“My family is much different from the Glantrys. We value the person, not their wealth or heritage. I’m working as a lawyer, starting from the lowest. I attended a public school where nobody knew me, and I had to work to do anything that wasn’t connected to my studies. Yes, I’ve been luckier than most. Just to make you understand the difference, I’ll tell you this family secret, and I trust you not to go telling it to anybody. My father was working at a car dealer. My mother met him by chance when she was in her early twenties, also studying without any income not earned by herself, as her family required for generations. She was working as a waitress in a small restaurant, when she wasn’t attending classes or studying. He was almost thirty already and when they met they clicked. They dated for a while, and he wanted to marry her, so went to the pawnshop to buy her an engagement ring with all of his savings, which weren’t much. When he discovered how rich she was he almost fainted and was scared as hell. But my grandparents accepted him. Mom still wear that ring. And they love each other as much as back then.”
“Wow, that’s a story!”
“Do not forget, that I bet if Michael discovered how stinky rich you are going to be, he would be at your feet in a second, and his family next to him. So even if my parents were what you fear they are, they would accept you.”
“Ok. But, please, could you avoid telling them about me?”
“Sorry, I had to… my mom saw my happy face that day when you smiled for the first time, that she haunted me until I told her. She isn’t the curious type, but we are very close, so she wanted to know.”
“Ok, at least, could you hide who you think I apparently really am? Or you told her already?”
“No, I didn’t. I thought you deserved to be the first to know.”
“Thank You. Now, I have to think a little, but I think I’m not as good as you think I am. Some malicious thoughts are coming to my mind.”
“I’ll help you in everything.”
“Thank you, but I have to ask you a really big favour.”
“Anything for you.”
“You won’t ask me to meet your parents until everything I want to do will be done. That could require up to eight years or even more eventually, you know?”
“Ok. I promise. Though I hope we could solve everything earlier.”
“Thank you… now, I need to think, please shut up.”
It took me almost the whole day, but in the end I had a plan. A strong resolve filled me, and a hardness in my heart I didn’t know I possessed. Thoughts of revenge filled me as I devised my plan with several scenarios.
“Roby, I need help from you.”
“What? Anything, just ask.”
“I need some of your money, to do what I want to do. Because I need to go myself to the firm managing the trust fund, and then I have to be able to pay people and legal counselling.”
“Ask, and I’ll get you what you need.”
“First thing, Monday I’ll talk with Mary. I can’t leave her like that. She will have to take care of the bookstore for a while, and there is a nice girl always helping, who sometimes already works for us when we have to do errands. She’ll take my place for a while. Remember, I want to keep working here, and living here. Once I’ll get what’s mine, I’ll decide what to do. Until then, I’m just a dirty poor bookstore salesgirl.”
“Fine with me. I would be fine in living here with you if you wanted to.”
“If that’s not too uncomfortable for you to travel from here to your office, I’d like for you to pass some more nights here. By some more, I mean all.”
“I’ll see what I can do. I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Monday morning, I told Mary I had to go away for at least a week due to important matters about my past. No, I wasn’t in trouble, but maybe I could manage to get a sort of reimbursement. And she didn’t have to pay me for my week away and could use my pay to pay the girl who would replace me in those days.
Since the girl was already there and free, she happily accepted the unexpected week of a paid job, and that same afternoon we took the ten hours flight to the city where the law firm managing the trust fund was located. That was a big name, Cordell’s Associates was well known in the whole country. Robert had a copy of my Birth Certificate delivered to our hotel, and we found it when we checked in.
The next day, we went to the firm, and when I announced my real name to the desk, they called an associate to verify if I was expected, I could hear through the phone the turmoil that was caused by my name. An older associate, one of those nobody gets to see without long waiting and procedures and only for very important affairs, came to receive me personally, introducing himself as Mr Jack Carey. He brought us to a luxurious office, then asked me a few questions about my ‘tutors’. He was shocked by my answers, but he told us that even if I resembled pretty much the girl who they had pictures of, was the one in care of those people and I had the Birth Certificate, they were bound to check everything, so they would have to check both my DNA and fingerprints.
I agreed to both without a moment of hesitation, I was quite impatient to get this thing solved. One way or another.
“Miss Cornwall, this was meant to be given to you in these offices on your eighteenth birthday, but your ‘tutors’ told us you had been sent to study abroad and that they would bring you here as soon as possible. Then everything was forgotten until now. As you can see, nobody could open this box but you. It has a fingerprint check and a basic DNA check. Just enough to avoid opening with forged fingerprints. I’ll leave you alone as soon as you open it.”
“No need, please stay. I’ll check the content on that desk, if I can, then tell you my intentions. I’ll wait for my DNA to be tested anyway, so you won’t risk of being accused of irregularities.” The blood sample was taken by a doctor of the infirmary and sent with extreme priority to the private lab they used habitually for their cases.
“Very well. I’m fairly sure you are who you claim to be, I can notice much of both your parents in you, so let me tell you, I was very affectionate to your father and he paid my studies at the law school. Many here had strong obligations and gratitude to him, and it has been a big loss. We never agreed with his choice as tutors for you, but we couldn’t object. If we questioned his sanity or his ability in choices, all of his plans would have been ruined, and so we accepted and hoped for the best. Apparently, we misplaced our trust when choosing the associate who had to check periodically on you. We would have all come personally to speak with you about your life, if we weren’t all too old for such frequent travels. I’ll see in the matter as soon as we receive the confirmation of your identity.”
It took less than an hour, a very efficient laboratory, and he got the results.
“Very well, Miss Cornwall. I didn’t have any doubt already, as I told you, you have the same deportment of your father, and the delicate traits of your mother, but the DNA confirms it with no doubts. Here is the box.”
I went to the desk and pushed my thumb in the slot. After an instant, a click signalled the box opened. There were several envelopes inside. I checked them and at the top of the pile, there was one with ‘For Julie, read first’ handwritten on the sealed envelope.
I opened it and found a long letter from my father and one from my mother. With them, there were pictures of them, together and alone, of us three together at the hospital, and of my father when he was young. I was crying, but when Robert moved towards me, I stopped him with a gesture. The letter explained what brought me to life, and why he chose those two people as tutors. He thought he had enough to force them to honesty, if they ever got greedy. Evidently it didn’t work. I found documents about them being both already married when they married together. Nothing useful really, apparently my father was very old-fashioned and still thought that the risk of a scandal could prevent people from behaving bad.
In those two letters, I felt so much love it was filling the emptiness I felt all my life. Just reading them I felt so loved, that I knew that moment that had they been alive, they would’ve been the most wonderful parents ever. I was crying in buckets. Well, not a surprise in that, right? Crying appeared to be one of my most common states back then.
The other letters were lists of the shares and properties, with their values at the time, a list of the bound bank accounts that had only grew interests in the past twenty years, instructions for one of the associates of the study, who happened to be Mr Carey there, a list of people – which included Mr Carey himself – I could trust, and packages of documents attesting the property of several businesses around the country and the world. Just the sum of the accounts only was astonishing, and made me dizzy. I couldn’t even imagine what those would be after twenty years of just piling up interests. Everything was being managed by the Cordell’s anyway. There was also a letter with the number of a bank account containing several millions, just in case something went wrong and the fund was lost, or if I was cheated by someone, even the Cordell’s. It stated clearly that the bank account was for emergency only, and I shouldn’t use it until my thirtieth birthday anyway, unless in danger of life.
I memorized it, then sealed back the envelope. I called the lawyer and I gave him the envelope addressed to him. He sat at his desk and started to read.
After a while, he called me. “I know that’s not needed, but I’d rather you read this letter, so you won’t have any doubts I am doing what asked.”
I read. The letter was giving him power to either remove the thirtieth birthday bound on the fund, or ask me if I wanted to remove it, or to remove it partially, or to bound it permanently basically taking it away from me.
“Ok, what do you want to do?” I asked.
“I would remove the bound. I think you’ve been cheated enough, and I think you deserve it.”
“I’d rather follow my father’s instructions. It is the only thing that’s left of him, and I won’t change it for any reason. I live a comfortable enough life, working in a bookstore, and am not in need of money. Those that could be needed for legal actions, I’ll borrow from Robert here who’s my personal lawyer and the one who discovered the truth about my identity.”
“I’m glad to see you aren’t greedy. I will destroy this letter. I wasn’t required to have you read it, but I was required to not make you read the attached note. It says ‘If she chooses to unbound the fund, it must be bound permanently. If she chooses to unbound it partially, check the motives, if valid, do it. If she chooses to respect my will, then be it, she’s my daughter’. Sorry I had to do this.”
“Don’t be sorry. I can understand it. I was tempted to ask for a partial unbound, but then I thought that dad had his reasons to bind it, so I would respect his wish. He’s been cheated of too many things; I want to respect at least what he wanted for me, as I just said.”