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Finding Eden(6)

By:Mia Sheridan



Mr. Sutherland cleared his throat. "Yes, of course. We're basically done here. Mrs. Forester, I just need you to sign here and my secretary will put a copy of the documents in the mail."

Marissa leaned forward and signed the papers he slid in front of her and then dropped the pen in her purse.

I scooted to the edge of my chair, clutching the large envelope Felix's lawyer had given me, the one with my name written across the front in Felix's handwriting, the bold penmanship that made my heart clench with ache and loss. Oh Felix, I can't believe you're gone.

"Now wait a minute here," Charles, sitting to the right of his sister, said. "What exactly is she getting in that envelope? We need a breakdown of—"

"It's nothing more than a personal letter," Mr. Sutherland said impatiently. "I assure you, Charles. The same thing that's in each of your envelopes." He nodded to the large envelopes Claire and Charles were each holding on their laps.

"All the same, if we could just inspect it—" Charles started.

Mr. Sutherland looked annoyed. "I'm sure Miss," he glanced at me and then back at Charles, "I'm sure Eden would kindly appease you by showing you the contents if it would mean wrapping this meeting up—"

I let out a breath, and stared at the attorney, my heart picking up speed in my chest. This letter was all I had of Felix—I wouldn't let them take it. I didn't even want them to rifle through it. It was mine. Marissa put one hand on my knee.

Like a whisper, it came, as it sometimes did. Be strong, Morning Glory.

I stood up, holding the envelope to me like a life preserver. "No, you may not inspect it," I said just a little shakily. "If you were so interested in your father's personal affairs, you should have asked him while he was still alive. You should have shown up to even one of those Sunday dinners he invited you to, called him back once in a while, spent more than three minutes picking up Sophia after her lesson." I looked pointedly at Claire. "I tried to get to know you. I wanted to be your friend." Hurt overcame me and I paused. "But you weren't interested. And that's okay, I guess. But now, you do not get to inspect this envelope, because although you don't believe it, I loved Felix." I paused again, swallowing down the pain that welled up in my throat, taking in their shocked expressions. I had never once spoken to them this way. I took a deep breath and gentled my voice, but made sure it was strong and clear. "Felix was a father figure to me. You don't know anything about me because you never cared to know, but your father was someone who helped me when I needed it most. You have no idea how much that meant to me, no idea." I looked back and forth between their narrowed eyes and took a deep breath. "The answer is no, you may not inspect this envelope," I repeated.

The lawyer said it contained a personal letter. To someone else, that might not have been much, but it was all I would ever have of Felix. I didn't have a lot, but I had this, and two people who disliked me, who had chosen time and again not to show me an ounce of kindness, were not going to take it away. I hugged it to me more tightly.

"Now hold on a minute here," Claire said, standing up and pointing a finger at me. "You don't know anything about us either. You don't get to stand there and judge us, you little gold digger."

"Claire, Charles—" Marissa started.

"Gold digger?" I repeated, interrupting Marissa, disbelief rolling over me. "I never took a dime from your father that I didn't earn. Not one dime."

Mr. Sutherland stood from his desk. "Everyone, please, these things can get heated, I understand that, but really, let's remember this is about Felix's last wishes. He split his entire estate between you," he nodded to Claire, "and Charles."

Claire and Charles glared at him and then turned their suspicious eyes on me. "Fine," Claire said. "Take your envelope. It's all you'll ever get. And we want you out of our father's house in two weeks. If you wish to continue tutoring Sophia on the piano, you'll do it from somewhere else."

Hurt speared through me and I did my best to tamp it down. I had come a long way in the last three years. I was no longer the unskilled, meek girl who'd arrived broken and hungry on Felix's doorstep. I'd learned that I possessed a little more strength than I'd ever imagined, and I'd gained two friends in Felix and Marissa. Yet somehow, I'd ended up alone. Again.

I pressed my lips together, not willing to rock the boat any more than I already had. I cared very much for Sophia and I didn't want them to take her away from me—even if I did only see her twice a week. I comforted myself with the knowledge that although they disliked me, they knew I was a good piano teacher. Sophia's results spoke for themselves.

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