Chapter 2: New Understandings
I parked my car just outside my house at Lake Bluff, a nice three-hundred year old mansion overseeing Lake Michigan, encircled with a rich background of sylvan scenery. The acreage included a variety of trees adorned in the beautiful colors of fall, a rich foliage with beautiful flowers as well as a breadth of green lawn in the front. The mansion had been in the family since the day of its foundation, passing from one Trancelli generation to the other, ripening, evolving, and adding to its monetary worth just like the Trancelli wine the family was so renowned for. My father owned the Trancelli wine patent, and managed our wine business while mom was a successful interior designer.
I had one brother, Travis, a thirteen-year-old teenager who thrived to make my life miserable. I adored my grandmother, who lived with us since her stroke five years ago. She was a stubborn lady, having always been self-sufficient, and the acceptance that she needed help had not sat well with her. I had a feeling she was happy living with us, and she’d been one great confidante to me. Her existence made my life much more enjoyable.
After entering the house, I rushed to her room as usual, and I found her sitting in her rocking chair with a wool shawl wrapped around her shoulders. She was reading a book, a pair of glasses perched on her nose that consumed her tiny face, making her eyes look larger than normal.
“Hey grandma, what’s up?” I asked, as I sprawled across her bed.
Grandma pushed her glasses on top of her head. “How was your day, child? Anything exciting happening with that handsome boy of yours?” she asked, cocking her head to one side, her old gray eyes twinkling.
“Well, Baran is fine, as always. We met for lunch today. He’s finally done with his programming project and we can see more of each other now. In fact he’s coming for dinner later.”
“That may be, my dear Sierra. But, I’m asking of the other boy,” she said as her shoulders quivered with subdued laughter.
Whoa, what? Was she talking about Seth? How did she know about him? I shook my head in dismay. Why was I even surprised? This was not the first time that Grandma looked at me in her all-knowing way and asked questions out of nowhere that got to the crux of the matter within seconds. It was almost as if she knew things, as though she had eyes and ears everywhere. There was something about her, an aura that was almost inhuman. I found nothing scary about her, instead her presence spread an air of tranquility, almost a soothing calm in the room as sharp as the smell of incense. Payal would heartily disagree, of course, as she avoided my grandma like the plague. She had told me that she thought it was simply too eerie how Grandma knew things. I thought it was marvelous, especially when it related to other people.
“Who do you mean?” I asked innocently.
“Oh, child, you are precious as always. You know who I mean. I mean your bad boy, the one who uses his fists.”
Crap, there was no way around it. “Uhm, you mean Seth?”
“Mmm,” murmured Grandma, nodding her head.
It was useless asking how she knew, as useless as questioning whether a zebra was black or white. It was just the way things were, and I accepted it.
“Well, he was acting like an asshole today, beating two guys in the middle of the cafeteria. Nobody had the guts to intervene …”
“But, of course you did?” she asked, her eyebrows arching.
“I had to.”
“And, what did he do?” she asked, with a sudden serious tone etched in her voice.
“Uhm... he stopped. I guess he was afraid I would get hurt, you know, being the bystander in all of this. Or, perhaps he’d vented all his anger already,” I said, without conviction. I wasn’t even believing anything I was saying.
“Holy crap, child. I cannot believe this!” She paused for a second in deep thought. “Does this boy have a tattoo on him?” she asked, her wrinkly hands now shaking so badly that she dropped the book on the wooden floor, a loud thump immediately echoing in the room.
“Yes, he does in fact. He has a dragon tattoo on his arm.” I rubbed my arms, now full of goosebumps.
“Oh my God!” she cried, her frail body visibly shaking in the chair. “Why didn’t I know it was him? This is all my fault!” Her hand reflexively touched the family pendant hanging on a gold chain around her neck that she never took off. It was given to her by her grandmother who’d received it from her own.
“I cannot believe the first test is already over. You’ve managed to reach him through his fury and he responded. I can’t believe I let this all happen, right in front of my very eyes. How did I miss the signs?” she grunted, admonishing herself. “Did he touch you?” she asked suddenly, her face visibly paling with worry.
“He almost did, I thought he would as his hand seemed to reach for me. But, it didn’t happen. Baran intervened at that moment, and he didn’t, or perhaps couldn’t. I don’t know. Why?”
“Thank God for Baran. Of course, that must have stopped him. Although, I cannot say that boyfriend of yours has done a good job so far if the Drakon has got to you already. You cannot see this boy again.” She started pacing, her veiny hands clutched in worry. “Promise me Sierra, you cannot ever let him touch you, do you understand? It’s imperative that he never touches you, my child. Or, even I cannot save you from what is awaiting you.”
“What are you talking about Grandma?” I was beginning to get worried about her behavior. Should I call her doctor?
“Just promise me, child. For my sake, please do.”
“Okay, I promise,” I said, giving her what she wanted. It wasn’t as if I would see Seth again, anyway.
“Good,” she said as she picked the book up from the floor, as if all was now well with her world.
“You’re scaring me though, Grandma. What’s this all about?”
“Nothing. At least nothing as of yet, and nothing your Grandma can’t take care of,” she said, relaxing again in her chair, pulling her lap blanket up around her. “All will be well; this is how far it’ll all go. Now that I know it has started, I won’t let it go any further than this,” she promised. “But, do not forget to keep your distance from the Drakon.”
“Drakon? Grandma, are you okay?” I asked. Was she delusional? I got up and touched her forehead. Maybe she had a fever. She slapped my hand away. Were these perhaps the symptoms of a pending stroke? I had no clue, but now I was panicking.
“Nonsense child, I’m fine,” she said as if reading my mind. “Now, go and leave me to rest for a while. I want to look good for that nice boyfriend of yours. He surely is handsome, for a neutralizer.”
“Neutralizer?” What the hell was she talking about? I better keep an eye on her, I thought. Maybe I’d better tell Mom.
I left the room, feeling worried. I checked up on her a few more times in the next hour, but each time I found her sleeping peacefully in her bed. I let it all be for the time being. There was no reason to dwell on all the weirdness that happened today.
Or, so I thought.