It was a bright, summer day in June. Barnabas was driving his black Bentley towards Collinsport. Julia was in the passenger side reading over patient files. Barnabas could never figure out how Julia could read in the car and not get car sick! She continues to amaze him everyday! Their daughter, Melody, was in the backseat with her Walkman listening to New Kids on the Block. Her head was bobbing back and forth to the music as she looked out the window at the nature that was zooming past them. Barnabas looked in his rear view mirror at Melody who was now lip syncing and doing dance moves to the music. A big smile came across Barnabas’s face, but it suddenly went to a frown upon thinking about Melody moving away for college in the fall. His frown did not go unnoticed as a slender hand came across his thigh and patted him gently.
“You OK, darling?” Julia asked. Barnabas nodded as he eyed his beautiful wife.
“I just can’t believe she’s all grown up. I’m excited for her future, but I’m not ready to let go”, Barnabas confessed to Julia. Julia smiled at her husband and leaned over to kiss his cheek.
“I know. I feel the same way, but we’ve raised such a wonderful young woman. We should be proud.”
Just then, Barnabas felt two arms go around his shoulders. Soon he saw the outline of Melody’s hair at his side.
“You’re talking about me again, aren’t you daddy?” Melody asked.
“Yes baby. We’re always talking about you. How are you feeling about going to Collinwood? Are you still excited?” Barnabas asked.
“Yes! I’m super excited to finally see this house and meet the rest of my family!” Melody exclaimed. Her excitement woke up their dog, Max, from a deep sleep. He sat up and licked Melody’s face. “MAX! You’re finally awake!” Melody was excited that David Collins allowed her to bring Max with her because she was anxious about leaving him at a boarding facility for the summer. Although Elizabeth was still living, she turned over all the estate over to David who was now Master of Collinwood. She figured she was getting too old to handle business affairs and run the estate and David was just at the right age to take over the family business.
“I’m excited to see the house and family too”, Julia stated. “I’ve heard they’ve done major renovations to the house and property. In fact, isn’t all the wings in the house now open?”
“Yes, and the pool, pool house, and greenhouse have been completely restored! Willie, his wife Kathryn, and their son live in the Old House, and they’ve continued to keep the house in great condition!” Barnabas exclaimed. The new wealth that has come to the family, thanks to Barnabas, has helped the family renovate all of the Collins property at Collinwood. They’ve even been able to restore the stables and have horses there for riding. Melody was especially excited about the pool and horses as she was an avid swimmer and rider.
The four and a half hour trip was exhausting for all, but before they knew it the Bentley was driving up the long drive way to the Great House. Melody was in awe of the grandeur of the estate. Even Julia was impressed by how bright the house looked. When she and Barnabas left, it was still dreary and sad. Now, it seemed to be happy and light. Julia contributes the changes at Collinwood to David and Barnabas’s work ethic with expanding the Collins empire.
“Wow dad! Collinwood is more beautiful than the pictures!” Melody exclaimed. Beds of flowers bloomed around the front of the Great House. David had installed a water fountain with an angel that spewed water from it’s mouth at the center of the driveway. He felt this gave an inviting look to the front of Collinwood. The fountain was surrounded by rose bushes neatly kept by the groundskeepers no less. The driveway was freshly paved to perfection and new Oak trees lined the driveway to give it shade in the hot summer.
“Wait until you see the inside,” Barnabas told Melody. The car came to a stop, and Barnabas cut the engine. He popped the trunk to get the luggage while Julia, Melody, and Max exited the car. Suddenly, the family heard a voice in the distance.
“Well! As I live and breathe! It’s about time you guys got here!” It was a familiar voice to all the family.
“Willie! It’s good to see you!” Barnabas exclaimed. Willie. Barnabas’s first victim and servant after being released from his coffin. My how he had changed. No longer the svelte chap anymore, but was a little thicker around the middle and his hair was receding. However, his voice and spirit never changed. Actually, Willie was a much happier person since he met Kathryn, a medium-built blonde who was a fantastic cook and had a very contagious laugh.
“Barnabas!” Willie stated as he gave his old friend a hug. “It’s good to see you again!” Willie then turned to Julia. “Julia! How wonderful you look.” He then gave Julia a hug and kiss on the cheek.
“It’s wonderful to see you too Willie,” Julia stated receiving Willie’s hug and kiss. Willie then turned towards Melody.
“And Melody! How wonderful to see you again! Welcome to Collinwood,” Willie exclaimed hugging Melody. Willie had seen Melody on and off throughout her whole life and was always fond of her. He wished he could have seen more of her, but due to his duties as Head of Staff at Collinwood, he couldn’t get away as much as he wanted to.
“Hi Uncle Willie!” Melody squealed hugging another one of her “uncles”. “I’m so glad to be here! I can’t wait to meet your family and everyone else.” Willie walked Melody to the front door of Collinwood with one arm around her shoulder. Melody had never met Willie’s wife or son since Willie usually came to see her alone. Suddenly the doors to Collinwood bursts open and a middle aged blonde greeted Melody and Willie.
“MELODY! I’m so happy you’re here, my darling! Welcome to Collinwood,” exclaimed Carolyn Stoddard-Hawkes while throwing her arms around her cousin. “It’s so good to finally meet you! I’m Carolyn.”
“Hi Carolyn! It’s so good to finally meet you! Mom and dad have told me so much about you,” Melody replied while hugging her cousin. “I’m so excited to finally be here!”
Carolyn never married after the death of her husband, Jeb. Instead, she decided to study the paranormal with Professor Stokes and research hauntings around the world. Her travels took her to all corners of the world, but she always called Collinwood home.
“Come in and meet the rest of the family! Where’s your mother and father?” Carolyn asked.
“We’re right here, Carolyn, ” Julia spoke to her cousin as she and Barnabas were walking towards the door.
“Barnabas! Julia! It’s so good to see you again! I’ve missed you two so much,” Carolyn stated while hugging them both. Barnabas, Julia, Melody, Max, Willie, and Carolyn walked into the foyer of the great house where Willie dropped their bags and asked one the maids to take them up to their rooms. “Let me go find the rest of the family and tell them that you’re here.”
Suddenly, the doors to the drawing room flew open. “No need, Carolyn. We heard them come in. Barnabas and Julia, welcome back!” exclaimed Elizabeth as she embraced Barnabas and Julia. Then, David, his wife Hallie Stokes-Collins, their four children, and Roger exited the drawing room. “Where is that darling daughter of yours?” Elizabeth asked.
“She’s right here. Melody, this is Elizabeth Collins-Stoddard,” Barnabas introduced his daughter to the former matriarch of the family.
“Melody, it’s so good to finally meet you! We’ve only seen pictures of you, and I must say you’re much prettier in person,” Elizabeth said while hugging Melody.
“Thank you, Mrs. Stoddard. I’m glad to be here,” Melody replied hugging Elizabeth back. Elizabeth released her hold and looked at Melody.
“My dear, you may call me Elizabeth. After all, you are family,” Elizabeth told Melody. Melody nodded her head towards Elizabeth before being introduced to Roger Collins.
“Well, my dear, you certainly are a Collins! I’m Roger Collins,” Roger spoke to Melody. “It’s very nice to finally meet you. You’re father just gushes about you when he visits, and I can certainly see why.”
“Thank you, sir,” Melody said to Roger. “I’m glad to be here and meet you.”
“Hi! I’m Tiffany!” spoke a small child that barley came up to Melody’s knee. “Can I pet your doggy?” Melody laughed at the small child. “Hi Tiffany. I’m Melody. This is Max, and yes, you may pet him.” Tiffany walked over to Max and started to pet his head. Max responded by giving Tiffany a kiss on the face. “ICK! He licked me!” Tiffany exclaimed.
“I’m sorry about that, Melody. I’m David Collins, Master of Collinwood. This is my wife Hallie, and these are our children: Joshua, Bridget, Christopher, and, well, you met Tiffany,” David responded while holding out his hand towards Melody. Melody took her cousins hand and gave it a good shake.
“It’s so nice to meet all of you and I look forward to getting to know each of you, but where’s…”
“SQUIRT!” yelled Quentin. Melody turned towards the top of the stairs where Quentin was standing. “It’s about time you got here!”
“Uncle Quentin!” Melody screamed as she ran up the stairs to greet her uncle. “I thought you might have forgotten about me!”
“Never, my dear,” Quentin said while placing his arm around his niece. “I could never forget someone as special as you.” Quentin gave Melody a peck on the forehead as they descended the stairs.
“Well, there’s no sense of all of us just standing here. Let’s go back into the drawing room. Barnabas. Julia. Can I get you a brandy?” Roger asked.
“Yes please,” Barnabas and Julia replied.
“And what about the young Collins. Is she accustomed to brandy yet?” asked Roger. Melody giggled at the thought of her drinking brandy, even though it is the drink of the Collins family.
“No thank you. I’m good for right now,” Melody responded. Roger gave her a look of disbelief. “A Collins that doesn’t drink brandy? That’ll change in due time,” Roger exclaimed. Both Barnabas and Julia gave Roger an icy stare at the thought of Melody drinking brandy at such a young age. Roger gave Julia and Barnabas a coy smile as he handed them their drinks.
The family continued to talk in the drawing room as they got to know Melody. Roger, David, and Barnabas were discussing business, as usual. Julia sat with Melody as Elizabeth, Hallie, Carolyn, and the children all talked with each other. Willie left the drawing room to check on supper while Quentin was nursing his second glass of brandy. Willie then returned to the drawing room.
“Ladies and gents, dinner is served.”