Millionaires’ Row: The Legacy

 

Dear Readers,


         Thank you for all of your wonderful comments about Millionaires’ Row. You asked for a sequel, and we listened. We are pleased to announce that it’s finally here. We hope you enjoy it. We’d love to hear your comments.


                                          Kathy and A.J.

At the dawn of the 20th Century, the country was in the throes of a dizzying explosion of technological advances most could not have imagined. Only those with strength and vision survived. Ian Douglas was such a man. The Douglas saga continues.

Survival of the Fittest


      Rising from mill hand to mill owner and entrepreneur, Ian Douglas amassed wealth and power during the post Civil War lumber boom to become the richest, most powerful man in Rossburg, Pennsylvania. But as he expands his empire into the modern age, he faces two battles-one to save his family when a long buried secret surfaces, another to save his legacy from a railroad tycoon bent upon his destruction.



CHAPTER 1


Spring 1902


Twelve-year-old Morgan Douglas bounded down the stairs to stand beside his father. Ian Douglas cocked a brow at his son’s appearance. The boy's tie was askew and his sandy blond hair had not been combed.

Anticipating his father's comments, Morgan gave him a sheepish but unapologetic smile. “She’s just gonna redo everything anyway,” he said. “C’mon, Mama,” he called, impatient to be off. “We'll be late to the station. Mary Katherine will think we’re not coming.”

Upstairs, Eleanor Douglas stood before the full-length mirror in her bedroom suite, studying her toilette with a critical eye. At the age of 42, her petite form remained slender and compact. Her breasts were still high and firm and her waist a whittled 23 inches—all, she happily acknowledged, without the aid of a crushing corset. And she silently gave thanks to the French stylist who had introduced a more humane version of society’s most punishing unmentionable. Satisfied with her dress, she nodded. The maid affixed a hat atop her mistress’ upswept blonde hair with a jeweled hatpin and handed her butter soft leather gloves. With a final tug to her fitted waist jacket, Eleanor pulled on her gloves and strolled confidently out of the room.

When Eleanor appeared at the top of the stairs, both father and son looked up in admiration as she regally descended the wide, sweeping staircase. In spite of her middle-aged years, she was a stunning woman with a commanding presence—the reigning queen of Rossburg society. Upon reaching the bottom of the stairs, she regarded her son with a disapproving lift of her brow and proceeded to straighten his tie and comb through his hair with her fingers.

Morgan looked up at his father. “See, I told you,” he murmured under his breath.

This was the routine before departing anywhere, whether Morgan presented a disheveled appearance or not. Thus, with the practicality of a young boy, Morgan had quickly come to the conclusion that he didn't need to expend the extra energy himself.

Ian was hard pressed to hold back a chuckle. When Eleanor next turned her attention to him, straightening his tie, he caught the smirk on his son’s face and sent the boy a quelling glare.

“You look beautiful, my dear,” said Ian to his wife. There was a slight burr in his voice, a faint reminder of his Scottish heritage.

Eleanor smiled and lowered her gaze. The look in her husband’s silver-blue eyes brought a warm glow to her cheeks. “You look quite dashing yourself, sir,” she responded shyly. He was 42-years-old as well, but the years hadn’t bowed his tall, broad shouldered frame, thickened the slim waist or, beyond a few character lines, aged his handsome face. The touch of gray at the edges of his light brown hair, she decided, only served to give him a more distinguished air.

“Oh, for gosh sakes,” said Morgan in disgust, “we’re never gonna get to the station if we don’t hurry. Do you think Mary Katherine will look the same, Mama? She has been gone a year on the tour.”

“I’m sure she will, dear.” Eleanor turned to Ian. “Have the invitations gone out for the homecoming ball?”

“Yes, Mother. Everything is taken care of.”

Eleanor passed a last scrutinizing eye over her men and smiled with pride. “No woman could have two more handsome escorts than I,” she said, linking her arms with theirs.

When they stepped through the door onto the veranda, Morgan spied the shiny motorcar parked in the driveway. He pulled away from his mother and raced toward it. “Papa, can I steer the motorcar? Please, Papa. You said I could.”

“The word is may I,” interjected Eleanor. “And no, you may not. You are still a child. Besides, that contraption seats only two. We are taking the carriage,” she said, her decision final. “You shouldn’t put such notions in his head, Father. It will be a long time before I allow Morgan to drive that thing.”

Morgan groaned loud and long and turned to appeal to his father. “Papa…”

“Listen to your mother, son.”

“I am not a child,” grumbled Morgan, slowly following his parents to the waiting horse-drawn carriage.


Standing on the platform at the train station waiting for the train to come in, Ian experienced a sense of déjà vu. It was twenty-three years ago that he had stood on this same platform, eagerly and nervously awaiting Eleanor's arrival home from her grand tour. He was her father's sawmill foreman then and had been sent to meet her train. He could still see the look of disappointment on her face when she saw that it was he and not her father who had come to welcome her home.

He moved closer to her and took her hand; she looked up and smiled at him. It had not been an easy journey for them. There had been trials and tribulations along the way—many of them of their own making—but he was so very grateful they had made the decision to persevere.

The shrill whistle roused Ian from his musings as the train came into view and chugged to a stop at the platform. Morgan fidgeted, and Ian and Eleanor eagerly searched for their daughter among the passengers disembarking.

“There she is,” shouted Morgan, waving to his sister as she stepped from the middle car.

A fashionably dressed young woman with saucy blonde curls escaping from under a broad-brimmed hat waved back excitedly. Despite Eleanor’s assurance to Morgan that his sister would look the same, a father’s discerning eye saw a striking difference. Ian’s chest swelled with pride. His little princess was 20-years-old and all grown up, and she was as beautiful as her mother. The cygnet that had left a year ago had returned a swan.

Mary Katherine pointed out her trunks that had been set outside the baggage car to the porter, then hurried over to her family.

“Mama, Papa,” she cried, hugging them, “I have missed you. And you, too, little Morgie,” she added, tousling her brother’s hair.

Morgan took great affront. “I’m taller than you. And don’t call me ‘Morgie’ anymore. I’m not a child.”

“Goodness, you have sprouted up, haven’t you,” said Mary Katherine, giving him a big hug.

Morgan self-consciously disengaged himself from his sister’s arms, looking around to make certain that none of his peers were in sight. “See, Mama, even Mary Katherine thinks I’ve grown up.”

“Yes, dear,” replied Eleanor. “Mary Katherine, are skirts that short in Europe?” she asked, noting that the hem of her daughter’s skirt barely covered the top of her high-buttoned shoes. “Good heavens, when you sit down, your ankles will surely be exposed.”

“Oh, Mama, I have so much to tell you. You should see what they are wearing in Paris,” said Mary Katherine.

As she whispered something in her mother’s ear, Eleanor’s eyes widened in disbelief. “Oh, dear,” she murmured. She prided herself on being a leader of fashion in Rossburg, but she wasn’t sure that she was ready for apparel of this nature.

“Times are changing, Mama,” said Mary Katherine, her blue eyes twinkling with excitement. “Emily says that one day women will have the right to vote.”

“Who is Emily?” asked Eleanor.

“Emily Stoddert. I met her in England on the Grand Tour. Her family lives in New York City on Madison Avenue. But imagine this, Emily will have her own brownstone on Fifth Avenue and has invited me to visit.”

Eleanor was aghast. “Mary Katherine, I don’t believe that it is proper for a young woman to live alone.”

Mary Katherine laughed. “Oh, Mama, you are so conventional.” She linked arms with her parents as they moved toward the carriage. “And Mama, Papa, I wish to be called Mary Kate. I am a woman of modern conventions now and Mary Katherine sounds so old-fashioned.”

Eleanor's brow rose higher, and she looked at her husband, not quite sure what to make of this young woman who claimed to be their daughter.

Ian met her eye with amusement. “Times are changing, Mother.”

“Well, let us hope not too much,” she replied uneasily. While she tried to be open to new ideas, she was still the product of a more conservative generation.


* * * * *


Maven O’Brien Stanton stood at the window staring out at the street, tapping the envelope against her fingertips.

“There you are,” said Parker Stanton, entering the room. “Why so pensive?”

Maven turned to her husband. “This came in the morning mail. It is an invitation to a homecoming ball for Mary Katherine.”

Parker went to her and put his arms around her. “I know how difficult these events are for you and Eleanor. If I weren't Ian's partner and friend, we could beg off. But as it is, I don't see anyway around it without inviting questions.”

Maven sighed and rested her head against his shoulder. “I know.”

“Why don't you and Eleanor let the secret come out? It is hurting both of you.”

Maven shook her head. “No…not after all these years. This is best for everyone.”

“You're a proud and stubborn woman, my dear. That is why I love you so much.” Parker lowered his head and kissed her tenderly.

“Aren't you a little old for that?” teased a young man from the doorway.

Parker reluctantly broke away and laughed. “Not when you have the right woman. Of course, it took me some time to convince your mother that I was the right man. And may I say that we take great umbrage at your use of the word ‘old’. Your mother is just forty and the same beautiful woman I married ten years ago. She doesn’t have a gray hair on her head.”

“That’s because you have it all,” quipped Patrick. “According to the actuaries, the life span for your generation is—”

“Have a caution, young man. Twenty years pass in the blink of an eye. Your son will be holding this same conversation with you before you know it.”

“Never-you-mind, dear,” said Maven with amusement. “Your silver hair gives you an air of authority. Now off with ye.” She gave him a playful push and turned her attention to her tall, handsome son. Nearly 21-years-old, Patrick O'Brien resembled her from the auburn hair to his personality. But the eyes and steady gaze that looked back at her were very much his father's, she thought with a tug on her heart. “I am so pleased to have you home from Philadelphia, Patrick, if only for a short time.”

Patrick smiled. “I dare say that you will have me underfoot more than you may want.”

Maven's face lit up. “You are coming back to Rossburg?”

“Yes. Parker offered me a partnership in his firm. And I found that I have missed you and this town more than I realized. I have to return to Philadelphia, though, to tie up some loose ends.”

“I would have told you earlier,” said Parker, “but Patrick wanted to surprise you. He's accompanying me to the office today.”

“I'll wait outside for you, Parker. Mother, don't keep me waiting now,” said Patrick with a playful wink.

Maven’s cheeks turned red. “Patrick O'Brien! Such things as ye be thinkin'! I not be knowin’ where you’ve left your manners,” she shouted after him. As Parker chuckled with amusement, she rounded on her husband in annoyance. “And you’re not helping.”

“Me thinks ye doth protest too much.”

Maven gave a sigh of exasperation. “Oh, off with ye now before Patrick gets more notions in his head.”

“Nothing wrong with a boy knowing that his mother is loved,” said Parker. He bent down and kissed her on the cheek. “Patrick and I will be home early for dinner.”

As he crossed the room to leave, Maven called out to him. “Parker…thank you.”

“For what?”

“For accepting and guiding Patrick the way you have, for getting him into law school and now bringing him into your firm. After Tommy died, he was so lost until you stepped in.”

“Patrick was a good boy, and he is growing into a fine man. I suspect that his mother had a good deal to do with that.” Parker hesitated. “Maven, think about what I said. Secrets have a way of coming out sooner or later and never in a good fashion.”

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This is Book 2 of the Douglas Saga. Get to know the Douglas family and their empire in Millionaires’ Row then follow the family progress in Millionaires’ Row-The Legacy.