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Tick, tick, tick, tick.
Kevin glared at Stephen. “Your watch is loud,” he snapped.
“I’m aware of that,” Stephen said, completely unfazed by the other man’s irritation. “It’s not as if I can’t hear it too.”
“So why do you wear it?” Kevin asked.
“I like it,” Stephen said. “It’s a classic.”
Kevin rolled his eyes. Everything with his former business partner had to be a “classic.” From his suits to his cars to his girlfriends. It was all he wanted in life. He studied philosophers, literature, and science. He had several doctorates in things Kevin had no interest in. He was considered well educated and an expert in many fields. Kevin thought he was a bore.
The younger man preferred the fast life. He drove sports cars, attended parties, and dated super models and movie actresses. He had two children he was paying child support on, but it was a drop in the bucket of what he held in offshore accounts. Of course, he kept enough in the States that the government didn’t get too suspicious of his lifestyle being beyond his means. The offshore accounts were if things went south so he could leave and still be comfortable.
Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.
“Do you have any idea why we’re in Zack’s lawyer’s office?” Kevin asked.
“I haven’t heard from Zachary Richardson in ten years, so getting the summons from his attorney was as much of a shock to me as I’m sure it was to you,” Stephen said. “We must be patient and wait to see what we’re needed for.”
Before Kevin could reply, the door opened and a tall, thin man appeared. “Mr. Williamson, Mr. Nichols, thank you for coming. Please follow me.” Kevin and Stephen stood and were led into a large conference room. A petite blond all in black with red rimmed eyes was sitting there with a young boy. She glowered at the two men. They took the seats they were pointed to and waited.
“I can’t see why they have to be here,” the woman said. “They have nothing to do with Zack.”
“Actually Mrs. Richardson, your husband specifically named them in his will,” the attorney said. “So I am required by law to have them present for the reading.” The woman scowled but fell silent.
“Will?” Kevin asked. “You mean Zack’s dead?”
“Yes Mr. Nichols,” the attorney said. “He passed away a week ago.” Kevin couldn’t say anything else and waited. The attorney cleared his throat. “I won’t read all of the legalese. It would be boring and waste everyone’s time. All of his wealth, worldly possessions, and all but two of his properties are yours, Mrs. Richardson. The two remaining properties now belong to Mr. Williamson and Mr. Nichols.”
“Which properties belong to them?” Mrs. Richardson asked.
“Mr. Williamson, your estate is in Greece,” the attorney said. “It is in the classic Greek style, something Mr. Richardson knew you liked.” Stephen smiled, though tears trickled down his cheeks.
“And mine?” Kevin asked.
“Yours, Mr. Nichols, is – a graveyard.”
Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.
Kevin stared at him in shock. “What kind of bad joke is this?” he demanded. “Stephen gets a Greek villa and I get a graveyard? What’s so special about that?”
“It’s where you’re buried, Mr. Nichols,” the attorney said with a peculiar smile.
“It’s what?” Kevin burst into laughter. “Don’t you mean it’s where Zack’s buried? He’s the dead one.”
The attorney shook his head. “Look around the room again, Mr. Nichols.”
Kevin did as he was told. There, sitting across the table, wasn’t the petite blond woman with the young boy. Instead it was a fiery red head with a pair of equally as red haired twin girls. The woman was pale, as if she was in shock. The girls were sobbing into the sleeves on a pair of jackets he recognized as the ones he’d given to his two daughters the year before.
He turned to look at Stephen. His old business partner seemed weighed down by grief. His normally stoic expression was twisted in a kind of agony Kevin remembered from the day when his own best friend had died in a seventeen car pile up on the freeway.
“What’s going on?” Kevin demanded.
Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.
“You lived too fast a life, Mr. Nichols. It caught up with you. The mafia decided you were a threat and sent several of their people to try to force you to leave town. You argued with them and they opened fire. Your lady friend and your daughters were fine. You were hit multiple times. The doctors at JC Memorial worked heroically to save you, but three bullets to the chest and two to the head just isn’t something you wake up from,” the attorney said. He stood. “You have a choice, Mr. Nichols. You can remain in this room, watch the tormented faces of your loved ones for eternity. Or you can leave through that door and face whatever fate awaits you in the afterlife. It’s your decision.”
“What is my fate going to be?” Kevin asked.
The attorney shrugged. “I don’t know. No one does until they get there. Consider this a waypoint before your final journey.” He turned and left the room. Kevin looked at his sobbing daughters and his distraught girlfriend. Tearing his gaze away from then, he looked over at the nondescript gray door the attorney had pointed out. His feet shuffled as he crossed the faded carpet. His hand touched the knob.
Tick. Tick. Ti-