Her dad had been her world, and she would give anything to be by his side.
But when she received the call about his sudden passing, she knew nothing would ever be the same.
Her brothers and sisters kicked her out of their childhood home immediately. They laughed that out of their dad’s will, she’d only come out with the old family barn. If only they knew what their dad was planning.
Nothing Lasts Forever
But life hadn’t always been so bleak for Jemma Miller, the last born of the Miller family. She’d once been a happy woman.
But of course, this was when her dad was still alive.
He was her everything, from mentor to best friend, and she always strived to make him proud. Her world came crashing down when she received that call about his sudden passing.
Like many of us, Jemma never imagined a life without her dad.
Of course, as a grown-up, the thought had crossed her mind once or twice. But she’d never really dwelled on it.
But the last time she saw him, they’d ended things sourly, fighting over Jemma’s future and lifestyle choices. Jemma had fallen pregnant and decided to keep the child. Her dad wanted her to return home so she could be cared for, but she wanted to keep her career going. While he maintained that he only wanted the best for her, Jemma saw it as him trying to control her life.
A Late Night Call
She was away from home when her dad’s nurse called her personal cell. Jemma and the nurse were good friends, so she didn’t think much of the call.
But the nurse’s tone would tell her that this wasn’t a routine call.
Jemma jumped into the first bus home the minute she heard her nurse friend sobbing. Her dad had just gone into cardiac arrest, and EMTs were trying to resuscitate him.
I Need Time To Fix Things
Guilt-ridden, Jemma prayed with everything within her that he’d pull through.
They’d left things so badly that she didn’t know what to do if they didn’t patch it up.
But as her taxi pulled into her family farm, she saw the many car lights in the drive and knew she was out of time. The worst thing had happened.
The following days were a blur for Jemma, who was stuck in a perpetual whirlwind of stomach-churning grief and guilt.
Everything had blurred into nothingness around her.
She only snapped back to reality when the family lawyer called her name one evening, standing in the middle of the living room with her dad’s will in hand.
A Good Man
Although Jemma’s dad wasn’t the wealthiest in town, he had a few properties around the county that turned heads.
His lawyer read his will solemnly, dividing up the properties among Jemma and her three siblings.
She thought she’d get something of value from everything. She’d been her dad’s favorite, after all. But as the lawyer continued reading, she realized this wasn’t the case.
Build A Life
Jemma’s relationship with her siblings hadn’t always been the best.
In fact, they rarely got along. Her big brothers loathed that she was the most similar to their dad.
While they were high school dropouts who didn’t bother to do anything with their lives, Jemma had worked her way to college and was an assistant veterinarian in town. Although she loved her brothers to the moon and back, she suspected they didn’t share her feelings. She’d soon know their true colors.
Jemma’s dad left everything to her big brothers, save for a derelict barn some yards away from the family home.
The lawyer was barely outside the house when her brothers kicked her out.
They didn’t care that she was in her first trimester of pregnancy or that she was their blood and flesh. They jeered at her, drunk and staggering as they called their friends for a party. The bitter end was here.
Go To Your Barn
Jemma watched as car after car drove into the farm, drunk people filling out and running into her childhood home.
Furious, she stomped back in to give her brothers a piece of her mind.
But they only stared at her before dragging her out. “Dad’s no longer here to protect you,” they said triumphantly. “Go to your barn and sleep there!”
Dejected, Jemma pulled herself from the ground and walked away. She couldn’t believe her dad would do this to her.
Even more painful was her brothers’ treatment of her. She never understood why their hate burnt so brightly.
With tears streaming down her face, she fished out her phone to call a taxi. It seemed this was no longer home. But then her sight landed on the barely standing barn.
Releasing Some Pressure
Jemma approached the building with fury and pain churning within her. She kicked at its walls and pummeled its rotten walls.
Why would her family do this to her? Wasn’t she cut from the same cloth as them?
She was still assaulting the building when she heard a voice behind her. The man would make her rethink her dad’s will.
A Sound Offer
“I could take it off your hands, you know,” the voice went.
Jemma swung around, finding a rotten-teethed man smiling behind her.
“The old man never really liked it,” he continued. “He never liked you either,” Jemma cut in crossly, recognizing the man as one of the farm’s neighbors. The man, a rugged farmer always caked in mud and manure, had often butted heads with her father. What he’d reveal would leave her with more questions than answers.
Is It Jenny Or Jemma?
“There is nothing but problems there, Jenny,” the man said. Of course, he didn’t even know Jemma’s name, even though he’d known her all her life.
“It’s not for sale,” she said softly, hoping to cut the conversation short. “I wish to grieve in peace, Mr. Halsey,” she said.
But his words were already boring into her mind. “What did you mean ‘nothing but problems?”
A Second Offer
The man only laughed and offered to buy the barn again. He even doubled his initial price.
But that only made Jemma more apprehensive. She’d never known her dad as someone who kept secrets before.
But Mr. Halsey’s words had piqued her interest. “If you’ll excuse me,” she said. The man tried to protest, but she glared at him until he walked away. Jemma would find exactly what he was talking about.
It’s Yours Now
Jemma pushed the barn’s door open and stepped in.
The air was heavy with dust and the stench of manure. She coughed, squinting so her eyes could adapt to the dark environment.
Her sight took in everything, rotten floorboards and walls, rusted railings, and a tractor Jemma had never seen running. At first glance, the place looked like any other abandoned barn. But Jemma felt like there was something more than what met the eye.
Soon, her pain was replaced with a burning curiosity to explore the dusty place.
She turned on her phone’s flashlight and began weaving through old farm tools.
Jemma was in the milk house, a favorite of her dad’s when she was younger, when she noticed something tucked into the wall. Her brows furrowed as she approached.
Jemma reached for the item, a folded paper carefully wedged into the rotting wooden planes. Outside, her brothers’ party was raging on.
They laughed at her barn, praising their dad for leaving them all his fortune while she got practically nothing.
Jemma wiped tears as she opened the paper. She had no idea that her life was about to change.
His Final Words
The paper was a note written in her dad’s name. It seemed old, which didn’t make sense to Jemma.
How did it survive the harsh seasons in the barn?
She opened it and staggered back when she realized her dad had addressed her. He expressed his undying love for her and her brothers, saying they meant the world to him. But that was only the beginning.
The Hidden Cupcake
The letter expressed the old man’s fear of Jemma’s brothers falling into bad habits when he was gone.
He asked Jemma to build a life for herself, knowing she was more than capable.
But at the foot of the note, there was a section about a hidden cellar door in one of the barn’s stalls. He had unlocked it and wanted Jemma to explore, saying he’d hidden a ‘cupcake’ for her to find.
Jemma’s back shot straight. She remembered her younger days. Her dad had always hidden cupcakes for her in the house, asking her to root them out if she could.
Nine out of ten times, the cupcakes weren’t pastries but items such as story books and kids’ novels.
The word had been their codeword for treasure. Jemma wasted no second. She turned on her heels, racing for the barn’s furthest stall.
Finding The Cellar
After a few minutes of searching, Jemma found the cellar door hidden under piles of dry hay and straw. The hinges were rusted, and the door handle was covered in gunk.
But Jemma didn’t care. She pulled the door open with both hands, nearly screaming as she employed all the energy in her body.
She shone her light into the darkness that greeted her. Her eyes broadened at what she saw.
Just A Corridor
A corridor stretched into the darkness before Jemma. She looked at her dad’s note, wondering if she could honor his wish.
A dry lump of air forced its way down her throat. Could she do this?
The noises outside were louder now, the merry-makers making fun of Jemma and her bad luck. That alone gave her the courage she needed to see this through.
Down The Hole
Unsure of what she would find, Jemma took her first step. Silently encouraging herself, she continued to go down, lighting the corridor up with her phone as she did.
Cobwebs stuck to her face and hair as she pushed her way through. From the looks of things, it had been a long time since anyone had stepped foot in the place.
Jemma realized that unlike the barn above, which her dad erected out of wood, this place was concrete and stone. The walls were white, although layered with dust. Her survival instinct yelled for her to turn back, but she couldn’t stop now.
It was clear that this place had been hidden for quite some time, and Jemma wanted to find out why.
The aspiring veterinarian’s fear soon mixed with excitement. She went further down the corridor, carefully examining everything she saw.
So she continued her exploration. She didn’t expect to find much down here, but the premise of a treasure hidden somewhere made her heart beat faster. If only she knew what secrets her late dad had kept from her and her siblings.
Jemma was still unsure of what to make out of this whole debacle. When the lawyer told her about the barn, she was crushed.
She thought she had pushed the last of her father’s buttons, and that this was his way of showing her how much she had hurt him.
But as she was making her way through the corridor, she started wondering if that was actually the case. Was there something in it that he didn’t want her brothers to find?
Why Would He Hide Things?
That was a possibility since her brothers made no attempts to hide their dissatisfaction with her.
But her father didn’t seem like the type of person who would do such things.
He had always shown his love to all his children and never once singled anyone out. He wanted them all to know how much he loved them. Jemma guessed she’d have to wait until she got to the end of the tunnel to get the answers she sought.
Finding The Cupcake
Jemma had been walking for a whole ten minutes before she got to the room at the end of the corridor.
She nervously pushed the door, unsure of what she’d find inside. The place was just as dry as the corridor. But it was what it contained that robbed Jemma of all her words.
She stared at her find, suddenly frozen in place. Her lungs constricted, and her mouth ran dry. How could her dad keep such a massive secret from his family?
She Thought She Knew Him
Jemma knew that parents and children didn’t always have a good relationship.
But she thought she knew her dad. In his later years, he’d always confided in her.
But it seemed that he failed to mention this place in the stories he used to tell her. A sickening rush fired through Jemma. She couldn’t tell if it was fear, excitement, or something else. But one thing was clear. Her dad wasn’t the person she thought he was.
As she stood there, examining the contents of the room, nobody knew existed, the crushing truth dawned on her.
Her father was nothing like the man she thought she knew.
He had a secret life that he never mentioned to anyone, and the sight before her proved it. But how long had he been keeping this secret? And what did it mean for her?
She Needed A Moment
Jemma pulled the door closed and took a deep breath as she sank down against the wall.
This was far too much for her to process at this point in time.
Everything she thought she knew was a lie. Her entire childhood was a lie, and that was something she couldn’t comprehend at the time.
Jemma replayed every single memory she had, hoping there would be some kind of clue in them.
There must’ve been something that could point her in the right direction.
But all Jemma could remember about her childhood was that her dad had always been a hero in her eyes. She couldn’t help but wonder if that was the truth or if she was just fooling herself.
Understanding The World
Jemma knew that every child saw their parents as heroes, especially when they were young.
A child would never suspect that their parent could be a dangerous individual in the outside world.
And sometimes, that might be the case. However, it’s something the child will only find out much later in their life. For Jemma, the answer would be laid bare tonight.
Who Was He?
The answer to all her questions was right behind her.
The secret the room held would reveal if her father was a hero or a villain. And Jemma wasn’t sure if she was ready to find out.
However, she didn’t have much of a choice at this point. She saw what she saw, and that could be her ticket out of this mess. It could give her and her unborn child an opportunity she never thought they’d have.
Taking The Risk
Jemma got to her feet, and with a deep breath, she pushed the door open once more.
The sight shocked her, even though she knew what she would find.
It was just so unbelievable. And at the same time, the brown wrapping made it irresistible. Jemma would only know the truth when she started opening them.
A Treasure Hoard
“Cupcake,” she whispered. “Cupcakes. Lots and lots of cupcakes.” Before her, lined on the room’s floor were wrapped packages.
They covered every inch of the room from one wall to the next.
Jemma squatted down and carefully picked up the first one, which had another note stapled to it. The message was short, giving her a clue of what was happening.
The Best 1960 Had On Offer
“My little cupcake,” the note started. “What makes a whiskey exquisite is its age. Here are the best 1960 had to offer. Find Mr. Livingstone.”
There was a phone number on the paper. “He will help.” Jemma opened the package, almost falling back when she saw the famed Macallan logo on a bottle of whiskey.
Another package had a Glenfiddich bottle. One vintage bottle like this could go for thousands of dollars. Jemma couldn’t even count the number of packages before her. She slid to the floor, her head falling in her hands. “What’s happening, dad?”
Was There An Answer?
Jemma thought she’d never get the answer. But did it really matter? If she could sell all this whiskey, she could get a decent amount.
And that could offer her and her child a life she had only dreamed of until now.
Jemma’s hand was visibly shaking as she lifted her hand once more. Maybe she should get in touch with the man her father mentioned.
A Nervous Wreck
Jemma had never been so nervous in her life. The note looked pretty old, so she had no idea if this man was still alive or if his number still existed.
But he was the only lead she had.
She dialed the number, pressed the phone to her ear, and anxiously waited as the dial tone came through. Jemma had no idea what she was in for and nearly canceled the call when a man with a deep voice answered.
Moment Of Truth
The man on the other end of the line was indeed the Mr. Livingstone that her father had mentioned in his note. And he was intrigued by what Jemma had to say.
He told Jemma to remove the bottles as soon as possible and to meet him the following morning. After he saw the load, he said something that stopped Jemma’s heart mid-beat.
To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.