Present Day, 12 hours previous
Victor confidently poured gravy on his mashed potatoes, letting his mind wander back to the moment of Tanya’s revelation – the moment when the idea had come to him, unfurling beautifully in his mind like a silk ribbon. He had confirmed his paternity status, hugged his daughter joyfully, and invited her to lunch the following week. There, over char-grilled salmon, he’d spun his tale. How much he had loved Catherine, how devastated he’d been when she’d died. That before she’d died, she’d confessed to him that she wanted to leave John James, take Tanya and raise her with Victor, but couldn’t deprive Tanya of her inheritance. As John James’s eldest child, he continued, the bulk of the Harwood fortune would pass to her. Unable to live a lie, but determined to secure her daughter’s future, Catherine had taken her own life.
The story had its desired effect. By the end of the meal Tanya was sobbing, guilt-ridden and swearing that she didn’t ever want to see a penny of that cursed money. “You should have it,” she’d choked. “You lost your true love, your chance at a family, because of that money. It should be yours.” He’d protested of course, but she swore to give everything she would inherit to Victor when the time came. She wanted to make it legal, she said, and finally, try as he might, he could object no more. They met several times in secret to go over logistics, and it was decided that they would tell the family lawyers right after Thanksgiving. Now Victor felt a possessive thrill as he gripped the silver knife and fork, clutched his wineglass, and wiped his lips with the white monogrammed napkin. “Mine,” he thought. “It’s all mine.”
Present Day, Present Moment
Catherine looked around the dimly lit library at the faces of her family members and took a deep breath. “Fine,” she began. “There is more to the story…but I really can’t tell you why I came back tonight.” At this point Catherine began fiddling with the tassels on the couch cushions. “I’m sorry. I just wanted to see my daughter. It’s Thanksgiving and -” She broke off and looked up and John James pleadingly. “I’m so sorry John. I know it’s a lot to take in and I don’t expect you to forgive me or understand right now…I just couldn’t be away from Tanya anymore.” She looked at her daughter again with teary eyes. “I’m so sorry I wasn’t there for all those years. I…” She stopped and stoked Tanya’s hair. “I’ll explain it to you someday.”
“God, enough of this already!” Amy’s voice dripped with bitter hostility. She turned toward Catherine and spoke loudly with unsure authority. “You don’t have family here anymore. You gave it up when you faked your death in order to leave! Now you’re back? No way.” She turned towards John James, who was still standing mute and statuesque in front of the fireplace. “Come on, Father. You have another wife – my mother – and a new family now. Besides -” and she threw a daring look at Granny, her eyes flitting briefly over Victoria before continuing “- she’s not even family. Either of them.” She smiled evilly at Tanya. “Why should we care about people who aren’t even related to us?”
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