“Of course, of course.” Audrey Tindall shook her head and pointed at the phone. Her assistant smiled and double checked the GPS. “Dear, dear Lana, as you know I am about to film in Hollywood, but as soon as I can clear some of that from my schedule, I will be happy to fly out and sit on your couch.” She nodded as she rolled her finger. “Of course. Toodles love.” The actress hit the off button on her phone. “Bloody hell. That woman could talk the ear off a statue.” She pulled the visor down and checked her lipstick. “Make sure that the bloody agency team knows about this, but sits on the interview until I have gotten at least half my scenes done so I can pump the movie while I chit chat about Nightmare.”
“I’ll take care of that just as soon as I make sure the advance team got your kitchen stocked and tp in the bathroom.” Susan said as she made a right turn.
“And the house they are putting me up in? Is it as lovely as they say?” Audrey cracked open a water. “So hot out here. I hope the air conditioning works.”
“It’s a picture of the grand old Hollywood style. There is nothing else like it. Lots of Tiffany and hickory detailing. The kitchen is updated and the furniture looks a little retro to stick with the feel, but its all brand new.”
Audrey sighed. “I don’t understand why they are putting me up in an old house. I prefer an ocean front house with the feel of being in an IKEA catalog, all clean lines and light colored woods.”
Susan laughed. “I guess one of the producers picked it up just to put stars from other countries in so he wouldn’t have to pay for hotels. I heard he put some South Korean heartthrob in it for about a week while he was doing tests and readings. The actor bailed on the film and probably went home for some 20 episode action drama or something.” She pulled up in front of the house.
The star looked up at the house. “Why it’s lovely.” She saw the stained glass and brick. “Anyone I would know of live there?”
The assistant looked out at the house. She knew the true history of the house and worse she knew its current status, but was bound by contracts tighter than ropes. “I don’t think so. Think it was built by some doctor to the stars for his socialite wife. She had high expectations it seems or maybe he loved her that much. Shall we?” She hopped out and grabbed Audrey’s bags from the trunk. She hoped that rat hearted bastard of a producer burned in hell for this. Susan led the way to the door and unlocked it before putting the bags down.
Audrey walked through and looked around. She ran her fingers over the wood and smiled gently at the light through the stained glass. She wished her beloved Rory could have seen this. He would have likely gone looking for a spot for his games and started plotting adventure weekends for the two of them moments after entering. The actress wondered if she would ever find anyone who could awaken her heart again. “This is magnificent Susan.”
Susan came back from checking the supplies. ‘There’s several bedrooms, take your pick. Lots of supplies, but there is also an account and phone number for ordering things from one of those fancy schmancy groceries slash delis on the counter in the kitchen. Actually, there is a whole folder of stuff there. The library has a ton of books and there are DVDs in the bust thingie...pedestal in the living room.”
Audrey considered. “Sounds like you have me prepared to hunker down.”
“Definitely. There are some heavy rainstorms in the forecast and I know those are easy peasy in England, but in LA it brings out the stupid and suicidal. I think the producer just wanted you settled in before the storms rather than have to wait on them to subside and then you come in to start readings.” Susan looked around. “The revised script is due to get dropped off tomorrow. Listen...if you want something different…..”
Audrey gently gripped Susan’s arm. “Don’t worry about me love. I can entertain myself until the readings. You will be picking me up for those?”
Susan smiled. “Of course. Just pick up the phone and call if you need anything.” She frowned. “The building was like overbuilt. You might have signal dropout in some parts of the house, so I made sure there are a few landlines through the place for you. Anything else, anything else….” she trailed off looking around. She made a point not to stare at any of the cameras. “Well, if you need anything, my number and about fifty other useful numbers are in the folder.”
Audrey walked her to the door. “I’ll call if I need anything. Thank you for bringing me here Susan.”
Susan nodded. “Anything Audrey, you call. Have a wonderful day.” She got in the car and drove just a few blocks where a small production trailer huddled in a parking lot. The redhead headed in. “That is just fucked. You know how bad things were in Nightmare,” she said angrily.
John Bishop, the producer turned in his chair, the dozens of screens behind him showing a peaceful house where a Brit far from home was slowly exploring her space. “It probably won’t do anything. I’m just… its in case. That Howard woman? She says this place feeds on misery and pain. Tindall has been up to her eyeballs in that. Let’s see if anything happens.”
“What’s going to happen is she is going to sue your ass for all those cameras.” Susan crossed her arms and paced.
“Never happen. Even if she found a lawyer who could undo that itty bitty but ever so huge clause in what she signed, she would be a fool to fight the publicity train that she would be riding if something did happen. Lightning does strike twice even three times if you have the rod.” He pointed at Audrey sipping her tea as she walked from room to room. “She is the hottest rod going.”
Nora cocked her head as she looked at the woman in the library. Since getting mothering out of her system, she had been drifting. There seemed nothing to hold on to, nothing real in her long existence. The sight of this woman in the monstrously overstuffed chair and the strange animal faced bed slippers seemed real. She saw other inhabitants of the house drift through the room and dismissed the woman with the short blond hair. Their interest would only piqued when the pressure began to build. Nora lifted her handkerchief to her lips and pressed lightly. She had not felt such a thing in the presence of another woman since before her mother turned her dearest friend away for kissing her in the fern garden.
She supposed it was just all too scandalous, the young woman kissing her as a beau would, but it was a sweeter kiss than any her waste of a husband was able to muster. Nora closed her eyes. She loved her mother, but the woman was hard as a diamond when it all happened. Her friend was exiled from the home, her housekeeper mother quietly blacklisted and Nora was firmly placed on the path to a marriage suitable for the Family Bible. The woman was not a wonderful mother, but she knew how to forge suitable marriageable material. Pity she hadn’t shown any inclination to be as judgmental with her daughter’s husband to be before the wedding day. She would have found the cracks and broken that weak willed fool before it was too late.
Nora sat across from the woman and watched her. The other woman looked up as if she sensed her before shaking her head to read. Nora’s mother would have hated her posture and her ridiculous clothing, but there was something in the face that drew the socialite. A strength forged in the fires of disaster were there. Grief lived there too. The ghost reached out as if to touch that extraordinary face before pulling back. She looked to her left where she had caught sight of another, less friendly spirit. She frowned. “You all might as well find other amusements. She will be under my protection.”
Vivian smiled from the other doorway. She looked over at Moira. “How long do you think Nora will hold onto this obsession?” she asked absently. She wasn’t particularly interested in getting invested in yet another person dwelling here especially after the mess with the Korean actor and most especially when another had taken this woman under her wing. Let someone else be a hero for a bit.
Moira lifted her chin. “The obsession with children took her through over half a century. I am rather curious where this one will go.” She looked over at Vivian with a smile. “Tea?” she asked gently. Somewhere along the way Vivian had become a dear friend and Moira enjoyed when they simply sat together.
“Verbana and mint?” Vivian asked hopefully as she turned fully toward the maid.
“Of course.” The two ghosts faded from view had Nora even been watching in that direction.
Audrey brushed a tear from her eye as she finished the book by Peter Beagle. She didn’t know why she read his stories when they always wrung her out so. She pulled the necklace clear of her pajamas and slowly turned the wedding and engagement rings on the chain. When Rory died the world was catastrophically falling to pieces. Much of her grief came after she awoke days after the blood moon. The police on reviewing evidence had found she acted in all times in self defense and drifted away. While her agent hovered in the hall and sheaf after sheaf dropped out of the fax he installed in her hospital room, she wept.
Audrey turned the necklace and found the clasp. Rory would be annoyed that she didn’t take every opportunity for joy. She still loved him, but maybe it was time to try to look past the grief. She pulled off the necklace and carefully laid it on the coffee table where she could see it from the couch. She suddenly felt exhausted. She looked toward the hall where the stairs were. They felt a million miles away. She sighed.
“Coffee?” she whispered to herself. She shook her head. “I’ll be a jet lagged mess if I upend my schedule that badly.” She walked over to the shelves and slid the Beagle back in. The actress ran her fingers along the shelf. It stopped over a title that she had read for an audio book company not so very long ago.. She remembered it with great fondness. “Mansfield Park,” she said happily as she drew it off the shelf.
“One of my favorites,” Nora said happily.
“About thirty years ago...“ she read aloud, soon settling into the rhythm she used to record the story.
Nora sat nearby with a gentle smile and closed her eyes until the voice faded. She looked to see Audrey asleep on the couch, the book almost dropping from her hand. The ghost removed the book and placed it on the coffee table beside the necklace. She crouched beside the couch and placed the woman’s feet on it, removing the slippers as she did so. She gave a harsh laugh. “Were my mother to see this, she would do terrible things to me and worse to you.” She stood and shook out the blanket on the back of the couch before gently pulling it over the actress. “You read that beautifully. I hope you will read more soon.” She turned to go. She stopped and pressed the small handkerchief to her lips. Turning, she crouched again, this time close to Audrey’s head. She almost touched her cheek. She shook her head at her own timidity. The socialite’s fingers ghosted the actress’s cheek as she leaned in and pressed a gentle kiss to living lips. She smiled at the quiet moan of the dreaming woman and left as unobtrusively as she came.
Comments are appreciated. :)
Audrey stretched. The sleep on the couch was unexpectedly refreshing. Her mouth was dry as dirt from reading aloud for so long without water but it was nice. When the words rolled like that, she felt as if she were surrounded by all the people who would ever hear the audio. She supposed that no one would hear what she read last night but it nevertheless felt like she had an appreciative audience. Pulling on her slippers and replacing the blanket she’s apparently pulled over herself in the night, she padded to the kitchen.
“Bloody nice kitchen,” she muttered as she looked around. She was completely baffled by the pasta arm and hung a kitchen towel over it before moving to the over large refrigerator. She pulled out a juice and poured it and made a piece of toast. Sitting at the kitchen island on a stool, she ate and looked through the window at a grey sky. It appeared the weather everyone was bracing for was beginning to roll in. She stood up and went to get dressed. The script would arrive before the rain, with luck. In the meantime she would make sure everything else was sorted. God only knew what the little producer bunnies thought would pass for real food for a week.
Audrey entered the hall to see a blonde woman in the wavy cap hair of a 1920s McCalls or Vogue cover girl. She carried herself in an erect and correct and extraordinarily feminine way that period actresses only seemed to hint at these days. Her face lit and shadowed by the panels of Tiffany glass made Audrey’s heart react with a start and double thump. “Hello, are you here to deliver the script?” she finally managed.
Nora turned with a gentle smile. Her finger extended and touched a blue green panel. “This just matches my eyes.”
Audrey stepped closer and looked. “It does,” she said quietly.
Nora turned and looked at it sadly. “The restoration work they’ve done in this area makes me very happy, but the kitchen distresses me so.”
“Why is that?” the British actress asked wondering what this woman knew of the house.
Nora raised the handkerchief to her lips a moment as she took a breath to still her quiver of uncertainty. How Mother and her worthless husband would laugh to see her so. She turned and stepped closer to the actress still wearing animal slippers and a look of confusion. “Change is particularly difficult as one learns to accept the limitations of existence in one very long today.” She searched Audrey’s eyes. “I do hope you will read again. You’ve a voice that touches the very heart.”
Audrey’s breath caught as the handkerchief touched her own lip. Nora smiled. “A bit of crumb,” she explained in a gentle tone.
The actress’s eyes moved toward the library as she struggled with what Nora said. Her eyes came back to find the woman gone. She turned left and right searching for a sign of the woman.
She swallowed hard and staggered back. “Oh no,” she whispered. “Not again.” She headed for the front door only to stand dead still with her hand on it. Her breath was ragged as she leaned in. Her eyes closed. “Bloody hell,” she whispered. Her heart pounded. She was terrified of facing the terror of the blood moon again but this couldn’t be that, could it? A gentle woman with eyes that glowed that beautiful shade of Tiffany glass could not be the same as the Butcher, not the same as that pig man in the dark. She got her trembling under control. There was no blood moon here. This was not that. She drew herself up and slowly walked up the stairs to change for the day.
The doorbell rang and Audrey hurried down the stairs pulling on her sweater. “Hold your bloody horses,” she muttered when the bell rang again. Opening the door she found a young man with a messenger bag. Beyond him, the rain had begun in earnest. He held out a clipboard.
Audrey signed and accepted the package. She smiled as the young man held out a hand. “Come in a moment, while I find my money.” Letting him stand gawking at the front hall, she got her purse.
Bob the delivery guy looked at the fixtures. He could make book off this place. He enjoyed picking up little antiques from these places and the rich bitches rarely remembered what they had. His eyes lit on a small sculpture. He looked at the woman with the fancy schmancy accent digging through a large bag and swiftly unlocked a window. He’d be back.
Susan frowned as she brought her boss coffee. He was leaning into the bank of screens with a smile dancing at the edge of his lip. “What’s going on?”
Bishop accepted the coffee without even looking at it. He chuckled. “Our girl might be a little messed up by Nightmare. Caught her talking to a wall before almost running out of the house and now.… The studio messenger just made it easy to break in later.” He sipped and grimaced. Susan always added too many chocolate shavings.
Susan leaned in and watched the oblivious star hand the delivery guy a tip and usher him out. “I’ll call the cops on him.” She pulled out her phone only to have it taken out of her hand.
“And what would they charge him with? Leave it. He breaks in then we have him for something and we’ll come up with a reason for you to be in the house at that exact moment. Besides…” he said zooming in. “It’s good to give her another thing to react to. She is cracking just a smidge right now. We want to see everything she can bring to this. That’s where the production company can sell commercial space for mega bucks.” He looked over at Susan who was looking very concerned. “Don’t get a jelly belly. The movie is going to be pure gold, anything we get here is the platinum that will pay off that insane school loan of yours. Get on board.”
Audrey pulled her highlighter pack from her overnight bag and brought it downstairs. Passing a window, she saw the soil darken in spots with the first light raindrops. Puffing out a breath, she descended to the kitchen and opened the folder. The food in the kitchen was adequate, but if the inclement weather was unlikely to turn for several days, perhaps she should indulge herself before the more conservative delivery drivers grounded themselves. “What a bloody nuisance,” she muttered. “Who doesn’t know how to drive in rain. Now...I am actually getting pretty Marvin. A BLT from the deli or something more exotic….”
Eventually, she worked out she had enough supplies to make a million sandwiches, and so settled on Chinese food. As she waited, she took out her highlighters, using yellow for lines and orange for actions. From time to time, she looked toward the hall with a smile. The woman from the hall, correction, the ghost from the hall was heavily on her mind. It was difficult, knowing the house was haunted, but it didn’t seem so bad that it was haunted by such a sweet ghost with beautiful eyes.
She answered the door with a smile and collected the food bringing it back to the kitchen. She found Nora there looking the script over curiously. Audrey started unbagging the food. “You never told me your name,” she said calmly even as her heart triple thumped at the thought of talking once again with a dead person. The actress moved over to the second drawer and pulled out a fork. She was competent with chopsticks, but knowing that she was talking with someone who was dead was enough to make her hand shake.
Nora looked up and smiled. “A British accent?” she asked as she placed her finger on her spot in the script. “I heard a few when I traveled to Boston for finishing school.” She looked at the white containers now occupying much of the counter. “My name is Nora, Nora Montgomery.”
Audrey smiled and gestured to the food. “I’m Audrey and I can make you a plate if you’d like. Do you eat?” She opened a cupboard and waited for the ghost’s reply.
Nora was truly touched and her face showed it. She pressed her handkerchief to her lips and smiled. “Truly a lady.” She came to stand beside Audrey and reached up for plates. “I do not ordinarily indulge, but I must accept when the company is so very charming.” Placing the plates, she drew out a fork of her own and sat down. “You will have to explain this food, I’m afraid. I have seen much Chinese over the years, but have neither the inclination or perhaps courage to try any.”
Smiling with pleasure, Audrey was soon describing the food and in some cases the first occasion on which she had eaten it. There was a lovely warmth in spending a meal time with a new friend that she had almost forgotten. She looked forward to hearing more from Nora herself.
Mikey Bamberg looked through the glass. The room was empty and smiling, he slipped into the old house. He sneered at some of the furnishings. It may have been expensive at whatever boutique furnishing store the rich bitch shopped at but most wouldn’t have netted him a dime from his fence. Snagging the small statue he had seen earlier, he looked up at the laughter from the kitchen. He could just make out the back of the rich bitch’s head. Correction, crazy rich bitch who was talking to herself.. He decided to head down to the basement first since things in storage in basements were not missed for a million years. He could always head up later.
He poked through a few plastic tubs before spotting a velvet covered case. He smiled and drew it down. Opening it he found silver dinnerware. “Cha-ching,” he said quietly. His fence wouldn’t touch this but he knew of a collector’s forum that creamed for sets like this. He loaded the case into his backpack before re-slinging it. He started scouring the other shelves. A pair of red eyes watched him. Mikey turned to look for more goodies and saw an Asian guy standing nearby. ‘Dude. I will split the profits,” he offered reaching for the zip gun he kept for would be partners. The tiny converted cap gun slid free of his belt as the man came into the light.
The Asian man cocked his head as the gun pointed in his direction. He opened his mouth as if to scream, opened it wide, wider, the jaw stretched down as the stump of a torn off arm came into view. Mikey’s guts went to water and the gun dropped nervelessly from his fingers. He turned to run to find something obviously spit up from the bowels of hell behind him. A scream tried to rip out of his throat but was stopped by his throat being ripped out.
Thaddeus ran his fingers over his meal and smiled his strange unnatural toothy smile as he leaned his chin on Mike’s chest to watch the blood burbling from the thief’s throat. He happily latched on to the fountain as if it were a park water fountain and he had just been out playing in the sun and the grass. He smiled happily.
The Korean action star watched as the little abomination devoured the thief with the strange joy that made him want to burn the thing. He crouched down and studied it. He was a wisp yet, weak in his newness as a ghost. He longed to destroy that which destroyed him and to that end watched everything.
“Damn it!” Bishop smashed his fist down on a tabletop. Susan the assistant came up from behind and peered at the many screens looking for what had him so upset. She spotted Audrey chatting with air in the kitchen and … nothing. She looked to him curiously. “That fucking little thief went in the basement not upstairs,” he explained. “I figured the basement would be too creepy for a Nightmare survivor so focused on the rest of the house. That little shit went down there and I think he found a way out down there because the piece of crap didn’t come up.” He growled. “Maybe I should send you in to plant some down there.”
“Fuck that Bishop. I know the stories. I wouldn’t go in a creepy ass basement in a normal house much less the Murder House.” She saw his look. “Don’t start. You would have to pay me a shit ton more to get me to be anywhere in there if I don’t need to be.”
John hit the tabletop again. “Fine! I’m gonna take a dump. Watch the screens,” he commanded as he headed for the bathroom.
“Fucking jerk,” she muttered as she zoomed on Audrey. Honestly, Susan was considering a career in fast food at this point.
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Nora watched with a gentle smile as Audrey explained the concept and a rather convoluted history of chop suey. The actress at some point had added her voice to some documentary or another on the history of favorite take out foods and was informative and enthusiastic in her retelling. She sampled the food in question. Raised on an entirely different diet, she was not immediately enamored, but it had an intriguing something about it. She dabbed her lips.
Audrey chuckled. “Are you bored?”
“Good lord no. I have been learning ever so much. Chop Suey is kitchen sink and Mu Shu is lovely but extraordinarily messy.” Nora smiled. “It has been ever so long since I have had such an enjoyable afternoon.” She sighed and closed her eyes. “And listen to the sound of rain against the glass. A waltz around the Victrola as the rain fell…” She touched her lips with the cloth as she drifted on the feeling of peace that was so very rare for her.
“Is that what you used to do? Dance on rainy afternoons?” Audrey sipped her wine.
Nora gave a breathy chuckle. “Oh dear. It was when I was a girl. My friend Elizabeth Marlowe and I would go to the greenhouse of my mother’s home near Boston. We would practice dancing as it rained beyond the glass. So very magical.” Her face darkened. “My poor mad husband was far too busy in his lab to ever enjoy such simple pleasures.”
Audrey saw the change on the woman’s face and stood to offer her hand. “I may not have a Victrola but there is a perfectly serviceable CD player and likely some waltzes in the musical selections available.”
Nora’s head cocked and smiled up at the Brit. “So very kind.” She took the offered hand and they made their way to the library. Audrey pushed a few pieces of furniture around and selecting a disc, slid it in the machine. She stood before the ghost and held out her arms as if she were going to lead. She smiled in an echo of that lovely wisp of a wistful smile that Nora gave.
As her ghostly companion’s hand folded over hers and a hand landed featherlight on her shoulder, Audrey Tindall led the first waltz she’d danced since her wedding. Nora’s face smoothed in an expression of absolute peace as they slowly danced to the low music and lower music upon the panes. When the ghost’s eyes closed and her lips upturned even as a tear rolled down, Audrey wondered if Nora was allowing herself to be in that long distant past. She didn’t begrudge it. Nora had died far too young. She thought briefly of asking how, but didn’t wish to steal even a moment of that peace from her companion’s face.
Nora opened her eyes to find Audrey watching her. “You are most light on your feet Audrey Tindall. Would that I had been so gifted when I was learning. I was quite clumsy and often raised my mother’s ire. It was only Elizabeth’s tutoring that helped me to become acceptable.”
“You are more than acceptable Nora. You are light as a feather yourself,” Audrey complemented.
Fingers lifted from her shoulder and brushed Audrey’s jaw. They stopped in their dance in that sweet moment. Audrey felt her whole self rise in awareness of this woman and her touch. Even Rory did not kindle such a warm and delightful fire in her with just a touch. Nora drew her fingers back and pressed her handkerchief to her lips. “I must go for a bit. Forgive me.” Nora stepped back half a step to collect herself. Her mother would be so dismayed with her.
Audrey drew a shaky breath. “Nothing to forgive. Do you… wish me still to read this evening?” she asked earnestly. She so wanted to spend time with this spirit again and reached for what drew them together.
Nora let out a breath. Her smile was breathtaking. “Oh. That would be so pleasant. Thank you.”
Audrey touched her arm. “Just… could I see you tonight? I would like to be able to see you when I read to you.” She smiled. “I could study my script until this evening and then read from where I left off last night.”
Nora gave a slow nod of acceptance and acknowledgement. “Until then.” She pressed the cloth to her lips again and faded.
Audrey sighed happily and rearranged the furniture before heading back to the kitchen to study and continue her feast. She believed that this house was turning into an extraordinary blessing.
Nora smiled and hummed a waltz as she turned and stepped in the basement. She swept in a slow circling dance. She saw the eyes on her and crouched smiling. “Hello Thaddeus.”
The creature that her madman of a husband had created from the pieces of her child came from the deepest shadows of the furnace in the basement, crawling slowly like a dog kicked once too often. She smiled sadly as she dabbed at the blood of his lipless mouth. “Such a messy eater child,” she chided affectionately. Thaddeus rolled his shoulders in pleasure like a cat at an affectionate stroking. Nora sighed and extended a hand that was accepted hesitantly.
Leading the creature to a corner that had a cradle and a rocker, she sat and guided Thaddeus to her lap. “I was perhaps not the mother you deserved,” she observed. “I am too much my mother’s daughter.” She smiled as the creature lay its head on her shoulder and gave a low purr. Though she had it in her mind to simply look in on the child, she found herself slowly rocking the chair and stroking what little hair was left on the head that once belonged to her baby.
Dr. Montgomery woke from his eternal flitting in and out of existence to see his wife enjoying a rare maternal moment. He sneered. He sought her acceptance and admiration so long and it was all in vain. He wanted so to hurt her back and he wanted her approval. It was untenable. It was the reason why he so infrequently surfaced. He watched as an Asian man in a strange fashion perched on the edge of the furnace and stared with glittering dark eyes.
Susan shook her jacket as she hopped onto the front porch of the old house. She chewed her lip grimly as she ran through her half-assed plan yet again. She knocked at the door, tentatively at first, then harder. Her boss was an amazing thing, a metric ton of shit stuffed in a skin suit. The assistant jumped as the door cracked open.
Audrey smiled at the young woman who had brought her to this house. “Susan. How good to see you.” She looked past the assistant to take in the rain and then back to the dripping assistant. “I thought only crazies and suicidals took to the streets in the rain in Los Angeles.” The actress opened the door wider. “Come on in. I’ll get you a towel and then you can tell me what brings you out on such a wet day.”
Taking a towel out of the small closet in the lower bathroom, she found Susan still dripping in the front hall. She was chewing at her lip and rubbernecking. “What are you looking for Susan?” Audrey asked as she handed over the towel.
Susan shook her head. “Trying to remember where the door to the basement is. The producer sent me by for a couple of boxes he had stored down there.”
“That explains it. You are neither suicidal nor crazy, just a good dedicated employee.” Audrey pointed. “The basement is that way. Would you like a hot coffee before you go down there?”
Susan gave a weak chuckle. “If by dedicated you mean don’t want to get fired.” She gave herself a quick wipe. “I need to get those boxes back to the chief. I… are you okay? I know this place can get a little spooky when it's all atmospheric like this.” She watched Audrey from under her lashes. She couldn’t afford to let the cat out of the bag but she wanted to be sure that Audrey knew there was someone on her side.
Audrey shook her head. “I’ve kept myself busy. It’s a lovely house. I am glad to have the opportunity to stay here.”
“Okay...I… okay.” Susan gave a tight smile. “Headed down. If I get lost, just yell a few times so I can home in.” She was scared spitless about going into the belly of the beast, but the boss wanted cameras down there, even if they were less hi-def than the ones above. She slowly lowered herself down the stairs looking around. She spotted the sole basement camera and started circling the space. She felt eyes on her and turned constantly looking for them. She grabbed a couple of small random boxes and put up a few cameras before pounding back up the stairs.
Audrey’s eyes rounded as Susan blew out of the door and stood panting. “Are you alright Susan?” She asked almost reaching out for her shoulder but holding back afraid to startle the young woman further.
Susan waved her off. “I have a thing about basements. I…” She lowered her head and tried to get her breathing under control. “Okay. I am okay. Dark. Yes. Scary. Yes. Black molds. Probably. I lived. I’m okay.”
The actress’s eyebrows rose at the stream of words. “I’d offer the coffee again, but I believe your heart would explode.”
Susan looked at her before chuckling. “Yes. I have to go anyway. Boss’ll kill me slow if I don’t get back.”
Audrey’s head cocked as she waved at the woman retreating back into the rain. As the door slammed shut she remarked, “I suppose trusses and glass balls could be important...to someone… for some reason.” She sipped at her mug and shrugged. “Old markings I suppose.” She padded to the library to pull out the Jane Austen. Curling her arm, she held it to her chest as she wandered over to the windows. The water slipping down the surface evoked the dance she had so enjoyed before.
Nora watched the woman looking out into the world. “It will do wonders for the grass I suppose.” She smiled to see the book and touched its cover. “Ready for me already?” She was truly touched to see that Audrey was prepared to read to her again.
The actress smiled at the light that shown her companion. Her fingers reached out and lightly touched the ghost’s cheek as if to reassure herself that she was not going mad to be seeing this woman and feeling such affection for her.
The fingers touching Nora’s cheek were warm and full of life. Even Elizabeth never evoked such a wave of feelings with a simple touch. Nora captured the fingers as Audrey began to pull them back. She looked the actress in the eye as she pressed her lips to the woman’s knuckles. “You are most kind Audrey Tindall. You have lifted my heart.”
Audrey saw something in Nora’s eyes and moved closer to gently press her lips to the ghost’s. She was constantly surprised in how very alive this woman felt. Warm lips moved against hers as Nora pressed her still captured hand to her heart.
A tear pressed from the edge of Nora’s eyelids to feel that sweet pressure. Some cold place deep within her cracked at the touch of warm breath over her lips. Her fingers tightened on Audrey’s own as she dared to touch that petal soft lip with the barest touch of her tongue. She whispered an “oh” to feel Audrey move closer and brush their lips over and over before stepping back.
Nora smiled and touched the actress’s cheek. She moved to her favorite chair. She wished to explore the world of kissing this woman further and experience all that she could from those lips, but she was not given to jumping in and would simply savor their time, not rushing and perhaps missing something beautiful.
Audrey watched Nora a moment. The ghost was of a far different time and knew that she cared enough to let the spirit dictate the pace. She moved her own chair closer and began to read. She smiled happily to see a hand rest on her own as the story progressed.
The producer shook his head in his mounting frustration. He ran his fingers back to reset his man bun as he watched the actress read to her imaginary friend in the cozy little library of the haunted house. “Why can’t she be the violent kind of crazy. This quiet talking to non existent people thing is boring and what the hell is she reading? A Tale of Two Woes is Me?” He wanted to go over to the house and shake some fear into Audrey.
Susan sighed quietly. “Sounds like Jane Austen.” She was trying very hard to stay respectful, but her boss could be something of a bonehead at times. This whole plan for an illegal documentary was stupid to the extreme and she wanted to thump him back to his senses.
He growled shaking his head. “Fucking fru fru liberal arts shit’ll never sell in the Midwest market. We need some tears…. Or she could piss herself. I can work with that.” He turned off most of the monitors. “I seriously need a drunk and to pass out in a pool of my own vomit. Keep an eye on her til I get back.” He grabbed his fanny pack and headed out without waiting for a word from Susan.
The assistant rubbed her temple and reached for a bottle of Ibuprofen. “And still an upgrade from personal assistant to an A lister.” The only way for this situation to become more tenable was to have it succeed completely or fail spectacularly. She wondered if there was a way she could cue the actress on the screen without losing her job. She had to put her mind to how to get Audrey to find the hidden cameras.
Audrey put the marker in the book, fingers lightly stroking the ribbon that made her think of her companion’s eyes. She licked her lips as she felt the quiet presence of Nora beside her. She put the book on the table and nervously straightened it. She was attracted to the other woman but she was still having trouble with the idea that she had died long before Audrey had been born. She smiled as her spinning brain worked out a simple truth... She knew about ghosts that played with little girls, ghosts who killed and ghosts who whored with married men. She could deal with this. The starlet looked over at Nora.
The ghost’s lips curled up in a smile as their eyes met and held. “You have a lovely reading voice Audrey.” Her hand tightened on the actress’s. “I enjoyed that.” Enjoyed didn’t cover the range of her feelings in the presence of the other woman.
Audrey took Nora’s other hand and drew her closer. “Your company brought out the best in me.” Her lips pressed against Nora’s and her fingers came up to run through Nora’s hair. Suddenly the blood drained from her face and she pulled back slightly as she felt her fingers slide past the edge of the wavy blonde hair to feel a cliff of broken bone. A fraction of a moment passed and she pulled herself together before she gave a smile. Conversation that needs to take place, but much much later. She kissed Nora again her hand sliding around Nora’s waist instead of risking touching the shattered bone.
Nora felt Audrey’s warmth and closed her eyes, drowning in her sweet scent of wildflowers. Her lips brushed against Audrey’s before drifting along the actress’s jaw. Her lips pulled lightly at an earlobe. “Hold me,” she whispered as she felt her loneliness melt like ice. Before or during her marriage or her far too long death, never, ever had she ever felt such things.
Audrey stood drawing Nora up with her. She breathed out as they naturally drew close and then together, hip to hip, lips inches apart. “My room. We can both fit better, lay back, talk.” She hesitated. “Kiss… more,” she breathed out as Nora’s fingers lightly pressed against her stomach as if to assure her of their reality.
Nora considered a half of a moment only. “I believe I would like that Audrey..” She smiled and ran her fingertips over Audrey’s lips, brushing over them, outlining them. “Such beautiful lips.” She leaned in for another kiss. It had been so long since her heart had beat so and she felt like she was flying. Their lips parted and Audrey’s breath ghosting over her lips filled her with such warmth.
Audrey took her hands, winding their fingers together and backed up, first one step, then a second. She didn’t want to break eye contact for a moment for fear that the lovely ghost walking with her would vanish like morning mist. She settled her arm around Nora’s as they climbed the stairs and found their way to her room despite the way her feelings for a dead woman were clouding her mind.
The actress turned on the light as they passed through the doorway. The light falling through Tiffany glass made the room feel peaceful like the edge of one of those deep forest ponds with stones covered in moss and gentle splashes of life. Audrey guided Nora to the bed. The ghost sat and removed her shoes before slowly sliding back, watching the other woman.
Audrey removed her own shoes and lay along the edge the bed, smiling as Nora’s head joined hers on the pillow. Her eyes slid shut as those oh so gentle fingers again explored her face and neck. She sucked in a breath as Nora’s lips pressed against her sensitive throat.
Nora put her head back on the pillow and watched Audrey. No one had made her want to come out of her shell in so very long and she wanted the actress to touch her in return. As Audrey’s eyes opened on her again, she whispered, “Kiss me.”
Audrey guided her to her back and settled herself over the ghost on the bed. She fell into Nora’s eyes before their lips met and held over and over. She groaned as Nora’s tongue timidly stroked her lip. Her hips shifted slightly at the intensity of the effect of Nora’s kiss. Their lips parted and joined again, hunger growing more apparent with each touch.
Audrey smiled as she stretched. Opening her eyes she looked for the woman who had made love to her in the night. The other side of the expansive bed was rumpled but vacant. She frowned and looked around the room to see a mad scientist fellow standing at the foot of the bed staring at her like she was an interesting specimen. Her breath became ragged as the fear that had hovered at her edges since Roanoke came roaring to life. She slowly pressed herself up to a sitting position against the head of the bed. “Who are you?” she whispered.
The Doctor cocked his head, his eyes dark between the mask and the surgical cap. He appeared to be puzzling her out before he simply vanished.
Audrey’s hands were shaking as she stood unsteadily. Her toes curled into the rug beside the bed as she took first one breath, then another. As if at some unheard signal, she unfroze and went into action. Swiftly pulling on clothes, she headed for the stairs, holding onto the banister to ground herself as she flew madly down. She was feeling weak in the knees and dropped to the hardwood floor. She curled up at the end of the banister, frightened of the idea that the past had found her again. “Not Roanoke, not Roanoke,” she whispered. She pressed her eyes against her knees. She was beyond terrified, half in LA, half in Roanoke. Nora, Nora she could deal with. Crazy mental doctor freaks she could not deal with. Her heart was tearing her chest with insane beating.
Vivian materialized a few feet away, looking to Moira in the doorway. “Find Nora,” she whispered. When the maid disappeared, the red head looked at Audrey with pity. The fear was palpable. ‘Shhh shhh shhhh.” She edged forward slightly. “No one is going to hurt you here,” she crooned. She hated the pain and fear that curled around every person who entered this house. Audrey struck her as kind, not deserving of a Murder House special.
Audrey’s head shot up suddenly and seeing some woman she didn’t know kneeling nearby, she scooted backwards trying to get distance. “Who are you? What do you want?” she cried out. The woman in the silk shirt raised her hands trying to calm her. Her breathing was growing worse as her fear ramped up and she passed out.
Vivian breathed out a slow breath. She went over to the unconscious woman and dragged her awkwardly to the couch. “Ghosts couldn’t get super strength or any of that crap,” she groused under her breath. An awkward lift later and Audrey was laid out. Vivian bit her lip. She remembered the horror she felt as the darkness of the house was revealed.. It was hard seeing others face that.
Nora appeared with Moira in tow. “What did you do?” she said sharply. She sat on the edge of the couch and pulled the thin blanket over Audrey. Nora anxiously checked the woman out. “She’s cold. What did you do?” she asked frantically. There was a look of fear on her own face.
Moira gave Vivian a look. “The poor dear was having a panic attack all the way down the stairs. I would surmise that someone less friendly than we are made an appearance and frightened the girl silly.”
“Maybe PTSD. She happen to mention a trauma?” Vivian asked, her husband’s background showing.
Nora stroked back Audrey’s hair. She caught a twitch in the other woman’s face. Waving off the other two she leaned in. “Audrey,” she said gently never even noticing Vivian and Moira fading from view. All of her attention was on the pale woman laying on the couch.
Audrey woke with a start and immediately tried to fight down the still cycling fear. Her fingers curled into Nora’s skirt. “He… He was watching me while I slept,” she said hoarsely. She curled into the other woman even knowing on one level she was a ghost too.
Nora frowned. “Who did you see?” Her hand stroked Audrey’s short hair and over her back. The woman in her arms was still trembling. She curled her arms tighter around the actress. Whoever made Audrey afraid would soon learn that Nora Montgomery was not a woman to cross.
Audrey whispered “He looked like a mad scientist.” She shivered. Creepers were bad enough when they were living. Creepers of the dead variety were very very bad.
“Charles,” Nora responded angrily. She stilled a moment and tried to calm herself. She could little serve her frightened lover by exploding. She would wait until she had him alone. The last time she acted on such a strong feeling of revulsion for her husband, she blew his brains out. With both of them dead, it made an adequate response just a bit more difficult.
“Who?” Audrey asked lifting her head. Her brow knit. “You know him?” Her hands curled into her lover’s finding her strength again in Nora’s presence.
Nora nodded. “He was my husband. A fool, a weakling, a madman.”
Audrey considered her words. “Would he… would he hurt me?” she asked in a small voice.
Gently, Nora took Audrey’s chin and raised her eyes to her own. “I will not allow you to come to harm love. Even if Charles had an ounce of gumption, he is incapable of more than looking fierce. I will take care of you Audrey. You are safe with me.”
Audrey felt faith in Nora as she had not felt since Rory. She squeezed Nora’s hands. She wanted to run like her ass was on fire, but Nora was here and she didn’t want to go without her. She needed to face her demons from Roanoke so she could stand up here in LA. She needed to know that she could deal and that she could lean on the ghost as crazy as that sounded even in her head. It was time to find out more.
“Tell me Nora…. How did you die?” she finally, quietly asked.
Vivian cocked her head and sighed. “Oh dear,” she said grimly. She was still heart sore for the latest subject of the darkness swirling in this house and now a further complication reared its head.
Moira offered her one of the two mugs she held. “Vivian?” She looked upward but failed to spot whatever Vivian was looking at.
“It appears our guest is being surveilled. I caught a glint earlier in the kitchen, but the sun went behind a cloud so I couldn’t narrow down where it came from. I was looking up thinking about it because it just bothered me and spotted that.” She pointed up toward a shadowed corner of the hall. A camera lens was just visible if one knew where to look.
Moira frowned. “Are they filming us?” she asked as she moved closer. Cameras had gotten a lot less intrusive since her own time in the world. She sipped at her tea and wondered what the camera was recording and where it was stored without a huge box for the tape to be stuck in.
Vivian sighed. “Unlikely. If they suspected we were wandering around, Billie Dean Howard would already be here trying to chat us up with a ghost hunter squad in matching tshirts following behind her.” She sucked in a breath. “Audrey. They are watching her and they have to think she is losing her mind by now.” She felt anger slow boiling for the kind of callous bastards who could put someone through life in a murder house with cameras.
“How could they see the way she was after running into Dr. Montgomery and not help her?” Moira asked frowning.
“Reality TV is big business. The bigger the train wreck, the more money and a TV star that is talking and dancing and who knows what else with thin air? Train wrecks don’t get bigger.” Vivian sipped at her tea. “Why do you suppose they picked her?”
Moira looked into the library where Audrey sat with her hands folded into Nora’s as they talked. “She seems pretty accepting of a relationship with a dead woman.”
Vivian handed the mug to Moira. “Let’s find out.” She entered the library and cleared her throat. Audrey jumped up her eyes wide. Nora stepped in front of the frightened woman, whose face grew more upset at the site of her lover’s shattered skull. She was still adjusting to the dead lover aspect of her situation.
Vivian held up her hands. “I come in peace. I need to borrow Audrey.” She was tired of people coming into the house and paying for it with their lives. If someone was recording it? She was deeply pissed.
“For what purpose?” Nora asked sharply. Vivian was one of the more pacific ghosts, but Nora was still in hackles up mode after seeing how traumatized Audrey was by her husband.
“You’re a ghost too,” Audrey whispered.
“Like Casper but I have style and class. Why are you being videotaped Audrey?” Vivian asked her hands on her hips.
Audrey shook her head. “Why am I what?”
Nora looked from one to the other. “What is videotape?”
Audrey looked at the puzzled ghost. “Trouble with a capital T.” She looked at Vivian. “Show me.” She grabbed a compact out of her bag on the table and opened. No sense giving away the fact she knew. She used the mirror to locate the camera. Her eyes slid closed. It looked like a basic unit, no sound, hopefully. She leaned on the banister and sighed. “Did everyone but me know this place was haunted?” she asked in an undertone.
Vivian sat on the stairs. “Yes. I didn’t know when I got here, but this is a stop on a murder tour due to the deaths and haunted happenings over the years.”
Nora looked at the two women on the staircase. “I don’t understand.”
“I was trapped on a property with a bunch of homicidal ghosts and about a thousand cameras. Unlike the others who were with me, I survived.” Audrey lowered her forehead to the wood. “They killed Rory and the others, but it made great television so who the fuck cared?” she said dryly.
Moira blew out a breath. “I realize that we are the inhabitants of the house least likely to embrace this thought, but the callous bastards who would put you through this again for ‘great television’ need to pay for it… a lot.”
Vivian nodded. “I hate the idea of adding mayhem to a Murder House, but I want to do something very 80s horror to these people.” She moved over so Moira could sit with her.
Nora looked from the shattered looking woman clinging to the banister to the other two ghosts. “I understood approximately half of what you all are talking about, but I made a pledge to protect Audrey and if I understand that half correctly, I will need to take care of this.” She was beginning to feel fury at the idea that someone outside the house was causing her lover this defeated feeling.
Vivian frowned. “This affects all of us.” She looked to Audrey. “You didn’t give permission for this?”
“Not in so many words, but contracts can be a little tricky when you are in need of employment before your shine begins to wear off.” Audrey felt Nora’s hand rubbing small circles on her back. She smiled. “Thank you love.” She sighed. “I need to find the other cameras. I want to see whether any of them record sound. This one in here is a real basic one.”
Vivian looked up. “I don’t like venomous assholes. Let Moira and I look. The question will be what to do after we find them.”
Audrey sighed again. She lifted her head. “I am starting to get mad. For now, scout. Plan when I am pissed off enough not to care about consequences. Please let me know if there are rooms without cameras. I want some fucking privacy so I can explain the other half to Nora. and then we plot.”
Vivian smiled. “You aren’t beat yet Audrey,” she said patting Audrey’s hand.
Nora looked at Audrey, still sitting on the stairs, staring at the front door, pointedly ignoring the camera. That her lover had been traumatized horribly and then put in the same sort of situation to do it all again made her angry beyond measure. “So these barbarians wish you to be driven mad.” She looked up at the camera. “Let them come into this house and they will suffer,” she pledged.
Audrey rubbed her eyes and slowly stood. “This is what the industry’s become,” she said tiredly. “I need to eat.” She walked slowly back to the kitchen. She pulled out some sandwich fixings and began throwing them together. She had been so stupid to think that they had wanted her for her talents, not her fear. She leaned heavily into the counter and stared down at the sandwich. She stepped down on the trash container’s foot pedal and tossed the sandwich. The actress drew herself onto a stool,
“Some days I wished I had died in Roanoke. Today I think I did and this is my Roanoke nightmare. Bloody hell.” Audrey took a long slow breath. “There it is,” she said quietly.
“There is what?” Nora asked as she slowly circled her hand on Audrey’s back.
“I think my rage is waking up.” She turned to Nora. “Everyone thought the ghosts were the bad guys at Roanoke. Producers then and now. I don’t know what to do.”
Nora took her hand. “Do they not see the ghosts on their cameras?”
“They may see or they may think I’m talking to myself. I think the latter though. They win either way, but they would be morons to lose an opportunity to send in a ghost squad if they could see.” She moved across the kitchen and busied herself with the coffee maker. “You told me Thaddeus isn’t a ghost earlier. Tell me more.”
Nora sat across from her. “My poor mad husband reconstructed him after the kidnappers…” She looked away and swallowed. “The kidnappers did terrible things to Thaddeus and Charles brought him back. He is not a ghost. He is not a little boy either.” She looked sad. “Sometimes, I look at him and wish that Charles had let him go. Other times, I remember the boy he used to be.”
Audrey looked down at the counter. “He is...dangerous.” She knew from personal experience that a haunted location could be full of dangers and a Frankenstein child created by some necromantic mad scientist could well top that list.
Nora looked at Audrey. “He will never be a danger to you.” It was important to her that the actress understood that.
The actress looked up. “Will you take me to meet him?” She wondered at the dark thoughts that sped through her brain, but it was a thousand times better than the blind unreasoning fear she felt on seeing Charles the first time. The producers sowed the wind, she so wanted to see what they reaped.
“May I ask why?” Nora frowned.
“Your family is important to me. Plus, he may be the key to punishing the producer who is trying to turn me into a sideshow.”
Nora smiled, understanding at last. “My family is your family. Your grudge is mine.”
Audrey smiled back and reached across to stroke Nora’s cheek. “Thank you for everything love.” She knew that there were serious issues with falling in love with a ghost but here she was. After Rory died she didn’t think she could feel period, but Nora opened her eyes to more.
Nora smiled and standing, came around to draw Audrey up. “The others are camera hunting and Thaddeus is a much less...rambunctious boy in the evenings. Perhaps we might find something else to occupy our time.” Her fingers stroked down the actress’s side in a teasing hint. She leaned into Audrey, her cheek brushing the other woman’s.
Audrey kissed her lover, her lips teasing Nora’s as if to draw her further out. “I’m grabbing a broom. If there is a camera in the bedroom, I am knocking it down and destroying it.” She said in a low tone. There was an edge of danger in her directed at that bastard Bishop as well as his cameras.
Nora nodded. “An excellent plan. I wonder what they made of any footage they already have.”
“Probably pornos.” Audrey responded dryly. She picked up the broom and guided Nora to the bedroom with her hand at the small of Nora’s back. She echoed her lover’s smile. They walked slowly up the stairs.
Susan frowned and leaned into the monitors. “I think she knows.” She caught Audrey slowly circling the master bedroom just before the camera went out. She tried to reboot the feed and found it still dead. “She must have knocked out the camera.” she noted quietly. She was very unhappy with the idea that the kind woman had been made aware the duplicitous producer’s crap. This could not end well.
Bishop rolled from where he had going over his storyboard. He looked at the dead monitor and shooed Susan to the side as he tapped into the computer. He did exactly the same thing she had just done before standing up and looking at the monitor. He smashed the corner of the monitor with his fist and looked at it expectantly. “Must be the camera,” he summed up with a distracted air.
Susan rolled her eyes. “Expert opinion. What do you want to do?”
“Only a little time before we start filming the real project. We have enough footage of her humping air to make a decent teaser for the side project. I might go in after we get her going to the set, but for now it’s not worth the time investment.” He turned to look at her. “You could go in sooner,” he added with a smile.
Audrey watched from a nearby chair as Nora cradled her monster boy and hummed. The ghost was a Norman Rockwell painting of domestic bliss. The actress had been terrified at first, but soon settled down as she watched the sweet picture of mother and child under the image of ghost and monster. She eased herself close to the rocking chair sitting in the dim light of the basement, in which they were relaxed together. The only sign that they registered how close she had drawn was the way the boy’s purr had become a warning growl.
Nora stopped rocking and lowered her head slightly as she drew the boy’s face up . “Thaddeus,” she said firmly. “This is Audrey. You will not hurt her. She is with me. Love her as you would me” she chided, her fingers stroking his back. She was never the best of mothers, but it was like her capacity for love had finally been found and there was enough to share with Audrey but also with her poor child who still looked at her with such love and trust even after everything.
Thaddeus’s dark eyes turned back to Audrey , his head cocking as he gazed at her. . He slowly reached out his strange hand as any small child attempting to get attention from an adult without words.
Audrey leaned forward and touched her hand to his. She clasped the cold digits as she crouched to meet his eyes. “A pleasure to meet you Thaddeus,” she said in a carefully calm voice. She gave a gentle smile that drew a wide open mouth of razor teeth that she could only hope was his smile. She showed feigned fearlessness by keeping their hands clasped a moment longer.
Nora stroked her son’s thready hair before using her free hand to draw her lover closer. “My lovelies,” she said sweetly. She felt at peace as she had not since she was very young.
A face emerged from the darkness of the basement. The actor’s ghost’s eyes sparked with hatred as his body twisted into something born for fear and death . Someone needed to die. He crept closer with a snarl frozen on his twisted, once handsome face.
Thaddeus’s purr again rose to a quiet growl as he heard the popping of the ghost’s twisting body . Audrey followed his eyes. “Oh. That’s the Korean actor.” she said astonished by the matter of fact tone she managed. She wondered if Thaddeus had been the one to kill him. She astonished herself with her different way of feeling about all of this as opposed to her Roanoke frame of mind. Her fingers moved on Nora’s in love and gratitude for a new kind of strength.
“Too new to know what he’s courting,” Vivian observed from the doorway. She smiled softly at the all too strange picture of a family made in hell. “We found all of the cameras. Only three have sound.” There was enough evil in this place without some ass hat manufacturing it.
Nora’s chin lifted. “That is three too many. Should we destroy them?” she asked Audrey , deferring to her lover’s knowledge of such things.
Audrey frowned. “We need to bring them in. Kill the cameras. Kill them all. ” They might send a tech or some other flying monkey to start, but sooner or later the fellow responsible will come.”
Nora gently put Thaddeus on the ground. “Go play Thaddeus. We may have a snack for you later.” She gave him a pat and watched as he picked up a wooden duck and absently played with it even as he watched the interloper actor in the shadows pace.
Vivian sucked in a breath. “I used to do milk and cookies, but producer ass hat snacks ? More power to you.” She headed to the shelf and withdrew a bat. “Batter up.” she said smashing the end into the camera she spotted there.
Audrey patted Thaddeus gently on the shoulder. “Good boy,” she said as she headed up. After a year of faking it, her spine was returning.
Thaddeus mewed quietly as they left. He growled and stalked the actor in the shadows. No former meal would hurt his mommy or his Audrey. He gave what passed for his smile and he pounced.
Susan stood up as cameras darkened in every corner of the house, all in the space of a couple minutes. "Bishop! The cameras are all dead." She frowned and tapped at the keyboard trying to get an update on their condition.
John Bishop swiveled his chair and pushed past Susan to stare. "With the storm system still mucking us around it could be a power out." He frowned and turned the assistant. "Go find out."
"What if she found out?" Susan asked tensely.
John looked at the screen. He tapped on his console and reviewed a couple minutes of footage in fast forward. "That one had juice just a minute ago. I am not seeing a ladder being dragged over to it. No way she got to it without a ladder. Go check on her."
Susan cursed under her breath as she drew on her raincoat. She had a very bad feeling about all of this. Palming the car keys, she headed out into the miserable grey day and wished she had never gotten into the industry.
Hopping onto the porch, she drew down the hood of her jacket. Even under its protection she found herself in soggy clothes. She knocked timidly and jumped slightly when the door opened. Audrey smiled at her. “Susan. You are drenched. Come in. I was just about to make cocoa.”
She slowly entered and pulled her coat off to put on the coat tree in the entry. Taking a step, Susan heard a crunch. She looked down and moved her foot. Glass. Camera lens. She looked up at Audrey who tsked. “I really should have cleaned that up.” Something struck Susan from behind and she fell.
Audrey looked at Vivian who passed her bat to Moira. “One of the ass hat's flying monkeys?” she asked.
Nora frowned. “Flying monkeys?”
Audrey looked down. “Assistant.” She looked at Nora. “Maybe we should consider asking her questions about her boss.”
Nora crouched. “I think we can arrange things so questions will not be necessary. It will make a mess.”
Moira smiled. “I have just the thing.”
Susan struggled to open her eyes, cracking them caused her head to throb heavily. She felt strange and then, as she tried to wipe her eyes, afraid. Opening her eyes wide she struggled against the ropes binding her upside to the hook in the basement ceiling, her wrists chafing as she struggled to pull her hands from the bindings She stilled as she heard a growl, far too close. The assistant’s bladder nearly released in her fear. Her heart pounded wildly and she struggled for breath as dark eyes met her own as Thaddeus moved in from the shadows. He crouched and his mouth opened showing fangs in his own kind of smile. Susan whimpered. She was in Hell.
Audrey smiled as she placed a chair in front of Susan and sat looking for all the world as if she were there for tea and cookies. She didn’t say a word as the woman stared at the small monster boy inches from her face, sniffing her. She wondered how many years of the assistant’s life passed before her eyes. “Thaddeus,” she said opening her arms for the madman’s version of a small boy.
The monster boy touched Susan’s face with chill, damp, dead feeling fingers eliciting a scream before he climbed into Audrey’s lap and began purring, his forehead leaning into her throat as he watched the bound woman.
The assistant finally tore her gaze from the pale beast and focused on the face of the actress. “Audrey! Audrey! Untie me,” she pleaded, already feeling greater fear in the calm on the other woman’s face. She struggled to free her hands, the struggles causing her to swing. She stopped to catch her breath and try to get past the fierce nausea.
The starlet looked from the boy in her lap to the woman suspended. “I would but you have been such a naughty girl.” Her chin jerked to the shelves. “That camera for example.”
Susan looked, her throat moving with the big, dry swallow. Her eyes were round as she looked back. “Audrey. Don’t do anything you’ll regret. You’re a good person. I know you are. Please let me go. I’ll testify for you about the cameras, I swear.” She feared the darkness of the house and the stress of her previous brush with death had somehow broken the actress, but she had to get through. She couldn’t die like this.
Audrey looked at Nora standing behind Susan with love in her eyes. “Did you watch the show Susan? Return to Roanoke?” she asked with an unnatural even tone. She was grateful for Nora who smiled at her, accepting her as is from her fear and gradually rising darkness to her love and core light.
“What? Yeah. Everyone did.” Susan tried to swing around to see what was behind her.
“You know about Rory, about…” she sighed, pulling her eyes from Nora to look at the frightened woman dangling. “There were so many of us trusting that the rational world was the only one. Live by the rules. Work hard. Dream big. Trust that the things bumping under your bed was just that bad bit of cheese you ate.” She looked at Susan. “Roanoke was the irrational and I found true fear. What I didn’t realize was that an affinity was born too.”
Susan began to struggle wildly as she realized just how much trouble she was in. “Audrey! Listen to me. You need to talk to a shrink. That’s all. You’ve been stuck in this crazy house with… Whatever that thing is and….” Her mouth clapped shut at the look that flared briefly in the actress’s eyes.
Audrey put down Thaddeus and crouched in front of Susan, looking her in the eye. “Thaddeus is a good boy. You are a bad girl. Perhaps I should give you to him to play with.” She looked as if she were considering whether to have tacos or Chinese for lunch.
Susan swung wildly. “No. It wasn’t me. Bishop did this. Bishop wanted to film you in a ghost house. Please Audrey.” She half spun seeing far more feet than she should see in this room, her bladder finally released and she sobbed.
Audrey looked at the assistant for a long moment. “Moira was right Nora. Only a little mess this way.” She pulled Susan’s phone out of her jacket pocket. “Get him here and when he’s come, I’ll untie you.” She looked at the numbers and pressed 3 before putting it to Susan’s ear.
Susan closed her eyes and tried not to sound like she was crying or afraid of dying. “Bishop. I...I hate your voicemail. You need to get to the house. You are about three inches from losing your career.” She jerked her chin.
Audrey closed the phone and watched as Thaddeus playfully pushed Susan’s forehead, sending her swinging slightly. “Thaddeus,” she chided. “Would you like to raid the refrigerator while your mother and I spend some quality time together while we wait?” She smiled as he nodded shyly. Taking his hand, she led him up the stairs.
Nora came around and looked at a thin ray of sun trying to slice through the darkness of the room. Susan gasped at the appearance of the ghost, especially the back of her head. Nora came around and sat in the rocking chair. “I suppose I should thank you and this Bishop for the opportunity to meet Audrey. She is...exquisite.” She leaned forward in the chair. “Thank you for that. As for your part in inducing trauma in a woman for whom I have great fondness,” She briefly pressed a handkerchief to her lips. “I find myself quite enraged.” She sighed. “Unfortunately, Susan was it? I feel certain that Audrey believes you to be more of a loose end and so would be wroth were I to do as I find myself tempted. I will simply do this…” She looked into the dark recesses of the basement. “I believe she worked for the man who housed you here.” She left as the sounds of popping joints came from the darkness of the basement. Nora closed the basement door on a scream.
Audrey let out a slow breath as she watched Thaddeus tear into the packages of meat on the floor, occasionally beating the floor happily with a lid. Moments like this, it was easy to see the child he had been. Her heart swelled with affection. Moira smiled and crouched nearby, but not too nearby as the boy still had not accepted her as he had his Audrey. “Thaddeus. I am Moira and I’ll sit with you for awhile if you like. I have some old toys of yours from the attic.” The woman with the auburn hair cocked her head and smiled.
The boy looked to Audrey who nodded. “Moira and Vivian are…” she searched for the word she wanted. “Consider them your aunts. You mind them, Thaddeus.”
Vivian chuckled as Thaddeus sucked his finger for a moment before sliding an empty meat container to Moira who bounced it on the tile as he had done with the lid. Vivian walked over to stand beside Audrey. “Are you positive you want to keep going this way Audrey? I get it. I want to kill him and I can’t be seen if I don’t want to be. Just… Its not going to be easy out there in the world when this is done.”
Audrey looked at Vivian for a long time. “I’ve been wondering if the world is where I want to be anymore. If not Bishop, it would be someone else. I would leave my heart in this house if I left anyway.”
“Nora,” Vivian confirmed quietly.
Vivian squeezed the living woman’s shoulder. “Moira and I will make sure he doesn’t go down to eat our guest. You and Nora go and decompress a little before the next round of mayhem.”
Audrey’s eyes automatically found Nora’s as she entered the kitchen. The ghost looked at her son sitting and banging on the floor with Moira and then found Audrey again. Her smile grew and she pressed a handkerchief to her lips before she walked around the island to join Vivian and Audrey.
“He is…” Nora fell short of finding words. Her child was troubled and scarred and half animal, but he blossomed in a short time. The monster was there in every aspect of him, but so was the boy and he was wonderful. She suddenly found herself wondering what might have been if she had not given him over to the nanny when he fussed.
Audrey smiled. “He has a good heart.”
“And sharp teeth,” Vivian noted. She looked back at the other two. Cardinal rule- Never make jokes about a child with the mothers nearby. She smiled. “Like I was telling Audrey, we will keep the little man busy for a little while. It’s been a tough day and I bet you two could use some time to chat.”
Nora folded her fingers in Audrey’s. Her thumb lightly stroked the actress’s soft skin. They walked slowly to the library and sat close together on the couch. “What is it that you wish to do to this Bishop?” the blonde ghost asked the thoughtful looking living woman.
Audrey looked at the patch of light on the floor. “I want him to pay. He was playing on my fear and my pain to make a buck and I want him to pay in blood and fear.” She gave a bitter laugh. “I don’t know when this blood thirst crept in. Maybe it’s this house.” She shook her head. “No. The darkness was here. I just tried to fake it.” Her head hung.
Nora pulled her love into her arms. “What will you do… after?” she asked quietly.
The actress pulled back and ran her fingertips along Nora’s jaw. “I don’t know how this will end, but I want it to end here with you.” She leaned forward, sliding her cheek on Nora’s before her lips brushed feather light against the ghost’s. A small sigh at the rightness that clicked within her and her lips found Nora’s again.
Nora’s fingertips ran down Audrey’s body, awakening the nerves as she nibbled and tasted the petal soft lips of the actress. She smiled as Audrey’s fingers stroked along her thigh. So forward but this was Nora’s Audrey and forward was just the way she liked it. Nora pulled back slightly to unbutton the front of the actress’s shirt. Her fingers brushed along the edges of the lacy bra she exposed. Looking up, Nora found herself falling into the other woman’s gaze.
Audrey pushed Nora back into the sofa, her thigh pressing into the ghost’s mound as she kissed her lover. She thrilled at the way Nora slid her hand over Audrey’s stomach, then breasts as their lips came together again and again. Her fingers slid over Nora’s garters and then upwards, smiling as she felt how wet the ghost already was. The breathless ‘oh’ from the ghost made her feel happy.
The two woman rocked together again and again as they explored one another as well as they might without fully undressing. Audrey’s fingers sliding over Nora’s clit caused the taller woman to arch under her. The slick wetness eased the way as those fingers pressed deep and slow. Audrey nipped Nora’s throat in her excitement at the ghost’s beautiful responses. If she had forever it would not be enough of this magnificent woman.
Nora rocked against her lover’s fingers as they invaded over and over. Her hand freed Audrey’s breasts and tweaked her nipple, having learned the Englishwoman’s fondness for it. Her leg slid around Audrey’s to lock her in position. She was not about to let her love get away.
The sun slowly withdrew from the library as they lovingly explored one another. They were in a world of their own.
Bishop frowned and pulled his phone from his ear. Hitting a button, he listened to the message again. “If that little bitch said something to Tindall or her attorney, she will never work in this town again.”
If anyone wants to find me I'm thusspokeraven on Tumblr. I'm not on there often, but I do check messages. :)
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Vivian sighed as she heard the doorbell. She put the wooden duck down in front of the monster boy. Moira leaned in. “Stay here Thaddeus.” She rose. “I will answer the door. You get to interrupt their…” her lips twitched. “Chat.”
Viv rose and brushed off her knees. “Chicken,” she muttered.
“Bwak,” Moira responded as she headed for the front door.
Rolling her eyes, Vivian knocked on the library door and cracked it. “Bishop’s here.” She gave a grin as she heard scrambling noises from inside the room. She looked up as the returning storm cracked over the house. “Nice weather for it,” she said conversationally.
John Bishop frowned at the rain coming down like hammers just beyond the porch. He turned to see a saucy redhead in a sexy little maid uniform open the door and lean on the doorframe. She looked him up and down. “Mmmm, it appears you’ve arrived.” She looked past him to the rain. “I do so like it hard.” she observed.
Bishop turned back with a smile. “I don’t remember hiring a maid for Audrey.” He moved in closer.
Moira came onto the porch and slid his coat off before stepping back into the house. “I’m a friend of hers, helping her out.”
His eyes rolled down her body again. “Helping her out?” Bishop’s smirk said a thousand words on what he thought she was helping with.
“Naughty boy. I can hear those thoughts,” she purred as she walked sensuously down the hall. “Stay put. Audrey’s just a bit disheveled. She will come shortly.”
Vivian laughed. She watched as Moira made herself invisible to living eyes beyond those of Audrey. “If the front of his pants tented any more, they could double as a yurt.” She squeezed her friend’s shoulder. “I hope Audrey’s worked out her play.”
“If not,” Moira said peering at the preening producer “I might be able to come up with a few ideas.”
Audrey stepped out of the library and looked at the producer. “Tea?” she asked gruffly as she walked past him to head for the kitchen.
“Coffee.” He followed closely. He frowned as he heard a scuttling noise. Bishop looked around and saw only a wooden duck sitting in the kitchen. “What’s with the duck?”
“The woman I am head over heels for has a child. That is his duck.” She put a mug in front of John. “Instant, I’m afraid. The espresso machine is a bit of a conundrum.”
He nodded. “A dyke. We can use that in the press for the show.”
“Which one? The one I signed up for or your little candid camera thing?” she asked as she leaned into the counter. She smiled as his face changed colors. “I am betting that I could take pretty much everything you have and make you completely toxic in the business.”
He put down the mug carefully. “The contract is quite…”
“A load of horseshit and you know it Mr. Bishop.” Audrey kept her voice at its most British crisp knowing it put most people off balance in a situation like this. “I have a feeling if this gets as far as the courts, there will be a line around the block to first take you to court and then to kick your arse to the curb for alienating talent.”
Bishop deflated a little. “I’ll destroy the footage.”
“You sir, will do a great deal more than that.” She smiled. “Beginning with giving me this house.”
“You’re nuts. Do you know what a property around here is worth even with this history?”
Audrey looked at him evenly. “Bring me the papers signed and notarized tomorrow night in person Mr. Bishop and I may still consider doing your little project. Fail in any respect, and you will be developing photos at a chain store.”
--Six months later--
Stan leaned back with a smile. “And all of that leads us to the latest installment of this tragic property. Six months ago, the up and coming producer John Bishop was found by police on the front lawn of the Murder House, his hair white and his body covered in self inflicted scratches. He was gibbering on about wooden ducks and leech children as he waved the torn off arm of his former assistant at police. Did he see something in the house that drove him mad? Is that why he signed over the house the day prior? Did he fear the darkness of… the Murder House.”
Audrey chuckled as the tour bus moved on. She smiled at her Nora. “That really never gets old.” She smiled as her hand was tugged. Crouching down, she was face to face with Thaddeus whose face was covered in blood. “Who’s my good boy? Did you catch that nasty rat?” She lifted him up.
“Perhaps we should give him a bath.” Nora offered stroking his thin hair eliciting a purr.
Audrey drew her in and gave her a kiss. Nora moaned as their tongues brushed lightly. Pulling back, Audrey turned back to the boy. “Go find your boat Thaddeus.” He scampered off.
The two women wrapped around one another. One living, one dead, one true heart between them. This wasn’t the fairy tale they dreamed of as girls, but this was all the happy ever two women living in Hell needed.
I really enjoyed writing this. I hope you all enjoyed reading it.
If anyone wants to find me I'm thusspokeraven on Tumblr. I'm not on there often, but I do check messages. :)
Kudos and comments fuel me. Prompts welcomed.