Monica seemed stunned by the very idea. “I can’t imagine not leaving my apartment for that long.”
“Well,” Oliver pointed out, “she had a very nice apartment. She wasn’t exactly suffering there.”
“Will you inherit her place? I know you two were close and the article said she didn’t have any children.”
The possibility had been out there until this afternoon when everything changed. Aunt Alice had never married or had children of her own. A lot of people assumed that he and Harper would be the ones to inherit the bulk of her estate. Oliver didn’t need his aunt’s money or her apartment; it wasn’t really his style. But he resented a woman wiggling her way into the family and stealing it out from under them.
Especially a woman with wide eyes and irritatingly fascinating freckles that had haunted his thoughts for the last hour.
“I doubt it, but you never know. Hold my calls, will you, Monica?”
She nodded as he slipped into his office and shut the door. He was in no mood to talk to anyone. He’d cleared his calendar for the afternoon, figuring he would be in discussions with his family about Alice’s estate for some time. Instead, everyone had rushed out in a panic and he’d followed them.
It was best that he left when he did. The longer he found himself in the company of the alluring Miss Campbell, the more intrigued he became. It was ridiculous, really. She was the kind of woman he wouldn’t give a second glance to on the street. But seated across from him at that conference room table, looking at him like her fate was in his hands…he needed some breathing room before he did something stupid.
He pulled his phone out of his pocket and glanced at the screen before tossing it onto his desk. Harper had called him twice in the last half hour, but he’d turned the ringer off. His sister was likely on a mission to convince him to let the whole issue with the will drop. They’d have to agree to disagree where Lucy and her inheritance was concerned.
Oliver settled into his executive chair with a shake of his head and turned to look out the wall of windows to his view of the city. His office faced the west on one side and north on the other. In an hour or so, he’d have a great view of the sun setting over the Hudson. He rarely looked at it. His face was always buried in spreadsheets or he was doodling madly on the marker board. Something always needed his attention and he liked it that way. If he was busy, that meant the company was successful.
Free time…he didn’t have much of it, and when he did, he hardly knew what to do with it. He kept a garden, but that was just a stress reliever. He dated from time to time, usually at Harper’s prodding, but never anything very serious.
He couldn’t help but see shades of Candace in every woman that gave a coy smile and batted her thick lashes at him. He knew that wasn’t the right attitude to have—there were plenty of women with money of their own who were interested in him for more than just his fortune and prestige. He just wasn’t certain how to tell them apart.
One thing he did notice today was that Lucy Campbell neither smiled or batted her lashes at him. At first, her big brown eyes had looked him over with a touch of disgust wrinkling her pert, freckled nose. A woman had never grazed over him with her eyes the way she had. It was almost as though he smelled like something other than the expensive cologne he’d splashed on that morning.
He’d been amused by her reaction to him initially. At least until they started reading the will. Once he realized who she was and what she’d done, it wasn’t funny any longer.
Harper believed one hundred percent in Lucy’s innocence. They’d been friends since college. She probably knew Lucy better than anyone else and normally, he would take his sister’s opinion as gospel. But was she too close? Harper could be blinded to the truth by her friendship, just as their father had been blinded to the truth by his love for Candace. In both instances, hundreds of millions were at stake.
Even the most honest, honorable person could be tempted to get a tiny piece of that pie. Alice had been ninety-three. Perhaps Lucy looked at her with those big, sad eyes and told Alice a sob story about needing the money. Perhaps she’d charmed his aunt into thinking of her as the child she never had. Maybe Lucy only expected a couple million and her scheme worked out even better than she planned.
Either way, it didn’t matter how it came about. The bottom line was that Lucy had manipulated his aunt and he wasn’t going to sit by and let her profit from it. This was a half-billion-dollar estate—they weren’t quibbling over their grandmother’s Chippendale dresser or Wedgwood China. He couldn’t—wouldn’t—let this go without a fight. His aunt deserved that much.