xx. Under Stars After Hours

 Seven could not find his keys—but Godwin shortly opened up, as he had been watching everything from the window.

They felt better already—just being inside. It was the longest night ever.

“You’ve been gone all day—how was it? Did you have a peaceful time now?”

“We had a picnic,” Eva found herself saying. She felt foggy about the events.

Godwin shrugged—carrying on with coat duty. He was glad they were okay.

To their surprise, Olin was already there—coming up to greet them with a big wide grin splitting his face from ear to ear.

Seven took him off to side. “What happened? What did you do to Her?”

“Fill you in later,” Olin said—unusually nonchalant. “No need to worry Marietta about it all now. We can relax.”

“But is Aly okay? Did Faye get away? I wiped Eva’s memories of it all.”

“Aly is fine. We saved each other tonight, brother,” he said—patting Seven on the back—winking at him. “Relax.”

“You should have brought her back here too. It’s not safe for her at home.”

Olin shrugged. “She’s the one who dons the impenetrable scales, brother. Anyway—I’m going back there tonight to make sure everything is quiet and good.”

They all ate cold leftovers together.

Marietta kept prodding Seven to find out if there was any trouble while they were out on their excursion, for knew enough about Faye to fear the worst, but Seven just kept his head down—promising to call once they were back in Old York.

Eva just kept echoing: “Nice picnic.”

“You should visit sometime, Olin,” Seven said at one point—trying to change the subject. “Getting away from the Forest for awhile does you some good.”

“We’ll see, brother … Depends on Aly … You know me … Forest got me.”

“Why does Aly get to say whether you visit your kid brother in Old York or not?” Marietta scolded. “Tsk, tsk, Olin.”

Godwin puffed on a cigar by the bar, when all of a sudden the surrounding bottles started vibrating, clattering away.

The tremors sustained—causing some glass to smash—and some furniture to be toppled—or otherwise rearranged—but leaving no other serious damage.

“Miramar is hungry tonight,” Godwin mused. “Nature must be trying to tell us something. Some thing is astir or afoot.”

Everybody retired to the drawing room. After everything that had happened that day, Seven was just thankful for some simple respite before the next test.

Olin put on some jazzy music, while Marietta wiped off the coffee table—as Godwin paced back and forth, postulating the time gone since he had spun a yarn.

After a few minutes of revery for the days when his own father used to weave tall tales, he decided to spin a new one, about a time when witches and sorceresses clashed over the sacred land of an enchanted weald, in age long lost.

Eva was amazed by Godwin’s imagination—and commented that he should write a fantasy book about it all—as it was so fabulously wrought—and deserving print. She knew not the truth.

Everybody laughed and feelings were high for a short precious few hours. Somewhere in the middle of all the chaos, they had finally found some family time.

They kept drinking tea—driving out the night—keeping the merriment alive another spell on—playing pool and eating sushi—shooting darts and sharing jokes.

Eventually, Marietta and Godwin complained about growing sleepy—and the old folks soon retired to bed. They had worn out their stay in their own den.

Seven, Eva and Olin then decided to move their after hours party up to the fifth floor for some final heartfelt cheers beneath sparkling stars of the skylight.

The moon was always full in French’s Forest—and there were meteor showers once a month—so they often went upstairs to catch a light-show.

“Well, brother,” Olin began. “I would be remiss if I did not admit you have done good with this fine lass.”

“Thank you. That means a lot.”

“And you are not as bad as I thought,” Eva said, sparking laughter.

They opened wine, clinked and toasted to long life and happiness all around. The night’s stars shimmered.

Afterward, when Seven and Eva were walking back to their room—Olin called out after them: “Bless you two!”

Seven had never heard Olin be so kind and it arose in him a sharp suspicion. He wondered up to what was his brother.

Then in bed on that second night—Eva once more felt like playing around—so she tried to pull some of her old moves. But Seven turned away, immediately thinking of Faye—not wanting to put them in jeopardy by once more sparking Her ire.

This surpassed Eva’s threshold into frustration, however, for she was already feeling like he was sending mixed signals. She frowned and sulked at his rebuff.

The day had seemed to hit a downward tone immediately after the picnic—although she could not recall what she had done to deserve this treatment.

In fact, she could not recall much of anything that had even happened before or after the picnic, her memory shrouded in an impenetrable darkness, leaving her with this nagging feeling of uneasiness.

She tried once more—but Seven refused again―so she slipped out of bed in frustration—stepping carefully out through the darkness into the hall. She needed that physical contact to feel truly loved.

“Eva …? Where are you going?”

She did not answer—and the next thing he heard was the bathroom door shut—and then the fan come on. He sat half-up on his elbows staring at the glow in the hall. His heart sank to have hurt.
(Author’s Note: If you are enjoying The Silverskin, you can buy the full 400 page Revised & Expanded 10th Anniversary edition paperback here. Forever Yours In French’s Forest, Rian Torr)

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