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Jordan was still holding Maddie's hand when Fitzwalter opened the file in front of him and lifted the papers. Out of the corner of her eye, Maddie studied her sister. Jordan's lips were pressed tightly together and her eyes were totally focused on the attorney.
She was nervous, Maddie realized. And it went beyond the fact that they'd just met. Since her chair was located at the right of the desk and angled in a way that gave her a view of the other occupants of the room, she took a moment to study the other Wares.
With his arm draped casually over the back of his wife's chair, Carleton appeared to be perfectly at ease. But there was a stiffness in his shoulders and his mouth that belied that. At first glance Dorothy appeared to be bored, but her hands were clasped so tightly in her lap that the knuckles had turned white. Adam sat poker-straight, his hands gripping the arms of the chair.
If there was one thing her father had taught her it was the importance of reading facial expressions and body language. According to Mike Farrell, it was an essential skill in all kinds of activitiesfrom playing poker to bargaining for a price on his cattle. Two things were clear to Maddie. The other Wares' nerves were stretched as tightly as Jordan's were. And the family didn't seem to be very close-knit.
Why not? Had any of them provided support for Jordan as she'd dealt with the terrible news of her mother's death? Something tightened around her heart as Maddie recalled the numbness and the piercing pain she'd felt when her father had passed on a year ago. That had been sudden too. She still felt guilty about the fact that she'd been at a jewelry show in Albuquerque, and Mike hadsuffered a heart attack while he'd been out checking some fences. Alone. Cash Landry, her neighbor and lifelong friend, had found the body the next morning.
Since she'd never met Eva Ware, Maddie couldn't know exactly what Jordan was going through. Was there someone her sister could turn to as Maddie had been able to turn to Cash? As Edward Fitzwalter donned a pair of reading glasses, she linked her fingers with Jordan's.
Gripping the papers in two hands, Fitzwalter peered over his glasses, first at the Wares and then at Jordan and Maddie. "My plan is to make this brief. If any of you want a complete draft of the document including all the whereases, wherefores and so on, I'll be happy to make a copy. But if no one objects, I'll get right to the bequests."
Silence reigned in the room. When the attorney shifted his gaze back to the paper he was holding, Jordan's fingers tightened on Maddie's. She was worried about the contents of the will. Maddie's heart sank. Of course she would be. So would everyone in the room. The only reason that Eva Ware would have requested her presence today was because she'd left something to the daughter she'd deserted. And that something would be taken out of someone else's inheritance.
"To my personal design assistant Cho Li, I leave the sum of five hundred thousand dollars so that if he chooses, he can retire. But my hope is that he'll remain in his position until the new owners of Eva Ware Designs get up to speed."
Dorothy Ware whispered something to Adam and he jerked forward in his chair. "New owners? Who are the new owners?"
Fitzwalter glanced up. "I'll get to that part sooner without interruptions."
Adam opened his mouth and then shut it.
"To my brother Carleton, I leave all of my shares in the Ware Bank. I hope that he'll finally make the fortune he's always believed I've prevented him from getting."
Maddie noted that the news didn't seem to make Carleton very happy.
Fitzwalter cleared his throat. "The rest of my estate, including stocks, bonds, cash, Eva Ware Designs, my fifty-percent share of Ware House on Long Island and my New York City apartment, I leave to my two daughters, Jordan and Madison, to be shared equally. It is my sincere hope that they will run Eva Ware Designs together. However, there is one requirement. They must change places and walk around in each other's lives for three consecutive and uninterrupted weeks beginning within seventy-two hours from the time this will is read. If they refuse to fulfill the terms as I've set them out or if they don't stay the course for three weeks, my fifty percent of Ware House will go to my brother Carleton. Everything else, including the business and my apartment, will be sold and the profits divided equally among all my surviving relatives."
Jordan's mouth dropped open, and this time Maddie thought she knew exactly what her sister was feeling.
Dorothy touched Adam's arm and he leapt out of his chair to plant both of his hands on the desk inches from the papers that Fitzwalter had just set down. Anger radiated off of him in waves, causing Maddie to sit forward in her chair.
"That can't be right. I'll be the chief designer now that Aunt Eva is gone. She should have put me in charge. She always led me to believe that one day I would step into her shoes."
"He's right." Dorothy Ware spoke for the first time. Unlike her son's, her voice held no trace of emotion.
Unperturbed, the attorney met first Dorothy's and then Adam's eyes. "I assure you that Ms. Ware's will is in perfect order."
"No," Adam argued. "She had to have changed her mind since she wrote this. She was busy. She just didn't have the time to see you about it."
Fitzwalter slipped the papers back in the file. "She came to my office two weeks ago and reviewed every detail."
Adam's face had colored to a deep red, and for a moment, Maddie was afraid that he was going to shove the oak desk over on the attorney when Carleton's voice intervened. "Adam."
The younger man drew a deep breath and backed away from the desk. As soon as he was a safe distance away, Maddie turned to Jordan and spoke softly. "I don't get it. Why wouldn't she leave the business to youand why would she want us to change places after she's kept us apart all these years?"
"I've got a theory about that." Jordan glanced over at the other Wares who'd gone into a small huddle.
Maddie looked too. Dorothy was speaking, but her voice didn't carry, and from the expression on Adam's face, he didn't like what he was hearing.
"Let's blow this scene," Jordan whispered. "I've got a reservation at an inn in Linchworth. I wanted you to myself and I thought staying over would be better than battling rush-hour traffic back into the city."
They'd made it nearly to the front door when Adam caught up with them. He grabbed Jordan by the arm and jerked her around to face him. "You can't get away with this."
The fury in his voice sent Maddie into action. Enough was enough. She gripped the arm holding Jordan. "Let my sister go."
"What?" Adam sent her a startled look.
Maddie placed both hands on his chest and gave him one hard shove into the wall. "Just because you're frustrated by the terms of your aunt's will doesn't mean you can manhandle my sister. Got that?"
Adam stared at her. "You shoved me."
"Adam." The cool tones of Dorothy Ware's voice carried the length of the hallway.
"This isn't the end of this," Adam said as he pushed himself away from the wall and strode back to his mother.
Jordan waited until they'd collected their bags from the butler and run down the steps to the waiting limo. Then she whirled to face Maddie. "I've wanted to give Adam a good shove for years." She pulled Maddie into a hard hug. "I guess I've been waiting for my superhero sister to do it for me."
Jordan led the way into the suite she'd rented in the Linch-worth Inn. She hadn't said a word to Maddie during the five-minute ride in the limousine. In spite of the distracting and somewhat amusing altercation with Adam, Jordan knew her head was still spinning with the contents of her mother's will. Maddie's must have been too. She'd tried to think, to plan her strategy. But in business, the key to any successful strategy always depended on knowing your audience.
And she didn't know her sister very well at all. Oh, she'd done as much research as she couldfirst cross-examining Mr. Fitzwalter and then checking out Maddie's Web site. In Jordan's opinion, the Web site needed a makeover, but the jewelry didn't. Her sister had talent. Most of Maddie's work was focused on Southwestern belt buckles, tie clips and pins. The designs were dramatic, the workmanship exquisite, using a lot of turquoise and intricately inlaid patterns. There'd also been a few examples of finer piecesearrings and bracelets. Perhaps she could use her sister's interest in jewelry design as a bargaining chip.
But she needed to know more. And she didn't have a lot of time. The seventy-two-hour clock was ticking.
Leaning down, she opened the door of a small refrigerator and then glanced back at Maddie standing just inside the room, taking it in.
Jordan let her own gaze sweep the area. It was a small suite with two bedrooms. The sitting room had dormer windows with lace curtains and was furnished in antiques. Two chintz-covered love seats faced each other across a small coffee table with a marble top.
"I can offer you some wine. Mom and I always liked white. But I can order up a bottle of red or something else if you'd prefer."
"White's fine," Maddie said.
Silence stretched as Jordan uncorked a bottle of chardon-nay and filled two glasses. Stalling. That's what she was doing. What in the world was the matter with her? She was hardly ever at a loss for words.
"This is a lovely room," Maddie said.
Jordan glanced around again and felt her throat tighten a little. "Mom liked it. We used to stay here whenever we had to visit Uncle Carleton and company." She would never stay here again with her mother. But she couldn't let herself think about that right now. Not yet.
"You didn't stay at Ware House?"
Jordan handed her a glass and waved her over to one of the love seats. "The atmosphere there has always been a bit frigid. And things have gotten worse since I got my MBA and started working at Eva Ware Designs. But it goes back further than that. I don't think that Uncle Carleton and Mom ever saw eye to eye even when they were kids. The friction escalated when my grandfather died. Uncle Carleton is one of those old-fashioned men who believes that the oldest son should inherit everything outright. Thank heavens, my grandfather didn't agree. When he died, he divided everything up between Mom and Uncle Carletoneven Ware House. She took her half of the stocks, bonds and cash and invested everything in her design business. She was able to move into the Madison Avenue store."
"Smart decision," Maddie said.
"I agree, but the other Wares didn't."
Maddie grinned suddenly.
"What you called themthe other Wares. I'd already started thinking of them that way."
Smart, Jordan thought. Her twin was perceptive. That could work in her favor. Tucking her feet underneath her, she leaned back. "As a sort of peace offering, Mom agreed to let Uncle Carleton, Aunt Dorothy and Adam live in Ware House. She got to use the place for business parties, and she agreed to attend any social gatherings that had to do with Ware Bank."
Maddie sipped her wine. "You said the friction's gotten worse since you went to work for Eva Ware Designs."
"Because before that, Adam thought he had a clear shot at taking over the business one day. He'd been there for three years before I joined the company. He's a brilliant designer. Mom was very aware of that. His parents were disappointed with him because he didn't go into banking, so I think he feels he has to succeed. Aunt Dorothy certainly does. Plus, he has a temper."
"I noticed. He may be a fine designer, but he doesn't have your background in business."
Jordan studied her for a moment. "How do you know that?"
"I looked you up on the Internet. A bachelor's degree from the Wharton School, an MBA from Harvard. Very impressive."
Slowly, Jordan smiled. "Touché. I visited your Web site. It needs some work, by the way. But the jewelry doesn't. What I saw was beautiful."
Setting her glass down, Jordan leaned closer and fingered one of the earrings Maddie was wearing. The silver had been configured into fragile lace surrounding a clear turquoise stone. "This is quite lovely. Mom was always looking for turquoise of this quality."
"She should have come to New Mexico."
Jordan met her sister's eyes and saw a hint of pain that she totally understood. "She was in New Mexico when she gave birth to us. I badgered Fitzwalter until he showed me our birth certificates. We were born in Santa Fe."
"She was at the ranch?"
"I don't know about that, but she was definitely in Santa Fe."
"She should have come back."
"Yes, she should have. And our father should have come here. I'm not sure we'll ever find out why they didn't. Or why they separated us."
"Why does she want us to switch places?" Maddie asked. "You said you had a theory about that?"
"I do. I got it the moment I searched your name. I think she wants you to get an in-depth experience at Eva Ware Designs because she wants you here."
"No. That's impossible."
"I know her. She was a very focused woman. I'm sure she was keeping track of your career, and if and when something happened to her, she wanted you to see what she'd created to know that you could share in it."
"But why didn't she contact me? Why put it in her will?"
Jordan rose and began to pace. "I've asked myself those questions over and over. She could have been afraid to contact you after all these years. The other thing about her is that designing jewelry was her driving passion." Jordan waved a hand. "She getsused to gettotally lost in her work. Other things got pushed to the back burner."
"Why three weeks?"
"She probably thought twenty-one straight days would do it." Jordan's smile was wry. "When she first started at her gym, her trainer told her that doing something every day for three weeks was what it took to build a habit."
"But that's crazy. And it's not fair to you."
"It's not crazy if you knew Mom. Eva Ware Designs meant everything to her." Jordan paced to one of the windows before she turned back. "That's why we have to talk about the will."
Maddie rose also. "Yes, we do. I want you to know that"
Jordan held up a hand. "Stop right there. Since I'm the oldest, I get to go first."