Cassandra Martins was pacing – again. She had done a lot of that lately, mostly in her own home, and was getting tired of it. This time, at least the location was different. This time, she was pacing in freakin' Iowa. In front of a golden sign with black italic letters.
Ackerman, McCarthy & Dunnes. Attorneys at law.
She was so nervous that, had she smoked, she would've been on her third pack that day. Something to that extent. She didn't know if it was humanly possible to inhale that much crap, but she sure would have tried.
She looked down the street once more. Still nobody that could qualify as Alex. She did notice a small coffee shop though, squeezed in between the massive high-rise buildings that made up part of the business district of Des Moines. The perfect place for a drink with a man she had not seen since he'd been a dependent little boy. It was hard to imagine. In their second phone call since 'the letter', her and Alex had agreed to meet up early today, to 'catch up', if you could call it that. She laughed at her thought process. Catching up is what friends did when one came back from vacation. How did you call the first encounter between two siblings who, up until a few days ago, hadn't even known if the other was still alive? Surly the word for that kind of catching up had yet to be invented.
She raised her eyes skyward and took in the structure that housed the attorney's headquarters. The building looked daunting and posh, and she had no idea how her father's last wishes had made it into the offices of a law firm that clearly didn't operate on the low end of the market.
When she scanned the area again, she saw an extremely handsome guy walking towards her, holding hands with a pretty blonde who appeared to be just as nervous as him. She took a calming breath while her stomach was doing flip flops. This was it.
As Alex and Izzie were walking down a busy street, looking for the number they had been given, he relied on his girlfriend's navigation skills to actually locate the correct address. He was too busy being anxious. He could not concentrate on numbers when every passing woman could be a potential long lost sister. He couldn't help but speculate…The phone calls between him and Cassie had been somewhat 'distant', so he wondered if their first encounter would be the same. Or worse, uneasy and awkward.
As he was about to find out, there was no time for awkwardness because as soon as Cassie had spotted them, she flung herself into his arms. Alex Karev reminded himself that he did not cry period, but as he was hugging his sister for the first time in his adult life, he had to conjure up an enormous amount of strength to keep his silent promise from back in the day.
After what felt like a second, but in reality had probably been a good minute at least, Cassie pulled back and, with tears streaming down her face, threw her arms around Izzie, who had started crying the second the siblings met. He could not put into words how much he loved that about her – her ability to care for others so deeply that she was just as invested in the outcome of this story as if it was her own.
As he watched both women sob openly in the middle of the street, he closed his eyes for a second, trying to keep his emotions in check. It was too unimaginable that whatever was happening was actually happening, so when his sister hugged him again, a silent tear made its way down his cheek. Well, what the hell...Cassie was one of the few persons who'd seen him cry before - no reason to start pretending now...
After regaining his composure, and after the initial 'shock' had worn off for everyone, Alex and his two companions decided on some coffee after all, even though he seriously doubted that caffeine would help calm their nerves.
A couple of hours, and some 'catching up' later, brother and sister entered the office they had been directed to a few minutes earlier. They immediately noticed another woman in her sixties, sitting in one of the plush leather chairs provided for clients. She had obviously just stopped crying from the looks of it, as she was dabbing her swollen, red eyes with a tissue. When said woman introduced herself as Mrs. Karev, the pair looked at each other. Alex was glad that even two decades of no contact had not taken away the ability to read his sister's mind. He suspected it still worked the other way around as well.
'Mrs. Karev' shook both of their hands and offered her sincerest condolences, leaving no doubt in Alex's heart that her husband's attention to detail had suffered from his drug intake over the years. He wondered briefly if the lady opposite of him had even known her husband had had kids at all, but since she didn't seem to be too shocked by their presence, maybe he had fed her some half-truths about the bitch that was his ex-wife, who had kept his beloved children from him. In any case, Marie Karev seemed to be honestly devastated by their father's death, which, to Alex, was a miracle in itself. Cassie looked like she was no less astounded. She opened her mouth to say something when Mr. Jasper Dunnes, an unfortunate looking fellow by any means, 'inheritance attorney extraordinaire' according to his own introductions, entered.
Not even five minutes later, the deed was done. House, car, dog, savings bond - everything went to the second wife. While that did not come as a surprise to neither Cassie nor Alex, the simple fact that their father had even owned a house, car, dog and savings bond, left them speechless. Before they could ask any questions however, Mr. Extraordinaire had stuffed his papers back into his ugly looking green folder, looked at his Rolex and then, from behind his Gucci glasses, at them, daring them to speak. He obviously had more important matters to take care of. So when, after a good three seconds, nobody had opened their mouth, he all but jumped up from his chair, shaking everyone's hands quickly. And like a whirlwind, as fast as he had entered, he was out of the room again, leaving Alex to wonder if the past few minutes had even taken place. But then he looked to his left and saw two women he never thought he'd see. One was Cassie, the other a 'second' Mrs. Karev - the latter being the actual shocker - so he guessed it was real after all.
With nothing left to do, the threesome exited Mr. Dunnes office. Marie had to stay behind to take care of some extra formalities, so she turned to the two siblings in the hallway and started her monologue without further ado. "Again, I'm really sorry for your loss. You're Dad was a great guy, and though he never talked much about you guys, he must have been really proud of each one of you. God bless his soul, he'll be dearly missed."
The pair looked at her, then at each other, with questioning eyes and an unbelieving smile. Had their old man done a 'one-eighty' and actually managed to turn his life around? Was that lady telling the truth, or had she lived her life in denial, just like their mother? Alex guessed they would never know, for he was sure they would not take her up on her offer to stay in touch. Instead, they said their goodbyes and stepped out onto the street, where Izzie was waiting for them.
Alex was the first one to find his voice. "Well…apparently we have a step-mom who wants to keep in touch, and a dead father who actually owned stuff. Like real, functioning things that worked…" He sounded just as amazed as Cassie looked.
Izzie took her boyfriend's hand in hers as they walked into the direction of their rental car. "Hmmm…interesting…"
A third voice spoke up. "Interesting, my ass…what I wouldn't give to get the truth behind that freakin' story."
"Cass! Oh my God, watch your language!"
Cassandra smiled up at her brother. "Isn't that what I used to tell you?"
He put his free arm around her, hugging her close once more. "What can I say? You taught me well…"
After dinner that night, amidst more tears from the ladies, hugs and promises of never becoming strangers again, the time had come to say goodbye.
Alex and Cassandra realized they were not were they used to be – in every sense of those words. They still had so much more to say, to do, to find out. But knowing that now they actually could had definitely made the dreaded trip back to Iowa worth it for the Karev siblings. And while the circumstances of their father's death and the details of his second life would probably forever remain a mystery to both, they left for their respective homes the next morning with the certainty of having found each other. No inheritance could be worth more, no gift could be greater.
The end. Thank you again for all of your lovely reviews! They made me finish this story :)