Trading Hearts is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons in coincidental. Photo courtesy of www.islandhideaways.com.
Humming happily, Natasha closed the door behind her final interviewee for the afternoon. It had taken her three weeks of meetings and consultation with a recruitment agency, but she had finally decided on the persons to staff Emerald Bay House.
Since receiving its first guests over two months earlier, the luxurious west coast property was proving popular with both the local and overseas market, and Natasha and Brian Goddard felt it required its own housekeeping staff, as well as a gardener and security guard.
Natasha was about to call the recruitment agency with her decision when Kim burst into the office, a frantic look on her face. “Tasha, we need to get to the QEH! Daddy had a heart attack!”
“Oh my God!” her sister gasped. Her knees began to buckle and she clutched weakly at the edge of her desk. “What happened?”
Not wanting to waste any more time, Kim grabbed her sister’s handbag and steered her towards the door. “Come on, I’ll explain in the car.”
Natasha paused briefly to tell her secretary what was happening before the two women raced out of the building. As Kim piloted the SUV in the direction of Bridgetown, Natasha breathed deeply, trying to calm her shattered nerves.
“Mummy called from the hospital. She was upset and crying but from what I understand it seems that they received a letter from a lawyer on Jasmine’s behalf. Apparently she’s asking for half of the property.”
“You have got to be kidding!” Natasha exploded angrily. “When Daddy was working his tail off to pay land tax and house insurance she was off jet setting around the world. He just spent thousands to remodel that house and she never contributed a cent!”
Kim nodded in agreement. “But you know how the law is. Granny left it to both of them so she may be entitled to her share.”
The sisters drove the remaining miles to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in anxious silence. Entering the Accident and Emergency department, they saw a tearful Marie sitting in the lobby. The girls ran to their mother, who burst into tears as she embraced them.
Gathering her composure a few minutes later, Marie explained that Frank had regained consciousness and was being attended to by a doctor.
“How Jasmine could do this, after all your father do for her? At the current market value he can’t afford to pay her out, he would have to sell the whole property and give her half!” Marie wailed.
Natasha shook her head vehemently. “I don’t care if I have to mortgage my home and sell the business, you’re not selling that house!”
Marie patted her daughter’s cheek tenderly. “You know your father would never let you do that. You now getting started in life. You don’t need to be dragged into debt over this.”
Natasha began to protest when a young doctor approached the women. “Mrs. Taylor, I’m Dr. Holloway. You can come in to see him now,” he said quietly, nodding a greeting to Natasha and Kim.
The women muttered their thanks and followed the doctor through a sliding door into the inner section of the emergency department. They tried not to stare as doctors and nurses rushed in and out of curtained areas, tending to groaning patients and screaming children.
“Mr. Taylor had what we call a mild myocardial infarction. It was aggravated by high blood pressure, and led to him losing consciousness. We’re going to admit him for a few days for observation and put him on a regimen of meds,” Dr. Holloway explained, halting at an open door.
Natasha, Marie and Kim tried not to gasp out loud at the sight of Frank hooked up to several machines, an oxygen mask obscuring half of his face. He opened his eyes and gave them a weak smile. “I’m still here, you haven’t gotten rid of me yet,” he joked.
His family chuckled, relieved, and Dr. Holloway left the room to give them privacy. Marie promptly climbed on to the bed to embrace her husband, while their daughters came over to plant kisses on his face and salt and pepper hair.
“Thank God you’re able to crack jokes, even if they’re corny,” Natasha teased.
Frank pulled her nose playfully. “You think I would check out before I see my grandchildren? That boy Michael going to marry you just now, you know. I can feel it.”
She blushed, rubbing his feet through the sheet. “We’ll see. Let’s concentrate on getting you better first.”
He frowned. “I’ll be better when I tell Jasmine how I feel about her. She lucky I’m a Christian or I would ‘buse her!”
His heart monitor began to beep loudly and Marie begged her husband to calm down. “We’ll deal with Marie, Frank. Don’t even think about her.”
He sucked his teeth. “And while you at it, ‘buse that boy Matthew for me too. You would think after we help to feed him when he was growing up he wouldn’t get with my ignorant sister and plan foolishness.”
Natasha looked up sharply when she heard Matthew’s name, but her mother silenced her with a slight shake of the head. “Kim, keep your father calm till we get back. Tasha, a minute, please.”
The two exited the room and Natasha whirled to face her mother. “What does Matthew have to do with this?” she asked, her eyes flashing.
Marie pulled a white envelope from her handbag and presented it to her daughter. Natasha glanced at the Whittaker Mason Sealy letterhead before quickly reading the one page document.
“I can’t believe that boy would do this to us,” Marie said despondently. “He getting on as if we did him something instead of the other way around.”
Natasha folded the letter and shook her head. “This has nothing to do with us personally, I bet you. Matthew’s all about money, not mere revenge. It can’t be a coincidence that he’s representing both King Properties and Jasmine. I think he put her up to this to help them out.”
She checked her watch. It was just after 3 p.m. “Mummy, I’m heading to his office to get some answers. Tell Daddy I’ll be back soon.”
After retrieving her car keys from Kim, she hurried to the parking lot. On the way to Matthew’s chambers on Pinfold Street she dialed Michael’s cell. His phone went directly to voicemail and she left a brief message explaining what had happened to her father.
She pulled into the last available spot in front of the law firm and tried to calm her nerves. Five years had passed since her shadow had darkened the doorway of Whittaker Mason, as it was then known. Now that Matthew was a partner she was aware that he had home ground advantage, but she had no intention of leaving without some answers on his latest treachery.