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  • Writer's pictureMark Meier

The Brotherhood #47

By Mark W. Meier

Part 47

Act V

Victory


Chapter Four


Kiel visibly pulled his attention away from the window and pointed at Grambic’s will. “Back to the issue which brought me here. I watched Mr. Grambic’s executive assistant sign and date the last page. The two witnesses are dead – killed the next day in a car crash – and the notary doesn’t recall signing, though experts say those three signatures are genuine.

“I’m convinced this is a fraudulent document. Miss Drabbs, you were intended to be the major recipient of Mr. Grambic’s estate, and you’ve been cheated out of your inheritance. Do you want to do something about it, or let the criminal go without a fight?”

Amy didn’t know how to respond. She looked at Pastor Brill for guidance, but he merely gave a slight shrug. She asked, “Well, what’s in that estate?”

“Grambic Tiles, worth about two hundred million dollars. His mansion along the Savannah River, a few million dollars more. His other holdings – cash accounts and investments – about twenty-five million.” Kiel held Amy’s gaze. “His net worth was just over a quarter of a billion dollars, and someone stole it from you.”

Amy leaned back in her chair, speechless. She couldn’t comprehend hundreds of millions of dollars. A clerk at a convenience store would never earn that in a dozen lifetimes, though she hoped to become a veterinarian and make a decent living.

“Two hundred . . . million.” Amy looked from Kiel to Brill and back again. “What would I do with that kind of money?”

Pastor Brill cleared his throat. “Wrong question, Amy. Think about what you could do.”

Amy noticed Kiel’s unnerving stare and wondered what he was looking for. “Money is the root of all evil.”

“No.” Brill shook his head. “The love of money is the root of all evil.”

Amy smiled. “Just checking to see if you’re listening, Pastor.”

Kiel smiled and slid the will back into his briefcase. “I’m convinced we have a case.” He pulled out another packet of paper. “This is an agreement for me to represent you in a lawsuit to challenge the existing will.”

“I can’t afford to hire a lawyer.” Amy didn’t even look at the papers.

Kiel tapped the top sheet. “This is a contingency contract. I don’t get paid a cent unless we win. Then my rates will be half the going fee schedule.”

Brill raised an eyebrow. “Why would you do that?”

“I’m fully aware of her financial situation. Though I have a check for her in the amount of a million dollars, I suggest she not cash it. Doing that would be tacit acceptance of the will, and work against us in court.”

Amy gave a weak smile. “I think he means why half normal rates.”

“I liked your cousin,” Kiel said. “He treated me well, he paid his people above what would normally be expected, and wouldn’t stoop to underhanded tactics to get things accomplished.” He smiled. “At times he’d use his wealth as a club, but only to clear his path of useless detail. He never used money for nefarious purposes.”

“He’s gone now,” Brill pointed out. “Why would you help Amy now?”

“I don’t like the man who did this to you.” Kiel’s expression turned ominous. “He’s cheated you out of something of real value, when his other option would have been better for everyone involved – himself included.”

Amy took a pen and considered, clicking the ballpoint open and closed.

“Let’s do this.” She signed.

***

Chamos felt something change. A fundamental shift happened that presaged difficulties ahead. A moment later he received a summons to return to the Brotherhood.

“Miss Peralta.” He forced a resistant Howe to climb out of the office chair. “I’m taking the rest of the day off.”

The secretary nodded and pressed a button on her desk to call the elevator. “Have a nice day, sir.” The tone of her voice was perfunctory.

Chamos smiled at the transparency of Peralta’s indifference. Howe’s expression reflected his master’s humor.

Jousting with Peralta could be a fun way to spend a few hours, but he needed to get back to the Wilmington estate. He couldn’t leave an awakening Howe unattended while he visited the Brotherhood.

Chamos had prepared a special room so his . . . client . . . couldn’t thwart the Brotherhood while unoccupied.

***

Howe lamented the actions he’d taken. Since being “hijacked” by the entity called Chamos, he realized how self-centered he’d been. Hiring the mercenaries to murder the man who had blown up the factory in Paris, forging Grambic’s signature, giving himself a bigger raise than Grambic had suggested, and so many other acts over the years. He now knew he’d somehow left himself open to Chamos.

Howe marshaled his willpower. The horror of being forced to watch “himself” from the inside, unable to affect his own body, was a crushing weight on his psyche. He had to fight back. Somehow he’d push Chamos out and regain control.


If you appreciate this story, please consider supporting the author's ability to write more stories by purchasing The Brotherhood, available in print and on Kindle. Please share on social media, and leave a review on the page linked above.



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