Mister Jack Miller Ch. 08

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By way of introduction, let me say that if you haven’t read the first chapters of this story, then much of the next few pages will mean very little to you. So I suggest you go back and read “Mister Jack Miller: Chapters 1 thru 7” to get the background on this tale. That having been said, please…read on…

******

The voice on the other end of the phone was Alex’s, but sounded nothing at all like someone who had been partying as hard as we had done the previous night.

“She’s dead, Jackie. Nana’s dead.”

I sat up like a shot and was as awake as Alex sounded in a heartbeat, “Oh, no…” I dropped the phone and Shari felt the urgency in my voice, and I repeated to her the same five words I had just heard.

Shari shouted, “NO!” and collapsed into my arms in tears.

“She died last night, about an hour after she left the ballroom.”

“Why the fuck didn’t anyone tell us?” I shouted, now mad at not being informed until now.

“Apparently there was a message waiting for Mom when she got to her room, and she decided to wait till this morning so as not to spoil our evening.”

I was both mad and thankful to my mother at the same time, but I understood. I tried to regain my composure and said as calmly as I could, “So now what?”

“Well, her lawyer is going to be at the breakfast this morning. Apparently Nana was pretty sure she wouldn’t even make it this long, and had planned this reunion as a will-reading, so it’s already set. They’re gonna feed the kids in a separate room this morning, and the adults are gonna meet with the lawyer. Apparently she had it all planned out like this.”

I listened intently and thought, “That sounds exactly like the way Nana would have done it,” then said to Alex, “We’ll meet you downstairs in a little bit.”

“You better hurry up, it’s supposed to start in, like, fifteen minutes.”

I looked over at the clock and started, “Okay, we’ll be right down…WAIT…you’ve got my key and all my clothes are in the room. Why don’t you guys come down here and bring me some clothes, and we can all go down together.” After getting an okay from Alex, I hung up the phone and stood up, grabbing Shari by the hand and leading her towards the shower, where we washed up quickly. Shari started to dress just as the knock came on the door. I opened it quickly and the girls came in, handing me a pair of black pants and a simple white dress shirt. They had remembered shoes and socks but not underwear, but I wasn’t particularly picky at the moment. I suppose under circumstances like the one last night at the hot tub, I would have gotten a huge boner being naked in front of the girls, but all I could think about was Nana, and wanted to make sure I honored her memory. My cock seemed to understand, and stayed obediently flaccid all morning.

Apparently, not everyone had gotten the message that Nana had passed during the night, or they were still feeling their grief, because as we walked into the ballroom, we heard a murmur of voices, and rising up above them every few seconds, we heard sobs and tears, most of them from female voices. I saw Warren as he walked to a place to sit down. He looked like his whole world had caved in, so I went up to him and shook his hand, saying, “Nana was awesome, wasn’t she?” He hugged me. I think it was exactly what he needed at that moment, because he perked up a little bit, and the next time I saw him he was in much better spirits. I joined Mom and the girls at the same table we had taken last night. Mom looked like she had been crying all night, so I held her in my arms for a long moment, then we all sat down together.

The lawyer, whose name was Barnes, stood up to a podium and tapped the microphone. “Good morning, folks. for those of you who do not already know, Ida Rae Sedgewick died last night at a little after 10:00. She has arranged something for all of you that she ordered in her will to be shown at this occasion should she not make it through the week. Lights?”

The lights came down and the blinds were closed, and a screen came down from the ceiling. A video began to play. it was Nana, and she was sitting in her living room at the old house–the house I grew up in…the house with the treehouse in the backyard. She cleared her throat and spoke into the camera:

“Well, hello, everyone. If you are watching this, then I must have passed onto the great beyond at some point during this reunion week. First of all, let me say that I am so very pleased that you all could make it, and I hope that you not only HAVE been having fun, but that you will continue to enjoy yourselves as the week finishes up. Please don’t let my death put a damper on the festivities. Have fun at the dance, Enjoy the pool party. I give you this week because I love you all.”

There were fresh sobs throughout the room as she paused on the tape, then silence again as she continued:

“There are some of you in this room today whom I had hoped to be able to meet with privately during this week. If I have, then so be it. If not, Mr. Barnes will be contacting you today to speak with bahis firmaları you about some matters which concern you.

“As to matters of inheritance, however, I want to tell each and every one of you what has been set aside for you.”

You could hear a collective catching of breath from everyone in the room. Everyone, that is, except for those who had already met with Nana earlier in the week.

“Well, what I have done is this. when each of you were born, from my eldest child to my youngest great-great-grandchild, I opened a trust account for you. Each month, I arranged to have the interest I’d earned from the various investments I’ve made split equally and placed into each of those accounts. Needless to say, my brokers have invested wisely, and I’ve developed quite a portfolio, as they say.

“Well, for as long as those accounts have existed they have regularly been deposited into, and they have also been earning interest. What Mr. Barnes and his assistants should be doing at this moment”, and they were,” is giving to each of you documents related to these trust accounts.

“Each of you, when you reach the age of thirty, will begin receiving checks from my accountancy firm every birthday in an amount that represents two percent of the fund that is currently being held in your name. When you reach the age of sixty, all remaining moneys, representing the remaining forty percent, plus any interest accrued in the interim, will be given to you in a lump sum.

“If any of my direct descendants has passed on before me, and there are several, the funds that had been set aside for them will be divided equally among THEIR direct descendants, and so on. All of you have been provided for in the exact same manner as one another.”

Leave it to Nana, I thought. Nobody has a reason to bitch, because everyone gets the same thing. Of course, those of us who had meetings with Nana earlier in the week were presented with other gifts, but since they were not technically an inheritance, and were distributed to us by Nana when she was still alive, were not a subject of dispute. Man, I thought, she really was a shrewd businesswoman. My admiration of her rose yet again at her cleverness.

At this point, she said a few more parting words and then “talked” to the lawyer, who shut off the video and told everyone that there was a form to be signed in each envelope that would have to be returned to him within thirty days. That would give those of us who wanted to have their lawyers go over it time to do so, but would also give people the opportunity to sign right away if they felt the desire.

Then I started hearing the gasps as people started opening their envelopes, and seeing the figures that had been set aside for them. Nana’s only living child, my Great-Aunt Florence, had received nearly twenty five million dollars. Ben’s two-year-old twins each received 1.2 million. And everyone else got amounts somewhere in between those two figures. I was, quite literally, blown away myself. Though I didn’t immediately look at the amount I had inherited yet (I just signed the paper, folded it quickly and handed it to the lawyer), I learned later that this amount was almost thirteen million dollars, which, when added to the forty-seven million dollars Nana had given me yesterday morning, made my net worth over sixty million dollars.

But, of course, I was careful to make sure that the girls, and any others in the room who were still filled with grief, would have my shoulder to cry on as long as they needed it. There was a shriek from one end of the room, and I heard Victoria (the twin) shout “How did she know?” I later found out that she was two and a half months pregnant, but hadn’t yet told anyone about it, not even Nana. but Nana had still included her unborn child in the distribution. Wow, I thought, incredible. Absolutely incredible.

Florence stepped up to the mike to say a couple of things, one, to let us know that tonight’s dinner had been cancelled, and had been replaced by a memorial service, which was to start at 8 pm that evening. And second, to remind us what Nana had said about having fun, and to not let our sadness over Nana’s death prevent us from having the fun she had brought us here to have. “On that note, I expect to see each and every one of you at this afternoon’s pool party, because you know Nana wouldn’t have missed it.” I thought about Nana and those swimsuits of hers, that looked like the kind of thing bathing beauties from the roaring 20’s would have worn. A little sexy, but fashionable and modest. and she always had a parasol that matched the suit perfectly. What a classy lady.

As the morning broke up and we all picked at our breakfast, I went back up to the room, and lay down on the bed. Alex and Mom were still talking, so I had the room to myself, and as soon as my head hit the pillow, I started to cry. Deep, wailing, childlike sobs that started and kept on going like they’d never stop. This was it, I thought, so I’d better get all of it out now, because other people would need me to be their strength later, no doubt. I don’t kaçak iddaa remember when the crying changed to snoring, but it wasn’t until Alex sat down next to me on the bed, and, slowly stroking my hair, gradually woke me up from a lovely dream about Nana, singing me a lullaby as I smiled up into her wonderful face.

“Hey, you,” she said as I opened my eyes. “How ya doin’?” She had obviously been crying as hard as I had, her face was red and, I discovered as I sat up to hug her, hot.

“I’m good,” I said, only half lying. “I’m just so…sad…tired…I don’t know. but I think I’m more sad for myself that I won’t have her than I am for Nana. I mean, she had it all worked out, didn’t she. She planned for it, saw it coming, almost to the day.”

“I know. I could hardly believe the timing myself. Like this whole week was meant to happen just like it did.” The look in her eye told me that she was not just thinking of Nana at the moment, but also what had happened between us, and…

“Now, you need to go over and see Shari. She’s pretty messed up. Remember she lost Darren only ten months ago, and it was Nana that helped her through THAT whole mess, so you can imagine…”

I just realized she hadn’t really talked to any of us that morning. I had hugged her a few times to give her some support, but she kept insisting she was okay, and she LOOKED okay, so I had spent most of my time trying to console mother and Debbie, who seemed the most pretty broken up of all the girls. Now, Alex’s words had brought me back to a reality I had completely forgotten about, so I stood up quickly, hugged Alex and gave her a quick kiss on the lips before running down to see Shari.

*********

When I got to Shari’s room, even though I had the key, I knocked anyway. Only when I didn’t hear anything coming from the room, I opened it with the key Shari had given me. She was wearing only her underwear, laying face down on the bed. her arms were tucked tight against her sides, she was breathing hard and shivering. I saw two wet spots on the bed that looked like puddles of tears.

I moved quietly to the bed and sat down next to her. then I noticed that she had a picture frame in her hand, and the picture was facing up. It held a picture of Nana from some years back, holding a little boy who looked like he was about seven or eight years old. The little boy was wearing a party hat and had cake and frosting all over his face. It was Darren.

I didn’t know what to say, but I knew that Shari needed comfort, so I placed my hand gently on her back, right between her shoulder blades. She was ice cold.

“Oh my goodness, Shari, you’re freezing.” As a reflex, I leaned down and placed my chest on top of her back. It wasn’t enough, she was still shivering, so I pulled the sheet and blanket over her, then snuggled up against her, forming the covers around her form and throwing my arm and leg over her, anything to warm her up. I knew she was starting to respond when the pace of her breathing slowed down a little bit. After a few minutes like this, I heard her voice, muffled by the pillow, still filled with anguish.

“She was there for me, Jack. I was on the edge. I was practically suicidal. Nana saved me. I don’t know what I’m going to do…”

“Baby, baby…,” I tried. “Nana was the most wonderful, insightful, creative, intelligent woman in the world. If I told you the number of times she turned my life around, you would be shocked.” The one that came to mind right now was the night I got thrown in jail after a run-in with a crazy drug dealer, and my mom and dad wouldn’t even give me the time of day, but Nana bailed me out and made me work it off by repainting her house. Taught me a helluva lot about responsibility.

She turned to me, and raised the sheet to her face to daub the tears. “I loved Nana more than anything, Share…and I was just up in my room crying like a baby too. So however long you need, just let it go. I’ll be right here.” and I tightened my embrace on her. She burst out with a fresh sob and a new flow of tears. I figured she was probably getting dehydrated the way she was crying, so I got up and got her a bottle of water from the mini-fridge in the corner. “Here, drink some of this. You need to replace those tears…”

She sat halfway up and I tilted the bottle towards her opened mouth. she swallowed and opened up for another. she drained half the bottle this way before laying back down again, staring at the ceiling. “I suppose I should be stronger. I mean, she was a hundred years old. Not like she was gonna live forever…”

“Come on, baby. When someone touches you like Nana touches the people she loves, doesn’t matter if she’s a hundred years old or five, it’s gonna rip your heart out. but you know, I’m happy. when I saw Nana yesterday morning, she looked like she knew it was coming. and you know she said something to me last night, just before she went back to her room. Last thing she ever said to me.”

“What was that?”

“She said, ‘Take care of the girls.’ Then she looked at where you three–You, Alex and Deb–were kaçak bahis standing talking to each other. And I knew what I had to do. And I’m gonna do it. So I want you to help me, Shari. Help me honor Nana’s last wish for me, and let me take care of you. Will you do that?”

She smiled, and even while her tears were beginning to subside, I felt her draw strength from me as she sat up, reached out and wrapped her arms around me, pulling me close. I don’t think anyone has ever hugged me tighter than Shari did that morning. then she relaxed her grip long enough to look me in the eye and say, “Please don’t leave me today, Jack. I need you so bad.”

“I need you too, baby. I need you too. but you need to get warmed up a little bit. Whaddya say we hop into a nice hot shower and help each other warm up? Then we’ll go down and have fun at that pool party, just like Nana wanted us to do.”

She laughed silently, and took my hand as I lifted her up off the bed. We walked into the bathroom and I turned on the water, not too hot at first. I stripped off and then helped her take her stuff off. We got into the shower and I held her some more, letting the water beat down on her back. I felt as she started to relax and melt into me a little bit, and little by little turned the temperature of the water up to something really relaxing. We washed each other off. We kissed–deep, hard and urgent, but not a sexual urgency, more like a need to simply BE with each other right then and there. Finally, our blood now flowing nice and hot, we got out, towelled each other off, and looked around for our suits. My trunks were still here from the previous night, but she still only had pieces of Debbie’s and Alex’s bikinis. I picked up the phone and was getting ready to dial mine and Alex’s room when there was a knock on the door. Since I had clothes on, I went to answer it. It was the other two. It was as if they knew what we were thinking, because they were wearing the bikinis, and, as they walked into the room, Debbie, who was wearing her top but Shari’s bottoms, stripped them off and handed them to Shari, while Alex removed Shari’s top and traded her for her own blue one. Eventually, they had it all sorted out and were wearing their own suits. The whole primary color thing was such a hoot to me, I laughed out loud when I looked at the three of them together. They started posing for me like they were swimsuit models or something. I’d wished I had a camera right at that moment, but, alas, that was about the only thing my PDA couldn’t do. I opened my arms and waved them all into my embrace, and we had the nicest, warmest group hug I can ever remember. almost a 180 from last nights lurid, crazy group-sex romp, we were just glad we had one another to turn to to share this burden…after the hug, I noticed that the expression on Shari’s face was one of true joy, and nothing like when I had first come into the room. I was so happy for her…for all of us. Before leaving the room, I grabbed a bottle of sun lotion out of my suitcase and squirted some on eight upturned palms, and we had ourselves a little community feel-up session that masqueraded as a sunscreen-application exercise.

We made our way down to the pool, and the festivities seemed like they were just getting started. The sun was high in the clear blue sky, as if the day had been made to order for the party. All the little kids were splashing around in the shallow end of the pool, sporting their water-wings, closely watched by their parents. We saw Warren and a few other guys his age horsing around near the deep end, obviously trying to impress a half dozen or so girls, also around their own age who were laying out in the sun, pretending not to notice the boys. Some of the older folks had already staked out their places in the hot tub, and everybody seemed pretty happy overall, like they were taking Nana quite seriously when her videotaped ghost told them all to have fun. Either that or they had looked at the dollar amount on the legal papers and were inwardly planning what to do with their newly-inherited financial freedom…

I noticed there were a half dozen or so chaise lounges in a row that had not yet been claimed, so I led the girls over to them and acted like an usher, inviting each of them to sit on a lounger. Shari was on the left, Debbie in the middle, and Alex on the right, all sporting new pairs of Ray-Bans, which they had apparently bought yesterday during their shopping excursion. I threw my towel on the one next to Shari’s but I didn’t sit down, instead continued to play-act as the servant. “What can I get you ladies to drink?” And Debbie, apparently speaking for them all, said, “Surprise us.”

I walked over to the bar, and told the bartender I wanted “four drinks with those little umbrellas in them,” and as I waited, I looked past the pool gate and saw Leilani walking up to the gate. she was not wearing the green one-piece like she had the previous day, but now had on a purple string bikini that, believe it or not, was even more revealing than the ones my girls were wearing. I noticed her expression change to a pout when she read the sign on the pool gate that said, “Reserved for Private Party.” She started to turn around when I called her by name. she turned around and said, “Jack! Hi! what’s going on here?”

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