The next day, Viktor and Dominique appear at the appointed time at the law firm of Lucien Koslowski. Lucien's secretary announces their arrival.
After a short wait, they are ushered into Lucien's office.
Once introductions have been made and the secretary takes their coats and brings coffee, Lucien curiously assesses the pair seated across from him. "How may I be of service to you?"
Viktor and Dominique exchange glances.
Tentatively, Viktor begins. "I understand that you are not a native of this town, Mr. Koslowski. Do you mind me asking how long you've lived here?"
Puzzled at the question, Lucien pauses a moment before responding. "Just a few months. I was formerly a prosecutor in California but was asked to take on a big case here a little over a year ago. I decided to stay and open my own firm here."
Lucien suppresses a wry smile at the thought of the reason for that decision: the lovely Keira St. Clair.
Once again the siblings lock gazes, and this time Lucien senses relief pass between them. As one, they turn back to the lawyer. Viktor clears his throat. "We have a rather . . . unusual situation, Mr. Koslowski." Viktor hesitates for a moment, then continues. "Our grandfather lived here before our mother was born. In fact . . . he was one of the founding fathers of TEKville." Another quick glance passes between the siblings.
To a TEKville native this statement would have raised eyebrows, considering the color of Viktor's and Dominique's skin, but Lucien has not lived in the area long enough to know the town's history, so he merely nods and waits patiently for his client to get to the point.
Once again, Viktor clears his throat, but Dominique forestalls him, her melodious voice breaking in.
"His name was . . . . Randolph St. Clair."
Only Lucien's years of trial experience allow him to hide the shock he feels at her revelation. Inwardly he is reeling, but no sign of his internal turmoil is evident in his expression. His mind races to absorb the implications as he calmly waits for the pair to reveal their reason for securing an attorney.
From his briefcase, Viktor produces a worn leather book and tentatively places it on Lucien's desk.
"This book was our grandfather's journal. It tells the story of his love affair with Adele Makeda, who was originally his housekeeper. This affair -- although I hate to call it that since they were obviously both very much in love -- took place before his marriage. Of course they kep the affair secret. In those days it would have been a huge scandal. Grandfather was in his thirties at that time and was getting a lot of pressure from his well-to-do parents to marry . . . and to marry strategically, to a woman of their choosing. Eventually he bowed to that pressure, and I think it broke his heart. He was forced to send our grandmother away. He tried to send her money, but she was too proud to accept it. She made enough as a housekeeper that she was able to survive, if not thrive. What he didn't know -- because she never revealed it to him -- was that she was carrying his child when she was sent away."
Lucien begins to understand.
"That child was our mother."
Lucien now has a pretty good idea of what brought these two to him, but senses that there is more. He nods and waits for Viktor to continue.
Viktor reaches for the journal and extracts the brittle envelope that had been tucked into the back cover. He hands the envelope to Lucien, meeting his eyes squarely. "This is our grandfather's will."
Instinctively knowing that the contents of that will are going to stir up a huge hornet's nest in TEKville, his first internal thought is Shit! "His" Keira has no need of family money and is somewhat distant from the rest of the "St. Clair girls", as they are referred to around town, a natural result of having spent so many years practicing law in New York. But he knows that the impact on the rest of the family will be catastrophic if his instincts are correct about this will.
"This was an early will, correct? You do know that it's possible -- even likely -- that a later will supersedes this one, yes?"
Viktor and his sister share a glance before turning back to Lucien.
"We have every reason to believe that this is the only will in existence, but that's one of the reasons we've hired you. You will be able to discreetly investigate and find out for us one way or the other."
Lucien takes a moment to gather his thoughts. He would rather be anywhere than caught in the middle of this impending maelstrom, but he has agreed to represent the pair and it's too late to back out now. He is too ethical to send them to the only other lawyer in town, Charley Ball, who has an even clearer conflict of interest since his paralegal is Harmony St. Clair. Lucien's own relationship with Keira St. Clair makes the situation questionable, but at least that relationship is not yet known around town as anything but professional. In reality, it has barely proceeded past that stage, at least as far as Keira is concerned.
"Very well. I will check into the will situation. But beyond that, we will need to talk."
To be continued . . .