Silent Destiny – An Excerpt
© 2014 J. Robert Whittle and Joyce Sandilands
The announcement of Robert’s first novel in six years took many of his faithful fans by surprise in 2014, and so they patiently awaited his 11th novel, wondering how he would manipulate history this time around!
A cold wind blew fiercely across the Victoria waterfront as the shrill ring of her phone dragged Emma from a sound sleep. Professor Emma Walters muttered a strong profanity as she brushed her brown hair away from her face and reached for the phone.
“Yes?” she said, in the exasperated tone she liked to use on students who asked stupid questions.
“This is Meredith, Meredith and Stuart, barristers and solicitors, calling from Edinburgh, Scotland. Is this Miss Emma Walters?”
“Would you hold the line for a moment please?” The female voice, with a soft Scottish brogue was courteous, although the name of the firm was lost in translation. She heard a click and the silence told her she was now on hold.
Scotland? Lawyers? Emma’s mind awoke instantly and kicked into gear. “What the devil could they want with me at six o’clock on a Monday morning?” she mumbled.
A powerful, cultured voice with a strong Scottish accent broke the silence. “Good Morning, Miss Walters, my name is Gilbert Stuart. I am a solicitor with the firm of Meredith, Meredith and Stuart in Edinburgh, Scotland. No doubt you’re wondering why Scotland is calling you … I see it’s a sunny day in Victoria this morning.”
“Never mind the weather! I’m still in bed as is the sun! What the hell do you want at 6 a.m.?”
“I’m sorry, Miss Walters, but the time zones did not leave us much choice for when to contact you. It was of the utmost importance that we communicate with you as soon as possible and ….”
Raising her head, she missed the next bit as she tried to read the caller ID, but it merely said, Out of Area.
The voice continued, “… inform you that you are the only living relative of Mr. Angus Trevelion Walters of Edinburgh.”
“Well, I’m awfully glad you told me,” she snapped, “or I would never have known! Who was he and how am I related to him?”
“Please, Miss Walters bear with me for a moment. You are also the sole beneficiary of his estate here in Scotland.”
Emma pulled herself to a sitting position and shook her head to make sure she was awake. “Are you kidding? Is this some student prank, because if I find out it is, I will have you beheaded!”
“I assure you, Miss Walters that I am the solicitor for the Walters’ estate and my office is here in Edinburgh ….”
“You really are calling from Scotland?” she interrupted, realizing she was beginning to believe this man and his ludicrous claim.
“Yes, we are. We are sending you a package which will introduce you to the details of your inheritance and our responsibility to the estate. I must emphasize that you should act upon this matter immediately as we are under a crucial deadline by the courts. I would expect you should receive this package on Wednesday. It will include some basic information of the estate and copies of any documents we are able to release to you. May I confirm your contact information please?”
She realized she would be at home on Wednesday, but something, a brief thought, was warning her and she interrupted him. “Mr. Stuart, I trust you won’t object if I return your call … to ease my mind that this is legitimate? What is your phone number please?”
“By all means, Miss Walters.” He gave her the number and hung up.
Realizing she needed a prefix for calling the UK, she went to her laptop, located it easily, and then did another search for the solicitor’s office. Finding their website, she confirmed their contact number and dialed. She was happy to recognize first the receptionist’s voice and then Mr. Stuart’s.
“Aye, Miss Walters, let me read your mailing address back to you and you can tell me if what we have is correct.” When they finished, he continued, “Assuming you wish to accept your inheritance, it is urgent that you come immediately to Edinburgh to complete the paperwork. Time is of the essence and we hope to see you in our office early next week. If you would send us an email with the date of your arrival and your flight information, we will make hotel arrangements and have someone meet you at the airport. We look forward to meeting you early next week.”
“Mr. …,” she started to say, but the connection had ended. “Why does he always say ‘we?”
Wide awake now, she hurried to the bathroom, splashed cold water on her face and then peered at her image in the mirror. “Me, the sole beneficiary of a Scottish estate? Surely I’m dreaming!” She went over to the window and pulled the curtain back to see darkness. “How the devil could he know it was sunny, it’s not even up yet? Did he actually check the weather before he called? This is all quite absurd!”
She paced the floor in her pajamas, staring out at the lighted harbour from her 8th storey window. Who was it who had died? She tried to remember the lawyer’s words, but could only remember one name, Angus, and that wouldn’t be of much help. She had classes at ten and two today and still a little more preparation to do for them. Sitting at her dining room table amidst a host of books and lesson papers, she began to type notes, trying to put the phone call out of her mind.
©2014 J. Robert Whittle and Joyce Sandilands