Maggie Petru
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“Start packing, girl,” Jacob Lindsay announced as he slammed the door open so hard it bounced off the wall. “We’re going home. Be out of here before we start seeding.” He threw the weekly paper at the kitchen table and dropped his leather jacket on the hook in the corner.

Grace Lindsay didn’t know why Jacob had gone to town that afternoon, but it seemed safe to question him now that he was pleased with the outcome. “Your business went well then?”

“Perfect. The bastard’s dead and we’re moving to Shady- Brae. Finally. Here. Read it for yourself.” He shoved the Danville Free Press towards her as she set his plate on the table.

While Jacob dug into his hash and home fries, Grace returned to her chair with the paper and opened it to the obituaries on the back page. No question of “the bastard’s” identity. That was how Jacob had referred to his younger brother for as long as she’d known him. The surprise was Keith’s death.

She skimmed the brief announcement for the details her husband didn’t bother to provide. Died February 23, 1926. Last week. Only 36 years old. Such a pity. A Legion funeral. Logical, when the family didn’t step up to handle it. Burial in Toronto’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Predeceased by his parents, Mathew Lindsay and Rebecca Caldwell Lindsay. Survived by his wife, Lydia, of Toronto, and his brother, Jacob, of Danville, Ontario.

The line took her breath away. She read it again. His wife? Keith had a wife? When did that happen? Jacob didn’t know about her. His mother had never mentioned her.

Grace was still struggling with idea of a sister-in-law when the truth hit her. Jacob wouldn’t inherit ShadyBrae. Not if Keith had a wife. Dear God, how was she going to make him accept that? He’d been counting the hours ’til Keith’s death ever since the telegram arrived notifying them of his injuries in Belgium in 1917.

Suspicion set her heart thumping so loudly she feared Jacob would hear it. It was her duty to prepare him. She folded the broadsheet in quarters and set it back in front of her husband, a finger pointing to Lydia’s name.

“What’s this about Keith having a wife?” She kept her tone light. No accusations. Just a polite question.

His mouth full, Jacob shook his head and waved his fork in dismissal.

“Bullshit. Some broad who thought Keith had money. Expects to cash in on his death. Figures there’s no family to know he wasn’t married.”

“You’re sure?”

“He was in the bloody hospital for nine years, woman,” he snarled. “Who’d marry a wreck like that?”

How to phrase it innocently?

“A nurse maybe? Or the sister of one of his roommates?” Just because they didn’t visit Keith didn’t mean no one else did. She held her breath.

“Keith sucked up all the time. If he’d married, the old goat would have bragged about it. His fair-haired boy getting a good wife. The whole nine yards. Naw. It’s a scam. My brother didn’t have any wife.” He glared at her and resumed eating.

Jacob’s opinion was fact and she wasn’t allowed to question it. But Grace couldn’t drop the subject. Not with their future depending on it.

“You’re probably right, but don’t you think you should check?” She hated pleading but when needs must. “He might have left a will.”

“God dammit! There. Is. No. Wife.” He roared, emphasizing each word, drumming it in like facts with a slow child. His face was red and his glassy eyes blazed.

Grace winced. Had Moira heard her father? The child mustn’t come downstairs to investigate.

“And if he did, she doesn’t matter,” he continued, calming slightly. “He couldn’t fuck her so she’s not a real wife. ShadyBrae’s mine. You understand? I was the elder son. I have a right to that place.”

Back to his normal tone, he explained his afternoon’s activities.

“I’ve already listed Abermore. We’re moving as soon as it sells. Five thousand dollars for one hundred of the finest agricultural acres on Sideroad 27. Worth every penny.”

And more than enough to cover Jacob’s gambling debt — which was the whole point of the exercise.

Grace swallowed her protests. It was too late. Jacob had been reckless. Again. Revenge meant more to him than good sense.

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