THE HAUNTING OF HILLCREST MANOR book 1

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Chapter 10

Mary Blackwood waited nervously in the hallway of her family home. Wesley, the love of her life was in the study with her father. He was going to ask him for her hand in marriage. When he had entered the study he asked her father if he could speak with him on a very important subject. Her father agreed to talk with him and bade him to enter. Sitting across from the Baron, Wesley wasn’t sure exactly how to brooch the subject.

“Well, get on with it young man, what is it you want?” The Baron said, impatiently. He didn’t have time to waste with this local bumpkin.

“I would … like to ask you for your daughter’s hand in marriage, sir.” He said, quietly, stammering over the words.

“Marriage! He bellowed. “How dare you ask for my daughter’s hand in marriage?” He spat.

“You’re nothing more than local town folk. You have no title, no lands, or no money. How do you plan on supporting her?” He said, now glaring at this young man.

“I … I do have a job in town, your lordship. At my father’s store.”

The Baron started laughing before he glared at the young man again in a more serious tone.

“You insolent young pup. How dare you consider such an important issue as marriage to my daughter? You are nothing! I wouldn’t ever consider someone like you for my only daughter! She will marry … but not to the likes of you. You’re so … beneath her station! How could you even think I would agree to such a match?”

He was yelling so loud that Wesley cowered to his voice, wishing he had never entered the study.“We love each other, your lordship. That should account for something, don’t you think?” He said, in his own defense.

“Love? Love doesn’t have anything to do with marriage. I already have made arrangements for my daughter’s hand. So I think you need to get the hell out of my house. And … I forbid you to ever speak to Mary again. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes …Yes sir … your lordship.” He replied, as he hurriedly left the room.

Mary could hear her father’s shouting all the way out in the hallway. She didn’t think he would react so violently against her choice of husbands. Now what were they to do? Her father had forbidden Wesley to ever speak with her again. But he was her true love. She didn’t care anything about titles or money. She loved him with all her heart and didn’t care if they lived in a small cottage in the village. As long as she had Wesley, she would be happy the rest of her life. “Oh Wesley, I’m sorry. I never dreamed father would react like that.” She said, as she followed him out the front door.“What are we going to do, now?” She implored. Tears running down her face.

He stopped for a moment and turned to look at her. His heart was breaking when he saw how distressed she was. “I don’t want to marry anyone … but you. How can my father do this to me? I had no idea that he had made arrangements already for me to wed, without even consulting me!” She cried, out in agony.

“I’m as distressed as you are, but your father must do what he thinks is best for you.” Wesley said, trying to console her.

“I don’t think he’s doing this for me … he’s doing this for himself!”

“Maybe you should go talk with him. See what his reasons are for his choice in this matter. He is after all, your father.”

“Well, I’ll go talk with father, but I don’t have to agree with him. He can’t make me marry someone if I really don’t want to.”

Wesley gathered Mary into his arms for what he thought would be his last time. Gave her the most loving embrace before turning away and then left the estate, going back to the village where he belonged.

The Baron heard his daughter come in the front door of the Manor House and decided this would be a good time to speak with her about her upcoming marriage. “Mary, please come into my study, I would like to speak with you on a very important subject.”He held the door open for her to enter and then closed it so they could have a private conversation. Mary took a seat across from her father and waited patiently for him to speak.

“You know Mary, that I couldn’t even consider that young man’s marriage proposal, don’t you understand that?” He said, continuing on without waiting for an answer from her. “He’s so below your station. I’ve already chosen your cousin, Edward Blackwood to be your husband. I have also made arrangements for you and Edward to live here … and when I die, you and he will be the next Baron and Baroness of Hillcrest Manor. Your brothers have both secured estates elsewhere in England to live with their new brides.”

Mary just stared at her father. Not knowing anything about these arrangements he had made. “So what if I refuse to marry, Edward, then what will you do?” She asked, defiantly.

He came around his desk to stand inches from her, grabbed her off the chair she had been sitting in and shook her a few times before speaking. “You will do exactly as I have said. I don’t want to hear any more of this non-sense about you and this country boy from the village. Do you understand? My decision has already been made, so you better start accepting it. You’re going to be a Baroness someday, so start acting like one! Now, get the hell out of my study.” Was the last thing he said to her before releasing his grip on her?

Mary fled the study, tears were streaming down her face. She didn’t stop until she reached her rooms on the third floor.How could father do this to me? She thought, miserably. To marry my cousin, whom I’ve never even met. To live the rest of my life with him when I love another.She threw herself across her bed and cried until no more tears would come out. Several hours later, she came to a decision. She jumped up and sat down at her small desk in her sitting room. She was going to pen a message to Wesley.

’My dearest Love, I cannot live my life without you. I don’t care what my father says. I want to spend the rest of my life with you, not my cousin, whom I’ve never met. I’m packing a small bag of my belongings and will wait for you to come, tonight. Bring a ladder so I can climb down it from my sitting room on the third floor. No one will see me leave and we can be married right away. Then my father would have to accept you, as my husband. He would have no other choice. I have thought about this for hours and I think this is our only hope of being together for the rest of our lives. I love you Wesley, more than life itself. So please come tonight. I will be waiting. All my love, Mary.

She quickly placed the letter in an envelope and put her seal on it and then took it to her most trusted servant. She would make sure Wesley would get it right away. With that being done, she quickly started packing her bag so it would be ready for nightfall when her true love would come. Later that evening, she sat down to dinner with her family. Acting the same way she did every night not letting on any clues to what she had planned for later that evening. She would have liked to have seen her father’s reaction when he found her gone but … her plan had to be kept secret. She finished her dinner, bid her father and brothers good night and returned to her room to wait for her true love.

It was well into the night when she finally heard a ladder being placed up against the house. Anxiously, she waited for Wesley to reach her third floor sitting room.“Oh my love, you came. I knew you would!” She said, excitedly.

“Did you really think I wouldn’t,” he replied, with a sheepish grin on his face.

“Let me take your bag down first, then I’ll come right back up for you.” Instantly he was carrying her bag down the ladder. When he was about half way down he heard a noise, then voices at the bottom of the ladder.

“You really think you could get away with this, you idiot?” One of her brothers said, with heavy sarcasm. “We’re not stupid, you know. Mary was just too happy at dinner tonight and after what father told her, she should have been really upset. So … it was only logical that you two were planning something for tonight. And of course we were right. We have known Mary our entire lives to not be able to figure out her little plan for this evening.”

Before Wesley had a chance to respond, the brothers started shaking the ladder so violently, that Wesley couldn’t hold on and fell to the ground. He hit his head on a rock, which killed him instantly. The brothers just stared at the still figure on the ground. They could see the blood gushing out from beneath his head. “Well, I guess that problem is solved,” not giving Wesley another thought. “Now dear sister,” one of her brothers yelled up to her. “Unpack your bag and go to bed, and for god sake forget about this country bumpkin as his father called him.“We’ll see to his disposal.”

Mary was in shock. “Oh my God! What have you done?” Was all she could say before disappearing back into her rooms, crying her eyes out over the loss of her beloved, Wesley? She couldn’t believe he was gone … forever.

“She’ll get over it. Now she can do what is right for her station.”

The brothers went back into the Manor House and gave instructions to the servants to remove the body before sunrise.

***

Several months passed as Mary stayed in her rooms, not wanting to see anyone. Her love for Wesley never faded though. She mourned his death every minute of every day, refusing to wear any other color than black. Until the day of her wedding. Her father insisted on her wearing the beautiful, white wedding gown and veil for the ceremony which all happened in a blur for her. She just went through the motions, saying her vows. She was now married to Edward for the rest of her life. Ten months later she gave birth to a healthy baby boy. A son to carry on the family name. She loved her son and was content on spending her days with him. But at night, she dreamed about her true love, Wesley. How happy they would have been if he hadn’t fallen from the ladder that horrible night five years ago.

From the day of her wedding, her bedroom had been moved down to the second floor. It was adjacent to Edwards with an inside door so they could move back and forth between their rooms without any interruption from other members of the household. When her father had passed away her husband became the Baron of Hillcrest Manor and of course she was now the Baroness. Their bedrooms were moved down the hall to the master suites which bothered her even more than their previous rooms.

She still had so much pent up anger toward her father for making her marry a man she didn’t love. When they first married, Edward treated her very well. He knew it had to be very hard on her to marry a man she had never met. But as time went by, so did his patience. They were barely civil to each other now, until she had had enough. She told her husband that she was moving her things back up to the third floor where her rooms were before she wed. He didn’t take kindly to this new arrangement. But she didn’t care. He could always find relief with one of the servant girls like he had ever since she became pregnant with their son. She hadn’t allowed him to come to her bed ever since then. She had done her duty. She had given her husband a son so there was no need for him to relieve himself with her anymore. Their line would continue.

She would come downstairs every day to see her son, but it became less and less with each passing day. Edward suggested that their son go away to school to better his education. He had to be prepared to take over as the Baron of Hillcrest Manor, which she agreed, so once he was gone than there was no more reason for her to leave the safe haven of the third floor, at all.

She would sit by the window everyday thinking only of Wesley, her true love. One day as she was sitting there in her favorite chair she got the surprise of her life. For their standing in front of her was, Wesley. She knew he had died many years ago but what she was seeing now was his ghost. She was elated. He had somehow come back to her. Was it because all she did now was dream of him, wishing he was here? Now maybe she could find the happiness she always wanted and never had gotten.

He would come to her every day, and be with her as they spoke with each other as if he was still alive. This went on for quite some time until her husband came up to the third floor. He was tired of not ever seeing his wife. He had spent the day, drinking as usual in his study until he decided to pay his wife a visit. She had a wifely duty to perform and he was tired of dealing with this non-sense of her living on the third floor. Having nothing what-so-ever to do with him. She had to give up this foolishness and return to the master suites. He wasn’t going to take ‘no’ for an answer.

Slamming her door open he entered into her rooms unannounced and in a very drunken state. He could see she was speaking to someone, but there wasn’t anyone there. Was his eyes deceiving him?” He thought. “Have you gone daft, woman? Who the hell are you talking to?” He glared at her through blood shot eyes.

Turning now to face her husband, anger erupted in her seeing his drunken state. How he dare enter her rooms like this, she thought before rising from her chair by the window and walking over to him. “Do you see anyone here, Edward? She asked, glaring at him. She was upset because his untimely entrance caused her beloved Wesley, to disappear.

“No … I don’t see anyone else,” he slurred, too drunk to really grasp the situation.

“Well, of course you can’t see him. He’s a ghost,” she replied, with the same amount of intensity in her voice as her husband.

This was just too much for him to deal with right now. He never expected her to say she was talking to a ghost! That’s crazy talk! “Mary, do you even know what day this is?” He asked, trying to ignore what she had just said about talking to a ghost.

“No,” she replied, nonchalantly. Her angry had subsided a bit.

“For your information my dear, today is Christmas.”

“Really, I haven’t given it much thought.” Not really caring what day it was. With her son gone away to school, then all she cared about was to spend all her time with Wesley.

“Yes, you stupid woman. Are you going to come downstairs for this holiday? Or are you going to spend it up here with your … ghost friend?” His speech was becoming more and more slurred as he spoke.

“Honestly Edward, I prefer the company of my ‘ghost friend’ then spending anytime with you. I don’t care whether it’s Christmas or not.”

“Fine, suit yourself. I don’t need you! With your cutting words. You’ve turned into a real bitch, madam!” With that said, he spun around and went back downstairs to his study and to the

Brandy that waited for him there.

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