“Um, I’m Brian Fisher,” he said, and cleared his throat. “Most of you know me from working out at the docks, and I suppose that’s how you knew Bernie, too.”
Brian kept his eyes down when he spoke, and Harper knew it was because he didn’t want anyone to see the tears pooling in them. When he glanced up at her, she smiled reassuringly, and that seemed to embolden him a bit.
“I’ve known Bernie for over twenty years.” He gestured to the coffin behind him. “He was a hard worker and hardly missed a day in all the time we worked together. He took me under his wing, and outside of work he was a good friend.
“When my wife—” His voice caught in his throat, and he paused a moment to collect himself. “He, um, he took care of my girls when I couldn’t, and for that I will be forever grateful. I don’t know what would’ve happened to my family if it hadn’t been for Bernie.”
Tears filled Harper’s eyes as she listened to her father talk.
“I had the pleasure of seeing him a few days ago,” Brian went on. “And he was as spry and happy as ever. He still had so much life in him.” He let out a long breath, then turned to the coffin. “At least you get to be with your wife now, Bernie. I know you’ve been waiting a long time to see her.”
He looked back at the pastor awkwardly. “I guess that’s all I have to say. Thank you.”
The pastor thanked him as Brian hurried to his seat. He exhaled deeply as he collapsed next to Harper. She looped her arm through his and rested her head on his shoulder.
“That was very sweet, Dad,” she told him. “Bernie would’ve liked that.”
The service finished up shortly afterward. The pastor asked people to come out to the cemetery for the burial if they liked, but most of the attendees seemed to be leaving.
Brian and Harper got up with the intention of heading out to their car when a man in a gray suit approached them. He looked familiar, but everybody in Capri looked familiar. The town wasn’t that big, so even if Harper didn’t personally know certain people, she’d probably seen them around.
“You’re Brian Fisher?” the man asked.
“That’s right,” Brian said cautiously.
“I’m Dean Stanton, Bernie’s lawyer.” The man stuck out his hand, but Brian was slow to shake it.
“Bernie had a lawyer?” Brian sounded genuinely surprised. “What did Bernie need a lawyer for?”
“I handled his will and his estate,” Dean said. “And I’ve been meaning to get in touch with you.”
“What for?” Harper asked, inserting herself in the conversation.
“He’s named you, Brian, as his beneficiary,” Dean said. “He didn’t have much in the way of life insurance. What he did have only covers what he owed on the island, but at least now you get the property free and clear.”
“What?” Brian shook his head, not understanding. “Property?”
“Yes, he’s left everything to you,” Dean explained. “The island and all of its contents, including the cabin, the boathouse, and the boat.”
“He left me the island?” Brian appeared dumbfounded, and he exchanged a confused glance with Harper. “He never told me that.”
“Well, he did,” Dean said. “I’ll need to have you come down to sign some papers.
“Here’s my card,” Dean said as he handed it to Brian. “Give me a call, and we’ll set something up. But right now I’ll let you get back to the funeral. I’m sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you,” Brian murmured, sounding distracted and dazed.
The funeral home director was wheeling the casket out the back doors so they could load it into the hearse, and Brian turned back to watch Bernie’s departure as Dean walked away.
“We should get going if we want to be in the procession,” Harper said.
Brian nodded and shoved the lawyer’s business card in his back pocket.
Neither of them said anything about Bernie’s will as they walked out to Brian’s truck. In fact, neither of them said anything at all as they followed the hearse out to the cemetery. They were the only car in the procession, and other than the pastor, they were the only people who watched Bernie’s coffin be lowered into the ground.
Harper was shocked that Bernie had left them the island, and she assumed her father felt the same way. But it did make sense, since he had no real family here, and Brian was one of his closest friends.
That also made her feel guilty, when she realized how little she’d seen Bernie lately. Before they went out to his island this past weekend, it had probably been months since they’d visited him.
Harper didn’t want to see them pour the dirt onto his coffin, so she turned around to head back to the truck. As she did, she spotted Daniel standing several feet away, leaning against a bald cypress tree.
Harper walked over to Daniel, but her father lingered behind a few minutes. She wasn’t sure if Brian was paying his final respects to Bernie or giving her a moment alone with Daniel.
“What are you doing here?” Harper asked.
“I read about his funeral in the paper,” Daniel said. “I thought I’d come check it out.”
“You seem a little underdressed for a funeral.”
Daniel glanced down at his outfit. He wore a flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled up over a faded Led Zeppelin T-shirt, and his jeans had a hole in the knee.
“At least I put a shirt on,” Daniel teased. Harper had once commented on the fact that he never wore a shirt, or so it seemed whenever she saw him on his boat.
“Hello again, Daniel,” Brian said, walking up behind Harper.
“I’m sorry for your loss, Mr. Fisher.” Daniel stepped away from the tree and held out his hand.
Brian shook it quickly and nodded. “Thanks,” he said. “Did you know Bernie well?”
“No, not really.” Daniel shook his head. “But I knew that Harper was close to him, so I wanted to see how she was holding up and offer my condolences.”
“That’s very thoughtful.” Brian eyed him, as if he weren’t quite sure what to make of Daniel, then turned his attention to Harper. “I really hate to do this, but I have to get back to work.”
“I can give her a ride,” Daniel offered. “If you need to get going.”
Brian’s eyes flitted over to Daniel before looking to Harper to see what she wanted to do. Her father would just be going home to change for work and then leaving right away, so it wasn’t as if he needed her to go with him. And she wasn’t really looking forward to spending another day alone in the house.