The Doctor's Choice(7)

By: J. D. Faver

He gave her a one-sided grin in response.

Crystal brought their steaming plates at that moment, and set a basket of fluffy fat biscuits between them.

Cami seized on a hot biscuit and buttered it. She bit into the flaky layers, inhaling the fragrance as she closed her eyes.

“Good biscuit?” he asked.

She opened her eyes, realizing that he was laughing at her. She colored slightly, but took another bite accompanied by a piece of sausage. “Yes,” she agreed, without pause. “Med school doesn’t allow one to eat regular meals.”

“It doesn’t seem to have done you any harm.” Once again he seemed to be appraising her. “You do favor Silky in her younger days."

She narrowed her gaze. “You’re not much older than I. How do you know how she looked in her younger days?”

“Pictures. She’s part of the local history. There are a great many photos of her around here. In fact,” he smiled conspiratorially, “Doc has quite a collection.”

Cami swallowed, giving herself a chance to consider her great aunt in another light, a woman with a long-time sweetheart. She had to smile when she realized the man sitting across from her had used such an old-fashioned term, not boyfriend, not lover, but sweetheart. Perhaps he wasn’t as cold as she’d first thought.

When they had finished eating, Breck drove her to his place of business in the next block. The store front office was in a one-story building with a plate glass window. The words, Breckenridge T. Ryan, Attorney at Law, were lettered in ornate gold script. A young woman, barely past her teens, sat at an old oak desk that had darkened with age. Her shiny auburn hair had been pulled into a high ponytail. Smiling widely, she bounced to her feet.

“Oh, good morning Mr. Ryan,” she said breathlessly. “Mr. Kent called and wants you to call him. I opened your mail and put it on your desk.”

“That’s fine. I’ll be meeting with Dr. Carmichael so hold my calls.” He escorted Cami into his private office. A gleaming square mahogany desk dominated the room. His computer was ensconced in an ancient roll-top desk against the wall. A leather chair was turned to the side between the two desks as though unable to decide which matters were most urgent.

He waved her to one of a pair of leather wing chairs and took his place behind the desk. Making a show of opening the folder containing Aunt Silky’s will, he read it, explaining to Cami that she was the main beneficiary of her aunt’s estate. There were minor bequests to T-Bone and to Frank, and a lump sum to the local church for the building fund. She gave a piece of her jewelry to each of her three lady friends. Cami also inherited the registered German Shepherd, “Silky’s Shadow” and “Silky’s Silver Moon,” the beautiful Persian.

“Moon! That’s what Aunt Silky called her.”

He nodded solemnly.

Cami shivered when he read that she also inherited Silky’s livestock including her beloved paint stallion, “Silky’s Paint the Town Red”. She quickly brushed away the tears spilling down her cheeks, refusing to allow Breck access to her feelings about the horse that killed her aunt.

“Now comes the difficult part,” he said, shuffling the papers.

“Difficult?” She stared into eyes so dark she couldn’t see the pupils.

“It seems that Silky was determined that her only living relative should reside on the ranch. Of course, she counted on living to the ripe old age of one hundred and dying in her bed.”

Cami sniffled. “That’s what I always thought would happen.”

“Unfortunately, her accidental departure may make it difficult for you.” He set the papers aside and gazed at her, sitting on the edge of the large chair. “It seems there’s a stipulation that you live at the ranch for one year to be able to inherit. If, after that time, you wish to dispose of the property, you are free to do so and may use the proceeds in any way you see fit.”

The weight of his words settled heavily upon her. “That’s impossible. I’m beginning a fellowship in immunology in two weeks.”

“It’s not impossible. You may have to put that off for a while or you inherit nothing.”

“But, Aunt Silky helped with my expenses while I finished school.” She rubbed her fingers over the brass nail heads around the leather armrests.

“I was under the impression that you’d finished with med-school,” he said.

“I was…I am a licensed physician…Internal Medicine,” she said. “But I want to specialize in the field of immunology. I want to do research.”

She blinked away the tears stinging her eyes.