Page 18 of Rags to Riches Baby

“Yes, is this your big news? That you’re dating Harper’s brother?”

“Heavens, no!” Lucy blurted out. “That…” She gestured back to the patio. “What you guys saw was just…”

“Amazing?” Emma suggested.

“A CPR lesson?” Harper joked.

“A trial run?” Violet tossed out.

“A mistake,” Lucy interjected into their rapid-fire suggestions. “And when I tell you the big news Harper alluded to, you’ll understand why.”

“Let’s sit,” Emma suggested. “I’m worn out and I want to hear every detail.”

They selected a table in a far corner that wasn’t quite so loud and gathered around it. The girls waited expectantly for Lucy to start her story as she tried to decide where to begin.

“Alice made me a beneficiary of her will.”

“That’s great,” Emma said. “I mean, it makes sense. You two were so close.”

“Yeah,” Lucy agreed. “There’s just one problem.”

“How could an inheritance be a problem?” Violet asked.

“Because she left me damn near all of it. About half a billion dollars in cash, investments and property.”

The words hung in the air for a few moments. Emma and Violet looked stunned. Harper sat with a smug smile on her face. She was confident that all of this would work out. Perhaps because that was the kind of life she led. Things were different for Lucy.

“You said billion. With a b?” Emma asked.

Lucy could only nod. What else did you say to something like that?

“And why aren’t you more excited? You didn’t even seem like you wanted to tell us.” Violet’s brow furrowed in confusion. “You’d think you’d be shouting it from the rooftops and lighting cigars with hundred dollar bills.”

That would be a sight to see. “I’m not excited because I don’t believe for one second that it’s going to really happen the way Alice wanted.”

“And why not?” Emma asked.

“Because of Oliver,” Harper interjected. “He’s all spun up about the whole thing. The family is convinced that Lucy is some kind of swindler that tricked Alice into giving her everything.”

“I swear I didn’t even know she did it,” Lucy said.

“You don’t have to defend yourself to us, honey.” Violet shook her head. “We know you better than that. If Alice left you that money, it’s because she thought you deserved it. Who are they to decide what she could and couldn’t do with her own money?”

“I think they’re trying to prove that she wasn’t mentally competent to make the change. She only did it a few months ago. It doesn’t look good for me, so that’s why I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up and have it all fall through. Oliver has a team of fancy attorneys just ready to crush me. Honestly, I don’t think I stand a chance.”

“So why, exactly, were you kissing Oliver on the patio if he’s the bad guy?” Emma asked, bringing the conversation back around to the part Lucy had wanted to avoid.

Once again, the other three women looked at her and she was at a loss for words. “When I saw him, I thought he’d followed me here. He showed up at the apartment the other day and we argued. When we started to argue again, he pulled me outside so we wouldn’t cause a scene at the party. Somehow…I don’t really know how…we kissed. Then he kissed me a second time to prove that kissing me was meaningless.”

“What happened to his face?” Harper asked. “He was all red when he came back inside.”

“It might have been because I punched him in the nose.”

Violet covered her mouth to smother a giggle. Emma didn’t bother, laughing loudly at Oliver’s expense. It didn’t take long before all four friends were laughing at the table together.

“You seriously punched him?”

Lucy nodded, wiping tears of laughter from her eyes. “I did. And he didn’t deserve it. At least not yet.”

“Oh, I’m sure he deserved it,” Harper added. “He’s done something to warrant a good pop, I assure you. Taking Alice’s will to the judge is cause enough.”

“Do you really think he’ll get it overturned?” Emma asked. “He doesn’t even need the money. Jonah says he’s loaded.”

“He is,” Harper said. “He’s done very well with Daddy’s business the last few years. But it isn’t about the money, I’m pretty sure.”

“Then what is it about?” Lucy asked. “Because this has been the most confusing week of my life. I’m rich, but I’m not. I’m unemployed, but I may not need to work ever again. I’m homeless, and yet I may own a Fifth Avenue apartment. I’m applying to go back to Yale and finish school, but I may not even need to bother when I have an art gallery in my own living room. I’ve barely had time to grieve for Alice. Your whole family has a vendetta against me and I didn’t do anything. I just woke up one day and my entire life was turned upside down.”