The Favor

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Chapter 24

“Kathryn!”

Kathryn looked up from the cup of coffee she was nursing.

Spenser shook his head. “You didn’t hear a word I said, did you?”

“I’m sorry. I’m trying to absorb everything that’s happened the last few days. Give me a break. I’ve lost time and people I care about. I’ve lived in fear so long, Spenser, that I keep waiting for my cell to ring, or for another disaster to occur. For years I was afraid that I would never escape from Springer’s clutches. Then, when I was in Gardner, I feared that I would be recognized. I feared for Teresa’s safety, my parent’s safety and Duffy’s safety. Fear greets me when I wake up in the morning and it creeps in again and again during the day.

“Was what you wanted to share important?”

“It can wait. Maybe when you get settled, you should talk to a therapist.”

“Maybe.”

“Have you talked to Aunt Marie and Uncle Ken?”

“I have. It will take a few days for them to get their businesses back up and running, but they are happy to be home.”

“What about the others who were with you at the safe house?”

“Simon went back to Laurinburg to brief Jessica, Helen and Max about Springer and Duffy’s deaths. I haven’t heard from him, but my guess is that he’s back home by now. Agent Burke and Agent Martin are on assignment in New Jersey, and Ethan is pounding the streets looking for a job.”

“How did your meeting with Officer Castellanos go?”

“It was a rehash of Agent Burke’s interrogation. His office has copies of the FBI’s documents, so I’m not sure why I had to suffer through another interrogation.”

“Did you ask him about the redundancy?”

“He said he didn’t want to let another criminal slip through his fingers. He shared one interesting bit of information. The gun at the scene of the shootings wasn’t registered to Duffy. His fingerprints were on the gun, but so were Springer and Garcia’s.”

“He didn’t threaten to charge you for withholding information, did he?”

“No. When I left his office, he wished me well.”

“As he should. What’s this meeting today about?”

“I have a bag of Duffy’s personal items that were removed when he entered the hospital. I need to give it to his lawyer. I’m hoping that by now Mr. Madison has talked to someone at Brookhaven, the retirement center where Duffy was living. Until Madison and I meet, the only thing I know for sure is that there is to be a memorial service at the center. I want to be there.

I have a few questions for his lawyer. He and Duffy go way back.”

“Don’t be disappointed if his lawyer doesn’t have the answers you are looking for.” He glanced at his watch. “If you want to be on time, you better get going.”

“I’m already packed. The meeting shouldn’t take long, so we should be able to be on the road to Laurinburg by noon. I’ll text you when I’m on my way back to the hotel.”

Richard Madison’s office was a typical law office, but the man was not like any lawyer Kathryn had ever seen. He was tall, broad-shouldered, and drop dead gorgeous. Not for the first time, Kathryn fervently wished that she could erase her past. The man made her wish for a life that could never be.

Before thinking she blurted out, “I thought you would be older.”

He laughed. “I get that a lot. Have a seat, Kathryn.”

When she was seated, he continued, “My dad was Duffy’s lawyer for years. When Dad and Mom moved to Florida two years ago, Duffy agreed to become my client. I knew him from his deli days.”

Kathryn put the bag with Duffy’s personal items on the lawyer’s desk. “The hospital entrusted me with his personal items. Maybe you should have his watch and ring since he didn’t have a son.”

“His personal possessions are part of his estate.”

“Of course. It was just a thought.”

“Did he mention his will to you?”

“No. Looking back, our conversations were more about me than Duffy. He came into my life when I desperately needed a friend. He was the one person I could count on to be honest with me. I sometimes think I must have been a burden to him. Anyway, when I finally had the freedom to search the internet, his name popped up immediately. His history is fascinating.”

“Indeed it is." He studied her face for a moment before speaking again. "He thought of you as his daughter, you know. You are the beneficiary of his estate.”

Kathryn’s eyes widened. “No! There has to be a mistake.”

“Believe me, there’s no mistake.”

“I can’t take his money. It wouldn’t be right.”

“Why is that?”

“He gave me so much, and I never gave him anything in return.”

“I disagree. You gave him a reason to live. Duffy was a complex man. In some ways he was outgoing, but in other ways he was a loner. His customers adored him, but he didn’t make close friends. For whatever reason, he was drawn to you. He wanted to hand you the world, Kathryn. Since he couldn’t he left you his estate.”

Kathryn was speechless.

“Don’t you want to know how much his estate is worth?”

“Not particularly.”

He grinned. “How refreshing. I won’t have the exact amount until the will is probated, but his estate is worth approximately ten million dollars,”

Kathryn stared at him in disbelief, “How on earth did a deli owner end up with a ten-million-dollar estate? How is that legally possible?

“He inherited money from his uncle and his dad. He never touch either inheritance. He was convinced you would use the money wisely.”

She shook her head. “Money. There was a time that I would have been over the moon to be wealthy. Now, I prefer a simple life. I don’t want people coming to me for handouts. I’ve learned the hard way that people are greedy. Some people will kill their mother for a twenty-dollar bill.”

“Friends and relatives don’t need to know about your inheritance.”

“It’s not my friends and family I worry about. It’s the people who want donations for political candidates, and activists who promote social causes.”

“Donate anonymously. It will take at least six months to probate the will, so you can take your time deciding what you want to do with your windfall.”

“Can I turn the responsibility over to you?”

He grinned. “I’m afraid not, but I would gladly take you up on your offer if I legally could. I don’t have your aversion to being wealthy. Have you made any plans now that Springer is dead?”

“My cousin and I are going to drive to Laurinburg today. My relationship with my parents is still fragile. I hope I can change that. In a couple of weeks, I plan to return to a sleepy little town in Missouri named Gardner. The town is an ideal place to finish a manuscript I've started.”

“Fiction or non-fiction?”

“Fiction. The heroine is a composite of several of Springer’s women. There are too many young women being preyed on by corrupt men and women with money. Their story needs to be told.”

“Maybe some on your money can go toward helping young women in the modeling industry.”

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