Her dad had meant everything to her. She would give just about anything to be with him again.
When got the call telling her about her dad’s sudden passing, she knew things would never be the same again.
The funeral had barely finished when her siblings gave the the news. They’d all decided she was no longer allowed to live in the family home.
As the lawyer read over their dad’s will, the erupted into laughter after finding out that her only inheritance was the old family barn.
Little did they know, their dad had set a plan into motion.
Nothing Lasts Forever
It might be hard to believe, but life hadn’t always been so bleak for Jemma, the eldest of the Miller Family.
She’d once been a happy & motivated woman, always making new friends and pursuing adventures.
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 perfect life came crashing down in one fell swoop when she got the awful phone call.
Their Huge Fight
Like most of us, Jemma hated thinking about living a life without her dad.
Unfortunately, as a grown up, the thought had crossed her mind inadvertently.
Whenever it did, she always made sure to distract herself right away.
Sadly, the last time they’d been together, things had gone south and they ended up fighting for hours. Her dad disapproved of some of Jemma’s lifestyle choices and the path she was going down.
Jemma had recently become pregnant and decided to keep the child.
Her dad insisted that she return to the family home, in order for her and the child to be looked after. She strongly rejected the idea. She wanted to keep pursuing her career in the city.
He tried to reason with her, reminding her that he only wanted the best for her. But Jemma didn’t see it that way. She though this was his way of controlling her life.
The Dreaded Call
She wasn’t home when her dad’s stay-at-home nurse called her cell.
The nurse and her had become good friends over the years, so when the nurse called, she assumed it was about the dinner they had planned for later in the week.
However, as soon as Jemma picked up the phone, she could immediately tell something was wrong. This wasn’t a social call.
Through tears, the nurse told her that her dad had just gone into cardiac arrest, and EMTs were trying to revive him.
Jemma packed her stuff as quickly as she could and hailed the first taxi she saw.
Please Don’t End Like This
Guilt-ridden, Jemma prayed with all her might that her dad would make it.
She hated the way they’d left things last time. She would never forgive herself if their last memory together was the huge fight they’d gotten into.
As the taxi pulled into the family farm, she saw the flashing lights.
Her stomach dropped when she realized it was over.
Her best friend, mentor & lifelong fan. Gone.
Dark Days Ahead
The following days were a blur for Jemma, struggling to cope with in constant state of grief and guilt.
Hours were blending into days, days into weeks. She hadn’t showered in weeks. She could barely eat anything.
One night, she snapped back into the harsh reality, as the family lawyer called her name. He was standing in the family home living room, with her dad’s will in hand.
An Honorable Man
Although Jemma’s dad wasn’t the wealthiest in town, he had a quite a few luxurious homes around the county worth millions.
The family lawyer read the will to the Miller children, dividing up the properties among Jemma and her three siblings.
She was sure she would get a home. He had so many… And she had always been her dad’s favorite child after all.
As the lawyer got to the end of the will, Jemma quickly realized this wasn’t the case.
To say that Jemma’s relationship with her siblings wasn’t the best would be an understatement.
Throughout their entire childhood, she couldn’t recall a time where they’d gotten along.
Her brothers always hated the fact that she was dad’s favorite child.
She couldn’t blame them. They were both high school dropouts with no goals or ambitions.
Jemma however, had worked her way through college and was now an assistant veterinarian in town.
Despite all of their differences, Jemma loved her brothers. They were family after all.
But sadly, she always suspected that they didn’t love her back.
And soon, she would see their true colors.
Her dad’s will was clear. He had left everything to her siblings. The only thing she had inherited was an old, rotting barn in the back corner of the property.
The lawyer was still walking out of the family home towards his car when they kicked her out.
They didn’t care that she was three months pregnant, or that she was their blood and flesh.
They got drunk, laughing, yelling and throwing things at her from inside the family home.
The bitter end.
Go To Your Barn
Jemma’s siblings had now decided to throw a party in their new home. Jemma watched as car after car pulled up, drunk people getting out and walking into her childhood home to party.
Furious, she stomped back in to give her brothers a piece of her mind.
They stared at her for a few seconds before burning out in laughter, while dragging her out of the house.
“Dad’s no longer here to protect you,” they said cheered.
“Go to your barn and sleep there!”
Heartbroken, Jemma pulled herself up from the ground, limping away.
She still couldn’t believe her dad would do this to her.
Worse, during a day of mourning, her brothers were all too happy to abuse her.
She always struggled to understand why they hated her so much.
Her family home no longer felt like a safe place.
Tears streaming down her face, she took her phone out and dialled for a cab.
As she was waiting, she caught sight of her “inheritance”, the old barn.
Too Much Pressure
Jemma started running towards the old, rotting barn. Her grief, frustration & anger, finally bubbling over.
In a fit of rage, she started kicking and punching the old doors.
Why would her family treat her like this?!
Weren’t they all part of the same family?!
She was furiously punching the walls when she heard a voice suddenly behind her.
The man knew something.
He was about to make her rethink everything she thought she knew about her dad.
A Strange Offer
“I could take it off your hands, you know,” the man said.
Startled, Jemma swung around. She was faced with a rotten-toothed man smiling sinisterly.
“The old man never really liked it,” he continued.
“He never liked you either,” Jemma cut in, recognizing the man as one of her dad’s neighbors.
The man, a rugged farmer always covered in mud and dirt, had often butted heads with her father.
What he would soon reveal would leave her with more questions than answers.
Jenny or Jemma?
“This old barn ain’t nothin but problems there, Jenny,” the neighbor said.
Somehow, after all of these years, this old man still didn’t know Jemma’s name.
“Its not for sale. Alright?” she said abruptly, hoping to cut the conversation short.
“Please, just let me grieve in peace, Mr. Halsey,” she pleaded.
But as she spoke, she started to realize what he had just said.
“What did you mean ‘nothin but problems?”
A Second Offer
Mr. Halsey laughed and offered to buy the barn, yet again.
Without being asked, he even doubled his initial offer price.
But that only made Jemma more suspicious of the old man.
Jemma’s dad had always been known as a straight-shooter. No secrets, no lies.
But Mr. Halsey’s words had piqued her curiosity. “If you’ll excuse me,” she said.
The man tried to pretend he hadn’t heard her, but she glared at him until he walked away.
Jemma was determined to find out what he was talking about & why he was so eager to buy this old rotted barn.
It’s Yours Now
Jemma slowly pushed the heavy barn doors open and stepped in.
The air was heavy with dust and the stench of farm animals.
She coughed, squinting so her eyes could adjust to the dark environment.
After a little while, she was able to get a look at everything in the barn. Rotten floorboards and walls, rusted railings, and a tractor Jemma had never seen running.
At first glance, the place looked like any other old, abandoned barn.
But Jemma couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something more than what met the eye.
Very quickly, her grief had been replaced with a burning curiosity to explore the dusty barn.
She flipped on her cell’s flashlight and began moving in between old farm equipment.
Jemma was now in the “Milk House”, which had always been a favorite of her dad’s when she was younger.
As she turned the corner, she noticed something tucked into the wall.
She approached slowly to check it out.
Jemma carefully reached for it, a piece of folded paper, carefully wedged into the rotting wooden panels.
Outside, she could still hear her brothers’ party raging on.
She teared up a little, remembering how they had laughed at her barn and cheering when they realized she hadn’t gotten any of his fortune.
Jemma wiped the tears away as she unfolded 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 handwriting.
It felt quite old, which didn’t make sense.
How could it possibly have survived the harsh seasons in the barn?
As she opened it, she staggered back, once realizing the note was addressed to her.
He began the letter by expressing 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 was long. It went on to express his fears fear of Jemma’s brothers falling into bad habits when he was no longer around.
He asked Jemma to build a life for herself, knowing she was more than capable.
At the very bottom of the handwritten note, a section mentioned 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 as a parting gift.
A she read the part about cupcakes, she got goosebumps. It brought back memories of her youth.
Her dad had always hidden cupcakes for her in the house, like a fun treasure hunt.
Nine out of ten times, the cupcakes weren’t actually cupcakes but actually things like story books, novels and maps.
‘Cupcake’ had always been their secret codeword for ‘treasure’.
Jemma didn’t waste a second. She turned quickly, heading straight for the barn’s furthest stall.
Finding The Cellar
After searching for a few minutes, Jemma found the cellar door, hidden under piles of dry hay and straw.
The hinges were rusted, and the handle was covered in gross gunk.
But Jemma was too excited to care.
She heaved the door open with both hands, grunting as she used all of her strength to pry the old door open.
She shone her flashlight into the darkness.
Her eyes went huge when she saw it.
Just A Corridor
A long hallway stretched into the darkness in front of Jemma.
She looked at her dad’s note, wondering if she could actually follow through with his last wishes.
She gulped nervously.
Could she bring herself to do this?
The noises outside were louder now, the party-goers making fun of Jemma and her bad luck.
That in itself gave her the courage she needed to see this through to the end.
Down The Hole
As she got to the end of the dark hallway, she was met with a staircase heading down.
She slowly took her first step down the staircase, shining her light all over.
As she made her way down, cobwebs kept getting stuck in her hair even though she tried to bat them away.
By the looks of it, it had been a long time since anyone had been down here.
As Jemma kept going, she eventually realized that unlike the barn above, made out of wood, this place was concrete and stone.
The walls were a crisp white, layered with dust.
Her survival instinct was screaming for her to turn back, get her brothers, or even sell the barn to Mr. Halsey.
But she fought the urge. She couldn’t stop now.
Going Down Deeper
The aspiring veterinarian slowly made her way to the bottom down, trying to analyze everything carefully.
It was obvious that this place had been sealed for a while, given how dusty it was, and that no one in her family knew about it.
Jemma continued exploring.
She wasn’t expecting to find much down here, but the idea of a possible hidden treasure made her heart beat faster.
She had no idea what secrets her late dad had kept from her and her siblings.
Finding The Cupcake
After getting to the bottom of the staircase, Jemma was standing in a large room.
She took a second to take it in. The room almost reminded her of an old bank vault.
As she made her way to the far end of the room, she saw it.
She stared in shock, suddenly unable to move.
Her chest tightened, and her mouth ran dry.
How could her dad have hidden something like this from his own family?!
She Thought She Knew Him
Jemma thought she’d known her dad very well.
She had been his confidant in his later days, and he’d opened up about so much to her.
But he had never mentioned this in all of his stories.
Suddenly, Jemma felt nauseous.
She couldn’t tell if it was fear or excitement.
As she looked around the room, one thing became extremely clear.
Her dad wasn’t the person she’d always been led to believe.
Understanding The World
When we are young, we all think our parents are heroes.
The thought of them being evil or dangerous never crosses our minds.
As it turns out, sometimes they live secret double lives, hiding in plain sight.
Tonight, Jemma was about to discover the truth.
A Treasure Hoard
“Cupcake,” she whispered. “Cupcakes. Lots and lots of cupcakes.”
In front of her, all over on the floor of the room were wrapped packages.
They covered every inch of the room from one end to the other.
Jemma carefully bent down, picking up the first one, which had note stapled to it.
The message was short, but gave her a clue.
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.”
Confused, she flipped the note over. There was a phone number on the back of the note. “He will help.”
Jemma opened the package.
She almost fell back in shock when she noticed the famous Macallan logo on a bottle of whiskey.
She quickly opened another package, this one had a Glenfiddich bottle.
A single vintage bottle of whisky like this could easily go for thousands of dollars.
There were hundreds of similar packages all over the room.
Still in shock, Jemma slid to the floor, her head falling in her hands. “What’s happening, dad?”