The Secrets Of Covingport Manor: Part One
- The Secrets Of Covingport Manor: Part One
- The Secrets Of Covingport Manor: Part Two
- The Secrets Of Covingport Manor: Part Three
- The Secrets Of Covingport Manor: Part Four
- The Secrets Of Covingport Manor: Part Five
- The Secrets of Covingport Manor: Part Six
- The Secrets of Covingport Manor – Part Seven
- The Secrets of Covingport Manor: Part Eight
- The Secrets of Covingport Manor: Part Nine
- The Secrets of Covingport Manor: Part 10
My Aunt Blaire was a recluse. I had met her twice in my twenty-three years. One of which I don’t remember.
She was there the day I was born. My aunt was the only one allowed in the delivery room with my parents. She and my mother were close. Back then, anyhow.
The second time I met her was at my parents’ funeral. She was calm and collected on the outside. But the one time she took off her sunglasses, I could see in her eyes the loss she felt. It was as if her whole world had shattered.
There were things in my life that I never questioned because I was raised around them. I believed certain things to be normal. Like how my mom used to tell me that my Aunt Blaire was her best friend and yet I had never met her that I could remember. Things like how my father had untraditionally taken my mother’s last name. I was told my mother’s side was wealthy and yet we had lived in a middle-class neighborhood my whole life. Or how I’d been told Aunt Blaire had been an outgoing and rebellious person who suddenly isolated herself a few years before I was born.
So I found it surprising the day her lawyer stopped by to name me as her sole heir. Maybe it was because I hadn’t known she was dead when he began blabbering condolences and titles and bank accounts.
Abraham Watts had eyed me suspiciously. He sat up straight and folded his hands together. “I’m very sorry to tell you this. Miss Blaire Covingport passed away three days ago. She was found by her housekeeper when she returned to work after the weekend.”
Cancer. She had been dying of cancer for years. Aunt Blaire had been diagnosed and told she was dying the morning of my parents’ funeral. And yet, she had said nothing to me about it. That part wasn’t all that surprising. We had no relationship prior, and she owed me no explanation. But still, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. How fucked up it must have felt to be told you were dying the day you buried your sister and her husband.
I had never been to Covingport Manor before. Until four days ago, I hadn’t even known it existed. I knew Aunt Blair had to live somewhere. She wasn’t homeless. But a family manor? I wasn’t expecting that.
As I pulled up to the large black gates at the address Mr. Watts gave me, I couldn’t help but be in awe. Covingport Manor was no longer immaculate, but that didn’t stop anyone from being able to see the lavish home it had once been.
The driveway was a quarter-mile long, with at least twenty feet of grass on either side of the drive. Past that was a tree line on either side of the driveway that lead to the forest surrounding the property. The long drive didn’t stop you from being able to see the manor at the top of the hill. It was grand and stood tall. The stone architecture was overrun with vines, overgrown shrubs, uncut trees, and fallen leaves. It didn’t look run down or abandoned, but more like neglected for at least a decade.
Mr. Watts didn’t mention that. He hardly told me anything, in fact. One thing I did know was that I knew nothing about my family outside of my parents.
“No one knows why she chose to live in isolation. I like to think it was to keep others from the pain of losing her. She was devastated with the loss of your parents,” Mr. Watts said as we sat in the living room of my dorm room.
I had kept my dorm simple. I didn’t want to move too much stuff in here because I planned on moving after I graduated in less than a year. That didn’t mean I wanted to come home every day to an empty home that looked uninhabited.
The carpet was a fluffy gray that went with the off-white walls. I had a few hanging plants scattered around the room and the rest of the apartment. The two couches were black suede and the coffee table was glass. I had a flat-screen hanging on the wall above a short but wide bookshelf, and on either side were two more bookshelves. Reading was a hobby of mine, and the shelves were overflowing with books of all genres.
“I only met her once,” I admitted.
“At your parent’s funeral, yes.” He said as he started rummaging through his briefcase again. “She talked about you a lot. And your parents too, before they died. Your parents sent her pictures and letters regularly. She appreciated them greatly. The three of you meant everything to her. Which is why she left everything she had to you.”
“I don’t understand. Why would she leave everything to me if she had met me only once?”
He hesitated before speaking. His fingers played nervously together in his lap. “Blaire was the most unusual client I’ve ever had. I don’t know why she made the choices she did. And it is not my job to understand my client’s decisions. So long as it doesn’t involve blackmail or a similar situation, you understand. I’m here to carry out her will. To give you all the necessary items, you need to receive what she left you and inform you of her wishes. What you do with your new inheritance and whether you follow out her wishes is up to you.”
“I guess that is a luxury I do not have. To be able to ignore the questions.”
“If I were you in this situation, believe me, I would feel the same. We will take things slow. Let’s start with Covingport Manor and its staff. She had only a gates man, one housekeeper, and a cook. A drastic difference from the staff she used to have.”
“A manor? Staff?”
Mr. Watts was giving me a look of patience, but he also gave off a patronizing vibe that irritated me. “Yes, a manor. While you have no land that is rented anymore, the manor and its original house land is still in your family. You do know you are descendants of a very wealthy Marquess?”
“I knew we were wealthy,” I said with a shake of my head. “But I didn’t know we were royalty.”
“Are,” Mr. Watts corrected. “You are royalty. You are the successor to the Covingport line.”
“I know nothing about being a royal.”
“You’ll learn. Blaire’s staff were very close to her. They have been servants to the Covingport line for generations. They will assist you with anything you need.” He pulled out a few envelopes and proceeded to flip through them. “Everything you need is here. In here are all the titles to the manor, land, and cars. This one here is all the information on each bank account. There is four total. Each is used for a different reason and all add up to just under seventy-three million. In this one-”
“I’m sorry. What the hell did you just say?” I flinched at the pitch of my voice. It sounded like I was hitting puberty again.
Mr. Watts looked up, confused. “About which part?”
“Seventy-three million what? Dollars?”
“No, that was in Euros.”
“Covingport manor is of course located in West Sussex. You will need to travel there soon to complete the oversight of ownership.”
“West Sussex? In England?” I asked, shocked.
I may have been freaking out, but Mr. Watts was trying hard to not laugh at me. “What other royal line did you think you were born from?”
“I-” I didn’t know where my family originated from exactly. My parents never told me much about my family history other than they had played a major role in many wars and Eastern development. Though if I thought hard about it I could remember my parents talking about their overseas adventures in other parts of England, France, Scotland, Ireland, and many other countries around the area West Sussex is located.
“We never talked much about family history.”
“You at least know you were born in West Sussex, right?”
I felt anger beginning to form in the pit of my stomach. “Of course I know that. I’m not a dimwit!”
Mr. Watts visibly paled. “No! Of course not! I didn’t mean it in that way. It just seems like a lot has been hidden from you. I thought perhaps the truth of your origin was kept from you too,” he trailed off and became quiet.
That would have made sense if I hadn’t been feeling angry and betrayed at that moment. It was a lot to take in. My estranged Aunt’s death, an inheritance worth more than I ever thought I would see in my life, becoming heir to a royal Marquess line, and learning that an entire side of my life had been kept a secret and was now a reality I had been thrown into.
Mr. Watts had gone over a few more things with me. It was a mutual agreement that since classes were out for the summer, it was the perfect time to travel to Covingport Manor and figure out what needed to be done to finish claiming all that was rightfully mine by births and deaths.
It was strange to think about everything that had and would happen. It was especially strange to think about seeing the home my Aunt had isolated herself in for years. Despite hardly knowing her, I had realized it hurt to know that any connection I had with my parents was gone with her. I didn’t know I had questions until the only opportunity to get answers was taken from me. Maybe I thought I had more time to ask.
My mother used to tell me I looked like Aunt Blaire when she was young. Seeing her at their funeral, I knew she was telling the truth. We had the same long blonde hair, round green eyes, high cheekbones, athletic build, and seemingly always tan skin. We looked like my grandmother, whereas my mother looked like my grandfather. Both of whom had passed long before I was born.
Twin guard posts sat on either side of the gated driveway. The black iron gate had intricate designs that I didn’t think were part of the original features. There was however a large family crest in the center where the gates split open. The guard posts are made of stone and looked to be an older feature. There were a few modern updates, like the windows. But the aged stone matched that of the stone wall
that I could see traveling into the trees. It made me wonder if that wall surrounded the entire property. If so, it had to be several miles long.
I rolled down the window to the taxi as the driver pulled up the right-side post.
“Sorry, this is private property. And no, we don’t do tours,” the guard said. He momentarily took his eyes off his magazine. “No matter how gorgeous you are,” he added.
I tried not to laugh at his dismissive attitude. I believe Mr. Watts said his name was Michael. He was the youngest of the staff and looked to be around my age.
“I do hope a tour is available for the new inheritor,” I replied. His head shot up so fast I thought I heard his neck crack. “I’m Hannah Covingport. Niece of Blaire Covingport and the only living blood relative to receive and continue her succession.”