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CHAPTER ELEVEN

A win-win situation

Kate had been intending to have a serious talk to Hugh about the missed calls on his mobile phone when he came back from Paris that weekend. But somehow it never seemed to be the right time, or maybe she was avoiding it by delaying for as long as possible. Something told her it was a very dangerous subject. Kate now knew for sure that he hadn’t been playing golf that Friday after he came back from the States. She had called the club secretary and he had told her Hugh hadn’t been there that day. She added this to the list of things she needed to face him with when they finally had their talk together. But this evening Hugh wanted to discuss something else. He seemed quite excited about an idea he had had.

‘I’ve been thinking about your mother again,’ he said.

‘How do you mean?’ asked Kate. ‘Whatever made you think of her?’

‘Well, I’ve had an idea that might just work out. Everyone would get what they want out of it. A win-win situation.’

‘Everyone? Who is everyone? Get what? What’s this all about?’

‘Well, the situation is that your mother needs special care. Your sister Jan can’t afford it. Your mother can’t afford it. And we don’t want to pay for it ourselves. Right?’

‘Right,’ said Kate, wondering where this was leading.

‘So, what we do is this. We offer to pay $1,500 a month to Jan to arrange a nurse for the old lady.’

‘But I thought you said we wouldn’t pay.’

‘Wait a minute, there’s more. We don’t do it for nothing. We pay her the money monthly, but when the old lady dies, which is probably not long, the house would belong to us. We’d draw up an agreement, which Jan would sign, to agree that the house would become our property. It’s quite a common kind of arrangement these days, when people are living longer and can’t look after themselves anymore.’

‘So it’s like a gamble on how long Mother will live?’

‘In a way, yes. If she lives till she’s ninety, that’s about ten years, we would have paid $180,000. But the house is worth at least $250,000, I think, and if they redevelop the area for new houses, the land alone would be worth even more than that. So we would make at least $70,000 if she lives to be ninety, but I’m sure she won’t live that long. Just think, if she only lived for another year, we’d make over $150,000. It’s a fantastic opportunity for us, and it solves Jan’s problem too. Everyone wins. It’s a win-win situation.’

‘My God, are you serious?’ said Kate. But she could see from the look on Hugh’s face that he really was.

‘Of course I’m serious.’

‘But when Mother dies we might get the house anyway. I can’t see the point of spending money now.’

‘Your mother is a crazy old woman. Who knows who she’ll leave the house to? This is one way to make sure of it. And let’s face it, she’s not likely to live for much longer, so we won’t have spent much anyway.’

When he had started talking about her mother’s death in terms of the money they might get from it, Kate had felt at first that it was wrong. How could they use the situation to make more money for themselves? But then she started to think it wasn’t such a bad idea. After all, without their money, Jan would be stuck with Mother till she died. Maybe it looked bad to make money like this but, as Hugh said, in a way, it was a win-win situation. For once, it would be a bet they were sure to win. And it was a way to make sure their mother’s house came to them. She had no idea what was in her mother’s will. It was in an envelope at the solicitor’s office and would only be opened after she died. Suppose her mother had left the house to Jan? Or Cindy? Or the Battersea Dogs’ Home? Anything was possible. But, if they could get Jan to agree to this arrangement, it would be theirs anyway.

‘Let me think about it,’ she said. ‘Maybe I’ll call Jan tomorrow and arrange to go and see her - if she’s still speaking to me, that is.’

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