Authors: Kathy Bosman
By Kathy Bosman
Published by Astraea Press
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically, constitutes a copyright violation.
HIS HALLOWEEN KISSES
Copyright Â© 2014 KATHY BOSMAN
Cover Art Designed by CORA GRAPHICS
To all my writer friends.
You help make the journey an adventure.
Ali Micklejohn heaved a large two-seater couch in front of the door and sat down on the expansive three-seater to watch TV. Tonight was going to be a long night.
The wind blew in eerie echoes through the house she stayed in, knocking the loose window clasps like horror music with its squeaks, creaks, and sighs. The elements weren't worth being scared of though. They were just sounds. No, this was South Africa, and even though she stayed in a fairly safe area, couldn't someone be lurking in the shadows? Especially since she couldn't lock the door.
was reason to be scared, she told herself, not all the strange creaking noises and “haunted” thoughts. The lock on the front door had given out on her this evening when she came home after struggling to turn the key for about an hour. The couch across the door provided her only way to feel a measure of safety.
Whines seared through the room; long, sad sounds that pierced into her gut. She shivered slightly and pulled her thin jacket closer to her chest.
Tonight was the 31
October. Halloween. And really, so what?
She'd never believed in Halloween, never celebrated it. Growing up in South Africa, Halloween had only taken off the last few years. Most of the older generation didn't celebrate it at all. Some kids dressed up in outfits and went to parties. It hadn't spread to the more serious generation yet.
Trick or treating wasn't safe in a country where kids dare not walk the streets at night and knock on strangers' doors. But decorations were all over the shops and even graced the school where Ali worked as a secretary. Spiders, witches' hats, orange pumpkins, and zombie masks. Dark, sombre colours, which she actually liked in a perverse way. So, to a degree, she'd been immersed in the feeling of scariness, a feeling she normally found funny and wacky.
Not tonight for some reason.
She wasn't the fearful type, never had been. Having survived being hijacked outside her parents' gate, she'd learnt to appreciate every day, every moment, and she felt like a survivor. She
The wooden front door creaked and groaned with the vicious spring winds. Why did spring always have to be so windy in Newcastle? She turned the TV up to drown out the sounds. She switched the channel to a comedy show and settled down with her large slab of hazelnut chocolate and a packet of crisps. Oh, the joys of living on her own for a changeâshe could have the whole bag to herself.
That's why she'd decided to house-sit a few nights for a teacher at the school where she worked. And to get some time to think.
Besides, all her roommates were going out to a party with their boyfriends. Definitely not fun for the only single one left of the tight-knit group.
The TV made a fizz, and the light from its screen compressed into a small dot. All the lights in the house went out.
A power failure.
She sat frozen for a moment, unsure what to do next. This wasn't her own home. Where did they keep candles and torches? At her place, she stored them in the kitchen drawer, and so did her parents in her childhood house. Wouldn't that be the logical place? Blinking furiously, she hoped to find a light somewhere to guide her to the kitchen without bumping into something. Nothing. She couldn't see a single thing. There was no moon tonight. Probably as overcast as it had been the whole miserable, rainy, windy afternoon. She spread out her hands in front of her and walked slowly, one awkward, terrifying step at a time.
In the darkness, the sounds were magnified. Wind whined like a strangled prisoner through every window, door crack, and ceiling board. Something tapped at one of the windows from the dining room. Tapâ¦tapâ¦tap. Probably just a branch from a nearby bush. It couldn't be a ghost or a zombie, could it? Her quickened pulse didn't believe any logical arguments tonight.
Images streamed through her darkened visionâpictures of real witches, zombies with bared teeth and deathly pale faces, and horrible creatures with wolf-like snouts and sharp fangs. She shivered. For some reason, tonight, Halloween was getting under her skin.
And not in a nice way.
A crash sounded in the kitchen.
Her leg remained poised for the next step, but she couldn't take it.
She couldn't go in there.
What was that? Terror strangled her a moment, making it hard to breathe.
Possibly only the Bauman family cat, their little black and white tabby. A smile curled her mouth in response to the calming thought. Black catâbad luck. Yeah, she sure was overthinking this whole simple inconvenience of a power outage.
Something brushed past her leg, something warm, soft, and silent.
Hot tears sprang to her eyes.
Most likely the cat, hungry and frightened by the dark.
“It's okay, kitty. I'm sure the lights will come on soon enough. I just need to find a candle somewhere.”
Stiffening her chin and marching with determination to the kitchen, all the while feeling for barriers in the way, she eventually made her way to the counter just inside the door of the kitchen without falling down and bumping her head. She grasped the cold granite surface like it was a log floating in the water from a shipwreck and ran her hands along the counter, glad to feel familiar things she'd put there earlierâa bag of hamburger buns, an orange, and her favourite coffee jar. Her hands ran over something cold and wet, and she gasped.
What was that? She picked up her hand to sniff, and the stomach-churning metallic smell of blood entered her nostrils.
A scream reverberated through the kitchen. Her body shook with the impact of the blood-curdling sound that had emanated from her lips.
The kitty echoed her sound with a frantic meow from the dining room.
This was too much.
She fumbled for her cell phone in her pocket and pressed the screen to make it come on. The kitchen flooded with light, and she glanced at the counter.
The cat had torn open her plastic grocery bag with some steak inside which she'd planned to cook later to make steak rolls. That's what had felt wet and squishy and smelt like blood. Why hadn't she remembered?
And why hadn't she used her cell phone as a torch?
Another crash sounded from down the passage.
With shaky hands, she dialed her brother's number. He'd insisted she call him if at any time she didn't feel safe when house-sitting. If her parents knew that she house-sat all on her own without a locked door, they wouldâ¦
Even one of her friends at work had warned her this house was haunted.
She'd laughed off her friend's comments that Halloween was the worst time to stay here.
Maybe they were right, and the house taunted her.
Really, how stupid.
The phone rang for several long, irritating rings. What would she say to Simon?
She must have dialed the wrong number. That wasn't Simon's voice.
“I'm sorry. I think I have the wrong number.”
“No, probably not. Are you looking for Simon?”
The man's voice sent a funny shiver through her. He sounded relaxed and like he had a ridiculous smile on his face. She imagined broad shoulders and big hands hugging her tight and him telling her everything would be okay. She sure was acting strange tonight.
“Yes, I am. Where is he? Why do you have his phone?”
“Simon's not available at the moment.”
Something brushed past her leg again, but she didn't see the cat with the dim light from the phone by her ear. “Lookâ¦” She tried to keep her voice from shaking, but it didn't work. “Iâ¦I need to talk to him. It's urgent.”
“Are you okay?”
“Where are you? You don't sound good.”
“I'm in a haunted house, and something keeps on brushing past my leg.”
“Is this a joke?”
The cat jumped up on the counter in a sudden movement, knocking a glass off onto the floor. She screamed again, this time more of a whimper mixed with a squeak.
It sprang right by the meat and began to tuck in, this time oblivious to her shock.
“Where are you?”
“20 Jasper, Sunnyridge.”
“I'm coming now. I'm only about two minutes' drive away.”
She nodded and then realized he couldn't see her. “Thanks,” she mumbled, but he'd already ended the call.
While the cat nibbled on her supper, she stood in the kitchen, surrounded by the creaking, groaning, heaving house, and blinked back desperate tears. She'd just told a strange man, who had her brother's phone, where she stayed.
What was she thinking?
What if he was a thief, or worse, a murderer? What if he wanted her blood like the kitty wanted her supper? Although most people weren't murderers, tonight seemed like an evil night, and anything was possible.
Yet, how could she bear to stay here another minute all on her own?
This was the last time she would ever house-sit for anyone no matter how much they paid her.
With the help of her phone light, she made her way to the living room and pushed the couch tighter against the door to prevent the man from coming in without answering a whole lot of questions first. At that very moment, the sound of a car engine outside brought some normality to her life. The headlights streamed through the front windows. A car door slammed closed, and she heard footsteps pounding on the short pathway up to the front entrance.
A loud knock sounded, and before she could ask “who is it?” the door pushed open with such a force that the couch moved aside in a swift swing, knocking her off her feet onto the floor with a hard bump. The air left her lungs and they burned.
With the light from his headlights, the man stood as a dark and huge silhouette in the doorway and boomed, “Is anyone here?”
Her mouth didn't want to move. Her chest shuddered with the intensity of each heartbeat coming out in a frantic drumbeat.
The wind streamed in through the open door, sending gusts through the cracks between the windows and frames, making each window squeak and shudder with a statement. Maybe the man would run away in fear, and she would be safe. At least all she'd have to deal with was a creepy house and a cat that craved raw meat.
“I've come to rescue you. Where are you?” His head scoured the area. He had the help of the light from his car. He would discover her soon. Sliding away from the door on her backside as quietly as she could, she made herself towards the piano to hide behind it.
“Oh, my goodness. Are you all right?” He sank down before her, his huge frame right in front of her. “Did you fall?”
His breath was right by her face, warm and sweet and not at all scary. She smelt shampoo, a minty, manly scent, and his hand brushed her leg ever so gently. “Hello.”
“Umâ¦you won't hurt me, will you?”
“I'm sorry. Did I frighten you?” His voice sank into her like the comfort of her Dad's hug when she nearly fell off the slide as a kid. This guy didn't sound scary, but maybe that's what he wanted her to think.
“Did I knock you over when I came in? I was worried. You sounded so scared on the phone, and Simon said I should be prepared in case his sister phoned because she was house-sitting tonight. On Halloween of all nights.”
“Ohâ¦you know Simon? Are you friends with him?”
He brushed her cheek. “You've been crying. What happened?”
“This house makes horrible noises, the kitty likes raw meat, and things have been falling and crashing. It's so horrible, and I never get scared. Maybe that's what's wrong. I haven't been scared, really scared for so long that when it does happen, I can't handle it. I thought you may want to murder me.”
He withdrew his hand, and cold seeped into her.
“I'm sorry. I didn't know who you were. I mean, Simon didn't tell me he was giving his phone to someone.”
“Simon got called out. He took his work phone. The power had gone down. You know he's needed there. He works with the electricity department, Eskom.”
Her face heated, and thankfully he wouldn't see how embarrassed she suddenly felt.
“I'm his new neighbour, Byron. He was seriously worried about you.”
“Why?” Suddenly she felt annoyed. Her brother didn't trust she could look after herself. Silly thought from someone who'd acted like a teenager a few minutes back.
“Well, lookâ¦um, can't I help you up?”
She stood quickly and knocked heads with him on the way up. Reeling from the intense pain in her forehead, she gripped onto him to steady herself. He felt warm, strong, and very inviting beneath her grip. The pain subsided very fast to be replaced with heat tingling through her whole body.
“Sorry. I'm so clumsy.”
He laughed, a mischievous sound that swept away some of the embarrassment.
“Easy to be clumsy in the dark, isn't it? Look, I'll lead you to a seat, then I'm going to switch off my car engine and lights before someone steals it. I'll be right back.” He took her hand. “You'll be okay?”
She couldn't speak. Not from fear but from the unexpected charge surging through her hand from his thick-set digits around her tiny ones. This guy did odd things to the inside of her stomach, odd swirly things that she couldn't quite identify.
And she'd never, ever seen him in her life before.
He led her to the couch, and she flopped down, letting go of his hand quickly before he felt the heat pooling in hers.
He was gone. She sensed the emptiness, the darkness, and the wind sounds sent tendrils of fear through her being again. Unable to get up to lock him out because she still wasn't sure if she trusted him totallyâwell, her mind didn't, but her heart didâshe only waited for him. He seemed safe. A gut feeling and instincts told her that. And the fact that he knew where her brother worked. Yeah, he could be a thief, but something about him told her he wasn't. If only she could see him.
She took her cell phone out of her pocket to switch on the screen, but nothing came on. Only the red LED light flashed to say her battery had died.