Read an Excerpt
Manhattan Island, New York, 1886
The day Juliet Foster became insanely wealthy broke bright and clear. Juliet stared with longing out the window at the sunlight bringing the first warmth of spring to Central Park. The Almighty might have planned the weather to honor her dear, departed father. More likely, God didn't think about Gerard Foster one way or the other. No matter. Juliet's father had never paid much attention to God, either.
Gerard's children had assembled in the lavishly appointed office of his lawyer. Juliet's brother and sister and their spouses perched on their chairs, seeming to hover over Mr. Simms as he put on his reading glasses and opened the will. Juliet braced herself; unlike the others, she knew what was coming.
Mr. Simms cleared his throat. "I hope I've expressed my deep condolences at the loss of your father."
"Thank you." Her sister, Ophelia lifted her handkerchief to her mouth and managed a discreet sob into the linen. Very convincing unless you'd witnessed her make the exact same noise dozens over times of the years.
"He was a very great man, my dear," Mr. Simms said. "All of Manhattan admired him."
Indeed. They'd all discover how much that very night at the party Gerard's partners had planned in his honor. Society might think a celebration so soon after the man's death in poor taste, but Papa had no doubt ordered the thing to demonstrate that even in death, he was still in charge.
"Not only a titan of industry, but a great philanthropist," Mr. Simms went on. "The Foster Museum, the Foster Conservatory. The Foster Sanitarium he even cared for the poor and infirm."
As long as he didn't have to actually meet any of the poor and infirm. Papa had left monuments to his name all over the city the way his prize bulldogs left surprises on the sidewalk outside of their mansion on the park.
"But I don't have to sing his praises to you kind people," Mr. Simms said. "We shall not see his like again for a very long time, if ever."
"Mr. Simms," her brother Richard said. "I hate to seem "
The lawyer wrinkled his brow in confusion.
"We have preparations," Richard went on. "If you don't mind...the will?"
Mr. Simms' expression cleared. "Ah, yes."
The man shuffled the papers for a moment and then began to read. "'I, Gerard Howard Foster, being of sound mind do here on this twenty-fifth of November, 1885 declare this to be my last will and testament for all matters'"
"Yes, of course," Ophelia said. "I don't think we need that part."
Mr. Simms glanced at Richard. "Should I skip it?"
"If you don't mind," Richard answered.
The lawyer looked to Juliet.
"Whatever my brother and sister want," she said. Nothing either of them could say or do would change the important contents of the will.