Haunted by Love
by: Lori King
It was the dare to end all dares, and she didn’t have the option of backing down. Spend Halloween night in the haunted castle in the forest. She figured it would be easy enough; after all, she didn’t believe in ghosts.
A hundred years trapped in an inescapable hell had twisted his heart into a black rock of despair and loathing for everything human. Many had tested his limits over the centuries, but none had reached into his soul the way she did.
To overcome, he was to reach her, but she doesn’t believe. Will they both spend the rest of eternity haunted by love?
This story was originally published in the Shifters Hallows Eve Anthology Fall 2016.
What in Gods name was the woman doing? She’d just shut herself in the maids closet for a few moments and then reappeared with a smile on her face. Gideon waited for her to kneel on the floor of his bedroom before he flew across the beamed ceilings to peer down at her. She was quite lovely.
Her dark hair was pulled up in an unusual hairstyle that twisted around into a knot, but left the ends sticking out so they cascade over the bun in a fall of curls. She wore tiny golden rings in her ears, and a delicate gold chain around her elegant throat. He could envision her dressed as the ladies of his time, dripping in gemstones that he gifted her, and shrouded in satin and silks.
When she bent and began spreading a fabric bed on the floor, he was treated to a view of her perfectly rounded rear, and the part of him that still remained in touch with the man he was, reacted very physically. His claws knocked a broken shard of rock from the walls edge to the floor, and the woman shrieked with fear, her eyes wide and glassy as she spun to look his way. The moment she saw him, she relaxed and took a deep breath.
“Just a bird. Thank God.”
Gideon didn’t like her tone of voice, but it wasn’t like he could protest verbally. If he shifted now she’d run screaming, and he’d never understand this compulsive need to claim her.
The first time he’d laid eyes on her, she’d been but a child. Freckled nose, bare toes, and a gap toothed grin that warmed his dead soul. She’d been a frequent visitor to his home for years, and then one day she was gone. All this time he’d wondered about her, dreamed of her, fantasized about them, never once imagining she’d actually return.
“You’re a pretty girl, aren’t you?”
It took him a moment to realize she was still talking to his raven, and when he did, he took offense, cocking his head to the side in irritation. How could she possibly think he was a female? What female wore her blue-black feathers so brilliantly, he’d like to know?
“Make yourself at home, pretty girl. We have a long night ahead of us,” she paused and then turned back to the fabric bed she’d laid out, “Although I can’t say I don’t appreciate the company.”
Gideon watched her carefully pull a device from the pocket of her pants and tab at it with her fingers. After a moment she made a rather nasty noise and cursed.
“Fucking hell. No signal. Of course, I don’t know why I thought there would be.” She dropped onto her rear end on the floor and tossed the device aside as if it had offended her. “So no Candy Crush, no Netflix, no social media…what the hell am I going to do in this big old empty place all night?”
Oh how he wished he could offer her a few options.
“It’s just you and me, pretty girl. Oh, and the ghost downstairs.” She giggled, and he felt his feathers ruffle lightly at the sound. It had been so long since he’d experienced joy, would he ever feel it again? “I have a book on my ereader program I could read, but I’m not much in the mood. I’ve already explored this floor, and there’s no way I’m going back down there.”
Her eyes drifted over the walls and ceiling, taking in every cobweb and corner before they came back to rest on him. “Do ravens sing? I don’t think I’ve ever been this close to a raven before. You’re so quiet…I guess that answers my question.” She wiped her palms nervously on her thighs. “Well, I sing, and I guess tonight you can just listen. I need something to take my mind off where I am.”
The sound that came from her throat was like that of the angel’s choir, and Gideon had trouble maintaining his shift as she sang about a dream and a wish the heart makes. What kind of dreams and wishes were in his lady-love’s heart, he wondered? Did they consist of a tall, dark, and handsome ghost/raven shifter?