They met at the funeral of one of the most prestigious men in the country, Dean Lawson, their father. Abbie Lawson, the dutiful genteel daughter breed in the lap of luxury and, Rachel Farr, a mistake born of a passionate love affair, are almost identical in appearance but are worlds apart. Only one daughter can be the heir to the endless oil fields and magnificent thoroughbreds. A fierce competition has arisen between the women, not only for the inheritance but also for the proof of a father's love.
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September 01, 2000
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Excerpt from Heiress by Janet Dailey
Sunlight pierced the thick canopy formed by the branching limbs of the oak trees and dappled the century-old marble monument that laid claim to this section of the Houston cemetery as the Lawson family plot. Cut in the shape of an ancient obelisk, the monument had been erected more than one hundred years ago to watch over the graves of the first Lawsons to be buried in Texas--and to commemorate the Lawsons who had died far from their East Texas home while proudly serving the Confederacy. Again mourners had gathered, and the hallowed ground was opened to receive the body of yet another member of the family, Robert Dean Lawson, Jr., known to all as Dean.
The suddenness of her father's death--for Abbie, that had been the hardest. An accident, the police had said. He'd been driving too fast and missed a curve. Ironically, he'd been on his way home from the airport, returning from a business trip to Los Angeles. Killed on impact, Abbie had been told, as if that made his death easier to accept.
It hadn't. The pain, the regret came from not having the chance to talk to him one last time, to tell him how very much she loved him, and maybe ... just maybe ... hearing him say that he loved her. It sounded so silly, so childish to admit that, yet it was true. She was twenty-seven years old, but she still hadn't outgrown the need for her father's love. No matter how she had tried to get close to him, something had always stood between them, and years of battering hadn't broken down the wall.
Numb with grief, Abbie lifted her glance from her father's closed casket, draped in a blanket of Texas yellow roses, and scanned the crowd massed around the grave for the services. Admittedly the turnout wasn't as large as the one at her grandfather's funeral nineteen years ago. Even the governor had come to it. But that was to be expected. Her grandfather R. D. Lawson had been one of the pioneers in the petroleum industry. He was the one who had refilled the family coffers after they had been virtually emptied during those terrible years of Reconstruction that had followed the Civil War. Bold, shrewd, and very sure of himself--that's the way Abbie remembered him, even though she'd been a child, barely eight years old, when he died. Judging from the stories she had heard, he had been a colorful and charming character, and occasionally ruthless about getting what he wanted. In those early days in the oil business, sometimes a man had to be.
But the Lawsons weren't oil millionaires. Whenever people insinuated as much to Abbie--christened Abigail Louise Lawson after her grandfather's mother--she loved to steal her grandfather's famous line: "Not oil, honey. We made our money in mud." The started expressions on their faces always made her laugh. Then she would explain that mud waste term given to drilling fluids that were pumped into a well to soften up the ground for the drill bit, carry off the tailings, and maintain pressure to prevent a blowout. In the early days of rotary drilling in the oil fields, a mixture of clay and water--literally mud--was pumped into the hole. Later, additives such as barite and bentonite were included in the mixture to increase its weight. In the late 1920s, after working in the booming Texas oil fields, R. D. Lawson came up with his own formula for "mud" and marketed it himself, starting a company that he eventually built into a multimillion-dollar corporation.