Two rival heirs learn to live together as they wait for a Will to be read. As they fight, they learn that they have more in common than rivals. Will their cool heads keep them as enemies, or let their hot hearts love?
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A Meeting of Rivals
Camellia sat in numb silence as she listened to her father’s lawyer, Mr. Nathaniel, speak in front of her. Her father had left everything he had to her, only to owe millions to others. She was in mourning clothes, but there were no tears on her face, only a silent, cold numbness, as she stared emptily at the wooden prized coffee table that she once remembered climbing as a young child when her mother was still living… and there was warmth.
It seemed only a moment ago when Mr. Nathaniel phoned her that her father had died from a heart-attack. She was shocked because her father was only fifty years old. She had not known about his ill health or financial problems. But then, she knew her father; he had never involved her with anything he had in his mind. He never did with her mother as well until it was too late.
Her father wanted her to get a good education in America and told her he would take care of everything back home. But now it was ironic that she could not fulfill that wish of his.
“Are you saying that this house is no longer a Quintana property?”
“Yes,” Mr. Nathaniel stated, “As I said, your father wanted to turn this land into a cash-crop to pay off the debts that accumulated after your mother died. He never could, and now the banks and people he owed money to will claim all that he has left. Your father owed $25 million.”
Camellia gasped in horror.
“$25 million? How—how is that possible?”
Mr. Nathaniel only shook his head sadly.
“This house and land are worth only $15 million, Miss Quintana. Your father still owes $10 million. As heir of the Quintana estate, you are now responsible for it.”
Horror showed on her face.
“I don’t have any money, Mr. Nathaniel! Where am I to find that much money?!” she exclaimed, horrified that her father could owe that much.
Mr. Nathaniel finally smiled.
“Don’t worry, Miss Quintana. I’ve already contacted Mr. Shaw’s lawyer,” he remarked.
“Mr. Shaw?” Camellia whispered, surprised to hear the name. “What does he have to do with this?”
Mr. Nathaniel stood as if reaching the end of their conversation and prepared to leave.
“Mr. Shaw will pay off your father’s debts, Miss Quintana.”
She stood up in mute disbelief and followed the lawyer toward the door.
“I don’t understand, Mr. Nathaniel. Mr. Shaw and my father have no relationship and he hates my father. Why would he pay off our debts?”
The lawyer turned back to her and smiled lightly.
“Mr. Shaw has a lot of reasons to hate your father, but he also has a lot of reasons to help your father’s only daughter.”
She looked at him in confusion. She could not believe that a rival of her father would kindly help her for nothing.
“When will Mr. Shaw be here?”
The lawyer looked at his watch.
“In three hours.”
James sat calmly behind his immense desk in the dark library and slowly twisted a pen between his fingers. His brother, Mark, stood on his right, with his arms crossed in displeased. His sister, Amy, stood behind him by the vast glass window in a slim, beautiful red dress. Her face was beautiful and heavy with make-up.
They all glared at Lawyer Jenson with unhappy eyes. Mr. Jenson was the family lawyer. Though he should have been afraid with all the eyes looking at him unhappily, he spoke calmly, “Mr. Quintana passed away three days ago, owing $10 million to debtors. The late Mr. Shaw’s Will states that he will pay any debt that Mr. Quintana has. Mr. Nathaniel, the late Mr. Quintana’s lawyer, has contacted me and the debts will be paid by the Shaw Estate Trust—”
“Why?! My father owes nobody anything!” Mark’s voice shouted angrily. “This Mr. Quintana was an foe of our father! How can Father help that—that man!”
Mr. Jenson calmly looked at Mark.
“Mark is right,” Amy remarked unkindly, “father owes no one anything. It doesn’t sound reasonable that father would help the Quintanas out when our family hates their family.”
Mr. Jenson looked at James’s stern face, and continued, “Nevertheless, it is written in your father’s Will, which Mr. Shaw have heard.” Mr. Jenson nodded over to James. “The late Mr. Quintana has one daughter, who has no relatives here and nowhere to go. Your father’s Will also states that when Mr. Quintana is no longer living, he will take Miss Quintana in as his ward.”
Amy looked in disbelief. “Father would never do such a thing!” she exclaimed, looking at her brother James to see if what Mr. Jenson said was true.
“What does he think we are?! An orphan house?!” Mark chimed in.
James laid the pen down on his desk unhappily.
“Miss Quintana—does she have a job?” he asked, irritated.
“She was studying in America and returned only two days ago. Your father has also been—been paying for Miss Quintana’s education. And she will still receive these monthly stipends if she returns to study abroad or… or stay in this house.”
Anger crossed over James’s face. It disgusted him that his father had been giving money away freely to someone they despised and had no obligation to. But more so that his father had shared none of this information with him.
“How can you not tell me about this sooner?” James stood up angrily.
For a moment, Mr. Jensen’s hand shook nervously as he opened his bag and took out some papers.
“This is your father’s contract with Mr. Quintana to pay for Miss Quintana’s education.”
James took the contract angrily from Mr. Jensen’s hand and read it. His lips tightened unhappily. Finally, he threw the contract on the desk, and Amy came over to read it.
“I don’t believe it!” Amy exclaimed. She gave the contract to Mark as she strolled away from the window to sit on a cushioned chair and looked at James.
“You are saying, Mr. Jenson, that my father has been paying for Miss Quintana’s schooling for a while now?” James asked calmly, with anger showing on his face.
“Yes,” Mr. Jenson answered.
“That’s impossible!” Mark interjected angrily.
“What reason would there be for my father to have done this—this generosity to someone he despised?” James asked, annoyed.
“There is an excellent reason, Mr. Shaw. The late Mr. Quintana, though he was your father’s archrival, helped your father once,” Mr. Jenson replied.
“Helped father?! Father needed no one’s help!” Mark shouted.
“You must joke with us, Mr. Jenson. You mean Mr. Quintana threatened my father?” Amy remarked sarcastically.
“Mr. Quintana helped your father, Miss Shaw. And your father has given his word to help Mr. Quintana whenever he is in need.”
Mr. Jenson turned back to James.
“You will need to visit Miss Quintana today and inform her of her new position in your family, Mr. Shaw. Even if you do not want her to stay here, your father has opened his house for her. You will need to take her in.”
James looked at him deadly.
“Have you forgotten who you work for, Mr. Jenson?” James remarked, irritated, “I see no reason for me to provide free room and board to a girl who is old enough to take care of herself. If she can get an education abroad, she should be able to get herself a job here.”
Mr. Jenson only stared calmly back, and remarked, “She is homeless now. She will need a place until she finds a job.”
James swore under his breath, his calm demeanor dissipating. Amy stood up and came over to the desk. “And why does my brother have to visit this girl, Mr. Jenson?”
“Your father would pay her a visit if he were alive to relieve Miss Quintana of some of her worries and inform her that she has a home to go to, Miss Shaw. Your brother will only do what your father would do.”
“Fine,” James remarked rather impatiently, “Let us see her. If she is like what I think she is, I will inform her to get a job and rent a little place for her until her job pays for her.”
Mr. Jenson only nodded silently.
In the country house
Camellia was alone in the room that had belonged to her when she was a child. This house had belonged to them ever since she was three. It was her mother’s house. Her father never cared for it. It still looked the same as the last time she left it.
She had many fond memories with her mother here. Her mother had fallen in love with this country house the first moment she saw it, and Camellia was with her that day. It was the day that her mother and father had a fight and her mother had left the Quintana mansion. Camellia followed her then, and her mother took her along as they drove off to far off distances, until her mother saw this house and stopped driving.
Her father hardly spent time with her mother and her. He was in the Quintana mansion in the city, always working. She felt that her mother did not like that mansion, for she always felt cold and lonely. She did not blame her mother. Though she loved the spaces the mansion offered her as a child, she did not like the cold and empty rooms and the Quintana maids walking around with no emotions.
So, she spent most of her childhood in this house with her mother until she reached the age of eight. They had returned to the city to the Quintana mansion to bring her back for the start of school. She had left that day for school, but when it was time to return, her mother never came to pick her up. Later, her father told her that her mother had been in a hurry and slipped on the huge marble stairs, which the maid had washed that day. The doctor only confirmed later that she died from a broken neck.
She cried so hard when her mother passed away that now she had no more tears to shed for her father’s sudden departure. She never understood her father, for he never gave her warmth. It was always pity, sorrow, and anger that she felt for him. Perhaps that was the reason she could not shed any tears for him. Now that she was alone in the world, without her mother and father, she wondered where she would go. All her grandparents had passed away. Did she have any aunts and uncles? If she did, her father never spoke about any of them.
She could not return to school. She had no money, and she had only learned that she was heir to an estate of $10 million debt that her father had left her. A loud noise down in the living room startled her up from her thoughts and quickly she went to see who visited her.
James impatiently came into the house, wanting the meeting to be quickly over. He looked around the modest room, unimpressed. Mr. Jenson followed behind, as James looked angrily around, angry at everything he saw. This place was no better than his maids’ room, he thought unkindly, and he had to waste his time coming here to meet a girl who probably was no better than many of his fortune-hunting girlfriends, who would be thrilled to know that she was included in the Will of the late billionaire William Shaw.
The stairs to the right creaked, and he turned to look at it. To his surprise, the girl he saw there was nothing like he had in mind. She was dressed in a plain black blouse and skirt. Her hair was loosely let down, which made her look young and pretty, but the look in her eyes surprised him the most. She hatefully looked at him, as if he had no right to be here in this plain house that he could not imagine living in.
Camellia slowly came down the stairs and turned her attention to Mr. Jenson. To James’s surprise again, she gave Mr. Jenson the same look she gave him and when she reached the bottom of the stairs, she walked straight up to his lawyer, as if he, the son of the late billionaire William Shaw, was unimportant.
“Are you Mr. Shaw?”
Mr. Jenson gave out a light laugh and shook his head, as James annoyingly looked at them, annoyed that she did not know who he was.
“I am Mr. Shaw,” James remarked rather rudely.
She turned to eye him with distrust.
“I was told that Mr. William Shaw would meet me,” she replied.
James’s eyebrows raised, and he turned away and laughed cynically. It surprised him that she did not know his father, nor him.
Mr. Jenson spoke, “Mr. William Shaw unfortunately passed away a year ago, Miss Quintana.”
Camellia looked shock and confused. James turned to look at her again, this time with eyes full of insult. “I am Mr. William Shaw’s son, James Shaw.”
Camellia sat stiffly with her hands placed on her lap as she viewed Mr. Jenson sitting across from her. She glanced at the young man beside Mr. Jenson and he gave her a cold, suspicious look.
“The late Mr. Shaw has included you in his Will, Miss Quintana,” Mr. Jenson began as James scrutinized her facial expression to see if it delighted her.
“Mr. Shaw and my father are not friends, Mr. Jenson, nor relatives. Why would he include me in his Will?” she slowly began. Her face did not show a glimmer of facial expression.
“Your father did a favor once for the late Mr. Shaw, in which the late Mr. Shaw has included you in his Will as repayment.”
Camellia almost laughed.
“What favor of an archrival would make a man include his archrival’s child in his Will?”
Mr. Jenson did not seem to pay attention to her words as he took out an envelope from his briefcase.
“You are twenty-three years old?”
The question caught her off guard.
“My lawyer asked if you are twenty-three years old,” James remarked harshly, annoying her.
She glared at him distastefully.
“What does that have to do with the conversation?”
“My father has, unfortunately, included you in his Will, which can only be read when you reach twenty-five years old,” he remarked unpleasantly.
Camellia clasped her hand in thought.
“I see no reason for me to receive anything from Mr. William Shaw,” Camellia stated firmly.
“I also see no reason,” James began and turned to his lawyer, “What reason is there?”
“We cannot open that part of the Will, until you are twenty-five years old, Miss Quintana. You will know the reasons then and receive the wealth that the late Mr. Shaw left you—”
“A wealth that my father earned with his two bare hands,” James remarked between his teeth, frustrated that his lawyer refused to give him a reason for this insanity.
Camellia stood up, angry that he was insulting her and being rude the entire time that he was here in her home.
“I don’t want any money from your father, Mr. Shaw! I don’t need money from someone who tried to ruin my father’s reputation!”
James’s eyes narrowed, and he stood up angrily to face her.
“First, Miss Quintana, your father was the one who tried to ruin my father’s reputation. But now that he has ruined himself, my father is helping him out?! For what reason?! If you want nothing from my father, then I will only be glad to have my lawyer draw up a contract for you to sign. I personally don’t want my father’s wealth to fall into bad hands.”
Camellia heaved in anger.
“Your father’s wealth was always in bad hands, Mr. Shaw. And if my father had not isolated himself from your kind, he may have had all your father’s wealth and more. Your wealth is nothing but hypocrisies and lies!”
James’s eyes narrowed.
“You dare call my father’s hard work hypocrisies and lies?”
She faced him bravely, her heart filled with anger.
Before she could stop herself, she remarked, “Have your damn lawyer draw up the contract and I will sign it! I personally don’t want to touch your kind of money!”
James glared at her in disbelief. Was she stupid to request this? A cynical smile slowly appeared on his face, satisfied at her words, until his eyes accidentally roamed and found her soft, angry lips. His heart slightly jumped, and he frowned.
“Unfortunately, I must interject and tell you both that no action can be taken until that part of the Will is read,” Mr. Jenson calmly spoke beside them.
They both turned to look at him in horror.
“At the moment you have no place to go, is that correct, Miss Quintana?” Mr. Jenson asked, calming the tension.
Camellia twisted her fingers nervously. She did not want to share her difficulties, nor ask for help. James flashed his lawyer a warning look, but as his eyes returned to look at her, he saw her vulnerable and troubled, and suddenly his enmity lessened. He was astounded when she remarked, “That is no concern of yours, Mr. Jenson.”
She nervously fidgeted with her hands, clearly worried.
“Unfortunately,” James intercepted against his real feeling, “My father has made himself your guardian should anything happen to your father, so it is every concern of ours.”
Camellia looked at him in horror. Even James seemed displeased at what he had shared. Her heart searched for words to reject the offer, but none came to her. She looked at the young, disagreeable Mr. Shaw, who obviously disliked her, and searched for words to say, but no words came out of her mouth.
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