Prologue

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It all started when Mum had a sleazy affair with the milkman.

Gosh I'm only joking! It wasn't the milkman, but it was in fact with one of her old flames back in high school. She met him randomly after many years and from then it was "I have to do some overtime Steve [my dad] so I'll be late". Then the whole avoiding each other, coming home really late thing started to get very progressive till Dad worked it out for himself. I knew what was happening a week before Dad found out and I gave Mum an ultimatum, "the old flame or us". With no flicker in her eyes she picked the old flame. I mean it shows that twenty years of marriage with Dad was like a big joke to her.

She left that night, her bags all packed as if she was going on a holiday to Ibiza! She left Dad heart broken and me angrier at life, love and marriage. My brother Ryder was and still is very absent minded about anything but I think that night just took a toll on him. Since then Ryder doesn't speak to anyone as much as he used to. He just bottles up his emotions.

So that was that, Mum left and a week later Dad hoped that she would change her mind. When that wasn't the case he filed a divorce on neutral grounds. None of us were happy with her decision, but Dad and I have learnt to live without her, it's just my brother who wouldn't accept. He'd always hoped that she would come back. Now I don't particularly care about her.

What concerned me the most was the fire that took away our home.

Startled you there didn't I? But it's true. It happened. Two months after mum's grand walk out there was a really bad thunderstorm. I think God just targeted us for no reason because it seemed as it was only our house that caught fire. The electricity wires outside snapped and it came crashing on our garden. At that same moment lighting struck that spot and caused a menacing spark. The fire spread upwards and we got out of the house fast.

Ryder wanted to go back but I yanked him out the bedroom window. Luckily he landed on his feet but as for me, I thought I was finished. There was no way I was going to jump out of a bedroom window and break my bones. Fortunately the fire truck came to my rescue and I was lucky not to get any burns. I couldn't breathe for a bit, but the hospital managed to take all of this horrible black soot and mucus that clogged my trachea. Man that was like going through hell. I made a mental note that I wouldn't ever get stuck in burning house.

After the hospital was finished with me, Dad got a call from someone. He spent ten minutes in deep conversation and believe me it was the longest ten minutes of my life! Ryder wouldn't shut up about the fact that I chucked him out of the window. Ungrateful sod, he should be glad that I risked my life saving an annoying brother like him.

After Dad was done he told us the bad news; Uncle Johnny died.

Now it wasn't the best of news but it was a shock. He was Dad's older brother and he struck gold in Mayfair and started a property developing career and he was rich. I mean really rich; even richer than the Queen and JK Rowling put together. Sometimes I thought that Uncle Johnny was a dodgy fellow, I mean can you actually believe that he was filthy rich [by selling of a few done up properties] and be related to Dad? But they weren't any random houses. He converted old mansion that were donkey years old into seven star hotels.

A week before his death Uncle Johnny newly brought the Ashford Estate in Kent which, if my sources are correct was haunted. I know can you really believe old mansions being haunted? Seriously that is so cliché, very horror genre like. But Uncle Johnny wasn't fooled about ghouls and goblins and so he bought the place.

But sadly Uncle Johnny died of cardiac arrest and he was a bachelor in his sixties. He never married because he thought that women would want him for his fortune. So he would rather have the odd fling here and there and dump the woman. He may have been a clever man in doing so, but I think that he was afraid of commitment.

So after this news fell on us, Dad's job was to go and see the solicitor because Uncle Johnny had left something for him in his will.

That night the three of us stayed around Ms Attic's house. She was our very old, good, kind neighbour and a widow. Her husband died a decade ago and she taught piano and violin to children. So she let us in with open arms and helped us get us back to our feet. If it wasn't for her then we would have been living at the homeless shelter.

Ryder couldn't even go to school the next day because everything perished in the fire. His school books, uniform, and everything else went up into flames. And he wasn't the only one; my precious diary and massive DVD collection was gone. The only belongings that we had on that night were our pyjamas.

The next day Dad came back home pretty late. Ms Attic made some home made biscuits and I've never seen her so happy. She just needed the company and I didn't mind. Dad told us that we just inherited the Ashford Estate. We were moving in the next day and all expenses were paid for.

All I said was 'Talk about perfect timing.'

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