He looked from Nastasya to Vlad. "Fortunately nothing else happened, because today . . . yesterday? The last thirty hours have been over-supplied with . . . happenings." He frowned. "And I don't think I've had anything to eat since ice cream."
"Lord Axel!" Nastasya headed for the kitchen. Opened the fridge and frowned. "A snack tray? A cheap grocery store snack tray and not another thing in your fridge?"
"It's pretty healthy, as bachelor chow goes. There's a roast in the freezer that I never did anything with . . . and . . . maybe some cans of something?" He shrugged, winced. "I only come here when I can't stand being around my family anymore."
Dina grinned suddenly. "I think I remember how to cook! Dinner for Red and Brown!" She headed for the kitchen, her horrified mother in pursuit.
Vlad looked around and shook his head. "Lord Axel . . ."
The man grinned. "Keeping it formal in case you have to arrest me? Look, Nastasya can keep an eye on me if you prefer your parent's place, or whatever. Murph, the Boss probably expects you back sometime. And Mitty? If your wife and daughter and Nastasya want to cook a solid frozen chunk of meat, who are we mere men to interfere?"
"It won't be ready until lunch time!" Nastasya yelled back.
"Good. I'll sleep until then." Lord Axel walked stiffly over to a console, opened a lid and tapped away at it. "Right then, the code 8675--your address--will unlock the front door for you guys in case you need to chase your daughter down again. I'll see you all whenever."
From the kitchen some comment about needing wine.
"I know where it is!" from Dina.
Vlad blinked damp eyes. What the hell happened? I've never heard of a recovery!
Axel lurched over and blocked her as she headed for the stairs. "There's better wine downstairs." He pointed over her shoulder. "The good drinking stuff is at the top, the cheaper stuff for cooking and whatever is lower down. Bring up some of each, I can fortify myself against tomorrow, at lunch."
Dina giggled and looked around, trotted over to a door and opened it. Closed it, tried the next. Stairs heading down. She galloped down and Vlad followed her.
Dad closed the door behind himself. "Wait up a minute."
He dropped down a few steps. "Lord Axel has all the signs of an unprotected Portal transit, and I can recognize a military Cyborg, even if he wasn't still wearing half his battle armor. What have you gotten into?"
"Nothing. Else. Happened." He stared into his father's eyes.
The old man huffed out a breath. "One of those, eh? Whatever it is, be careful. And, as for kissing that pretty girl? Before you do, remember she's a servant. She looks close to eighteen, so she'll be getting a servant's chip pretty soon, and then there's the matter of who does she belong to, and is he willing to part with her."
Vlad shook his head. "She's already got a no-show executive plate, and Lord Axel is planning to take her as part of this payment for managing the Trusts."
"In that case, kiss her, and start saving your money."
"And he's training her in espionage, and probably won't part with her." Vlad shrugged. "Now let's go select some wine before Dina gets into trouble. Speaking of which . . ."
"She tried to climb from our patio to his. He rescued her, cementing her certainty that he's her hero."
"And that triggered her improvement?"
His dad smiled. "Nothing else happened."
Axel woke to wonderful odors wafting up from below. Beef. Plus onions and garlic? Frying in butter? No, bacon.
He stretched carefully. Didn't hardly hurt. He rolled out of bed and headed for the shower.
When he came down, the women were busy making delicious smelling things in the kitchen and Vlad and Mitty were watching the news on the screen in the front room.
Vlad looked over. "I'll bet you didn't know that you and your beautiful accomplice have been arrested."
"Huh. Somebody ought to have told me! Honestly! No consideration these days." He took a deep breath. "That smells wonderful! is it ready? I'm starving."
Dina grinned. "Five minutes to crisp-fry the green beans."
Damn, she sounds close to normal!
When someone finds out I've been doing unauthorized experiments, I'm dead.
He looked at the happy woman, her happy mother. Worth it. And maybe I ought to go up to Research and propose an experiment.
Plates started hitting the table and he went in for the best meal he'd had in years.
Forty-one, in a police car, picked them up and drove them back to Vinogradov House.
His cousins and their wives all seemed disappointed that he hadn't actually been arrested, and why were there Imperial accountants everywhere?
"If I find out, I'll tell you." He gave Lady Anastasiya and Lady Veronika his best innocent face. And pulled up his own trust for the wording, Dear Uncle's for some clauses he hadn't had to consider, and started changing names and other things. Brought up his own will and changed benefactors. Found a template for a Trust Manager's Invoice. Filled in the blanks for two different ones.
Sent it all off to his actual human lawyer for a read through.
He got pulled away from the paperwork to release the Power Locks on the doors of his rooms, and then again the third floor home he'd locked up solid when his father died. The Mentalist assigned to the project was impressed, and a bit wary of him. Much to the amusement of the people who knew him.
He tried hiding in his own office, but everyone knew where to find him. Including the "Rangers."
"They don't want our help. Not even Pauli's, with the electronics." Dimitri complained.
Axel grinned. "Well, how about . . ." and shut his mouth as Mr. Solovsky tapped at the open door.
"The Lawyer wishes to know when you want the reading of the will."
Two back and fourths, a check on Andre's and Nikoli's availabilities, ordered up the big limo, because, as he'd suspected they would, Veronika and Anastasiya invited themselves along. And the twins brought their secretaries in training.
It was all beyond the Trust . . . a boring, long list of who got what personal belongings.
Axel got all the used bath towels. The twins howled with laughter.
When he finally reached the end, Axel handed over the Executor certificates, ignored the man's outraged expression, and requested a copy of the lists.
"And any other information, especially bank accounts, annuities, and real estate."
Then he made an appointment with Mr. Chaykovsky. "As long as we're all free."
Since they'd already gotten the bad news about the state of their father's Trust, they glared at each other and then him, but accepted his decision to just split the capital into two trusts.
"Keep in mind that I'm still tracking down accounts and investments outside the Trust. There should be more cash coming in."
The ladies exchanged horrified glances.
"I should hope so!" Lady Anastaciya raised her nose.
"Now you've already had your quarterly stipend deposited in your accounts, so as of the first of the year . . . well, the first stipend is going to be low. Especially depending on my fee."
That got their attention.
"You said you'd save us money over a Council appointed Trust Manager!" Nikoli growled.
"And I suspect I shall. By law, I could charge twenty percent of the eight point two million dollar value. Which would run one point six four million. My first offer is simple: four hundred thousand, in the form of ownership of four specific servants."
They all frowned.
Andre snorted. "So you want Mr. Solovsky? And what other ones?"
"No. These four." Axel brought out the folders.
Andre snatched it, Nikoli craning he neck to see . . .
"You wuh want Puh Pauli? Whatever for?"
"Why are you valuing them so high?" Andre scowled. "Are they your get?"
"No. But they all got executive plates on their eighteenth. So I'm offering full price despite partial training."
"Exec . . . why?" Nikoli looked stunned.
"I believe he was going to gift two of them to you two on your birthdays. However, since you seem to be training up your own that no one has interfered with . . ."
Andre turned to eye Lenni. "But the exec plates cost nearly a hundred thousand . . ."
"Or thirty, if you take over all the training. Mr. Solovsky is good on the technical aspects, and you've already got a start on the rest." Axel shrugged. "Or, I can charge one point six million and cut into the capital and reduce your stipend . . ."
Veronika leaned and glared. "We want half a million to cover the costs of replacing them."
"A hundred and twenty-five thousand each? Really?"
Andre and Nikoli eyed each other and exchanged nods.
"Yeah, really." Andre smirked.
"That's your fee plus you add a hundred thou to the cash account." Nikoli looked smug.
Axel hissed. Scowled. "Well, it'll be worth it get this done and over with."
Lots of signing and notarizing, and it was done.