The wind rattled the ends of branches against Steve's window A patter of raindrops hit the glass.
Armani grumbled in his sleep. He had claimed the corner of the mantelpiece as his, a small, fetid corner of a neat room, but Steve could live with that. The wind, though, was getting on his nerves.
He leafed through his notebooks. He had a stack of notebooks, a folder on his laptop and his iPad and phone were stacked with note after note. He wasn't getting anywhere.
The wind rattled again, moaning outside. Armani stirred and turned over. Steve could hear the rattle of autumn leaves being bowled down the path and whirled around the garden.
Armani sat up and scratched his crotch, knocking against a picture of Steve and Elaine on the mantelpiece next to him. His ex girlfriend looked so full of life in the picture, taken as they had been joking on the steps of York Minster. Steve remembered that day. He had had the ring in his pocket ready to propose but they had had a few glasses of wine by the river and he had worried that she wouldn't take him seriously.
Armani coughed and stretched. "Are you going to do something about that wind, boss?" he grumbled.
Steve looked back at his notebooks. He was getting very good at elfen magic but he was still hitting a wall. He had been offered the love of Elaine by an elfen as a bargaining tool. It wasn't what he really wanted, though, and the elfen had known it. That chapter had closed. He had forced magic to bend to his will, pushed back barriers that had been thought impregnable, he had fought and fought and fought. But he still did not know the name of his father. He did not know who was the one night stand who had left his mother unexpectedly with him.
The wind rattled again and Steve could hear something bouncing noisily off the kerb and rattling down the street. He pulled back the curtains. In the evening light everything was still. A few streets away the smoke from a chimney drifted straight up and there would be a cold dew by morning. Steve tapped his fingers thoughtfully on the sill. Then he closed the curtains. Once again the noise of the wind started up, howling and rising.
Steve opened the front door and looked out into the quiet street. "Lord Gwill Mawr, thank you for your presence. However I am interested only in things I can trade fairly. There are two weeks before Halloween. The earlier I get a trade, the earlier I can get your fripperies at a good price." Steve shut the door.
In the living room Armani was watchful at the window, but when Steve looked at him he shrugged. "They're still here, boss, but at least it's gone quiet. At least for now." And he started rolling another of his foul cigarettes.
I just want to say thank to to Sarah Head and Witch Hazel for their incredibly kind words of encouragement. After dipping back in to look at some of the Steve Adderson, it seemed a shame not to write some more.
Witch Hazel - there are a lot of ideas about the characters in The Forgotten Village. After all, Darren is still single, and Carl is far too nice to be left on the shelf. As an author I have a duty to give them complicated love lives!
Sarah Head - thank you so much, especially for the comment about structure. It is really kind.