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Abandoned house | Source: Shutterstock
Abandoned house | Source: Shutterstock

While Sister Inherits Mansion, Brother Gets Abandoned House and Finds a Hidden Floor There – Story of the Day

Roshanak Hannani
Jun 25, 2024
02:43 A.M.

Freddy and Hazel's sibling relationship broke down when their parents' will was read, revealing an unfair division of their properties. But after moving into the abandoned place, Freddy discovered a trap door leading to a hidden area that revealed why he was given that home.

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Freddy held on to his poker face like a trained professional. He couldn't show any kind of reaction to this moment, mainly because his future brother-in-law was gloating like the Cheshire cat beside Freddy's sister, Hazel.

"Mr. Schneider, but why did I get the main house?" Hazel interrupted the lawyer before he could finish reading their parents' will. Freddy saw her fiancé, Mark, tightening his hold on her knee.

"Your parents knew that you deserved that house more, babe," Mark said, smirking slightly.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

"Why does she deserve it more?" The question simply slipped out of Freddy's lips. He didn't want to do this, but Mark's attitude always got on his nerves. He had no idea what Hazel saw in him, especially because everyone else knew Mark was an opportunist.

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Mark rolled his eyes at Freddy's question. "Your parents met me. They know your sister, and I had plans to get married and have children. All you like is travel. You never brought a girl home, so naturally, the big house should go to a potential family," he shrugged, still triumphant.

"Mark, that's not fair," Hazel began, but she was using her typical timid voice, which had only appeared when she started dating the loser.

"It's more than fair, babe," Mark insisted, laughing breathlessly. "Why are you looking at me like that? I mean, your parents agree, obviously. They did this. Not me."

Freddy remained quiet but didn't have much of a poker face anymore. The lawyer took advantage of the awkward silence to finish reading. Once everything seemed to be done, Hazel raised her hand like a high-schooler.

"Yes, Hazel," Mr. Schneider smiled at her.

"Hmmm, maybe it would be better if we both sold those properties and divided the profits," she suggested, her timidness giving way to more bravery. Freddy was proud of that quiet strength.

"You gotta be kidding me," Mark huffed. "Are you really gonna go against your parents' wishes? And come on. In this economy, your brother could fix up that house and still get a killing selling it. It's not a stupid handout. It's more than fair, considering the circumstances."

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For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

"Mark, maybe you should step out," Freddy said quietly.

"So you can talk your sister into something she doesn't want to do?" Mark asked mockingly. "No way. No. Doreen and Milton knew that Hazel loved growing up in that house, and they knew our children would be better off there. They never knew if Freddy would want to settle down in this town or even have kids considering—"

"Considering what, Mark?" Freddy asked, gritting his teeth.

"You know what," he said, frowning.

"No, I don't know," Freddy insisted, leaning forward in his chair.

"Gentlemen, please," the lawyer said.

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"Freddy," Hazel warned. "Maybe Mark is right. Our parents were… old-fashioned."

Freddy was stumped for a second. A minute ago, his sister had suggested the most reasonable course of action. If they both sold the properties and divided the profits in half, they could walk away with an equal share of these assets. But she was backtracking, not just because her fiancé was such a greedy loser, but also because…

"Old-fashioned? That's what you're calling it?" Freddy asked through tight lips.

"You know what I mean," Hazel sighed. "They were not blatant about their opinions. They loved and respected you. But things were different for their generation. They didn't know how to accept certain things and what would be normal for you. They never knew if you would or could ever have kids that way."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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"It's the 21st century, Hazel. They could watch TV and movies and see how it works," Freddy countered, barely containing his anger.

"Mark is right, Freddy," Hazel exclaimed as her attitude flowered. Where was that tone when her fiancé spoke? "They left me the big house. You get Dad's old place. It's not that bad. It's a nice neighborhood. And either way, it's their decision."

"A decision they took because of their prejudices?"

"Stop it!" Hazel frowned. "I will not allow you to talk about them this way. They were old. Things were different. They never learned. You haven't been around for years, and you don't get to come here like a spoiled brat and act like you deserve more."

"ME? I'm a spoiled brat?" Freddy asked, rising as he pointed at his chest. "You're the one that got everything. Everything. Especially after they realized the truth about me. Dad couldn't even hide his favoritism anymore because his only boy didn't like football and preferred theater."

"He still paid for everything for your stupid plays! All your costumes!" Hazel stated, also rising from her chair. "You think that was cheap?"

"It wasn't half of what he paid for you!" Freddy said. He knew immediately that his words made him sound like a petulant child — the spoiled brat, she claimed — but it was hard to stop them. "It was always unfair, and this is the final proof. But you know it wasn't like that always. It started when my personality developed. They knew all from then and changed."

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Hazel's eyes water. "Stop," she cried. "They were good parents."

Freddy was about to say more, to unleash the pain of all his years on his sister, but his eyes fleeted to Mark. The Cheshire cat grin was back, unconcealed and proud. Mr. Schneider was just weary and concerned.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

So, Freddy bit his tongue and waved his hands. "Fine. It'll take the house," he said, resigned. He plopped his booty back on the chair as the lawyer explained a few things, like what they needed to sign.

Mark wrapped an arm around Hazel outside his office but looked at Freddy. "I'm glad you finally acted your age, Freddy. This is really what's best. Now, you can go off, have your fun, and date whomever you want."

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Freddy's fist tightened, wanting to say more, but his sister's face stopped him. She had wiped her tears as their lawyer had gotten back to legal matters and remained expressionless at that moment. However, Hazel wrapped her arm around her fiancé's waist, the gesturing showing that she was on his side entirely.

So, he could only nod tightly at them and walk away.

***

Freddy moved into the abandoned house as soon as he received the keys. It was better than he imagined it. His father had bought it for a decent price, but after marrying Doreen, they moved into the big mansion that Hazel inherited.

It still stung that his parents didn't think he was good enough to get it. Hell, I'm not good enough to receive a fair split of their estate. But it didn't matter anymore. It was his new house, and he had to take advantage of it.

On the first day, Freddy assessed everything that needed repairs and settled on remodeling the bathrooms and the kitchen. But after doing a little research on the internet about renovation costs, he sighed loudly. It would take thousands of dollars to make the place livable again, and that was only on labor costs.

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"I could learn how to do it myself," he shrugged, reaching for his laptop again. "How hard could it be?"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Spoiler alert: It was pretty complicated. But Freddy was never one to back down from a challenge, although remodeling was his most complex endeavor ever. He was a theater kid in school and loved anything related to life.

When life in their town seemed too small and close-minded, Freddy decided to travel the world. He fell in love with photography after buying a professional camera in Budapest and never looked back. He freelanced for several publications, and with the rise of social media, he had a steady income.

When their parents died out of the blue in a car accident, he flew home to help Hazel get things settled. Freddy had no idea their parents had arranged everything already. And the shock of the inheritance threw him for a loop.

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While he and Hazel hadn't been in constant contact over the years, they had never been this estranged. It felt awful, but defending their parents' prejudice and taking her fiancé's stance was a bit much. She has to apologize to me. I won't call her, Freddy promised himself.

Thus, they didn't talk for months, although he suspected she was still following his socials, where Freddy documented the renovation process, hoping to prove that many stereotypes weren't true.

He was using his hands, and it almost felt like doing artwork, too. Deciding on tiles and placing them in the best arrangement didn't feel like a job reserved solely for macho men.

"See? A theater kid with no callouses on his fingers can do this, too," Freddy said after finishing one wall. "But boy, it's so much work!"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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Two weeks later, Freddy finished the kitchen and moved to the bathrooms. But he stared at the main one for a long time, sighing. Renovating was a lot of work, and the bathroom seemed trickier than changing a few cabinets and the tiles. Perhaps he should invest money in professional remodelers.

"Hmmm, maybe I can do something else," he wondered, walking through the house talking to himself. "The bedrooms need new paint certainly. And the floor. Wait, what is that?"

Freddy had just entered a small room, which must have been intended as a home office. But it was the first time he took it in and saw a strange protrusion in a corner. "Ugh, don't tell me this floor is rotten or something. How much will that cost?" he lamented, thinking the rest of his inheritance would have to be spent on real construction work.

He bent a knee and touched the strange unevenness on the floorboards, and surprisingly, his hand went through the floor. "Yuck! It is rotten," Freddy noted, wiping his hands. But when he focused again, he realized a strange hollowness that shouldn't have existed.

"What?" Freddy muttered aloud and got his phone. With his flashlight, he took a better look and saw… stairs leading into the darkness.

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"NOPE! NOPE! NOPE!" he said, standing and walking away. His feet took him straight to his cupboard while shaking his head. Then, he unearthed a blanket and went back to cover the hole. "No, sir! No Barbarian is going to take this twink away!"

He exited, closed the door tightly, put a chair against it, and went to his room.

"Let's remodel this bathroom!" Freddy exclaimed and tried to put that staircase out of his mind.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

***

"Mr. Schneider, how do I find the floor plans for this house?" Freddy asked the lawyer days later. Although he tried not to think about the staircase, it was impossible. But he wasn't brave enough to remove the rest of the rotten floorboards and go down.

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"Oh, I believe you can find one at the municipal office. Why? Is there something wrong with the house?" Mr. Schneider wondered.

"No. Well," he paused. What could he say? "I think I discovered a basement, but it was hidden tightly beneath the floor. And I didn't want to explore. You know, in horror movies, when you start screaming at the girl not to go into that dark room or downstairs? That's how I felt."

"I see. But if it's there, it was probably a basement," Mr. Schneider commented, unconcerned. "My father's old house had a bomb shelter that we didn't know about until he died. Built it right during World War I."

"And how old is this house?" Freddy asked.

"I'm not sure," the lawyer replied. "I could do some digging. I may be able to find the floor plans for you, Freddy."

"Thank you, Mr. Schneider," he sighed happily. "I'm also remodeling on my own, so I need to know what's down there."

"I know. My daughter follows your Instagram," Mr. Schneider chuckled. "Give me a few days."

Several days later, Mr. Schneider sent the floor plans, and as suspected, the house always had a basement. But instead of adding a door like any other house, they placed the staircase beneath a sort of trap door.

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For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

"This could've been a request from the original owner," the lawyer speculated, but they had no way to find out the truth. "You don't have to look down there. Just replace the trap door and forget about it."

But Freddy couldn't forget it. Something in his mind started at him as if that room down there was why their parents had given him that house. It could also be wishful thinking on his part. He wanted to have a better image of them.

So, he took a slash hammer and destroyed all the rotten parts, which corresponded with the size of the trap door. The rest of the floor seemed normal enough. "Oh, man. I bet it's flooded down there," Freddy muttered as he started going down.

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He had his phone flashlight out and could smell the heavy scent of mildew and moisture in the air. "Great, this will be more money," he muttered as he reached the bottom of the stairs. From what he could tell, it was just a regular room.

Except…there was a desk in the middle, littered with papers and an old-fashioned typewriter. "Spooky, but… interesting," Freddy muttered, rolling his eyes at the idea that he had been the typical female main character in a horror flick.

But this was very interesting. Did Dad know about this place? Freddy wondered as his hands reached for one of the sheets on the desk. It had a small poem, and at the bottom of the page, he saw the name Milton.

"He wrote this?" he asked the empty air. Other papers had more poems, some longer than others, but they all had Freddy's father's name at the end. Just his first name. The grin that touched his face was beautiful. His father had been a poet and a writer. It seemed impossible.

Freddy grabbed a bunch of papers, piling them to take upstairs, but he unexpectedly revealed an ornate box. "Oh, another secret," he whispered, excited. He placed the papers under his arm and grabbed the box.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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His feet rushed him upstairs. He lay on his bed, reading through the words his late dad had written. They were gorgeous and some much more flowery than Freddy imagined. Some of them were tear-jerkers, and their depth was shocking.

Freddy's father, with his old-fashioned, conservative values, had been an artist, just like his son. "What happened?" he whispered, rubbing his chin. Finally, he put the sheets of paper down and remembered the ornate box.

The latch was a bit stuck and rusted, but Freddy opened it and sneezed at the dust that gathered. After blinking away, he saw more pages stored neatly on the inside. They had yellowed over the years but were in much better shape than the scattered poems.

And then, Freddy realized what they were… pages of a book, a full-length novel his father had written and stored all his life.

"Is that why they kept this place?" he wondered and remembered the last words his father had spoken to him before he left home:

"One day, you'll understand."

At the time, he thought it had something to do with their biases and why they treated him so differently. But now...

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So, Freddy arranged himself better to start reading the novel. The poems were pushed aside, as he didn't want anything messing up the order. After a couple of hours reading the most entrancing words Freddy had seen in years, he realized something even more shocking than the horror movie staircase, the secret poems, and the ornate box.

This book was a love story between two men. The power of the descriptions and the angst within these sentences rocked Freddy to the core. "What does this mean?" he asked, his hands itching to call Hazel. But he quickly remembered their fight.

Did she know about this? Did Mom? Why did Dad write this? Why did he keep it a secret?

With a start, Freddy understood the truth. His father hid a big part of himself. Perhaps he had to lie all his life, and when his own son showed the same inclinations, he got angry.

Unlike him, Freddy could be himself in full glory. He could date in public and be a different kid because the world was much different. Did Dad resent me or his time? Did he wish he could've lived like me?

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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Again, Freddy wished to call Hazel desperately; this time, he didn't stop himself. The phone rang several times before he realized it was 1 a.m., but she answered before he could hang up.

"Freddy?! Is everything alright?" Hazel said, sounding sleepy and worried.

"Oh, God. Hazel, I didn't see the time. I'm so sorry," he apologized.

"No, don't worry. What's wrong?"

"Hazie, I just discovered something, and I need to show you," Freddy said, swallowing. "I think it's the real reason Dad left me this house. It was Dad's decision, not Mom's. I'm sure of it."

"Freddy, I don't want to hear how prejudiced our parents were again," Hazel said, weary. "I want to make up with you, so let's not bring up this argument."

"Is he still whining about the house? What a cupcake!" Freddy heard Mark in the background, being his obnoxious self. But he tried to ignore it.

"Hazie, come to my house tomorrow. Without him," Freddy said tightly. "This is huge and should stay between us for now."

"Can you just tell me a little bit?"

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"No, Hazie. Please. It's too big to say over the phone in the middle of the night," he sighed, slightly frustrated.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

"What is he asking?" Mark's voice was louder this time. Hazel told him something away from the phone, and he was obviously arguing with her. After a bit of scuffle, his voice was crystal clear. "What's this about, Freddy?"

"It's none of your business," he replied.

"You're talking to my wife. It is my business."

"Fiancée," Freddy corrected, silently wishing Hazel would finally get rid of him.

"It's the same thing."

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"Not really," he insisted. "And anyway, this is something between siblings. Go back to sleep in the expensive Egyptian sheets you didn't have to buy, moocher."

"WHAT DID YOU—"

Freddy hung up and immediately placed his phone on airplane mode. Staring at his bedroom, illuminated only by the lamp on his bedside table, he wondered if Hazel should know about this. He didn't want Mark to know anything about this for some reason. It was too… intimate. Their father's secret wasn't something he wanted to discuss with him.

But even if Hazel came alone, she would surely tell him about it later or manipulate her until she did. Freddy wondered for the millionth time why she was still with him. He was controlling, opportunistic, serially unemployed, and far from charming.

His mind turned to other avenues. Was his sister being abused? Freddy shook his head, not really believing it. Mark had little to no spine, so it was easy to dismiss that thought. But if she heeded his words by some miracle and came alone, he would ask her.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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***

Freddy's eyes widened when he saw Hazel standing outside his house…alone. "You really came here alone?" he asked, unable to hide his surprise.

"Yeah," she rolled her eyes. "Despite what you think, Mark doesn't control me."

"You could've fooled me," he quipped.

Hazel narrowed her eyes. "I'll leave if this is another fight about the inheritance," she said, crossing her arms. "I think they left me the house because I always talked to Mom about raising kids in a similar place. Our parents weren't the savviest people about social matters, but they knew Mark and I wouldn't have been able to buy a house like that."

Freddy gestured for her to come in. "I know you love that house and always did," he started and cleared his throat. "But I don't think that's why you got it. Or maybe it is. Whatever. But I know from the bottom of my heart that Dad wanted me to have this house for a whole different reason."

Hazel pursed her lips. "Dad? You and Dad were like oil and water."

"But I think I know why, Hazie," Freddy said, starting to smile. Hazel matched his grin, and just like any other siblings, their squabble was forgotten. "Let me show you."

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He gestured for her to wait and went to his room, retrieving the poems and the ornate box where he had stored the novel after reading it. He returned to see Hazel looking around the new kitchen, distracting him for a second. "You like it?"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

"I can't believe you did all this on your own," she said. "It has your taste, but I always thought it was harder and too rough."

"Me too," Freddy shrugged. "Some things were pretty rough. I had to force some things and got a few cuts. Still, it was fun." He shrugged.

"I'm impressed, and if you keep it up, this house will be awesome," Hazel nodded, touching the new tiles.

"Come here," Freddy got back to business. "Okay, so. When I finished the kitchen, I was so tired that the prospect of doing the bathrooms myself was impossible. So, I started detailing the other rooms in this house. That one," he pointed toward the hallway, "is like an office, I think."

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"Oh, what's that?" Hazel's eyes widened as they looked into the room, and she noticed the hole on the floor.

"That's the surprise. This house had a hidden basement. It was in the original plans — Mr. Schneider acquired them for me — but the trap door was rotten. At first, I didn't even want to go down there. But I had a feeling," Freddy began to explain.

"Are you crazy? Is this a horror movie?"

"See? You and I are on the same wavelength because that's exactly what I thought," he said, laughing loudly. "Still, I went down and found all this. Look"

Hazel took the papers and scanned them. "Poems? Oh, these are beautiful."

"Right? There's a typewriter downstairs, too," Freddy continued. "But look at the bottom.

"Milton," she read. "MILTON? DAD?"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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"Exactly!" Freddy snapped his fingers.

"No! There's no way," Hazel smiled with a slacked jaw as she passed the papers more quickly.

"But there's more, Hazie," Freddy called her attention. "This. Dad wrote a full novel."

"You're kidding," she whispered with wide eyes.

"Here," Freddy opened the box. They sat on the old couch so Hazel could examine things better. "I spent all night reading it. I was halfway through when I called you because something became clear."

"What?" his sister wondered, leafing through the papers.

"Hazie, it's a love story," Freddy said carefully.

"Oh, that's beautiful," she commented, not understanding. "I wonder why he never published it."

"Hazie," he insisted and waited until his sister looked up. "It's a love story between two men who go to war."

Hazel didn't react for half a minute as she digested his words. "That's…not…possible," she mumbled.

"It's true. I already finished it."

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"But Dad was…I mean," she trailed off and wet her lips. "I don't want to say the word, but Dad had very strong — negative — opinions about relationships between same-sex couples."

"That's the thing I wanted to talk to you about, Hazie," Freddy murmured but looked into her eyes instead of saying anything else.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

She frowned at first, but the implication was too obvious. "Frederick! That's even more impossible! No!"

"Don't you see?" he asked, shaking his head. "It's the answer to the inheritance. Dad gave me this house because he wanted me to find this story."

Hazel released a breath, placed the ornate box and the papers on the coffee table, and stood. Her hands were on her waist as she paced through the living room. "No, no, no, no…" she mumbled. "Look, obviously. I have nothing against you. I love you, and who you love is just part of who you are. But Dad...being gay is unbelievable."

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"I know. That's why I called, but I want you to read and take in this book," Freddy said, touching the box. "I think Dad was struggling with so much, and he had to live a secret life because times were different. I think he projected all he felt — his self-loathing — on me because I was free to do what I wanted."

Hazel stopped pacing, and her eyes were full of pain. "What about Mom? Did he force himself to marry her and have a family?" she lamented.

"No, Hazie. I think he loved her, but it was different," Freddy soothed.

"It makes sense," Hazel finally sighed, "your theory about the house, I mean. Dad wanted you to find out about himself, which means that he never had anything against you. He just was dealing with a lot."

"I'm not exactly happy with how he treated me all my life, but I kinda get it now," Freddy explained. "But this book, Hazie, makes me think he greatly loved someone. I know Dad never went to war, but perhaps he used war as a metaphor for something else. I want you to read this, and if you're okay with it, I want to publish it with his name and everything."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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"Oh, God," Hazel's voice broke. "That sounds beautiful."

"Hazie, but...hmmm… I don't want you to tell your fiancé just yet," Freddy stated.

"Why?"

"Mark's comments at Mr. Schneider's office were concerning, Sis," he replied. "And you know I don't like him as a person nor as your future husband. This is our thing, not his."

The front door swung open forcefully, reminding Freddy they had never closed it. But this was a nice neighborhood. However, Mark's figure was now in his living room, too, and his voice was loud and grating as he demanded, "What are you trying to make my wife hide from me?!"

"Future wife," Freddy muttered, deadpanned.

Mark gritted his teeth, but Hazel didn't let him say anything to her brother.

"Mark! What are you doing here?" Hazel said, disappointed. "I told you I needed to talk to my brother."

"I'm here because you're about to be my wife, and I have a right to know what's going on!" Mark blubbered, as he had no excuse for coming here. "I see that he's making you hide things from your future husband. That's not healthy!"

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"He's not asking me to hide anything," Hazel rolled her eyes. "He told me something he doesn't want others to know right now. You know, something private!"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

"Did you roll your eyes at me?" Mark asked and took a step closer to her.

"I wouldn't do that," Freddy warned as he walked to stand in front of his sister.

Mark barked a laugh. "What? Do you think I was going to hurt her? HA! You're crazy!"

Freddy shrugged. "I don't care what you call me. Now, get out of my house before I call the police. You're not invited and just broke in."

"I didn't break in!" Mark retorted, his eyes going wild. "It was open!"

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"Fine, trespassing, then," Freddy conceded. "Either way, I'm calling the cops."

"I'm your brother-in-law!"

"Not yet," Freddy added, turning his head to look for his phone. "And hopefully not ever."

"Hazel! Are you going to let him talk to me like that?" Mark asked, offended.

"It's his house, Mark," Hazel said matter-of-factly. "You weren't invited and just walked in. Go home, now."

"Excuse me?" he said, taking a step back. His expression was the picture of fake victimhood. "I see your brother is once again poisoning your mind against me. That's why your parents didn't want to give him the house, so you wouldn't have to deal with him again."

Freddy had finally found his phone and dialed the police.

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For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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Hazel sighed. "You have no idea what you're talking about. Please, I'll tell you in time," she said calmly. "This is just something between siblings."

"I don't care!" Mark yelled petulantly. His eyes went to the papers on the sofa, and his body started for them. "What is this secret? It's in these papers, right?" His hands took the sheets and started handling them carelessly.

"Mark! Careful!" Hazel exclaimed, worried.

Freddy threw his phone away and grabbed Mark's arms tightly. "Let them go! NOW!" he screamed in his future brother-in-law's face, showing his contempt for the jobless loser. His hold tightened on Mark's arms.

"Hazel, tell him he's hurting me!" Mark whined, and Freddy knew he was afraid. "I will press charges if you keep it up!"

"LET GO, SPINELESS IDIOT!" Freddy demanded again angrily.

"Mark! DO IT! These are important! Let go!" Hazel begged, pulling her fiancé by his upper arms.

Finally, his hands opened, and the papers flew back down to the couch. Freddy moved quickly, piling and holding them close to his heart, along with the ornate box.

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"I will not say this again," Freddy warned, feeling his chest moving up and down with the force of the exertion and his anger. "Get out of my house!"

"NO! I DEMAND TO KNOW WHAT'S THAT!" Mark screamed but immediately got quiet, thinking of something. "I see how it is! You found something in this house! It's worth a lot of money! And you don't want to share it!"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Freddy breathed heavily while Hazel lightly hit Mark's arm. "Are you insane? And anyway, if Freddy found anything here, it would be his legally," she commented.

"Shut the hell up! Don't you see? He's trying to screw us again like he wanted with the house. He tried to manipulate you into selling your favorite place in the world," Mark insisted, smiling as he got heated. This was always his tactic: confuse and manipulate his fiancee to get his way. "And whatever those things are, he's getting you to hide them from me so I won't act in your best interest."

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Freddy rolled his eyes, but Hazel was quiet. Tell me she's not falling for that, he begged to the heavens.

"You know I'm right, babe," Mark said, leaning close to Hazel's ear. "He's always hated me because you love me more than him. And he's trying to separate us."

"Hazie, tell me you're not falling for that bull," Freddy crossed his arms. "Even if you were dating an actual good guy, I wouldn't have invited him today. This secret is too precious for anyone else."

"See? See? He keeps insulting me without care," Mark pointed at him accusingly. "And you okay with that? Babe, you and I are partners. We love each other. We're going to have a family. I wouldn't want my children around someone who talks badly about me."

"This ridiculous!" Freddy exclaimed, getting angrier at his sister's silence.

"Come on, babe. Tell me the secret. If it's money, we'll get our own lawyer, not that idiot, Schneider. We'll get whatever he has," Mark continued, smiling widely. But he made a mistake revealing his real purpose: to find out if there's money involved.

"ENOUGH!" Hazel screamed and pushed him away. Mark lost balance and plopped on the sofa. "God, I'm so tired of you! I can't believe how long I've dealt with your idiocy!"

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For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

"What?" Mark blubbered, staring up at his fiancee in surprise.

"WE'RE DONE!" she continued yelling. "All you cared about was money! All the time! You schmoozed my father and whined when he didn't help you get your desired job. Do you know why he did that? Because he hated you! Mom hated you, too, not just Freddy. They were just trying to be nice!"

The floods had opened, and Hazel didn't stop. She called out everything he had ever done that showed who he really was, including how he proposed and hasn't held a job since. "You thought you were secure now with my family's money!"

Mark just sat there and looked wide-eyed at Freddy at one point. If he were looking for help, he would certainly not find it in him. Hazel brought up other issues, some of which made Freddy chuckle, but he tried to cover them up.

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"This is all your brother's influence!" Mark interjected.

"NO! THIS IS ALL ME! ALL ME!" Hazel shouted into the air before losing steam. "Finally ME! Again! I can't believe all the red flags I ignored. For what? For fear of being alone? That doesn't make sense."

She breathed quickly and turned to Freddy. "I'm so sorry about the house. I've always wanted it, but I actually thought about selling it when Mr. Schneider read the will. I now realize why. It's because I didn't want him," Hazel pointed at Mark, "to live there."

"Oh, Hazie," Freddy said, biting his lip.

"But Mom and Dad were gone. I didn't know if you would fly away again on your adventures," she cried openly. "I thought I was stuck. But I'm not. If my father was strong enough to tell you his truth in his own sneaky way, I'm strong enough to get off this finally...this… this loser!"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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"Hazel!" Mark questioned, rising from the couch.

"Get out of here and out of my house!" Hazel demanded chrilly.

"It's my house, too!"

"We're not married!"

"I'll fight you on this!"

"I'll get Mr. Schneider on the phone right now," Freddy announced and didn't hesitate to dial their lawyer to explain the situation.

"Finally," the older man breathed. "Consider it taken care of."

"MY RING! I WANT MY RING BACK!" Mark insisted, looking lost and clueless.

"Your ring? It was my grandmother's ring! And IT'S MINE!" Hazel screamed, but she grabbed his arm this time and started pulling him to the door.

"Freddy, tell her she's insane," the spineless worm pleaded, and Freddy couldn't only laugh in his face.

"She's finally sane. Good riddance, loser!" he said mockingly until Mark was outside and Hazel slammed the door in his face. She leaned her back on the door and settled her breathing.

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"I think I need to stay here until Mr. Schneider gets rid of him," Hazel said quietly.

"Stay as long as you need," Freddy said and opened his arms widely. She ran into them.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

"Thank you."

"Thank you for finally snapping out of this trance," he sighed into her hair.

"Now," Hazel pulled back. "Can we order some Chinese? I want to sit, eat, and read Dad's novel."

"Deal."

***

It was surprisingly easy to publish their father's novel. Freddy contacted a couple of publishers with LGBTQ+ owners and told them the entire story. They were immediately interested and offered him and Hazel a good deal.

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She had also finished it one night and cried in Freddy's arms. "I wish he could've lived his true self without pain, prejudice, or worry."

"Me too," he cried a bit.

"I'm sorry that he projected all that frustration on you, Freddy," Hazel apologized, and he only nodded.

When the money came in, Hazel gave Freddy her part. "I want to keep the big house. Dad also gave this to you. So, you should keep this money."

"Hazie, are you sure?" he asked, concerned. "This could be a hit."

"Hey, if someone wants to make a movie, I want in on that deal," his sister laughed. "But the royalties from the book, they're all yours."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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Mr. Schneider kept his promise, ensuring Mark would never bother them again. They heard through the grapevine that he had moved away, probably to find another wealthy woman to manipulate. It didn't matter as long as he never contacted Hazel again.

Freddy finished remodeling his house and felt the itch to travel again, so he rented to a lovely couple and left for almost a year. When he returned, Hazel was already dating a new guy who was successful, responsible, and a decent human being. He also adored Freddy's sister, and that's all that mattered.

The book was published, but it wasn't a huge hit. Still, it had excellent reviews, and upon his return, Freddy decided also to publish the scattered poems. But he included a prologue with the entire story because the world needed to know how important it was to let people love who they love.

Tell us what you think about this story, and share it with your friends. It might inspire them and brighten their day.

If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a rich man who left his eldest son millions while his youngest got only one dollar.

This piece is inspired by stories from the everyday lives of our readers and written by a professional writer. Any resemblance to actual names or locations is purely coincidental. All images are for illustration purposes only. Share your story with us; maybe it will change someone's life. If you would like to share your story, please send it to info@amomama.com.

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