Chapter 9: The Hidden Key

“Imagine seeing you here,” said Miles as he stood by and anxiously awaited a response from Sierra about Chantal.

With her eyebrows raised, Sierra was in suspense and relished an opportunity to speak with him alone about her sister, whose heart he had broken. Then, she remembered the reason for her trip to the café.

“Pardon me Leslie, this is Miles Banks. He and Chantal are close friends.”

“Hello, said Leslie.

“Miles, this is Leslie Brent.”

“Hello,” said Miles.

“I apologize, but Leslie and I have a meeting scheduled now.”

“No worries, I don’t have anywhere to go until one o’clock,” said Leslie.

Sierra smiled at him.

Then, she turned to Miles and asked, “Is there a way for me to get in touch with you? Maybe we can talk later?”

“Yes, here’s my card. It has my cell phone number on it. I just stopped here for some coffee with a member of the research team from our oil company. He wanted to visit his family who lives here. We are on our way back to Woodbine to investigate the natural gas explosion that happened over a week ago.”

“OK, I remember hearing about that news story on the radio as I was having breakfast with Chantal when we were home in Thousand Oaks.”

“Do they have any more leads on what caused the explosion?” asked Leslie.

“We’re still gathering data. Well, I had better get going and let you two get back to your meeting. Sierra, I look forward to hearing from you soon.”

“You will, and it has been good seeing you. I will tell Chantal that I saw you here.”

“Great, thank you.” Miles walked away and joined his colleague.

“He seems like a nice young man,” said Leslie.

“He is. Chantal adored him.”

“You used the past tense.”

“I know, she is smitten with Devlin Lloyd now.”

“Ah, young love.”

‘Yes, now please tell me everything you know about the cemetery near Brooke Manor.”

“Well, I did some research after we spoke earlier this morning. The cemetery and mausoleum were privately owned by the Lloyd family, and built on the estate in the early 1900’s. The first recorded burial on the property was  in 1904. Mildred and Gary Lloyd had a stillborn son.”

“I wonder why I never received any pictures or drawings about the cemetery or family plots from Devlin,” said Sierra. “I saw some of the gravestones. They are badly worn and could use a little work. The hedges have grown out of control and need trimming. Surely, he would want to restore and preserve the aesthetic Gothic appearance of the mausoleum, which was absolutely gorgeous.”

“That’s not all,” said Leslie. “Like most families back then, the Lloyd’s had a large family. There were seven more children. Only three of them survived childhood, but they have all since passed away. All of them have a regular burial plot with their parents except the youngest and only other son. He’s  buried in the mausoleum in a crypt next to his wife. The story is that the young couple died horrific deaths, moments apart from each other. So, after their funerals, Gary Lloyd had a chain placed on the iron gate of the mausoleum to lock it permanently. He hid the key so his son and daughter in law would forever rest in peace, literally, to never be disturbed by anyone again.”

“Perhaps, that could explain the reason Devlin never said anything to me about the cemetery,” said Sierra. “I mean there’s not much we could do about restoring the mausoleum if we cannot get inside to assess it  for preservation purposes.”

“No, but you could clean and restore the gravestones along with the statues of the angels and two gold urns on each side of the mausoleum door, and clear away some of the wild growing vegetation.”

“You’re right. I will do more research, and speak with Devlin to ask for his permission to inspect the cemetery. He gave me the master-key for all the rooms in Brooke Manor except for his bedroom, which is understandable. I wonder if the key to the iron gate is hidden inside one of the rooms in Brooke Manor,” said Sierra.

“I don’t know, but that’s an interesting thought.” said Leslie.

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