“You want a share of my inheritance?” Michael Stralbo glared at the woman in front of him. “Well how’s this, Aunty Steele? When my parents died and you took custody of me and became executor of their estates, they had over two hundred thousand dollars in the bank and owned a house and a car outright. All of that was left to me in their wills, to be used for my support, benefit and education. You got your hands on it, it disappeared and I was a ‘burden’ living on your ‘charity’. What you’re going to get is a letter from my solicitor. Now, will you please get out of my way?”
“You can’t talk to me like that! You owe me everything. Apologise right now!” For a moment Henry thought Michael was going to back down but the cringe disappeared and his back straightened.
“No,” Michael’s voice seemed deeper and his Aunty Steele stepped back, her face blanching. “Never again. My parents trusted you but they shouldn’t have or you changed. You’re not the boss of me now and you never will be again.”
He stepped aside, pushed past the older woman and walked out the gate. By the time he drew level with Henry he had an odd stricken look on his face. Henry asked, “Do you want me to walk with you? I don’t have a car either.”
“That might be good.” Michael’s voice was back to its normal sound now. “Talking back to her felt really weird. I-I sounded just like my father.”
“She seemed to think that was weird too,” offered Henry.
“I lived with her for twelve years after my parents died, before she kicked me out when I turned eighteen,” went on Michael, “and she was always telling me I should be grateful she’d taken me in and how I could be in care instead. How if it wasn’t for her I’d be starving and cold but really though my parents had provided for me and she’d just – taken it. Mr Hordren had the money traced, she’s still got it in a bank somewhere.”
“Look,” said Henry firmly, “you’ve had a nasty shock this morning. Why don’t you come back to my parents’ place for lunch, even if you don’t want to look through your stuff there.”
“Yes,” Michael smiled a little vaguely. “I think I’d like that. Thank you.”