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(Thanks once again to my editor “larryin seattle” for his fantastic work as well as to my “Irish Lass” for her support and input.)
The following morning, the bed next to Brittany was empty. She got up and searched the house for Jerry until she found him standing on the “Widow’s Walk” looking out at the ocean.
“Are you okay?”
“Yes … and no. Right now I’m just really confused.”
“Wanna come inside so we can talk?”
Once they were sitting at the kitchen table he told her everything he knew about his parents and the rest of his family as far back as he knew. He told her about the rumors that had circulated throughout the area and within the family and how they’d always been referred to as ‘queer’, ‘odd’ or ‘different’.
“It just seems that something or someone is always controlling our lives. That’s why my sister left. It wasn’t just because of my mom’s death; it was because she wanted a life of her own.”
“Do you think … you know. That the spirits or whatever ever did anything with her?” she asked.
“I dunno. I don’t think so. I think she may have felt something and just needed to get away.”
Brit didn’t say a word, simply nodded her head in reply.
“Now all this, between you and me. I’m not sure I have the right to feel this way or to ask you to be part of it,” he finished as he looked down at the cup of tea on the table.
She sat there for several moments gathering her own thoughts before she replied. “You seem to forget that I’ve been part of this whole thing from the very beginning. The messages, the Journal, the dreams, the … ummmmm … everything! On top of that, my family has lived around here for generations so I’ve heard all the rumors about this house and your family. Shit, my great-great-grandfather sailed with yours so we have our own rumors!! But none of that,” she hesitated, calming her voice before continuing, “and I mean, none to that changes the way I feel about you.”
“You can still say that?”
“I can say more than that! I told you ‘I LOVE YOU’ and I meant it. I still want to be your friend, your partner, and your lover. Hell, I still want to be your wife, I think!”
The look in her eyes told him she meant what she was saying. “I Love You, too,” he whispered as he stood and walked around the table to stand next to her. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay,” she said as she stood and wrapped her arms around his neck. “We’ll get through this. You, me, this old house, and even your family. We’ll figure out what’s going on and then decide what to do next … as a couple! You understand?”
He nodded, tears forming in the corners of his eyes. “Yeah.”
“Okay, then. Let’s get back to work.”
They decided to split the work and while he re-checked everything he could about smuggling in the area and the tunnels beneath the house, she researched their ancestors.
The next two weeks flew by and then a month and then two months. Neither was ready for what they’d found by time they were done.
Now the middle of Summer, they sat on the patio of the house. A soft, gentle breeze was rustling the research papers that were spread out over the table and taped to a huge display board.
“You’re sure about this?”
“Yep. It’s the same over and over. Every couple of generations there’s a baby boy born in your family that’s named Jeremiah Andrew and every couple of generations there’s a girl born in my family who’s named Brittany Jennifer.”
“Does that mean were related?”
“In a way but it’s so distant there’s really nothing to worry about.”
“Phew. Glad to know that. I’d hate to think that I was in love with my second cousin or something.”
“Nah. It’s something like fourth or fifth cousins,” she teased. They hadn’t talked about their feeling for each other since ‘that night’ and though they still slept together it was as if an invisible wall stood between them. They kissed, hugged, and cuddled, but the fierce passion had cooled.
“What about your research? Find anything bahis firmaları new?”
“Not much. Smuggling started almost as soon as there were people in this area. It hit its high-point in the early 1800’s with our great-greats but died pretty quickly after that. A lot seems to have to do with the Revenue Cutter that was stationed just down the coast. Apparently, our family members were the ‘best-of-the-best’ and when they quit, the local law was able to either catch the rest of the smugglers in the area or apply enough pressure to make them ‘retire’. As for the tunnel, I did find an older hand-drawn map that has some interesting things on it.”
“There’s a tunnel that isn’t on the newer map, for one thing, and …,” he paused to heighten the excitement. “… then there’s two more rooms. It looks like the tunnel splits just after you enter it. One way, I think, goes down to the beach. The other way to the rooms. The weird thing is that it looks like there’s a wall between that tunnel and the main tunnel.”
They sat silently for a few moments before she said, “So, I guess that means it’s time for another trip?”
“Looks like it.”
Neither said anything more about it for the rest of the day and neither was surprised when they found a note lying on the kitchen table the next morning.
“It’s my mom’s handwriting again,” he said.
“What does it say?”
You’ll find all the answers you’re looking for in the tunnels
… if you look at things the right way.
“What do ya think that means,” she asked.
“No idea but there’s only one way to find out.”
They spent the rest of the day assembling all the supplies that he’d gotten together and stuffed them into his backpack. The sun was just beginning to set by the time they were done so after making a light meal, they sat on the porch and watched it disappear over the hills to the West.
He got up long before sunrise the next morning and was getting ready when she appeared in the doorway dressed in jeans, a flannel shirt, boots, and a thick, water-proof jacket.
“What’s all that for?” he asked.
“I thought about it this morning and decided I’m coming with you.”
“But I thought you’d said you didn’t want to go this time.”
“Yeah, well, I also said we were in this together, remember?”
“Yeah.” He nodded his head and returned to double-checking his gear.
“There is one question I need to ask before we go, though.”
“How do you feel about being a father?” she asked, almost in a whisper.
“What did you say?” only half listening to her.
“I asked how you felt about being a father.”
“Yeah, sure,” he replied, still only half listening, until he suddenly stopped, what she’d asked finally registering. He looked up at her from the pile of supplies in front of him. “Are you telling me …?” he exclaimed.
She held up the pregnancy test revealing the ‘+’ on it. “I guess your great-great-great-grandma was right again.”
He walked to her and wrapped her in his arms. “Guess she was … but … you were right that we’re in this together,” he finished as he leaned over and kissed her. For the first time in months they held each other tightly, their lips pressing together, the love and passion for each other flowing over them.
When she stepped back, tears ran down her cheeks. “Wow! I never realized how much I missed that.”
“Me either,” he said.
“Just one more thing.”
“Let’s not wait another two months to do it again,” she chuckled.
Wrapping her in his arms, he hugged her as he whispered, “Agreed.”
They quickly divided the supplies into two backpacks and went down the stairs to the cellar. The door was opened just a crack though neither could remember whether they’d closed it the last time they’d been there. For the next three hours they worked their way through the dark underworld. Several times they had to backtrack after taking the wrong tunnel or climb over rocks where sections of the tunnel walls had collapsed. Finally, kaçak iddaa they reached the area where the second tunnel was supposed to be.
“I think this is it.”
“This is what?”
“The spot where the other tunnel is.”
“Are you sure? I don’t see anything,” she said as she shined her flashlight across the walls. “In fact, I’m not even entirely sure where we are. With all the twists, turns and backtracking I’m kinda lost.”
“No. I’m pretty sure this is the place. As for not seeing anything,” he replied, “we didn’t see anything when we found the Journal either.”
“You’re right,” she replied, her voice now excited. “Let’s take a look at the map.”
Together they stood in the middle of the tunnel and slowly worked out where the opening should be.
“It should be right HERE,” he grunted as he swung the trenching shovel he’d brought along.
“CLANG.” The sound vibrated and echoed off the walls.
“SHIT,” he exclaimed as he looked at the wall. “There’s nothing here.”
“Yeah. Nothing,” he replied as he frantically ran his hand over the rock wall.
They stood there a few moments staring at the wall before she reached out to him. “Give me the map a second,” she said, a distinctive tone in her voice.
“Why? What’s up?”
“Just an idea.”
“Here,” he said as he gave her the map.
Slowly, she examined it again before turning it over, placing her flashlight behind it. “You son-of-a-bitch.”
“What? What did I do?”
“Not you. Your great-great-great-grandfather. I was wondering how we kept making wrong turns and going down the wrong tunnel. Now I understand. Come here and take a look.”
He stood by her as she held the map out in front of her.
“Remember how the note said we had to ‘look at things the right way’? Watch,” she said as she flipped the map so they were looking at the blank back. Then she put her flashlight behind the map again. “Look familiar?”
He stood and examined the map before saying, “The tunnels are almost exactly the same but everything is reversed. When we went left we should have gone right and when I hit this wall it should have been that one,” he finished as he looked up and pointed at the wall behind them.
“It’s worth a try,” she whispered yet the words echoed up and down the tunnel as if she’d shouted them.
When he swung the shovel this time is slid between the packed earth and it began to collapse around him. “You were right,” he yelled as he chopped and hacked away at the wall.
The light reflected off the smile on her face.
It only took about 15 minutes before the opening was big enough for them to walk through and enter the tunnel beyond. Within minutes, they found their way to the split in the path.
“Which way?” he asked.
She stepped forward, stretching her hand out first in one tunnel and then the other. “Come here and tell me what you feel.”
“Yeah. Here, try this one first.”
He stretched his hand out into the darkness of the void.
“Now, close your eyes and tell me what you feel.”
“Ummmm. It feels cool and damp and if I listen real close I think I can hear the waves on the beach.”
“Okay. Now try this one,” she said as she stepped back from the second tunnel.
He did the same as he’d done with the first tunnel before replying. “This one feels warm and,” he rubbed his hand over the wall, “dry. Definitely not what you’d expect in a cave.”
“Exactly what I thought.”
“So I guess tunnel number two it is.”
As they moved further into the tunnel, it became warmer and drier until they had to remove their jackets. After one final bend they found themselves standing in the opening to a large chamber.
“WOW!! This place is huge.”
“I’ll say,” she replied.
“Just look. My flashlight doesn’t even reach the far side.”
“What is this place?”
Quickly, she flashed her light across the walls. “Look at this,” she said as her flashlight settled on a torch stuck in the wall. “Did you bring anything kaçak bahis we could use to light it?”
He pulled off his backpack and rummaged through the side pocket until he pulled out a lighter. “Will this do?” he asked, jokingly. “If not, I think I have some flint and steel in the other pocket.”
“Wise ass,” she teased back.
“Better than being a dumb ass,” he joked.
“Arrgghhhh,” she groaned and then they both laughed.
They pulled the torch from its holder and lit it. The flame sputtered and then caught, lighting up the area around them.
“Look at that,” she pointed. “Another torch.”
They replaced the first one in its holder and moved on to the next and the next. Within minutes the room was aglow with the soft, flickering flames of over a dozen torches.
“Now what?” he asked.
“That,” she pointed at a dark doorway in the far wall.
“I don’t remember seeing that there.”
“I almost missed it too. The only reason I noticed it was the warm air flowing from it.”
The moment they stepped into the room, they knew they’d found what they’d been looking for. There, in alcoves cut into the walls, were scrolls, bundles of paper tied together, leather-bound books, small gold-colored statues, chests of various sizes, and paintings of people.
“Unreal,” he whispered
She didn’t say a word as she wandered through the room looking at the items. Several times she picked something up, looked at it, and then laid it back, reverently. “It’s all here,” she sighed.
“Everything. This is your family history. It starts over there,” she said as she pointed. “The scrolls look like they’re written in Old English, though I’m not 100% sure, and then everything seems go in order,” she swept her hand around the room, “until …” She stopped and moved to the last alcove. “Jer, I think you better come and look at this.”
He was beside her in an instant. There, leaning against the wall was a life-size painting. It was of a man and a woman. The woman was wearing an ivory-colored dress with a high lacy neckline, it was highlighted by a black and white cameo broach exactly like the one that now hung between Brittany’s breasts. The man beside her was dressed in a dark blue captain’s uniform. And in the background was a much newer-looking version of the house that they were now living in. But it wasn’t until he looked at the faces of the two people that he turned pale and he suddenly felt cold. “That’s…” he stuttered. “That’s us,” he finished in a hushed whisper.
“I know,” she sighed. “But how? I don’t understand.”
As if with a will of its own, a book that had been lying on a chest in front of the painting, fell to the floor. The ‘booming’ sound echoed throughout the room and down the tunnels, finally lost in the distance.
He leaned over to pick up the book but hesitated just as he was about to touch it. He looked at Brit. A question passed between them without saying a word.
Her eyes were locked on his. She wasn’t sure if it was fear or excitement that made her tremble and she barely nodded her head.
He picked up the book. It was covered in layers of dust. Gently, he brushed the dust away to reveal that the book cover was made of a deep-brown leather. A large, gold-inlaid, letter “F” was engraved in the center with the view of the ocean from the “Widow’s Walk” behind it.
Cautiously, he opened the book and looked at the first page, almost dropping it when he read what was there.
To my great-great-great-grandson and his beloved,
Within is the history of our family and the answers you seek.
All our love,
JAF past, present and future. It is my hope that it will help answer any questions about our family, its purpose, and in some small way make the transition needed easier …
When and where the “Foster” lineage began has been lost to time though the first recorded member was an adviser to the Court of William 1st of Scotland in 1184. Since that time there have always been Foster’s advising, counseling, and helping those in power. Sometimes the help came in the form of verbal advise but far more often it came in the form of changes made by a family member to insure a leader was in the right place and at the right time, as the saying goes.
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