Below is the beginning of the first chapter of a book I started after an editor suggested I work on description of atmosphere and surroundings. Hope you like it friends!
The moon was out brilliant and full. A white circle a quarter of the way up the sky shadowing all stars around it. It glinted in white ripples off the long lake in the distance and cast an eerie blue hue off the surrounding landscape. It was the perfect night according to Donovan Ranger. The kind of night where things sat still and cold, just like him. The lonely howl of a wolf over the wilderness behind him was even more fitting and a smirk played on his mouth as he watched the moon in front of him.
Taking a full breath, he sat back on his chair high above the land below and reveled in his reclusive and esoteric nature. “You think that you would wish to open your mail this week.” came the proper english voice of his steward Loxley.
His peaceful breath he just took deflated inside him. “I have nothing to deal with at the moment.” He reminded Loxley as he did most nights, a slight Scottish cadence touching his voice.
“I think you do.” he said, a hint of humour in his eyes and on his face. Loxley was the caretaker at his estates for many decades and knew his master all too well. If Donovan didn’t wish to do something, he wouldn’t unless pressured into it. As predicted Loxley picked up his letters and plopped them square in his lap.
He groaned and began opening them one by one. There was again nothing unexpected and nothing of interest. Much of them were things he already dealt with. He noted a familiar envelope and handed it back to Loxley unopened. “I can’t understand the insistence of this one.” he muttered.
Loxley took it and patted some of his brown hair back into place. He was formal always and Donovan didn’t understand that. He was thin and slight for a man, with his age beginning to show on his face and with silver in his hair. Even now, that age was more pronounced with his frown as he opened the letter himself and read it over. “I don’t think it would be such a bad thing.” he told Donovan.
“Visitors are always a bad thing.” he repeated in the age-old argument.
Loxley tutted his annoyance, “Her brother only means to force her into stillness.” he told him.
Donovan sat forward placing his elbows on his knees and rubbed a finger over his lips as he thought. Some of his dark hair fell over his eyes and he didn’t bother to right it. “It’s silly.” he said finally. “Just because I helped him once, doesn’t mean we are in any way friends.” he said.
A long proper sigh came out of Loxley, “Yet he might have helped with you being here.” he said carefully.
Donovan let a dark scowl form on his equally dark eyebrows. Leo didn’t really help him procure his estate in the vast wilds of North America, his sister did. She herself did the footwork and negotiated such a deal that even Donovan admitted he was impressed. Now that sister wanted to come stay across the estate in a small cabin that was original to the land when he bought it. When Donovan didn’t respond, she had her brother Leo take it up for her.
“The sooner you let her come and go, the faster they stop pestering your solitude.” Loxley reasoned.
He pursed his lips for a moment longer, “Fine.” he snapped. Decision made, he stood. “But you will be me while she is here and I won’t exist.” he told him.
Loxley shook his head, “I doubt she has any interest in meeting you.” he told him.
Donovan snorted ungracefully as he stepped with Loxley off his tower balcony and into his room. The room itself was cast in deep shadow and the dark greens and golds that decorated it made it even darker. “Women always have interest in meeting me.” he muttered to no one in particular.
He ran his hands through his shaggy dark hair to right it. Stubbornly it fell back into his eyes and stayed. He caught the hint of shadow on his strong jaw in the reflexion of the mirror. His clothing worn and rugged, he shrugged to that reflexion as if to tell it, he didn’t care that he looked as he did. He was messy and intended to stay as such. If he shaved fine, if not fine. If his hair was in his eyes, it was. The only thing that mattered to him was his solitude.
He left the darkness of his room and stepped into the lengthy hall. It too was dim, but not shadowed like the room he just left. The carpet runner was as it should be, being pale blue and perfectly matched to the decor around him. He had to credit his steward and his housekeeper Marta for the decorating as he had no part in it. Fine details weren’t his strongest talent, and he tended to care less than he should about anything.
Again he slipped into darkness as he wandered the back staircase to the kitchens. Quietly he opened the refrigerator and peeked inside, strongly squinting as the bright light inside it hit him. “And what will you be doing up in my kitchen Donovan?” came the very Scottish sound of Marta’s voice.
He cringed, “Eating?” he tried. He fought the urge to sneak away like a school child caught in a cookie jar.
“Well if you woke before sunset, and ate proper, you would have a meal now and again wouldn’t you?” She went on pushing him in a chair and turning on the lights. He squinted at the renewed annoyance on his pale eyes. Tutting, she dimmed them and went about making something for him while he sat in silence. She was a portly woman with brown curly hair she kept twisted up. Some curls always found their way into her face anyway. She was about the same age as Loxley and he guessed they were as close to parents he would get now that his were gone.
“Seems to me if you saw a hint of daylight you would get better about all this.” she went on. He humoured her by listening with attention. It wasn’t a new conversation. Nothing ever was anymore. “It is no wonder you had to leave your other estate because of vampire rumours.” she told him.
He snorted with annoyance, “I don’t have fangs and last I checked, I am alive.” he defended a bit childishly.
“You come out at night and keep to yourself. You have a darkness about you whether you know it or not.” Then she looked him over as she put a plate of food in front of him, “And you grew up handsome. That makes anyone a vampire.” she told him a touch of amusement to her voice.
“I will think about sun maybe this winter.” he told her.
She shook her head and chuckled, “You know there is very little daylight at all this far north.” she told him with a playful cuff to his ear. “Now be a dear and clean up after yourself this time. I am heading to bed now that you are fed.”
He nodded and she left him to the silence that often sat in his vast home. He looked over the chilled stone floors and light cream paint on the walls and pondered what Marta said. He wasn’t one to be in the sun really, and his eyes were so sensitive to light that unless he had very dark shades, he couldn’t take the brightness of day. It was like that from the time he was a child which led to teasing. Not only were his eyes a very pale silver, the lack of sun made him pale as a teen. Combine that with his dark hair and moody expressions and it was no wonder people thought him odd and eventually a possible vampire.
Donovan shook his head as he took his plate to the sink and set it there. There was no such thing as vampires or werewolves or anything at all. There was always a logical explanation for everything and if studied long enough, the reason would show itself. He went into his library and looked at the many rows of books lining every wall. None of them were new, and that made him purse his lips again. He was an avid reader and yet nothing was calling out to him to be read over again that night.
He made a note to get some new books and went about lighting a small fire instead. As it leapt to life in front of him he heard a scratching along the window. With a scowl he glanced out into the blue tinged darkness. Nothing was there. Donovan eased back into his chair and began to wonder what the world looked like with the sun washing over it. Others may think he hated the sun, but he didn’t. Sometimes he envied those people who could go out into the sunny ocean for hours and never feel the ache of it on their eyes.
He picked up a well-worn book that was on his side table and thumbed through it. This book was about a vampire. The book that started it all, and the classic made him smile cynically into it. If he were a vampire, he would live life in solitude forever and keep himself away from the rest of the world. He wouldn’t risk himself the way that vampire did, not once. But he would also never see the sun again. At least as he was now, he could attempt the sunlight and even the daylight. The days that were dark and gloomy were days he could go out and feel what life was like for normal people.
That thought snapped his mind to the annoying sister that was coming. Loxley would get all the details and arrange everything, which suited Donovan just fine. If she discovered him, she would see two things. First, that he was wealthy, which she already knew. And second, that he was nearly a vampire. His soft chuckle into the stillness surprised him. His esoteric nature found humour in that assumption. Sometimes he played up his mystery, most times he did not. If she did stumble on him, he would make sure to frighten her far away from him.
– Man in the Moon by Bee, 2017