A Worthy Heir
Pam Spencer’s eyes flew quickly back to the message in the Public Notice section of the morning
tycoon Fiona Bainbridge has disowned her only heir, and seeks a worthy heir to inherit her millions. If
you think you might qualify, call Bainbridge Corporation for details.
Without taking time to think
about it, for fear she’d change her mind, Pam picked up the phone and dialed the number she hastily looked up in
the Yellow Pages of the phone book.
The next morning found Pam
sitting in a huge conference room at an oversized oval table, staring at an application that resembled a
combination of a job application and a health insurance application.
Glancing around the room at
several other people filling out the same kind of forms, Pam felt the old bitterness rising up inside her again.
Nobody here deserves this more than Tom and me, she thought.
At the end of the application
was a request for a brief essay on why the applicant felt they were worthy to become the Bainbridge heir. Pamela
had no problem writing an impressive essay to answer that question.
She felt the beginning of a tension headache as she turned the key in the door of the small two-bedroom
apartment she and Tom shared.
She felt it quickly magnify
as she became aware of Tom, sitting in his wheelchair at their small dinette table, holding the newspaper. Drat!
She’d meant to throw the Public Notice section away before she left this morning.
“Pamela Spencer, what
“What’s what?” she innocently
asked, as she tossed her purse onto the table and headed for the medicine cabinet to get something for her
“Don’t even for one minute
try to act like you don’t know why this notice about Bainbridge Corporation is circled in red, with the telephone
number written beside it. I might be crippled, but I’m not crazy. Not yet.”
Pamela ran water into a glass
and swallowed the pills, stalling for a little time before answering him.
“I’m coming, Tom,” she
reluctantly responded, pulling out a chair and sitting down at the table across from him.
“Now, what do you want to
“I want to know what crazy
stunt you’ve pulled,” he answered through clenched teeth.
Tom hadn’t been the same
since his accident. His once happy-go-lucky nature had disappeared and been replaced by a sour, bitter disposition.
Tom, her beloved older brother, who had always looked after and taken care of her, had become dependent on her
instead, and it was slowly destroying him.
“Tom, please listen to me
before you jump to conclusions,” she pleaded. “Don’t you understand what this could do for us? It could give us
back all we’ve lost. It could give you that back surgery you so desperately need.”
“Do you honestly believe a
company that I filed a lawsuit against would consider making you an heir to the owner’s millions of dollars? Pam,
get real. They’ll laugh in your face.”
“Maybe they won’t find out
that you tried to sue them and lost.” Pam was an incurable optimist, even in the face of the most desperate times.
She always felt there was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
“Pam, you’re dreaming again.
Give it up. Accept the fact that I’m stuck in this chair for life. Stop trying to fix my life and get on with
yours. You’re too young to be burdened down with trying to take care of me. Trust me, I can exist without
Pam met Tom’s stubborn stare
eye to eye. He might have lost his happy-go-lucky nature, but he still had the Spencer stubbornness. Well, she had
a good case of the same stubbornness, and she wasn’t about to give up on him.
“We’ve had this discussion
enough in the past that you should know by now I’m not listening. You can’t give up, Tom. We’ve got to find a way
to win this battle. The doctors say you can walk again if you could only get the surgery.”
“Yeah, that’s what they say.
But not a one of them has offered to pay for it out of their own pocket, have they? They won’t touch me without
insurance, and how many insurance companies have we called? A hundred? More? None of them will touch me because
Bainbridge Corporation insurance dropped me, and I have a pre-existing condition. And yet, you preach to me about
not giving up. Pam, you live in a world of denial, but I live in the real world of facts. The fact of this damn
chair I’ve been sentenced to for life.”
“No! I’m weary of this
discussion. Now, once again, what did you do this morning?”
“I went down to Bainbridge
Corporation and put in an application to become heir to the inheritance.” Pam’s chin went up in defiance as she
glared at Tom.
“Well, you can call them and
tell them that you withdraw your application.” Tom glared back at her.
It had been a long time since
they’d argued about anything. They’d never argued much, since Tom was seven years older than Pam and had always
been her “protector,” especially after losing both their parents within a year of each other from terminal
illnesses. But occasionally they did disagree, and when they did, it was usually a strong confrontation.
Pam’s headache was getting
worse, and she didn’t feel like arguing anymore, so she said, “Okay, Tom, I’ll call them later today and tell them
to withdraw my application.” She hoped the resignation in her voice sounded sincere, so he’d believe her and drop
the subject. In actuality, she had no intention of calling and withdrawing the application.
“That’s a good girl,” Tom
said. He wheeled his chair to the section of the apartment that was designated as the living room and clicked on
Pam watched sadly as he found
one of the programs he watched each day, just trying to keep his mind off the constant pain he was in, both
mentally and physically. She knew the pain he suffered from his back injury must be horrible, because she saw him
grimace sometimes when he didn’t think she was watching. And the frown lines between his eyes were deepening each
Since the insurance company
had dropped him they couldn’t afford the proper prescription drugs that would help alleviate the pain, so all he
took for his constant hurting was over-the-counter medicine, which barely helped at all.
Damn the insurance companies!
And damn the money-hungry doctors who wouldn’t help him because he didn’t have insurance!
And since all their problems
had started the day Tom got hurt on the job at Bainbridge Corporation, justice would surely be done if the
Bainbridge money helped him get well.
Feeling justified in her decision to pursue the Bainbridge money, and to even deceive Tom into believing she would
withdraw the application, she proceeded to get ready to go to one of the two jobs she worked at just to keep their
heads above the financial waters that kept threatening to drown them.
A few days later, as Pam worked busily at her main job as office manager of a small law firm, the phone
“Winger & Thomas,” she
answered, “this is Pam.”
“This is she.”
“Miss Spencer, this is Sharon
Anderson, Fiona Bainbridge’s executive assistant. Ms. Bainbridge wants to meet with you at ten o’clock tomorrow
morning. Can you be here?” The voice sounded cold and disapproving.
“Yes, I can be there.” Pam’s
pounding heart almost drowned out her voice. “Where do I go for the meeting?”
“Just come to the main office
of Bainbridge Corporation, and we’ll direct you from there.”
Before Pam could agree, the
phone went dead. What’s stuck in her craw? she wondered, staring briefly at the receiver in her hand.
Sharon Anderson was as cold and disapproving in person as she’d seemed on the phone, Pam decided as she sat in
the plush office of Bainbridge Corporation and waited to be called in for her interview with Fiona
Sharon’s platinum blonde hair
seemed totally out of place against her dark complexion and almost black eyes. Eyes that held contempt when they
rested briefly on Pam.
“This way,” Sharon directed,
leading led Pam down a long hallway.
Even with her pounding heart
and sweaty palms Pam couldn’t help but be amused at the tight-fitting dress that clung to and tried to ride up
Sharon’s slim hips as she led the way. Why do women wear clothes they have to fight with all day? she
Sharon knocked briefly on the
door before she opened it to expose a large, luxurious office, with a desk in front of windows that looked out over
the Dallas skyline.
“Miss Spencer is here, Ms
Bainbridge,” Sharon announced to the back of a tall leather chair that was facing the window. Even though Pam was
aware of the slight hint of disdain on her name, Sharon’s voice was noticeably softer when she spoke to the person
in the chair.
“Thank you, Sharon,” a strong
female voice answered. “You may go now.”
With a barely audible sound
of contempt, Sharon closed the door behind her.
Slowly the tall chair turned
to face Pam, who was still standing in the middle of the room.
She had wondered what the
mysterious Fiona Bainbridge would look like, but she would never have expected the small, frail figure that faced
her. Especially after hearing the strong voice first. The piercing blue eyes that seemed to flash little rays of
light as they perused Pam looked out of place on the withered face.
After what seemed to Pam like
an eternity, a wide smile broke across the thin face, reminding her of sunshine bursting out from behind a severe
“Perfect!” Fiona declared. “I
like what I see. Now if I like what’s inside your head as much as how your outside looks, we may have something
going on here. Come. Have a seat.” And she pointed to a plush, upholstered chair that was opposite her
Pam sat down, mesmerized by
the person in front of her. The eyes and voice seemed to belong to a different person than the tiny frame in front
of her. She fought the urge to search the room for a hidden projector that was hologramming the image she was
“Relax. I just want to ask
you a few questions. This shouldn’t take long. My staff has done a very good background check on you, and I have it
right here in your file.”
And that’s supposed to
make me feel better? Pam
“What makes you think you’re
a worthy heir to inherit my money that I’ve worked so hard for?” The question was shot at Pam with no
“I don’t think I’m worthy.
There’s no way I could be deserving of your money, but I need it, and that’s why I answered your ad.” Pam had never
been one to mince words when stating her point of view.
“Very good answer. But why do
you need my money?”
“I have a brother who’s in
desperate need of back surgery. He lost his job, and his insurance, and can’t get new insurance, so we can’t afford
“So you’re asking for the
money for your brother and don’t care anything about it for yourself?”
“So you’re trying to tell me
you haven’t had any daydreams about buying fancy cars and clothes and maybe a new house with my money? My report
says you live in a small two-bedroom apartment in a complex that’s not exactly in the best neighborhood.” Pam felt
pierced to the soul as those blue eyes penned her to her chair.
“No. I’ve only thought about
the money for my brother’s back surgery. I’ve never had those things you mentioned before, and I’m sure I can live
the rest of my life without them.”
“But they would be nice,
“A gold-plated commode
would be nice, but I don’t daydream about having one,” Pam answered, knowing she was being disrespectful. She’d
known this wasn’t going to be easy, and that she’d have to swallow a lot of pride. Remember, you’re doing this
for Tom, she chided herself. Keep your cool. She expected anything but the cackling laugh that burst
from the woman.
“Spunk! That’s good. Would
that brother happen to be Tom Spencer?”
Here it was. The question Pam
had been dreading the most.
“So, you, Pam Spencer, think
you can come in here and try to get my millions for your brother, who tried to sue my company?”
“Mrs. Bainbridge, your staff
seems to have done a good job in checking my background. Surely, you have the facts before you as to why Tom tried
to sue Bainbridge Corporation?”
“It says here that he was
careless and got hurt, and tried to blame my company.” The eyes flashed a blue streak to Pam.
“Is that all the report
says?” Pam knew that if she would ever lose control, now would be the time.
“Basically. It does mention
he lost the case.”
“If that’s all the report
says, then your staff didn’t do a very good job at all! Does it mention that he climbed up on a ladder to try to
fix a light fixture that was threatening to fall and hurt, or maybe kill, some of your employees? Does it mention
that a work order had been turned in to your maintenance staff two weeks in a row, and nothing had been done about
it? Does it mention that one of your maintenance staff bumped the ladder that Tom was standing on and knocked him
off, causing major damage to his back? And Mrs. Bainbridge, does the report mention that Tom only sued for the
exact amount that the doctors quoted him for the surgery?” Pam choked, tears threatening to spill from her
“Go on,” the voice directed,
a little softer now.
“Mrs. Bainbridge, I don’t
give a flying flip about your money for myself. I just want my brother’s life back. I just want justice done. He’s
confined to a wheelchair, in so much pain he can’t hold down a job. Your insurance company dropped him when your
company fired him, and no other insurance company will touch him. We can’t find a doctor that will do the surgery,
because we don’t have insurance. We can’t get prescription drugs, because we don’t have a doctor. And even if we
could afford correct drugs for the pain, I don’t know if he could hold down a job.”
“It says here that you work
two jobs. Tell me about them.”
“I work from eight a.m. until
five p.m. as office manager at a small law firm, Winger and Thomas. Then I work from six-thirty p.m. until nine
p.m. cleaning offices in the building where my office is.”
“That’s some pretty long
hours. Would you quit those jobs if you were awarded my money?”
“No. I enjoy my
work—although,” Pam added, as an afterthought, with a small smile playing with the corners of her mouth, “I might
quit the cleaning job. That kind of hurts my own back.”
Again, the cackling laugh
ripped through the room.
“Do you have documentation of
Tom’s lawsuit and records of all the transactions?”
“I have records of everything
that was ever said or done,” Pam answered, almost daring to hope. “I can get them to you today by courier, if you’d
like to see them.”
“You really aren’t easily
daunted, are you?”
“Not when I believe I’m right
about something.” Pam stared directly into the blue fire across the desk from her.
Fiona Bainbridge held Pam’s
direct gaze for what seemed an eternity, but Pam was determined not to let her eyes waver.
Finally the older woman
smiled and broke the stare. “I’ll be in touch with you in a few days. I’ll let you know one way or the other what I
decide in your case.”
Wanting to say more, but not
wanting to push her luck, Pam reluctantly got up from her chair, wondering how to go about ending the interview.
But the question was answered for her as Fiona Bainbridge suddenly swiveled her chair around to face the window.
Once again, Pam was staring at the high back of the oversized leather chair.
bitch, Pam thought, as she turned and
left the room.
It took Pam a while to fight the Dallas traffic, but finally back at the office of Winger & Thomas, she
found a note on her desk that Tom had called. In fact, he had called twice.
Drat! She hadn’t wanted him
to know she wasn’t at work, and she definitely didn’t want him to know where she was.
“Jan,” she called to the
receptionist who sat just outside her door, “did Tom sound okay when he called?”
Immediately, Jan appeared at
Pam’s door. “Yes, just a little irritated.”
“So what’s new?” Pam
regretted the words as soon as they were out, but Jan knew her situation, and sympathized with her.
“I know. I remember when Tom
used to call here and joke around with me, but now he acts like a different person. Even when I try to joke with
him, he doesn’t respond.”
“Oh well, I guess I’d better
call and see what he wants.” Resignation sounded in Pam’s voice. The morning had been draining, and she wasn’t
looking forward to having to explain anything to Tom.
“Tom, it’s me, are you okay?”
she asked when he picked up the phone.
“Pam, you need to come home
Panic clutched Pam. “Tom, are
you okay?” she demanded into the phone.
“Just get home!” The receiver
Pam had never heard that tone
in Tom’s voice. And he definitely never demanded anything of her. He didn’t sound sick. He sounded furious.
Great! He must have found out where she’d been this morning.
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