“What on earth does that even mean?”
Meredith jumps up, throwing her chair over behind her. “I need the money. How am I supposed to cultivate my fashion empire without it?”
I pull the letter from the desk, trying to read it again, and failing. The words blur together.
“Was he really so disappointed in us?” I say.
Mr. Caligney quickly shakes his head. “No, not at all. Any parent wants what’s best for their children. Over the years, he’s seen people suddenly have all the money they could ever want, and no idea how to handle it wisely. While he loved you both, he was concerned with the extremes of your personalities.”
Turning, I catch Meredith’s eye and all at once the perfect mask falls away.
“It’s not like we haven’t heard all that before,” she says.
I laugh, drying my eyes, all the late night talks coming to my mind at once.
“If it helps,” Mr. Caligney says, “he said you’d know exactly what you need to do.”
We both groan.
“Do you think we can do the impossible, Mer?” I say.
“We don’t have another choice if we ever want to see a single cent of what’s ours.”
We take the town car to Dad’s house, each lost in our own minds.
“I have it,” she says, clapping her hands as the car pulls up outside his house, “just tell me what charity to donate to, and half our problem is solved.”
I scramble out of the car and follow her inside, keeping my eyes on the oriental rugs lining the hardwood. “That’s not how this works, I don’t think—”
“April, what are you doing? Standing like that is wrecking your posture.”
“Dad’s stuff.” I clear my throat.
Sighing, she grabs my hand, calling to his assistant to order in lunch. “Bring it to my room when it gets here.”
She pulls me up the two flights of stairs and down the hall, shutting her door behind us. “Now,” she grabs her checkbook and a pen from her desk, touching the tip of it to her tongue, “to whom should I make this out?”
I shake my head. “That’s not what Dad wanted us to do.”
“He wanted us to advise each other, so, tell me who to sign the money over to.”
Sitting on her bed, I rub my earlobes. “He wanted us to think, and what you want to do has no thought involved.”
“Look, either tell me, or neither of us will receive what we deserve.”
“Are you serious?” My stomach tightens. “We didn’t spend hours on the phone negotiating prices for merchandise. We didn’t build the brand. We didn’t lift a finger, so we didn’t earn anything. What we did, was get blessed with being born into all Dad worked for.”
Her cheeks redden, her arms falling to her sides. “I’m trying to build my business, so I know perfectly well how hard it is. You’re the one who ran off to Africa when he was diagnosed. I stayed here, with him, through chemo, through vomiting, through the mess and the tears. I’m the one who made him laugh when he wanted to cry. I’m the one who was here, not you, his precious angel. Don’t tell me I didn’t earn this money. ”
“I went to help starving children—”
“And you left your family. Period.”
“The charity is in his name, someone from our family had to go, and it wasn’t going to be you, was it?”
Roaring, she picks up a glass off her desk and throws it at me! I dive out of the way with a yelp.
“How dare you?” She says.
“Please, like you’d ever give food to a starving child.” Grabbing the clock off her nightstand I lob it back at her missing by a foot. “You’d stuff it in your own face.”
“At least, I know how to take care of myself. You don’t even know how to keep clothes on your back.”
“And you do? Miss Never-had-a-job?”
“You haven’t asked me about what I do once, so don’t you dare try to pretend you know anything about my business. What’s more, here’s an idea for your ten million, why don’t you go buy yourself a hotel?” I wince when her fingers dig into my arm, jerking me to my feet.
“Because you’re not staying here tonight.”
“You can’t kick me out. This place is as much mine as it is yours.”
I try to hold my place, but she drags me back the way we came. “Is this how a lady behaves?” I say, trying to twist my arm away.
With her free hand, she yanks open the front door and tosses me out. “If you want to start a fight, you know I’ll be happy to finish it. Going through me is the only way you’re getting back in here.”
“I’m calling the police,” I say, digging into my pocket.
A smile spreads over her face. “Tell the chief of police hello for me, and remind him to thank his wife for the lovely flowers she sent me. They cheered me up so much while I was planning Dad’s funeral, alone.”
With that, she slams the door in my face.
To be continued…