Seeing that he was entering uncomfortable territory and not wanting to cause Allison further embarrassment, Oliver halted his condemnation of her aunt and uncle. "The clerk I talked to was in foster care, and boy, did he sympathize! He took the folder and all the legal papers to a young, new judge, and the clerk is sure he'll sign the order."
Allison grabbed Liam's glass and took a drink. "What order?"
"Our aunt and uncle will have to account for the five hundred thousand dollars," Charlotte answered. "We know where three hundred thousand went. It took some digging, but we found what we were looking for."
"‘We'?" Allison asked.
Charlotte glanced at her husband before answering, "Okay, I found what I was looking for. I won't tell you how I found out, because it might not be legal and there's an FBI agent sitting at the table."
"What did you find out?"
"They didn't own that house. They rented, and as soon as they got the insurance money, they purchased it. Uncle Russell paid off all their other debts, too. They owed almost a hundred thousand dollars to credit card companies and department stores. They even had a tab running at the neighborhood liquor store. I'm guessing the rest went to whatever Will wanted. And lawyer fees, of course. They sure didn't spend a penny on either one of us."
Allison wasn't impressed by the threat of a court order. "They won't tell where the money went. They'll make up stuff."
"With receipts. They have to prove each expense with receipts," Oliver explained.
It was completely unrealistic, Allison decided. A good attorney was all her aunt and uncle needed to make it go away. When she voiced her reservation, another debate ensued, and it continued until the hostess came to collect them for their table.
Oliver and Charlotte led the way to the dining room, but Allison hung back and lowered her voice for Liam. "I'll understand if you want to take off. You could maybe stop by tomorrow, and I'll make the changes in the contract then."
His response to her suggestion was to take her hand and pull her along.
"I'm not at all hungry," she said then.
"The six club sodas fill you up?"
"I didn't . . ." She stopped and gave him a quizzical look. "Did I?"
"I was distracted."
Ever since they were little girls, Charlotte had possessed a strong sense of right and wrong, and she had been willing to act on it. Allison loved that about her, but this time her sister's need for justice had consequences, and Allison wondered if she truly understood what she had done.
"I just wish Charlotte would leave it alone," she whispered.
Her sister heard her, of course, and once they were seated offered her take on the situation. "You're such a peacemaker, Allison, but sometimes you have to take a stand. I won't feel bad for doing the right thing."
"Good for you, Charlotte," Allison retorted. "When are these legal papers going to be sent?"
Charlotte looked at Oliver, who answered, "The court will have to investigate, and knowing how these things work, I expect it could take some time. Maybe weeks. Maybe months."
Allison leaned back in her chair and folded her arms defiantly, fixing her gaze on Charlotte. "Then I have one question for you."
"Where will you be when our aunt and uncle receive the notice?"
"In Seattle, I assume," Charlotte answered with a slight shrug at stating the obvious.
"Exactly. And where will I be?" she asked.
"Here in Boston," her sister said.
Allison paused to give her sister time to comprehend the implications of what she was saying and then asked, "So, who do you think they'll come after?"
Dinner was a trial of endurance for Allison, but Liam seemed to be having a good time. He and Oliver talked football, and both men couldn't have been more enthusiastic about the sport.
Allison pushed her fish around on her plate, and although it was quite tasty, she could eat only a couple of bites. Her stomach wouldn't settle, and it didn't help that Charlotte kept bringing up the relatives from hell.
"Do you know what Oliver found out about Will?" Charlotte asked. She took a bite of her pasta and waited for Allison to answer.
"Can we please not talk about any of them?"
"Okay, but you have to hear this."
Allison gave up. "What did you find out, Oliver?"
"Will's going to get probation."
"Can you believe it?" Charlotte asked. She took another bite of pasta and said, "Oliver, you have to taste this. It's delicious."