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 he got, Freddy discovered a trap door leading to a hidden area that revealed why he was given that home.

Hazel interrupted, fidgeting in her chair, “Mr. Schneider, but why did I get the main house?”

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

Mark interjected, the corners of his lips rising slightly, “Your parents met me. They know we had plans to get married and have children. Freddy likes to travel and never brought a girl home, so the big house should naturally go to a potential family.”

“Really?” Freddy retorted sarcastically, but it was only because Mark’s attitude always got on his nerves.

Mark chuckled, “Your parents agree, obviously. They did this. Not me.”

“It’s more than fair, babe,” her fiancé insisted.

Freddy and Mark stared at each other in a standoff. Mark broke the tense silence, making insinuations about Freddy’s lifestyle leading to his parents’ decision.

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Hazel attempted to defend her brother, but Mark spoke over her, insisting they deserved the mansion versus the abandoned house.

Freddy’s voice cracked as he confronted his sister about their parents’ old-fashioned views, particularly regarding his own life choices.

Hazel shook her head despite acknowledging that their parents struggled to accept certain aspects of Freddy’s life.

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Freddy laughed mockingly. “It’s the 21st century, Hazel. They could watch TV and movies and see how it works.” He continued, explaining that his parents started treating him differently after realizing his inclinations.

“Stop it!” Hazel frowned. “I will not allow you to talk about them this way.” She finally told her brother to accept their parents’ decision, making Mark smile wider.

Hanging his head, Freddy nodded at Mr. Schneider, accepting the will, and walked out of the lawyer’s office, his shoulder slumped on the way out.

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.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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.

Spoiler alert: It was complicated. Freddy, a theater kid turned world-traveling photographer, embraced this challenge as his most complex endeavor. He hoped to debunk stereotypes about his capabilities by documenting the renovation process on social media.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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 and talking to himself. “The bedrooms need new paint certainly. And the floor. Wait, what is that?”

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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.

Days later, he contacted Mr. Schneider, curious about the house’s floor plans. “How do I find the floor plans for this house?” he asked, hesitant to explore the hidden staircase.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Mr. Schneider suggested checking the municipal office. “You know…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.”

The lawyer offered to find more information and get back to him. Several days later, Freddy received the floor plans, confirming the house indeed had a basement hidden beneath a trap door.

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.

Among the papers, he found poems signed by his father. Oh, my God! Dad was a poet and writer. Digging deeper, Freddy uncovered an ornate box beneath the papers.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Rushing upstairs, he eagerly read through the poems, marveling at their depth and beauty. He opened the ornate box and discovered more pages, realizing quickly they were from a novel —a love story between two men.

“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.”

The realization hit Freddy like a freight train—his father had hidden a significant part of himself, perhaps resenting his own limitations compared to Freddy’s freedom in the modern era.

Eager to share this discovery with Hazel, he called her despite the late hour.

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“Hazel, I just discovered something, and I need to show you,” he said urgently. “Come to my house tomorrow. Without him. This is huge and should stay between us for now.”

Their conversation was interrupted by Mark’s intrusion, but Freddy insisted on keeping it between siblings.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Hazel was shocked, struggling to reconcile this with their father’s known…biases. Freddy explained his theory: their father had given him the house so he could discover this story, suggesting their father might have struggled with his own identity.

She processed the information, pacing the room in disbelief. “It’s just crazy! What about Mom?”

Freddy urged her to read the novel. “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.”

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Mark’s figure was now in Freddy’s living room, too, and his voice was loud and grating as he demanded, “What are you trying to make my wife hide from me?!”

He accused Freddy of hiding something valuable. “Or, he’s trying to convince you to dump me!”

“Hazie, tell me you’re not falling for that bull,” Freddy sighed, rolling his eyes. “Even if you were dating an actual good guy, I wouldn’t have invited him today. This secret is too precious for anyone else.”

“He’s trying to screw us again like he wanted with the house. He’s getting you to hide something from me so I won’t act in your best interest,” Mark accused, smirking confidently while pointing his finger.

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Hazel remained silent, and her thoughts seemed far away.

“You know I’m right, babe,” Mark whispered to Hazel, his voice turning sweet and coaxing. “He’s always hated me because you love me more than him. He’s trying to separate us.”

“Mark, stop it! If Freddy found anything here, it would be his legally,” Hazel finally snapped, throwing her hands in the air.

Mark tried to insist, wrapping his arms around her, but Hazel was done.

“ENOUGH!” Hazel screamed, pushing Mark back. “God, I’m so tired of you! You only ever cared about money! You never truly loved me. We’re DONE, Mark! I can’t believe I ignored all the red flags!”

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Freddy exhaled, relieved.

“You’re breaking up with me over this?” Mark spluttered, his mouth wide with shock.

“Yes, Mark. It’s over. I want my life back,” she declared, crossing her arms.

He turned to Freddy, begging. “Freddy, tell her she’s making a mistake.”

“Freddy’s not going to help you, Mark. He’s been trying to open my eyes to your true colors for years,” Hazel said, stepping towards the door. “Get out of here and out of my house!”

“It’s my house, too!”

“We’re not married!”

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

Mark, now desperate, demanded, “I want my ring back!”

“That ring was my grandmother’s, Mark. It’s staying with me!” Hazel retorted, forcefully escorting Mark out of the house. Once he was gone, she turned to Freddy, tears and relief in her eyes. “I think I need to stay here for a while.”

“You’re welcome to stay as long as you need,” Freddy embraced her warmly.

After a moment, she pulled back, a small smile on her face. “Can we order some Chinese food? I’m dying to read Dad’s novel.”

Publishing their father’s novel proved easier than expected. Freddy’s friends in the LGBTQ+ publishing community were eager to help. Hazel, deeply moved by the story, insisted Freddy keep all the royalties.

Mr. Schneider dealt with Mark, ensuring he’d never bother them again. Apparently, Mark had left town, but Freddy didn’t care. His focus was on his sister’s happiness and honoring their father’s legacy.

Eventually, Freddy felt the urge to travel again. He rented out his house and set off on a new adventure. Upon his return, he was delighted to find Hazel happily dating a kind, successful man who adored her.

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