Saturday, June 10, 2006

Anybody want to play?

I'm bored. I've already mowed the lawn, bought a locking mailbox and helped the dh put it up, bought groceries, cooked 2 meals, cleaned the house, did the laundry--and I'm avoiding the WIP like the proverbial plague. So, anyone want to do a Round Robin? I'll start off with a paragraph or two, or three, you jump in and add as much as you want, then someone else jumps in for the next bit. We'll keep it going as long as there's interest.

For the sake of my kids' sensibilities, we'll keep it PG-13. If a post gets out of hand, I'll delete it and ban the poster, so keep it clean.

So...to start it off...

"Karen, would you hurry up? We're going to be late. You know how angry Mr. Skiles gets when we're late." Jessica Winters checked her reflection in the mirror and adjusted her Little Red Riding Hood costume. She tied the cape around her shoulders and pulled the hood over her head. She was ready for the masquerade party, right on time.She wished she could say the same for her roommate.

She loved Karen Chantal dearly, and she was grateful to her friend for helping her get a job and giving her a place to live, but her constant tardiness was irritating.Jessica didn't want to go tonight. She was tired from being on her feet all day, waiting on grumpy customers who couldn't find the right size blouse or skirt or pants. Well, it was no wonder, when they insisted they were a size twelve when they were actually a size sixteen.

To make matters worse, one of the customers complained to Mr. Skiles when Jessica continued to bring size sixteens to the dressing room. Of course, Mr. Skiles had issued his standard 'the customer is always right' lecture, right in the middle of the store in front of other customers and employees. Now she had to go to his stupid party.

She hated Halloween, she hated costume parties, and she hated Mr. Skiles. It was going to be a totally boring evening. What she really wanted was some excitement in her life. Something different. A challenge.

An adventure.

44 comments:

Tori Scott said...

"Hey, my zipper just broke, you'll have to go on without me," Karen wailed from the bedroom.

"Serve you right for going as Catwoman," Jessica muttered then chided herself for being mean.

Karen bewailed her stick-thin shape as much as Jessica cursed her curves. "You sure? I can wait," she said.

"No, go ahead. I'll switch to Plan B, the singing tomato I wore last year. Darn it, the stem tickled my ear all night long, too."

Hooboy, Mr. Skiles was going to love having a singing tomato at hisparty instead of being able to leer at Karen AKA, Catwoman, Jessica thought. Being able to witness his disappointment might make the evening worthwhile.

"Okay, I'll see you at the party."

"You got it."

Jessica gave her costume a last tug. Red Riding Hood without the
Little. What irony decreed it be the last thing the shop had that
fit? Not much to be done about it now. She slid the obligatory basket over her arm and tried an experimentl skip on her way to the door. Maybe after a glass or two of something strong.

The night was blustery and cold, making her glad of the cloak she
could pull around her as she stepped outside.

That was when she saw the wolf.

Written by Valkyrie the Bard

SheilaHolloway said...

A low growl from the man in the wolf suit made her a little weak in the knees. That was a suit. It had to be.

"You startled me," Jessica said in a breathy whisper, followed by a nervous giggle.

"My apologies, my sweet." Even his voice was low and so like the character he played.

Jessica swallowed, hard. She needed that drink or two now. However, his yellow-gold eyes held her in sway. They beckoned her to join him on this moonlit night.

valkyriethebard said...

She squared her shoulders. Not wise to chat up strange...er...wolves at any time far less after dark, even if there were other costumed people out and about, including an adorable group of trick-or-treating Munchkins. "Sorry, I'm not anybody's sweet."
"Red, then. I'll call you Red."
"Er...do I know you?"
"You should, even though our last encounter ended badly."
"I mean in the real world."
His long muzzle gaped in what she assumed was a smile. "Everybody says that. Have you any idea how demoralizing it is to be relegated to the bad guy?"
She shrugged, enjoying the conversation in spite of logic saying she should be on her way. Mr. Skiles' party hadn't grown any more appealing. Besides, if she hung around a few more minutes, Karen would be ready and they could go together. "You chose the costume, Wolfie."
The grin widened. "Wolfie. Nice." He extended a hairy paw. "I knew we'd meet on friendlier terms one day, Red."

valkyrie the bard said...

She took the offered paw, wondering which of them looked more ridiculous. He, or rather his costume, felt soft and luxurious. Whoever he was, he hadn't stinted on quality.
"Going to grandmother's house?" he asked in that chocolate-coated drawl.
"Grandmother? No, a party." Good grief, she was stammering on the strength of a pawshake. Get a grip.
"Let me guess, Gordon Skiles."
"You work for him, too?"
"In a manner of speaking. I'm his son, Christopher. I've seen you and your housemate in the store a time or two."
"Then how come I haven't seen you?"
"I don't set foot in the place unless I have to." He gave a shudder, making his gorgeous silver fur ripple in the moonlight.
She felt an uncharacteristic urge to run her hands through the silky mane. "You don't get on with your father?"
Christopher inclined his head. "Understatement of the year. He wanted me to come into the store with him, but I chose art instead." He tilted his head at the clouds scudding across the moon. "I'm not the nine-to-five type." He looked around. "I understood Karen was coming to the party."
Disappointment surged through Jessica in waves. She might have known he wasn't interested in her, but had been hanging around in hopes of escorting Karen to the party. She kept her tone cool. "She had a costume malfunction.We're meeting at your father's house later."
She expected Christopher to say he'd hang around. Instead he offered her a hairy arm. "Then we two lone wolves better travel together. You never know who's abroad tonight."

Tori Scott said...

Was this guy for real? Mr. Skiles never mentioned having a son. Must be the black sheep of the family.

But no, he was the big, bad wolf, not a sheep. And she wasn't Little Bo Peep.

Speak of the devil. Just as she had Christopher's full attention, Karen came bopping down the front steps.

"Wait for me!" she sang out from behind them. Jessica was sorely tempted to ignore her, but stopped to wait for her friend to catch up. Whoa! This was no singing tomato outfit. It was Little Bo Peep on steroids.

The outfit barely covered Karen's bottom, and the white tights emphasized her shapely legs. Jessica felt overdressed and dowdy in comparison. She might as well have dressed as the Jolly Green Giant for all the notice Christopher would give her now.

valkyrie the bard said...

At the sight of Christopher, Karen screeched to a halt. "Well, hell-llo, Mr. Wolf."

"This is Christopher, Mr. Skiles's son," Jessica explained.

Did she image it, or did Christopher extend his paw with a smidgeon of reluctance? Definitely imagination. Who'd give Red Riding Hood a second look with Bo Peep spilling out of her costume practically into his hands? "Hi Karen," he growled. The voice was still rich velvet but with a note almost of warning. Halloween is getting to you, kiddo, Jessica scolded herself.

Karen seemed oblivous. "Hi, Chris. Your dad talks about you a lot."

"None of it good, I'm sure."

Karen frowned. "Maybe a little. Is that why we never see you in the store?"

"I like the nightlife better."

He'd kept Jessica's hand tucked in his arm, resisting when she tried to pull free. "Hadn't we better get going?" she urged. The sooner to get this over with, she added mentally.

Wolfie nodded agreement. "You're right, duty calls." Gallantly he offered Karen his other arm.

Anonymous said...

From Jennie Adams:

At sight of Bo Peep, the devil in silken grey fur made a low growling sound of another kind. His eyes narrowed, a breath hissed through very life-like wolven fangs.

Karen paused mid peep, as though sensing the man, er wolf's, reaction. "Jess? Who's the were-guy? He seems to be glaring at me."

"He's not a wolf, he's the black sheep long lost son of Gordon Skiles." Jessica blurted the response, her hands still itching to bury themselves in the mane of glinting fur. She had to stop reading paranormal romances late at night.

Karen gasped.

Christopher gave a cold laugh. "Or you could just call me last year's nightmare."

Tori Scott said...

At Mr. Skiles' spooky old two-story Victorian, the door swung open to a dark, empty house. What was going on? Where were the other guests? She'd expected to see most of the store's employees there, along with the requisite dates or tagalongs.

Her skin broke out in goosebumps and the hair on the back of her neck lifted slightly as if a breeze had sprung up and whispered across her nape. A shrill cackle pierced the air and made her jump.

Karen's fingernails dug into her arm until Jessica was sure she felt blood dripping from the wound. She realized at the same time that Christopher had disappeared. One minute he'd been holding her arm, the next he was just--gone.

"It's about time you two showed up! You know I hate slovenly personal habits."

Jessica jumped at the booming voice of Mr. Skiles coming from her immediate right. She was sure no one was there. She smelled him, though. He always went heavy on the cologne, a sickening combination of musk and pine scent.

"Hello, Mr. Skiles," Karen called out from behind Jessica's back. "Where is everybody?"

A light flicked on in the entryway to reveal their boss in full werewolf disguise. He looked frighteningly real. "Everyone else is already out back. We have a tent set up. Go straight through the living room and out the patio doors. I'll be there when our last straggler shows up."

Jessica breathed a deep sigh of relief. Mr. Skiles had just been having a little fun at their expense. She grabbed Karen's hand and tugged her through the living room. When she opened the glass doors, she heard the reassuring sound of voices and tinkles of laughter. She hated to admit she'd been spooked, even for a minute. But her boss was definitely creepy.

They crossed the lawn to the tent that spread across the spacious backyard. Inside, jack o' lanterns decorated the tables while along the tent poles witches rode broomsticks that swayed in the breeze. Couples danced on a wooden dance floor to music provided by a disc jockey playing cd's. She recognized several of her coworkers and immediately felt more at ease.

Karen let go of her hand and headed across the tent, directly toward one of the newer employees from Men's Shoes. Jessica stayed where she was, just inside the entrance, and looked around, hoping to spot Christopher in the milling crowd. But only to give him a piece of her mind for running off like that, of course.

Guanna said...

"Well, hunt me down and shoot me!" said Louise in her singsong, husky voice. "I had NO idea!"

"S'all true. Juss ash someone."

Jessica knew that Louise wouldn't notice her standing just a foot or two away because there was a male in the direct vicinity. Louise was now playing eyebrow tag at Spencer Fenton's drunken lear. Louise felt that eyebrows were the true source of all things seductive. At least, that was Jessica's theory, having watched those now infamous brows do a number of acrobatics every time a man without a wedding ring walked through the door of the store.

"Jessica!" said Kathy, stumbling toward her. "Have you tried the punch? S'really gooo."

"Much as I hate to miss 'gooo' punch, I'm on a mission."

"Oooh," said Kathy. She belched. "Wassuh?"

"I'm looking for a silvery wolf."

"A'course you are! You're Little Lock Goldihood!"

"Slow down on the punch, Kathy."

"Don' mine if I do," she said, lurching back to the snack table.

A flash of silver caught Jessica's eye and she turned only to see a tail disappear through the tent flap in back.

"Well, hunt me down and shoot me!" squealed Louise.

"Don't mind if I do," murmured Jessica, heading toward the back of the tent.

valkyrie the bard said...

Leaving Louise to her hunt, Jessica plunged into the dimness between the structures, looking for Christopher. Obviously he was avoiding his father for the moment. Although why come at all in that case? And what was with the father-son costumes? Coincidence, or Christopher being deliberately provocative?

Whatever she might think of Skiles Senior, he had a wonderful place. The garden seemed to go on forever, ending in a drift of woodland beyond the circle of party lights and music.

Telling herself she wouldn't stray too far, she slipped behind an ancient cedar. The festive noises faded, muffled by the massive trunk.

A rustling to her right brought her head up. Hefting the stupid basket as her only weapon, she said, "Is anybody there?" Brilliant line, Red, she added to herself. Stop, I have a gun, would have made more sense. Except she didn't.

A shape materialized beside her, almost stopping her heart. "It's you."

"Only me, Red," he said in that delicious voice good enough to eat her with.

Now where had that thought come from?

"Will you quit scaring the life out of me?" she snapped. "Why did you disappear when your father answered the door?"

"When I saw we'd picked similar costumes. I didn't want to embarass the old fool."

So he did feel something for his dad. Never having known her own parents, she found the idea heartwarming. "That's sweet."

"You call the Big Bad Wolf sweet?" Christopher sounded pained.

"I only meant you must care for your dad a little, and that is sweet. I'm adopted so I never knew my folks. I was raised by my grandmother."

SheilaHolloway said...

Another growl from deep in Christopher's throat made the hair on her neck stand on end. Jessica got the distinct impression it was a sound of sympathy.

"How far do the woods reach?" She decided to change the subject. Too much personal information had already been exchanged.

"Quite a ways. They were my playground as a child." His breath felt warm on her neck as he leaned closer, keeping his voice low. When did he get so close?

"Oh. I can imagine you as an adventurous boy finding treasure, and battling pirates out here."

He smilled as he looked towards the expanse of woodland. "Those were the days. I had a very good time here as a pup."

Josh said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
valkyrie the bard said...

"As a pup?" The fine hairs on the back of her neck lifted. Then she laughed. "You're really into this wolf thing tonight, aren't you?"

"It's Halloween. Why wouldn't I be?"
He touched her arm, starting a fresh shiver, a more pleasant one this time. "Look, even the bats are out."

"I'm scared of bats."

"You're supposed to be scared of wolves, yet you're out in the woods with one." He stepped closer. "You say you're adopted, but you were raised by your grandmother? How is that possible?"

Hard to think straight with the woodsy smell of his breath whispering over her. "My grandmother adopted me. Days after I was born, my parents ran their car off the road after a bat swooped across their line of vision, so I never really knew them."

"Explains the fear and the anomaly," he agreed. "Poor little Red. All alone in the world."

barbara aka hotmama said...

"You know in the fairy tale there was a hunter. Do you have a boyfriend or someone that I'm cutting out?"
"No, I've sworn off dating"
"Why? Seems to me you should be busy every night."
"I had a bad experience. Most men are wolves without the costumes. Anyway this is not a date. We're just here at the same party."
"If it were a date, would you let me take you home?"
"I always go home with the date that brought me. Are you asking me to go home with you? and whose home are we talking about? Yours or mine?"

Tori Scott said...

"Well, since you have a roommate, how about we go to my den?"

"Your den? Do you mean your apartment?"

"You can call it whatever makes you feel the most comfortable." His silver fur rippled in the moonlight.

This was getting downright weird. Jessica wanted to sink her fingers into his pelt, but she was almost afraid she'd find it was real and not a costume. "Would you take off your mask so I can see your face?"

He shook his head. "Not just yet. I rather like the air of mystery, don't you?"

SheilaHolloway said...

"Air of mystery?" Jessica was beginning to get indignant.

"Yes. Don't you like a good surprise, Red?"

"Surprise, yes. Danger, no."

He chuckled. The resulting sound reverberated through her soul, low and almost menacing. If she felt apprehension before, she felt near panic now.

"Come on. Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?"

She looked for words to answer, and felt silly. This costume was good. It was just as good as anything Hollywood had ever produced. That must be the root of her current fear. After all, he was just a man. A man with golden eyes, not to mention a bristling silver coat.

Amelia Elias said...

Jessica backed away as her common sense caught up with her. "Nice talking with you, but I'm a bit hungry. That buffet looks too good to miss. I'll catch you la--"

"I wouldn't mind having a bite myself."

The low growl came from just behind her shoulder, not the too-sexy silver wolf before her. Jess spun and almost collided with a tall man she'd never seen before.

He smiled, baring a set of very-realistic fangs. "You don't mind if I have a sample, do you, little wolf? Or were you planning to do the deed yourself?"

"I beg your pardon." Jessica used her best 'stop-the-bullshit' tone. "I don't plan on doing the deed with either of you. Now if you'll excuse me."

Wolf and vampire stepped together, shoulder-to-shoulder, barring her path. The vamp slowly licked one fang in a gesture that really shouldn't have been so sensual. "Well, Red, if you won't have either of us," he purred.

"... perhaps you'd be interested in both?" Wolf finished with a decidedly predatory gleam in his golden eyes.

valkyrie the bard said...

"Fangs, but no fangs," she quipped, not sure which set she meant.

Suddenly a voice reached her through the trees. "Jess-ica, where are you."

Blessing Litte Bo Peep or Tomato or whatever for coming in search of one sheepish roomie, Jessica turned toward the voice.

Make that voices. "Jessica, this is so typically thoughtless."

Oh blast, why did Karen have to drag Mr. Skiles along? Now she'd get a lecture on being a good party guest, as well as a dressing-down on the follies of wandering off in the dark.

But they'd be right. And living dangerously was so not her usual style. She turned to let her - admirers? - know she was heading back, but neither was to be seen.

Weirder and weirder. Still, it was Halloween. A bat flapped overhead in leathery reminder, making her cringe.

"Coming, Karen," she called back. But which way? The trees seemed to be closing in, dark, forbidding, much closer together than she remembered when she'd entered the woods.

valkyrie the bard said...

Spooked by a too-convincing wolf costume, an excess of bats and a scary night, she told herself sternly, forcing herself to drag in a deep breath.

Then she turned and stifled a scream as she slammed into a hairy body, only recovering the power of speech when she glimpsed fingers under the claws grasping her arms. "Mr. Skiles. Do you and your son get off on scaring people half to death?"

She'd never seen her boss rattled, but now he shook her hard. "You've seen Christopher? Tonight?"

"Right here, before you and Karen called out to me."

"Just in time."

She tried to break free but he held her fast. "Which way did he go?"

"I'm not saying anything until you let me go. He doesn't want to see you."

"Listen here, young woman..."

"No, you listen, I've had enough of being bullied and intimidated at work. I won't stand for it in my free time, even if it costs me my job." There, she'd said it.

"What if it costs you your life?"

A chill cycled down her spine. "Is that a threat, Mr. Skiles? One scream from me and Karen will be here to witness anything else you say, so think carefully."

But his hairy paw clamped over her mouth. "You scream and they'll all come running. You're a virgin, aren't you?"

valkyrie the bard said...

She'd never thought she'd spill her deepest, most humiliating secret to Skiles of all people, but his hold made evasion impossible. She nodded.

"I knew it."

She spat out fake fur as he freed her mouth. "Do you guys belong to some weird cult?"

He barely looked at her as he scanned the woods. "You could say so. Have you heard of lycanthropy?"

"You're a werewolf?" She'd known he was a wolf, but this was too much. "That costume makes you as much a real wolf as this makes me Red Riding Hood."

"I was a wolf," he amended. "Our original name is St Kiles, an ancient Irish lineage that got above themselves, so St. Natalis cursed the males to become werewolves for seven years. I've done my turn. Now I'm retired."

"But Christopher isn't." Oh heaven the costume she'd thought so superior, was real? And she'd nearly gone off with him to his den, thinking his father was her real adversary.

"I see you're starting to understand."

She shook her head. "I don't understand any of this. I came to a party, now I find you're all undead, or whatever you call it."

"You're thinking of vampires," Mr. Skiles said, sounding distracted. "You haven't seen one around here tonight?"

"Only the one with Christopher. He got a bit predatory, but took off when you called for me."

"No, he didn't."

Jessica's eyes widened. "Karen? You look different somehow."

"So do you," her roommate agreed. "So much younger and more innocent than even I imagined. I gather all that talk about you and men was just empty talk."

"You think I like being the world's oldest virgin?" Jessica threw at her. How had the tomato costume turned so bloody looking? And why was Karen leering at her as if she'd been added to the buffet?

Mr. Skiles stepped in front of Jessica. "You can't have her, she's mine."

Like heck. Jessica's protest died aborning when she saw Karen's face contort. "She can't be. She hates your guts."

"I know," he said evenly. "I've been riding her since she joined the store, hoping she'd pack up and leave before any of you found out the truth about her."

Karen looked positively feral. "And how do you know so much about her?"

"I'm her father."

Tori Scott said...

Oh bloody hell. This couldn't be happening. She must have fallen and hit her head, and this was all some kind of weird coma-dream.

"That's it. Freak night is officially over for Red Riding Hood. I'm going home." Jessica tried to step around Mr. Skiles, but he moved with her, keeping himself between her and Karen.

"Stay where you are, Jessica. Let me handle this."

"Handle what? I don't have a clue what's happening here. You say you're my father, that Karen is a vampire, your son is a werewolf--which, by the way, would make him my brother, right? But you can't be my father. I have a perfectly good father back home in Boise. And he's certainly never been a werewolf."

"I'll explain it all later. You need to trust me."

"Trust you? I don't even like you." With that, she darted around him, and that's when all hell broke loose.

Josh said...

A slightly acrid odor, like singed fur, hung on the air of the dark woods and she glanced around almost in panic.

Where in the hell were they?

“Don’t go yet,” came a deep, hollow voice from close beside her. “It’s Halloween. Let’s make it memorable.”

She snorted. “Oh, no worry about that. It’s already been one I’ll never forget it.”

“Still, you’re ready to run from it. We could make it even more memorable, you know? If you’re willing.”

“And what would that entail? Being a midnight snack for someone. Some ... thing?”

Laura Hamby said...

Jessica peered through the darkness, trying to discern what exactly was going on.

She felt someone by her side, had heard him even, but in all the confusion that erupted around them, she couldn't be 100% sure it was Mr. Skiles. Might very well be Christopher. Or that creepy vampire friend of his.

"I feel like I've walked into a movie that's part Harry Potter, part Stephen King, and part M.Night whatever his last name is."

"Oh, but those are works of fiction."

Christopher. Not Mr. Skiles. Jessica wondered where the old man had gone too. As creepy as he made her feel, she recognized she'd been somewhat safe with him.

"This is reality."

He loomed over her.

Jessica opened her mouth to scream.

Tori Scott said...

Before she could make a sound, he was gone. Poof! Disappeared. She whirled around, trying to orient herself in the dark woods, but she had no idea which direction to take to get back to the house.

A hand clamped around her upper arm and dragged her a few feet before she dug in her heels. "What the HELL is going on? I'm not moving another step until you do some explaining, Mr. Skiles. And I quit, too, just so you know."

"You can't quit. Now that they know you're a virgin, you need my protection. I need to keep you where I can watch over you."

Oh, that was a good one. She couldn't quit? Well, he could just stand back and watch her. "Like hell I can't quit. All I have to do is not show up. Now, if you'll point the way back to the house, I'm going home."

Mr. Skiles tugged on her arm, and this time she followed him, hoping he was leading the way out of these monster-infested woods.

"You can't go back to your apartment, either. Karen is one of them. You aren't safe there. You'll have to stay with me."

"Uh, thanks, but no thanks. I can take care of myself. I have no intention of spending any more time with you."

Mr. Skiles stopped and turned her to face him. He looked different in the moonlight. He'd pulled his mask off so she could see his face, and for the first time, all she saw was concern. For her. "Jessica, I know you don't believe me, but you are my daughter. I can prove it to you, if you'll let me. Just spend the night at my house, and as soon as the party is over, we'll talk. There's someone I'd like you to meet, waiting in my office. He'll watch over you until I can clear the grounds. Would you, please, just give me this one night?"

Laura Hamby said...

Jessica heard the plea in Mr. Skiles's voice. Something about the way he said it and the look in his eye made her pay attention.

"Oh, alright," she said. She wouldn't give in gracefully. Too much had happened that night. Fear knotted itself in her stomach, holding on with an unrelenting clutch.

"I know you have no reason to trust me." Mr. Skiles led her into the house. If it weren't for the soft glow of the candles in the wall sconces, it would be just as dark inside as it was out.

"This is Killian St. Avila. For as long as my family has been cursed, his has watched over us. He's a Watcher."

"That makes a certain amount of sense." Jessica looked in the direction Killian's voice had come from. She discerned a tall shadowy shape, but that was all.

"I leave her in your charge, St. Avila."

The silence deepened. This did nothing for Jessica's peace of mind-- did nothing to make her feel better.

"She'll be safe with me," Killian promised at long last. The soft lilt of his voice strengthened.

Oh, gee. Jessica was underwhelmed with joy.

Anonymous said...

From Esther...

"Show yourself," Jessica demanded. Too much had happened tonight for her to remain in a room with someone she couldn't see.

"Why?" the disembodied voice asked.

Jessica shivered, but not from the cold. A lightheaded feeling assaulted her and she groped for a chair. Great! This was all she needed. First Christopher, and now this voice making her feel like a giddy school girl.

"Because, I'm leaving if you don't."

The silence stretched. She could feel the carving in the wood of the chair she gripped. Cool air wafted in through the windows and a slight scent of something reached her nose. Musk? No. Sandalwood? No. She hook her head. She'd read too many romances.

"You've got until the count of three," she warned. "One...,"

"You can't leave here. It's not safe."

"Two...,"

"Jessica," the voice drew her name out impatiently.

She let go of the chair and straightened. "Three. Time's up. See ya."

She turned toward the door and took one step before the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end, warning her of the presence behind her.

Laura Hamby said...

Jessica ran into a solid object. Odd, but the door had been open when she'd attempted to step through it.

She felt arms encircle her. She smelled a faint spicy cologne she couldn't place. Not that she had much experience smelling men's cologne, being a virgin and all.

"Careful now," Killian admonished. His legs brushed her thighs as he moved.

Jessica took an involuntary step backwards. Then another. Killian closed the distance between them. The intimate contact brought with it a sensation Jessica couldn't place. Couldn't recognize.

But she wanted to know more about it. Soon.

Grace Tyler said...

She stood there, savoring the unyielding male protecting her, his hard body suggesting they move on from masquerade to night games.

Hold on. This night had gotten crazy enough without contemplating losing her virginity to this stranger.

Taking a step back, Jessica let out the breath she'd been holding. When Killian made no move to stop her, she crossed the room, taking a seat in front of the flickering light of the fire. Its warmth was poor substitute for the touch of her protector.

Protector? "Just what are you protecting me from?"

"Dangers beyond your imagination." His voice rasped against her skin, giving her goosebumps.

She shivered. "The possibility of my roommate having fangs is beyond my imagination." Pulling her thin costume cloak closer, her shivering intensified. "Why is my virginity an issue?"

"Haven't you ever watched a vampire movie?" The dark shadow moved closer. "Don't worry, Jessica. I'll take care of you."

Dammit! "I don't want to be taken care of!" She glared at the shape behind her. "If my virginity is an issue, I'll just get rid of it."

"Don't even joke about it." His hand weighed heavily on her shoulder.

"It's mine to do with as I like." She wriggled her shoulders, but his grasp was inescapable, her body heavy with his influence.

"Not any longer. I'm here to protect you from these predators."

(first post eaten, grrr)

barbara aka hotmama said...

Jessica leaned back in her seat, her head spinning, and closed her eyes.
First her boss, who claimed to have been a werewolfe for seven years, said he was her father. ( that was going to take some serious thinking)
Next her room mate was a Vampire. Now how did that happen without her noticing anything at all. She wasn't really that dense and innocent was she?
Then there was Christopher, who seemed to be a real active werewolf, and supposedly Skiles son. Well if he was her brother, half or whatever, how come he was looking to snack on her, or seduce her or something?
And finally this Killian guy. He was to protect her, but he stirred feelings she wasn't too happy about.
And furthermore, when she thought that losing her virginity would just resolve the issue, he came a little unglued.
Obviously, there was something Jessica was missing. Some really big puzzle pieces were not in place.
If she was adopted (and her parents never told her) there was another dead end. And why did a bat come flying at the car window causing them to crash? Some said that Vampires could turn into bats. Was that why she was so afraid of bats? Did she see a Vampire instead of a real bat? And her reason for being a virgin was simple, she never found anyone with whom she cared enough to share herself. So that was the key but what did it mean?

Tori Scott said...

Great additions to the story so far! I have to work tomorrow, but keep 'em coming.

*ahem* Get your minds outta the gutter. :)

Grace Tyler said...

*****

"Wake up."

Jessica opened an eye, registered the stiffness of her neck, then realized she was still in Skiles' library. And the speaker was the shadowy Killian St. Avila.

After three attempts to stand, she accepted assistance from St. Avila. He lifted her from the chair where she'd slept, his hands gentle but firm against her waist. "Did you put drugs in the punch?" she murmured, rotating her shoulders inside the scratchy costume.

"What punch?" The owner of the velvet voice sounded puzzled.

Jessica rolled her eyes. "Bad joke. I feel--I don't know--thick. Drugged."

She shadow nodded. "It was necessary."

Necessary? "How do you figure?" Necessary.

"To ensure your compliance. Let me remedy the effects." He touched her shoulder, much as he had earlier, and she felt lighter. Alert.

His touch was almost like... She would have said magic, if she believed in such nonsense. It had to be attraction, she reasoned, though what she could be attracted to when she had yet to get a good look at him was beyond her reasoning.

"Come."

The fire had died down, and there were no electric lights on in the room. St. Avila disappeared into the shadows in the recesses of the library.

"Where?" she asked, feeling more than ever that she'd fallen into a fairy tale.

"It's time to rejoin Skiles. He's waiting in the Sanctuary beneath the mansion."

Meg Allison said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hippo said...

“Come.”
The voice of her mysterious protector – her Watcher – called out to her from the shadows. She felt drawn towards the sound, and carefully followed St. Avila’s path into the library. As she was walking Jessica squinted her eyes, trying to get a clear view of her surroundings, but the dim light in the room made it impossible. She couldn’t make out any details, only vague shapes of very tall and dark bookshelves, filled with books. There was a scent of old dry papers in the air, but the scent mingled with something else too. She wrinkled her nose and sniffed the air. Perhaps it was that sandalwood cologne she thought she had smelled earlier?
Jessica walked slowly towards the dark, shadowy shape of St. Avila. There were no sounds as she walked, and she could feel the luxurious thickness of the soft carpet beneath her feet. The closer she was getting to the tall man in the shadows, the slower she walked. Her previous feeling of bravery had faltered a bit. And now she was about to follow this stranger into a place he referred to as the Sanctuary. And it was beneath the mansion. Beneath. What kind of man had secret rooms beneath his home?
“Come. He is waiting for us.” St. Avila’s voice came from somewhere directly to the left of her. He was so close that she could feel his breath on her cheek. Jessica jumped, and quickly turned her head towards him, but he had retreated and taken one step back from her, so she still could not see his face, only make out his shape. How had he managed to get that near her without her even noticing?
Jessica opened her mouth to say something, but at the same time St. Avila opened a hidden door in the wall. There was a soft light shining behind it, revealing a short narrow pathway, with walls, ceilings and floors all appearing to be cut granite. A few feet into the little pathway Jessica could see the beginning of a staircase.
St. Avila motioned for her to enter through the open doorway and Jessica walked over the threshold into the other room. Behind her she heard the sound of how St. Avila closed the door.

Grace Tyler said...

gack

don't you wish you could edit your posts?

blush

Anonymous said...

St Avila descended the staircase at Jessica's side, yet she heard only the echo of her own footsteps as she trod on each granite stair. An odd, ephemeral glow ahead seemed to draw her on.

What waited at the bottom of the stairs? The lair of a wolf? A vampire's crypt? Was Skiles really her father? How could she have a werewolf brother and a secret vampire roomate? And what of the other vampire?

All three of the men, if she could call them that, had an odd, compelling effect on her. Skiles Junior. The vampire. And St Avila. But only St Avila had compelled her to sleep simply by the touch of his hand. Only St Avila made her want to do anything, anything at all, for a glimpse his face.

"I'm not sure this is such a good idea." She muttered the words and sensed St Avila's gaze on her. How could she know it was hard, determined and somehow possessive when she wasn't even looking at him? When he had yet to reveal himself to her?

Or was it that he was possessed rather than possessive? Or perhaps she was simply losing her mind.

She turned her head quickly and--oh dear God--saw his face. Saw eyes that held dark secrets and an uncanny familiarity to . . . something. Or someone. In fact, St Avila seemed to be the vampire, Skiles Junior and himself, all rolled into one. She had no idea what made her think that, but the conviction lingered.

"Who are you?" Jess asked.

He opened his mouth, perhaps to answer, perhaps to strike her dead or worse, when another voice spoke.

"Jess?" Karen called from behind them on the staircase. "Are you there?" Her tone seemed to take on a sinister quality as a shroud of mist formed at the base of the staircase and began to seep upward toward Jess and St Avila.

Anonymous said...

Previous post by Jennie Adams.

Grace Tyler said...

Jennie write more!

Someone write more! It's getting good!

valkyrie the bard said...

How could anyone call this dark, hidden place a Sanctuary? The cavern was huge, the edges lost in shadow. From the vaulted ceiling she heard mysterious fwapping sounds. Please, not bats, she prayed, then smiled grimly. As if they were her biggest worry at a time like this.

St. Avila led her to a central area where cloaked figures waited in a semi-circle. "Who are you?" Jessica demanded, glad to sound less shaken than she felt.

"Hunt me down and shoot me," came a husky-voiced response.

Jessica peered into the dimness. "Louise? Of the eyebrows?"

Louise gestured to her right. "And Spencer Fenton. And Karen, of course."

Jessica swallowed hard. "Obviously not here for the sale bargains."

"We're here for you," Louise said.

Jessica felt rather than heard St. Avila move closer. "Excuse me if I don't feel flattered. All you've done so far is terrify me out of my wits."

"No harm has come to you," Spencer added.

"Does that mean it won't?"

"Provided we keep you away from Christopher. He's your real threat."

"Mr. Skiles already told me about the wereworlf curse on their family," Jessica said. "Where is Skiles Senior anyway?"

"Making sure his son doesn't interrupt what we do here."

For the first time, Jessica noticed a stone table off to one side. A vaguely human-shaped table. "Which would be what, exactly?"

valkyrie the bard said...

Karen stepped forward. "You met Christopher's vampire friend?"

Jessica nodded. "They wanted me to go with them. I didn't bite."

"But they do," Karen said. "Christopher owes his vamp friend a long-standing debt. What better way to pay than with a nice, juicy virgin."

Jessica rolled her eyes. "Doesn't that sound like fun. Not. How come you're all so keen to save me? Aren't you a vampire too, Karen?"

"I'm a white vamp. I get to go out in daylight, live off platelets, all the good stuff. Immortality's the only downside."

Downside? Jessica thought better of arguing. At least this bunch seemed to be on her side. Although there was that table.

"How do you plan on saving me from Christopher's fangy friend?"

Louise and Fenton came forward, towing her gently but irresistably toward the table. The bats were now in Jessica's stomach, turning handsprings. Why wasn't St. Avila intervening? What a time to pull a disappearing act.

She tried to resist being stretched out on the stone surface, warm in spite of its granite looks. But when Karen stepped in to help, three against one was no contest. Clamps built into the table came around her wrists and ankles, holding her fast.

"Um, you're the good guys, right?" she asked, her voice hoarse with fear.

"All in your point of view," Louise said.

Had she backed the wrong horse? Jessica had only their word that Christopher was the real threat. But he wasn't the one tying her down and discussing her inconvenient virginity.

In horror, Jessica realized the throbbing throughout her felt good. Dear heaven she wasn't enjoying this, was she?

Any such thought vanished as Louise approached her with a strange, carved object. It looked like...no, why would they need a carved giraffe down here. Unless...

She squirmed frantically. "Oh no, you don't. I may be keen to lose it, but not to a bunch of oddballs in robes who moonlight as sales staff in my father's store."

"You accept Mr. Skiles as your father. Why not the rest?" Louise asked. "This is for your own good."
She moved closer.

"Look, if we have to do this, I'd like some choice."

Louise's eyes gleamed in the dimness. "Name your choice."

"Killian St. Avila," Jessica said on a note of desperation. At the same time, she knew she'd made exactly the right choice. "But not like this. We'll need some privacy."

Anonymous said...

Jennie Adams:

A dark wave of anger battered at Jessica's body, slammed against her mind from all sides. From all the occupants of this evil room. Her gaze searched the area frantically. She wanted help, St Avila, salvation. Anything to get her out of this predicament.

Karen moved toward her, weilding the carved giraffe ($20.95 in the Objects de Arte department)as though she intended to kybosh Jessica with it. Jessica didn't want to consider any other alternatives.

Jess screamed. The blood-curdling kind of scream that starts and builds up and never ends. Except, the scream stayed inside her head while they all descended on her, their faces contorted into grisly, determined masks.

"St Avila. Save me!" The shrieked words really left her this time. They echoed through the ugly underground cavern.

At the last moment when Jessica was on the brink of insanity, she felt a probe in her mind. An examination both cold yet warming.

It was him. It had to be St Avila.

Didn't it?

valkyrie the bard said...

"Relax, dearest, they feed on your fear," came a voice inside her head. "When you're calm, their powers weaken."

Jessica called on every resource she owned to do as bidden. "This isn't really about me, is it?" she asked Louise out loud. "This is between you and Christopher, some kind of power struggle."

She saw a look flash between them. Was that shock at her perceptiveness? And was the insight hers or Killian's? She decided she didn't care.

"You're not scaring me with any of this," she flung at them, astonished at the surge of strength she felt from within. Who was it said what you resist, persists?

"Pretending won't get you anywhere," Karen insisted, but she looked doubtful, as if she could feel Jessica's strength growing. "You're the mousy one, remember?"

"Not any more. From now on this mouse roars."

"This is St. Avila's doing," Louise said. "He's giving her strength."

"No, she's drawing on her own strength," came a resonant voice behind Louise. "If anything, this is your doing, awakening powers you had no idea Jessica possessed."

"I do?" squeaked Jessica, then more resolutely, "I do."

Without knowing why, she tested first one bond then another, gaining satisfaction as they snapped in turn.

valkyrie the bard said...

She sat up and swung her legs over the edge of the stone table, finding to her surprise that her stance was rock solid. Either Kilian St. Avila was lending her strength, or he was right and she was only now coming into her own.

She took the hand he held out to her, feeling a surge of something strong and alien enter her. "I'm no use to you any more," she told Karen and her friends.

Louise looked furious. "How can anything have changed in a few seconds? No one came near you."

"No one you saw," St. Avila murmured.

"Killian came to me in his own way," Jessica said. "I accepted him. Nothing to it really. So you and Christopher will have to work out your own problems."

"You can't do this," Louise spluttered. "It was all worked out so carefully. Karen and Christopher were to lure you here, then we wagered that whoever managed to seduce you first held power in the Lower Kingdom for the next thousand years."

Karen looked faint even for a white vampire. "Oh no, this means..."

"By your terms, I now rule the Lower Kingdom," St. Avila said. "With Jessica at my side if she chooses."

With her hand curled in his, she had no doubts. "I do choose."

"Stop this," ordered an angry voice. Mr. Skiles staggered into the circle, looking as if he'd gone a dozen rounds with an angry rottweiler. "The deal was you gave me back my daughter, and you fulfilled her wish for a night of adventure. Nobody said anything about seducing her to win a wager."

Jessica gave her father a gentle smile. "Before tonight, I would have said you'd given me both my heart's desires - to have something exciting happen in my life, and to find out whether my real parents died in that car crash."

"And now?" Mr. Skiles sounded hopeful.

"Now my desires have changed," she admitted. "I appreciate all you tried to do for me, even if for some of you, your reasons were your own. I'm also sorry that Christopher gave you a hard time."

"He won't give up," Mr. Skiles warned. "This is just the beginning. By throwing in your lot with St. Avila, you don't know what you've unleashed."

Jessica smiled up at the former watcher, her watcher and consort now. "Whatever it is, I'm sure I can handle it, with Killian's help."

He favored her with an other-worldly smile that sent ripples of sensation through her, reminding her of what she'd experience while bound to the stone table. "You'll always have my help," he assured her. "Come, my dearest, let's leave these folk to their petty squabbles. We have a kingdom to rule."
~oo0oo~

(Unless anybody has any better ideas from here. V)

Tori Scott said...

These story contributions were great. It took twists and turns I couldn't have imagined. Kudos to everyone who posted. We'll do it again soon, with a different story. Keep checking back for the next round.

Thanks!!

Tori

Nell Dixon said...

Round of applause for all the writers!