London, Six Years Ago…
Sasha Monetti’s eyes widened as she answered the door and discovered an elderly man, stooped over and leaning heavily on a cane. “Can I help you?” she asked. Behind the man, Sasha noticed two larger, scarier looking men.
The elderly man pushed the door wider with his cane as he moved inside; the two larger men took up sentry positions outside the door. “The correct greeting should be ‘May I help you?’ but I don’t expect you to know that,” the old man sneered. He walked in and surveyed the small cottage, dismissing the dwelling with a disparaging sweep of his rheumy eyes.
Furious, Sasha slammed the door on the two sentries. She moved around the old man, trying to block him from coming further into her house. “Who are you and what are you doing in my house?” Sasha demanded.
The elderly man turned and looked her up and down. “You don’t know who I am?” he demanded, grunting as he shook his head. He snorted as he sat down in a nearby wingback chair. “Don’t bother offering coffee or tea. The coffee in this painfully cold and wet country is pathetic and I can’t stand the idea of tea. Just sit down.”
Sasha couldn’t believe her ears. This man dared to enter her home and treat her like this? Was he some sort of police officer? He didn’t look like any of the officers she’d met, but then again, how many officers had she run into? She was a college student with very little money, so she couldn’t afford to hang out at bars and get drunk, the only place she might run into officers of the law.
She pulled her shoulders back, angry and more than a little offended. She suspected she should also be nervous about this stranger in her house, but she didn’t get that “danger” sense from him. The men standing out on her front porch? Definitely getting a danger vibe from them but not this man. He was just insulting. “I’m sorry, but if you don’t get out of this house right now, I will call the authorities.”
The man cackled at her words. “Go ahead. Call the police and have your grandfather kicked out. See if I help you then.”
Sasha couldn’t believe her ears. Her grandfather? She looked at him carefully, not sure if she believed him or not. “You’re my grandfather?” she whispered. “You’re actually here?” she breathed, excitement beginning to replace anger – conflicting feelings rushing through her with the possibility. And then the resemblance to that small picture of her father hit her and she recognized the truth of his words. Sitting down in the only other chair in the room, she placed her hands over her mouth, excitement welling up inside of her. “Oh, goodness, I’m so sorry. I should have recognized you.”
The man smoothed his perfectly straight tie down over his rotund stomach. “No reason you should, girl. I can’t imagine your mother would have done anything to help you recognize me, or perhaps even to know anything about me.”
Sasha inched forward on the chair, her mind scattering with all of the questions she anxiously wanted to ask this man. “You don’t know what a thrill is it to finally meet someone from my father’s family.” Her slender fingers moved up, covering her mouth to try and control some of the excitement surging through her. “Oh goodness, this is such a delightful surprise.”
The man rolled his eyes and sighed impatiently, dismissing her enthusiasm, then looked up at her. “Forget the stupid familial bonding, girl. I haven’t the time. You wanted help. I’m here to help.”
Sasha’s mouth fell open with those scornful words. “Stupid familial bonding” she repeated in her mind, unable to understand why the phrase was so harsh. This was her grandfather! Why was he acting like this? She’d never had a grandparent in her life, having lived most of her teenage years with only her mother, but this wasn’t anything like she’d always hoped for from her father’s father. Sasha was confused. “You’re here to help but…”
The man sniffed as if he smelled something offensive. “I don’t want to dwell on the details. Suffice it to say, you want something from me and I want something from you.”
She was dumbfounded. “You’re not here to see me?”
The man grunted with disgust. “Not even the slightest bit of interest on my part, other than what you can do for me.”
Sasha sat up straighter, not sure what to say to a man like this. Besides her mother, who was dreadfully ill with cancer, this elderly and utterly offensive man was her only living relative. And Sasha was starting to suspect that he was simply a nasty old man. He was nothing like the person she was hoping and praying her grandfather would be.
But what could she expect, she asked herself firmly? Sasha’s father had refused to acknowledge her in any way throughout her whole life. Good grief, he hadn’t even acknowledged Sasha’s mother. He’d had an affair with her mother and, at the first sign of pregnancy, had run off with another woman, eager to continue his playboy lifestyle.
For the rest of her life, Sasha had heard how horrible Greek men were, what a waste of oxygen because they didn’t have any humanity. They were “horrible, disgusting blokes” her mother would repeatedly say. On numerous occasions, Sasha’s mother had urged Sasha to avoid Greek men because they would give her nothing but pain.
And for years, Sasha had ignored her mother’s warnings. Surely an entire culture of men couldn’t be that bad, she’d reasoned. Her mother was a kind and generous woman, except when it came to Sasha’s father. So Sasha had simply dismissed her tirades and changed the subject.
Her heart aching, she looked at the man’s knobby knees, refusing to acknowledge him in any other way. “I understand. Since you feel this way, perhaps it would be better if you simply left.” She took a deep breath and stood up. “My father was too much of a coward to ever acknowledge me and that has been perfectly fine. Absolutely no loss there,” she told him with a defiant look to her eyes. “And apparently there has been no loss in never knowing you.”
The man was silent for a long moment before he said, “You’ve got good bones, girl.”
Sasha was startled. Good bones? What in the world did that mean? She stepped back, prepared to usher him out of the small house she shared with her mother. There had been many happy memories in this house and there was no need to endure this man’s hurtful comments. She opened her mouth to request him to leave once again but he interrupted her.