CYOA Newsletter Serial
Choose Your Own Adventure Newsletter Serial
Here’s where you can find all the installments of my PNR Choose Your Own Adventure story. As a reminder, I will write a segment and give you options on which direction the story will go. The first choice was who are the MC’s. So in this case, vampire won, but there was a lot of curiosity about a ghost as MC. So I compromised and brought you all three!
Premise: My Roommate is a Vampire is about Lawson and Silas, roommates, who also have a third roommate, Frederick the (kinky) ghost.
Lawson buys a rumored haunted house to renovate and eventually flip. He puts out an ad for a roommate to help with costs and because he hates living alone. Little does he know, he’s not alone. The house is occupied by Frederick, who built the house hundreds of years ago.
Silas answers the roommate ad, looking for a place to live in Eaton Falls, where he may be able to join a coven. Silas and Lawson hit it off and Silas moves in.
Silas can see and interact with the ghost, which makes Lawson think he’s weird. Eventually, Silas introduces him to Fredrick. He’s a kinky ghost who loves watching the two men begin a sexy relationship.
Eventually, Silas fesses up that he’s a vampire and in love with Lawson. Lawson realizes he would never have to be alone again if he stays with Silas. Silas turns him, they have a celebration with Frederick and never sell the house.
“It’s perfect.” Gazing up at the decrepit house, my brain conjures what it could be with a little elbow grease and care. “I want to put in an offer.”
My realtor nods, pressing his lips together. “I do have to disclose that the house is rumored to be haunted.”
I turn to look at him. “Come again.”
“I know it sounds ridiculous, but I am obligated to tell you. Your neighbors certainly will.”
“Haunted, huh? Is that why it’s been empty so long?”
Ronald nods. “Yes. The locals won’t touch it.”
“Even better. I’ll get a priest to come and exorcise it when I flip it.”
“You believe in this stuff?”
“Not at all. It’s called good marketing.”
Ronald chuckles. “Ah, yes that is smart.” He pauses, shuffling papers in his hand. “Do you want to go inside?”
“No. I have a good feeling about this. Let’s just make an offer.”
Two days later, I’m the proud owner of a house that has seen better days. The owners couldn’t wait to get rid of it. With key in hand, I unlock the front door, stepping in for the first time. The musty smell immediately accosts me, causing me to step back from the intensity. Ugh. First order of business- tear out these awful carpets.
I close the front door, noticing how it sticks. That’s an easy enough fix. Glancing around the front room with my hands on my hips, I take it all in. The bones are good. Nothing like a two hundred year old house in a great neighborhood. It’s going to take a lot of work, but when it’s done I think it could be spectacular.
The front room, one used as a formal sitting room when the house was new, has water stains on the ceiling and peeling wallpaper on the walls. The front window though is gorgeous. Or it will be once it’s replaced.
To my left is the staircase. Dark wood and elaborate details certainly make a statement, and I can’t wait to restore it to its former beauty. Bending down I pull back a corner of carpet, smiling when I see the hardwood beneath it. I’ll never understand why previous generations felt the need to cover up this beauty. Hopefully the floors are in good condition and only need a good sanding and stain.
Next is the formal dining room- a massive space with an original chandelier hanging from a medallion. It’s a dark room but nothing that some good design choices can’t fix. I walk on to the kitchen and stop in my tracks. There’s a dead rat in the middle of the floor. The appliances and decor are circa nineteen seventy and the stench is so foul I pull my shirt over my nose in an effort to block it out. Full gut job.
The rest of the bottom floor doesn’t improve. It will all have to be gutted to the studs. It’s on a nice plot though with plenty of space for an enclosed garage to be built.
I roam upstairs, my steps slow up the creaky stairs. There are five bedrooms up here and three bathrooms. Two of them will eventually become a master bedroom with an en suite bathroom. There’s a small reading nook at the top of the stairs with gorgeous built-in shelves. Large windows occupy each end of the house, letting in light.
Leaning against the wall, I cross my arms. First order of business will be getting a roommate who doesn’t mind living in a fixer. It’s not that I need the income. I just need company. I can’t stand the idea of living in a house this size all alone. Unsurprisingly, building an amazing career flipping homes hasn’t done anything to cure my loneliness. I just have to hope there’s some single person out there who doesn’t mind living in the suburbs in a historic home that has seen better days, and hopefully doesn’t know about the haunted rumors. And if they do know, has the sense to realize there’s no such thing as ghosts.
A week later, I drag the last roll of old carpet out the back door, inhaling the fresh spring air and brushing dust off my jeans. I’m expecting three potential roommates to come check out the house. Hopefully one of them sticks. I barely got any bites on my listing, and all three of these people say they’re new to this area.
As I step in the house, I jump back as a dark shadow crosses my path. Blinking several times, I glance around. Am I seeing things? Or worse- is there an animal in the house?
Slowly, I exit the kitchen, peering down the hallway, and nearly jumping out of my skin when the doorbell rings. I laugh to myself. Obviously, it was just my eyes playing tricks.
I cross the house, pulling the door open to greet my guest. A man stands there, twisting the other direction as if checking out the neighborhood. He’s very tall with dark hair.
He turns quickly, smiling. “Hi. Are you Lawson?”
“Law. You are?”
“Please come in.”
Silas steps inside, offering his hand that I shake. “Gorgeous neighborhood.”
“Thanks.” I put my hands on my hips. “As I mentioned in the ad, it’s a fixer, but you can’t beat the location.”
“No. It’s quite nice.” He tilts his head back to look at the coffered ceilings. “Are you doing it all yourself?”
“Yep. I plan to have a contractor come out for plumbing and electrical but the rest is me. I flip houses for a living.”
“Ah. Is that why the room is so affordable?”
“Yes. I wanted to compensate for things not being perfect.”
Silas smiles. It’s a really nice smile. He’s very attractive. I wonder if he’s into guys or not.
“Would you like to see the space upstairs?”
Silas nods. “Please.”
I motion toward the staircase, as if he couldn’t see the massive thing dominating the foyer. We walk up and I notice as Silas seems to take in the details.
“This is my room for now,” I say, pointing to the first door at the top of the stairs. “Eventually I want to combine this room and the one behind it to make a suite.”
“Smart,” Silas says. “Will you sell this when it’s renovated?”
“That’s the plan. Unless I fall in love of course.”
Silas tilts his head then nods after a moment. “With the house.”
“Right.” Walking further, I motion to a room at the end of the hall. “I was thinking this room would be great for a renter. It has lots of natural light and it’s very close to the bathroom on this side.”
We step inside the room and Silas glances around. He walks over to the window, gazing out back, before turning to me. “It’s a nice room. I don’t require a lot of space.”
“What do you do for a living?”
“I’m a writer.”
“Ooh.” I cringe. “So will it be challenging for you during the day if I’m making a lot of noise?”
“No, actually. I’m able to block things out and I can always go to the library if need be.”
I nod. “There’s a cool attic space too. I thought it would make a great office. Maybe we can fix it up. I mean, assuming you want to live here.”
Silas focuses his blue eyes on me. “I would. I have a feeling we would get along.”
Silas turns his gaze behind me. His eyebrow rises and then he slowly smiles. I look over my shoulder finding nothing.
“Oh,” Silas says. “Sorry. I was just absorbing the space to see how it would feel to write in here.”
“Writers can be quite quirky sometimes.”
“So can house flippers. Should we shake on it, and then I’ll get you a packet of paperwork?”
“That would be great.”
He offers his hand and I shake it. “Look around. I’ll go down to my study to get the folder.”
I hurry down the stairs, pausing to shoot off texts to the other two people who were thinking of stopping by that the room is rented. I just have a really good feeling about Silas, and I’m not at all motivated by how gorgeous he is. Nope. This is about cohabitating compatibility.
By the time I grab the folder and go back upstairs, Silas is gone. I hear his voice though, so I follow it to the back stairs, noticing the door to the attic open.
I walk up, listening carefully, but his voice is too muted to make out what he’s saying. I knock softly on the door to alert him to my presence. He turns in my direction, smiling.
“Nice acoustics up here. Sometimes I dictate my words. It’s important to have a soundproof setting.”
“Ah.” That makes sense. He wasn’t just talking to himself. “Here’s the paperwork. What are you thinking timeline wise?”
“I’d love to get out of the hotel I’m in as soon as possible. Is tomorrow too soon?”
“No. That’s great.”
“Perfect.” He pulls a wallet from his abc pocket. “I took the liberty of bringing cash for the deposit and first month’s rent. I hope cash is alright. I don’t use checks.”
“Cash is great. I’ll rush the background check.”
Silas stiffens at that. “Oh. Right.”
“Is that a problem?”
“No. I just don’t have much history in the US. I was abroad for many years. No credit or address history.” He smiles. “No criminal history either.”
I laugh. “That’s good.Um, do you have anyone who could vouch for you?”
“Would my publisher work?”
“Yes, of course.”
“I’ll leave her number. Thank you for being flexible with me.”
Silas hands me a business card with his publisher’s contact information on it. As I’m walking him out, he pauses, his eyes lingering on the top of the stairs. “Would you mind if I set up the attic as an office? It calls to me.”
“Not at all. I have the study down here so it’s fine.”
“Thank you. I’ll clean it up. It’ll be nice for me to have some activity outside of writing.”
“Yeah, I’m open design wise. I have plenty of other projects.”
Silas chuckles. “Yes you do.”
“Oh, do you have a relationship or friends who might come over often?”
“Neither. As I said, I’ve been in Europe for a long time. I’m rebuilding my life in the states.” He searches my eyes. “Perhaps you’ll be my first friend.”
“Yeah, I hope so.” I scratch my forehead. “Um, I feel like I should tell you that the locals think this house is haunted.”
“Yeah. I mean, silly, right? I’ve been here a few days and haven’t heard anything weird. Just in case you hear neighbors saying something. Figured I should give you a head’s up.”
“Well, I’m sure we’ll do just fine. Maybe the spirits are friendly.”
“Do you believe in that stuff?”
“Very much so.” His eyes roam the foyer again. “You have nothing to worry about though. If a spirit didn’t want you here, you would already know.”
“See you tomorrow, Law.”
“Yeah, bye, Silas.”
I watch him walk down the steps and slide inside a deep burgundy SUV of some kind. He seems like an interesting guy. Maybe he’s right and we can be friends.
I turn to gaze up the stairs, wondering what caught Silas’s eye, but obviously, there’s nothing there.
Later that night, as I crawl into bed exhausting from staining woodwork and removing old wallpaper, my thoughts shift back to Silas. It’ll be nice to have someone in the house with me. I close my eyes, ready to succumb to sleep when a slamming door from somewhere in the house startles me awake.
Bolting out of bed, I rush to the hallway when the door slams a second time. There’s a cold draft coming from the back of the house. I creep in the direction, my heart racing with adrenaline, but when I turn the corner to peek upstairs, I relax.
The attic door is swinging back and forth. I bet Silas opened a window up there and forgot to close it. I trudge up the stairs only to find all the windows closed. The door still sways, so I chalk it up to a drafty house. I’ll have to look at it in the morning. For now, I prop it open with a few books so it won’t keep slamming.
Once I stand up, I swear I see a figure to my right, but when I look, nothing is there. Of course not! My brain is making up shit after being startled. Exhaling, I shake my head, before making my way back downstairs to my bed.
As I pull the blankets up to my chin, eyes still open in the dark room, I finally relax and drift off to sleep.
Pulling myself up, I swing my legs to sit on the edge of the bed, rubbing my groggy eyes and trying to clear my still sleep-swamped brain. I slept like a brick, deeper than I have in ages. Once I’m on my feet, I shuffle downstairs to the kitchen, stopping in the doorway. What the actual fuck?
On the small round table is a book that definitely wasn’t there the night before. I know this because I haven’t unpacked a single book yet, and if I had, it wouldn’t be in the kitchen. I walk over to it, picking it up slowly as my eyes dart around the dim space. It’s the history of the house. Hmm.
I flip through a few pages, finding sketches in its original condition and very old photos of the house over the years. Interesting. I open it to the title page, searching for the copyright date. Eighteen twenty. It’s written by a man named Fredrick Whittingham. Shrugging, I put it down again to focus on the coffee I obviously need. I have no idea how the book got there, but it looks like it might be helpful.
After the coffee brews, I take my mug and head to what will eventually be my study. It’s a gorgeous room with thick crown moldings, a high ceiling, and original trim. This is why old houses rock. They just don’t make them like this anymore. I sit on the armchair by the window left behind by the previous owner. A puff of dust surrounds me for a second. Nice. I spend the next few minutes simply thinking.
Moving here was impulsive, but something called me to it after I stumbled upon a website auctioning houses in the area. This house wasn’t part of the auction, but once the realtor showed it to me, I knew I had to have it. It’s in a fantastic location at the back of a cul-de-sac, flanked by woods and equally attractive homes. The town itself is idyllic, exactly what you picture for quaint New England. It’s the biggest project I’ve taken on to date, but no risk, no reward, as the saying goes.
At least I’ll have Silas here for a bit of company. He seems pretty cool, and I could tell he respected the house the same way I do. Hopefully, we’ll be compatible in the long term. This project will take me at least a year to complete if all goes as planned, and things never go as planned.
I spend the day making lists of supplies I’ll need from the hardware store. By the time the front doorbell rings, I’ve been lost in my ideas for hours. I open the door to see Silas there with a few suitcases and boxes. A brief call to this publisher yesterday, who couldn’t say enough kind things about the man, settled any lingering doubts I had, but honestly, I’m a gut check kind of guy. I knew Silas was cool.
“Thank you.” He nods, glancing around with a smile. “Just recalling how much I like it. It has such a good energy.”
“It really does. I’ll help you carry your things upstairs.”
It doesn’t take us long to get his things settled in. I stand in his doorway, hands on hips. “I’ll leave you to get settled. Come down when you feel like eating or just talking. Please make yourself at home. After all, you live here now.”
Silas flashes a brilliant smile. “Thank you, Law.”
I leave him, making my way downstairs to finish unpacking books in my study. The day slowly shifts to evening, and my stomach growling reminds me it’s dinnertime. I walk up the stairs in search of my new roommate. Maybe we can just order something in to keep things easy.
I peek inside his open bedroom door, finding it empty. Ah. I bet he went up to the attic. I ascend those stairs, peering inside. Silas is standing in front of a wall, gesturing and speaking softly. I watch him for a moment, brow furrowed. What is he doing?
He nods, as if he is listening to someone I can’t hear. Does he have a bluetooth on? I’m behind him, so it’s hard to tell. I step up, but the wood creaks beneath my feet, alerting him to my presence. Silas swings around, his face instantly turning red, but he forces a smile.
“Hello. I didn’t hear you coming.”
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you. I was afraid I was… interrupting?”
My eyes shift to the desk where there is zero evidence of anything set up for dictation. “How’s that going?”
“Just practicing. I had a scene in my head all day. Sometimes it helps to talk it out first.” He smiles again. “I warned you writers were quirky.”
I chuckle, rubbing the back of my neck. It’s weirdly cold up here. “Want to order dinner?”
“Uh, yes, that sounds great. Whatever you like. I’m not picky.”
“Perfect. I’ll be right down.”
Nodding, I turn to leave. I linger on the stairs for a moment, but it’s silent. I guess he just likes to talk to himself.
Heading to the kitchen, I try to shake off the odd feeling I had just now. I order the pizza along with a few soft drinks, then I spend a few minutes wiping down the kitchen table to make sure it’s clean enough to eat on.
Not long after, Silas appears in the doorway. He nods, walking across the space to me and sitting down.
“I feel a little awkward,” he admits, eyes cast to his hands. “I am used to being alone and speaking my characters out loud. You must think I’m so odd.”
Shaking my head, I sit across from him at the table. “No, not odd. I heard you talking to yourself, and I didn’t want to interrupt.” I tilt my head as the question pokes my mind. “It seems like you were also listening, though.”
Silas has a blank expression, not reacting to my words at all. “Yes, I guess I might as well explain. To me, it feels like my characters are talking to me, directing me, and my job is just to write it down. I know that sounds insane, but I promise you it’s very common amongst writers.”
I laugh softly, feeling my nerves settle. “That actually makes sense. Anyway, do whatever makes you feel comfortable. We’ll both get used to each other over time.”
“Yes, of course we will.”
After a mostly silent dinner, broken up by small talk about the house and town, we part ways again. I head to my bedroom to take a shower. As the hot water rolls over me, I stretch my neck under the steam, hoping to work the knots in my sore muscles out. Tomorrow I’ll be tearing out more stinky carpets. I’ll need my strength.
After my shower, I shuffle to the bed and practically collapse into it. My belly is full, I’m clean, and my eyes can barely stay open. As I pull the blankets up around me, snuggling into bed, I let sleep take over me.
It doesn’t take long, though, until an unsettling feeling wakes me up. I get a sense that something is staring at me. Or someone. I open my eyes slowly, finding nothing but an empty bedroom. Of course. It’s not like Silas would sneak into my bedroom and stare at me. That would be super weird.
No. It’s just my imagination. I roll over to the other side and close my eyes again, praying desperately for sleep. It finally feels like it’s coming again, so I relax into the mattress.
The next time I open my eyes, I’m not sure how long I’ve been asleep, but my bladder is annoying me. A quick glance at my phone shows midnight. Grumbling, I climb out of bed to head into the hallway for the bathroom. I can’t wait until I can turn this into a master suite.
Quickly taking care of my needs, I shuffle back to the bedroom, gasping when I step inside. Something dark quickly moves across the space and passes me, leaving an icy breeze in its wake. I immediately twist around, finding nothing but an empty hallway. Then I laugh. Oh, my gosh. I need to get a grip. It’s an old house. It’s going to be drafty and noisy. My eyes were probably just adjusting to the dark again. It’s fine.
The realtor’s words come back to me suddenly. “I have to tell you the house is haunted.” There’s no way that’s true. Ghosts don’t exist. Slowly climbing into bed, I gaze around my dark bedroom for a moment before I finally write it off and decide that I was just seeing things. Closing my eyes, I pull the blankets up under my chin, hoping that my mind will be quiet and I can start going back to sleep again. I’m positive that I was just seeing things.
I mean, what other explanation is there?
“You really shouldn’t do that, you know.”
Frederick turns to face me, a mischievous smirk on his face. “Just having a bit of fun. I’ve been bored until you showed up.”
“Why didn’t you make your presence known to Law?”
Frederick perches his almost translucent body at the foot of my bed. The handsome ghost looks like he’s no more than thirty, but he tells me he was fifty when he died. He’s dressed in clothing from the early nineteen hundreds, tailored slacks, a white dress shirt, and a fitted vest. On his feet are the loafers of his day. He’s very dapper and elegant, with slicked-back brown hair, a jaw that could cut, and warm, brown eyes.
“I have not had pleasant experiences with the living.”
“But you let him move in. You didn’t scare him away.”
Frederick looks down at his hands. “He is very handsome. And alone. He doesn’t bring with him shrieking children and a desperate housewife who will do nothing but turn my home into a garish nightmare.”
“Ah, so you prefer Law because he is single.”
“Yes. I decided to give him a chance.” He lifts his eyes to me. “Then you showed up. How fun.”
“Yes. Now we both have secrets to keep.”
“He does not entirely believe your story about listening to your characters.”
“Obviously. If you would speak up, I wouldn’t have to lie.”
“I’m not ready yet.” He scoots closer with a glimmer in his eyes. “Do you think he likes men?”
“I think he might. Are you interested in him?”
Frederick gives me a hard look. “I’m dead if you haven’t noticed.”
“Technically, so am I.”
“Yes, but you’re physically present.” He frowns. “What I would give to feel the pleasure of a warm body against mine once more.”
“It’s not your fault. But…”—that glimmer appears again—“I would not complain about living vicariously through you.”
“What are you suggesting?”
“I’m suggesting you seduce our handsome roommate.”
“And let you watch?”
Frederick nods. “Yes, I would find that most pleasing.”
“Perhaps I will, on one condition.”
Frederick narrows his eyes. “Name your price, vampire.”
“You show yourself to him. It isn’t fair if he thinks we’re alone when we’re being watched.”
“Yes, I know. He caught me earlier in his room. I am not ready yet though.”
“When you are ready, let me know.”
“You want to seduce him, don’t you?”
“From the moment I laid eyes on him.”
“He must think you are perfect. You look like a movie star from the golden era but modernized.”
“Thank you, Frederick. He made a point of saying he was single, so I hope that was subtle encouragement.”
“His expression shows interest. Even when he thinks you’re talking to yourself in the attic.”
I laugh softly. “I dislike lying to him though.”
“Then when will you share your news, my dark prince?”
His question makes me cringe. “Well played. I must be cautious. Mortals are often terrified when they learn of my existence. I don’t want to scare him away or force him to make me leave.”
“He will not make you leave. I will ensure that. I want you both here.” He turns onto his knees, crawling across the bed toward me, stopping just in front of my face. “I want you both to be mine.”
I want to reach out and touch his beautiful face, but I know I cannot. “You wish for us to live here forever?”
“Forever. You will turn him so he will never die, and our family will live together for eternity.”
“You do not wish to move on, Frederick?”
“Move on to what? More darkness? More solitude? I have waited a long time for the right person to show up to buy this home.”
I nod, searching his eyes. “I wish I could touch you.”
“I wish the same.” He puts his hands on my thighs. “Can you feel that?”
“It’s a light pressure.”
“The more we’re together, the stronger it will be. One night a year, the veil between our worlds thins. It is my one opportunity to experience mortal life.”
“Yes. All Hallows’ Eve.”
Frederick nods. “Then you both will make love to me. It will be wonderful.” His smile fades. “Until then, make him fall in love, Silas. Use your charm. Keep him for me.”
“I will do my best.”
“Good. Make sure he refers to the book I left on the table for him. I refuse to let him turn this into some modern atrocity. Past residents have used design books and TV shows. I will not stand for it. Law must understand that.”
“I haven’t seen the plans, but he sounds as though he simply wants to restore more than remodel.”
“Yes. That is why I allow his presence here.” He lies down, resting his head on my lap. “Does he smell nice?”
“He does. Very clean and crisp, like a beautiful spring day.”
“Hmm,” he murmurs. “I bet you want to taste his blood.”
“Desperately. I will have to go hunting soon. I’m almost out of my supplies.”
“Do you kill them?”
“Not if I can help it. I’ve learned to sneak into bedrooms and feed while they sleep. They think it’s a dream.”
“Like an incubus. Clever.”
“Small towns like this are notorious for leaving windows unlocked. They are so trusting.”
“How convenient for you.”
“Yes. Did you have a lover in life?”
“I did.” A wistful smile passes his lips. “His name was Henry. He was such a beautiful man. His parents died in an accident and left him quite a bit of money. He was a man of leisure, but our paths crossed one day, and he took me as his lover. We could not be open about it at that time. People thought of us as business partners. He helped me build this house with his funds.”
“It was. We planned to live our days here together.” His brow furrows. “But then I had to be an idiot and climb to the roof alone. He found my body later that day.”
“That must have been awful for him.”
“It was. His anguish tore my heart out. He loved me so. I tried to show him I was still here, but it takes time, you see.”
“Yes. You have to develop your ability to interact with the living world. I wasn’t strong enough. In his sorrow, he married a woman who had been in love with him for many years. He would speak to me, not knowing I could hear him. He said he would never allow another man to touch him. He condemned this house, not allowing anyone to enter or finish it.”
“How did it get finished then?”
“Twenty years later, his son showed up. Henry left it to him when he died. The son finished it and lived here for a while. I was happy then. It felt like I had a part of my Henry again. But when the son died, his family sold it.”
“Yes. The attic is full of memories of my and Henry’s lives. Please do not let Law remove it. It is all I have left.”
“I will protect it.”
Frederick exhales. “There’s a grave at the far end of the garden. Henry carved the stone himself. He would sit on the bench and talk to me for hours about his life. I was deeply saddened the day he died. I had hoped somehow he could come to me, but he is not trapped between worlds as I am.”
“I’m sorry, Frederick.”
“Thank you. Now tell me your story. How is it that you became a vampire?”
“I was attacked. I was walking home from dinner with friends. Simply jumped in an alleyway and fed upon. I begged him not to kill me. He asked what I would give him not to. I told him to name his price. He asked for my soul.”
“And you gave it?”
“Yes. I didn’t think it was much of a prize. Life was beautiful to me. I thought, how much better could it be if it never ends. It was a simple decision.”
“Do you regret it at all?”
“No. It has its bittersweet moments. Letting go of people you love. Knowing you will never see them in the afterlife. The worst part is fearing love.”
“What do you mean?”
“What you and Henry went through. Finding beautiful love and then relinquishing it when their life is over.”
“But have you never thought you could keep them forever?”
“I have never loved enough to want to. I do not allow it. I have seen my share of tortured souls who joined the darkness. I would not wish that upon anyone I cared for.”
“Perhaps the one you love will feel like you did. Even I do not resent my ghostly existence. It is fascinating watching the years change. Humans do enjoy creating, don’t they?”
“And destroying. A constant death and rebirth. I suppose it keeps things interesting.”
“Yes. What is your favorite invention?”
“Excellent question. The rise of the internet, probably. Anything you wish to know is at the tip of your fingertips. It’s given me a profession outside the public eye. I’ve even found vampire cults filled with oblivious mortals who allow us to feed. It’s quite remarkable.”
“That would be, yes.”
“What is yours?”
“Television. I get to participate in the world without leaving this structure.”
“That is wonderful.”
A loud crash from downstairs draws our attention.
“What was that?” I ask.
Frederick shrugs. “I’m usually the noisemaker around here.”
The two of us hop up, joining a startled Law in the hall.
“You heard it too,” he says to me.
“Yes. We need to be careful in case someone has broken in.”
He nods as both of us head for the stairs. I can sense his fear, and I wish I could tell him that there is nothing down there I could not handle on my own. As we near the bottom floor, it’s obvious something is inside the house.
Frederick moves ahead, unbeknownst to Law, who turns to face me. “Brace yourself.”
Chapter 5 Silas
The three of us creep into the kitchen, finding the back door swinging open. It appears intact though.
“Did you not lock it?” I ask Law.
“I thought I did.” He peers outside, reaching for the screen door to pull it closed. “Maybe it was just the wind?”
“Maybe.” I scan the area as Frederick floats around.
Law turns around, smiling. “Probably nothing.”
We both turn to go back upstairs, but Lawson’s shriek freezes me in place. I twist around to see him fall to the floor with some kind of creature on top of him.
“What the fuck!” I rush over to pull the animal off of him. It also shrieks, rising on its hind legs. “Racoon.”
“Fuck,” Law groans, pulling himself up. He has a small scratch on his cheek, and as his blood forms little beads on his flesh, my fangs descend with desire to feed.
“Do you need a doctor for that scratch? They have rabies, don’t they?”
“It didn’t scratch me,” Law mumbles. “It was my watch when I blocked my face.”
“Oh thank the gods.”
“Yeah. Where did it go?”
Frederick appears from the foyer by the stairs. “It is up here. So is something else.”
Law tilts his head. “What?”
“Oh, uh, I thought I heard something else. In the attic maybe.”
“Oh. The racoon must have run up there.”
“I can go.”
“We’ll go together.”
He walks to the sink and splashes his face, wiping away the blood, which thankfully, curbs my bloodlust.
“Ready?” Law asks.
We creep up the stairs, and I can feel Law tense as the noise gets louder. There are shuffling and scratching sounds, which makes sense for a raccoon but since I don’t know where Frederick went I’m not sure what we’re going to find.
Law reaches the top first, slipping inside. “Who the fuck are you?”
Chapter 6 Lawson
“Who the fuck are you?” the other man says just Silas reaches the top.
“The owner of this house. Silas, call the police.”
“No, wait!” The man puts his hands out. “Please. I can explain.”
“You better do it quickly,” Silas says in such a menacing tone it sends a shiver through me.
“Thi-this house is haunted,” the man says. I take a moment to study him. He’s tall and burly with a thick beard and muscles for days, but his voice is softer than it looks like it would be. “My name is Wallace. Wallace Theroux. I’m a ghost hunter.”
“And?” Silas demands, crossing his massive arms over his chest.
“And I had no clue someone bought this house. It’s been abandoned for years.”
“It wasn’t obvious to you that someone lived here now?” I ask.
“The back door was open and all the lights were off. It looks the same as it always does.”
“I haven’t lived here long. This is trespassing.”
“I know. Totally sorry. I didn’t realize…” His words trail off when the raccoon shows itself, creeping out from behind a box.
It takes one look at all of us and darts behind another pile of things.
“Great. I have two intruders.”
“I’m leaving,” Wallace says. “I swear I didn’t know. I didn’t take anything.” He holds his backpack out.
Silas takes it, peering inside. “Nothing inside of ours.”
“You, um, you both live here?” Wallace asks.
“Yes,” Silas answers. “And I am highly skilled in case you’re thinking of breaking in again.”
Wallace huffs. “The door was unlocked.”
“Do you just walk around testing doors at night?” I ask.
“No. I’ve been studying this property for years. Everyone who moves in is gone within months. They claim all kinds of paranormal activity. I’m just trying to find proof.”
“Why?” I ask.
Wallace swallows hard. “This house used to belong to my family. A descendant of mine. Henry Theroux built it.”
As soon as Wallace finishes his sentence, a tower of boxes falls to the floor. Silas rushes in that direction, kneeling down as though he’s helping someone. When I turn back to Wallace, his face lights up.
“Raccoon,” I correct. “I have to ask you to go now.”
“I get that. Listen, now that you’re here, is there any chance you’d be open to letting me study it? I’d only come when it’s not a bother for you, but night is much better for obvious reasons.”
“Ghosts don’t appear in the daytime?”
He shrugs. “They do, but there’s more energy for them at night. At least in my experience.”
“You’ve seen ghosts before?”
“Lots of times.”
“But not here?”
Wallace watches Silas restack the boxes. “Do you really want to know?”
“Okay. Yes, I’ve seen something here in the windows several times. Once I’m inside, nothing happens, but based on reports of people who have lived here, stuff gets wild. I’m pretty sure the ghost doesn’t want anyone here. He scares them away.”
“I see.” This guy is a total whack job. “Any idea who this ghost is?”
“Henry’s lover, Frederick Mason. He and Henry built the house together. He died in the process.”
This time a vase falls from a shelf, shattering. Silas rubs his forehead.
“See?” Wallace says. “The ghost can hear us. Isn’t that right, Frederick?”
Dead silence follows his question.
“Listen, Wallace, I appreciate your interest, but now is not a good time. We’ve only just moved in and have a lot of renovations to do. Once the house is complete, I’ll be selling it.”
“Why?” Wallace asks. “To who?”
“To whoever wants to buy it. I’m a flipper. It’s what I do.”
“I want it. It needs to be back in my family.”
My interest perks up. “I’ll keep that in mind. I still have a lot of work to do.”
“What will you do with it?” Silas asks. “If you buy it. Will you live here?”
“No.” His face lights up again. “Tourist attraction. We could make so much money. I basically want it to be a bed and breakfast. A haunted experience. I’m sure it would piss the ghost off so he’d probably show up and cause mayhem.”
Silas moves into a defensive stance, as if blocking someone. What the fuck is happening right now.
“Right, okay, Wallace. If you don’t mind, it’s pretty late. I assume I won’t have to ask you not to let yourself in uninvited again.”
“Nope. I know you’re here now, but hey…” He reaches into his back pocket. “If you see any strange stuff, give me a call. I’d love to document it.”
“What is your goal?” I ask, looking down at his card. “You don’t want to banish the ghost, I take it?”
“Only if he doesn’t want to cooperate. I can always fake a haunting if I have to, but I’d rather have the real thing.” Wallace leans closer. “Rumor has it he pushed a woman from the upstairs balcony and then ripped off all the new wallpaper she had put in the dining room. Be careful, huh?”
“Noted. I’ll walk you out.”
I follow Wallace down the attic stairs. “You can put out dog or cat food. The raccoon will come out for it then you can get rid of it.”
I watch him leave, hopping onto a small motorbike as I lock the back door. When I turn around, I become aware that Silas isn’t behind me. I walk up the stairs quietly, gasping at what I see. Silas is grabbing books that seem to be tossing themselves from a shelf.
“Calm down. I will talk to Law. Be reasonable.”
I clear my throat and the books drop to the floor as Silas turns to look at me.
“Care to tell me what’s going on?”
“Uh.” Silas exhales, putting the pile of books he was holding on the floor. “I, um, planned to tell you eventually, but I didn’t want to freak you out.”
“There’s a, um—” His eyes shift to his left. “I don’t know. I think there could be a spirit here.”
“A spirit? Is Wallace rubbing off on you?”
Silas chuckles nervously. “No. I have sensitive intuition. I can feel things sometimes. Things mortals can’t always see.”
Silas blanches. “The living. Um, humans. Whatever.”
“You see dead people?”
“Why are you smirking?”
“You don’t believe in this stuff, do you?”
“I absolutely do. I have seen it with my own eyes. Did you not just see the books?”
“Obviously a draft or a raccoon. Have you seen it?”
“There are no such things as ghosts.” I blink a few times to ground myself. “Whatever I just saw has a reasonable explanation.”
Silas nods. “If you say so.”
“I say so.” Dragging my fingers through my hair, I glance around the space. Except for flying books, it looks completely normal. “In fact, maybe this is just one of those weird dreams. I’m going back to bed.”
We leave the attic together, but I’m all too aware of Silas’s shifty eyes as if he’s looking at something I can’t see. Maybe I’m in denial, but there’s just no fucking way ghosts exist.
Back upstairs, I pause in front of my bedroom door. “Um, good night, Silas.”
He nods. “Night, Law.”
I climb into bed, doing my best to ignore the uneasy feeling gripping me. If ghosts are real, and this house is haunted, what the fuck am I going to do?
Chapter 7 Silas
“You cannot let him sell this house to that heathen!” Frederick glares as he paces my bedroom. “A haunted Bed and Breakfast? Over my dead body.”
I tilt my head at him.
Frederick puffs. “You know what I mean.”
“When are you going to show yourself to Law?”
“He doesn’t believe in me.” Frederick huffs again. “Why should I bother? Sounds like a waste of time and effort to me.”
“That’s his obvious defense mechanism, Frederick. There’s no way he could ignore what he saw tonight for too long.”
“Do you think he’ll do it? Sell it to that awful man?”
“I don’t know what he’ll do, but that’s a long time from now. Right now, our goal should be getting him invested in keeping this house so we can all live here.”
Frederick leans against the wall, a pout on his face. “Maybe I don’t want him to live here anymore if he doesn’t believe in me.”
“You’re being childish, Frederick.”
“I’m being childish?”
“Yes, you are.”
He finally calms down and gazes out the window. “I always hoped one of Henry’s ancestors would take an interest in the house. One finally does, and he’s a bloody ghost hunter who just wants to exploit his family.”
“I’m sorry. That is upsetting.”
“To say the least. I don’t know what to do now.” He looks at me. “Tell me what to do now, Silas.”
“I think you need to show yourself to Law. Maybe he’s more open-minded than we think. He just was startled tonight. You know how it is. You’ve thought your whole life one way and then suddenly you’re faced with evidence of something different. It can be disorienting.”
“Yes, I suppose you’re right. I think you should continue to work on him first, though. I don’t want to scare him away. Right now, he’s my only chance at keeping this house the way I love it.”
I nod. “Yes. Okay. I think you’re right. I’ll talk to him in the morning once he’s had time to absorb everything that happened tonight.”
“Good. Ghost hunter,” Frederick mumbles under his breath. “He wants to profit off of me and his ancestor’s misfortune.”
“A lot of people are like that, unfortunately. He didn’t know you and Henry.”
“Yes, well. Now you know why I’ve never much been interested in letting them have my home.”
I tilt my head as I settle back into bed. “Did you really throw a woman from the balcony?”
“Yes. She didn’t die. I made sure she landed in a soft spot, but it was enough to get her out of here.”
I chuckle. “You are a force to be reckoned with.”
“That I am. You would be too if faced with all of eternity in the same house.” His expression softens. “You are faced with all of eternity too, aren’t you?”
“Yes. Although I’m free to move around. I’m sorry that you are not.”
“I don’t really want to unless people come to take away what’s mine. You can’t let them take this from me.”
“I’ll do my best. You know this. I would like to settle here as well.”
“Good. Then you’ll convince Lawson to stay.”
“I’ll do my best, I promise.”
“All I can ask, but if Law doesn’t agree, let’s just say it won’t be very pleasant around here.”
Frederick leaves through the wall, and I settle in for sleep. How I plan to break all of this to Law is a problem for the morning.
Once I’m up, I go downstairs to see if I could find Law to talk to him about last night, but the house is empty. I find a note on the kitchen table that says he’s gone off to the Historical Society. That’s a good sign he hasn’t changed his mind about restoring the house. All I can do now is wait for him to return. I wonder how he feels about what he saw last night. I don’t know how he can pretend that he didn’t see what he saw, but human denial is very powerful when it wants to be.
Up in the attic, I busy myself cleaning up the mess caused last night by our unexpected visitor and looking around for the raccoon. I find it cowering, scared in a corner.
“Hey little guy. Get yourself trapped?”
It looks at me mildly. I was expecting a battle.
“Let’s get you downstairs and find some food. Then we’ll get you out and back on your way.”
The animal makes no attempt to move, but it backs away a little more. I wonder if it’s actually hurt as I move towards it again. It shivers and makes a whimpering noise, but otherwise makes no move.
“You must be hurt.” Carefully, I move the boxes behind and pick it up, noticing its limp foot. “Oh dear. Yes, you are hurt. Maybe that’s why you were seeking shelter. Hmm. Well, I’m no wildlife expert, but I can probably get your foot fixed up.”
The animal just looks at me as if trying to understand what I’m saying. Even in my mortal life, I always had a way with animals. I figured they could sense I meant them no harm. I take the animal downstairs and work on bandaging its foot, and sure enough, it allows it. We don’t have any animal food that I can find, so I make do with people food, giving it some bread and cold cuts.
The racoon eats quickly, obviously famished, and drinks down the bowl of water I put out. Once the animal is taken care of, I set it up with a blanket and water in the laundry room before heading back to the attic.
The least I can do is try to get some writing done in between restorations. I don’t want to do anything without Law’s approval. A few books fly off the shelf and swirl around me before returning to where they were. I turn around to see Frederick behind me, scowling.
“You’re keeping that animal?”
“For now. It seems wounded.”
“Why not just eat it?”
“Eat it? Absolutely not. I don’t eat much meat, and I certainly wouldn’t eat a wild animal seeking help.”
Frederick grins. “Is that how you think of the wild humans? What are you doing for nourishment?”
Rolling my eyes, I sit at the desk. “I have a bit of a supply for while I traveled, which I am running out of. I need to get some more soon.”
“And how do you do that?” His tone is taunting.
“I’ll have to do some hunting soon. As I said before, small towns like this are notorious for keeping their windows and doors unlocked.”
“Yes, that’s how that terrible intruder got in here, isn’t it?”
“Exactly. I’m sure I won’t have any trouble finding an unlocked door I can just creep into when the time is right. As to your comment about wild humans, I don’t eat them, and I would certainly not attack one in need of care.”
Frederick studies me for a moment. “You could just tell Lawson what you are. Maybe he would offer himself to you.”
“You’re quite the hypocrite, Frederick. How do you think he would manage me being a vampire if he can’t manage you being a ghost?”
Fredrick chuckles. “Fair point. What do you think is harder to believe? Vampire or ghost?”
“Vampire. They can wrap their heads around ghosts eventually because they understand living to death. They do not understand living to nonliving, even though they fantasize about these things all the time.”
“They do, don’t they?”
“Mortals are funny.”
“They are. How will you tell him when the time is right?”
“I haven’t given it any thought yet. There’s been so many other things going on. Usually what happens is I don’t tell them. I just live my life quietly outside of their view. I’ve had plenty of mortal roommates over the years. Even though it would be easier to live alone, I find it lonely.”
“You’ve never had a coven?”
I shake my head. “I haven’t found one that’s a good fit. Maybe someday, but for now I’m happy being independent with company I seek rather than forced upon me.”
“That makes sense. I’m so happy you’re here. It’s so nice to have someone to talk to.”
“I know your desire is for Lawson to know about us both, and you have this fantasy of what we could be, but realistically, I don’t know if it’s possible. He might just kick me out.”
“Well, that’s why you should tell him what you are before I tell him, because if he kicks you out, he goes, too.”
“You would scare him away on my behalf?”
“Of course I would. You are my friend now. I want to keep you. Both of you. You’re so charming. I’m sure you could make him fall in love with you.” His smile grows. “Then we have such an opportunity for more.”
“He hasn’t given me any sign that he is interested in romance.”
“How could he? As you say, there’s been so much drama going on.”
“Yes, good point. Maybe once we have a little time to settle down and really get to know each other.”
“I’ll follow your lead. My methods certainly haven’t gotten me very far. Maybe yours will be better.”
“Well, I’ll do the best I can. I like this situation as much as you do. I think we just have to realize he came in here a skeptic. He thought he was buying a property that he could just turn over and make some money on and have no real attachment to. We have a lot of work to do to get him to see it differently and to get him to see us differently.”
“Yes, you’re right. I’m just too impatient, aren’t I?”
“You’ve been through a lot, and I think you’re more than patient. We need to give Law a little time to get used to this.”
“I’m going to work on my book a little.”
“I will leave you to it. I’m going to go look at the grounds outside and see if that terrible human did anything to it while he was here.”
“Good idea. Oh, and don’t eat the racoon, huh?”
Frederick laughs. “Lucky for it, I no longer eat.”
I watch him flow through the wall before I sit down to work on my book again. Even as a mortal, I never really thought I would become a writer, but now, seeing the world as I do, it’s so much easier. The stories practically write themselves. The funniest thing is they’ve been called realistic and terrifying, and the only comfort is knowing that the stories are fictional, which always makes me chuckle. Nothing about my life is fictional, but it definitely provides excellent fodder for stories.
Chapter 8 Lawson
“Can I help you, sir?”
“Hi. Yes. I’m looking for some historical documents. Maybe some history of the house I live in.”
“Oh, certainly. What is your address?”
“920 Rippling Brook Lane.”
“Oh, you moved into the old Thoreau property?”
“Yes, I did.”
“We have plenty. Follow me.”
The woman leads me to the back where I’m greeted with shelves and shelves of books and news articles.
“All this is about the house that I bought?”
“Yes. Didn’t you know the vibrant history of this house? It’s really the only reason that tourists come to this town.”
“I didn’t, but I had a ghost hunter snooping around the house last night.”
She ruffles her nose. “Oh, Wallace?”
“Yes,” I answer, surprised.
“He’s been trying to get inside that house for years. Been arrested numerous times for breaking in when it was vacant.”
Nodding, I frown. “He said he thought it was vacant again last night, but it wasn’t obviously. I live there now.”
She chuckles. “Well, that must have been a fright for him.”
“It was.” I step forward, gazing at the books. “He told me there was a lot of stuff about it being haunted.”
She doesn’t react.
“I mean, those are just rumors, right?”
Now the woman frowns. “I don’t know about that. The sightings and happenings are well-documented cases. Suppose you can call it what you like, but they seem to be much more than rumors.”
“You believe in ghosts?”
“I spent the night in the house. Once as a teenager, and what I experienced that night was definitely real.”
I study the woman for a moment. She doesn’t seem like a crack job.
“I guess I’ve never believed in ghosts.”
“No? Why did you buy the most haunted property in town?”
“Because I wanted it. I’m a house flipper.” The sour look on her face makes me stop speaking mid-sentence. “Oh. Is that a dirty word?”
“Sorry. We just don’t have good experiences in this town with people like you.”
“People like me?”
“You’re not the first flipper to come through this town, and you probably won’t be the last.” She leans closer to me. “Mr?”
“You can just call me Lawson.”
“No. Lawson is my first name.”
“Oh, okay.” She smiles a little warmer now. “If the ghost doesn’t want you in the house, he’ll make sure you leave.”
“Oh yes. It’s definitely a male ghost. He’s forced out numerous owners and many flippers. Somebody should have told you, but I don’t think you’ll get your investment out of this house.”
“My realtor did tell me. I just didn’t believe it.” I look around for a moment. “Maybe I should just read through some of these documents and see what I find.”
“Certainly. If Mrs. Lawson plans—”
I raise my hand. “There is no Mrs.”
“Oh.” She smiles. “Well, that is advantageous. Apparently the ghost really doesn’t like women.”
“Well, yes. You’ll read all about him in your research, but word is he was a gay man in life.”
“And apparently every woman who moves into this house does something he doesn’t like and he scares them off?”
“Uh huh. And how do the locals feel about that?”
“About being gay.”
She waves her hand. “Oh, nobody cares about that here. It’s more just that we’re aware that he seems to have some kind of problem with women specifically. Although he’s scared away plenty of men, too.”
“Good to know.”
“Well, I’ll leave you to it. If you need any help, let me know. It’s my job, after all.”
“Of course, thank you.”
After she walks away, I sit down and open the first document I find. It’s a newspaper article published at the time the original owner died. I read all about the history, his tragic death, and numerous times the house has been sold for unexplained happenings. The more I read the stranger the stories, get from a woman being pushed off the balcony out back to power and telephone lines being cut to children’s toys and other household items going missing.
Last night’s events flood my mind once more. I’ve done my best to block out what I witnessed, but I’m starting to think that maybe denial isn’t such a good look on me. I just can’t imagine the house actually has a spirit in it. I mean there’s no such thing as ghosts, but there sure is a lot of evidence to otherwise in these documents. I keep reading.
By the time I walk out of the private room, I’m stunned. This town obviously benefits from the ghost story, receiving visitors every year around Halloween who want to get a glimpse of the infamous haunted house. Something I didn’t know when I bought it. It looks like Wallace isn’t the only ghost hunter in town, either. Just the most persistent. Many others have visited as well. So now I have potential ghost hunters, an entire community who believes the house I own is haunted, a roommate who apparently sees and speaks to things that I can’t, and a raccoon in the attic. So far, this renovation is not turning out exactly as planned.
When I return home, the house is quiet. I walk through, listening intently for any sign of what I witnessed last night. As I enter the room that someday will be my study, I get a sensation of coolness I’m not used to feeling, as if the air conditioner is on.
I turn around to leave, but the door quietly closes. An overwhelming sense of not being alone fills the room.
“Is someone here with me?” I say aloud.
Nothing happens at first, but a second later I catch movement from the side of my eye. It sends a shiver down my back. Shit, something is here.
“Listen,” I say to whatever’s listening, feeling more than a little silly. “If there’s something here, I’m not gonna hurt you or the house. Okay? I have nothing against you. I just want to fix up the house. I swear it. Now, can I leave the room?”
Nothing happens, which makes me feel even dumber that I’m talking to nothing. Obviously, there was just a draft in the room that shut the door. Man. I’m letting that stuff I read get in my head. I walk over to open the door, but pause when I feel pressure on my shoulder, as though someone is touching me. With a gasp I look over my shoulder, but again, see nothing. Okay, I’m really losing my shit, aren’t I? I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation for all of this. That’s it. And the books flying off the shelf last night. Just a draft. I nod, my eyes darting around the room. Yes, that’s what it was. A draft. There’s no such thing as haunted houses.
I turn back towards the door, ready to open it this time. Once I get my hand on the doorknob, it opens easily. My nerves relax as I chuck. I’m just being ridiculous.
“Okay, everything’s fine. I’ll just go find Silas. I’m sure there’s a plausible explanation for all of this.”
As I step out of the study into the foyer, every window and door in the house opens and slams shut at the same time, sending a chill down my spine. Holy fuck! I take off running up the stairs, but as soon as I reach the top, I feel like I’m being prevented from going any further. In a panic, I twist around, run back down the stairs, calling for Silas, but my voice sounds like it’s in a tunnel far away.
On instinct, I run for the attic, climbing the stairs so fast I almost don’t realize I did it. I find Silas leaning over his computer, reading quietly. He looks over at me as I clamor up the stairs and fall to the floor on my hands and knees, panting.
“What’s wrong?” He rushes to my side. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I think so.” Fuck, I rub my forehead. “Something, um, something’s happening to me.”
“What do you mean? Do you feel sick?”
“No, I…” Pausing, I take a deep breath to calm myself down. “I’m seeing things.”
“Like, um, you know, things like I saw last night.”
Silas frowns. “I see. What can I do to help?”
“Tell me I’m not crazy. Tell me I’m not imagining these things, or hell maybe tell me I am imagining them. Nothing makes sense to me anymore.”
“Why don’t we start with you telling me what you saw last night?”
“Didn’t you see it too? You were standing right there.”
“Maybe we didn’t see the same thing, Law. Tell me what you saw.”
I open my mouth to speak, but words evade me. Something about voicing it feels unnerving. I brush my hair off my forehead and take a deep breath.
“I think I’m just letting my thoughts get carried away.”
Silas nods, helping me to my feet.
“I was at the Historical Society. I was reading all about the history of this house and this town and, you know, people say a lot of things about it. Things like the haunted stuff and it’s like what makes them sort of interesting. Almost like a tourist attraction. A lot of ghost hunters come here looking for fame and evidence, just like Wallace last night.”
“But it doesn’t mean it’s real. It just means that’s what attracts people to this town, you know?” I rub my hands together. “Like New Orleans or Salem.”
Silas nods. “Yes, I understand.”
“So I’m sure that all that information is just getting in my head, and the raccoon last night, knocking over shelves and just going crazy in here. It kind of unnerved me.”
“I’m not crazy, right?”
“No, of course you’re not crazy.”
“Okay, cool. I think maybe I just needed to hear that.” I gaze into Silas’s eyes, noticing again how vibrant they are. His attention makes my stomach flip in a really pleasant way.
“Would you like to hear what I saw last night?” he asks softly.
As much as I want to say I do, something in his tone scares me.
“I just want to work on the house. I want to make it really pretty again. Like it used to be.”
Silas nods as an expression comes over his face that fills me with warmth like nothing I’ve ever felt before.
“Do you like it here with me?” I ask him.
“I do,” he says softly, still holding my gaze. “I hope to never leave.”
“What do you mean? You want to live here with me forever?”
“Forever sounds good.”
“Don’t you maybe want to get married someday or something?”
Silas focuses on me a little more, and a sensation rolls through me that feels a little like when you’ve had a bit too much to drink. The room sways, but pleasantly, like a really nice, safe buzz.
“What’s happening to me right now?”
“What do you mean?” Silas asks, still holding my gaze.
“I feel funny.”
“Oh, that’s good. Amazing is nice.”
“It is.” I nod, floating in an almost dreamlike state.
“Tell me what your plans are for the house, Lawson.”
His voice settles in my chest, like a warm drink on a cold day, and I find myself leaning closer to him. “The house?” My words sound distant to my own ears. “I want to… I want to restore it.”
“And then what?”
“Um… keep it.”
“You don’t want to sell it?”
“No, no, I don’t want to sell it.” The words coming out of my mouth feel foreign to me.
“You want to live in this house?” Silas asks me.
“And you would never make it a bed and breakfast, right?”
“No. What a silly idea.”
“Right. This will be your home. Our home.”
I study his face, feeling a strong desire to agree with him. I nod.
“Forever,” Silas says.
And I repeat the word. “Forever.”
“Good. Tell me what you saw last night.”
I search my memory but only fragments come up. “The raccoon. What happened to it?”
“It’s downstairs in the laundry room. It hurt its paw. I’m taking care of it. I assume that’s okay with you.”
I gaze into his eyes, slightly woozy and gripping his arms to steady myself. “You’re so handsome.”
Silas smiles. “So are you.”
“Do you…” I pause, the words dancing on my lips but unable to utter them.
“Do I what?”
Swallowing hard, I let the question out. “Do you date men?”
Silas’s smile grows. “Indeed, I do. Do you?”
“Something else we have in common, then?”
“Is there something else you want to say to me, Lawson?”
“Am I safe here?”
“Oh, so safe. I would never let anything happen to you.”
“Because you’re mine.”
“Because I’m…” My brow crinkles as I try to make sense of his words.
“I think you’ve been under a lot of stress since you moved in here. You could use a little rest. Why don’t you go upstairs and take a nap?”
“Take a nap.” I nod. “I really should work on the house. Need to tear out the carpet today.”
“Tell you what. Tomorrow we’ll wake up early, and I’ll help you tear out all the carpets you
want. What do you think of that?”
“Great. Yeah, that’s great.”
“Good. Why don’t I walk with you to the bedroom?”
“I can manage.”
“I know you can, but I want to.”
“Yeah, okay.” I lean into him, aware of the coolness of his body, but the warmth of his words.
When I hear them, they have such a strange effect on me. Calming and intoxicating. Like nothing I’ve experienced before when interacting with another person.
“That’s because you and I have things in common we didn’t realize. We’re connected.”
I twist my head. “You heard me.”
Silas chuckles. “You must be exhausted and not realizing you’re even speaking.”
Once we’re in my bedroom, I walk over to the bed, gazing around the room.
“Everything okay?” Silas asks me.
“Yes. Sometimes I just think maybe I’m seeing things.”
“That’s normal for an old house. Isn’t it?”
“Yeah, it is. Definitely.”
“You’ll feel better after a good nap.”
“You’re right. I will. Thanks for looking out for me.”
“Of course. It’s my pleasure.”
After kicking off my shoes, I peel out of my shirt, pull back the covers, and climb into bed as Silas hovers over me, watching me with a concerned face.
“Can I tell you something crazy?” I ask him.
“You can tell me anything you’d like.”
“I just don’t want you to think I’m weird.”
He chuckles softly. “Writers never think anybody is weird.”
I laugh too. “Right. Um, when I got back from the historical society, I felt like I was being watched, and maybe even like someone touched me.”
I’m expecting him to look at me like I’m crazy, but instead, his expression softens. “The house is getting to you.”
“Yes, I think it is.”
“Here, lie down.” He helps me into bed, sitting on the edge, and stroking my hair from my forehead, causing my eyes to flutter closed. “I’ll tell you something, Law.”
“Your house is haunted.”
“There’s a ghost here with us. He’s watching you all the time. Making sure you take care of his house the way he wants it. He won’t cause you any harm, and I’m here to help.”
I fight to keep my eyes open, but it’s impossible as his quiet words wash over me.
“Safe. You’re very safe. I wouldn’t let anything hurt you. You understand that?”
“Never,” I whisper. “Safe.”
“That’s right. Give in now to the sensation of overwhelming drowsiness and when you wake up, I’m still going to be here. I’m going to take care of you. Everything is going to be just fine.”
“Fine,” I repeat.
“Now, close your eyes.” Silas kisses my forehead and then my lips softly, almost a whisper of a kiss. I close my eyes then, unable to keep them open a moment longer.
The next time I open them, I blink slowly, smiling and ready to ask Silas for another kiss. But he’s gone. I’m alone. How? I swear I only closed my eyes for a moment. The sun is still shining. I realize I must have been dreaming the whole thing. I am really losing my mind.
I pull myself up out of bed, more perplexed than I was when I came into the room. When I step out, the house is silent. I walk downstairs to find it empty and then head up to the attic.
Sure enough, Silas is there clacking away on his typewriter on his computer.
He turns around and smiles. “You’re up from your nap.”
“Oh. Yeah, um, how long was I asleep?”
He looks at his watch. “Three hours.”
“Wow. I guess I was tired.” I am so damn confused right now.
“Yeah, you seemed pretty out of it when you came home from the historical society. Did you find out anything interesting?”
“Didn’t we talk when I got home?”
“No, not too much. You came up here, told me you were really tired, and then you went upstairs and take a nap. That’s where you’ve been ever since. I’ve just been here working on my novel. You feel okay?”
I study his face for a moment, blinking rapidly. “So we didn’t… we didn’t talk about anything that I found out at the Historical Society.”
“And you didn’t, um, you didn’t come upstairs with me.”
He smiles “No. Did you have a dream?”
“I think I must have. Yeah.”
“You look well rested.”
“Yeah, um, I feel great.”
“Good. Maybe you just needed to get some sleep.”
“I suppose so.”
“By the way, I didn’t get a chance to tell you, but I found the raccoon this morning, and he’s got a little wounded paw, so I put him up in the laundry room for a while. I hope that’s okay. I didn’t want to just put him back outside to fend for himself with an injury.”
“Oh, sure. It’s fine. Do you think it’s gonna be okay?”
“I think so. He looks like he’s doing okay. He’s eating plenty. I thought I could go out later and maybe get some cat food or dog food for it.”
“Cool. Just be careful and don’t let it bite you.”
“It won’t bite me. I think that must have been why it was trying to get into the house last night. Maybe a brief reprieve. A little safety.”
“That makes sense.”
“Did you find anything good at the historical society?”
“I did. I think I’m gonna take a shower and freshen up a little, and then I can tell you everything I learned.”
“Is there, um, is there anything else that I should be aware of?”
“I don’t know. Any visitors? Did Wallace or anybody come back?”
“No, no, it’s been quiet all morning. This is the perfect house for writing. You know, up here in the attic, I almost can’t hear anything at all. It’s really nice. I’m so glad I found you.”
I walk back downstairs, completely confused about what I’m feeling. The last few hours feel like some kind of fever dream. Apparently, I imagined that strange interaction with Silas and the kiss. I must be more attracted to him than I realized I was, but that also means we didn’t talk about what happened last night.
In the kitchen, I pour myself a glass of cold water. Maybe I need to accept that there’s something unusual about this house. I’m experiencing things I haven’t before. I wonder how Silas would react if I told him I think the house is haunted after all.
And if that’s true, what the hell am I gonna do about it?