An amber stream flowed from the tip of the ceramic teapot into his cup. “Thank you, Grandmother.”
“You’re growing into a nice young man. Polite. Attentive to his Grandmother.”
“Thank you, Grandmother.” He was attentive because the old woman terrified him. He couldn’t say why, but she had since his earliest memories. His entire branch of the family felt that way, but he was the only one brave enough to accept her invitation to tea.
The old woman smiled without showing her teeth. She lifted her cup to her lips and took a sip.
The tea was too hot, so he waited. It was hard to breathe in her overheated living room, the flame roaring inside the pellet stove on a cloudy day that was supposed to be mid-Spring, but was not.
“I invited you today because there’s something important I want to tell you.”
He nodded carefully.
“I trust you with our secrets, now that you’ve shown your strong character.”
He picked up his teacup.
“Do you remember that very rude boy I mentioned, nothing but a thug? The one who invited his dog to do its business on my lawn?”
“Incorrigible. Do you know what that means?”
“He no longer torments me.”
“He went missing.”
“Yes. He did.” She took a sip of tea. “At any rate, because you’ve demonstrated the right qualities, I believe it’s time to introduce you to the family business.”
“They found his body, Grandmother.”
She nodded. “An unfortunate lapse.” She took another sip of tea. “There’s no place in the world for people like that.” She smiled, this time revealing her teeth. “So then, welcome.”
His cup clattered in the saucer. The flames licking at the inside of the stove sent a searing chill through the room.