The Will
Author:Kristen Ashley

Perhaps I was feeling embarrassment at tumbling into this man. Perhaps it was the fact that I’d laid my beloved grandmother in the ground the day before and that hadn’t exactly been fun. Perhaps it was because I didn’t sleep very well after sobbing myself into that state the night before.


Or perhaps it was because this woman had not been polite at all since my arrival at her office. An arrival for a meeting to hear my beloved grandmother’s will read. Something I didn’t want to do as it was another in a barrage of constant reminders Gran was no longer of this world, I was going to miss her, I was facing a lifetime of missing her, and Ms. Baginski should have a mind to that.


But, for whatever reason, it came over me.


Therefore, I pulled at my hand and Mr. Spear released me as I turned to Ms. Baginski and stated, “I’ve no idea how you can be behind seeing as you were delayed in meeting me in reception. Not to mention, since that time you’ve not let Mr. Spear’s late arrival deter you from continuing with your work even though a long time client’s granddaughter was waiting and she wasn’t even offered a magazine to occupy her time.”


I moved carefully to the chair, bending to grasp my trim, patent leather fuchsia handbag that I’d tucked into the side. Primly seating myself, I continued to speak.


“As this occasion is not a happy one, I won’t speak for Mr. Spear as I don’t know him.” I crossed my legs and looked to her. “But I, for one, would like to see this unfortunate business concluded. So, yes, please. If we could finally get to the matter at hand, I would be grateful.”


Her mouth got tight. It didn’t look good on her but then again, nothing really did and this had very little to do with the fact she didn’t know how to arrange her hair or do her makeup and everything to do with the fact she was a genuinely unpleasant woman.


I didn’t look at Mr. Spear.


I tucked my handbag in my lap and waited.


I felt Mr. Spear take the chair beside mine as Ms. Baginski moved behind the desk, stating, “Then we’ll delay no further.”


“As I’ve been here over half an hour, I would find that agreeable,” I replied.


She cast a baleful glare in my direction.


I returned it coolly.


I heard Mr. Spear emit a strange (though not unattractive, alarmingly) grunt that sounded partly amused and partly surprised.


I ignored him and held Terry Baginski’s glare.


She looked away first and started fiddling with some papers on her desk, saying, “Let’s proceed.”


I decided I’d made my point so I let that one go.


She upended some papers, tapping them on her desk and her gaze moved from me to Mr. Spear to the papers.


“Mrs. Malone has a legal and binding document outlining her wishes as to what is to become of her property and possessions upon her death. However, she’s written a letter that she explained she’d like read instead of that document during these proceedings,” Ms. Baginski began. “It outlines these wishes in a more succinct way.”


I said nothing.


Neither did Mr. Spear.


“Therefore, as Mrs. Malone bid, I shall read her words,” she went on.


I took in a deep breath in order to prepare to hear Gran’s words.


Without delay, Ms. Baginski started to read.


“I, Lydia Josephine Malone, being of very sound mind and annoyingly questionable body, due hereby bequeath all my worldly possessions to my granddaughter, Josephine Diana Malone. This includes Lavender House, its outbuildings, the entirety of their contents and the land on which they sit. This also includes the funds in my checking and savings accounts as well as the certified deposits held at Magdalene Bank and Trust. It further includes the contents of safe deposit box six-three-thee, also at Magdalene Bank and Trust, the key to which can be found in my desk in the light room at Lavender House. And last, it includes the funds in the investment accounts managed for me by the advisors at Magdalene Bank and Trust.”


I listened thinking that Lavender House and the two acres on which it sat, right on a cliff, right on the coast, its vast contents, its sheer size and its location made all of it undoubtedly worth some money. That said, Gran had not lived frugally but she was also not a spendthrift.


We’d never discussed money, she never seemed to need it, she never overspent it, so there was no need. Therefore, my assumption was, when I spoke with the employees at Magdalene Bank and Trust, I would find Gran’s holdings not meager but also not extravagant.


I didn’t care either way.


Whatever was at that bank, none of it was Gran.


I additionally listened wondering, if she bequeathed all this to me, why was Mr. Spear there.


“That is,” Ms. Baginski went on, “I bequeath everything but one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. This will be provided to Mr. James Markham Spear in order that he put it in trust, fifty thousand dollars each for Connor Markham Spear, Amber Joelynn Spear and Ethan James Spear.”


Well, that explained that.


And that also shared that Gran’s holdings might be more extravagant than I thought.


“Jesus Christ,” Mr. Spear muttered into my thoughts and my eyes slid to him.