October 30, 2015
To celebrate Halloween this month, some of our paranormal authors will be sharing with us some free fiction.
I stared at the gargoyled and gabled monstrosity before me. This was my last chance to back out. But I’d promised myself. This was Halloween night. By dawn I would either be dead—or I would have gotten what I wanted.
I looked around, but no one besides me was crazy enough to be here. The haunted house on Cemetery Road was a mile out of town, and it was inhabited by a real life monster. Not even precocious teens messed with this place. Well, except for this precocious teen.
I swung open the rusty gate and walked up the leaf-strewn walkway. The house loomed above me. The placement of its windows and general disrepair made it appear ready to eat me. Someone had better, I muttered to myself, piling on spunkiness to calm my nerves.
I rang the doorbell. On the third try, the door opened and there he stood. The monster.
“Whaddya want?” he growled at me.
“Happy Halloween!” I swished my long red cape with one hand and held out my wicker basket. I wouldn’t have dressed as Red Riding Hood for school, of course, but it seemed like the right message for tonight. Besides, the red went nicely with my dark hair and pale skin.
“I don’t have any damn—”
I looked over his shoulder and pointed. “Who’s that?”
He looked behind himself. I used the distraction to push past him into the foyer. Curious. The front of the house looked abandoned, but the inside was clean and neat. Curved stairs went up and several doors led off to comfortably furnished rooms.
“What the hell are you doing? Get out!” The monster was still holding open the door.
I sat on one of the stairs and wrapped an arm around the railing. “No.”
Mr. Thornton huffed and puffed and stared at me, like he really couldn’t believe my nerve. Honestly, I was having a hard time believing it myself.
I’d seen Thornton mostly from afar. He was a large man, well over two hundred pounds, and all muscle. He had black hair that he cropped close to his head and black stubble too. I guessed him to be in his thirties. When he had to go into town for groceries, he dressed in black, all scary. But at home he wore blue jeans and T-shirts.
I knew because I’d watched him. The back of his house was fenced and he liked to spend time out there, puttering around the yard or chopping wood. It just so happens my parent’s house was in last building in the last development in town. I could see the back of his mansion from our roof. I’d also seen that he’d lived there for five years and not a single person had ever visited.
I’d never seen his eyes up close though. They were a light gray surrounded by black lashes.
“What do you want?” He repeated, voice hard.
“Kind of a big question. World peace. A million dollars. A career in Hollywood. But tonight? Tonight… I want you to kiss me.” My voice hardly shook at all. “Trick or treat, Mr. Thornton.”
Thornton stormed out of the foyer and I followed him. In the kitchen, he poured himself a shot glass of whiskey and drank it in one gulp. “Look, Kid, apparently you didn’t get the memo, but I’m a—”
“Registered werewolf? Yeah, I know. In fact, I know a lot about you.”
“Oh really?” His words were ironic, his face shuttered.
“Yes. The gossip is that you were a teacher and hurt a boy. Uncontrolled shifter, they say. Dangerous. Your wife left you and you were fired, so you moved here. This used to be your Aunt’s place.”
He said nothing, just stared out the window, his hands knuckle-white on the edge of the sink.
“But I did some digging online. True, you were fired after a student was accidentally hurt and your husband left you. But you didn’t know you were a shifter until that incident, did you? How did it happen?”
His lips pressed tight. “I was bitten on a trip to New Orleans. Thought it was just a dog.” His looked at me. His dark brows were furrowed and his gray eyes practically glowed. “Who the hell are you?”
“My name’s Brandon. I live right over there.” I pointed into the darkness outside the window. “And I’m nobody. Just a guy who likes Google.”
He let out a sharp bark of a laugh. “If you know I really am a wolf shifter, why would you—”
“Because I don’t care. I don’t believe you’ll hurt me. And because… you’re the only man I’ve ever known who was gay.” I swallowed. “I’m lonely. You and I, we’re both pariahs in this town. So why shouldn’t we help each other?”
My voice did tremble this time. I’d spent the past few years building dreams in my head about Thornton. I’d only ever had a few friends in school. Even my parents didn’t like me. I was getting out of this shitty little burg in January, but not before I’d confronted the man of my dreams.
He stared at me for a long moment, then he chuckled. It was almost a real laugh too. “I have to hand it to you, kid. You’ve got cojones. But I’m not going to add pedophilia to my list of sins.”
“I turned eighteen yesterday.” I dug out my driver’s license and held it out to him.
He looked at it warily and passed it back. “Still too young. Find someone your own age.”
I wanted to scream. I’d imagined this a million times. But him rejecting me—like everyone else—had never been the way it’d gone. “Mr. Thornton. William. Please. I’ve lived in this town my whole life. You know what it’s like. There is no one else.”
My guts spilled out with my words and hung out there for him to see. So much for being cool. My fists clenched at my side and I was rigid as a board. Don’t reject me. Please.
He shook his head and poured another shot of whiskey. Downed it. He sighed. “Goddamn it. One kiss?” His voice quivered. I’d been right; he was lonely too.
“One kiss.” For now.
He sighed again there at the counter, his hands still clutched on the sink, like he didn’t trust himself to move. So I walked over to him slowly. My heart was pounding—fear and excitement all wound together. I tugged on one of his wrists and he let me move it so that I could slip right up to him.
I looked up at him and he stared down at me.
He huffed again, like this was ridiculous, but that wasn’t what his eyes said. He leaned down those few inches and kissed me. He tried to make it quick, but I was ready for that. I had my hand on his neck, pulling him down and I opened my mouth a little.
His tongue, hot as blazes and spicy with whiskey skated over mine. His whole body shook. For a moment, it was bliss.
Then he pulled away from my hold as easy as swatting a flea. Without a word, he marched out of the kitchen. I followed him to the front door, which he held open pointedly.
“Good-night, Brandon.” His voice was rough. “You’re a brave kid. Good luck.”
My head was still dazed from the kiss, but I grinned at him. “See you tomorrow, Mr. Thornton!”
I skipped out the door.
“Wait! You can’t—”
ELI EASTON LINKS: