When the closest person tycoon Callan McGregor has to a father dies, it's down to him to organize the inheritance of Annick Castle. And the most suitable candidate seems to be stunning lawyer Laurie Jenkins.
Even though she makes the usually brooding Callan's pulse race, this is business—he cannot afford a distraction. But she's a bubbly breath of fresh air who shakes the castle and Callan to its foundations. This time, he's not going to walk away—from either his home or from Laurie….
“Thank you for coming to the last will and testament reading of Angus McLean.”
The solicitor looked around the room at the various scattering of people, some locals, some not.
Get on with it, thought Callan. He’d only come because the ninety-seven year old had been like a father to him. Thoughtful, with a wicked sense of humour, and a real sense of community about him. He’d taught Callan far more than his father had ever taught him.
He wasn’t here to inherit anything. He could have bought the castle four times over. He’d offered enough times. But Angus wasn’t interested. He had other plans for the estate. And after pretty much living there for part of his life Callan was curious as to what they were.
The solicitor started reading. “Some of you are here by invitation. Others have still to be contacted. As you may well be aware Angus McLean had a considerable estate.”
He started with some charitable donations, then moved onto the staff that had served Angus over the years – all of them left sizable bequests that would see them into a comfortable age.
Then he cleared his throat and looked nervously around the room, his eyes deliberately skittering past Callan.
Uh oh. The castle. What had old crazy done now?
“Most of Angus McLean’s friends and relatives knew that Angus was a bachelor. It was always assumed – at least by those of us who knew Angus well – that Angus had no children.” He hesitated, “But it seems that wasn’t the case.”
“What?” Callan couldn’t help it. He’d spent most of his life around Angus McLean. Never once in all those years had Angus ever mentioned any children.
Frank, the family solicitor was clearly not designed for situations like this. His legalese seemed to leave him and he laughed nervously. “It appears that in his day Angus McLean was a bit of a rogue. He had six children.”
Heads shot around the room, looking back and forth between each other aghast.
But a few heads stayed steady – as if they’d already heard the news.
Callan couldn’t believe his ears. “Six children? Who on earth told you that?” This had to be rubbish. Was a bunch of strangers trying to claim part of the McLean estate?
Frank looked him clearly in the eye. “Angus told me,” he said quietly.
Callan froze. Every hair on his body standing on end. It couldn’t be true. It just couldn’t.
Frank cleared his throat nervously, “As a result of Mr McLean’s heirs – and with some further research – we’ve discovered there are twelve potential inheritors of the estate.”
Callan shook his head. No. Twelve people all wanting a part of Annick Castle. It would be sold without hesitation to the highest bidder. Everyone would want their share of the cash. Angus would have hated that.
“On Mr McLean’s instructions, all twelve potential inheritors are to be invited to attend a weekend at Annick Castle.” He bit his lip, “With true Angus McLean style, they are to be asked to take part in a Murder/Mystery Weekend – with the winner becoming the sole heir of Annick Castle. After confirmation of their claim with DNA testing, of course.” His eyes finally met Callan’s, “Mr McLean’s last wish was that Annick Castle stayed in the family and was inherited by one person.”
The words chilled him to the bone. It was exactly that kind of thing Angus would have said – the only thing they’d ever argued about in this world. But Callan had always assumed there was no real family to inherit, at best, or worst, a few far-flung distant cousins. Nothing like this.
Chaos erupted all around him. Voices shouting and asking questions, people talking amongst themselves, pulling phones from their pockets and dialling numbers frantically.
There was a reporter in amongst the mix who walked out with his phone pressed against his ear. Who inherited Annick Castle was big news – particularly when it was being decided in such an unusual manner. It was one of the few privately owned castles in Scotland.
Callan stood up and walked outside into the rain and biting wind. His eyes landed on the building in front of him. Annick Castle. The place he’d called home for literally the last thirty years.
From the first night Angus had found him cowering in the bushes, hiding from the drunken, abusive bully that was his father, he’d welcomed him into his home. It had become his haven. His safe place. And in later years, when Angus had become frail and needed support, Callan had been the one to provide it.
Annick Castle was the place he’d laughed, cried and learned to be a man.
And it was all, doubtless, about to be destroyed by some stranger.
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