For Angelo

By: Marian Tee

Nellie began to talk, not requiring her client to answer, and she discussed everything except the case. It took about forty-five minutes for her client to finally come out from behind the curtains, and when she did, Nellie tried not to show her surprise.

The girl was unbelievably pretty, her hair and eyes a rich shade of caramel brown. Her curves were also generously evident despite her young age, and it made Nellie feel a bit envious. Oh, what she would do to have something bigger than A-cups.

As she continued talking, she watched her young client sit in front of her, pulling her knees up and tucking them under her chin. When she paused, she expected Lane Petersen to stay silent, but the young girl surprised her by saying in a small voice, “We can talk about it now.”

Nellie hid her surprise at Lane’s unexpectedly straightforward attitude. This girl had guts, she thought, reluctantly impressed. But still, she asked, “Are you sure?”

A small nod.

Eyes that hid nothing met hers. “You’re not like the other rich people I know.”

Nellie fought to keep her smile even as her guilty conscience started to sting. Shut up, conscience. You’re going to cost me money. Looking back at Lane, she said quietly, “I’m glad you think that.” Her conscience stung even more painfully. “But first, I’d like to formally introduce myself.” She offered the girl her hand. “My name’s Nellie Mortimer, and I’ve been assigned to be your lawyer.”

The girl shook her hand gravely. “I’m Lane. Thank you for accepting my case even if you won’t get paid for it. The social worker explained it all to me. She says there are lawyers like you who believe in doing the right thing.”

Nellie managed to hold on to her smile. “That’s right.” I hate you, Anonymous Social Worker. Clearing her throat, she asked, “Has someone discussed with you why you need a lawyer?”

Lane nodded. “It’s about the inheritance, right?”

“Yes.” Nellie picked up the case file and flipped it to the page where all the figures were. “After you factor in taxes and other fees, you will still be left with an inheritance of over three million dollars.” She waited expectantly.

But the girl in front of her didn’t jump for joy or go into hysterics.

Thinking that Lane was left speechless by her good fortune, Nellie said with a smile, “You heard me right, you know. You’re a multimillionaire at your age, and after the necessary paperwork, I can make sure the funds are transferred to your account in a couple of days—”

Lane mumbled something.

I must have heard her wrong, Nellie thought. “Sorry, what was that again?” She watched Lane take a deep breath.

“I don’t want it.”

Her smile froze on her lips. “Excuse me?”

The girl’s voice became just a bit stronger. “I don’t want it.”

Nellie’s jaw dropped. “Are you insane?” She winced as soon as the words came out, knowing she had been utterly unprofessional. “I’m sorry for that.” But in her mind, Nellie could already see her two-percent cut slipping away from her hold. There goes my plan for a European cruise and a fling with a hot Greek stranger, Nellie thought morosely. She should have known there was a catch. Her father would never have given her a cut-and-dried case.

She looked back at Lane. “I just want to be clear here. You’re saying no to THREE MILLION DOLLARS.”

Her client nodded.

“But you’ve already turned eighteen,” Nellie pointed out. “You can no longer be a dependent of the state. You’re unemployed, homeless, and you have yet to finish high school. Your work experience is next to nothing. How do you plan to live if you say no to your inheritance?

There was a long pause before Lane answered jerkily, “I’ll get by.”

Nellie’s head started to pound. Three million dollars, she thought incredulously. And this girl was saying she didn’t want it? Her gaze slid back to the case folder. She read through it a little more comprehensively and when she looked up, she knew just enough to try a new tactic.

“May I be frank with you, Lane?” Nellie tried to keep the guilt from her voice as she spoke, aware of her less-than-selfless motivation for wanting to convince Lane Petersen to accept her inheritance.

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