Between jetlag, worry about the missing will, and thoughts of kissing a half-naked Nick, Rosalind hadn't been able to sleep. She'd finally given up tossing and turning and gotten up.
It was time to take action. The sooner she found the will, the sooner she could go back to her life.
Which meant leaving Nick.
She frowned as she descended the stairs. That shouldn't have bothered her as much as it did, given she'd only just met him. But the kisses ... Those kisses made her feel like everything was possible.
Utterly irrational. But then Bijou would have said love was irrational.
Love. She shook her head. Lust, more like it. And grief, she decided as she walked into the kitchen. Wanting sex in the face of death was a natural thing.
Fran was there, a crisp white apron around her thick waist. She smiled brightly, taking a cup from the counter and filling it with coffee. "You look like you need this, love."
Some things never changed. She traded a peck on the cheek for the coffee cup and sat at the high counter in the middle of the kitchen.
"You're up early." Fran studied her closely. "You didn't sleep."
She smiled fondly. "You're acting like I'm a teenager again."
"You girls will always be my little lambs." The older woman shrugged. "Old habits die hard. You're the children I never had."
Without Fran, who knows what would have happened to them all. "Do you regret it? Staying here instead of starting a family of your own?"
"Not a day," she said with an emphatic shake of her head. "You're my family."
"But except for Portia, we're all gone."
"There's your mum now, isn't there?" Fran patted her hand fondly. "It's good that you're here for her. You always were the closest one to her."
She wrinkled her nose. Everyone kept saying that. "That's not saying much."
"She missed you most, as happy as she is for your success." Fran pointed a finger at her, her expression fierce; the same way it had been when they were kids and had done something bad. "Don't get that look on your face, miss. It's true, even if she doesn't show it. Everyone makes mistakes, even Lady Jacs. She's still your mum."
Fran was more of a mother than anyone, but Rosalind knew better than to point that out.
"Maybe this is the moment you've been waiting for," Fran said with a knowing nod. "Maybe it's the right time to forge a relationship."
"Maybe," she said, sliding off the stool. But unlikely. Her mother had always had a tall stone wall around her, and Rosalind had fallen off it too many times trying to scale it.
She walked down the long corridor toward her father's study and stuck her tongue out at the centuries-old portraits of her ancestors. Stuffy, unyielding looking people.
Like her father. She hovered in the doorway of the study. It took her a moment to realize she was waiting for permission to be allowed in. Old habits. She shook her head and walked in.
She looked around, feeling the ghost of Reginald Summerhill in the room. The musty smell of the cigars he used to smoke lingered, shadowed by the faint spiciness of his cologne.
Everything looked the same as it ever did. Bookshelves filled with untouched volumes, a massive desk like a sentinel in the middle of the room, and paintings by famous artists that had hung in the house for a couple centuries.