In the previous episode, Nicholas came clean to Granny about Amy’s request. Readers voted that now, the family will be forever altered with the news that John James commit suicide.
The monogrammed silverware was polished, the table linen was fresh, and the meat was roasted to perfection. The table was set for six, in all its glory. Granny had even instructed the maid to polish the great chandelier in the dining room and the hardwood paneled walls and set out the crystal goblets; everything must reflect the grandeur of the Harwood house. By the time she was done with it, the room was oozing finery and radiated riches. Granny was pleased.
Up in her grand bedroom Granny sat before the mirror and fastened a pearl necklace around her neck, feeling the history in the cool beads that had rested on the flesh of her mother, and her mother before her. She had decided it was time to sit her family down and have a talk – about what it meant to be a Harwood, protecting something greater than oneself, protecting a legacy of name and, yes, wealth and influence, for one’s children and children’s children. She would speak in the abstract and then directly to her own children and children’s children about what it meant for them – that it was time to stop this foolish rivalry and band together as a family. Granny ran her fingers over the pearls and felt more determined than ever that the foundation of her house would not crack. It would endure, as it had for generations before and would for generations to come.
Sophia slipped her feet into a new pair of heels, enjoying the feeling of being lifted up. Taller, she felt more powerful, ready to deal with anything the evening threw at her. No doubt Granny would blabber on about something or other in her role as the family “protector,” while giving Sophia nasty looks as if everything was her fault. John James would say nothing as usual, his eyes dull behind the sheen of scotch-induced brightness that Sophia pretended not to notice along with everything else. She moved across the room and knocked on John’s door to remind him about the dinner. When there was no answer, she entered.
There was her husband, lifeless on the bed, she knew it instantly. An empty bottle of sleeping pills and an empty bottle of scotch lay beside him. With a cry Sophia collapsed at the foot of the bed, her half-pinned hair spilling over her shoulders. Weeping, she took off her heels and threw them across the room.
One week later
The family sat in the library, draped in black, a unified body of grief. The family lawyer entered. He had changed into a black suit as a mark of respect, even though it was ill-fitting; he hadn’t worn it since his days as a law student. Now he opened his briefcase, cleared his throat, and addressed the Harwoods.
“First of all, I’m so sorry for your loss.” He cleared his throat again. “It appears that John James Harwood changed his will a few weeks before his death, leaving the entire Harwood fortune and estates to one heir, effective immediately upon his death.”
The lawyer removed a document from his briefcase and cleared his throat a third time. The family drew in a collective breath.