A Gentleman in the Street

By: Alisha Rai

Akira nodded, though she couldn’t quite empathize. Mei had lived a comparatively quiet life after she’d divorced Akira’s father, but she had enjoyed socializing with non-Moris. Though Mei and Jacob’s father, Harvey, had divorced quickly, their parting had been mutual and surprisingly non-acrimonious. The Campbell siblings had been welcome guests on most holidays and special occasions. Occasions for which Akira’s presence had been demanded but begrudged.

Did she miss her mother? Akira hadn’t known her well enough to miss her, and at the end, being around the woman had only led to sadness and guilt. She’d missed her chance at any degree of closure, though. She’d missed the chance to request absolution for being so fucking unlovable.

Jacob’s eyes shifted to stare at a point to the right of her head. “The funeral was beautiful.”

The funeral had been little more than a blur, coming a mere four days after her mother’s unexpected death. Unexpected to her, that is. She hadn’t known Mei had suffered a series of small strokes in the months leading up to her last days.

Jacob, on the other hand, had visited her mother regularly on her sickbed.

“Thanks. She planned it all before she died.”

His lips softened. “I thought it was very tasteful.”

Akira’s funeral wouldn’t be tasteful. There would be firecrackers and alcohol and beautiful men weeping. “Incredibly tasteful.”

Jacob placed his half-full mug on the counter. His dark lashes hid his eyes. “I was going to call or something at some point. See how you were doing. But it’s been so crazy with Kati’s senior year and the boys launching their new business…”

Startled, her mouth dropped open. Jacob had considered checking in on her? As if she were some normal person who might be affected by her mother’s death and not the sociopath he probably considered her to be? “Oh. No. I mean, that’s fine. I wouldn’t have expected that from you.”

His lips twisted. “I figured. But, you know, I should have, since…”

“Since you’re such a good brother?” she retorted, before she could catch herself. Wincing, she raised her hand to stave off the storm cloud gathering on his face. His beautiful, beautiful face. “Sorry. Sorry.” She was sorry. It had been instinct to counteract the unexpected kindness of his intention to check in on her with a verbal shove.

“What brings you here?”

There. He was back to being Mr. Stiff. Happy?


But this was better. It had gotten a little too touchy-feely there, and with all this talk about her mother…well, she needed a wall between them. It protected all her softest parts.

Suddenly weary, she massaged the back of her neck. “This is, actually, about my mother. And a gift she may have given you.”

“The bequest?”

Akira had been expecting her mother to leave the Campbell family a sizable sum, but her will had only bequeathed a hundred thousand dollars to be split between the four siblings. Mei Mori hadn’t been born rich, but at eighteen she’d had the distinct misfortune to stumble directly into the path of Hiro Mori, who, smitten, had not signed a prenup. Mei could have taken the sizable fortune she received in the divorce settlement and sat on it, but the woman had been a crafty investor and had more than doubled it over her lifetime. In light of the rest of her estate, a hundred grand was a drop in the bucket.

Then again, Akira bet Mei knew Jacob would balk at a huge sum of money. Her mother had once proudly told her Jacob was determined to make it on his own, though she had offered to help them more than once.

This information had been imparted, of course, to imply Akira had done nothing but take advantage of the silver spoon she’d been born with.

“No, not the bequest.” Most of her mother’s estate had gone to charity, with the remainder to Akira.

Akira had wanted only one thing. “We finished cataloging her possessions this week, and there’s one item missing. It was last seen seven months before her death. Six months before her death, she started refusing to see everyone except her household staff and a few select friends.” She paused for a beat. “You and your siblings were part of that small group.”

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