“Our family. I’m going to adopt them.”
“Sure, sweetheart, whatever you say.” He was fumbling with her skirt. “Where’s the goddamn button on this thing? Ahhh,” he said at the sound of ripping cloth. “There’s your button.”
Samantha followed Mike out of the elevator, her stomach going ahead of her like a tugboat that she was moving in the wake of. Just this morning Blair’s tests had shown that Samantha was indeed carrying twins, and while Sam sat on her chair, stunned, tears of happiness streaming down her face, Mike listened to the prenatal care that Blair prescribed for her.
Afterward, they went to F.A.O. Schwarz and bought toys, then bought maternity wear for Samantha. She wasn’t big enough to need anything but loose garments yet, but she had insisted on wearing a maternity top out of the store.
“Show-off!” Mike had said, grinning with pride at her, wondering if in two weeks, when they were to be married in Colorado, in a reception with nearly five hundred guests, she’d wear a white maternity gown. Sam was so proud of being pregnant that he had no doubt that she would.
The only sour note in the day was that this morning an express letter had arrived from his brother Frank and in it was a key. Mike hadn’t yet told Sam about the letter or the key, because the letter concerned Maxie’s will, which she had given to Frank, naming him as her executor. Sam hadn’t had enough time to recover from Maxie’s death, and Mike knew that the death of Doc from what had apparently been a suicide had also affected her.
Maxie had left a letter telling that she had taken Half Hand Joe’s diamonds with her when she left Louisville in 1964 and gone to Amsterdam and sold them. She’d also spent a little of the cash Half Hand had left her, but she was afraid to spend too much of it, afraid of being caught and leading a trail back to Cal and her family.
Frank, who, among other things, had a law degree, had made out the will for her and with his usual finesse had asked her what she’d done with the millions she must have received for the diamonds. Frank wrote Mike that Maxie had laughed and said she’d spent every penny of it. Mike could almost hear his brother’s disdain for that remark, because Frank didn’t believe in buying anything that wasn’t going to triple in value.
One of the things Maxie had bought was an apartment in New York, where she’d lived in relative seclusion for many years after she left her husband and son, having decided to live in the city where she could keep an eye on what Doc was doing. Maxie told Frank that her biggest regret in life was the picture that had appeared in the newspaper after Samantha was born, for it had caused her to have to leave and, ultimately, it had caused the death of Allison Elliot. Doc had tired of searching for Maxie after he’d found her in Louisville only to have her disappear as she’d done after she’d crippled him in 1928. So, years later, he’d sent a man to find out if her family knew anything about where she’d gone. Unfortunately, Allison had been the one the man had caught.
In her will, Maxie left the apartment and the contents to Samantha, and that was where he was taking Sam now, having waited until she was in such good spirits that nothing would be able to bring her down.
Still glowing from Blair’s report, Samantha floated into the apartment—and came up short at a picture of herself as a baby in a silver frame on a narrow table in the foyer.
“This is my grandmother’s apartment,” Samantha said softly to Mike, and he nodded.
With her hands on her belly that she dearly wished were larger, she walked about the apartment. It was spacious, what the realtors called a classic six, a penthouse with three terraces. Samantha thought the apartment was decorated beautifully, not contrived as too many interior decorators made a place look. Maxie’s apartment was the home of a beautiful woman to whom taste was as natural as breathing.
When Samantha walked back into the living room after exploring the other rooms, Mike was leaning against the mantelpiece, an odd expression on his face.
“I think I know what Maxie bought with Half Hand’s millions.” When Samantha looked puzzled, he said, “Did you look at the pictures in this place?”
Like an English country house, the walls were covered with paintings, as were the tabletops and nearly every flat surface. “They’re lovely,” Sam said. “Don’t you like them?”
Mike looked at a tiny watercolor on the mantel. “When I was in college I had to take an elective course in art so I chose something called Lost Art. It was a study of art that has disappeared over the centuries. A lot of architecture has been torn down, gold sculpture melted, jewelry broken up, that sort of thing, and many paintings have disappeared in the last one hundred years. The Russian Revolution, World War II, et cetera. I wasn’t seriously interested in the course, but if my memory is right, I think I see three of those paintings on the wall behind you.”
Pausing, he waited as Samantha turned to look at the oils—French Impressionists. “If my memory for paintings isn’t good, I do remember numbers,” Mike continued. “Sam, if these paintings are some of the lost art and if you can prove ownership, I think you may be a very rich young lady.”
“Very rich?” she asked.
“Very, very, very rich.” He quirked an eyebrow at her. “What do you plan to do with your newly found wealth?”
Smiling, Samantha answered instantly. “I am going to open some nursing homes,” she said, as though she’d been thinking about what she’d do if she suddenly came into a great deal of money. “Nice nursing homes. Places where the people are treated with respect and the lights don’t buzz. And I’m going to call them ‘Maxie’s.’ ” Then, with a soft smile of satisfaction, a smile that conveyed her feeling of irony, she said, “And the first one I’m going to open will be in Doc’s Connecticut estate.”
With a startled look, Samantha put her hand on her stomach. “Mike, do you think it’s too early to feel the twins kick?”
“Yes,” he said softly. “I think that was Maxie giving her approval for what you want to do. Come on,” he said, holding out his arm for her, “let’s go feed my babies.” Pausing a moment, he looked at the late afternoon sun that touched her hair, turning it golden. “All three of my babies.”