A huge mansion in upstate New York:
Robert ‘Bob’ Marshall’s final hours on this Earth were about to be witnessed by Millicent Brown, his attorney and the acting CEO of Marshall Corporation, and his personal physician for the past twenty years.
Millie stood beside Bob’s bedside still unbelieving that he was dying. The doctor informed her that the cancer had returned months ago and had spread throughout his body, leaving him weak and unable to fight it off, not like the last time.
She had taken it upon herself, as acting CEO, to commit to the sale of the company to a huge tech conglomerate, but those plans would now have to be put on hold, considering Bob’s Last Will and Testament. He informed Millie of his marriage to an African-American woman named Diane, whom he’d met at one of his Father’s subsidiaries in New York City. Not long after his Father died, leaving him an enormous fortune, and during their marriage, they conceived one child, a daughter, Camille Diane Marshall.
She was not happy about this unexpected development, meaning Bob’s decision to leave everything to his daughter, his home, cars, stocks, bonds, cash, everything. Her attorney fees from the sale would have set her up for life, but none of that was going to happen now.
As it stands, Bob would have no say about the sale, his Will is going to dictate his wishes, and as it turns out, are extensive and elaborate.
“Bob, can you hear me?” She whispered, but there was no response.
The doctor shook his head despondently. Then Bob’s eyes slowly opened, but he was not able to focus on anything.
He did manage to say one thing. “You… know… what… to do.”
Millie nodded, but she knew what was coming then she leaned down again. “I’ll take care of everything, Bob.” With those words, Bob took his last breath and Millie could have sworn that there was a smile on his face.
An hour later, the doctor pronounced him dead at 65 years of age. Millie had a lot to do, the first of which was to locate his lost child. Bob married late in life, but his ex-wife had disappeared with his only child, a girl. Millie knew her name, but that was it. Bob had insisted that his child not be told of his fortune, because he didn’t want it to disappear. He was a greedy, conniving and selfish man, and unbeknownst to him, his child was raised by foster parents. His only child was now a teenager, unaware of her heritage or her fortune, but that would be remedied shortly.
Two weeks later, the Johnson house:
Even now, Camille Marshall, but her friends called her Cammy, was still finding it hard to accept she was the long-lost daughter of Robert Marshall, of Marshall Corporation. She should have accepted it by now, especially after the way she had been approached quite out of the blue by his lawyer, Millicent Brown, that her Father was dead, and that she was the sole heir to a tremendous fortune.
Ms. Brown also told her that because of her age and her Father’s wishes, her full inheritance would not be available from the estate until she turns twenty-five years old. She would, however, receive a stipend for college tuition and expenses, and enough to live on, twenty-five thousand a year or two thousand a month.
Stunned to hear this, there she sat in her foster parent’s home, Stuart and Carol Johnson, the only real home she had ever known. The Johnson’s, also African-American, didn’t live far from Cammy and her Mother, had two sons of their own, Devon, the oldest, and Ben, both a few years older that her, but they had taken Cammy into their home nearly ten years ago, after her Mother had died in a tragic accident. They had always wanted a daughter, and they accepted her as their own. Her real mother, shockingly, had never told her who her real father was, only that he never wanted her and left them without a word.
“Are you Okay?” Carol asked.
“I’m numb,” she replied. “I don’t know why my Mother never told me.”
“Maybe, she thought, you were far too young and after she died,” she replied and faltered not sure how to continue.
“I don’t need or want any of his money,” she said and shuddered at the mere thought of it.
Stuart and Carol glanced at each other. “Well, you say that now, but it could help you if you decide to go to college, or you could be a lawyer, a doctor; the list is endless.”
Cammy wasn’t listening. Her thoughts were not about any of that, but about Antoine Robbins. Everyone called him Tony, a few years older than her, and he was her dearest and closest friend. He left for college days ago, but he would be returning home after being away for nearly two years, and Cammy could not stop thinking about him.
They had grown up together, having met in middle school, and they talked about everything, and their friendship meant everything to her. She wondered why he never contacted her while he was away at school, but the few times that she had called and talked to his Mother, she said that his courses took up a lot of his time, but he was coming home soon.
Her foster parents left her alone to think. “We’ll talk later.” Suddenly, Cammy’s mind flashed back to that fateful day of her sixteenth birthday party. It began as a wonderful day. She had chosen a dress, a grown-up dress that fit her perfectly, but then her foster Mother had told her that Tony would be late, but that he would be there for her birthday.
Cammy’s sixteen birthday party:
She had been dancing and trying to enjoy herself when Tony had tapped her partner on the shoulder. She was thrilled because it was getting late and of course he always seemed to be shy around her. They danced several dances not saying too much, mostly about his plans for college, but then he asked to speak to her alone.
“Alright,” she replied, curious and a bit worried.
He took her hand and guided her to the den. No one seemed to notice, but Cammy’s brother Devon watched them leave the party. He did not want to spy on them, but he knew that his parents had planned to tell Cammy the truth about Tony, that he was leaving to attend college out of state.
After entering the den, Tony took a deep breath. “Take a seat,” he instructed.
“What’s wrong, Tony?” Cammy stared at him while he walked in front of her. “Does it have to do with you and your Mom arriving late to the party? I was worried you wouldn’t come.”
Tony finally turned to face her. She was so beautiful, and it was so hard to look at her. “I… Umm,” he hesitated.
“Yes, go on,” she encouraged.
He took another breath and stared into her eyes, hoping to convey how he felt about her. “I hope you won’t forget me when I’m gone.”
She frowned. “Is this a joke, because it is not funny.”
He grinned despite his anxiety about leaving her. He took a seat next and took her hand and then considered her eyes. “My beautiful Cammy.”
She swallowed her heart racing. “You… you think I’m beautiful?”
He touched her cheek. “You really have no idea, do you?”
She wasn’t sure how to answer him, but then she couldn’t think of anything because he was leaning towards her as if he wanted to kiss her.
He closed his eyes. She closed hers as well, but before their lips could meet, a knock came at the door. It was Devon.
“Hey, birthday girl, you owe me a dance. Oops! Sorry.”
Tony jumped up from his seat as if he had been burned. “I’ll… I’ll see you around Cammy, Devon,” he hurriedly said and left them alone.
Cammy stood up and crossed her arms, then gave her brother the evil eye.
Devon held up his hands. “What did I do?”
Cammy rolled her eyes, sat down, touched her lips and grinned. He was going to kiss me.
Her parent’s bedroom, later that night:
“Mom, Dad, it’s late and I’m tired,” Cammy said as she came into their room.
Carol and Stuart glanced at each other. She was familiar with those looks.
“Oh, no, not the glances, what is it?”
“Take a seat,” Carol said.
“Tony said the same thing to me earlier tonight. What’s going on around here? I feel as if I’m being kept in the dark about something.”
“Honey, we found out something a few days ago, and,” Carol hesitated.
“Cammy, your Mother and I do not want you to be hurt.”
She frowned more confused than ever. “What are you talking about?” They were silent. “Just tell me.”
“Tony…” Carol began.
Cammy was truly worried now. “What about Tony?”
“He’s leaving the state to go to college, and,” Stuart told her bluntly.
She shook her head. “But I don’t understand; I thought he was going to school here in New York.”
“He changed his mind, but we have no idea why,” Carol sadly stated.
Cammy was hurt, but not for the reasons they were thinking. She stood up, paused for a moment, then turned to face her parents. “Why didn’t you tell me this before?”
“We didn’t find out until the other day,” Stuart replied.
“Oh, I see, so Tony is leaving,” she said.
“He’ll be back on holidays, and,” Stuart began.
Cammy suddenly gasped to herself, as tears sprang into her eyes. “Do you realize what this means?”
“Honey, listen…” Carol began.
“No, I don’t want to hear it.” Cammy suddenly realized something. “Tony isn’t coming back,” she sadly whispered. “He was saying goodbye; I know it.”
“What do you mean?” Stuart asked as he came over to her, hoping to comfort her, but she moved aside. “Cammy?”
She raised her tear-filled eyes to his face. “He told me not to forget him.”
“But that doesn’t mean,” Carol began.
She shook her head. “I had a feeling he was trying to tell me something important.” Shaking her head, eyes shining, she continued, “Don’t you see? I know him. He’s not coming back, and it’s all your fault!” She raised her voice having never done that before, then she ran from the room. “Just leave me alone!”
Cammy’s bedroom door slammed shut. Her parents winced at the sound.
“I should go to her,” Carol said.
“No, give her some space. She’ll calm down after a while,” Stuart said, but now he wasn’t so sure about their decision.
Devon came into their room. “What in the world is going on around here?”
Stuart sighed. “Cammy knows that Tony is leaving for college out of state.”
“Oh, no. I had a feeling she would react this way after what I saw earlier this evening.” Devon mumbled distractedly.
“What did you see?” Stuart asked.
Devon rubbed the back of his neck, not wanting to admit he had been spying on them. “I watched them leave the party, then they went into the den. I knocked and went inside, and Tony was about to kiss her.”
Stuart sighed. “Maybe he was saying goodbye,” he murmured also distracted.
“My poor girl… she must be very upset.”
“She’s crying,” Stuart and Devon said at the same time.
Back to the present:
After learning the truth about Tony, that he didn’t have the decency to tell her the truth that he was leaving for months or years, Cammy became rebellious, closed off to her family, and nothing they could do seemed to pull her out of her funk.
Stuart asked if she would consider college. She had the money now, but she was not interested. Cammy was nearly eighteen years old, about to graduate high school, but she wasn’t interested in her future, not at all.
Her foster parents were terribly worried, so they did something. They called Tony’s parents for help, hoping they could convince him to come home for a visit, and maybe help her to at least think about college and her future.
Meanwhile, at the Robbins’ house, the front door opened and then a voice carried to the back of the house.
“Mom, Mom, I’m home!”
“Tony?” Roberta could not believe her ears. Tony was home. She gasped when she saw him standing there so tall and handsome. It seemed like forever since she had seen him. She held out her arms, then they were holding each other close, both holding back tears. He had missed her so much.
“I’m home, Mom, I’m home.”
Roberta pulled away after gaining her composure. “Let me look at you. You must be six feet tall.”
He smiled. “I guess I’m still growing. Where’s Dad? Let me guess, at the Lab?”
“You know your Dad is still the same. I’m still the same. We love you, and we are still your parents. You can come home anytime.” She told him firmly. “You know I’m so glad you’re here.”
“I know that, Mom, but it’s been difficult, adjusting to… everything, and I couldn’t do it here. You understand, don’t you?”
She understood, but she had to know. “Do you still feel the same about Cammy and her real father?” He was silent. “It’s not her fault who her father was; she had no idea.”
“I truly don’t know how I feel. Everything has changed, but you understand why I had to leave.”
“Yes, I understand, but I’m afraid it’s been hard for Cammy, and because you weren’t here, she’s… different somehow. She stopped cheer leading and her grades have slipped.”
Tony felt horrible. “Is she going to graduate?”
“Yes, she will, but she changed, Tony.” He went silent again. “I feel bad for her, to find out the truth, and then you leave town.”
He turned from her, but he knew it was all his fault. “Don’t make me feel any worse than I already do, Mom.”
She touched his arm. “I’m sorry, Tony, but I’m just telling you the way things are.” She paused. “You have to help her.”
He sighed. “You know I would do anything for Cammy.”
She smiled. “I know.” Glancing at her watch, she dropped a hint, “Dinner won’t be ready for a few hours.”
“I just got home. Are you trying to get rid of me?” He was only half-joking.
“Well, I know you and I know where you want to be, so get going!” She gently but firmly shoved him out the door.
Minutes later at the Johnson house:
Her parents had just told Cammy about the call from Roberta that Tony was on his way. She had been quiet about the news, but they knew her well and they could tell she was excited about seeing him again.
The doorbell rang. It was him. “Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, I hope it’s alright that I dropped by unannounced.”
“It’s Okay, Tony; I just spoke to your Mom. Come in, come in,” Carol greeted him warmly.
“Is Cammy here?” Tony asked as he glanced up the stairs.
“Before you see her, I wanted to say something,” Stuart began after he shook his hand.
He sighed. “I know she’s hurting, Mr. Johnson and that was the last thing I wanted to do, and I’m sorry.”
“I won’t deny that it’s been tough since you left and didn’t explain why you wanted to attend school out of state, but nothing we’ve said seems to have made a difference, and that’s why we called your parents.”
“I know and I’m sorry about that; but I just hope that she can still look at me, and forgive me,” he uttered ashamed, head down.
Carol was sympathetic. “Don’t do that to Cammy or to yourself. Just talk to her and I think everything will work out.”
He looked at Mrs. Johnson and he believed her. “Thank you.”
“Good, now stay there while I go get her.” She hurried up the stairs.
After a few minutes of awkward silence, “So, how’s school?” Stuart asked, trying to make conversation and not rail at him for leaving the way that he did.
“It’s Okay but… I was thinking about…” Tony’s words died in his throat, because he caught a glimpse of Cammy at the top of the stairs. His breath caught and then he thought. How is it that she’s more beautiful than the last time I saw her?
Her parents quietly stood by and watched them stand remarkably still watching, just watching, both content just to stare, not saying a word. Stuart glanced his Carol’s raised eyebrows, meaning he should say something; he finally spoke up.
“Tony, why don’t you take Cammy for a walk so you can talk… in private?”
He finally tore his eyes away from Cammy, truly grateful for his suggestion. “Thank you, Sir. Cammy, would you mind going for a walk with me?” He walked over to the landing and tried to smile, hoping she would at least talk to him.
Cammy felt so many emotions now. It was hard to think when he was staring at her like that, as if to say, he would do anything if she would talk to him, but she truly wasn’t sure what to do.
“Please Cammy,” Tony pleaded quietly.
She sighed heavily as if she was bored. “Alright, but only for a minute; I have to study for finals.”
“Of course, only for a few minutes,” Tony replied, getting his hopes up that she at least agreed to talk to him.
“Alright, you two, we’ll see you back here in a little while,” Carol said, but neither of them moved. “Go on now.”
Stuart pulled his wife close and sighed into her hair. “I hope this works.”
“I hope so too.”