Chapter 29: Things are Never What They Seem

Chantal caught a glimpse of herself in an antique mirror on the wall as she walked into the foyer, and pulled wispy strands of hair behind both ears. “How do I look?” she asked.

“Fine, you better get the door,” said Sierra. “I have to go upstairs to get my umbrella?”

“OK.” Chantal answered the door. “Hi Devlin, come in.”

“Hello sweetheart. Is now a good time to talk?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“Swell.”

Chantal laughed. “Swell sounds like a throwback to the old days.”

“The old days?” he asked.

“Yes, like the 1930’s. I’m a classic movies fan.”

He blushed. “Shall we take a walk?” 

“I’d like that very much,” she said.

Devlin escorted her through the tall oak double doors, outside amidst the sound of chirping birds and fragrances from the daylily perennial flowerbeds.

“Wait, do you mind if we sit here for a few minutes?” asked Chantal. “Sierra will be leaving soon.”

“OK.” They sat down on a Gothic styled bench near the front gate and started talking.

Meanwhile, Sierra searched her room, and found the umbrella tucked away in the umbrella loops on her brown leather satchel under the desk. She bent over to pick up the satchel and fell to the floor. When she gripped the desk to pull herself up, the wall near the window opened instantly.

Startled, Sierra gasped and asked herself, “What just happened?” She sank down into the chair to process everything. She leaned forward, rubbed her fingers across the front panel of the desk, and discovered a secret button.

She walked into the secret panel with caution, and saw several neatly arranged family heirlooms. A historic restoration specialist, Sierra appreciated the exquisiteness of the items. “This artwork and antique jewelry is priceless,” she said to herself. There, pushed back in a corner on a shelf near the floor, was a vintage silk woven cigar box with an engraved flag of Wales on the cover. She removed it from the shelf and opened it to reveal a key. How odd, she thought.

Then she remembered. “Leslie told me Gary Lloyd hid the key to the iron gate of the mausoleum and permanently locked it, so his son, William D. Lloyd, and his daughter in law would rest in peace forever. “Oh my goodness, is this the key?” she asked herself.

She looked out of the window and took a deep breath. Great, Devlin and Chantal are talking outside, she thought. She walked to the desk and pressed the secret button. After the secret panel closed, she went downstairs.

Oblivious to the world around them, Devlin and Chantal sat on the bench and gazed into each other’s eyes while holding hands.

“Sweetheart, last night I promised to level with you about why I had to leave shortly after dinner,” he said.

“An unpleasant thought entered my mind,” she said.

“The reason for my frequent evening departures is so I can spend dinnertime with my uncle. He lives in a nursing home, and does not have any other living relatives.”

Embarrassed, Chantal held her head down. “Now I feel silly for thinking there might be another woman,” she said.

“Don’t be silly, I should have told you sooner.” Devlin caressed her face gently and hugged her.

She breathed heavily and her heart pounded in her chest. Then, they shared a passionate kiss. Chantal opened her eyes and broke away from his embrace when she looked over his shoulder and saw Sierra approaching them. They stood up to greet her.

“Hello Sierra,” said Devlin.

“How are you?” she asked.

“All is well.”

Sierra blocked the sun from her eyes with her hand.

“Don’t let the sunshine fool you, a burst of summer showers could happen at any moment,” said Devlin.

Sierra laughed. “No kidding, things are never what they seem. I’m leaving to go to a meeting in town, but I would like to meet with you to discuss damages on the second floor.”

“No problem,” he said. “Tomorrow afternoon at two o’clock is good for me.”

“Great, I’ll see you then. I hate to run, but I want to be back before dark.”

Devlin and Chantal said goodbye to her.

Eager to get to the cemetery, Sierra walked away quickly to the car.

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