Chapter 7. In the Board Room
Adam was ready to go earlier than requested just in case Fiona wanted to leave earlier than planned. She never said anything when she woke up and went back to her room to shower and change. He never took that long to shower and put on something business casual, but not too formal. A dress shirt with no tie, and some nice dress pants. Something that said he wasn’t there in an official capacity but also formal enough to be taken serious when he needed to be. He didn’t even shave and let the three day old scruff he had grown since the funeral stick around. He left the room around ten after eight, which was about fifteen minutes earlier than he needed to. Rather than knock on her door, Adam stood outside her door and checked for messages and what not on his cell phone and patiently waited. Fiona emerged from her room about five minutes later and was startled to see he was waiting out in the hall for her.
“Whoa!” she called out when she noticed he was there. “You gave me a freight!”
“Sorry about that,” Adam said, as he pocketed his phone. “I was going to knock at the proper time. I apologize.”
“It’s alright,” she replied, “I’d rather have you be earlier than late. I prefer to get to this meeting on time and just get it over with.”
“Why is this being held so soon?” Adam inquired.
“There’s no time to waste,” Fiona answered as the started to stroll towards the lift in order to take it to the lobby, and the car waiting outside. “We need to find out who is in charge, and of what so there is no chaos. We have to get this over with like ripping off a band-aid. Painful, but completely necessary.”
“Fair enough,” Adam said, letting her enter the lift first.
Once in the lobby, Adam followed her to the fancy car that was waiting for them outside. Once they were both in the back, the driver didn’t need any instructions as he knew exactly where they were all going. It took about fifteen minutes for the driver to cross town and come to a stop before the building that was waiting for them. Once out of the car Adam followed Fiona into the building, and there was a surprise waiting for them in the lobby. There was an older woman waiting for the elevator.
“Cynthia?” Fiona called out as she walked over and gave the woman a hug. “What are you doing here?”
“I was invited,” Cynthia replied, “But I promised not to say why, so please don’t ask for the time being.”
“Duly noted,” Adam replied, “Can we at least come up with you?”
“Probably not a good idea,” Cynthia said, as she entered the lift alone. “People would get too paranoid. I’ll meet you up there.”
Adam and Fiona watched with stunned faces as the doors closed. Adam didn’t hesitate to push the button again, as they waited for the next lift. Adam stood there and remained quiet as he was unsure of what was going on.
“What the hell did that mean?” Fiona finally asked.
“Don’t take it personally,” Adam answered, “It might all be clear when we get up there and find out for ourselves.”
It took only a few minutes to take the lift up to the tenth floor as instructed, and into the law offices that represented her grandmother’s estate. The lady at the front desk showed them to conference room at the end of the hall, which was huge. Despite it’s size, there was only a handful of people in there. Fiona’s mother and her brother George who were sitting together, and Cynthia who was sitting across from them. To avoid taking a side, Fiona and Adam sat at the end of the table.
“What is he doing here?” her brother spat out.
“I invited him,” Fiona replied, “For emotional support.”
“Only family should be here,” her mother added.
“He’s with me,” Fiona said, as she took Adam’s hand in her own. “You better get used to that idea, quickly.”
“She hasn’t even inherited anything,” George grumbled, “And the gold diggers are already crawling out of the ground.”
“Excuse me?” Adam said as he tried to stand up.
Before George could repeat himself, one of the law partners strolled into the room with two associates right behind him. He walked over and took a seat at the other head end of the table.
“Good afternoon,” he said, “My name is Vincent Shaw, and this is my firm. We have been entrusted with the estate of recently deceased Caroline Bouchard. If there are no objections, we can start with the reading.”
“I have an objection,” George started, “I want to know why this woman and that man are attending this meeting?”
“This lady was invited by the estate,” Mr. Shaw replied, “And if I heard her correctly, the young lady brought his fellow for support. You brought your mother for support, even though he wasn’t invited.”
“Hold on,” Mrs. Bouchard finally said, “I wasn’t invited.”
“You were not.” Mr. Shaw confirmed, “I apologize if you were given that impression. If you want only invited people to be present, your mother would have to leave as well as the young man.”
“Let’s get on with it.” George conceded, tight lipped and furious.
“Well, the reading isn’t going to be handled by myself.” Shaw said as he presented a disc from his folder. “Mrs. Bouchard wished to address you personally so if there isn’t any objection, I will play the reading of her will.”
No one said anything as Mr. Shaw proceeded to hand the disc to an associate who placed it in the machine behind them and the picture appeared on the massive screen attached to the wall. Sitting there in a fancy chair, which was a bit of a flair for the dramatic, was Mrs. Bouchard herself, smiling at those who were watching.
“Hello darlings,” She called out, “thank you for coming.”
Fiona put a hand to her mouth as she wasn’t expecting it. Adam was expecting it might get emotional so he took a handkerchief out of his pocket and handed it to her. She wiped the tear from her cheek and continued to watch.
“I’m here to let you know how the pie is going to be split,” the old lady continued, “So let’s get right to it. The entire estate, all assets and the business that is Bouchard Incorporated will be split three ways between by grandchildren George and Fiona, and my daughter Cynthia. Yes, you heard that right. The woman sitting across from you is your aunt. I had her years before I met your grandfather and she was raised by her father in South Africa. I hope you take a moment to get to know her because she’s a wonderful person and now your business partner. This is not negotiable and any attempt to challenge it will result in a forfeiture of your cut, so don’t even think about it George. You have to play nice, or the two women can overrule you on just about everything. You are going to be well off, so I expect you to be on your best behavior and do what is best for the family and the company. Do not disappoint me and try to represent the family and my legacy as best you can. I wish I could be there to see the three of you in the same room, but I cannot. Please do your best to get along. You are all family, after all. Cheerio, my babies!”
The video went dark and Mr. Shaw had his associates hand out a large file folder to each person at the table, a full detailing of the will and how everything was being split up. George was starting to turn into a shade of red, as he clearly was impressed.
“So you’re her daughter?” He asked the woman across from her. “Why did we never hear a thing about you before now?”
“Probably to respect your grandmother’s privacy, dumbass.” Adam called out.
“I wasn’t asking you,” George said as he stood up.
“I didn’t give a shit who you were asking.” Adam said, also standing up. “I’m sure you’re upset that this reading didn’t go better than you hoped for, but you’re going to have to accept it rather quickly.”
“And what if I don’t want to accept it?” George asked.
“Then we would seize your assets and holdings and split them amongst the other two as per your grandmother’s wishes.” Mr. Shaw answered, “Do not challenge this will or I will take it all away from you and do it happily.”
George looked at Shaw and while he wanted to say something, he chose against it. He grabbed his copy of the will and stormed out of the room which his mother quickly following behind him. Adam turned to face Fiona who was still crying.
“Are you alright?” he asked her.
“I’ll be alright,” Fiona said, looking down at the lawyer at the other end of the table. “Would it be possible to get a copy of that video, Mr. Shaw?”
“I can have one made for you, Ms. Bouchard.” Mr. Shaw said with a smile on his face as he was slightly impressed. “You just inherited a massive amount of wealth, and all you think of is keeping her video. You are just as your grandmother advertised. It’s a pleasure to make both your acquaintances.”
With that said, Mr. Shaw stood up and took his leave. As his associates left the room as well, it left Adam, Fiona and Cynthia there looking at one another.
“What do I call you?” Fiona asked. “Auntie?”
“Cynthia will be fine,” Cynthia said, smiling back at her. “I’m sorry I couldn’t say anything at the funeral, but I promised to keep things quiet until the reading.”
“I understand,” Fiona said as she finally stood up from her chair. “I was so nervous about this that I couldn’t eat breakfast. Can we go out and get something to eat and talk about this more, Cynthia?”
Cynthia smiled back at her niece. “I’d like that.”