Tales from TEKville by TheEvilKaren

Photo stories featuring 1:6 scale dolls

Part 5 - The Reading

 

Lucien's call catches many of the town's residents off guard.  One of his calls is to Darius, asking if he can borrow chairs from the bar.  Darius is curious, but since the bar is under construction and the chairs aren't being used anyway, he readily assents.  Lucien is still not certain how he will fit all of the players into his office, but with his secretary's help he figures out how to rearrange the furniture to accommodate everyone, if not comfortably.

The appointed day of the reading of the will arrives.  There is much anticipation and trepidation among the members of the St. Clair family, none of whom have an inkling why they've been summoned to Koslowski's office.  Even Keira has been kept completely in the dark.  As the crowd begins to gather and greet one another, a speculative murmur grows in volume.  A chair in the front row has been designated for Ethel McAlpine St. Clair, matriarch of the family.  Two of her daughters flank her for support.

The buzz in the room increases when Camille enters.  Coco, Colleen and Angel have been prepared for this moment and have surrounded Justice to prevent her from making a scene.

Finally, when everyone has been seated and Lucien has their full attention, he nods subtly to his secretary, who ushers two more people quietly into the room, unnoticed by the previous arrivals.

Certain that all eyes and ears are on him, Lucien begins.

"Thank you all for coming.  I'm sure you're curious as to why I called you all here today.  To assuage that curiosity, let me begin by telling you that we are here for a reading of the last will and testament of Randolph St. Clair."

Gasps of suprise precede an excited murmur.

Lucien holds up his hand for silence.

"I know this is unexpected.  The will was just recently located inside a journal hidden in a wall in the building currently occupied by the New York Bar."

Coco and Colleen exchange glances.  Colleen shoots her sister a questioning look.  Coco responds with a shrug and they return their attention to the attorney.

Lucien takes his seat befrore continuing.  "As I'm sure most of you know," he glances at Ethel St. Clair, composed and straight-backed in the front row.  "it was thought that Mr. St. Clair died intestate.  This will . . ." he glances at the folded paper lying next to the brittle envelope on the desk in front of him.  " . . . this will was written without benefit of legal representation prior to the marriage of Randolph St. Clair and Ethel McAlpine and hidden in the back of a journal that had been kept by Mr. St. Clair."

All eyes turn to the matriarch of the family, but she remains composed and rigid in her chair.

Lucien clears his throat, preparing himself for what will most certainly follow.

"The journal documents a love affair between Mr. St. Clair and his housekeeper, Adele Makeda."

The room explodes as everyone begins talking at once.  Everyone, that is, except the two strangers in the back of the room . . . and Ethel St. Clair.  She continues to stare straight ahead, seemingly oblivious to the chaos surrounding her.

Lucien lets the initial reaction to his words run its course for a moment, then raises his hand once again.  "Please.  Your attention?"

Gradually the clamor dies down, allowing Lucien to continue.  In deference to Mrs. St. Clair, he will go into no details about the affair.  It is enough that this family knows that there was one in order to explain the presence of Mr. James and his sister, still standing unnoticed in the back of the room.

"The affair was long-standing, but ended before Mr. St. Clair's marriage."

I always knew there was something in his past that he wouldn't speak about.  I knew he didn't marry me willingly, but we had a good life together.  I think he came to love me in his own way.  Now I begin to understand what it was about him that made him so distant.

"Ms. Makeda left town before the wedding . . . without confiding in Mr. St. Clair that she was carrying his child."

Again the room erupts in a high-pitched buzz of surprise and speculation.

This time Lucien waits patiently for it to subside.  Refusing to meet Mrs. St. Clair's eyes, Lucien delivers the final blow.  "In this will, hand-written by Mr. St. Clair and witnessed by a business associate whose signature I have verified, the deceased leaves everything to Ms. Makeda."

Dead silence.

Eugenia, always the practical one, is the first to speak up.

"But . . . . is she still . . .?"

Lucien, instinctively knowing where this is going, comes to the rescue.  "Ms. Makeda has passed away.  The child she bore to Mr. St. Clair is also deceased.  But Ms. Makeda's two grandchildren are very much alive.

Here Lucien's gaze settles on the two people standing against the back wall.  Heads turn in unison as the crowd becomes aware of the presence of the two strangers.

Lucien allows the curiosity of the crowd to be satisfied before dropping the next bomb.  "According to the terms of this will, Mr. St. Clair's entire estate -- including a Swiss bank account that he set up to provide for Ms. Makeda -- passes to Mr. Viktor James and his sister, Miss Dominique James."

Reactions to this bombshell vary.  Many of the St. Clair women married well and have no need of the family money.  Camille, on the other hand, has been relying on her future inheritance as a means to continue living in the style to which she has been accustomed.

Most of the St. Clair girls are established in their careers and have never expected anything in the way of an inheritance from their grandmother.  Coco and Colleen exchange glances with Jes, wondering what effect this revelation will have on their living arrangements, as the bungalow belongs -- or so they believed -- to their grandmother.

The most hard-hit by the news is obviously Ethel St. Clair, who is finding it more and more difficult to maintain her habitual composure.  The expression on her face breaks Lucien's heart.

"This concludes the reading of the last will and testament of Randolph St. Clair.  I will be in contact with each of you individually to make . . . the appropriate arrangements."

The St. Clairs begin to file out of Lucien's office, some of them shooting looks of abject hatred toward the siblings.  Others glance at them with sympathy or curiosity as they pass.  Dominique is unable to bear the hostility and buries her head in her brother's shoulder.  Viktor, however, proudly meets every gaze, filing away for future reference which women show resentment and which seem sympathetic.

After assisting Jes, whose increasing bulk makes it difficult for her to rise from a seated position, Keira bucks the crowd and makes a beeline for Lucien's desk.

Shock at the day's revelations cause Justice to termporarily forget her enmity toward her birth mother. Camille.

Eugenia and Alexia help their mother to her feet and support her as she makes her way toward the door.

As she passes, Dominique impulsively reaches out to her.

"Mrs. St. Clair . . . I am sorry."  She says, simply.  Ethel looks into her husband's granddaughters eyes and nods once, then continues on her way.

To be continued . . .