On a brisk autumn day, at the age of twenty-seven Jennifer was on her way to the Western coast of England to handle the estate as the niece of a successful lawyer; her uncle Tom Ferimore. Jennifer flew to England in a 747. As she was handed the already prepared drink, she said, “Can I have some nuts or cookies please?” The flight attendant gave her the food and a napkin. Jennifer turned to the gentleman sitting next to her and said, “This is the first time I’ve ever flown to England.”

“Well I hope your stay there is a good experience for you.”, he said with a smile. “Thanks, I hope so”, said Jennifer opening her laptop. Accessing the Internet on her flight over the pond she scanned the letter again for the name of the manor. Where is it located? Was it along the East coast or West coast?

A picture appeared before her and she took a sharp breath, her head moving closer to the screen; Shaldorn Castle on the west coast of England. Except, it didn’t Look like a castle, more like a beautiful mansion perched on a cliff above the sea town, with gorgeous surrounding gardens and a swan pond.

It was stunning, made of sand-colored stone complete with the remains of what appeared to be an ancient castle with two towers. Holding the thumb drive between her thumb and finger, Jennifer stared at her screen for the longest time before pushing it into a slot on her laptop. Jennifer played with the hem of her shirt as she contemplated her inheritance.

She picked up the envelope and turned it over in her hands. She didn’t recognize the logo on the outside, which said: Fennal and Penmore. She checked the letter again her eyes scanning the page…as the niece of Tom Ferimore you’ve been identified as the heir to the estate of Shaldorn Manor.

The next page gave contact details and a map of how to get there. The letter dropped from her hands. Her heart was thudding against her chest and she couldn’t help but shake her head. This was crazy. What was he doing with a castle in England? She scanned the letter again. In her haste to read she’d missed one important paragraph.

Your presence is requested at Shaldorn Manor to take part in the affairs of the estate along with all other connected properties, and inheritance in accordance with Tom Ferimore’s Last Will and Testament.

Through the Manor website she began to learn more details of the Manor and its surroundings and using Wikipedia for additional information. Wow there is a lot more here than even I would have thought.

Jennifer put her laptop away and stared out the plane window, twisting the loop of hair around her finger. She’d felt sad since her uncle died. She has fond memories of her uncle and aunt that lived along the coast of Oregon. She loved spending time with her aunt and uncle at their home near the ocean, Looking for seashells, listening to auntie play the piano, and eating her wonderful meals.

There was a large garden on the property where they would grow vegetables and herbs. The home was filled with antiques and period furniture, and they ate on fine things like china. She loved spending time with them during her summers. Jennifer was lost in thought reflecting on her life as a reporter.

Freezing Rain whipped the windscreen of the Jeep. Jennifer’s hands were damp upon the wheel as she parked the car in her privileged place in front of the cold blue armored glass of the company entrance. Behind it, she knew, loomed a wood floor lobby, as silent as a morgue, and perfumed with the stench of money. And as fake ass a six dollar bill.

She felt her jaw tighten. She drew a deep breath and curled her lips into a practiced smile. The meeting with her boss had not even started, yet on her tongue was the bitter taste of failure. Would today mean the end of her career?

All her life Jennifer has been held back and prevented from seeing her greatest potential because of bad teachers, politics and favoritism in the workplace. Anytime she tried showing what she is capable of, her bosses would find a way to prevent her from rising to the next level. She knew it was their fear of loosing the cushy jobs and fat paychecks, easy money and privilege they so enjoyed.

Jennifer had always wanted to show them that she was just as capable as they are. Her briefcase contained the story that she had spent so much time researching. It was about two items lost in history. While researching her story she came across Internet links that pointed to an article about an artifact stolen by the Nazi’s during WW II. It was one of only two daggers ever made.

Anytime she shared a great idea they would say no but later steel it from her and take the credit. Even as a reporter she experienced these things on many occasion’s which is why she hated working for others. Jennifer attempted to convince her boss to take the story to press. He told her it wasn’t the kind of story he wanted, and that she was wasting time on nonsense. So he fired her.

She believed much of the private sector is so corrupted by politics, and spineless leaders that the only way she would ever make it is to do it on her own. If only she knew of a way.

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After landing at London Heathrow she made her way toward baggage claim. She collected her bags and headed for the car rental area when she saw a man holding a sign Looking right at her that read, Jennifer Ferimore.

“Excuse me, are you Ms. Jennifer Ferimore?” he asked with a British accent.
“Yes?” she answered feeling the jet lag.
“Right this way, miss.” He led her to the car where he offered to drive her to Shaldorn Manor.

Her mind wandered as the car began the long drive. Since she had nothing better to do but ride in this car she found her mind wandering to her childhood days of old. As a child she spent a lot of her free time reading books as it allowed her to escape the sadness, responsibility and the unhappiness she felt in her childhood. Her mother was at times verbally abusive.

She was an introvert and she considered herself to be smart but sociable when she needed to be. She loved reading stories of the past when people showed more respect for one another, and spent time together unlike the fast paced got to have it now world where a cell phone is more important than the person your with. She would read of Ancient Rome, King Arthur or a well written mystery adventure novel. As a child she would lose herself in a book or two on a weekend when her friends were outside playing.

Inwardly, she suffered the quiet trepidations of a woman who had witnessed at least once in her lifetime the nervous breakdowns of a mother who had otherwise cared for her with stridency.  Her high school years were filled with friends, academics and field soccer which she loved playing. Playing soccer for her high school gave her, an outlet to her dysfunctional home life.

“Pardon me miss, you Look like you have a bad case of Jet lag.”

“Uh-yes, thank you.” But weighing on her more heavy than the Jet lag, a nagging within her telling her that her status had been changed.

She was raised by a single working mother whose idea of a future for her was rocked to the core when Jennifer became pregnant, which caused quite the disappointment, and further distanced her from her mother resulting in a miscarriage, she thought, to her mother’s satisfaction. Her father being a successful business man before his death, and having served as an attorney had her life planned out. He was more supportive of the choices she made growing up, and would often go against her mother on many occasions. Jennifer was always the outspoken child never afraid to speak her mind even when it irritated her parents.

Being a reporter wasn’t what she wanted out of life. It was just something she went and did because she thought that was what you were supposed to do when you grew up; you know get an education, get a job, get married and have kids. But her first serious relationship ended in a divorce. She needed freedom; she needed to discover who she was, to find her place in the world.

For many years she would drive to work at the local town newspaper where she worked. She was your typical yuppie urban professional raised by a single working but struggling middle class mother. Growing up they never had much save a roof over their heads, a bed to sleep in and three meals a day. Her mother struggled for many years until making enough income allowing them to live in a decent home.

“You know, you stand to inherit a lot of money.” The driver stared back at her through the rear view mirror.

“I’m James, it’s OK, you can trust me.” The letter did state she could trust the help, but she felt uneasy. Everything would be different.

“So how are you related to the deceased?” His eyes burned with curiosity.

“I’m his niece.” Fingers running over the surface of the coin necklace eying the coin.

On the way to Shaldorn Manor Jennifer reviewed what she saved on her laptop while on the plane. The Manor grounds to the Southwest drew a coastal English moor complete with a fog along its bank. To the Northwest the area was defined by the impressive cliffs of the North Irish Sea coast. The northern and western boundaries were defined by the steep scarp slopes of the Hills edging the lowlands and Carbis Bay. To the south lay the broken line of the Cornet Hill and portions of the town.

She had just dozed off when the driver said they were almost there. Waking from a sleep and realizing she needed a bathroom break pretty quickly Jennifer asked the driver if he could stop as soon as he can. Just a few miles down the road from the Manor they arrived at what appeared to be an ancient tavern.

Returning to the present she rubbed her eyes and stepped out of the car; the driver holding the door open for her. Walking toward the tavern entrance they noticed the sign swinging to and fro from the wind, the sign appeared to read Witherston Tavern.

After a bathroom break and a quick drink she asked the man behind the counter, “How much further to Shaldorn Manor?” Glancing at her smartphone. “You’re almost there; you will know when you see the stone lions marking the beginning of the driveway, and entrance to the property”, He said. Texting a reply on her smartphone Jennifer had not noticed how the man behind the counter was eying the driver.

Stone lions, sounds mysterious.

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