Friday, October 31, 2014

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...Chapter 11 by Christine Johnson

Wild thoughts careened through Ellie's head as she tumbled forward. Hadn't Scarlett fallen down the stairs in Gone With the Wind? Shouldn't her life pass before her eyes? Why, oh why had she accepted the invitation? Yes, it was a great chance to wear her new Louboutins and meet a single man, but any other party had to be safer.

The house. That's why she'd come here. She had to see inside the house. Dumb idea. Didn't curiosity kill the cat?

At least her screams drowned out the other shrieks.

Ouch! Her behind bounced off a step, and she was surprised it didn't hurt. The steps must have a lot of padding under the carpet. Her fingers grazed the bannister, but her momentum carried her past before she could grab hold.

"Help-ee-elp-ee-elp!" Her shriek bounced with each step and came to an abrupt stop along with the rest of her when she struck a very solid, very warm and very much living object.

"Didn't I tell you to stay where you were?" JT pulled her to her feet. "You could have gotten hurt."

"I'm not hurt," she protested. Bruised ego, perhaps, but she'd slid more than fell. Her borrowed shoes hadn't even come off!

"Thank goodness you're all right." His arms pulled her so close that she could feel the frantic rhythm of his heart. He pressed his warm cheek to hers, the mask clearly discarded. "I would never have forgiven myself if anything happened to you, Ellie."

Now her heartrate accelerated. The way he clutched her and the ragged emotion that cracked his voice wiped away her irrational fear of noises in the dark and replaced it with the very real fear of what might have happened--and what was about to happen.

"I'm sorry," she whispered. "I shouldn't have moved."

"No, no, the fault is mine." If anything he held her closer. "Please understand, that's how Tracye lost her husband. He fell on a construction worksite, and he wasn't wearing his safety harness."

No wonder JT's sister didn't like the massive house with its sweeping staircase. It must remind her of her loss. "Then Mandy is...?"

"Their daughter. I tried to be a father to her, but she refused to listen to me."

Now her heart broke for him. "Most teenaged girls rebel, whether with their mom, their dad, or their uncle." That must have been the shoe-throwing phase. "But she turned out well. You said she's in the Peace Corps."

"In the Philippines. She is back in the States now, though, and was supposed to arrive home tonight, but her flight got grounded by the bad weather. Tracye's been upset ever since she got Mandy's call. When I heard Sis crying, I was afraid she'd gotten more bad news." He paused. "But that's no excuse. I should never have left you alone in the dark in a strange house. Can you ever forgive me?"

Ellie recalled the tenderness of his touch when he wiped her feet dry and placed the ruby slipper on her foot. With all that was going on in his family, he had gone to extraordinary lengths to help a woman he did not know. "Of course I do."

He breathed a sigh of relief. "I promise not to leave your side the rest of the evening." His chocolatey rich vow wound around her heart as securely as his arm cradled her waist.

"Now that's a promise I'll hold you to."

"With pleasure."

A rumble of excitement started deep within and exploded when his expressive lips brushed against hers in the suddenly quiet darkness. Ellie wobbled on the unfamiliar shoes before he swept her off her feet and into his arms like Rhett Butler had done with Scarlett.

At that moment the lights flickered on, revealing they were just one step from the bottom of the staircase where...oh dear. A smattering of goblins, aka guests, gathered around Tracye, Mina and a couple of cats. One goblin hooted, then the rest joined in. That was the eerie shrieking she'd heard earlier, only now it sounded a lot more playful. How could she have been so silly?

Though heat suffused her cheeks, JT grinned widely and carried her down the remaining step.

Then he looked her in the eyes. "Your wish is my command, my scarlet-shoed princess. Just close your eyes, click your heels together three times, and whisper your heart's desire."

On a night like tonight, Ellie could believe anything possible. She closed her eyes and tapped her heels.

Click, click, click.

"There's no one like--"

JT's lips quieted her with a kiss that sent every fear scurrying into next year. The goblin hoots turned to cheers, but she could only think how wrong she'd been to doubt him. The kiss ended sweet as candy corn, with the promise of more. She opened her eyes to a smile that outshone the brightest lightning bolt.

"There's no one like you," they said in unison.

The End

Thursday, October 30, 2014

It Was A Dark and Stormy Night....Chapter 10

Chapter 10 Roxanne Rustand

       JT crushed her to his chest, his strong arms wrapping around her as a chorus of shrieks fractured the eerie silence. He leaned back and studied her face in the near darkness.  "You're all right?"
       She managed a nod, her heart hammering wildly at her ribs as she struggled to catch her breath. 
       More screams echoed through the cavernous old mansion.  Footsteps raced across the marble floor below.  Chasing...
       ....or escaping?
       She closed her eyes briefly, wishing she were still at home, in her robe, with a comforting container of Haagen Dazs in her lap.
       Something furry brushed against her ankle.  A rat?   
       Please, Lord--not a rat.
      The creature returned.  Wound sinuously around her shaking legs, and she breathed a sigh of relief.  Just a cat, its sides vibrating as it purred.
       Now, from somewhere in the depths of the house, came the faint sound of a woman crying.
       "Stay here," Jt ordered, grasping her upper arms.  "Understand?  Don't even move a muscle. These stairs aren't"
      Not safe?   "B-but we just walked up a moment ago, and--"
      "Just do as I say," he whispered.  "Please."
      A deafening crack of lightning shook the steps beneath her feet and filled the air with the pungent scent of ozone, a flash of blinding light  illuminating the swirl of JT's cape as he spun away and swiftly disappeared into the darkness below.
       Odd, that his footsteps made no sound.  
       More so, that he moved so very easily in the dark.  
      Tales of vampires and other creatures of the night crept into her thoughts, sending a cold chill down her spine.
       All fantasy.  
       Nothing more than silly tales. 
       The stuff of movies, she reminded herself, even as she shrank against inner wall of the staircase, feeling exposed and vulnerable, and began edging slowly downward to where she might find cover.
       One step. 
       A second.
       Then another, wobbling precariously in the beautiful red heels she'd borrowed.
       A stiletto heel caught in a ragged edge of carpet and she plunged forward, clawing wildly for the bannister--

       And now her screams joined the others, as she began cartwheeling into the dark abyss below.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

It was a Dark and Stormy Night--Chapter Nine by Winne Griggs

“The Wizard Of Oz was my favorite childhood movie,” he explained with an adorably self-conscious grin.
No place like home, The Wizard Of Oz.  Of course. 
Her only excuse for being so slow on the uptake was that she was finding it difficult to think clearly with his hand still caressing her ankle.
Ellie pulled her foot back and stood.  The shoes were a perfect fit and quite yummy-looking on her feet.  “These high-heeled ruby ‘slippers’ are gorgeous, but it was Dorothy who wore them, not the witch.”  Hadn’t he noticed her black and white striped tights and the sweeping sleeves on her black dress.  Okay, it was only a token nod to wearing a witch costume, but there should be enough of a reference for him to get it.

JT stood up as well, but he still wore that boyish grin she found so attractive.  “Ah, but the Wicked Witch of the East had the shoes first.  Remember, Dorothy only received them after the house fell on the unfortunate spell-caster.”
“So I’m the Wicked Witch, am I?  Should I be on the look out for flying houses?”  This was certainly the right weather for it.
“Not on my watch."  He made an exaggerated bow.  "I shall personally guarantee your safety so long as you remain under my protection.”
The look he gave her as he said this made her toes try to curl just like the witch’s had just before they disappeared under the house. 
Then he extended his arm.  “Shall we go and greet the rest of my guests?”
The courtliness of the gesture enchanted her, but there was no need to let him know that.  She tossed her head and gave him her sauciest smile as she placed her candy-tipped nails on his sleeve.  “Lead the way.”
For the first time since she’d encountered JT, she felt confident and unafraid. 
That feeling lasted until they were half way down the elegant staircase.  Then the lights suddenly went out again and someone shrieked.  The hairs on Ellie’s neck stood on end at the other-worldly sound.  She instinctively moved closer to JT and tightened her hold on his arm.

Which was the only reason why, when an object came hurtling down the stairs, it missed her, but only by the merest of inches.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

It was a Dark and Stormy Night--Halloween Serial Chapter Eight by Jolene Navarro

The hag glared at her, then shifted her narrowed stare to JT. “I have guests to take care of, baby brother. This is your mess to clean up. Come here, darling Mina.” She reached for the cat with hands that looked pampered and manicured. “We have people to entertain.”  The hag’s face softened as she cuddled the winged cat. “You are going to be a hit in your costume.”
Without another word, the hag turned her back and marched down the hall.
JT’s heavy sigh brought Ellie’s attention back to her rescuer. He shook his head, turning to her with a lopsided smile. His mesmerizing eyes looked a bit sad. “Sorry about that. Tracye is having a hard time letting Mandy go.”
She clapped a hand against her chest, sad for him. “I’m so sorry. Was she your—“
JT chuckled. “She’s not dead or anything. Just out of Tracye’s control. Darn girl had the nerve to grow up and get her own brain.” He flipped his cape over his shoulder, took her hand, and headed down the same hall where the hag had disappeared.
Turning the corner, she stopped, awed. A winding staircase straight out of Gone with the Wind appeared before them.  She glanced at him as he paused and looked back at her.
She pulled some words from her head. “Wow, it’s beautiful.” Okay, so not the most articulate thing to say.
He nodded and looked up toward the high ceilings. “When I saw it, I knew this was the house for me. And the sellers wanted to unload it, so I got it for a steal. Tracye’s still mad about it. It’s big, and not really all that practical, but it’s home.” He laughed, tugging on her hand. “Come on, we need to get to the shoes before they go on display.”
Watching his cape billow behind him, Ellie followed. His long fingers surrounded hers, warming her chilled hand. She lightly touched the smooth railing as they climbed the magnificent flight of steps. This was why she had wanted to be here at this party. She’d spent her whole childhood dreaming of what the big house on the hill looked like inside. Now he was leading her to a closet full of shoes in her dream home.
“Wait. The shoes are going on display? Why? If they’re collector items, maybe I shouldn’t –“
“No, no. Mandy has dedicated her life to the Peace Corps now and wants the shoes to be auctioned off. She’s asked that the money go to kids in Appalachia for shoes, clothes, books.” He winked at her. “You know, the necessities of life.”
A man that thought shoes and books were necessities of life. Her heart melted.
He stopped in front of a door and opened it. Stepping to the side, he invited her into the largest collection of shoes she had ever seen outside of Neiman Marcus.
As she stood in awe, JT brushed past her and walked along the shoes all lined up like beautiful chorus girls waiting to perform.
“What about these?” He turned, holding a pair of shining red stilettos. The light caught them, and they sparkled like rubies.
Her heart leapt in her chest. “Yes.” She thought she said it out loud but couldn’t be certain. 
He knelt in front of a winged back chair, waiting for her.
She tucked her rain-soaked party dress beneath her and sat.  He took a silk handkerchief from his pocket and wiped off the bottom of her tights. His warm hand supported one ankle, then the other as he slipped ruby heels onto her feet.
Oh, she was home.
Gazing up at her, he smiled.  “There’s no place like home.”
She gasped. Had he read her mind? 

Friday, October 24, 2014

It was a Dark and Stormy Night--Halloween Serial Chapter Seven by Danica Favorite

It was a Dark and Stormy Night--Halloween Serial Chapter Seven by Danica Favorite

As they rounded the corner, an old hag, complete with gray, stringy hair and a bulbous nose with too many warts to be real, stepped in front of them.

"It's about time you showed up." Her harsh raspy voice was definitely real, as was the angry flash of eyes. "Do you have any idea how bad this looks to our guests?"

Our guests? Just a moment ago, JT had been saying that to Ellie. And now this woman, this hag, was saying it to JT. Okay, Ellie would admit that the woman was probably not really a hag, but boy did she look creepy. As the woman held up a candle, the shadows created even more distortions that gave the hag's face an even more reptilian look.

“Who’s she?”

JT put his arm around Ellie. Almost like he wanted to protect her. A shiver ran down Ellie’s spine. So far everything that had frightened her had seemed to have a perfectly reasonable explanation. But there was no explaining the way his touch made her quiver. Or the way the hag’s narrowed glance made her stomach feel like she’d just taken a sip out of a nasty, dirty cauldron. 

“This is Ellie,” JT said, pulling her closer to him. “She had a little car trouble on the way up.”  He gestured toward her bare feet. “She also had a mishap with those overpriced torture devices you women call shoes. Can you see if there’s anything in Mandy’s closet that will work for her?”

The hag gasped. “You can’t be serious. Mandy’s shoes are-“

“It’s not like she’s going to use them. I’m sure there are at least a hundred pair that have never been worn.”

A hundred pairs of shoes that had never been worn? That sounded about like any woman’s dream. If this whole thing didn’t feel like a nightmare, Ellie might have been excited at the prospect. And if the hag wasn’t looking at her like she was going to make off with the crown jewels. Of course, if they were nice shoes, like Ellie’s Louboutins, she could understand the woman’s trepidation. Not that anyone would have so many expensive shoes just sitting around. Still, she didn’t want to get off on the wrong foot with this already angry woman.

“I’m sure I’ll be fine,” Ellie said smoothly, trying to give the woman a reassuring look.
JT pushed Ellie toward the hag. “None of that. Your shoes are ruined, and you need something to wear. We’ve got plenty, and a single pair won’t be missed.”

He glanced at the shoe sticking out of her bag. “And judging by the size of your shoe, it looks to be the same as the ones I’ve had chucked at me a million times over the years.”

A shoe-throwing woman? And JT wanted Ellie to borrow a pair of her shoes? Clearly JT knew nothing about women at all. When he’d first pulled up to rescue her, she’d thought him to be the scariest thing she’d encounter all night. But as the fearful events kept piling up, Ellie couldn’t help but think that this shoe thing might be the most terrifying of all…

Thursday, October 23, 2014

It was a Dark and Stormy Night--Halloween Serial Chapter Six by Missy Tippens

It was a Dark and Stormy Night--Halloween Serial Chapter Six
Missy Tippens

Ellie bit back a gasp. He lives here. This is his party. He's probably not a crazy killer.

The mantra didn't do much to reassure her as she looked at the uninhabited hearse.

At least she hoped it was uninhabited. "Um, yeah. That's unusual all right."

"It was supposed to be parked out front, a prop for the party. But I'm late and need to get inside to greet my guests." JT picked up Mina, the bat cat. "Ready to go?"

"Gladly." Anything to get out of this dark garage. As she stuffed her weapon, aka her shoe, back inside her handbag, thunder once again rattled the door.

He turned off the hearse with some kind of remote control. Then he shined the flashlight to lead the way inside. They stepped into what appeared to be a long hallway. When he set down Mina, she scurried away, her tiny costume wings flapping.

Photo Credit: Crestock/inhabitant

"It's pitch dark in here, too," Ellie said, wondering why in the world she'd risked life, limb and Louboutins to come to a silly party on such a stormy night.

He sighed. "I hope my housekeeper has lit candles. Otherwise I'm afraid everyone will be scared." He stopped, and she nearly bumped into him. Turning toward her, he pointed the flashlight at their feet, creating a dimly-lit circle with them inside . "You have to admit, this house is a bit creepy."

His nearness took her breath away and made thinking clearly difficult. "It is with you in that cape and horrifying mask."

With a deep chuckle, JT lifted the mask to the top of his head. "I'm sorry if I've frightened you. I tend to get carried away when I throw a party."

She looked up into his eyes, half scared of what she'd see there. But even in the shadows, his beautiful brown eyes sparkled with humor.

Her tension eased, but just a fraction. Because a single man this handsome was a danger in itself. A danger to her heart. "Yeah. You had me going with the whole 'You can call me Norman' thing. How about if I just call you JT?"

"For you, Ellie, anything." With a heart-stopping grin, he slid his mask back in place. Then he stretched out his gloved hand. "Will you join me in welcoming our guests?"

Our guests? She swallowed. Hesitated. Then, against the voice in her head shouting turn around and run home!, she placed her hand in his.

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