The Secrets of Covingport Manor: Part Nine
- 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 heart beat as fast as a hummingbird as I stared at the man in front of me. The stranger wore jeans and a black t-shirt. His striking blue eyes glowed against his tan skin and brown hair.
I wasn’t positive if I was supposed to run or stay put—did I know him? Was he trespassing?
“I didn’t mean to startle you, Miss Covingport. I’m sorry.”
His voice was clear but gentle and contrasted with his exterior persona. Yet, his familiarity with speaking my name seemed to calm me in a way, and I felt my shoulders relax.
I knew by now that Michael would have locked the gates unless the gardeners were still working. They often stayed late, despite my protests, for them to go home and get some rest.
I realized I had been staring at him silently for quite some time. I cleared my throat. “That’s okay. I just wasn’t expecting anyone to be here still,” I replied.
I looked down and saw my things scattered across the ground. The mystery man seemed to notice, too.
“Let me help with that,” he said and bent down.
He grabbed everything that had flown or rolled over by him, and I grabbed the lonely book that had stayed by me. My slowness didn’t come without reason. The way he moved with ease and precision bewitched me. It reminded me a lot of how Frank moved in the kitchen sometimes.
I stood when he did. He handed my things to me, which I took with a quiet, “Thanks.”
Our fingers brushed, and the shock of cold from him startled me enough that I let out a gasp.
If he noticed my surprise, he didn’t comment on it. “Of course.” He smoothed his shirt down and avoided eye contact.
Okay—maybe he did notice my surprise.
“I came to see if I left anything behind. I didn’t mean to bother you.”
“Oh!” It seemed to click in my head why he looked familiar and yet was not. “You must be Thomas’ brother?” I reached out instinctively to shake this hand. My tone left a question mark that I hadn’t meant to add, but I still tried to calm my racing heart now that I knew he wasn’t an actual trespasser.
“I’m Eddie.” He took my hand and shook it strongly once before he let go.
It was the weirdest handshake I had experienced, but it may have had something to do with the fact that he was freezing, and I made a mental note to buy the three of them some work gloves for the early mornings and evenings.
“I’m Hannah. I mean, you know that, but you don’t have to call me Miss Covingport. I’m just Hannah.” I snapped my mouth closed to cut off my rambling before I made a fool of myself.
Eddie raised an eyebrow. “You are a marchioness, are you not? It would be rude of me not to address you properly.”
I sighed and held back the urge to roll my eyes. He was as bad as Frank and Elaina with their traditions. And it would be rude of me not to respect that either.
“Yes, that’s true, but it basically happened overnight. I didn’t even know I was royalty or whatever. It’s still weird,” I shrugged.
Eddie chuckled at my long-winded inconsequential words, and I internally cursed myself for being weird around people I didn’t know.
“Of course. As you wish, Hannah.” He shifted from foot to foot. “Is it the new title that is making you so sad?”
I looked out at the darkness. Anything to avoid the vulnerability I knew showed on my face.
“I don’t think so,” I said with a shrug. “I feel more lost with that than anything. It’s not like I can google ‘how to be a marchioness when you didn’t know you were one’ or anything.”
“Then what is it?” he asked quietly.
“I have no one to share this with. Everyone I cared about is dead—even my estranged aunt.” My voice cracked at the end, old emotions bubbled to the surface, and I swallowed back the knot in my throat.
I shrugged again as I thought back to my so-called friends. “I don’t have friends anymore. When my parents died, no one wanted to be around the girl who was mourning. They weren’t genuine friends; they only wanted what I could give them with the inheritance from my parents. But life moved on, and I was stuck caring for all the problems in the aftermath.”
I looked over at Eddie and saw his gaze fixated on the ground. My face burned red. I unloaded all my problems on a complete stranger. How embarrassing!
“Sorry,” I mumbled.
His head snapped up. “Whatever for?”
My hand went to the back of my neck and rubbed the tip of my spine. “Throwing that all onto you?”
“Please don’t be.” Now he was the one who looked embarrassed as his face turned pink. “I’m a great listener. But I’m not so great at looking people in the eyes,” he reassured. “Your problems are not a burden.”
I didn’t know what to say. That I was awkward around people, too? I was, but I didn’t think he cared to know that.
“Tell me about your parents.”
I was silent for a moment. I hadn’t talked about my parents to someone in a long time—no one had asked.
“You don’t have to listen. I understand you’re busy. Or if you want to go home,” I finally said.
I didn’t want to keep him. Eddie could have plans tonight or just wanted to go home, but he seemed too nice to say anything if he did.
“I’ll always have time for you, Miss Coving—Hannah,” he corrected himself.
I smiled at his attempt to respect my position and my wishes. Eddie had an aura about him that relaxed me. He was awkward like me, and even more, he was open about it. He made me want to open up to him and spill all my problems.
“You are right about one thing. How inconsiderate of me!”
His change in attitude startled me. “What?” I asked. I could feel my face scrunch in confusion. What did I say?
“It’s dark out! We can go inside and finish this conversation. Lead the way.” He stepped aside to let me pass first.
Before I could take a step, his face fell in embarrassment. “If you wanted, of course.”
I smiled at him—he was definitely as awkward as me.
“Tell me something, Eddie,” I said and started walking down the veranda to the other side of the manor.
He replied with no hesitance, “Anything.”
Eddie walked to my left. His steps were quiet compared to the loud smacking of my flip-flops. He didn’t seem to notice as he stared ahead of us.
“Why the interest in my life?”
He laughed. “I suppose it is a bit prying of me, isn’t it?” Eddie cleared his throat before he spoke again. “I’ve lost someone too. I know what it’s like to keep things bottled up.”
I understood that. Grief was something we all experienced, and yet, something we felt like we had to go through alone. “Your sister-in-law? Or was it someone else?”
Eddie shook his head. “It was someone else. She was the love of my life, but few people knew about her.”
I felt my eyebrows pinch in confusion. A secret love? That must have been hard.
“Our relationship was not something many would have approved of if they had known—or found holy, for that matter.”
“That sounds…” I had no idea what to say to that. “Complicated,” I finished lamely.
I didn’t know many religious standards, but I knew some took their religion seriously, and if I were put into that position with the love of my life, I would be at a loss like I was now. It sounded very Romeo and Juliet, and those types of romances always ended tragically.
Eddie nodded. “It was, but it was worth every moment. After her loss, I gained someone else, though she doesn’t know I even exist. Or how important she is to me.”
“How does that make you feel?” I cringed at the stereotypical therapist question.
He smiled when he turned to look at me. “Probably as lost about what to do as you feel with your new title.”
I laughed at the comparison. We were a messed-up pair.
As we reached the front of the manor, Eddie held the front door open for me.
“Thanks,” I said.
He nodded and continued to follow me into the living room. “So, do you plan on confronting this new woman?”
Eddie shook his head as he sat down on one of the couches. “She has too much going on. I don’t want to burden her even more. Sometimes I feel weak, and I need to see her. I hope she’ll be ready to see me one day, too.”
“Well, you said she’s going through a lot,” I responded as I set my things on the table and sat across from him. “So, if you’re there for her, I’m sure she’ll see you sooner rather than later.”
He chuckled. In the light, I could see the laugh lines on his features. His bright eyes showed that a war raged inside him, one where he struggled to be happy again.
“Oh, I plan to. Whatever she needs, I’ll be there. But tell me about your parents.”
The change in conversation was a reminder of the reason we had begun the discussion. Regardless of how it started, I opened up about my parents.
I told him about my childhood growing up and how they struggled to have kids, so when I was born, they were thrilled because they had finally gotten the chance to be parents and shower me with love. We talked about their reactions to my daredevil lifestyle and how I climbed trees and jumped from them, which inspired them to sign me up for gymnastics, more like scared them into it.
It wasn’t a surprise that he asked me what I regretted with my parents. We talked about how I regretted taking a year off school to figure out what I wanted to do because they should have been there to see me graduate. But instead, I had to take an extra year off to handle the legalities of their deaths and how it was similar to what I went through with my aunt, minus the marchioness part.
“It’s getting late.” I glanced up at the grandfather clock and realized we had talked for a few hours. “Would you like some tea or coffee? I can have Frank make us some. I’m honestly surprised he hasn’t come in to ask yet,” I admitted with a laugh.
Eddie laughed too. “That’s quite all right. I should leave. Besides, Frank has done so much for me already. He needs his rest.”
Frank did need his rest. “I wish he would listen if we tried to tell him that,” I said.
We both laughed and got off the couch.
“Thanks for listening to me,” I told him. We walked to the front door, and Eddie turned before he opened it.
“And the same goes for you, as well. I see we both needed someone to talk to about the dead.”
Eddie opened the door and stepped outside. He turned to look at me one last time. “If you ever need someone to talk to, I’ll be around.”
I smiled. “Thank you. Have a good night, Eddie.”
“You as well, Miss Cov—Hannah.”
“You’re getting faster at catching yourself,” I joked.
Eddie’s laughter echoed in the night as he turned around and walked away. I waited a bit as he disappeared into the night before closing the door.