#13 – Contest of Will
- Kerstin Waterford is attacked in the street and Frank Denzre comes to her rescue
- Leticia McKinelle-Glendale‘s ex-husband Oswald Glendale comes back to Emerald Heights and becomes obsessed with Sarah Price
- Sarah Price, unaware of his connection to Leticia, falls under Oswald’s spell and agrees to do an interview with him – he’s a plastic surgeon, not a writer
- Leticia McKinelle-Glendale’s father dies and his young widow, Clara, has her eyes on his fortune
Kerstin was sitting in her father’s living room. It had been twenty hours since she had been jumped while walking home from The P & Q. Frank Denzre was sitting alongside her on the couch. He had scarcely left her side since coming to her rescue in the darkened street.
It had only been a week since she had met him while waiting for the elevator in their building. She had been struck by him immediately; it had been such a long time since she’d met anyone new – and it had been even longer still since she had met anyone new to Emerald Heights.
It had been Frank who had convinced her to call her father and tell him what had happened the night before. She had done so only grudgingly, wanting neither to alarm her father nor to be forced into a retelling of the details of the attack (which she could hardly remember). When Lawrence Waterford demanded that his eldest daughter come “home” to Red Terrace she had dragooned Frank along as a line of defence against her father’s incessant fathering.
The Waterford clan half-encircled Kerstin and Frank as they sat in the main living room at Red Terrace. Even the house-staff was standing in the doorways listening to the goings-on. “I… I don’t… I just don’t understand,” Lawrence Waterford was asking, “how did this happen?”
It was perhaps the fourth time since they’d arrived that Lawrence had posed that very question. It was beginning to no longer sound like a question. The question had undoubtedly been posed to Kerstin but it was Frank who answered instead. “It seemed to be a random thing, Mr. Waterford. They just surrounded her in the street.”
Kerstin was decidedly relieved to not be alone in this instance. “And you saw them attack her?” Lynda asked.
“Well, not really. I didn’t really realize who was getting attacked when I rolled up,” Frank replied. “I just saw the four of them and heard the screams.” Kerstin’s eyes were clamped shut as the retelling of the events caused her skin to crawl.
“It’s very lucky that you were there, it seems,” Tish interjected. Kerstin’s eyes had already locked on her sister before she slowly peeled them open. Tish was regarding Frank with a look that Kerstin couldn’t name. It certainly wasn’t appreciation, or anything approaching gratitude for her sister’s safety. Tish briefly locked eyes with her elder sister before turning away to study something on the walls.
The tires of Leticia’s car made terrible squealing noises at almost every turn in the road as she zipped across Emerald Heights toward her late father’s estate, Pinewood Manor.
With the speed at which she was travelling the electronic gate barely had time to slide its wrought-iron bars out of the way as she turned sharply into the driveway.
Leticia had been mumbling to herself for quite some time as she drove toward the house and had already won the oncoming argument several times in her head by the time she made it to the front door of the manor.
As she flung the door aside and regarded the woman standing in the middle of the great room of her father’s home the well reasoned arguments in her head were immediately replaced by white hot rage. She clenched her fists to the point where her fingernails bit into the flesh of her palms.
Clara Preston-McKinelle, the much-younger wife-now-widow of Richard McKinelle, stood reading as if posed and waiting for Leticia’s arrival. Without glancing up as the door to the great room crashed against its stopper she flipped nonchalantly to the next page as she read quietly.
“This is not your home!” Leticia screamed at the woman.
“I beg to differ,” the other woman spoke evenly, finally choosing to look up from the document in her possession. Standing alongside her was a man dressed in a very smart looking black suit; Clara glanced briefly toward the man and quirked her eyebrow at him.
Seeming to take this as an indication that he was to intercede he spoke, “Ms. Glendale, if you please, let us discuss the terms of your late father’s will.”
“There is nothing to discuss,” Leticia said as she moved closer to Clara. Her eyes were red from the tears that she had shed through the day coupled with the rage that was coursing through her body; she flexed her fingers out straight and then clenched her fists again. For the briefest moment she considered strangling Clara where she stood. “This is my father’s home – this is my family’s home – it will remain my family’s home.”
“That’s not what it says in the will,” Clara began, but was cut off by Leticia.
“I don’t care what you manipulated him into, you bitch!” She spoke emphatically and as she raised her arms in speech she noticed Clara flinch. “Any will he wrote after you were married can easily be contested.”
A smile crept across Clara’s lips and spread into an obscenely broad grin, “oh, how true.” She replied. “But this cannot be so easily… contested.”
She turned the document toward Leticia who snatched it from the woman’s grip. Leticia scanned the document quickly as her eyes picked out the operative points in the will. The cause of Clara’s jubilation was not immediately clear until the Clara herself prompted Leticia to, “look at the date,” and she did.
“It was very nice to meet you, son,” Lawrence said, shaking Frank’s hand as he and Kerstin stood at the door to Red Terrace on their way out.
One of the fortunate consequences of bringing Frank along on her “visit” to Red Terrace that evening had been that her father had allowed her to leave. Had she not been in the company of a man that her father felt capable of protecting his daughter it is likely that he wouldn’t have allowed her to leave. She said so to Frank once they were clear of the main house, “I’m surprised that he let me leave.”
“He’s… over-protective; like a lot.” She chuckled, “when I was in college in Grand City he used to call my landlord all the time and check up on me; then when I moved back to Emerald Heights I barely left Red Terrace until I moved into our building.” She pressed the tips of her fingers into her forehead, “I can’t believe I told you that. I sound like such a loser.”
Frank laughed, “not at all. We can’t help what our family is like,” he paused for a moment, seemingly in reflection and added as he held open the car door for her, ”so, your sister seems like quite a piece of work.”
Kerstin grinned broadly as she sat herself in the car. When Frank sat next to her in the driver’s seat she replied, “she’s always been like that. When we were children our parents were very busy and we spent a lot of time competing for their affection – Tish never stopped.” She shook her head, “I guess she’s winning.”
Sarah made two quick swaps on the wardrobe rack and then stood back and reviewed her work.
She nodded and spoke aloud, “yes, that’s perfect.”
There were eight individual outfits laid out in the order in which she would be photographed in them. They were all, each one of them, her own designs and in her mind she was already prancing about the Price photo-studio and choosing the perfect poses.
She quickly glanced at her watch; there were only minutes until Oswald was scheduled to arrive. She gave herself a quick glance in the mirror before heading down to the main doors in order to greet the dashing interviewer.
Oswald was making his way toward the main doors of Price as Sarah was crossing the sales floor toward the same doors. She turned the deadbolt and pushed the door open, smiling broadly as she did so, “hello!” She said, the pitch of her voice nearly as squeak.
Oswald chuckled throatily. He was endeared by her demeanour in his presence. He enjoyed her nervous energy, it served, in his mind, to accentuate her beauty. It enhanced the purity of her spirit; it drew him to her. It proved to him that they deserved one another.
Knowing her to be easily affected by gentlemanly wiles, he grandly reached for her hand and kissed the back of it softly. She giggled mirthfully. “I am excited to see what you have to show me,” he said softly.
“I picked eight outfits,” she said, “each of them is my own design. They sort of go in order, to show how my influences have, y’know, evolved or whatever.”
“Excellent,” he said quietly as he followed her deeper into the empty building.Tags:Clara Preston-McKinelle, Frank Denzre, Kerstin Waterford, Lawrence Waterford, Leticia McKinelle-Glendale, Lynda Waterford, Oswald Glendale, Sarah Price, Tish Waterford