Roger Harper, not one to sit around for long periods, exhibited his unease by constantly fidgeting. So much so that he earned a rebuke from his wife, Julia. “For goodness sake, will you stop fiddling with your collar, sweetie?”
“I don’t know why you insisted I wear a suit and tie,” he replied as they waited for their appointment to complete the converting of property left by her late father.
“Because, Roger, first impressions count, that’s why. Any other complaints?”
“Why have we arrived here so early?” was the second comment.
“Being late for an appointment is impolite. You, of all people, should know that. How many times have I heard you carping when you’re at the receiving end? Besides it’s not as though you are here to have a tooth pulled.”
“Seems like it, hon. They couldn’t have installed more uncomfortable chairs if they had tried.”
“Occupy your mind, Roger. Look through the illustrated book on Canada that is on the table. Maybe you’ll learn something useful about the country?”
Before Harper could object, Julia reached forward, picked up the book, and handed it to her husband. For her part, she removed an iPad from her handbag and picked up on the novice she had previously been reading.
Both occupied, the couple sat in silence until the outside door opened and a smartly dressed woman, a few years younger than Julia, entered. After checking in with the receptionist, she made her way to the waiting area. A brief nod to the couple by way of greeting, she took a magazine from a rack in the corner, before taking a seat.
“That’s what I mean, Roger,” Julia told Harper in a low voice. “One dresses appropriately for a business meeting.”
“If you say so, hon,” was the despondent response.”
“Don’t sound so downcast, Roger. Like me, you should be excited about our family adventure to Port Douglas and staying in a lakeside cabin. Maybe, I’ll get a chance to meet up with my sister before we leave?”
“We can find time to do that, Jules. Hoever, right now, it’s the kids I’m concerned about. Do you think they are okay, with Federico looking after them?” The person Harper was referring to he had met in Cuba nearly two years ago. They had become close friends.
“Of course. If you are worried Federico may have trouble changing Ophelia’s pull-ups, Olly and Spencer are both capable of doing that. After all, they will be teenagers next year.”
I guess so. What’s the novel you are reading, hon?”
“A romance. A middle-aged couple finds love while on vacation. You can read it after I’m done.”
“No thanks. Not my cup of tea.”
“What does that mean, Jules? I can do romantic. I’ve already arranged for a mariachi band to serenade us on the cabin’s veranda.”
Julia laughed. “With a personal chef barbecuing steaks, and a waiter serving wine, I suppose.”
“You’ve got it, hon.” Just the two of us, under the stars, dining together.”
Another laugh; more a snort. “I’m guessing that idea won’t go down well with Olly and Spencer. But it’s the thought that counts.” Julia squeezed Harper’s hand. “Have you found anything interesting in the book you’re browsing?”
“There’s a chapter on some of the differences between the U.S. and Canada. In the States, for example, we have a federal oil reserve. In Canada, they stockpile maple syrup.”
“I did not know that,” Julia confessed.
“Furthermore, they buy milk in plastic bags, while we do more online shopping than they do.”
“I prefer the latter, but if I ever visit a Canadian supermarket I’ll bear that in mind.”
“I don’t think you’ll find any supermarkets in Port Douglas?” Harper asked.
“Hardly, but let’s not allow that to distract from our holiday.” Julia glanced at her wristwatch. “Not too long before we meet with the attorney.”
‘Good,” her husband acknowledged. “I’ve finished with this book. I’ll close my eyes for a few minutes and wait until we are called.”
Julia went back to reading her romance novel. Short-lived, Harper whispered, “Hey, Jules. The smartly dressed lady; are you aware that she’s your half-sister?”
Julia looked up in surprise. “How do you know that, Roger?” Then realization came to her. “You didn’t?”
“I did.” Harper could not suppress a cheesy grin.
Julia responded with a frown. “I’ve told you before, Roger. It is rude to get inside people’s minds. Don’t do it again.”
“Sorry,” her husband replied. “I’ll behave.”
“Scout’s honor.” However, the whispering continued. “Aren’t you going to introduce yourself? It would be rude not to.”
“All right. Come on then.”
Julia stood up. Dragging her husband by the sleeve, she when up to the other women.
“Excuse me for asking, but your name wouldn’t be Dalia Walker, would it?”
“Why yes? How did you know?”
“Lucky guess,” Julia fudged.
“Wait a second.” Ms. Walker’s eyes lit up. “You must be Julia Harper. Well, I never.” Julia enthusiastically nodded back, a broad smile on her face. “Come here, sis. Give me a hug.”
Harper waited twenty seconds or so, before politely coughing.
The two ladies broke their embrace. Both had to wipe tears from their eyes.
“Sorry. My bad. Allow me to introduce my husband, Roger.”
“Roger, please to meet you.”
Offering his hand, he responded without explanation, “Just Harper.”
“I think we deserve more than a handshake, don’t you, Harper?” his sister-in-law countered, following up with a generous hug. “And you must call me Dee. Everyone does.”
The door to an inner room opened and a well-groomed gentleman stepped out, introducing himself as Ellis Davis.
“Ladies. I see you have already met. Splendid. Splendid. Why don’t we go into my office and get started?” Glancing at Harper, he added, “You, sir, I assume you are party to these proceedings.”
“This is Roger,” Julia chimed “He belongs to me.”
“Roger, hmm. My son is also named Roger.”
“Please call me Harper. No offense to your son, but unless it’s my wife, Ihate anyone using my first name.”