Halloween was Monica’s least favorite holiday but she put a good face on it and went through the motions for the sake of appearances. She decorated the house, put out candy, and even gave out holiday discount cards to her customers for specific services but privately, she found the holiday creepy and disingenuous. Like so many pagan holidays bastardized by Christianity, Halloween made no sense and was so far afield of what it originally was, that it’d become a parody, in her opinion. Dressing up and asking for candy? She found more integrity in the Mexican festival, Day of the Dead, because at least she could make sense of it.
It was nearing nine o’clock and she would’ve figured all the little kids finished with their rounds by now but a knock at the door made her sigh and grab the nearly empty candy bowl. Well, at least she wouldn’t have a bunch of chocolate around after tonight to tempt herself with. She opened the door and nearly jumped out of her skin when Lola and a bunch of her friends scared the life out of her by lunging at her dressed in horrid witch costumes. “Good God, what the hell are you doing?” she asked, once she’d recovered. “Aren’t you a little too old to be trick or treating?”
“Of course, we just made the stop to see if you were down with coming with us to Izzy’s party,” Lola answered with a laugh. “Go put on something cute and you can come with us. Costume optional.”
Go to a party where she knew Roger was going to be? No thank you. “I’m going to sit this one out. I?
??m pretty tired, actually. I haven’t been sleeping very well. I could use a little extra shut-eye.”
“It’s all those sexy times with your dream lovah,” Lola teased and Kayla wanted to strangle her sister with the stringy strands of her wig. But Lola was oblivious to anything but her own fun at the moment and thought her quip was hilarious. “Okay, okay. Get some sleep. But just remember, you were invited and you chose to stay home like a fuddy-duddy.”
“Duly noted,” Kayla said, getting ready to close the door but Lola surprised her when she double-backed as everyone began climbing into the car.
Lola was semi-serious as she said, “Listen, I don’t know if you should be left in this house tonight of all nights, you know?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Let’s just say for a minute that maybe you do have a ghost in your house and maybe, if the legends are even a sliver true, that Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, is when the veil is the thinnest between the barrier separating the living from the dead…then maybe being in your house tonight isn’t such a bright idea. You get what I’m saying?”
She did. And admittedly, there was a certain crazy logic to Lola’s point but Kayla wasn’t about to give into an irrational fear and couple it with superstition or a belief that she didn’t even believe in. “I’ll be fine. Go have fun and don’t do anything that will reflect badly on our business.”
Lola paused then blew her a kiss and bounded to the car where her friends were waiting. Moments later they were heading to Izzy’s party, where, no doubt, there would be plenty of bad judgment going on into the wee hours of the morning.
Kayla distracted herself with some work and then some mindless television before shutting down the house and heading upstairs. She glanced at the nightstand clock and suppressed a shiver at the realization that it was the so-called ‘witching hour’ and she forced herself to chuckle at the absurdity of her thoughts. She washed her face and brushed out her hair before heading back to the bedroom only to stop short at what she saw. A black negligee lay strewn across her bed, the fine silk fabric gleaming in the faint light and she knew without a doubt, it hadn’t been there when she’d left the room to wash her face. She slowly walked to the bed and picked up the lingerie, the ultra-fine fabric slithering between her fingertips, whispering tales of sensual debauchery she could only imagine in her most filthy of fantasies and she let it drop to the floor, still in shock. What was happening?
“Put it on my lovely and I will show you how a man ought to take a woman.”
Kayla gasped and whirled, fear nearly stopping her heart as she stared at the man from her dreams, lounging against the bedroom doorway, that smile, those eyes…Archibald Blackstone as she lived and breathed, watching her with a hunger that was unmistakably carnal. “I’m hallucinating,” she whispered, perhaps to herself but the painful hammer of her heart rate felt incredibly real. “What’s happening? Am I having a stroke? M-my brain is throwing out incomprehensible signals and I’m h-hallucinating, right?”
Archibald chuckled with dark amusement and pushed off from the doorway and she nearly stopped breathing. “I assure you, beautiful lady, you are not dreaming or hallucinating…I am very real, as real as you in this moment, and I’ve waited so long to feel the vibrant spirit of one such as you, pressed up against my flesh.”
“You’re dead,” she felt prudent to point out, even though her voice came out as a horrified whisper. “This isn’t happening. I don’t believe in ghosts.”
“Yes, you are very fond of saying that. However, I am here and I am not alive so what does that make me? Regrettably, a ghost, though the label lacks a certain flair wouldn’t you say?”
“Oh Jesus, I can’t believe this is happening,” she moaned, startling when he snapped his fingers with an impatient gesture.
“Enough. Gather your wits, woman. I have but three hours to enjoy this thinning of the veil and I intend to spend that time fucking that lovely body of yours. Now, put the lingerie on, my sweet and be quick about it. Celibacy does not agree with me.”
That shocked her out of her stupor. Did a ghost just order her to avail herself for his convenience? Oh, hell no. “Excuse me, but I’m not interested in your advances, ghostly or otherwise. From what I know of you, Mr. Blackstone, you were a terrible, wicked man and I’ve had enough of those in my life.”
He surprised her with a hearty laugh as he advanced. “In life, I was quite wicked. It’s nice to know that I have not been entirely forgotten but I must confess, some of the rumors were, in fact, exaggerated.”
“Exaggerated? Which ones?”
He stopped to think, then answered, “I am positively certain I never…oh wait, yes I did do that. Age of consent in my day was much different than it is today and sixteen-year-old flesh is the sweetest carnal delicacy. But I drew the line at certain proclivities. Animals, children, bodily fluids…never.”
Kayla shuddered, not quite sure what to think of the surreal situation. If it were true — and she wasn’t, in fact, suffering a brain aneurysm — then she was conversing with a horny ghost who had every intention of having his wicked way with her. Could she get pregnant from a ghostly encounter? Oh, as if that were the major concern! Try focusing! “Why me?” she dared to ask, moving away from him, putting more distance between them as he continued to advance undeterred.
“I suppose an answer is easily enough given. You burn with a fire I am consumed with experiencing. Being dead affords me certain privileges, one of which is the ease of seeing a living aura. You blaze with life. I’m drawn to that fire for its heat and its promise of exquisite pain and pleasure. I’ve invaded your dreams enough to know that you yearn to let go and experience something beyond your control. You’re so contained in your need to conquer all obstacles in your life, that you forget that the beauty of living is the knowledge that nothing is inherently in your control, my lovely. A lesson, I didn’t quite learn until I was dead. And now, my sweet, I have answered your question and I’ve been patient. It is your turn to indulge me.” Within a blink — a heartbeat, even — she was, in fact, wearing the silky scrap of lingerie, her breasts straining the confines of the cloth that clung to her curves and accentuated the flare of her hips. She sucked in a tight breath as her skin tingled wherever the cloth touched and she knew with certainty that Archibald would take what he wanted from her whether she consented or not. The knowledge, though frightening, was also liberating. Her insides burned just as Archibald had said and she knew he spoke truth even if she wasn’t sure how to reconcile the knowledge. Archibald smiled, slow and sensual, as his gaze drank in every detail of her undress, and she felt herself warming to the idea that Archibald might pleasure her in real life as he had in her dreams. “You are a vision, my dove. Your breasts have kept me wanting since the day you stepped over my threshold. I have tasted their sweetness in my dreams and the agony that I had to wait was a torture I cultivated with pleasure knowing this day was coming.”
Kayla couldn’t help herself. His words had a drugging effect on her senses. His voice, deep and melodic, yet colored with wickedness, drew her in and teased with the prospect of what he planned to do to her. “I sympathize with your situation,” she heard herself say breathlessly as his finger trailed her bare shoulder, igniting the skin and sparking a distressing tremble in her stomach. “But I’m not about to be your one-night stand, no matter how talented you are with that tongue of yours.”
“Ahhh, so you remember the dreams and what I did to you,” he said, chuckling with approval. “Good. Because that was a mere preview of the pleasure I will wrought on your body tonight.”
A preview? Holy hell, was he serious? She’d nearly gone into a coma from coming so hard. She risked a glance and caught the sharp scent of his cologne, manly with a hint of citrus, and fought to stay focused. It would be so damn easy to just succumb because none of this felt real anyway but a part of her resisted, insisting quite vehemently that she hold strong. “Tempting but…I don’t think you’re my type. Well, I kn
ow you’re not my type. I prefer flesh and blood men…men who haven’t crossed over, if you know what I mean.”
“Do I feel ephemeral to you?” he asked silkily, allowing the thin strap to fall, replacing it with the firm press of his warm lips. She shivered. No, he felt decidedly real. Very much alive, down to the mildly damp spot his lips left behind on her skin. “I assure you, I am very real in this moment. Let me tell you what I plan to do this night with your sweet body as it yields to me…I will plunge my cock into your warm and willing feminine heat until the head of my cock touches your womb. I will make you scream my name and beg for release but I will not give it until you’ve ceded to me. Do you understand, my sweet dove? Modern women, so rigid, so self-righteous in their feminine power and yet they realize nothing of their true power, their gift to the men in their lives.”
“And what would that be?” she managed to ask, her lips dry. “Women’s rights weren’t exactly a thing back in your day. How would you know how to treat a woman without being insulting?”
“Ahhh, there’s that fiery spirit again and sassy mouth. A woman was made for a man’s touch…to yield.”
She barked a shaky laugh. “Sorry but women today don’t yield. They do all sorts of things they never did in your day and age, like vote, drive cars, have the right to voice their opinion.”
He waved away her statement as if it were immaterial. “You miss the point. No worries, I will show you, my defiant little rose.” She started to protest but suddenly, her muscles were held in a vise and she was forced to remain still as he divested her of the slip of material with a wicked grin. “You see, there are some advantages over the living flesh that I find delightful. This little trick would’ve come in handy when I was living.”
She gasped as he released her and she tumbled to the bed, horrified and oddly aroused that she was completely naked. “This is rape,” she cried desperately, needing to say something — anything — that might make him stop, even if she was embarrassingly turned on by the memory of what he could do to her. But how could she possibly explain to a police officer that she’d been sexually assaulted by a…ghost? Oh good grief, they’d laugh her out of the precinct.