“Did I forget to properly introduce Detective Buchanan? If you’d like to see his badge, I’m sure he’ll be happy to show it to you.”

It was apparent Anderson was having a high old time watching his client’s nephews get their just reward. He looked positively overjoyed.

Vanessa hadn’t said a word until now. “I cannot believe it. Eighty million?”

“Are you all right, my dear?” Anderson asked.

Ewan turned to her. “Maybe whoever is screwing you now won’t think you’re so hot after this. All you get is a house and a measly hundred grand.”

“I love that house, and Compton knew it. I’m thrilled he gave it to me.”

Bryce was sneering at her. “You’re awfully smug.”

“Why shouldn’t I be smug? You treated him shamefully. All of you did.”

“Forget her,” Roger shouted. “What the hell are we going to do?”

“We’ll sue,” Bryce said. “We’ll contest it.”

“That could take years,” Ewan answered.

Roger was desperate when he said, “I can’t wait. I have to get my hands on that money now.”

The room erupted in chaos as each brother shouted over the next.

The noise faded into a dull roar inside Kate’s head as her thoughts spun in circles and the words echoed. Eighty million . . . eighty million . . . eighty million. She could save her company. Isabel’s tuition could be paid. They could keep the house, and all her problems would be solved. This was the answer to her prayers, wasn’t it?

She picked up her purse and stood.

“I don’t want it,” she said to Anderson. The room suddenly fell quiet.

“I can understand your shock, Kate,” Anderson replied. He walked over to his desk and placed his hand on a thick binder. “I’m sure you’re beginning to see that your great uncle Compton was a meticulous planner. He arranged the transfer of the estate down to the smallest detail.” He patted the binder. “This is a summation compiled by his accounting firm. You are to take it with you today so that you can familiarize yourself with the cash holdings and other assets. He wanted you to understand and appreciate what he accomplished in his life. Tomorrow at three p.m. you are to return here for a meeting with his financial advisors. At that time they will answer any questions you might have and offer you their services to make the transition as smooth as possible.”

“But you don’t understand,” she insisted. “I don’t want it. Any of it.”

“Give this some time to sink in,” Anderson cautioned. “You don’t want to make any rash decisions.”

“You heard her,” Roger argued. “She said she doesn’t want it.”

Ewan rushed forward. “What happens if she won’t take it?”

Anderson was reluctant to answer. “Your uncle was adamant that the estate go to Kate and he was quite confident that she would accept. He did not name a succeeding heir.”

“That means if she refuses to take it, then it will go to our uncle’s next of kin, right?”

Anderson didn’t respond. He turned to Kate instead. “You have until tomorrow to think about this. Please take the binder and look it over. We’ll discuss it then.”

“That won’t be necessary,” Kate answered calmly. “I will not accept the inheritance. I want nothing from that man.”

Dylan had been standing beside her in case one of the brothers got too close, but she was the one in charge now. She was not about to let them intimidate her, and that impressed the hell out of him.

Vanessa started walking toward the door. She stopped when she reached Kate and said, “He wanted you to have it. I think it would be wise for you to consider this before you give it away.” She smiled then and whispered, “Good luck.”

“Why aren’t you moving, Anderson?” Ewan yelled. “Draw up the papers for her to refuse the money.”

The attorney shook his head. “I cannot do that. It is my responsibility to carry out your uncle’s wishes to the best of my ability.” He picked up the binder and looked at Kate. “I cannot force you to accept the inheritance, but I strongly urge you to at least look at these records so that you can make an informed decision.”

“Put the records down, Anderson. She doesn’t want them.”

Kate’s patience had reached its limit. She smiled at Anderson and said, “I appreciate your concern, and I understand that you’re simply doing your duty. But you must understand, I’m not going to change my mind. If there are papers I must sign to decline this, please draw them up.”

Anderson realized that any further protests now would be wasted. She needed time. “Very well,” he said. “It will take me a day or two to notify everyone and to put together the documents. I’ll let you know when they’re ready.”

“May I have the photos of my father now?” she asked.

“Of course,” he replied and reached into his drawer to retrieve a large manila envelope for her.

“Thank you,” she said. “Could we go?” she asked Dylan.

“Sure thing,” he answered. He moved aside to let her walk ahead of him and kept his eye on the brothers as he passed them. They were all but bursting at the seams with the joy of their victory.

“I’ll walk out with you,” Anderson offered.

The three passed through the outer office and headed for the stairs.

“I’ll be in touch with you soon,” he said as he accompanied them down the hall. “I urge you to think about this tonight. Perhaps you’ll change your mind.”

“It’s going to be difficult to explain all of this to my sisters. I knew when I came here that I would meet our relatives, but I certainly didn’t expect they would be so . . .”

Anderson smiled. “I know. They’re hard to describe, aren’t they?”

Kate laughed then. “Yes. At least I have the— Oh . . . I forgot the disk.” She spun around and rushed back into the outer office before Dylan could stop her.

She could hear laughter and the sound of glasses clinking together. She reached for the doorknob, but something else caught her attention. She froze. The brothers seemed to be having a grand celebration. They laughed uproariously when one of them made a joke about her family.

Kate stood at the door and listened for a couple of seconds. That was all the time she needed.

When she opened it and marched into the room, the laughter came to an abrupt halt. She didn’t spare her cousins a glance, but walked to her chair and picked up the disk she had dropped. Then she swung around and reached for the binder on the desk.

“What are you doing?” Roger demanded.

“You’ve changed my mind. I’ll be needing this after all,” she said, as she turned around to face their stares.

With the binder clutched to her chest, she walked back to the door where Dylan stood waiting.

As the door closed behind her, she looked over her shoulder and calmly said, “Oh, don’t let me interrupt you, cousins. Please. Carry on. One of you was just calling my mother a whore.”

Chapter Twenty-five

“What the hell was that?” Dylan posed the question as they crossed the lobby.

“You’re going to have to be a little more specific,” she said. “Which hell are you referring to?”

Anderson Smith, beaming like a proud parent whose child has performed way beyond his expectations, chased after them.

“Miss MacKenna . . . Kate, Kate, please, wait just a minute.”

For a split second Kate considered running from him. She desperately wanted to get away from the relatives with all possible haste, but not at the attorney’s expense. It wasn’t his fault that his client had been such a foul old man. She also couldn’t blame him for the vile relatives. Anderson seemed to be just as shocked and repulsed by their behavior as she and Dylan were.

Forcing a smile, she turned around and waited for the attorney to reach her.


“I was so pleased to hear you say you have decided to accept your inheritance. Shall I expect you here tomorrow at three? Your uncle’s accountants and advisors will be ready to answer any questions you will surely have after you’ve looked through the report, and they will also witness your signature.” He took a breath and added, “And I will of course continue to do my best to guide you until the transfer is complete and until you name a new firm to represent you.”

“I have no plans to replace you, Anderson,” she assured.

He was obviously thrilled with her decision. He clasped her hand. “Wonderful, wonderful.”

“But the eighty million—”

“Actually, my dear, your uncle understated the value.”

She blinked. “I’m sorry?”

“Your inheritance is considerably more than eighty million.”

“Oh . . . and you will continue to represent . . .” Her voice trailed away.

“Will I see you tomorrow at three?”

He was moving too fast for her. Everything was moving too fast. “I’ll need time to read . . . tonight . . . and tomorrow . . .” She looked frantically at Dylan for help. She couldn’t seem to get the words out. She thought she must sound moronic.

Dylan thought she sounded as dazed as she looked.

“Could Kate get back to you about the meeting? She could call you in the morning to let you know when to schedule it. Don’t do anything until you hear from her.”

She was nodding eagerly. “Yes, I’ll call you.”

Anderson pointed to the binder she was gripping. “You have quite a bit to read tonight and to absorb. I’ve printed out the arrangements for your uncle’s burial in the event you wish to attend, though I would encourage you not to.” He patted her hand and stepped back. “As your attorney,” he said with a smile, “I want you to feel that you can call me at any time, day or night, with questions or concerns. My card is inside the binder with each of my numerous phone numbers.”

“Thank you,” she said.

She started to turn away, then stopped. “About this meeting . . .”


“Will the cousins be there?” She was proud of herself. She’d said “cousins” without flinching or gagging.

He was sympathetic. “I’m sorry to say they will have to be invited. Your uncle’s instructions were quite specific. I didn’t question his motive when he told me his wishes, but it’s my belief he wanted the brothers to see firsthand what they’d be losing. Their presence isn’t mandatory, however, because their shares of the estate have already been assigned to them. The same applies to your sisters, Kiera and Isabel. You are the only one who has to be present to sign anything.

“If you had refused the inheritance, I am confident the three nephews would ultimately be the next in line to receive it, since they maintained contact with your uncle while he was alive. His will explicitly limits what he has bequeathed to your sisters, so I doubt they would be able to lay claim to the larger estate. I guess what I am trying to say is that it all rests with you.”

He spoke more to Dylan than to her when he said, “I cannot impress upon you strongly enough the importance of continuing to be cautious.” Taking her hand again, he said, “I don’t want you to be concerned about any of your relatives barging into the meeting with a weapon. There will be sufficient security, I assure you.”

She thought he was making a lame attempt at a joke until he addressed Dylan again.

“My security guard has informed me that the serial number on the gun he confiscated had indeed been filed away.”

“I’m not surprised,” Dylan replied. “Did he call it in, and did he check on a permit?”

“Yes, he did. The police are on their way.”

“That’s good to hear.”

Anderson finally let them escape. They were crossing the lobby when Dylan spotted the security guard anxiously waiting in the shadows near the entrance.

Kate tried to walk ahead to the door, but Dylan grabbed her arm. “Hold on a minute.”

The guard rushed over to them. “Detective Buchanan, did Mr. Smith tell you what I found out about the gun?”

“Yes, he did.”

“What should I tell them? They’re going to be here any second.”

Dylan could see the guard was nervous about the procedure. “You don’t have to do anything but give them the gun. They’ll handle Roger MacKenna.”

“Shouldn’t they be warned about him?”

“They have been warned,” he assured him. “They know what they’re doing. You just stay out of their way.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Anderson is going to try to keep all of them in his office until the police arrive, but if Roger insists on leaving, he’ll walk down with him. You won’t have to face him alone.” The guard still looked worried. “Or you could wait in your office . . .” Dylan continued.

Instantly relieved, the guard answered, “If that’s what you want me to do, sir, then I’ll wait in my office.”

He nodded. “Okay, Kate. Let’s go.”

She didn’t move. Her look of astonishment was priceless, and he almost laughed.

“The gun surprised you?” he asked.

Surprised? Oh, please. She’d gone way past surprise in the attorney’s office. Like an Irishman at an Anglican wake, she had this totally inappropriate urge to laugh. The brothers just kept getting worse.

“Roger brought a gun to the attorney’s office?” She took a couple of steps toward the door and stopped. “Who would bring a gun to the reading of a will?”

“Apparently Roger MacKenna would, and in fact did. The police will take him to the station and have a little chat with him. They’ll run the gun, too,” he added. “Hopefully, Roger will do some heavy sweating in jail. That would be pretty sweet, wouldn’t it?”

“Shouldn’t you be waiting for the police? They might have questions . . .”

“No, we’re not waiting. We’re getting away from here as quickly as possible. Unless you want to run back upstairs and kiss the cousins good-bye.”

She shuddered with repulsion. She’d rather eat glass.

“No, thank you,” she said politely. “I’d just as soon leave.”

He grinned. “I thought you might.”

A clap of thunder greeted them when they stepped outside. It was already drizzling, but the clouds were dark and heavy. A hard rain would come any second now.

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