THE LADY OF GLADSTONE MANOR
by Jamallah Bergman
Jackson Belle, the son of a prominent family of landscapers and architects whose work has been the “Showcase of the South”, goes to take what he thinks is a routine job for his father who is soon in bed after a fall. He soon finds himself going to Gladstone Manor, a home well known in town as a house that once would host grand balls and parties for the town. But is nothing more than a shell of its former glorious self. Soon Jackson finds himself diving deep within the mystery of Gladstone Manor and its owner Brooke Langley.
Brooke Langley’s life at Gladstone Manor at one time was wonderful and she enjoyed the many memories she had as a child, watching the many people coming to the parties and balls that her parents would give. But a tragic accident leaves Brooke in seclusion, afraid of what the world outside of the Manor would think of her now. It isn’t until Jackson Belle comes into her life and shows her that someone does care that slowly starts to come out to the world and soon finds true love as well.
“Let me ask you this, do you remember Mr. Langley’s daughter?”
“You mean, Brooke,” Jackson’s mother interjected as she came in with a tray holding Howard’s lunch.
“Brooke, that’s her name, right?”
“Oh yes, I remember Brooke, she was such a sweet child. Always smiling and making everybody around her laugh. Such a beautiful child with so much life in her until that evil woman of a stepmother messed her up. I remember Walter was so heartbroken by what happened. He knew they didn’t get along because they were like oil and water, they just didn’t mix well. She hated Brooke because she was the apple of Walter’s eye and a constant reminder of her late mother. She got more of his attention and her stepmother hated her with a passion because of that. When she had the accident, her father had her going to all kinds of doctors and surgeons, even sent her to Europe to see a specialist who dealt with people in her situation. After Walter died, she stayed in Europe for the longest time. Some people thought that she had passed away but then one day, word got out that groceries and other things were being delivered to the Manor.” She stared at the photo of Brooke by the fountain.
That entire day while at his father’s, they both worked on the plans for the garden. He would go from his father’s work area to his father’s bedroom to see what he thought of the plans so far.
“Sweetheart, you have a phone call. I think it’s from the Manor,” Nancy said, popping her head in the room while Jackson drew on the blueprint.
Picking up the phone, Jackson said, “Hello.”
“Hello, Mr. Belle, this is Brooke Langley calling,” a soft, mellow voice said on the other end.
“Hello, Ms. Langley, it’s nice to finally hear from you. How are you?”
“Fine, thank you, I talked with Nora and I just wanted to see what your point of view on the condition of the garden.”
“Well, I will tell you that it needs plenty of work but it’s a job that I look forward to starting. I am always up for a challenge. I told Nora I wanted you to make a list of things you might want to see in your garden. Have you started yet?”
“Yes, I have. I was trying to go by memory, but there’s plenty I want to add. I have to say I’m pretty excited that this is being done. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the garden the way it was before.”
Her voice entranced Jackson. “I can come get the list from you if you want. That way, I can show you what I have so far.” Jackson replied, hoping she would agree to meet in person.
At first, he heard nothing and thought that maybe she hung up the phone. “Hello? Are you there, Ms. Langley?”
“Yes, I’m still here. I don’t think it would be a good idea to meet just yet. I can have Nora give you the list when you get here, if that’s all right?”
“That would be just fine, Ms. Langley. But I do hope to get the chance to actually see you one of these days, face to face.”
“Take care, Mr. Belle.” She hung up.
The conversation left Jackson with a sense of accomplishment in what he’d done so far. Also, he felt curious, wondering who the woman behind the voice was.
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