This month’s Members Write Now features an excerpt from WNBA member J.L. Regen’s novel Secret Desires, which is now available in paperback.
Nothing in Margo Simmons’s life comes easy. She can’t claim the inheritance from her uncle until she is gainfully employed for a year. She meets the man of her dreams but he is still emotionally tied to his deceased wife. She becomes the guardian to a recently orphaned child. Margo must evolve to become a woman determined to fulfill the secret desires locked in her heart.
Margo Simmons gripped the edges of the leather chair. Devastated after receiving a letter about her Uncle Harry’s death, she didn’t know what to expect from Mr. Steinberg. Her only other encounter with lawyers had been during the reading of her father’s will. Though she was only five at the time, she remembered her mother’s anguish over losing her husband and being a single parent.
An older gentleman clothed in pinstripes walked into the office as she reflected on the past.
“I’m sorry your mother couldn’t be here for the reading,” the family lawyer said. “You’ve grown into a lovely young woman.”
Margo blinked back tears at memories of good times shared with Uncle Harry. “Not so young. I’m twenty-three.”
The portly man squeezed himself into a swivel chair and peered at her over wire-rimmed bifocals.
Margo gripped her knees to steady her nerves. “They’re downsizing at her dress shop. She was afraid to leave early. My stepfather is furious because Uncle Harry didn’t leave him any money.”
Mr. Steinberg nodded in sympathy at the pained expression on the young woman’s face.
“It saddens me to hear Jerry hasn’t changed. However, since you’re the only one present to hear your uncle’s will, I’ll get to the point. Harry has left you his Riverside Drive condominium and the sum of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.”
Margo jumped up from the chair and hugged the man. “This is a miracle. I can’t wait to tell my Mom. She’s wanted me to get out on my own. Now I can.”
The attorney pushed bifocals up his fleshy nose. “In today’s market, two hundred and fifty thousand dollars won’t last long unless invested wisely.”
The only thing Margo new about investments was she didn’t have enough money to make any.
“Mr. Steinberg, do you know of someone who can advise me so I can make wise investments?”
He raised his hand. “Not so fast my dear. Your Uncle stipulated that you be gainfully employed for a year before you can claim your inheritance. The last time your mother and I spoke, you were studying to be a French teacher.”
Margo stared at the vibrant red dragon design on an Oriental rug and thought of the threadbare one under her rickety dining room table. Her eyes darted from his monogrammed attaché case to her worn shoulder strap bag. She had to find a way to tell him of her predicament.
“I’ve been looking for a teaching job for two years, but I am on the substitute list and have a part-time job at a dry cleaner so I’m employed. I know it’s not a professional job, but it’s respectable work.”
Mr. Steinberg made notes in her uncle’s folder. “I’m afraid that won’t do, my dear. Harry loved you but was very clear on the type of employment.”
A tear rolled down Margo’s cheek. “I don’t know how much longer I can live at home. Mama is working twice as hard since Jerry was laid off from his job at the newspaper. He couldn’t get the hang of technology. He’s been on disability from an old back injury. Could I at least speak to an investment counsellor to get an idea of what to do with my inheritance? It would give me something to dream about.”
J.L. Regen’s book was inspired by a real life story of lovers who join hearts against many odds. She lives in the New York metropolitan area, is a published photojournalist, has short suspense stories online, and has taught English as a Second Language to students around the globe. This is her first contemporary romance. She has also published three nonfiction books and is crafting a historical suspense set in World War II. Visit her website at Joansbookshelf.com.