They rolled along under the downtown lights and signs for a time―and then out into the white and black countryside toward French’s Forest and Bane House on Manor Hill—Moon Full.
Idle chat continued to linger on a spell, before eventually dissolving into contemplation and countless country stars. Caresses killed all care in the world.
There were times in life like now that suddenly stood still, as the world whizzed by, when one was able to remember again how it felt to be silent.
Seven cast back to when he was just four years old, when the family still lived out by Black Heron Lake. Youth renewed.
He was an explorer then, in the land by the water—endlessly entrenched in rolling dunes―and sylvan stomping grounds—always lost on some new hunt.
In those days, every hour was an eternity―and every last little life was a boundless wonder of joy for pursuit.
He was genuinely happy then―down by the water’s edge. But the family ended up moving further inland to French’s Forest―where life dimmed deep beneath the leafy canopies—and his adventures took on ever more dangerous curves.
Eventually the highway carved itself off into the eerie depths of enchanted woodland. Finally they were free of town.
The ominous moon sat bright and fat upon a tree-line crown—as it did every day in French’s Forest—for it never waned in those parts. It remained forever full.
The cab hugged the inner curve of the road for many long moments―and only when it seemed as if the snaking lane would never straighten―it ultimately did.
The trees fell back, revealing foreboding Bane House—all aglitter in countless slithering Christmas lights.
It stood tall upon Manor Hill―five stories rising high above the tallest tree-tops—a sublime sight to the naked eye.
Gargoyles and spires inspired the architecture from foot to tip—and there were statues of three-headed dragons carefully set out everywhere in the yard.
The iron gates were open wide—and so they pulled right in on up the lane-line.
Gravel popped under their tires as they rolled down the trail, up the hill, toward the great gothic front entrance.
“Ooo-ooo ooo … It’s so beautiful …!!! Seven … I love it so much, my God!”
While Seven was grabbing their bags from the back, Eva skipped up the flagstone steps toward the old house.
Silhouetted by the porch lights, she twirled about on her toes, letting her red locks fan about her shoulders, shining on.
Seven tipped the driver and started up after her, transfixed by her dazzle.
They fell into a hushed embrace.
“So your folks really live here?”
He nodded now—keeping calm.
“Ok, ok … I hope they like me.”
He shrugged shortly. “There’s nothing not to love, babe. Just be yourself—or give me the signal―and we will leave in a heartbeat. No questions asked.”
“I’ll be fine. Everybody likes Me―Right? Who doesn’t love Eva.”
He took her hand―and they mounted the remaining steps together―neither knowing that their love would now never be the same again.
He hammered the gargoyle knocker several times and they heard heavy heels.
The door cracked open—and his step-father Godwin poked his bloodless face out from behind―pointed ears twitching earnestly, red eyes burning.
He smiled broadly—exposing a maw of vicious fangs—but the sight was oddly disarming—for he was uncommonly cordial. His energy was of a salty gent.
“Seven my boy! Where in the Hell have you been hiding yourself? We need to talk. We have so much to catch up.”
“No worries Dad—I’ve been good.”
Dark locks, resplendent in ringlets of silver, hung in silken tresses about Godwin’s wide shoulders. Pirate dark.
His crow’s peak stabbed a forehead rife with worry lines―over a mug framed by long sideburns. He cut a jagged swath.
He was dressed like a sea-mate, with golden chains glimmering at his neckline, under a fine black silk shirt.
He pinched a tumbler of a crimson brew between two fingers―regularly jingling the glass as if to remind himself he was going to be shortly running low.
“You could at least call more often.”
“I’ve just been forgetting this place.”
Godwin smirked in a distant envy.
“It’s nothing personal you know.”
“Of course, I understand. If I were you I wouldn’t even have come back at all. So what in the Hell are you doing here then anyway? Have you lost your mind?”
They all laughed breaking tension.
“So this must be Eva I presume? Well I must say it is a pleasure to meet you at last,” he said, taking her hand. “Seven has told us so much about you …”
“Oh really? What might I ask?”
“Godwin … Godwin, Please …”
“All good things, rest assured. Do come inside, you two―and make yourselves at home … Now do not wait!”
“What a beautiful place!” Eva exclaimed, taking her first peek inside the grand abode. It made her awestruck.
“It goes back many generations.”
“I love the old portraits on the walls.” The pictures were framed in gold.
“Most of them were Banes or Gorguns. Both sides of the family.
“They go right back to the Golden Age―and on the fifth floor—we have many old suits of armour on display from throughout the Ages. It’s worth it to see.”
“That sounds amazing. I’m like wow! Seven, I’m so impressed with it all.”
“So how long are you two staying?”
“One day at a time,” Seven said.
As Godwin stepped past him to file their coats away, he casually whispered:
“Is she really another human?”
Seven pretended not to hear.
Eva overheard, but she did not understand. She guessed it was a joke.
“Please―Allow me …” he said, leading Eva by the hand into the next room―where he motioned for her to sit on the couch by the wall. The room was big.
Seven sat beside her to guard her.
“Marietta! Seven and Eva have arrived!” Godwin bellowed in his baritone, sending echoes about the four walls—and up the stairwell to the next floor above.
He retired behind the bar—where he hung out with the bottles and shadows―conveniently out of reach of casual conversation—just like he liked it.
Footsteps shuffled overhead―and moments later―Seven’s mother Marietta glided into the room, terracotta nightgown billowing behind her—cradling a saucer and cup of hot tea before her bosom.
She was slender, with black hair up in a bun—and big glossy lips, over which fangs poked out. She seemed off a touch.
The essence of a stunning younger beauty lingered there in her ivory features and finer terrains. Kind were Age’s Lines.
Eva immediately noticed that Marietta’s ears were pointed like Godwin’s—and she found herself wondering if all albinos had fangs like did these Banes.
Meanwhile, Godwin whistled at his wife from the bar—winking at her while grinning behind the bottles, pouring one.
Godwin had never lost his primal urge for his wife—and sometimes he could hardly hold himself back. He often even felt as if he would kill for her—just for her.
Marietta looked over at him batting her lashes—and the two of them enjoyed an amourous exchange before breaking off. It was a rare but regular little event.
(Special 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)