Survivor’s Trust by Ellen Seltz

Survivor’s Trust by Ellen Seltz

What if you lost everything you ever wanted, and had just one chance to get it back? Hotshot attorney Cordelia Simms needs a do-over. She spent her whole life being perfect, and it nearly destroyed her — now she’s got a long to-do list, and “perfect” isn’t on it. She negotiates a minefield of old money and modern office politics while family conflict and dangerous secrets threaten to drag her down for good. Previously… Richard agreed to leave Cordelia alone, but with strings attached. Before she could even meet her first client, Marj sent her into a confrontation with a disgruntled relative. Cordelia decides to take a strong stand and bluff her way through the encounter.

Episode 5

“Well?” Henry Norris’ paunchy face is inches from my own.

I try hard to keep my blinking and breathing regular. Marj wants me to handle this. Okay, WWMD? What Would Marj Do?

Or, whispers Trouble, Weaksauce Weakness Makes you Damaged.

I slap a muzzle on Trouble and smile. A tight, superior smile with no teeth. Ice, ice, baby.

I pluck the paper from his hand. “Mr. Norris, I’m Cordelia Simms. Please have a seat.”

He bristles. “You think you can…”

Sit.” Gotta love that New England education – I can crack my consonants like a whip.

It works. Norris slowly sits in the nearest leather conference chair. He’s still eyeing me like a Doberman, but at least I have some air space.

I stroll to the seat opposite, using the extra seconds to scan the letter. I toss it on the glossy table as I sit. I angle my chair and lean back, crossing my legs. It’s a Don Corleone move. I will deign to hear his supplication.

“Well, Mr. Norris, this is a standard cover letter with your distribution from your mother’s estate. What’s the issue?”

“A hundred thousand dollars? Where’s the rest of my money?”

Now it’s my turn to do the preschool-teacher voice. It’s kind of fun. “You know, a lot of people underestimate the costs of taxes and probate. It can be a bit of sticker shock.”

“Sticker shock?” He’s back on his feet. “My mother was worth over ten million dollars! You think I’m an idiot? Costs of probate, my ass.” He shakes his finger, stuttering with rage. “It’s-it’s-it’s that Ackerman woman, isn’t it? You’re all in this together. Well, you won’t get away with it.”

I look down and shake my head gently. The Godfather is so very disappointed. “Mr. Norris, Mr. Norris. Nobody’s trying to get away with anything. If you haven’t already received your copy of the executor’s accounting, you will shortly. I’m sure that will clear everything up for you.”

He just stares. The vein in his temple stops its crazy throbbing. A slow sneer spreads across his face. He snorts a laugh through his nose. “You don’t even know, do you?” He puts his arms akimbo. “Marj sent you to slough me off. You’ve got no clue what’s really going on here.”

He leans on the table. His quiet voice is way, way creepier than his yelly voice. “You tell Marj I’ll see her in court.”

He’s gone. Finally, I can get a deep breath. Releasing it flops my forehead right down on the table.

What was that? Jerk or no, he’s right. $100K out of a $10M estate? Unless his mom disinherited him on purpose, it makes no sense.

Trouble whispers down the back of my neck. Who cares? You’ve had a really rough morning. You deserve a little something to take the edge off.

I sit up. There’s one sure way to shut Trouble up. I’ve got to get busy finding out about Mrs. Norris’ will. 

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