Размер шрифта:     
Гарнитура:GeorgiaVerdanaArial
Цвет фона:      
Режим чтения: F11  |  Добавить закладку: Ctrl+D
Следующая страница: Ctrl+→  |  Предыдущая страница: Ctrl+←
Показать все книги автора/авторов: Garwood Julie
 

«Slow Burn», Julie Garwood

Chapter One

The crusty old man was going to cause an uproar, and he was only sorry he wouldn't be around to watch it.

He was about to pull the rug out from under his useless relatives, and oh, were they going to take a tumble. But it was high time someone in this miserable family righted a terrible wrong, high time indeed.

While he waited for the equipment to be set up, he cleared the clutter from his desk. His gnarled fingers stroked the smooth wood with as much tenderness and care as he had once given his mistresses when he touched them. The desk was old and scarred and as worn out as he was. He had made his fortune in this very room. With his phone glued to his ear, he had worked one lucrative deal after another. How many companies had he purchased in the past thirty years? How many more had he destroyed?

He stopped himself from daydreaming about his many victories. Now wasn't the time. He crossed the room to the bar and poured himself a glass of water from the crystal decanter one of his business associates had given him years ago. After he took a sip, he carried the glass to the desk and placed it on a coaster near the cor-ner. He looked around the paneled library and decided it was too dark for the cameras, so he rushed to turn on all the table lights.

"Are you ready?" he asked, impatience brimming in his tone. Pulling the chair out, he sat down, smoothed his hair, and adjusted his suit jacket so the collar wouldn't stand up. He tugged on his tie as if that would loosen the tightness in his throat. "I'm going to prepare my thoughts now," he said, his voice raspy from years of barking orders and smoking his cherished Cuban cigars.

He wanted a cigar now. There weren't any in the house, though. He'd given up the habit ten years ago, but every once in a while when he was nervous he would get a sudden longing for one.

At the moment he was not only nervous but also a little fearful, which was an odd, almost unfamiliar, feeling for him. He was desperate to do the right thing before he died, which would be soon now, very soon. He owed at least that much to the MacKenna name.

The old-fashioned video camera with a VHS tape was positioned on a tripod facing the old man. The digital camera was being held up directly behind the video camera, and the eye was also focused on him.

He looked beyond the cameras. "I know you think digital is enough, and you're probably right, but I still like the old way with the videotape. I don't trust those discs, and so the videotape will be my backup. You nod," he instructed, "when everything's turned on, and I'll begin."

He picked up his glass, took a drink, and put it down. The pills those aggravating doctors forced on him made his mouth dry.

A few seconds later, all was ready, and he began.

"My name is Compton Thomas MacKenna. This is not my last will and testament because I've already taken care of all that. I changed my will some time ago. The original is in my safe-deposit box; a copy is in my file at the law firm I employ, and there is also another copy, which I assure you will rear its ugly head if for any reason the original and the attorney's copy are misplaced or destroyed.

"I didn't tell any of you about the new will or about the changes I made because I didn't want to spend my last months being harassed, but now that the doctors have assured me the end is approaching and there is nothing more they can do, I want… no, I need," he corrected, "to explain why I have done what I've done… though I'm not sure any of you will understand or care.

"I'm going to start my explanation with a brief history of the MacKenna family. My parents were born, raised, and buried in the Highlands of Scotland. My father owned quite a bit of land… quite a bit," he repeated. He paused to clear his throat and take another drink of water before continuing. "When he died, the land came to my older brother, Robert Duncan the second, and to me equally. Robert and I traveled to the United States to complete our education, and both of us decided to stay. Years later Robert sold me his share of the land. With his inheritance, that made him a very wealthy man, and it made me the sole heir to the property called Glen MacKenna.

"I never married. I had neither the time nor the inclination. Robert married a woman I didn't approve of, but unlike my brother, I didn't threaten or carry on because he chose someone I didn't like. Her name was Caroline… a social climber. She obviously married Robert for his money. She certainly never loved him. She did do her duty though and gave him two sons, Robert Duncan the third and Conal Thomas.

"And now to the heart of this history lesson. When my nephew Conal chose to marry a woman without social standing, his father disowned him. Robert had chosen someone else-a woman from an influential family-and he was outraged that his wishes were being ignored. Conal's wife, Leah, was no better than a street beg-gar, but Conal didn't seem to care about the money he would lose." He let out a huff of disgust and said, "All Robert had left was his firstborn, a real yes-man who did whatever he was told to do.

"Over the years I lost track of Conal," he continued. "Too busy," he added as an excuse. "All I knew was that he'd moved to Silver Springs just outside of Charleston. But then I got word that he'd been killed in a car accident. I knew my brother wouldn't go to the funeral… but I went. Not so much from a sense of obligation, I admit. I guess I was curious to see how Conal made out. I didn't tell Leah or anyone I was there. Kept my distance. The church was packed with mourners. I even went to the cemetery and saw Leah with her three little girls, the youngest no more than a baby." He stopped as though envisioning the scene. Not wanting to betray any hint of emotion that might cross his faded eyes, he looked away from the camera for a second. He straightened in his chair and resumed. "I saw what I went there to see. The MacKenna line would continue through Conal's children… though it was a pity there weren't any boys.


Еще несколько книг в жанре «Остросюжетные любовные романы»

Eclipse, Stephenie Meyer Читать →

Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer Читать →