I’ve decide to participate in the blog hop on First Page Review (http://firstpagereview.blogspot.com/)*.  If you’ve written a book, it’s an opportunity to find out what readers think of your first page, whether or not it would tease them into reading further. Please check the blog post at First Page Review for details. I will be more than happy to respond to others who read and comment here.
Glencara Castle

Glencara’s Bane

Claire had to sit down. Christopher Kaufman was not who she thought he was. He was not simply the lawyer for the medieval museum she curated, he was Phillip Campbell’s lawyer as well. And not only did she simply run the museum, apparently she also owned it. That was enough to befuddle her, but that was not all. It seemed she owned a castle as well — Glencara Castle, her mother’s ancestral home near the village of Dunhaven in Northern Ireland.

Claire’s mind froze. She was aware of Christopher standing in front of the library fireplace, one hand shoved absently in his trouser pocket, the other holding a file folder of legal papers. Unable to take it all in, she was having trouble attending to what he was saying, becoming distracted, instead, by the way his graying hair reflected the light from the fire in the grate.

Her father had grown oddly quiet and agitated. He’d begun pacing back and forth in front of the library doors. Long, resolute steps. He didn’t look at the lawyer. He didn’t look at her. His eyes were fixated on the rug he traversed, his face contorted in anger. Finally he paused, fixed a cold glare on his daughter, then turned to Kaufman.

“When the hell did all this happen? Why didn’t Phillip ever tell us about these business arrangements of his and this god-damned will?”

The lawyer waited a moment longer allowing their amazement and disbelief to subside before going on.

“If you’ll just be patient,” Christopher began…

“Like hell I’ll be patient! He’s deceived us.”

Though never an affectionate father, Claire had always thought Richard Kendricks a calm and gentle man. His students at Stevens University had adored him and filled his office at all hours of the day. But this man was angry and seemed, somehow, desperate. He was not the father she knew. Even as that thought tripped through her mind, she had to admit to herself he hadn’t been the father she’d known for some time now. Not since the death of her mother.

Out of patience, Christopher Kaufman’s voice became firm. “Professor Kendricks, please. Just sit down and listen. Phillip knew you wouldn’t be happy about this. What say I start at the beginning?”

Richard fought to quiet his agitation and took the other leather chair beside his daughter. He crossed his arms like a pouting child, resentment radiating in his entire manner.

“You know that your wife’s brother always loved Claire, came to think of her as the daughter he’d never had. He would have been overjoyed to be more a part of Claire’s life. But you and Kathryn saw to it that Phillip was nearly cut off from her.”

Richard wriggled uncomfortably in his chair as Claire looked at him, eyes wide and questioning.

“We didn’t stay away because of Phillip. Phillip wasn’t the problem. We just couldn’t keep going back there. We couldn’t keep hoping…”

But whatever he’d meant to say, the words died on his lips.

Hoping for what? Claire wondered. What had kept them from her Uncle Phillip these past 20 years?

Kaufman tried again.

“Professor, I haven’t been privy to the family dynamics between you and Kathryn and Phillip. I only know I was hired to be his attorney here in Boston. Phillip made all the start-up arrangements for the museum himself. He also made sure that Claire would be the one running it. I was to hire her specifically. And though Claire doesn’t know this, her name has been on the deed to the museum with his since the day it opened. It was, I believe, meant to be his gift to her. Something that would allow her to be independent, to have a chance to prove herself to…” The lawyer paused, obviously uncomfortable with what he was about to say. “…to your wife.”

Now Claire was dismayed. The last time she’d seen her Uncle Phillip she was only fifteen. He’d seemed a sad, romantic figure to her, so lonely in that ugly old castle by himself. He’d had no children of his own, though he’d obviously enjoyed them. But he’d never married.

She’d asked her mother about him once, about why he’d never “fallen in love” and had a family. Taken aback at her daughter’s unexpected curiosity, Kathryn had blurted out that he was “queer.” Though she hadn’t understood at the time, when she was older Claire had come to realize her mother was referring to homosexuality. Her uncle, it seemed, preferred men to women.

But Claire hadn’t cared. Uncle Phillip had been wonderful to her, generous despite the miles of separation. Year after year there were birthday presents, Christmas gifts, graduation monies. In some childish way she supposed he had become her knight in shining armor in her fanciful imagination. After all, he did live in a castle. And despite her mother’s odd outburst to her question, she’d never heard either of her parents speak unkindly of him. He had visited their home often during Claire’s early childhood, though they’d visited the castle only twice that Claire could remember.

“That’s ridiculous! How could he imagine we had neglected Claire? She’s had the best schooling and the best society.”

That Richard was angry was apparent. Yet something about his repressed fury made Claire think he wasn’t angry about the gallery. What then? The castle?

At Christopher’s next words he grew pale and silent. He closed his eyes and withdrew from the conversation. The Campbell estate in its entirety had been left to Claire. But there was one odd stipulation. Richard had to accompany her to Dunhaven to sign the papers in order to take possession of the castle and estate. Otherwise the family property would be sold in recompense for any outstanding financial obligations, and Claire, being the rightful heir, would become legally responsible for any remaining debts.

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