TPCR: Chapter 2 and Chapter 3

Time for Lucas and Erin to meet for the first time in seven years!

(By the way, it is quite clear, despite Lucas’s phone calls and emails to his family, that Erin has had absolutely no contact from him for seven years.  Though she has heard that he is back in town because of Grandpa Asshat’s will.)

One of Erin’s rescue horses is having a difficult labor, and she’s called the vet.  But instead of the expected Tweed (a transplant from Jolly Old England complete with “crisp British accent” and tweed cap), Lucas comes to her farm.  Turns out he became a vet, and was hired, apparently immediately upon setting foot in town, by Tweed.

Not two minutes before, Erin was imagining how much she could have helped her horse if she had become a vet, like she always wanted.  Instead, she took over the diner after her mother died.  And now Lucas is a vet instead.  That’s gotta sting.

They’re both surprised to see each other: Erin for obvious reasons, and Lucas because he didn’t know who he was coming to help, and he assumed she still lived in the same house she lived in as a kid.  Which strikes me as an oddly realistic touch—this guy leaves town and, though he changes a lot, assumes that everything and everyone he left behind remained exactly the same.

Together, they deliver the foal, and they are pretty gorram civil to each other, considering. Though Lucas does flash back to the night he ditched her, when he called her a coward for not going with him.  We don’t get present-Lucas’s thoughts about this flashback, though, so no regret.  At least not yet.

The flashback does clue us in, though, that Erin was no doormat that night: she told Lucas straight up that he was wrong for thinking if he ran away, he could actually ditch his problems, which included grief over he recent death of his dad.  So, good for her.

As all this emotional stuff is transpiring, Lucas’s sister Mei (adopted, and apparently the heroine of the previous book in the series) appears with the little boy, Max, in tow.  Perhaps I wasn’t sufficiently rough on Lucas and Mei’s mom—she has barely interacted with the child and refuses to sit for him, ever, while Lucas is working.  So Mei has had to play babysitter (she’s a substitute teacher).  And now she has tracked Lucas down (probably not too hard in this bitty town), to drop off the kid because she has to work.

And so we set up the Big Misunderstanding: Lucas says to Erin that “He belongs to me.”  Which, like the best Big Misunderstandings, is a statement that is true yet can be interpreted in multiple ways.

And since Erin has sorta been Saving Herself for the imagined day when Lucas came back, you can imagine what a shock this is to our Good Christian Heroine.  Not that I entirely blame her.

Also in the best Big Misunderstanding tradition (chalk it up to Poor Communication Killing), Lucas doesn’t clarify what he means, and neither does Mei, for that matter.  Now, I don’t yet know how much Mei knows about Lucas and Erin, so I can give her a pass, but Lucas has every opportunity right now to explain the situation, but of course, does not.


Cut away from the Big Opportunity Lucas had to explain his relationship to Max, to Erin in the diner, serving Our Villain, the guy from the dastardly other branch of the family tree, Vincent.  I’m not clear on whether Vincent will get money if he can keep the Real Heirs from fulfilling the terms of Grandpa Asshat’s will, or if he’s just your standard stock Mustache Twirler, but he makes a bunch of snide comments about Lucas and about Erin (he suspects (correctly, of course) that she’s holding a candle for him), but also lets loose that Max is adopted (or soon-to-be-adopted).  Erin has a “reaction” to this, and though I’m sure it’s mostly relief that Lucas didn’t find Someone to Have a Baby with Who Wasn’t Her, this is a Christian romance, and you know they won’t say that in so many words.  But Vincent doesn’t pursue this specific point, instead making ominous predictions that Lucas won’t last the year.

I would love to read this will and the technicalities of this bizarre and hurtful requirement. Does the clock start running for each individual heir, or does it not start until Lucas, the last of the bunch, shows up?  What does “live in town” mean, precisely?  Could the heirs maintain a residence and P.O. box but still keep their lives/jobs in their own towns?  So many questions!



Posted on December 5, 2016, in The Prodigal's Christmas Reunion. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. That Big Misunderstanding got cleared up pretty fast, really. Next scene clarification? Dang. Vincent should get a delivery job; plot revelations in thirty minutes or your pizza’s free.

    Still, Lucas and Erin remaining civil but determinedly indifferent feels pretty real to me. Explaining the kid would have been opening up too much, showing he still cares what she thinks, and that’s counterproductive if you really believe that chapter’s closed and are trying to convince yourself you want it to remain so.

    I… may have been in a broadly similar situation, so that’s how I end up reading it from this description.

  2. I was wondering about the will’s specifics when I read the previous installment. Is there a deadline? I assume that, not only do you have to live in town for a year, but the ones who moved away had to move back in pretty short order. Do you have to buy a house, or is renting a place okay? Are you required to do anything else? I mean, the last time I lived in a town this small, I never talked to anyone else who lived there. I had to commute to nearby larger towns to work, so I also bought groceries, got haircuts and car service, and washed laundry there, too. I was basically either keeping to myself in my apartment, or I was out of town entirely.

  3. This is a very strange will, and I am also wondering about the specifics of it. What does it mean by “live in town”, and how long can a family member wait to move to this small town without losing their inheritance? Do they also have to work in town and interact with everyone else living there, or can they keep to themselves? And why does it matter to dead Grandpa Asshat that his grandkids live in town for a year anyway? It’s not like he’s still alive to give a shit what they do anymore. If I were in Lucas’ situation, unless the inheritance was a ridiculously large amount of money I’d probably not bother trying to stick to this crazy requirement to get it.

    • And what if Lucas (or any of the heirs) decides the money isn’t worth the hassle of uprooting their whole life for a year? Do the remaining heirs get his share (there’s actually a name for this type of will – there’s a Sherlock Holmes story about it – but i can’t for the life of me remember it) or does that void the whole thing?
      From Vincent’s mustache-twirling remark about Lucas not lasting the year, I’d guess it’s the former. Which means that ALL the heirs had better watch their backs!

  4. Doesn’t seem so hard to say “yeah, when my best friend died he came to live with me” or something like that – maybe a little trickier in front of the child. But at least this Big Misunderstanding isn’t going to drive the entire plot of the book, the way I thought it might.

    Going by Goodreads, there are six books in this series, all by different authors, all published in 2011. There’s a will-reading scene in the first book, The Nanny’s Homecoming. RubyTea, if you think this is too much from a copyright point of view, feel free to delete it.

    Anyway, there’s a video recorded by Cranky Grandpa before his death:

    “If you’re watching this, I’m dead.” George chuckled at his own morbid joke. “You’re all wondering why I’ve dragged you back here. I haven’t been the best grandfather. I haven’t always done right by you, or by anyone, for that matter. But before the deaths of my two sons changed everything, we were a family. Not as close as we should have been, but we spent Christmas and Thanksgiving together.”

    “Then because of issues I hope you never know about, I lost my daughter, too. Kat won’t even speak to me, and five of you grandkids have scattered across the country. Clayton, Colorado, might not be much, but it’s your home, your history. My daddy started this town. My wife started the church. Claytons belong here.” He pointed a bony finger toward the camera. “You belong here.”


    “I want you to come home,” Grandpa said. “All six of you—for at least a year. Be a family again. Revive this dying town. Find your hearts and souls right here where you left them.”


    “As incentive, because I know none of you will willingly come home, I’ve left something for each of you.” Grandpa George paused. Brooke refused to even ponder an inheritance. The old miser had probably left them all a pile of debts just for orneriness. “Two hundred fifty thousand dollars each, plus five hundred acres of Colorado real estate right here in Clayton County.”


    “So there you are, children,” Grandpa George said. “An inheritance that can change your lives if you choose to accept it. But the will is ironclad. No exceptions. All of you have to spend a year in Clayton. And you have to come home by this Christmas. Hear that, Lucas?” He rapped twice on the desk. “No later than Christmas.

    “This is my chance to leave a legacy—a good one—for the town that bears my name. I know what you’re thinking—too little, too late—but I ask that each of you look in your hearts and find one happy memory of me. It might take a while, and you might be reluctant, but you’ll find at least one. And maybe it’ll help.”

    (And it’s one of those really vile “work together” deals – if any one of them doesn’t last out the year, all the money and property goes to George’s brother, who is a Bad Man.)

    • “All of you have to spend a year in Clayton.” That’s still incredibly vague. Would they have to spend 24 hours a day, every day, inside the town limits, or would they just have to spend their nighttime hours in the town and be free to work/shop/socialise outside? Would they be permitted to go off-site for a holiday? And so on – as Naked Bunny pointed out, there’s a lot of wiggle room in that phrase.
      Unless very precise details of what that condition entailed were written into Grandpa’s will, it would instantly turn into a US version of Jarndyce v Jarndyce.

    • I agree, it’s a vile way to deal with your heirs. It’s not quite a “Tontine”, which is the type of will I was thinking of (in a tontine, the money isn’t shared but goes to the last claimant left alive, which is how it got into a Sherlock Holmes story – lots of seemingly unrelated murders) but it’s nearly as bad. No doubt, the Evil Brother is old and ailing, and Vincent is his son.

      • Hey are you thinking of “The Case of the Two Survivors” by Westron Wynde? It’s the only Sherlock Holmes story I can think of that has a tontine. (It’s a fanfiction but it’s an excellent read.)

    • “Claytons belong here. You belong here.”

      So according to Grandpa, none of the grandkids are allowed to try to have lives anywhere else in the world. Ok then. At least we know that Lucas came by his manipulative and controlling ways honestly.

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Roundup for December 9th, 2016 | The Slacktiverse

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