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Baby Steps

By´╝ÜFiona Davenport

Chapter 1


Jade


“I’m sure your step-brother will be here shortly.”

“Step-brother?” I repeated dumbly, having no clue what the heck the lawyer was talking about. When I got the call yesterday, I thought the request to come to Mr. Wilkinson’s office to discuss my mom’s death was odd. She had died four weeks ago and I wasn’t expecting to inherit anything from her since she didn’t have much to pass down to me except maybe some debts. Although, when I attempted to take care of them, they’d been mysteriously paid off. Then, when I’d entered their posh offices and been ushered in to see one of the named partners without waiting, I’d wondered if they’d mistaken me for someone else. Now, the mention of a mystery step-brother cinched it. I knew for sure something weird was going on here. “There must be a mistake. I don’t have a step-brother.”

He rifled through a stack of papers on his desk and pulled one out. “Your mom was Diamond Jones, correct?”

I cringed at his use of her full first name. She hated it and preferred to be called Di, which was odd when you thought about it since she named me after a gem too. What kind of person who hated being named after a precious jewel turned around and named their only child after one? It made no sense to me. Then again, I never claimed to understand anything about my mom. She and I had always been polar opposites. “Yes.”

He stretched his arm across the desk and handed the paper to me. I glanced down and the words “Marriage Certificate” jumped out at me. My mom was listed as the bride, and it was dated for the day before the car crash which took her life four weeks ago. “My mom got married?”

Sympathy shone from the lawyer’s eyes. “Theirs was a whirlwind courtship. I’m sure she was going to discuss it with you when she and Jonathan returned from their honeymoon. He was a very private man, and there were public relations issues to work out before they went public with the marriage.”

My mom married a guy who had to take public relations issues into consideration? One whose fancy lawyer referred to him by his first name? Oh, Mama. You finally landed the golden goose you’d always dreamed of, only to die the next day. If that wasn’t irony biting you in the ass, I didn’t know what was.

“When I was contacted about her death, the police mentioned there was a man in the car with her at the time. Was it Jonathan? Did he survive the crash?”

“I’m sorry to say he lingered in the hospital for a week before passing away,” he explained. “Unfortunately, someone dropped the ball and neglected to contact you sooner so we could help with the arrangements for her funeral and make sure you were taken care of during this time of crisis.”

“Thank you,” I whispered. “But I have everything under control. My mom has already been buried. I spoke with her landlord and the rent on her apartment was already paid up for last month and this one too. I have a little time before I need to clear it out which was a godsend since I have a show to prepare for and not a lot of free time right now.”

“I don’t think you’ll find many personal effects at the apartment. I believe most of her things had already been moved into Jonathan’s estate,” he explained. “If you need additional time, I’m sure we can make arrangements to have the remainder of her items packed up and moved for you.”

“That’s kind of you to offer, but I guess I don’t really understand what I’m doing here.”

“My assistant should have explained when she called yesterday.” He sent an irritated glance towards his door, as though she could see him. “You’ve been named in Jonathan’s will.”

“Why would he even do that when we’d never met? I mean, I didn’t even know he existed,” I mumbled the last part, cringing a little at blurting it out like that. “When would he have had time to add me to his will?”

“Jonathan was a man who knew how to get things done quickly.” I held back an inappropriate giggle while thinking about how fast my mom had to have moved to get him to marry her so swiftly. Apparently spritzing men’s cologne in a high-end department store finally paid off. “And considering the size of his estate, he didn’t want to leave anything to chance once your mom was a part of his life.”

I couldn’t help but think of all the men who’d paraded through my mom’s world while I was growing up. As different as we were and despite the distance between us, I loved her dearly. It was deeply saddening to know she’d finally met a man who apparently treasured her the way she’d always wanted, only to die shortly afterward.

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