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Hard(8)

By´╝ÜSosie Frost



This particular one, or when Dad originally ran out on us when I was thirteen?

I nodded anyway. “Thanks. I know he was your friend.”

“A good one. The world lost a good man.”

If he said so.

“So, uh.” William shuffled a couple papers on his desk. “I don’t know how much your dad told you about his estate and how he planned to have it managed after his death.”

“I know he has a trust for me.”

“Oh, yes. The trust is set to release on your college graduation. That is definitely secure.”

I frowned. Why wouldn’t it be secure?

“But I’m talking about the rest of your father’s assets. His personal fortune, investments, land holdings, new house.”

“New house?”

William folded his hands. He looked as uncomfortable as I felt. “Okay, Shay, I know your father hasn’t really…been in contact with you lately. But believe me, he meant for this to be a second chance. He wanted to start a new family and include you in it. He loved you very much. He made sure you would be entitled to so much. And, Shay…there’s more than you think.”

“Okay,” I said. “What exactly are you talking about?”

“Your father recently purchased a new estate just outside of Atlanta.” William shifted. “A rather…large estate.”

“How large?”

“About twenty-five million dollars’ worth.”

Oh.

My.

God.

“Dad had that much?”

William cleared his throat. “Your father had some considerable holdings. A couple very recent investments that worked in his favor.”

“O-kay?”

“Just before his death, he was worth over a billion dollars.”

And now I knew what Gran meant about swooning. I gripped the chair, but even its arms couldn’t hold me up.

First the best sex of my life and then I inherited a billion dollars?

Jesus, I had good weeks before, but that was the result of a nice haircut and no eight AM finals, not becoming a modern day princess!

My stomach did a victory dance…but the rest of my body didn’t recognize the steps. I leaned over and gulped as much air as I could get. That only made it worse. William panicked, raking through the mini-fridge beside his desk until he found his lunch. He cast the Chipotle burrito aside and handed me the paper bag.

I breathed in, crinkled the bag, spat out the receipt, and tried to calm down.

A billion dollars.

Dad had a billion dollars.

I’d pop the damn bag and rip it to shreds if I didn’t breathe fire first.

“Dad had a billion dollars and my mother lived downtown alone in a two bedroom apartment for years?”

William grimaced. “He offered your mother quite a bit of money—most of which she refused. And he made sure you had everything you needed while you were growing up.”

Sure, everything I needed except a father! Someone to hug me after school, to ground me that one time Momma found a pack of cigarettes stuffed under my mattress, to teach me to drive the car he gave me. He sent me to a fancy prep school but never once came to a play, science fair, or graduation. Dad never remembered my birthday either, he was always a year and two weeks late.

I spent my teenage years hating him, but he only cared when he decided to edge into my life. By then it was too late. I created excuse after excuse not to see him. College homework. Finals. Group assignments. Rush—and I wasn’t even in a sorority.

Now he was dead.

And I was inheriting the vast fortunate of a man I hardly knew.

Did I deserve it? Hell no. Did he deserve me? Absolutely not.

“Shay.” William pushed a pair of glasses up his nose and studied the paperwork. “I know things were tense within your home, but your father wanted the best for you, always did. That’s why he made sure the family would be taken care of after he was gone.”

“My father never wanted a family.”

“That’s not true. He very much wanted a family. And he loved you with every beat of his heart, but he never knew how to show it. And, with what happened with your mother…well…”

“Yeah.”

I exhaled. It did nothing. Something had to give. After the hangover and crazy sex a few days ago, I didn’t trust myself to have a drink. Good thing a piece of wedding-funeral cake awaited me at home. I needed to eat about five pounds worth of icing and figure out what I was supposed to do.

Investments? No idea.

Find an accountant. That was a good place to start.

Get a yacht? That’s what rich people did, right? Probably needed to learn to swim first. Hell, I’d purchase a whole lake. My stomach flipped.

Maybe I’d start small. Buy a pint of the really good ice-cream on my way home.

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