- Pub. Date:
Peter McCord can’t believe his ears.
Young, handsome, and heir to one of Pittsburgh’s wealthiest fortunes, Peter McCord couldn’t imagine a life without privilege and a long line of eligible ladies vying for his attention. Until his grandfather’s will is read and his life changes unexpectedly. Now disinherited, Peter leaves his controlling family, certain he can make something of himself, by himself. . .and hoping he can find the anonymity and fresh start he desires.
Anne Kirby’s heart is broken. . .by a terrible secret. While her job as a university librarian takes her away from her pain, she’s determined to keep the truth guarded, even if that means remaining a spinster.
When love brings Anne and Peter face-to-face, revelations regarding both their pasts emerge. But do they have faith that God will restore their hearts?
Related collections and offers
Read an Excerpt
I can assure you, Peter, I'm just as surprised as you."
Peter McCord stared at his uncle. Two months ago he was the most eligible bachelor in Pittsburgh society and the apple of his grandfather's eye. One month ago found him keeping vigil at the old man's bedside. A week ago he watched as Granddad was laid to rest, and less than a minute ago the words he'd just heard uttered left him speechless.
"There must be some mistake," he said, finally finding his voice. "Let me see the will."
Randall McCord rose from his seat behind the heavy walnut desk and handed the document to him. Peter took it and, rising from one of the leather chairs, crossed his grandfather's wood-paneled study to the window. He felt the blood leave his face as he took in Granddad's final words. He'd been left nothing, absolutely nothing. Peter's brow furrowed. "I don't understand," he muttered.
"I realize after my misunderstanding with my father you imagined he would leave everything to you"
"Misunderstanding?" Peter locked eyes with his uncle. "I would hardly call nearly ruining everything Granddad worked for a 'misunderstanding'!" His uncle's eyes narrowed and Peter knew he'd struck a nerve. Uncle Randall's heavy-handed ways had almost run McCord Steel and Ironworks into the ground. The mill had lost a great deal of money and the workers had come close to rioting. Granddad had been beside himself with anger; so much so, he cut off his only son. "In light of that fact," Peter continued. "I'm the most logical choice as heir in spite of the fact that my interests lay elsewhere."
"Oh yes, your interests" his cousin Edward drawled, leaning against the bookcase behind his father. "Horse racing and chasing after every attractive young lady in the city."
"At least I have them to chase," Peter shot back. With his strong, handsome face, chocolate brown hair, andas Granddad used to sayeyes greener than a spring meadow, Pittsburgh's eligible young ladies were more than willing quarry. Of course being Hiram Mc-Cord's heir didn't hurt either. "Tell me, how are your marriage prospects?"
A slow, smug smile grew over his cousin's face. "Much improved now that I'm heir of McCord Steel and you're"
"That's enough." Uncle Randall glanced sharply at his son. "Peter, what exactly did you expect? Considering your disastrous time at Princeton"
"I did graduate," Peter snapped, rereading the will carefully.
"Barely. You spent more time at the racetracks than attending to your studies. I'm sure my father realized you couldn't possibly oversee his fortune."
"Granddad knew I wouldn't run the mill like he did. He knew I had every intention of hiring the best possible man to oversee its operation."
"While you exhaust the McCord fortune on horses, I suppose."
"Granddad approved of my interest in horses. It was his idea to buy the farm in Ligonier"
"Then why didn't he leave you even the smallest stipend to keep the farm running?"
Ignoring the question, Peter strode over to his uncle. "Granddad couldn't have left everything to you. He wouldn't have." He shook the document. "This can't possibly be the correct will. It must be an older version."
"It's the correct one, Peter," Edward said. "Didn't you check the date?"
Peter looked at the will again. It had been signed a little over a year ago. He put his hand over his eyes. What could he have done over the past year to cause his grandfather to do this? Why hadn't he at least warned him? Peter stiffened. That last night, before Granddad slipped away in his sleep, the old man had begged for his understanding when the will was read. Peter had thought it was the laudanum talking. He felt a hand on his shoulder. His uncle had risen from his seat and now stood next to him.
"It was my father's last wish that you be taken care of, and it is one I intend to honor," he said, his hand turning viselike.
Peter shook free, handed the will to his uncle, and walked to the door. "I'll take care of myself, thank you, Uncle Randall."
"And how will you manage to do that, may I ask?"
Peter turned. His uncle resumed his seat behind the desk.
"You've been left with nothing. Not even the smallest sum of money." Peter remained silent and he continued. "As I said, I am willing to support you, but there will be a few conditions."
"And those would be?"
"It's high time you used that education my father paid for. I assume you learned something in spite of your horrendous marks." His uncle's eyes narrowed keenly. "You will come to work for me at the mill and earn your keep for a change."
Peter smiled humorlessly and shook his head.
"My thanks for the offer, Uncle, but I have a very promising colt that will be ready to race soon. I think I'll take my chances with him. In the meantime, I'm sure Henry won't mind me staying with him." Peter knew he and his horse trainer would think of something to keep the farm running. Sell off a few mares perhaps His uncle's voice stopped him in mid-thought.
"You could, if the farm still belonged to you."
Peter felt the blood leave his face. "What do you mean?"
"Despite the fact he bought it for you, it seems the farm is still in my father's name. Not yours. Therefore, it now belongs to me. I intend on dismissing Henry Farley and selling off the animals as quickly as possible."
Peter tried to digest what he'd just heard as his uncle moved swiftly on. "The other condition concerns Miss Leticia Jamison."