Here I am again! However, I have nothing interesting to say and my humor took off and left for a short vacation only, or at least that's what I hope. It''s been one of those days when nothing went well and if something had a chance to go wrong, then it took it.
Therefore, I imagine you wouldn't like to here about the hassles I've been through, as each of us has worries and problems and you've come on this blog to evade a bit not to be charged negatively.
So, not to bore you with insignificant matters, I decided to present you with a sample of the novel I am working at. I jumped over the prologue and went directly with chapter 1 so that you could make an idea.
By the way, I'd welcome comments - positive but also negative. It would help a lot.
So here it is, sample of "EYES IN THE DARK".
The night was dark and thick and the air was heavy with the smell of the mimosas surrounding the house. She breathed deeply and closed her eyes just for one moment to let the sounds of the night invade her and calm her restlessness. It was cool but bearable.
Although she knew she was supposed to be alone out there at the small ranch house, she had the feeling that someone was watching her. The fine hair at the nape of her head felt electrified, and, for the first time in her life, she felt lonely and frightened the same time and she disliked her weakness deeply.
Nevertheless, she was living far from the usual roads, too far. Before, she’d never imagined she wouldn’t be able to live there, only by herself, without being surrounded by legions of people and the cacophony of noises in the big city.
Since the death of her aunt, a few months before, she’d been thinking of moving out of the town she disliked immensely and making a life there in the middle of nowhere.
She had done it in the end, but she’d never imagined, not even for a second, that she could feel loneliness so deep and that the sounds in the night could be so scary.
Trying to ease some of her aches, she leaned against the pillar of the porch, watching the stars powdering the sky above her.
She’d longed for them in the heart of the big city, whose sky was always covered in smoke and dust. Now, they winked at her and she smiled inside, enjoying the moment as a young child discovering a marvel for the first time.
For a few instants, she let her mind float towards the clear sky and find peace in the movement of the few clouds sailing across the expanse of the horizon. She relaxed and her fingers started caressing the pillar made of old pines, witnesses of a few generations before her.
She started wildly as the rough voice woke her up from her dreams. Her heart started beating so fast as if it had wanted to jump out of her chest and lie at her feet. Old fears invaded her mind again.
The voice had come from the left side of the yard where there were lots of bushes and tall trees. The night and thickness of the foliage hindered the view and she couldn’t see too much there. She only had the impression of a tall shadow in the dark.
At first, she had the thought of making the man believe she could be dangerous so he’d leave her alone.
“I’ve got a gun, right here,” she said. “And I know to use it!” she continued in a shrilling voice, as fear strangled her.
She could hear him laugh loudly and she felt hundreds of itches on her skin, realizing he hadn’t believed her. For a flitting moment, she regretted not having started those defense classes she’d been thinking about back then when she was living in the city but now it was too late.
“Yeah, I bet you do!” he uttered laughing even louder. “Sweetheart,” he drawled, honey dripping from his words, betraying a specific southern accent, “I’m sure you can shoot me if you want to, but I doubt you do. However, I want only a bit of help for one night, two the tops,” he lied through his teeth.
Fear stepped aside and anger took its place, climbing up to her lips as she felt the biting irony in his words. He was mocking her and she couldn’t forgive that.
“Town is in that direction,” she showed him, waving to the left. “There you can find all the help you want,” she added in clipped words. “There’s nothing here for you!”
“I don’t feel like going into the town now. I’ve walked too much. My car broke a few miles down that road and I need a place to stay. I think I like this one,” he said equally, coming closer and getting into the spot of light from the veranda.
“How dare you?” she managed to push through her tight lips, anger and fear almost suffocating her.
He was tall, too tall for her taste. Had he been shorter, she’d have had a chance but like this, she was afraid that she had none. He had a lot of pounds more and was built like a fighter.
“Be a good Christian, girl,” he said with a laughing derision. “You won’t let a poor man outside in the night thinking he is lonely, cold and hungry, will you now?”
“You could bet I would!” she said with more conviction than she felt, trying to parrot his earlier expression.
She didn’t want him believe that his words would move her as if she’d been a simpleton. The time when people used to open their doors to strangers was gone and, anyway, she was a city girl. That habit was far from her, as far as the moon.
He came closer and reaching the stairs of the verandah watched her with smiling eyes. His eyes tried to play the innocent and pure soul he wanted to present to her, but she could read toughness behind his easygoing smile and that made her think he was far from what he wanted her to believe.
The man was built like the rangers she’d read about. Over six feet tall, he could look at her from the same level, even though he was at the foot of the stairs, and his shoulders were broad enough to carry her if he felt like it.
She knew she had to do something and she cursed her urge to admire the night. Had she been inside, at least, she’d have had a door between that bear of a man and her, even though she doubted the locked door would have made any difference if he had wanted to invite himself inside.
“Come on, Missy, don’t be a bitch,” he tried to cajole her. “I need only one bed for the night and I promise it won’t be yours,” he tried to persuade her with a friendly smile but she could see that his smile never reached his eyes.
His eyes were two black arrows trained on her, surveying her every movement. Chips of ice were sparkling inside the irises.
She felt his sarcasm crawling on her skin and his attitude scared her more because she couldn’t guess what his game was.
It was clear that she was in disadvantage and she couldn’t have defended herself from him if she had to.
“Are you crazy or what?” she manage to spit back.
“Or what, I think,” he softly answered back.
“How could you imagine I would let you sleep in the house?” she said furiously, as if she wanted to spit on him and be done with him.
“All right, then your barn, what do you say? You can lock your doors at night, and tomorrow we’ll speak more. What do you say? To me it seems like a good trade.”
She thought that a locked door wouldn’t stop him if he had wanted to get inside. However, to end the discussion, she had to accept the offer he had made and hope he’d keep to the barn. It was the only wise thing to do and she couldn’t hope to get a better offer.
“Go to the barn and wait for me,” she said. “I’ll bring you some blankets so you won’t feel the cold of the night. Okay?”
He smiled again, this time showing her two rows of perfect big white teeth that made her think of a wolf in front of its prey, and then he bowed mockingly, turning around and going towards the barn erected on one side of the big yard.
She heard the noise when the door of the barn opened – it was a bit rusty as she hadn’t had any use of it, and then she ran inside and locked the door behind her. It was a futile gesture at least, she was aware of that, but she needed the blanket of pretended security for a moment at least.
She knew she had to go out there with the blankets she’d promised to him and to bring him some food to avoid his coming to the house to ask for it, but she couldn’t make her feet move. The connection between her brain and her feet had gone missing.
Finally, the fear aroused by the thought that he’d come back, made her able to force her feet to move and with shaking hands, she took two blankets from the cupboard in the hall upstairs.
Then, after raiding the kitchen and preparing three huge sandwiches and taking a can of soda, she went to the front door, with her heart beating faster and faster. She was so scared that she could have jumped out of her skin.
Before opening the door, she watched out carefully and saw that the light in the barn was on but she couldn’t see anything else. Hopefully, he’d been waiting for her there. She had nothing but hope right then. She knew she could have called the police but by the time they’d made it there, she could have been fodder for the vultures.
She opened the door and went out in the dark. With fast steps, she reached the door of the barn and shouted: “Mister, are you there?”
Suddenly the door of the barn opened with a screech, making her start jumping back a few steps, and screaming surprised.
“Have I started you?” he asked mildly, as if the answer hadn’t been of any importance.
“What do you think?” she frowned at him and made a grimace. “Here are your blankets,” she said angrily for having showed weakness and shoved the blankets to him with force.
After she’d almost thrown the blankets to him, she turned back forgetting about the food she had in her hand. She caught a glimpse of a brow hitching up sardonically. He was eyeing the sandwiches and then she realized she had forgotten to give him his food. She felt like throwing everything to him but schooled herself in handing him the food calmly and only then she turned around and left the barn in a hurry.
“Good night to you too,” he said ironically to her back, bursting into a healthy laughter afterwards, aware that her imagination had run wild and that’s why she was behaving like a scared doe.
She mumbled a few choice words she wasn’t supposed to know and hearing her, he laughed even louder, his laughter conveying that he was quite pleased with the situation and that he was enjoying her colorful vocabulary.
Furiously, she left the barn in a hurry, but not without noticing the man’s scent of musk first and something like a butterfly fluttered in her stomach making her aware of things she’d preferred not to know.
She refused to dwell on the weird sensation and tried to focus on her fury. Impotence to retaliate made her ready to scream in anger.
She almost ran to the house making haste to put distance between her and the giant, and getting inside, she locked the door behind, breathing with relief when she heard the lock clicking in place.
She gave up drinking her usual cup of tea before going to bed and she went directly upstairs on shaky legs. That was the delayed effect of her fear.
She changed in her pajamas, even though it took her sometime as her fingers were trembling so hard that she couldn’t button the blouse, and went to bed.
The noise of the birds in the night made her anxious and she’d never been anxious before. She could imagine that the man in the barn was the cause for everything new she was experiencing that night.
She had the acute sensation that nothing would be as simple as before and she could not explain why she was feeling like something was supposed to happen.
She fell asleep late in the night, tired by thoughts and by fears she couldn’t even name.
The morning was young, just at dawn, when he went out of the barn and found the water pump in the yard.
He stretched at first, to appease the aches in his shoulders, and then took off his shirt not showing any modesty, thinking that it didn’t really matter to him if she was watching. He was not shy and he could afford to offer her a show for free. It would have been his way to pay her back for making him to sleep in the barn.
He counted on making her pay dearly for her mistrust, although deep down he was aware that she had the right of it, as no woman with a few neurons in her brain would have accepted an unknown man in her house at night.
However, he was pricked. Damn it! It wasn’t as if he’d looked like a bandit. He even thought he’d had a good appearance.
It was true that he’d had to march for hours although he intended to be there in the afternoon. But the damn car broke and he couldn’t do anything about it. The battery finally expired and couldn’t be revived anymore.
He’d been dusty and sweaty, but he’d made a long way from the other end of the country to that God forgotten place and he’d even worn his best pair of jeans and his favorite shirt.
While he was washing his neck and strong muscular arms, she was watching from behind of the curtain, her eyes roaming the expanse of his back. She knew he’d woken up.
Maybe it had been the sound of the barn door opening or maybe his steps in the yard or maybe the water flowing from the pump. Nevertheless, she’d woken up and gone to the window and now she was watching him with a shadow of lust inside that she refused to name. Her mouth had never watered seeing a handsome body before. It seemed that there was always a first time for everything.
His arms were sculptural and his chest was large and covered with dark hair that now was glistening with the water drops. She felt a huge rush of passing her fingers through the thick hair and then, shaking her head she thought: “Damn it! What are you thinking?”
She left the window and entered the bathroom for a long shower, to wash away any dirty desire for the man she’d locked outside the night before.
She let the water beat her body and punish her for the thoughts she’d had. Then, choosing a modest t-shirt and a pair of jeans, which had seen better times, she went downstairs and unlocked the front door.
He was there, rubbing his skin with a rough towel he had taken from the backpack he’d had with him the night before.
She tried hard to take her eyes from his chest. Damn! Why was she obsessed with that chest? Only then she said loudly:
“If you want some breakfast, you may come in!”
Then, turning her back to him, as if he’d been of no consequence, she went inside and headed to the kitchen.
He didn’t move his eyes trained on her behind snuggled in the tight frayed jeans, imagining she’d put them to chase any desire away of him but, as it would always happen, desire ran deeper and stronger than she could have thought.
The jeans might have been old and their color might have washed long ago, but they looked perfect on her, like a second skin, and the moves he was witnessing were more than he could bear. The lower part of his body was already giving signs of brutal awakening.
Smiling ruthlessly, in derision for himself, he finished rubbing his body and put the t-shirt on and then he also went into the house, following the noises in order to get to the kitchen. When he got into the kitchen, the smell of the food had already filled the room, and his hunger started climbing its way up and making him feel as if he could eat everything she was cooking on the old stove.
“People usually say “Good Morning” or at least “Hi” when they see each other in the morning,” he said calmly with a conversational voice, leaning on the jamb of the door, his legs crossed at the ankles.
“Maybe they do, but I don’t have time for niceties, especially with you,” she threw over her shoulder keeping busy at the stove.
“Oh, really? And what important things do you have to do that you can’t pay the slightest courtesy to a guest?”
She made a grimace and thanked God he could not see her face. Courtesy, indeed! To a guest! Like she had invited him! But she didn’t know what to say.
Actually, she should have worked for her next exhibition but she couldn’t find inspiration at all so, for the moment, she was doing nothing special.
She had already finished with the cleaning of the ranch house. That was why she’d been exhausted the day before. Now, she would listen to music, read a book or simply admire the nature around. She’ll find something.
However, she wouldn’t tell him that.
“Things,” she replied shortly, unfriendly, trying to end the subject.
“What kind of things?” he insisted, making her roll her eyes with exasperation.
He was like a terrier with a bone in his teeth. His jaw was stubbornly set and it was obvious he wouldn’t let go.
“Various,” she replied without showing any particular interest in him.
She had the worrying feeling that if he didn’t leave sooner, he’d drive her mad. Turning to him with the pan in her hand, she put the omelet on his plate and snapped at him angrily:
“Eat and leave!”
“Nice manners, I have to say,” he drawled his words without backing down.
He didn’t seem affected by her rude treatment. If she were to guess, she’d say that he had the time of his life. She couldn’t understand why.
“What’s wrong with you?” she gave up and asked watching him astonished. “Don’t you feel when you’re not wanted?”
“Oh, yes, I do, don’t worry. It’s not like you haven’t made all the possible effort to let me know where you stand. The problem is that wanted or not, I have to stay here,” he said sitting down and taking some of the eggs she had prepared for him with his fork.
“What on Earth do you mean?” she asked him completely stunned this time.
She didn’t even know how she could utter the question as she was so stunned that almost all her thoughts had frozen in her mind. She couldn’t believe her ears. He had simply stated he had to stay there as if her wishes had been inconsequential.
“It’s simple, dear! I have to stay here. Haven’t you read your aunt’s will?”
She couldn’t say a thing or think anything for a few seconds. She was just looking at him as if he’d suddenly sprung a new head.
“Not very attentively,” she admitted muttering. “But I think I am sure that I am the only one who inherited this house.”
“Yes, indeed, you are. But it was something else there too. She asked that you share the house with me for at least two years. That was the condition attached to your ownership. I am the one who takes care of the property for two years, until you decide that you really want to be here or not.”
Her eyes went so round that he was afraid they’d burst. The next moment, she rushed from the table and he could hear her getting noisily into the next room and opening a drawer.
He smiled satisfied hearing the sound of the papers shuffled around and turned one after the other. He knew that what he had just said was true and he couldn’t imagine how she hadn’t seen it by then.
However, the reasons of him being there were a bit more complicated than what he’d told her.
It was not about her decision of staying or leaving but about her protection and about finding the truth. He had to pay some things back to some people and the late old woman made it easier for him stipulating her last wishes.
At those thoughts, his smile changed and became like a real sneer. There were things he couldn’t forget or forgive. Payback was a given.
When he heard her sighing loudly and the drawer slammed, he composed an indifferent face and started to eat again.
She came back like a real fury and she leaned over him:
“What the hell is this? Why is she doing this to me?”
“She’s doing? Dear, she’s already done it,” he said continuing to eat as if he hadn’t been concerned about anything.
“You know what I mean. Damn it, I’m too furious to think!” she snapped starting to pace.
“Are you? Then, sit down and eat!” he said calmly, pushing the plate with eggs in front of her. “Maybe that will help your thinking process.”
“I’m not in the mood to eat anymore,” she snapped back. “Do you think I can eat knowing that a stranger is going to share the house with me?... And not any stranger, but you…,” she sputtered.
“Why not? You can’t do anything, can you? The will is extremely clear, if I am not wrong. It is ironclad. You can’t change a thing.”
She didn’t reply. She started thinking ferociously trying to find a way out, but there was no way out: the will was very clear and she couldn’t do anything to change it. She could only be at his mercy. That made another thought pop in her head:
“What would it take to make you leave for good and leave me alone, hmm?”
“I won’t leave, so sit down and eat,” he said always calm, very matter-of-fact, no expression showing on his face.
She had almost shouted at him like a banshee, losing the thin shreds of control she had over her temper.
“Why can’t you be a reasonable boy?” she asked meanly.
He raised his eyebrow hearing her calling him a boy and his features became sterner.
“Okay, a reasonable man, then,” she said quickly trying to appease him. She needed his consent after all so it wouldn’t do to alienate him.
“I am reasonable. I am reasonable because I don’t intend to let the judge know of your pathetic try to make me leave. It sounded like a bribe, didn’t it?”
“You are the worst…” she started but he stopped her with a brief gesture.
“I wouldn’t continue if I were you. I’ve already finished eating, so I’m going to wash my plate, so that you can’t complain that you are the only one working here,” he made fun of her, taking his plate and going to the sink.
She sighed again, and her temper pricked again, she took her fork and threw it towards him hitting him straight in the middle of his back. When he turned his head to her, she froze. His eyes weren’t just calm anymore.
They were icy like a very cold winter day that chilled her to the bones.
He turned completely towards her and watched her long, weighing her, as if he couldn’t believe his eyes. It was as if he’d seen that unmated force in her for the first time.
He could have sworn she was just a little pretty thing that had no resources for real anger and now he realized he’d been entirely wrong. He sighed inside, and then said mildly:
“What the hell is wrong with you?”
“There’s nothing wrong with me, besides you, of course,” she replied. “I haven’t asked for a house mate, have I now?”
He had to admit she was right in her fury and that she had all the reasons to feel cheated and even put with her back to a wall, but he didn’t say it out loud. It wouldn’t have been a good move. She’d have thought she had the upper hand and he couldn’t afford that.
“Okay, sweetheart, let’s settle this down,” he said walking towards her with measured steps.
He could see sparkles of anger in her eyes. She clearly didn’t like to be called “sweetheart”. He simply smiled and that made her much more furious.
“There’s nothing to settle down. You simply have to leave. That’s all!” she pointed out tapping her foot to the floor the same time.
“Now, you know I can’t do that, don’t you? I’d like to respect the old woman’s wish. You should too. After all, she was your aunt not mine.”
He could hear her teeth grinding and could have sworn she’d liked to throw him as far as possible. But he wasn’t there to leave. There was some unfinished business to be dealt with and he didn’t have the intention to let a pretty face get in the way even if he commiserated with her and understood perfectly well how it was to feel powerless at the whims of the fate.
“So, how do you see this problem?” she managed to utter after a few moments of silence.
“As it is: I will live here for the next two years, whether you like it or not. You choose what bedroom I take. I am not so whimsy so I can sleep in any of them. Keep in mind, the barn is out of question. My mother raised a gentleman not a farm boy.”
She snorted at that and looked at him coldly but didn’t make any effort to reply back at first. Then she said:
"I doubt it.”
“What?” he asked frowning because he had a good guess what she was talking about.
“I doubt the part with the gentleman,” she said and then stood up and went towards the kitchen door.
“Hey, you, where are you going?” he hurried after her, afraid that she might have wanted to run away.
“Hey, you?” she turned back angrily, suddenly feeling sick of his way of talking to her.
“Till we make the introductions, I’ll call you like that!” he said coldly even if there was a twinge of guilt over the fact that for reaching his own goals he had to trample all over hers.
That was the moment she realized she didn’t even know his name or where he came from and actually nothing at all. He was just a stranger and she was supposed to share the house with him and implicitly her life because she doubted she could lead a completely separate life with someone else in the house.
“Yes, we skipped that,” she admitted thoughtfully. “The conversation was too fascinating, don’t you think?” she asked ironically.
A grin appeared on his lips, relieved that, at least she had a sense of humor. He was glad to see that side of her knowing it might be less boring to live with her than he’d expected. That was the only aspect he dreaded in that affair.
“So, sweetheart, what’s your name, by the way?” he asked leaning with his hip on the table. His arms were crossed on his chest, like if he wanted to keep her at bay.
“Diane and not sweetheart, so don’t call me that anymore!” she retorted meanly.
“Okay, not a problem, baby!” he said smiling not only with his lips but also with his eyes.
He had the pleasure to see her clenching her fists hearing the new term of endearment he used.
“Damn it, man, I am not your baby! Is it clear?”
“Clear, don’t worry! I will try not to say it again,” he replied laughing now. “I’m Stephen for you,” he continued.
“For me? Does that mean you have several names you use?”
“It depends on the case,” he admitted, “but at least, you have the chance to use the real one. Isn’t it something?” he asked mockingly, a playful light dancing in his dark pupils.
“Oh, stop making me favors! I can live without,” she snapped stopping out of the room with her back a straight arrow.
“I’m sure you can,” he said to himself as she was leaving the room.
Born sometime in the past century, living in the 21st century.
Sometimes I have good ideas... (what do you think?)
Sometimes fascinating guests!
(that for sure!)
Sometimes I have to share some of my frustrations,..
(not too tempting, huh!)
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