“I’m so very sorry for your loss.” The lawyer shuffles back behind his desk, facing my father and me. His pot belly hangs low and maybe smells remotely of cigars. “Loretta was a fine woman.”
My father nods his bowed head. I just keep staring at that loser of a lawyer.
“Ah, yes. I haven’t met your lovely daughter yet. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Vincent Rollo, a lawyer at this fine establishment.” He smirks. His eyes glint. For the money?
Brushing my hair behind my ear, I say, “I’m Ella Frank.”
“Ella,” he says, his smirk deepening. “I’ve been the family lawyer for a long while now. Isn’t that wonderful?”
I stare at him blankly. “That’s great. Now, can you just tell us what’s on my grandmother’s will? Please?”
“Ah, yes!” He pulls out a piece of paper and, after a few rustles, begins to read. “‘The last will and testament of Loretta Mary Frank.’ Let’s see… bequests… bequests…”
“Hey, Dad?” I whisper to him, making sure that Mr. Rollo can’t hear.
“Yes, sweetie?” He lifts his head and leans a bit closer. “What’s wrong?”
“What the hell does bequest mean?”
He laughs out loud. “Oh. A bequest is a request from a will. It could be an object that the person left for you, or a request for something they wished you’d do.”
I roll my eyes. “Great.” What did you cook up for me, Grandma?
“Ah, yes!”—Mr. Rollo seems to like that phrase—“Here it is! ‘Bequests’…
“ 'To Mr. James Timothy Frank, I leave my house and all possessions. Jimmy, you have always been a great son and support to me. I hope you’ll live the rest of your life in happiness.
“ 'To Miss Ella Louise Frank, I leave only a small request. My best friend must be devastated that I am dead, unless she is dead herself. She’s been awfully worried about her grandson, Ian, for a long time. He’s never been fond of a girl before, and the whole family, a very ancient and noble one, is concerned that he will not marry. I only ask this: marry the poor boy, Ella. I know you both are only nineteen. However, this isn’t just help for him… It’s for your own safety.' ”