Twenty-four-year-old Ashley Morgan thinks her future is guaranteed when she takes over the reins of her family business. What could go wrong?
But when her father decides to give the job to Jamie Standley, his right-hand man, Ashley feels cheated and breaks off all ties with her father.
Three years later at the reading of her late father’s Will, she discovers to her horror that Jamie will continue to be director of Morgan & Hall, while she will only receive a small share in the business. But on one condition: that Ashley and Jamie work together and live under the same roof for a whole year…
Once again Ashley feels betrayed and cheated. To her, Jamie is an impostor and she is determined to make him pay. But forced cohabitation can sometimes have unpredictable consequences…
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Inheritance. I have an extract to share with you today.
The taxi is stopping just outside the front door – my home address is 37 Long Street.
Grief, how much I’ve missed home! It’s been six months since I left – it’s a record for someone like me who’s so fond of her home and home town. I lived away from home for five years while studying Economics, the most tedious discipline ever, at university. My only objective during these five years has been to keep afloat, and now I’m glad to be back. I wouldn’t have made it without Alex. I have a degree now and I still have all the energy to show Dad that I can live up to his expectations. I made it.
The air is cold outside, although I can’t help but stand still in front of the door for a few seconds, staring at the building like it’s for the first time. It feels so good to be back that I’m worried I might wake up and realise it’s all a dream. Dad has insisted that we should all celebrate my degree with a dinner tonight because he couldn’t be there at the graduation last month. He has invited Jamie – his business partner – to the dinner, and I sense that he wants to take this opportunity to make an important announcement. I know what he wants to say. That’s why I can’t wait for tonight: Dad is going to announce the new head of Morgan & Hall, the biggest, most important sweet-producing factory in the city, which is also our family business. I have always suspected that Dad cared a little more about his business than about me. I used to be jealous of the fact that Morgan & Hall always had my Dad’s attention, whereas I struggled to get it. When I was little, he used to enjoy sitting in his favourite armchair and telling me how he started the business. He and his best friend Milton Hall, a skilled pastry chef, had enjoyed success from the very beginning. Their recipes are original and have remained a trademark of their business, even after Mr Hall had retired due to unspecified health reasons. When Dad talked about his friend, his eyes shone with the fullest admiration and I have grown up with deep respect for the man who made my Dad’s business so great.
After Hall resigned, Dad carried on working even harder to improve his business. When he began to achieve great results all by himself, Dad taught me the secrets of being a good business manager. Looking back, I have to be honest: he was constantly supported by three older men, who were probably far too lenient with me. Dad is extremely proud of his business and he sponsored my university course for one reason only: he wants me to take over the administrative side. Well, here I am now: I’m ready.
I have the brightest smile as I push the front door open. Gregory, the good old caretaker is sitting on a chair reading his favourite newspaper.
“Good evening, Gregory!” My greeting is full of excitement.
“Good evening, Miss Morgan, welcome back home!”
“Thank you. Is Dad upstairs?”
“Yes, he’s waiting for you. Mr Standley is here with him too.” He hasn’t changed – nosey as ever. Still, he does his job very well.
“I know, it’s a great day today, Gregory!” I said to him, then I rush to the lift. On my way upstairs, I can’t avoid reminiscing about how handsome Jamie was. Will he have changed? I don’t know why, but I have the feeling that he belongs to the category of men who look better and better with time. He’s five years older than me, so he must be twenty-nine now. His hair is black – it gives him a somewhat wild look – and very curly. It covers most of his forehead and, sometimes, his eyes. He’s an excellent pastry chef, and that is why Dad has given him a job. I would have given him a job just for his looks… especially his eyes, which seem to penetrate my soul. He’s also a gentleman, I hope he hasn’t lost this quality over the years.
The lift doors open to let me out, I wonder if it’s better to use the key or ring the bell. It’s crazy how being away for six months makes you feel like such a stranger. Still, most of my memories are tied to this apartment: the nights spent listening to Dad’s stories; the occasional visits from my mother, who’s always travelling. My mother brought me so many souvenirs from around the world that I had to devote a whole bookcase to them in my room. My mother and I are very different: the only things we have in common are our passion for books and our hair colour. All the rest is from Dad: my eyes, my temperament. I could never travel around the world forever without a place to settle in – she is a news reporter first and foremost, a wife and mother second. She’s in Brussels right now, if I remember correctly; she might have a new love affair. This must be the fourth man that she’s had since her divorce from Dad, about ten years ago. It’s difficult to keep up with her life, because she rarely ever calls home.
I choose to use the key, eventually.
“Dad?” I shout at the front door, then I pull off my coat and hang it on the stand next to me. “Dad, I’m home!”