California is, in my opinion, the most diverse state in the country. Cultures here and there, from the rest of the world to even the most sequestered throughout the state, exist here. Every city, every town, even village, has its own distinctive culture, especially with places no one ever heard, not even the locals.
My father, a police detective, had his promotion in exchange for returning to his roots. Even as an observant only daughter, he is a mystery. It wasn’t that we weren’t close, or that he is isolated. He isn’t like any other fathers who loved to talked about the good old days, especially about his childhood. He would change the subject whenever the past is brought up.
Dad would talk about my late mother though, whenever I would ask him more of her. She was killed in a boat accident along with six others. What hurt Dad the most was that she was on the job on that day as an investigative reporter. Mom, from what I remembered her, always did all she can to convince Dad to quit the police because she was worried for his life. After all, being a policeman is a dangerous job. And yet, the irony of it all.
We were in dire straits when the former police department was closed down and Dad was laid off. My adopted sister Myra and I were too young to have a part-time job to support our family, even if it was little by little. Some four months of unemployment struggles and rising debts, Dad received word from his past when two of his friends contacted him of news of his hometown, Shadowbrooke. That was when luck finally came. Out of desperation, Dad decided to return home to start a new life.
Myra has never been to Shadowbrooke before, but I have a few times. Shadowbrooke is one of California’s hidden, secluded island towns surrounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and River Shadowbrooke to the east. Though not very known to the public, the town is known to locals as an academic retreat for Hollywood’s top teen talent, so they say. In a way, it is true. My father’s only surviving relative, his younger sister, my Auntie Ava, is one of the top A-listers known today: a former teen model and currently a renowned actresses. Her husband, my uncle, is also an A-lister actor named Blake Lockhart. Their three sons, my only cousins, well, make a guess.
Because of these hectic schedules, we barely had any reunions. Auntie Ava would sometimes stop by Monterey to see how we’re doing, along with phone calls, emails and handwritten letters to Dad. I’ve only met my cousins once or twice, but after Mom died, all the visits and get-togethers stopped. I’ve never been to Shadowbrooke since then.
Shadowbrooke is a unique town unlike any other. I mentioned that it’s an island town because of the waters surrounding it. But like any other small secluded towns and villages around, Shadowbrooke has its own cultures, beliefs, and superstitions. But it’s not just the town’s cultures that makes this town unique, but its location and structure of the place itself.
When you first enter the arch doorway of the town, you’ll notice that you had just stepped in an ancient medieval kingdom, where there is an inner core where the kingdom’s castle is located, and everything else outside its walls is the kingdom’s urban civilization. In Shadowbrooke, there are two parts: Outer Shadowbrooke and Inner Shadowbrooke.
Dad’s family is one of the common folk, therefore they were born and raised in Outer Shadowbrooke. Inner Shadowbrooke is where the elite reside, including the famous four founding families of Shadowbrooke. I only know about these four founding families from the things Dad learned in school. One of the four is the powerful Lockhart Family Clan. If you’re wondering with what I mentioned earlier, you guessed it correctly. Auntie Ava’s husband, Uncle Blake, is the current paternal head of the Lockhart Family. His father, Sheldon Lockhart, retired from the company business and gave his name, the family estate called L’Hermitage and his wealth to Uncle Blake. Auntie Ava is a very wealthy lady.
Due to Dad’s new job as a senior detective in the new police station located in Inner Shadowbrooke, the L’Hermitage is where we will be staying. In other words, we will be living in that gigantic manor with the Lockharts. Well, that is, the manor’s basement, in which Auntie Ava had arranged to convert it from some chill-out hub for the brothers into a brand-new complete home unit for Dad, Myra, and me. It has two bedrooms, with me and Myra sharing one room and Dad’s own bedroom. There’s also a spacious study room, where Dad can use as his home office to work on his baffling cases in isolation. The basement unit also has a living room, a dining room, and a kitchen, but we were required to eat dinner upstairs at the main Lockhart dining chambers with the rest of the Lockhart Family.
The more that we stay here, the more of Dad’s past begins to unravel. Everything Dad avoided to tell us were already been told by the Lockharts. Uncle Blake was also one of Dad’s buddies since they were kids, attending the same school, which was how he met Auntie Ava. According to him, Dad was the leader of the pack.
But there is one thing that the Lockharts would not want to tell us. Apparently, that one particular thing that Dad avoided to reveal the most from us. Well then, Dad isn’t the only detective around here. Eventually, the past will be revealed, one way or the other.
And of Inner Shadowbrooke too. Why is it gated in the first place? What is Inner Shadowbrooke really hiding that the Outer Shadowbrooke folk shouldn’t know about? I wonder if Dad knew more about Inner Shadowbrooke than just us being part of the Lockhart Family?