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,,The letter had been sitting on my coffee table unopened for five days by the time I got back from holidays. Two weeks on the beach in Spain had done me a world of good after the messiest divorce ever, and now I was ready and fighting fit to start again. My neighbour Natalie had taken my spare key and had been looking after the post. I didn’t need to see his name. I didn’t want to see his name, either. I didn’t want to remember him. Not after what he’d done. I’d gone through the usual bills, throwing away things that I’d paid off before my holiday, piling others which I needed to keep hold of. But the letter I hadn’t looked at was hand-written, and from someone with excellent penmanship. Coffee in hand, I sat down on the sofa to read it. ,dating older men Lafox,Dear Mrs Eleanor Lightly, ,gay dating Marstons Mills,I hope this letter finds you well. ,My name is James Bateman, and I have been instructed on behalf of the Winchester-Browning estate to contact you. I write today to inform you that you are the closest living relative we have been able to locate, of Lord Winstanton, the last holder of the Winchester-Browning estate. ,It is with both a light and heavy heart that I inform you of his lordship’s passing, and that you stand to inherit everything in the estate. The estate is at present worth one-hundred-and-sixty-six million pounds sterling, not inclusive of three properties in Italy, Spain and Portugal respectively. The Winstanton seat is in Buxton, and Winstanton Manor stands within grounds totalling fifty-thousand acres, all of it currently under the temporary protection of the National Trust. ,With receipt of this letter, I ask you to contact me directly on the telephone number highlighted above, as urgently as possible. You have one month from the date on this letter to begin inheritance proceedings, but there is something urgent we must discuss before that may happen. ,I look forward to your call in due course. ,mature women dating Waterbury,Kind regards, ,James Bateman, LLB.,My hands started to shake. I almost dropped my coffee. One-hundred-and-sixty-six million pounds?! Estate?! Lord?! What?! I reached for my phone and dialled the first number that came into my head – Natalie’s. She was with me in minutes. ,“Elles?! What’s wrong?!” her voice was reassuring as she closed the front door. ,“I’m in the living room…” I hadn’t realised how shaky I actually was. There was no air in the room. I held the letter out to her, and she started talking to me in tongues, making dramatic gestures and jumping. Then, she looked worried, but I still couldn’t hear her… ,first date Metro Office Park,“Elles?! Eleanor?! Wake up!” ,Someone was tapping the side of my face. I opened my eyes, and the light was harsh and bright, but then it stopped. ,“Aha! There you are – can you hear me?”,“What happened?” I asked, looking around. I was lying on the floor, and my head hurt really badly. Natalie’s husband John was kneeling next to me. He’s a doctor, so he knew what to do. ,“You fainted,” John smiled. “Thankfully I was on my way home – otherwise you’d have needed hospital. You took a nasty knock to the head.”,“Yeah… I mean, I needed it. I just had a letter. I’m apparently the heir to a hundred and sixty-six million pounds’ worth of estate in Buxton.” I sat up, feeling a little queasy. ,chat and date Corral De Tierra,“A hundred and sixty-six million?” John asked, looking at Nat. ,casual dating Rio Blanco,“Yeah… Eleanor, you have to call him. Call him now – the letter’s been here five days already!” Natalie held my phone out to me, the number already punched in. “I’m going to go cook something good. John, leave her to it – come on. Come over when you’re done, okay?” ,It’s probably worth mentioning Nat is my best friend, and when we went on double dates with John and him, we decided we’d like to live close to each other. Then, we found houses right next to each other… scary how the world works sometimes… With trembling hands, I pressed dial on my phone and held it to my ear. ,“James Bateman.”,“Hello… yeah, er… I have a letter from you? My name’s Eleanor Lightly.” I felt so stupid. It only then occurred to me that this could be one mother of a prank. ,date you Rancho Palos Verdes,“Ah! Yes! Eleanor! It’s excellent to hear from you! I hope you’re well?” James sounded nice. ,“Yes, thank you. I just got back from Spain, that’s why I didn’t call straight away… yourself?”,dating latina women Amberson,“Not just back from Spain, unfortunately, but I’m well, thank you, yes!” James sounded very pleased to hear me. “Now, I won’t beat around the bush – I need to discuss the details of that letter with you, and we don’t have a lot of time – less time even than I gave you in the letter.” ,dating 60 year old man Guernsey,“Why?” I asked, feeling more and more stupid. ,quick flirt Aquebogue,“Do you know anything of the Winchester-Browning estate, Mrs Lightly?”,“It’s Miss…” I murmured, to which I received a sincere apology. “And no, I don’t know anything.” ,“Well, the Winchester-Browning estate has been held for three centuries as a stronghold in Buxton, under several Lord Winstantons. The late Lord Winstanton’s sons both died in a terrible car accident, and Lord Winstanton himself suffered from dementia in the end. That’s what took him.”,“That’s terrible!” I gasped. My friend Melanie’s mum had dementia, and watching the woman ebb away was heart-wrenching. ,blind date Mcadoo,“Indeed. He died peacefully, though. Now, at the time of writing, your name was the only name we’d found that was eligible for inheritance. I’m not sure what your father told you, but he is related directly to the Winstanton line. The Browning side died out two generations back.”,“Right… so what’s this twist?” ,“Well… there’s a rule that we can’t change without Parliament’s approval that requires the estate to go directly to a Winstanton. Until two days ago, there wasn’t another Winstanton, but our historians uncovered a document which suggests the late Lord Winstanton’s grandfather had a mistress, and that mistress had a son. She was well-kept by him, as was her son, and now there is a line there, too. It’s about as strong as your line – your line apparently comes from a failed marriage where late Lord Winstanton’s father divorced your great-grandmother, and because she only had a daughter, there was no chance for the line to continue with her. When the late Lord Winstanton was born… well, you understand. My point is, you are more entitled to the inheritance than this other gentleman… the crux of it is that he has the Winchester surname you need.”,“Right.”,dating virgo man Glen Wild,“Do you follow?”,“Absolutely not.”,“Alright. Are you able to meet with me in London tomorrow?” I closed my eyes. Tomorrow was Saturday. London was busy on a Saturday. But I didn’t have work to go to, being a fucking kept woman for the wrong man had decimated my entire career. ,“Sure.” ,“Excellent. Might I text you with the eventual meeting place on this number? I’ll need to book a table and I’m not sure which restaurant will have tables on such short notice.”,“Sure.”,“Excellent! I look forward to seeing you, Miss Lightly.” ,“And you…” I didn’t hear whatever else he had to say. I put the phone down and sank back into my seat, sighing. , ,dating direct Anton Chico,Saturday came far too slowly, but only because I was awake all night researching about my apparent family tree. By the time I was on the train into the city, my brain was whirring with caffeine and information and questions. Why me? What was the crux? What did it all mean? ,Meeting with James Bateman wasn’t anything like I’d expected. I’d imagined an aging man of indeterminable age in a suit, a coffee in front of him and a briefcase. What I got was a man in his forties wearing a thick, luxurious, obviously cashmere sweater over a pair of suit pants and smart shoes, with a sheaf of papers in front of him. Another man sat beside him, much younger (around my age), wearing a polo shirt, his hair immaculately styled to look effortlessly messy. I smiled. ,“Hello, Mr Bateman?” awkward. ,“Yes! Hello, Ms Lightly! How are you?” James was as bright as and happy as he had been on the phone. “Please, sit! This is Charlie Booth-Winchester. I’m so sorry I didn’t have the chance to mention him when I called – he only arrived in the country this morning.” I blushed a little under the intensity of Charlie’s sudden gaze on me. He was gorgeous… and he clearly hated me.,“Ms Lightly. A pleasure to meet you.” He held out his hand and I took it, and to my surprise he kissed my knuckles, even if he did look a bit bored. ,“Likewise,” I said softly. A coffee arrived for Charlie, and I ordered some tea. ,“Now, let’s get a little more acquainted with the situation before lunch arrives. Ms Lightly –“,“Please, call me Eleanor. Ellie, you like.”,dating rich men Lehew,“Alright… Ellie, I explained to you that there’s an inheritance for you, all that. Well, Charlie here is in fact a DNA match – as you are – to the late Lord Winstanton. And that means you both have a claim to the inheritance. However, the inheritance goes to a direct living relative, and so Charlie cannot claim anything alone –“,“And as I keep telling you, my family have had a claim to the estate and its contents for far longer! She didn’t even know what the Winchester-Browning estate was before last week!” Charlie’s drop-dead-gorgeous face and stupid floppy hair was even more beautiful when he was pissed off. I shook my head. “What?!” his snapping tone made me look up. He worked his broad jaw.,blind date Trelipe,“Nothing. I mean, I’m overwhelmed by it all –“,“See?! See what I mean?!” Charlie sat back and picked up his coffee. “She won’t be able to handle it!”,“Look… I don’t want to get in anyone’s way. I don’t really understand half of this – you said I need a surname, James… I just got out of a horrible marriage. Not to go into detail, but it was abusive and I don’t want that again. So, if there’s something I need to do, please just tell me. I’m happy to learn whatever needs learning!” I sat back. Perhaps deep down I knew what was coming. But that also felt like a fever dream that only happens in trashy romance novels in the deep recesses of Waterstones. ,“Well… you need the surname. That’s the law and it’s been that way for many titled families. It’s the law from when the kings and queens made the laws…” James sipped his coffee. “I’ve brought Charlie here today because he has the surname you need. It just has to be Winchester.” ,“Right.” I looked at him. ,“But if you say you’re out of an abusive marriage, you won’t want to jump into another one so soon.” I nearly spat my tea across the room. ,“What?!” Charlie got there first. “Marry?! Marry her?!” ,50 plus dating app Barnetts Creek,dating multiple people Omar,date club Ellis Prairie,completely free dating Buels Gore,“Yes. Unfortunately that’s the only way our legal team have found a way around it. See, you both have what the other needs. Charlie, you’re too far removed from the estate to have any claim to it solo – I keep telling you that! You need to marry a direct descendant, and Ellie, you need the surname. If neither of you agree, the estate is absorbed by the government. I need a Winchester descendant signature on that paper.” James tapped the leather document wallet on the table between us. ,“So… this is basically a date for us?” I can’t lie. I felt cheated and deceived and a little helpless. My ex, Ryan, was abusive, and I hated his core. I’d sworn off men for a while – that’s why I went to Spain alone – yet here I was, faced with a property that had been kept in the same family, through wars and famines and plagues spanning the last millennium… but with the caveat that I had to marry this stunningly attractive arsehole to have it. And I’d have to split it with him. James was very explicit about the rules we’d have to follow for the paperwork. And Charlie didn’t seem to want to give anything to me… rightly so. He explained as we ate our food that his family had taken care of the estate while the old Lord had been sick in hospital, because the other Winchesters didn’t care for such a large and cumbersome home. I felt pity for him; I couldn’t imagine working on something for years, only to be told a random woman who had no idea about any of it had more of a claim to it… and as I sympathised and tried to find a way for him to claim it alone, he seemed to warm to me. I was even treated to a Colgate-gleam smile at one point.,By the end of the meeting, as the sun went down hours later and I started yawning like a madwoman, we reached an agreement. I picked up my phone and rang Nat as I sat waiting for the train. ,“Well?!” she asked, barely saying hello. ,“Right. Yeah. So. I might be getting married.” ,“What?!” Nat’s voice rose several pitches. I’m sure dogs heard her in Manchester. “Married?! How?! When?! To who?! What?!” ,“The solicitor showed up with the other contender. Charlie Booth-Winchester.” I pressed my lips together. “He’s basically been primed for it. But you were wrong, Nat. It’s complicated.” ,“How so?!” I could sense her excitement – she’d been brimming with it all day. ,“Long story short, he needs a direct descendant of the family who owned the estate, and I need his surname. I don’t think I can date again, Nat. I have to marry him.” ,“Who?! You have to marry this Charlie?!”,“By the sounds of it, yeah.” I gave a shrug and put my head in my free hand. “I don’t think I can go through all that again, Nat. Not after Ryan. Not after being put in hospital by him. Not after all the emotional shit he put me through. Five years of weekly therapy and I’m still not completely right.” ,“Then maybe this is what you need, Ell,” Nat said gently. That was the nice thing about Nat; she could read my mind like an open book. “Is he ugly, this Charlie?”,“He’s not bad. I mean, he’s fucking gorgeous… but I feel sick at the prospect of it. He won’t marry someone he doesn’t know, either. So we reached an agreement that we’d go on a couple of dates… get to know each other.” I sighed. “It’s going to kill me to trust him.”,completely free dating North Falmouth,dating profile template Hokah,“Well, cross that bridge when you come to it. Come over tonight, Johnny boy’s cooking up some steaks. I’ll make him throw one on for you, too.” ,“Gotcha.”, ,It only took two weeks for Charlie to decide he knew me enough to propose. It was sweet, too. Romantic-ish food, walk around for a bit, secluded park, down on one knee. The ring is a Winchester ring, and the diamond is apparently worth four million pounds. It felt heavier on my finger when he told me that. I felt sick. ,So here I am, folks. I get married again in a month so we can sign the inheritance documents and I’ll apparently become Lady Winstanton of Winchester and own a sixty-six-million-pound, fifty-thousand-acre estate, with a buttload of contents dating back to Christ knows when. I’ve spoken to my mother and father about it. My father was understandably sheepish, but there we go. I should be happy. Most other women would be screaming happy to have riches and a title and a photoshopped, perfectly-turned-out gentleman that came with it… ,So why do I feel like it’s out of the frying pan, and into the fire? ,,,