Aimee and Ouma Siena cleaned up the kitchen, washed the dishes and packed away the leftover salad. They chatted away as if they had known each other all their lives. It was so wonderful that Aimee had traced members of her family and Ouma was beaming at finding her dead sister’s granddaughter. They were so engrossed in learning about each other that they were completely unaware that someone was standing outside the kitchen window, listening to every word they said.
They talked about their families and what Aimee had been doing with her life. They discussed the reasons why Aimee had come to Franschhoek. She had wanted to trace her family tree and she had found more than she had bargained for. She had uncovered secrets that had been buried for years and, it seemed, that there were more mysteries to unravel. Her quest was upsetting someone and she had even been threatened by an unknown person, which was causing her concern. Eventually, Aimee feeling extremely tired, stood up to leave.
”Thank you for a super dinner, Ouma, and the chat. Although we haven’t worked out who it is who doesn’t want me in Franschhoek, I feel a lot better for having talked to you about it. I need to go and catch up on my sleep. It has been an exhausting time. Môre is nog ’n dag!! ”
Ouma gave her a huge hug and kissed both her cheeks.
“Tomorrow I will show you photographs of your father and the rest of the family. God has given me a new lease on life. I am so excited to have found you. I will look out the photographs tonight.”
”I am so pleased to have found my father’s family. I had no idea that they were still alive,” said Aimee.
Aimee grinned from ear to ear and left the house in a kind of daze. She had come to Franschhoek to research her family history and was thrilled to have found living relatives. She had met Ouma Siena, her paternal grandmother’s sister, who had welcomed her into the family unconditionally. Best of all, she had met Frans.
Frans was her soul-mate. They had met purely by chance… or was it by chance? There seemed to be forces at work that had drawn them together. There were ties that bound them to one another. Their lives were so intertwined by their shared heritage. They were related by blood and by the land around them. The vine cuttings that their ancestors, the Huguenots, had so hopefully brought with them from France became the vineyards of Franschhoek that linked them. The wine that had been made over the centuries bewitched them. Blood vines! The family secrets they held taunted them. Twisted blood vines!
Would she be able to cultivate that love? Could there be a happy ending? After all she was related to Frans. He was Ouma Siena’s grandson. She was Ouma Siena’s grand-niece. How could life be so cruel?
What about the bouquet with the threatening note she had received, warning her to leave Franschhoek or else! She was very confused. Exhausted and befuddled. She had to have a good night’s sleep so that she could think clearly.
Aimee closed the little front gate quietly and took out her keys to unlock her car. She was so preoccupied that she did not hear the footsteps sounding behind her. The first thing she felt was a sudden vice-like grip around her throat. Fingers squeezed. She could not breathe!
Aimee heard an agitated old woman whisper hoarsely; “Maak seker Albert, maak gou man!”
A strange man’s voice in her ear; “Ek probeer, missus! Sy’s sterk.”
Why? Why would anyone want to hurt me? Aimee thought, as clouds of black started to descend over her.
Instinct kicked in and brought years of self-defence training into play. She leant back against her attacker. She thought ― SING…solar plexus, instep, groin.
A smell of wood smoke and sweat nearly overwhelmed her as she elbowed her attacker in the stomach, stepped down hard on his instep, swung around and grabbing his shoulders, she brought her leg up hard, kneeing him with all her strength in the groin. As he released her she fell to the ground. The last thing that Aimee heard was a scuffling as her attacker stifled a shout and staggered off, holding his crotch.
The black cloud descended but not before she realized she had heard that voice before.