes. “Good afternoon,” he greeted me. “How can I help you?”
“I’m Ellie Wallace.”
His face paled and he quickly stood. “Welcome, Ms Wallace! We’ve been expecting you.”
His reaction made me smirk. He’d be more careful about undressing me with his eyes the next time we met.
The flustered receptionist pressed a button on the phone and told someone, “Eleanor Wallace is here.”
A minute later, a plump older woman came out to greet me. “Hello, Ms Wallace,” she said. “I’m Crystal Abbott. I’ll be your assistant.”
I blinked and tried to digest that. “Why do I need an assistant?”
The pleasant woman smiled and replied, “To keep your schedule, filter your phone calls, and to generally help you figure out what we do here. It is a fairly big company, ma’am.”
Anxiety swelled in my head and my poor stomach grumbled. I managed to nod and say, “Sorry. I’m sure I’m lucky to have you.”
She guided me down a hallway to a bank of elevators. Safely inside the elevator, Crystal said, “We’re so sorry for your loss, Ms Wallace. We’re all in shock.”
“Thank you,” I replied. I hesitated before explaining, “It’s very sad. Tragic. But I didn’t know them. I never met them.”
“I’d heard rumors to that effect,” she admitted. “I’m sorry that you’re being dragged into this totally unprepared, Ms Wallace. I’ll help in any way I can.”
I smiled. “Thanks, Crystal. Please call me Ellie.”
Crystal took me to my new office. It was a big corner office with a sleek glass desk. Two guest chairs were in front of the desk but that was it for furniture. The bulk of the big room was empty space. The windows overlooked the town.
I didn’t want an office, but I didn’t tell Crystal that. She took my coat and I sat my purse on my new desk.
CEO Jack Warner’s office was right next to mine. His wasn’t as large as mine and was a lot more cluttered. “It’s nice to finally meet you, Ms Wallace,” he greeted me with a handshake. “I wish it was under better circumstances.”
Warner looked about sixty years old. He was a big, tall guy and combined with his deep voice it gave him an imposing presence.
He introduced me to the other man in the room. “This is Mark Thompson, our corporate lawyer.” I shook the lawyer’s hand and we all sat around Warner’s desk.
After a few pleasantries about my flight and the hotel, Warner got to the important stuff. “Ms Wallace, the Wallace Trust is basically a real estate holding company. It owns about 12,000 apartments. They are 100 percent rented and there is a long waiting list. We also own 700 business properties in Wallace Town, and retain ownership of the streets. That’s why we can prevent vehicular traffic from entering the town.
“The single-family homes in town are owned by the residents, but they pay HOA fees for landscaping, street maintenance, parks and a variety of events and sports they can participate in.”
I interrupted, “How big is Wallace Town?”
“Roughly nine square miles,” Warner answered. “54,000 residents.”
“That’s more people than I guessed.”
“We can comfortably fit more houses and apartments in town because we don’t waste space on parking lots, driveways or wide streets.”
“Oh, that makes sense,” I said.
“The Trust has 56 employees,” he continued, “which is actually quite lean for a business of our size. I’m the lead employee, the CEO, and I was hired by the directors of the Trust, who were the adult members of the Wallace family. You are now, of course, the sole director of the Trust.”
My stomach did somersaults and I felt another headache coming on. “What does that mean?” I asked, bewildered. “Do I have to work here? I don’t know anything about business.”
The lawyer Thompson spoke up. “The directors decide the overall policies for the operation of Wallace Town. The directors also must approve any large expenditure of funds. Approval of smaller expenditures is delegated to Mr Warner and the other managers, but the directors have a supervisory role over everything.”
Warner jumped back in. “You could perform your duties as the director of the Trust long distance from Maryland, but it will work smoother if you live here and escort bursa come to the office as needed.”
“Oh god,” I groaned. Life as I knew it was going up in smoke.
“Ms Wallace, there is something you should know,” the lawyer said. “The documents establishing the Trust state that the apartments, commercial properties, public spaces and streets can never be sold… except on one condition. There is a provision that if the number of direct descendants of Andrew Wallace ever falls below two, all of the properties held by the Trust may be sold at auction to the highest bidder.”
It took my brain a moment to catch up. One is less than two. “I can sell everything?” I asked.
Suddenly I saw light at the end of the tunnel. “Well, I should do that, right? It makes sense because like I told you I don’t know anything about… anything.”
Warner and Thompson shared a worried look.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“You have every right to sell, Ms Wallace,” Warner said, “but if you do it will have ramifications. Let’s say a real estate investment corporation wins the auction and buys Wallace Town for $400 million. That corporation is going to want to maximize the profit on its huge investment. The first thing they’ll do is raise the rent on all the apartments and businesses. While rent has skyrocketed in the rest of this region in recent years, we’ve only made small increases to cover rising costs. If rents are increased to market rates, it’s going to be a big hit for our residents and businesses.”
I had a sinking feeling and that light at the end of the tunnel faded. “But… but market rate rents are fair, aren’t they?” I was grasping at straws.
Warner nodded. “Yes, but your family decided to base rent on a markup over expenses rather than raising rent just because everyone else in the area did. Our affordable rents mean our residents have more money in their pockets and our businesses make more profit. The community overall benefits greatly.”
I frowned. “I thought I had an easy way out,” I confessed.
“We understand,” Warner said. “Selling would be a perfectly reasonable decision. But we hope you don’t rush into anything. You might like it here.”
“I do like what I’ve seen so far,” I sighed. “What if I gave all the property to a nonprofit and let them run it?”
“It’s a good thought,” the lawyer replied, “but the Trust’s governing documents specifically state that if you want to transfer ownership, it has to be though an auction to the highest bidder. A nonprofit will not be able to outbid major real estate investment corporations.”
“Well, crap,” I grumbled.
The lawyer had me sign documents that officially made me the chairman of the board of directors and made my signature the only one authorized for approval of large transactions. “You are now the queen of all you survey,” Thompson joked.
“Oh god,” I groaned again.
That made Warner and Thompson chuckle.
“Try not to worry, Ms Wallace,” Warner attempted to soothe me. “You have a lot of people working for you and we’re good at our jobs. Your assistant and I are here to help with everything.”
“Is the Trust in good financial condition?” I inquired.
“Yes,” Warner answered. “We turn a profit every year and our reserve fund has grown to $90 million.”
I blinked a few times. “Jesus Christ, that’s a lot of money.”
“Yes it is,” he agreed. “Your relatives were very cautious. The reserve fund is, of course, available for maintenance or improvement of our properties. We’ve also paid cash for some new construction projects rather than taking out loans.”
The lawyer added, “If you sell, the reserve fund will be paid out to you immediately.”
My mind boggled. $90 million plus $400 million or more from selling the properties. “Holy cow,” I said in a daze.
They had me approve some stuff to continue work on construction projects that were already underway. They were formalities but even I could see that if I wasn’t around to approve things, work would quickly grind to a halt.
Warner broached a difficult subject. “I’d like to discuss a memorial service for those who died in the plane crash,” he began. “Normally it’s not the role of the Trust to take on such things, but this is anything but a normal situation. The staff and I would be honored to arrange the service, if you approve, Ms Wallace.”
“Yes. Thank you. I wouldn’t even know where to begin,” I told him.
He nodded. “Many people will want to attend, so an outdoor service is my suggestion. But if you prefer we can hold it indoors and make it by invitation only to control the size of the crowd.”
“Um… I don’t want to keep people away, so let’s have it outside. I hope the weather cooperates.”
“With Christmas coming up so soon, the service should be held as quickly as possible. I suggest Wednesday.”
“That’s only two days away,” I replied.
“We can get it ready,” he assured me.
“Okay. I leave it in your hands.”
“Would you like us to prepare remarks for you to read at the service?” Warner inquired.
I shook my head. “I don’t want to speak.” I was feeling overwhelmed. First the business and now a memorial service. It was too much. I had an urge to run and keep running until I was back home.
Ben Esra telefonda seni bosaltmami ister misin?
Telefon Numaram: 00237 8000 92 32