No Hard Feelings by Marta Tandori
Some secrets can’t stay hidden, especially when they involve murder…
Liz Farrell is still reeling over the murder of her mother almost a year earlier at the hands of her father, Leo Bauer, when she receives the startling news that she’s inherited her estranged father’s sizable estate. Unable to come to terms with her father’s unspeakable legacy, Liz and her grandmother, Kate Stanton, visit Leo’s property in Benedict Canyon, desperately hoping to find closure. Instead, they find a bunker hidden under an old hunting lodge that had been used by Leo at one time to hold Liz’s mother captive. Horrified by the discovery, Liz immediately orders the bunker filled and the lodge destroyed but the ensuing demolition quickly comes to a grinding halt after a man’s remains are discovered in a shallow grave at the base of the old lodge. Once the press get wind of the gruesome discovery, rumors quickly surface, linking the remains to a murder spree that took place at the same address almost half a century earlier; a murder spree conveniently covered up by the governor at the time who also happened to be Leo Bauer’s stepbrother. Liz and Kate’s efforts to uncover the truth behind the murders are soon hampered by family secrets and a killer who’s intent on finishing the job started almost fifty years ago.
The older attorney looked at his colleague before placing a comforting hand over Kate’s. “We apologize for upsetting you … both of you. My colleague and I cannot even begin to imagine what you’ve gone through, and although we wish there was some way to avoid having this meeting, there isn’t.”
Kate blinked several times, forcing herself to remain stoic. “I understand. Please continue, Mr. Ludlow.”
He cleared his throat uncomfortably. “After your—Karl Bauer died, he left the bulk of his estate to his son, Leo. It appears that Mrs. Sanborn and Leo had had a falling out a number of years ago, and as a result, she left her family fortune to her older son, Irving. However, the bulk of her personal estate, valued well in excess of a quarter billion dollars, she has left to Maria Weaver.”
Liz’s head shot up. “But my mother’s dead!” she cried harshly.
Nigel Hawthorne held up his hands. “Yes, we are, of course, well aware of that. According to California succession laws, since the named heir to Mrs. Sanborn’s estate is deceased, the estate then automatically reverts to Maria Weaver’s children … in this case you, Ms. Farrell.”
At a loss for words, Liz stared at him blankly.
Nigel Hawthorne glanced at Kate, but she sat there holding her granddaughter’s hand, saying nothing so he forged ahead. “And your father, Ms. Farrell—”
“Please don’t call Leo Bauer my father!” The words were torn from Liz as tears spilled unwittingly down her cheeks.
The attorney reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a white handkerchief, which he held out to Liz. “We’re again very sorry to have upset you both.”
“It’s not your fault, Mr. Hawthorne,” Kate told him firmly. “My granddaughter and I realized coming into this meeting that it would probably bring up some very painful issues. Please continue.”
He nodded. “Ms. Farrell’s father, Leo Bauer, also left his entire estate to Maria Weaver.”
Liz jumped up. “Is this some kind of a sick joke?” she cried. “First, he kills my mother, and then he leaves her everything?”
“Leo Bauer’s will was executed back in the late seventies and was never updated,” he explained. “And again, because your mother is deceased,” he paused delicately, “you are your mother’s heir by succession.”
Liz shook her head. “I don’t want it … any of it.”
By the time Marta Tandori reached fifth grade, she was an avid reader and writer with a stack of short stories collecting dust in a box under her bed but it wasn’t until she began studying acting in her early twenties at the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York that Marta realized acting wasn’t really her passion – writing fiction was. What followed was years of writing workshops as well as correspondence courses in writing for children through the Institute of Children’s Literature in Connecticut. She credits the award winning author, Troon Harrison, as the instructor who helped her find her literary voice. Marta’s first work of middle-grade fiction, BEING SAM, NO MATTER WHAT was published in 2005, followed by EVERY WHICH WAY BUT KUKU! in 2006. With her more recent endeavors, Marta has shifted her writing focus to mysteries and suspense having “strong female protagonists with closets full of nasty skeletons and the odd murder or two to complicate their already complicated lives”. To learn more about Marta, please visit her website at http://martatandori.com or her Facebook Author Page at www.facebook.com/MartaTandoriAuthor.
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