Start getting into the Christmas spirit now with this brilliant extract from Ruby Basu’s heartwarming and feel-good romcom The Twelve Wishes of Christmas.
Mr Bell cleared his throat, bringing her attention back to him. As he went through the bequest, Sharmila leaned forward.
‘All right, let me check I’ve got this right,’ she said. ‘I’ll be staying at Thomas’s house while I’m here?’
‘I thought his family was forced to sell Holly House years ago when he was a teenager.’
‘That’s also correct. Mr Adams repurchased it last Christmas. It’s been vacant ever since. Don’t worry, it’s been cared for during that time. Lucas Healy, Mr Adams’s nephew, has been taking care of upkeep since Mr Adams passed away. He’s visiting Pineford for the holidays and, I believe, has just arrived in town, so you may want to meet him at some point. He’s staying at this inn too.’
‘Then shouldn’t he stay at the house?’
‘No. The terms of Mr Adams’s will are clear. You are to stay at the property throughout December. Mr Healy knows about this and he doesn’t have a problem, but he has asked for some maintenance to be carried out while you’re there. It would be external work. It shouldn’t interfere with your stay, though.’
‘Well, of course, it’s his property,’ she replied, confused when he gave her a shifty look and cleared his throat.
‘Finally, Mr Adams expressed a wish that you complete this list of activities while you’re here.’ He handed her an envelope. ‘He called it your Christmas Wishlist.’
Sharmila chuckled. It sounded just like something Thomas would do. ‘I can’t believe he went to all this trouble.’
‘Indeed. The terms of the gift state if you remain in Pineford until after Christmas Day and complete all the items on this list by the end of the year, then a sizeable donation will be made to a charity of your choosing.’
‘Sizeable?’ She paled when he told her the amount. She cleared her throat. ‘OK. I guess that’s an incentive.’
The matter of Thomas’s wealth had never crossed her mind before; it was irrelevant. But thinking about it now, how else would he have been able to travel to the UK and also fly to India twice in the time she had known him. With the amazing holiday and hefty donation to charity, she realised there was more to Thomas than the slightly eccentric old American she knew.
‘Miss Mitra, there are a few conditions I need to tell you about. You are free to talk about the wish list with other people. However, I’m afraid there’s a provision that you must keep this potential donation a secret, otherwise you forfeit it.’ There was the barest of movement on the attorney’s lips.
‘But why? That’s strange. Why would Thomas want me to keep it a secret?’
Mr Bell was finding it harder to keep a straight face. ‘My instructions are this condition has been included because that’s what happens in the movies.’
Sharmila slumped back in the armchair and laughed. The first real laugh she’d had in ages.