Please welcome Adam Charles back to my blog -- he's sharing a bit of his new release, Haunt Me Then.
Heath never imagined he would believe in ghosts or live in a haunted house, but that was his reality when James came into his life. He expects James to run when he learns about Malcolm, the man who died there decades ago, but instead James is intrigued. And James’s interest leads to a confession from Malcolm that makes Heath question how he really feels about his spectral roommate. As they all move forward, Heath learns a lot of things about love in ways he never thought possible.
“Let me in!”
Heath nearly jumped out of his chair and dropped his book when he heard the howling cry and the rattling of the windows. He briefly wondered if it was just his overactive imagination, set off by the storm and Wuthering Heights.
The rattle came again. “It’s so cold. Let me in!”
Heath glanced over at the French door and saw a shadow outlined against the curtain. Was he going to see Cathy’s ghost when he pulled it back? He also had a brief vision in his mind of a wide-eyed Kate Bush turning cartwheels on his lawn, but he shook that away. The voice sounded male.
Picking up his book and setting it aside, Heath rose and opened the curtains to find a soaked young man in water-spattered glasses standing there.
“Come on! Open the door!” the guy said.
Heath obeyed, even though he didn’t recognize the man. He knew it was a bad idea, but this guy was much smaller than he was, plus his handgun was just a few feet away in the bottom desk drawer. He’d also been assured that he’d always be safe in the house, though he’d never had a chance to see any proof of that.
“What is your problem, Alan? Didn’t you hear the doorbell?” the young man said as he rushed in and started shaking water everywhere.
“Well, I’m not Alan, to start with. And my doorbell is broken.”
The young man hastily wiped his glasses and put them back on. “Oh.” He turned red and stood there with his mouth open.
“You mean Alan Hathaway, right? He’s the next turn off from the main road. The one with the big rock by it.”
“Yeah, he’s my brother. My car broke down, and I got turned around in the rain.”
“Did he know you were coming? He’s out of town on some business trip. I’ve been feeding his cat.”
“He’s not there? Shit.”
“What happened to your car?”
“I don’t know. It just quit in the middle of the road. I got it onto the shoulder, just barely, and decided to walk. My phone won’t work.”
“It’s the storm. Reception can be iffy on a sunny day.”
The young man cleared his throat. “I’m James, and I’m sorry about this.”
Heath stuck out his hand. “Heath. Nice to meet you.”
They shook, and James seemed to realize he was leaving a puddle.
“Oh fuck, can I use your bathroom?” James asked.
“Sure.” He led him down the hall, turning back to say, “You know, you scared me half to death. I’m rereading Wuthering Heights right now.”
James didn’t seem to understand. “Is it scary? I thought it was a romance.”
“You never read it?”
James shook his head.
“Saw any of the movies?”
He shook his head again.
“Oh. Well, one character is dead, and her ghost appears at the window, asking to be let in and saying she’s cold. There’s a Kate Bush song, too.”
Heath turned the bathroom light on and grabbed a towel for James, looking more closely at him. He realized this had to be a younger brother of Alan’s. Much younger. He looked barely twenty-one.
“Never mind. It doesn’t matter.” That put an end to his next conversational topic, mentioning his mother had named him Heathcliff after the hero of the novel that James knew nothing about.
He’s very handsome, came the voice in Heath’s head.
Heath tried his best not to react even as his gaze took in the wet t-shirt clinging to James’s hard, lean body. Heath refused to admit to a belief in ghosts out loud even though he’d been living in a decidedly haunted house for nearly six months. Malcolm couldn’t be anything other than a ghost since Heath refused to believe in demons and there was no way this guy was an angel. Plus, there was a portrait of the supposed scoundrel in the attic with his name on it, and he’d appeared in Heath’s dreams. Heath couldn’t imagine any other entity with the powers to do such a thing, so Malcolm had to be a ghost.
Malcolm spent most of his time trying to get Heath to either jerk off or find them a “playmate”. Heath had never imagined any living person could be so horny and oversexed, much less a dead person.
Come on, Heath. Let him stay. He’s looking you over, too, Malcolm said.
James was indeed looking Heath up and down, but he averted his eyes when he was caught. “Sorry about this. Could you maybe drive me over to his place? I think I know where the key is, if he uses the fake rock I gave him, and I can show some ID.”
Heath looked out the window at the end of the hallway. “Yeah, it’s in the fake rock by the backdoor, but it’s a mess out there. You can stay here tonight, and in the morning, I can take you into town to get a tow truck and then drop you back at his place.”
James stopped drying his blond hair and stared. “Really? That’s awful nice of you.”
“Alan has mentioned his brothers, plus you do look a bit like him. And you were so surprised you obviously thought you were in the right place. Our houses do have similar exteriors. They were built around the same time. It’s fine.”
James licked his lips. “Thanks. I appreciate it.”
“I’ve only been out here once. When Alan moved in.”
“Really, it’s fine. It’s pretty dark out there. I haven’t replaced the outside lights recently. Only one works, so I don’t turn them on much.”
“You should. It’s kind of creepy out here.”
“Yeah, especially when ghostly voices come out of the night,” Heath said with a smile.
James smiled, too. “Guess so.”
Needing a distraction, Heath said, “I’ll grab you some dry things.”
“They might be a bit big.”
Heath shrugged. “I’m sure I have something with a drawstring that won’t fall right off you.” On that note, he hurried to his bedroom.
What are you doing? Get back out there and peel him out of those wet clothes.
Heath closed his door and sighed. In a low voice, he said, “Malcolm, please stop. This is not some date I’ve brought home. This is my neighbor’s brother.”
Then be a gracious host and offer to suck his cock.
Heath found a pair of running shorts he’d outgrown and a t-shirt he’d accidentally shrunk when he threw it in the dryer with his jeans. He also grabbed his half full laundry basket.
When he got back to the bathroom, he handed off the dry things and set the basket down. “Here, these should do. Just toss your wet things here. I need to do laundry anyway.” He paused. “But I can start it later if you want to shower.”
James, seemingly not shy in the least, stripped his shirt off and threw it in the basket. “A quick rinse would be great. I feel kind of sticky.”
“It’s the pine trees. Sap gets in the raindrops on the way down.”
“Ah.” James yanked his shoes off and then began on his jeans.
Heath turned away and headed back to his study. “I’ll leave you to it and come grab the basket in a bit.”
“Okay, thanks,” James said.
The door didn’t close for another minute, as if James had finished stripping with it open.
I took a peek into his head. He thinks you’re attractive. You are tall, dark, and handsome, as I keep telling you.
Heath rolled his eyes. “Please don’t do that.”
I’m just saying. He’s thinking about it.
Fucking you. Apparently he dumped some asshole who was cheating a few days ago or something along those lines. He was coming here to get out of the city and forget about his problems.
“Leave him alone. He’s a guest. Going into his head is like going through his luggage.”
Heath felt Malcolm sigh, a sensation that had scared him the first time it had happened. It was sort of like a pressure change in the whole house. Heath sat down in his armchair as he heard the rush of water that meant the shower was running. He expected Malcolm to say something else, but nothing happened. When he heard the water stop, he went and grabbed the basket and took it downstairs to the washing machine.