The Billionaire's Instant Bride

By: CJ Howard

“Grandma, you don’t happen to have any money coming to you from grandpa’s passing, do you? Life insurance, retirement money like a pension, any kind of… big money coming to you or hidden in a bank account or something, do you?” she asked as nausea twisted her stomach.

Her grandparents were not people of means, and they never had been. She was more than sure that there was no secret stash of money, nor any windfall that they might not have yet gotten, that could be coming to them. Nothing that would be the amount of money they were going to need to pay off the debt that she was looking at on the letter.

Calista sighed. “No, baby. There’s no money anywhere. You know that. We don’t have anything hidden away, and there was only enough money in the life insurance for the funeral. That’s all there was.” She frowned and her face grew pained. “What are our options? I guess maybe I could see about getting a job doing something to get it paid off.”

Callie knew that her grandmother was much too old and tired to work. There would be no way she would be able to get a job to pay off the amount that was needed. She took the letter and stood up, walking over to the old telephone on the wall, picking up the receiver in her hand and dialing the phone number of the city office on the letterhead. She turned away from her grandmother to have the conversation; she didn’t want Calista worrying any more than she already was. The phone rang for a long while before someone finally answered it.

Callie told the woman on the other end of the line who she was and gave her the account number for her grandparents. The woman looked up the account and asked what she could do to assist.

“My grandfather has just passed away just last week, and we only got this letter today. This is the first we have seen of the bill. We didn’t know that there was any money owed at all. I was wondering what we can do about figuring out some kind of a payment arrangement, because there isn’t any way that we can pay the full amount due.” Callie’s entire body was tense as she held the phone cord tight in her fingers and bit her bottom lip nervously.

The clerk sounded slightly annoyed. “Well, I’m sorry about your grandfather passing away, but the city has been sending out bills for this account to the address on the account, which is obviously the right address, since you received that letter. The bills have been sent for just over a year, and there has been no response from Mr. or Mrs. Williams. No one has bothered to contact this office at all. So, while I understand your predicament, I’m sorry, but this late into it, there is just no way to set up any kind of payment arrangement. You’ll have to pay the whole thing in full.”

Callie closed her eyes and swallowed, but the lump in her throat stayed lodged where it was. “There has to be some way. It’s just myself and my grandmother here, and we can get payments in to you, but we just can’t do the entire amount.”

“I’m sorry,” the woman repeated, “there is no way. It’s the full amount that’s due, and it’s due before the end of the month.”

Feeling lightheaded and taking a deep breath, Callie rested her hand on the wall by the phone to steady herself. “What… what will happen if it isn’t paid?” she asked in a low voice. She didn’t want her grandmother to hear the conversation at all from that point.

The clerk sighed. “If it isn’t paid by the end of the month, then the house is taken and becomes the property of the city. You and your grandmother would need to move out of it immediately.”

Callie blinked as a vortex seemed to suddenly close in on her, spinning her around and around in circles that dragged her in different directions. “That can’t be… this is my grandparent’s house. They have always had this house. It’s their house. It can’t be taken from them!”

“Yes, ma’am, it can be taken from them, and it will be taken from them if this isn’t paid at the end of the month.” The woman replied coolly. “The letters have been sent every month, there was a chance to pay it before. That time is gone now. It’s got to be all of it, or the city gets the house. That’s all there is to it.” The clerk was clearly becoming impatient and annoyed.

Callie wanted so desperately to find a solution but it was clear to her that there was no solution that could be offered by the city. She would have to find it elsewhere. She closed her eyes tightly and rested her head against her hand on the wall.

“Is there any way to get an extension? I’ll have to do some work to try to come up with that kind of money. A little more time would be a big help. Is that possible?” she asked in desperation, feeling as if she was grasping at strings that were disappearing before her eyes just before she could reach them.

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