Milly licked the end of the wooden spoon and smiled. "Perfect!"

She turned off the heat under the pot and began spooning the sticky contents into glass jars. "Just wait, Kane," she said out loud to a man who wasn't there... who may have been on the other side of the galaxy for all she knew. "I don't remember where I learned this recipe, but it really does make the best pecan preserves in the whole universe!

"You can put them on toast," she went on, "or in pies... when you come back, I'm going to make you a great big pecan pie! I'll put whipped cream on the top, and drizzle chocolate over it and sprinkle cookie crumbs... you'll love it!"

She scraped the last of the gooey preserves out of the bottom of the pot and, gathering up the jars, went to put them in the cellar.

"Now," she said to herself when that was done. "What else did I want to get done today?"

Milly had quite a list, really, of things she wanted to do before Kane came back. She didn't know when he'd be arriving, of course, but she hoped that whenever it was, she'd have everything just perfect and ready for him. She wanted the house to be painted, the cellar stocked, all sorts of things mended or repaired, the garden...

She snapped her fingers. "That's it," she said. "I was going to plant those tulip bulbs."

The bulbs were in their baskets, kept in a nice cool, dark place in a kitchen cupboard. Milly took one in each hand and carried them out to the front garden. Right here, just in front of the honeysuckle that was slowly but surely making its way up the front of the house. Some lovely pink and white tulips would look just perfect.

While she worked on putting the onion-shaped bulbs into the earth, Milly began to notice a sound. At first it was just at the edge of her hearing, where she was tempted to dismiss it as her imagination, but it got persistently louder and closer until she had to acknowledge it. After a moment spent looking around in puzzlement and seeing nothing, she suddenly realized what the far off-roar was...

... a spaceship!

Milly lept to her feet, tulips spilling out of her skirt as it unfolded. A spaceship! Was it Kane?

Her heart sank as the ship in question came into view. No, it was not Kane... he wouldn't be back without Swordbreaker. This was a smaller, boxy-looking little shuttle, built to hold no more than two people. What was it doing here?

The shuttle made a soft landing on the lawn, the wind of its engines blowing Milly's hair around and shaking the honeysuckle's hold on the clapboards. She stood watching as the hatch whirred open, and a very small, balding man in a suit stepped out.

It was a lawyer. Milly had worked as a detective long enough to recognize a lawyer when she saw one, and this fellow, with his clean suit and briefcase and the disdain on his face as he looked around at all this nature, couldn't have been anything but. He took a pair of wire-framed glasses out of his pocket and slid them onto his small face, which then curved into a polite smile as he noticed Milly.

"Good afternoon," he said, walking towards her. "Miss... ah... Millennium Faeria Stargazer, is it?"

"Nocturne," Milly corrected him. "Millennium Faeria Nocturne."

He nodded and held out a hand for her to shake. "My apologies, Mrs. Nocturne."

"*Miss* Nocturne." Milly attempted to quell the part of her that rather wished she could say, 'Mrs. Blueriver.' That was a silly thing to be thinking about, especially now. What was this man doing here? She hoped... oh, god, she hoped it wasn't to tell her that something had happened to Kane!

"Miss Nocturne," the man said. "I represent the Urania Law Firm... I have a few things I'm afraid we're going to have to deal with, on account of your grandfather."

Milly blinked. "My grandfather?"

"Yes," the lawyer said. "Mr. Albert Stargazer. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I'm afraid he died, a little less than six months ago."

"Oh. Yes, I knew about that," replied Milly. "What's that got to do with me?" Suddenly she realized that she and this man were still standing out in the garden. "Come inside," she said. "I'll make some tea and you can tell me about it."

While the water heated, the lawyer opened his briefcase and took out a palmtop and a couple of flatscreen documents. "Your grandfather," he explained, "was a very well-to-do fellow. Besides the GazerCorp company, there's quite a bit of property, and money in several banks. We're afraid he may have had some secret accounts which we, of course, are not going to be able to access, but the rest naturally will be easy to transfer ownership of. As for belongings..."

"What are you talking about?" Milly asked.

The lawyer looked at her a moment in puzzlement, then laughed. "Silly me, if I haven't managed to pass right by the entire point!" he exclaimed. "Miss Nocturne, in the absense of a last will and testament, legal priority for ownership goes to the closest surviving relative... and you are the *only* surviving relative of Mr. Stargazer's whom we have been able to find."

Milly felt the bottom drop out of her stomach. It was as though the temperature in the room had just fallen twenty degrees, and she in her thin summer dress was suddenly shivering violently. Did he mean...

"You're saying," Milly swallowed. "That GazerCorp, that N-n-nigh... I mean, that everything..."

"Yes," the lawyer nodded agreeably. "If you so choose, it all belongs to you."

He wisely didn't wait for a response. Milly was too stunned to be able to give him one. Instead, he laid two of the flatscreens out on the table and activated them.

"I've brought both sets of documents with me," he said. "These ones are for anything you want to keep... they're pretty self-explanatory, you just sign right here and here. The other set is for the parts you don't want."

"W-what happens to those?" Milly stammered.

"Oh, the law firm will take control of those," said the lawyer. "Non-monetary assets will be auctioned off." He glanced up at the clock on the kitchen wall, then at his own wristwatch. "Miss Nocturne, I wish I could stay for some of that tea, but I'm afraid I'm a very busy man. Here is my business card," he pulled one out of his briefcase and laid it on the table. "Please take all the time you need to make up your mind. Good day, Miss Nocturne!"

And so saying, he closed his briefcase with a click and left the kitchen.

For several long minutes after he'd left, Milly could do nothing but stand there and stare blankly at the wall. It had never remotely entered her mind that she might be an heiress... she'd been out of touch with her genetic family for so long that nothing about them, including the fact that they were wealthy, had ever seemed like it had anything to do with her.

How had this *happened*? After all the time and trouble she and her friends had taken *against* Nightmare, now suddenly the cover organization and perhaps the syndicate itself had fallen into her lap. What in the universe was she supposed to *do* with it?

The whistling of the kettle brought her back to an awareness of the real world. With shaking hands Milly turned off the stove and made tea, then sat down with a cup and held her head. She couldn't own a company. She had to stay here and wait for Kane! But if she handed it over to the lawyers, god only knew who might end up with control of it. Stargazer himself might be gone but surely there were still plenty of his cronies around...

Kane would have known what to do. Kane *always* knew what to do, and even when she thought he was acting like an idiot it always came out all right in the end.

"Kane," she moaned, "hurry up and come back... I need you!"

On the table in front of her, the two flatscreens showed their documents to the ceiling, and waited.