“Daniel stepped out onto the walkway and firmly latched the door. He waited to hear the sound of the foyer door alarm engaging and then walked out to the street’s edge looking back up at the façade of the building. It was a typically dark Seattle morning, clouds low overhead, rain imminent; the building sitting solid and comfortable in the pale early light. This was a two-storied brick apartment court, now smartly converted to condominiums. The structure was one of those built in the late1920’s, a U-shaped design, with a rectangular formal garden filling the court, and a little narrow sidewalk leading from the street to the main foyer door, dividing the garden in half…symmetrical, orderly.
Filling the court were two tall, old, spreading magnolia trees, one on each side of the walkway. A traditional low trimmed boxwood hedge outlined the court neatly. The building had been recently painted a soft dove gray. Each of the four front units had a huge plate glass picture window facing onto the street. Glossy black shutters and black painted trim framed these windows. A touch of brass hardware and curvy black iron grillwork finished the look… traditional, pleasing to the eye. A shining brass plaque on the front of the building declared, “The Graystone Arms…”
Looking up, Daniel’s face could not conceal pleasure and pride. The only other person watching was Henry, his dog, standing patiently beside him, a charcoal gray standard poodle. Henry of course approved of everything that Daniel liked. He was a constant companion. And, Daniel had reason to be so pleased. The Graystone Arms belonged to him. It was his property, an inheritance from his Grandmother’s estate. She had owned several properties there in the Seattle area. This one had always been his favorite and she had wanted him to have it. She had entrusted him with the total restoration of the place four years ago, just before her death. The project had come together well. Everyone had thought he was too young to undertake the renovation all by himself, but he had done the job in just less than a year, enjoying every minute of it. The front second floor unit on the left was Daniel’s own dwelling. He was looking up at that big picture window now.
Just then, Thomas stepped into sight in the window above him. He was still in a striped nightshirt with a coffee cup in hand, his shock of blond curly hair, tousled. He smiled down at Daniel and waved. Daniel smiled and waved back. Thomas adjusted his glasses, a familiar gesture. Then still smiling, he moved away out of sight. Now only the reflection of sky and heavy morning clouds remained mirrored in the glass. Daniel’s smile faded. “I need to do something,” he breathed.
Suddenly, there was a lashing gust of rain hitting the window and blowing everything around in the courtyard. A low roll of thunder sounded not too far away.
He looked back up again at the picture window above, watching the rain hitting the glass.
Looking down at Henry he said, “How do I get into these things? He’s in our place…he’s wearing my nightshirt, and drinking out of my favorite cup.”
With a clenched jaw he added, “I hope he remembers to turn off the coffee maker.”
Raising one foot and then the other, Henry waited there on the sidewalk. His eyes were shining like two black buttons. He was groomed in an all-over tight trim, with just a little pom-pom at the end of his tail. He began straining a little on the leash and growling slightly, signaling that it was time to go.
Daniel had already thrown on his raincoat; now he opened his umbrella with a snap. In that moment he turned away toward the day ahead and with an effort, firmly cleared his mind. Off they went, the wind propelling them from behind.”
This is an excerpt from the first chapter of Daniel~The One Who Got Away
by Claire Van Etten