Hawk cleared his throat and reached into the inside pocket of his coat and pulled out a letter still tucked in its original envelope. "Are you Mr. Pelson?"
"The one and only."
"You clearly indicate that I must appear in this office within two months of the disbursement of the estate to claim my inheritance."
Mr. Pelson cleared his throat and straightened his tie, "Of course. Mr. Callahan, you did read all the strict terms that must be followed for you to gain clear ownership? Mr. George Callahan does provide you with a small sum should you decide not to agree."
An amount which wouldn't cover the trip up to Alaska in the first place. Hawk saw a slight smile on Zach's face and took courage from it. "Yes sir, I am fully aware."
"Other than a few short-duration exceptions, residency must be at the Salmon Run Lodge, regardless of the season for the next five years?"
"Both Zach and I moved up with the full intention of making a go of it. What's next?"
A completely business-like expression descended on Mr. Pelson's face as he turned to take the file the secretary held out. "You sign the agreement to the terms of the inheritance. I hope you are willing to take possession immediately. The time limit of the inheritance for complete ownership starts the moment you sign."
Hawk hung up his coat on the old-fashioned wrought iron coat stand. "We understand."
"Winter. Hm. I should mention that you have two months to decide to take the smaller inheritance and leave. After two months you must complete the terms of the Will or you will forfeit all of your inheritance."
"We've already reserved space on the bus," Zach said. He settled into the back of the chair. "We're going no matter what. And we're staying."
Hawk grinned. "What my son said goes for both of us."
Mr. Pelson gave a faint smile, "Shall we go into my office?"
Zach settled himself in a chair on the other side of the room from the secretary as the two men disappeared. After a thorough freezing on the walk to the office he was content to sit still and let the warmth of the office seep down into his bones. Back home he could expect warmer weather by March, even in later February. He studied a calendar on the wall next to the secretary's desk. January 15. How much longer would the cold last?
His father's voice drifted out from the office, muffled by the walls. Zach had read the letter and the copy of the will. Simple wording, dictating crazy Uncle George's odd demands for various members of the extended family.
Like making Aunt Gretchen live at the old broken-down family home in Ireland and help in its restoration for two years before claiming a small fortune in jewelry. Or cousin Finn, given a generous trust fund if he survived working with disadvantaged kids for three years. Or all the other big gifts to the rest of the family.
If they agreed to the terms.
For years the name "Uncle George" had been quietly whispered about or laughed at. Not now. The entire family was in upheaval thanks to the machinations of the old man's Will.
The sound of something sounding suspiciously like laughter came from the secretary desk. The woman tucked a strand of black hair back behind her ear, a wide grin on her face as she worked on a yellow tablet.
"Did you know Uncle George?" Zach asked.
The smile grew wider. "Everyone knew Uncle George, even if they hadn't met him."
As her smile grew bigger, his eyes narrowed. "Uncle George might have been a little crazy, but he was still nice."
She looked up at him with a surprised expression, "Of course he was nice. I didn't say he wasn't. A lot of people around here will miss the old coot. And the lodge? Nice place, even if a little strange, but don't let that bother you."
Before he could ask her what she meant, the front door slammed open, letting in a wall of cold air that had Zach clutching his coat closed.
"That's it, I've had it!" a red-faced older man yelled into the room.
The secretary sighed, her wide eyes settling into exasperation. She straightened her sweater, nodding at the man. "Good afternoon, Mr. Goodwin."
The door settled shut behind the man as he started to pace in front of the desk without bothering to take off his coat. Bits of melting snow and gravel fell off his boots, littering the floor. "First she changes my breakfast saying I'm not eating healthy enough. Then tells me when I can be with the boys. And now my pants aren't right? What am I? A New York fashion model?"