Playing with Fire

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Unexpected Relations

“I’m your grandfather. I know we’ve never met, but surely you must at least have seen pictures.”

Before I could respond, Carver stepped in front of me, blocking me from the man. “I’m sorry, but you must be confused. Our grandparents are dead. On both sides.”

The man sighed as if this wasn’t entirely unexpected. “I guess I don’t blame your father. When he left home, we weren’t on the best of terms, but I’d always hoped that he would at least tell his kids that they had a granddad.”

Carver frowned. “Charlotte,” he called and turned to the man, “Look, I don’t want to make a scene, but I think you need to leave.”

Before the man could respond, Charlotte hurried over concern on her face. “What is it, Carver?” Then seeing the man we had been talking to, she smiled knowingly. “Ah, I see you’ve met our granddad. He arrived here a couple of days ago for the reading of the will.”

“If he’s been here for a couple of days, why didn’t he introduce himself to all of us then,” Carver asked suspiciously. I also suspected he was slightly peeved he didn’t get to attend the reading of the will. I also had been unable to attend, but the fact that what I’d inherited more than most state lotteries had helped to soften the blow.

“Well, it was actually my idea to delay the meeting,” Charlotte said, wringing her hands nervously. “There’s actually something that we need to discuss with you two, and I was hoping to put it off until after the funeral.”

“Tell us what?” I asked uneasily, my curiosity piqued.

“Can we please discuss this after everyone’s left?” Charlotte said, glancing around at the guests still milling around.

“No, Charlotte,” Carver said, anger creeping into his voice.

Charlotte sighed. “Fine, but let’s at least step outside.”

Carver nodded tersely, and I smiled slightly. I’d forgotten that a quick temper was something my twin and I shared.

We followed her out onto the porch, where the sun was beginning to set, providing some relief from the hot day.

“Ok, we’re outside,” Carver said, “Now talk.”

“Well, as you know, since you two are still sixteen, there is the slight issue of custody to deal with,” Charlotte said, fidgeting.

I frowned. I hadn’t even considered custody an issue until now. I’d been living practically on my own in New York since I’d been eight.

“And apparently, our parents named your grandfather as your legal guardian,” Charlotte finished glancing nervously back and forth between Carver and me.

I laughed. “Ok, the way you were talking, I thought this was going to affect both of us.”

“Cordelia, this does affect you. You’re going to live with your grandfather as your guardian when I go back home to Virginia, and Conrad goes back to school.”

“I don’t think you understand,” I said, frustrated. “I’m training to be a ballerina in New York, so I don’t have time to live with some random long-lost grandfather unless he happens to live in New York. I’ve been on my own for years, and I don’t see why that should change.” I crossed my arms to emphasize the point.

“Look, you’re tired, and this has been a tough day for all of us. We’ll talk about this tomorrow” Charlotte smiled dismissively at me, and I fought the urge to scream.

I settled for a whatever before storming back inside to the bar. I downed two more martini’s before Carver caught up with me.

“Cordie, are you sure you don’t want to slow down,” He said as I downed a fourth.

“Why do you care?” I slurred, arching an eyebrow.

“You’re not the only one who has a life here, Delia, but maybe getting to start over would be a good thing. And we actually get a chance to have a grandfather,” Carver said, stopping me as I reached for another martini.

“I can’t just give it up. If Charlotte doesn’t let me stay in New York to continue my training, I’m going to have to file for emancipation,” I leaned against Carver for support. “But I have missed you,” I added, smiling up at him.

Carver laughed. “We did use to be the dynamic duo. Oh, how the nannies would tremble in fear,” he said, leading me up the stairs.

“They used to call us the Hell twins when they thought we weren’t listening” I smiled fondly at the memory. “Where are we going,” I asked him.

“You need to get some sleep,” Carver said. “I’m going to let you go, and you are going to get ready for bed, and I’m going to get you some water and some aspirin.”

“Yes, sir,” I giggled, giving him a fake salute before wandering into my bedroom as Carver headed back downstairs.

I closed the doors and took in the soft pink walls of my childhood bedroom. I flopped down on the massive white bed before pulling out an old t-shirt and pajama shorts and shuffled into my bathroom to wipe off my makeup and brush my teeth. As I walked back into my room, I saw that Carver had placed two glasses of water and a bottle of aspirin on my bedside table.

“You’re going to drink one glass now and one glass when you wake up tomorrow along with an aspirin,” He said sternly.

I nodded. “Thanks, bro. Bro, I haven’t said that in a while. Oh, could you drive me to the studio tomorrow at six so that I don’t fall behind?”

Carver sighed. “Isn’t that kind of early?” He said, running a hand through his hair.

“Ballet doesn’t sleep,” I slurred, looking blearily up at him.

“Yes, but you do,” Carver pushed me gently into bed. “And I’ll take you tomorrow, but only because it’s right next to the gym.”

“You’re the best,” I said, sinking into the pillows and sleep.

The shudders banged open, startling me awake. I shivered, wrapping my arms around myself in an attempt to warm myself. I tentatively stepped out of bed to close the window. On our front lawn, I saw four hooded men standing in a circle around a fire. I gazed at them, trying to get a closer look. I could make out two of the faces beneath their hoods.

It was the Prince and the Sorcerer from my last dream. Then shocked, one of the other men turned his head towards the window. I saw the familiar face of my twin looking back at me, the firelight distorting his features to look demonic. He raised a hand toward me, and I sprinted away from the window. Before I could make it out of the room, flames blocked my path, scorching my skin. I ran back to the window and tried to open it, but it wouldn’t budge. I pounded on the glass, trying to break it, screaming at Carver to help me, but no help came. The men ignored my screaming and the now burning house and turned their attention back to the fire in front of them. I stepped back, avoiding the encroaching flames, and sprinted towards the window.

This time I broke through feeling a thousand cuts on my skin from the glass. And then I was falling with no end in sight and the flames still coming for me. Just as they started to lick my skin, I woke up.

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