ELEVEN

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Virginia waited until she made it to her car before flexing her fingers. She smiled a little with the knowledge that Spinelli's face felt a whole lot worse than her aching knuckles. After stuffing what he had given her under the passenger seat, she headed to her appointment in the city.

Walking into the law offices of Grant and Whitt on the thirty-second floor of the mirrored skyscraper in downtown Los Angeles was like walking into another world. It never ceased to amaze her that some people actually worked every day in these lavish surroundings, complete with rolling mail carts and desk-to-desk beverage service.

She followed the receptionist to a small but aesthetically pleasing boardroom lined with windows overlooking the city. Jack's parents stood up as she walked in. She hadn't seen Bill and Carol Kelly since the funeral. They crossed the room and pulled her into an embrace, one at a time. Virginia felt all the emotion from that day bearing down on her.

"It is so good to see you," Carol said. The older woman's eyes held onto hers as if she were the last connection to her son.

"It's good to see you both too," she answered, because it was the truth. It was comforting to be with people who missed Jack as much as she did-misery does love company.

The other man in the room joined them. "Lieutenant, my name is Bryan Grant. I was Jack's attorney," he said, offering her his hand. "Why don't we sit down?"

She took her place beside the Kellys.

Mr. Grant looked at each of them before he began. "I want to say how sorry I am about your loss. Jack and I were friends, not just business associates. He was a great guy." He shuddered in a deep breath before turning his attention to the file in front of him.

Virginia stared down at her hands and made a grocery list in her head as a distraction. It was a desperate attempt to not fall apart in front of all of them.

Mr. Grant regained his composure and started with, "Jack's wishes were pretty simple and straightforward. He left everything to you, Virginia."

"What?" Her eyes shot to his. "That can't be." She shook her head.

"Well, I was with him when he drafted this. Now as far as his assets go, I do have a list here. They are somewhat substantial." He passed copies of what looked like a balance sheet to all three of them. "The first line shows his cash assets from three different bank accounts, roughly one hundred and thirty thousand. The second line is an industrial building he purchased down at Main and Manchester." The attorney glanced at Virginia. "That's where the two of you worked, am I correct?"

She blinked at the paper. "Yes . . . my God . . . he bought it."

"His townhouse is fully paid for-that is the current market value on line three. And of course, his car on line four-it was hard to get an accurate market value since it has had so many modifications. The fifth and sixth lines are some smaller assets he owned. We have an itemized list on the second page." He stopped and looked up. "Any questions so far?"

Virginia closed her eyes, trying to ward off the underlying truth apparent from the numbers in front of her.

Jack's father was the first to speak, as if reading her mind. "Where did he get all this from? This is a lot of money for a police officer's salary."

Her eyes flew open to focus on Mr. Grant, silently willing him not to destroy their image of their son.

The lawyer glanced at her before smiling at the Kellys. "He said he made some really good investments."

Heads were nodding all around. They were parents who wanted to believe, willing to be swayed by anything Jack's friend could tell them.

Bryan Grant turned to Virginia. "You are free to do what you please with these assets once they have been transferred over to your name. I would wait until your divorce is final before doing that. I know Jack was hoping you would keep the car and use it for work. I don't think he could bear anyone else owning it."

"I don't understand. When did he do all this . . . I mean, put it in my name?"

"A few years ago."

"What? . . . Why?"

"He was worried."

"About?" she asked, her voice cracking.

He paused, probably wondering how much she knew, but it wasn't like she was holding her breath for an honest answer anyway. "Well," he said, "in your line of work . . ." Then he chuckled. "He came into my office one day, all excited, saying he had found a way to fulfill his dream. I wasn't quite sure if he was referring to the money or the woman he kept going on about. That was the day he set this all up. Except the building-it was a recent amendment. He said you would understand."

She did. As Mr. Grant continued, Virginia looked out over the city in the general direction of Southeast. "Jack," she whispered, "you should have told me."

The details droned on in her head. When all the paperwork was finished, they thanked Mr. Grant for his time and he left the boardroom to give them a private moment.

"I'm sorry about all this," Virginia said to Bill and Carol. "I had no idea Jack had done this. It should all go to you."

"Nonsense," Bill said. "We don't need it and this is what Jack wanted. You have no reason to feel guilty. He . . . loved you."

How could she have been so blind? "He never told me." There was no stopping the tears this time. Her hand came up to cover her mouth. "I wish he had said something," she breathed between fingers.

Carol spoke softly as she touched Virginia's wet hair. "He didn't want to be the one to break up your marriage. And then . . . I think he was just waiting for the right time." Her face fell. "He thought he had time."

Bill rubbed a hand across his wife's shoulders and she gave him a sad smile. Then he did the same to Virginia. "All we ask is that you come up and visit us from time to time. It would be wonderful to see you and Janine . . . and that silly car."

Virginia nodded and swiped at her cheeks. "I will."

They rode the elevator down together and said their goodbyes out on the street. Virginia stood alone on the sidewalk as Jack's parents drove away, the sudden cold, compressing silence like a dive into deep water.

She spun around to look at the building she had just left. Although the sky reflected in its long length was gray and promising more rain, she still had to shade her eyes to gaze over the top of it. "I know what you wanted, Jack," she murmured. "I just hope I can pull it off for you."

END OF CHAPTER ELEVEN

What do you think Jack wanted? How do you feel about her steadfast loyalty to him, given the few things she's learned so far? Thanks for reading!

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