Natalie was dressed in a long, colorful skirt and a T-shirt that hung over her hips. Around her neck was an exquisite amethyst crystal, laced with small gemstones. Long, dangling beaded earrings hung from her ears, catching in her long hair
Philip eyed his nieces. He wondered how two women raised in the same family could be so different. He would have to watch his step with these two exactly because of their differences. With Jessica, he knew he could be blunt, but not so with Natalie, who always looked at the world-overview in such discussions.
The waiter caught Philips’s eye and quickly came to the table. He took their drink order.
“I’m disappointed to see you playing tennis, Jessica, so soon after your father’s funeral. What will people say?” His voice was smooth as velvet.
Her response was quick and pointed. “To hell with what people say! Besides, everyone knows I never got along with Daddy anyway--and I never got along with you either.”
“That’s exactly why I’ve called you both here today. Despite the fact that we’re not exactly a loving family, we need one another now. We need to discuss what’s going to happen with your father’s will, the forest-exchange property, such as that. It’s important we present to the community the impression we are grieving over your father, drunken bastard that he was. Perceptions count...I know you know that, Jessica dear.”
“Don’t ‘Jessica dear’ me! I know what you’re up to. We’re going to contest the will because Kathleen has been left one fourth of the property. You want us to look like the grief-stricken family who has to share Daddy’s fortune with a cunt who left him in his hour of greatest need.”
“That’s about right, Jessica. I’m glad to see you have a handle on the situation. Natalie, do you understand that we need to contest the will?” His tone continued to be smooth, obsequious.
Natalie did not look directly at Philip. She looked down at the tablecloth and fingered the crystal around her neck.
“I don’t like any of this. It’s bad karma.”
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