“Your father called me,” She says tersely and takes a sip of her tea. She’s got a delicate china dish set with navy blue border and silver vines painted over it. I shake my head, trying not to think like an artist I’ve always wanted to be. My grandmother is no ordinary old woman. She is someone with authority and confidence and carries herself like royalty. I can’t help but flinch at the tone.
“No need. Do whatever you want to do here BUT don’t interfere in business. Don’t get involved in any kind of a mess. Understood?” She calmly puts her teacup back onto her office table and folds her hands before looking up at me again.
“Also, Sebastian will show you your room and will tell you all the rules of living in this house and in this town. Break one rule, I will kick you out, and I won’t care if you live or die. Am I clear?”
“Yes, grandmother!” I stammer. She’s worse than a dictator.
“Good. Sebastian, if you may?”
An old guy enters her study and bows to her before bowing to me and walks back out again. I am surprised as I look at his retreating back, then shrug and turn to follow him.
“One more thing, Eric?”
“Stay away from the forest.”
She raises her eyebrow when I open my mouth to ask her, Why? I decide against it and follow Sebastian outside her study. That went smoothly. I snort inside my head while keeping my face impassive in front of the old man.
“My grandmother is kinda scary!” I chuckle but get Sebastian’s grunt as a reply. I guess this dude isn’t friendly either. He looks like he is in his end forties with a few silver hairs, probably was born during the second world war. He is bald upfront and wears thick-framed glasses, and he is almost 5′6 max, but I still feel nervous around him. Like my grandmother, he has a kind of aura, which makes me nervous and cautious. He guides me from my grandmother’s study hall to the third-floor hallway from stairs that don’t pass through the first and second floors. The hallway is decorated with an old carpet and even old furniture, consisting of a big round table with few chairs around it. Heavy dark colored curtains are draped over the large windows. The hallway further has only two doors, and Sebastian guides me to the left one.
“You are free to use this portion; however, you want while the first and second floors are off-limits. You won’t go there without my or your grandmother’s permission; also, you won’t let anyone else in. Am I clear?”
I stare at him, and when he raises his eyebrow, I nod vigorously. “Yes, understood!” Damn! It’s like I am in prison or something. What’s with the warning anyway? I’m itching to ask, but I keep my mouth shut.
“Also, outside this house, you are not to use your car or show it to anyone else either. In the town, you are not supposed to take part in other people’s life. You will not get involved with any...woman either and avoid making friends for it won’t be good for your grandmother or in other words for you. This place operates in a balance, and if you uselessly get yourself involved in others’ businesses, you will disrupt the balance and hence will be responsible for the whole mess.”
I whistle and raise my eyebrow at him judgingly. “Am I in prison? Or maybe this place isn’t normal?”
Sebastian takes a sharp intake of breath and gives me horrified looks. “Say this outside or in front of your grandmother. You will get us both locked up!”
“Shssshhhh, Mr.Amery! Lower your voice!”
“Locked up? What do you mean by locked up? What have I said so hideous anyway?” I say mutinously and shake my head in frustration.
“Nothing!! Just do what you are told, and you will have a peaceful time of your life here.”
I snort and look away, “It’s the same! Only this place guarantees my life. Ok, Sebastian, I will do what I’m told!”
He nods, clearly relieved. “Also, call me Albern!”
“What’s in the other room?” I can’t help but ask him a little rudely and bite my lip to stop myself from pissing him off because something tells me that it won’t be a good idea.
“Oh!” He chuckles, “Your father said you love to draw and sketch, so you can use that room for your artistic abilities?”
I snort again, “So, it’s empty? And there is no tv?”
“Yes.” Albern smiles, and I stare at him, wide-eyed. What is going on here? I ask myself.