Wife wanted(2)

By: Bella Grant

 Riley stepped out of the chopper, the still-churning blades whipping at his black hair. They’d have to deal with his long hair today. He hadn’t felt much need to chop it off yet.

 “Ah, Mr. Marston,” Mr. Benton, the team’s senior lawyer, said as he held out his hand for Riley the second he stepped inside the glass-walled room on the roof, which provided access to the stairs and elevator. “Sorry to pull you away from business so early this morning.” His eyes focused on Riley’s shoulder-length black hair and his lips thinned. “And from your morning grooming habits.”

 “No trouble.” Riley smirked as he followed the older man and the four other members of his staff inside the building and to the elevator doors. “I’m still growing it out.” Actually, he was going to cut it all off soon, but meeting with Mr. Benton and seeing his look of disapproval were just too good to pass up. “What seems to be the trouble? Is it the merger again?” Riley watched Mr. Benton shift on his feet, and the others all lowered their heads. “Is the merger falling through?”

 “Please, Mr. Marston, it would be best to hold your questions until we are in my offices.”

 Something was wrong. Riley glanced at Ben, but his assistant shook his head. Riley reached up to tug on the silver stud in his ear then grimaced when he met only lobe. His heart started to thunder in his chest as they rode the elevator down to the sixth floor and followed the team of lawyers to a large conference room. A few others were there, people Riley vaguely remembered that he was related to through his grandfather’s side. For the life of him, he couldn’t remember their names. Two older ladies, a young one about his age, and two old gentlemen. They barely registered Riley as he sat down where Mr. Benton indicated, Ben standing behind him, and waited.

 “We have summoned you all here this morning,” Mr. Benton stated at the head of the table after he took his seat, “to discuss some terrible news.”

 Riley leaned forward, pretty sure everyone else could hear his heart pounding now, too.

 “We received word at one-thirty this morning that Mr. Marston has passed away peacefully in his sleep. We are here to discuss his will, as he stipulated in his will that this should be completed within hours of his passing.”

 “What?” Riley snapped, shaking his head. “I just…I just talked to him. He’s not dead. He can’t be dead!”

 Ben gripped Riley’s shoulder as the others started to cry and protest as well. Mr. Benton raised his hands politely and told them he, too, was broken-hearted by the man’s passing. “However, I assure you, he has died. I am very sorry for your loss.”

 The room shrank around Riley. There were sirens wailing in his head and flashing lights. He couldn’t be dead…that man was a tank! He’d been over six feet tall and a bear of a man, hearty and healthy all his life. And now he was gone? Riley’s fingers turned white as they clenched the edge of the table, trying to get a grip on something, anything, as Mr. Benton continued to speak.

 “Now, you are all here because you are mentioned in Mr. Marston’s will. If you will watch, I will play the video he has left.”

 Everyone quieted down, and Riley turned to face the large monitor on the far wall. One of the lawyers hit play, and his grandfather’s rough face appeared on screen. Riley smiled instantly, seeing the life in those deep, blue eyes—same as his. The same strong face, same stubble of the beard. Once, his grandfather’s hair had even been black like Riley’s, though in the video it was silver, and—to his amusement—long.

 “Greetings everyone. This is the final will and testament of Riley Marston the first. I have several parts of my estate that I wish to leave to certain parties. They go as follows: To my two sisters, Bethany and Darcie, I am leaving my ranch in Texas and enough money for you both to live out your days happily.”

 The two older ladies held each other and cried quietly. Riley remembered them now. They’d been very nice to him the few times he’d met them. They both acted just like their brother did. Kind and hard-headed.

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