Hours later, we linger over cups of warm fuzzy cider—minus the rum, generous servings of key lime pie reduced to crumbs on our plates. By now, I’d feel a sense of peace settle over me. Instead, I feel dread.

After Gran goes to bed, I find myself unable to sleep. The weight of her revelations presses down on me, driving me back to the living room where the photo albums still lie scattered across the coffee table.

I flip through the pages, my eyes lingering on the images of Herman, Gran, and Grandpa Sal. Their youthful faces stare back at me, frozen in time, hiding the complexities and pain that lay beneath the surface.

He had ways of…controlling me. Making me feel small.

I shudder, remembering I felt precisely this when I looked at his inanimate portrait. Or, rather, when it looked down on me. Somehow it captured his essence—a chill that transcends even death.

He’d write me love poems, then tear them up and force me to eat the pieces.

He sounds like an absolute nightmare.

The worst kind. Because it comes in beautiful, dreamy wrapping that makes everyone else believe it can’t be anything short of a fantasy.

Did Frost know this side of his grandfather? Is he…like him? A tangible sensation clutches at my neck, like a clawed hand squeezing. I instantly think of his wife, my chest caving in on itself. My heart breaking. For her. Of course, he is. A man like that wouldn’t think twice about cheating on his spouse.

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