I have never seen someone’s face go quite that color purple. I don’t know who was angrier, Cal and Mack or the owner of the property management company when they got done with him. But it’s not like the guy could say much with a county deputy and a real estate lawyer all up in his face, raking him over the coals, threatening a law suit … especially not when he knew he’d been caught out skimming the account and not making the repairs that he reported making.
First off, they are going to pay for tenting the house and make good on all of the repairs that they got paid for but never did. They are also going to treat the half acre lot that the house sits on. You walk through the yard and your legs are covered black in sand fleas. They are also going to replace all of the appliances with new ones. And they are going to paint the house inside and out and then clean everything from attic to crawl space. And when they are through with that they are going to return, with interest, the money they skimmed. Even after I pay Mack – not that he has asked for anything – Feena and I will have a nice little nest egg. At a bare minimum it should pay for the metal roof I want to have installed … fifty year roof, oh yeah, I’m there.
Now if I can just get the two of them to stop acting like I’ve lost my mind for wanting to live in my own home … “in the back side of nowhere” … instead of in Tampa where they can help keep an eye on me. I know the value of family. And sometimes its greatest value is in driving you nuts.
Poor choice of words under the circumstances but I’m so tired of having to be careful with every little thing that comes out of my mouth. They’re great guys, and they mean well, but I’ve got to stand on my own two feet. I’m 22 years old, not a baby. I wish they would stop explaining every way my plan could potentially fail. I can’t think for all of their talking at me. I still haven’t even had time to absorb what came out of the reading of the wills.
I had no idea Daniel’s parents personal worth was as high as it was. I just thought they lived well, not that they were necessarily well off. Maybe I should have given the community they lived in but a lot of people look rich but looks is all it is. What I found out sitting at that table was a lot to take in.
Even after all of their outstanding debts were paid off – which they had surprisingly few of – and they left a nice tithe to Edgewater, there was a lot of assets to split three ways.
“What? No … uh uh. That’s … that’s not right. They were your parents. I shouldn’t be getting any of this.”
Trish smiled and Amaris just sort of stared at me like I’d grown a third eye on the end of my nose. “Relax Aria. Dad and Mom had been talking about this. This isn’t a surprise to us. They kept us in the loop. Maybe you won’t believe me, but please try to. They’d come to regret how they’d treated you, come to understand that Daniel was a broken soul and that you were just doing what you did to try and protect him from himself.”
Quietly I asked, “Did your dad really say that?”
“Yeah, maybe not in those exact words but that’s what he meant. You haven’t heard this part of it yet but they set up a college fund for Josefina. Even if you hadn’t asked them to be part of her life they felt responsible for doing what they saw as part of their grandparently duty.”
I shook my head not knowing what to say. It was way more than I had expected. I thought I was there just as some kind of legal requirement because Feena would technically inherit whatever was left in Daniel’s estate. That was true but it was a little more complicated than that. Daniel had inherited some money from his paternal grandfather whom he was named after. He would have gotten it when he was eighteen but his parents changed that when they found out he wanted to go into the military instead of going to college and that he would have to be twenty-five before he receive it. At his death, the money now belonged to me and Feena. In my eyes it was a lot more money than I had ever imagined having in the bank but now that I see all of the repairs and such that need to be made to the house, it doesn’t seem like that much.
There was also all of Daniel’s belongings to go through. His stamp collection. His coin collection. His rock collection. All of his sports memorabilia. His music collection. Clothes, furniture, the stuff that was left at the bungalow. I was stunned … am stunned. Crazy stunned.
Everything has been put into storage and Trish and Mack have moved into her parents’ paid off house. Amaris inherited the condo in Gainesville – also paid off since they bought it at the bottom of the market while Trish was in school – as well as most of the furniture in her parents’ house and she is ecstatic. She goes to UF now, her serious boyfriend lives there, and all she wants is to finish her degree and go to work at her uncle’s design firm. They already found a buyer for the bungalow – the City. The house is coming down so that they can put in a retention pond that will drastically improve the drainage in the area and prevent flooding. I went in and took out some of the antique light fixtures and a few other things … including the old claw foot tub from the bathroom. There was a little bit of cussing over that one … Cal and a couple of his buddies had not expected the thing to be quite as heavy and unwieldy as it was even though I had told them it was made of cast iron. Everyone laughed afterwards but only because I rewarded them with hot boliche and cold beers.
Given everything that is going on, Feena and I are in Tampa as much as we are in Ruskin. We’d have to do a lot of this back and forth anyway to see our doctors but it is so tiring. And I’m getting to know the desk managers at the two motels we travel back and forth between on a first name basis. That’s scary.