The Conduit The Gryphon Series - By Stacey Rourke Page 0,1

provided a soundtrack for the drive. I exited the highway and then took Gore Avenue right into the bustling burg that is Gainesboro with its staggering population of 849 residents. Seriously. The hub of the city took up less than a mile, and looked like a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting. Red brick buildings lined the street, each decorated with their own colorful awning of choice. Large chain stores hadn’t found this little corner of the world, yet. The store owners here manned their own registers, and called every customer by name. The most charming aspect of the town was the library. A bright sunshine yellow stucco, it stood three stories tall with elaborate white moldings that had been carved with painstaking detail. Situated on top was a beautiful Victorian style clock tower. The ornate building may have looked odd in this minute town if not for the scenery that encompassed it. Gainesboro is nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, completely surrounded by their splendor. And now it would be our home. After a series of break-ins in our otherwise family-friendly neighborhood in Sterling Heights, my Mom made the decision to send me, my twenty-year-old brother, Gabe, and my fifteen-year-old sister, Kendall, to live here with our paternal grandmother. Mom would join us in Hicksville, USA just as soon as our house sold.

I turned on Grams’ street and smiled. She had every light in the house on. As if we could miss our target destination. Every year she had a fresh coat of paint applied to her story-and-a-half house to keep it a vibrant robin’s egg blue. Frequent paintings also kept the gingerbread trim and front porch a brilliant white. Since we were little the upstairs of her house “belonged” to Gabe, Kendall, and I. On our visits Keni and I shared the room that overlooked the front yard, while Gabe got the back bedroom all to himself. Just last year Grams relented to our nagging and retired our cartoon character bedding for more grown—up prints. Next on our list was to convince her to get rid of the Snoopy shower curtain in the upstairs bathroom.

After I gave Gabe a quick shove to wake him, I climbed out of the truck and inhaled the rich mountain air. Hints of pine and wild flowers mingled in the breeze. It smelled like relaxation.

Gabe rubbed his hands over his face and buzzed head to chase the sleep away, and then reached over the seat to shake Keni awake. She fell asleep with her face mashed against the side window. As her heavy lids struggled open, she attempted to untangle her long dancer’s legs from the back seat before her brain had awoke enough for such a task.

“What? We…here?”

“Yep.” I answered as I stretched my arms out wide.

The front door squeaked open as Grams bounded onto the porch. From the neck up she looked like a typical grandma, her short wavy grey hair even worn in the standard old lady ‘do. However, instead a floral print apron or high-waisted pants, our Grams had on a zebra print muumuu she customized to fall just above her knees and a pair of hot-pink wedge heels. We stopped cringing at her choice of attire years ago. Every aspect of her reflected her feistiness and we adored her for it. In addition to the crazy way she dressed, she lived for fun, and always spoke her mind—often to our chagrin. She, like me, measured in at just over five feet tall and only broke the hundred pound mark by a pound or two.

“There you are! There you are!” She shouted. “Celeste, pull that truck into the garage. We’ll unload it in the morning. Gabe, Kendall, get your fannies in here and kiss your Grams.”

They both happily obliged.

Relieved to have the twelve hour drive behind me, I took a few minutes to appreciate the beautiful surroundings. Quaint, impeccably maintained houses lined the street, and created a wonderful small town ambiance. I meandered to the garage, and reached for the handle. Before I could give it a yank, a light appeared in my peripheral vision. I swiveled around to investigate. Above the neighbor’s oak tree flew a glowing ball of light. The unidentified orb couldn’t be a shooting star; it was too low to the ground. But it resembled one. I thought it was a small asteroid about to crash to earth — until it darted from one side to the other. Whatever it was, it was alive. In an

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