Home > The Will (Magdalene #1)(2)

The Will (Magdalene #1)(2)
Author: Kristen Ashley

She’d also look younger than her years. She’d go to pains to do this. Most definitely.

And, considering his suit and how well their children were turned out, she’d be stylish, her clothes and shoes expensive, as would be her hairstyle (and she would have no gray), her manicure, pedicure, everything.

He would accept nothing less, that man. He would have what he wanted and if he didn’t get it, he’d throw what he had away and he’d find it.

I put him out of my mind as the preacher thanked people for coming, on behalf of himself and me.

His speaking for me might annoy me if I didn’t know that Gran liked him so much, not to mention went to church regularly. And when that became hard for her, I knew that Reverend Fletcher had arranged for someone to pick her up, take her to services, take her out to breakfast and then take her home. Sometimes, when no one was to be found or just because she liked doing it, this someone was Reverend Fletcher’s wife.

It was a nice thing to do. Gran needed to get out. She was social. But she was also independent, stubborn and didn’t like to ask for help. That didn’t mean she wouldn’t accept it if offered. And she accepted it from the Fletchers.

Reverend Fletcher nodded to me and I stood, feeling the tears drying rough on my face, making the skin scratchy. I still didn’t touch it. I could do that later, when I was alone. Now, I had my hat and my sunglasses to hide behind. And I would use them.

I felt people milling about as I made my way to Reverend Fletcher. When I got close, I offered my hand. Just my hand, I kept the rest of my body distant to make a point.

I was not a hugger, not touchy, not affectionate.

Not with anyone but Gran.

He got my point. He took only my hand, closing his around mine firm and warm, and he murmured, “Lydia will be missed, Josephine.”

He was correct.

She would be.

I swallowed and nodded once. “She will. It was a lovely service, Reverend. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, my dear.” His hand squeezed mine. “And please, if you’re staying in town a while, come over to Ruth and my house. We’d enjoy having you for dinner.”

“That’s a lovely offer, Reverend. I’ll think about it and let you know,” I replied quietly as I put pressure on my hand for him to release it, knowing as I said it that I would most definitely not be having dinner with him and his wife.

Gran was social.

I was not.

He let my hand go.

I gave him a small smile and turned away. I wanted to get to my car and get back to Lavender House. Fortunately, Gran had instructed that she didn’t want a maudlin get-together after her funeral and this meant that I could get away from that place and these people and not have to endure munching on hors d’oeuvres and listening to people tell me what I already knew.

How great Gran was and how sad it was she was gone.

This desire of Gran’s was probably for me. She knew her two sons wouldn’t show. My dad and uncle had long since disappeared from her life and mine. And if they did show (which, thankfully, they didn’t), the idea of them socializing, even at a post-funeral get-together, would be alarming. Neither of them was young and I’d not seen them in decades but I knew without a doubt that if they were still alive, they had not changed.

They never would.

They were apples that fell right to the root of the tree. Not Gran’s tree. My grandfather’s. And he was mean as a snake, selfish, controlling and all of these to the point where it wasn’t in question he was mentally unstable.

And luckily, he was also long since dead.

So there was no reason to socialize, no one left of Gran’s blood to stand around hearing how wonderful she was and thus what a loss it was now that she’d been laid in the ground.

As expected, it took some time for me to get to my car, what with the amount of people there, the amount of love Gran had built in this town, therefore the amount of people who wished to share with me they were sorry for my loss.

I was glad Gran had that.

This didn’t mean I enjoyed the journey to the car. As lovely as it felt to know she had this kind of esteem, I already knew it. I didn’t need to be reminded of it.

I told myself it made them feel better to say the words, make the eye contact, think their sentiments in some small way made me feel better. And Gran would want me to give them that.

So I did.

I managed to negotiate this obstacle course to my car only having to endure two hugs and I didn’t trip or even falter. Not once. Henry would be proud. Gran would be disappointed.

Gran thought my frequent stumbles were hilarious but whenever she threw her chuckle my way after she’d witnessed one, I knew she was laughing with me, not at me. She’d long since tried to teach me that we should embrace who we were, even, or maybe especially, what she called the “special things, buttercup, the things no one else has, but you.”

For me, this was being awkward. There were times when I could forget, but if there was something to trip over or something to set crashing to the ground, I would find it.

Gran thought it was cute.

When I did these things, I’d more than once seen Henry’s lips twitch too.

Try as I might to take Gran’s advice, I found it annoying.

However, I didn’t manage this journey without the heels of my Manolos sinking into the turf, which I found irritating.

Finally, I made it to my rental car. The lanes winding through the cemetery were packed with cars, many of them now purring, cars doors slamming, wheels pulling out.

Amongst this, I heard a girl’s annoyed, whiny, “Dad!” piercing the solemn air of the graveyard.

This tone was so inappropriate I stopped in the open door of my car and looked down the road.

Some three or four cars up on the opposite side from where my vehicle was parked, there was a big burgundy truck. It seemed relatively new. It was one of those that had four doors in the cab making it a tall, long sedan with flatbed. It wasn’t flashy but somehow it was. Maybe because it sparkled in the sun like it had just been washed and waxed.

All the doors were open and climbing in them was the man who’d been watching me earlier and his three offspring. His eldest son was pulling himself into the front passenger seat of the truck. His youngest was already in the back. And the man was standing in the open driver’s side door facing his girl, who was standing in the street, hands on her hips.

No wife.


I heard an indistinct rumble then the girl leaned slightly forward, her face screwing up in an unattractive way and she yelled, “I don’t care!”

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