“Hide in the oven?” The disbelief filling Brett’s voice made Shiloh think he wasn’t taking her seriously, even as a faint shuffling floated down the staircase towards them from one of the rooms upstairs.
“Do you have a better idea?” His muscles shifted under her hands as he shrugged and Shiloh made a concerted effort to loosen her grip. Not again, she thought. I won’t be hurt again.
Brett sighed before stepping back from the stairs. “Okay, so what are we going to do? Just stand around down here and let whatever’s up there scare us every time it -”
Shiloh gave a little shriek and leaped forward when a chair flew across the upper landing. Her whole body was trembling with fear, and he turned her away from the staircase, looking up the stairs again with narrowed eyes. “What the hell is up there?”
“I don’t – I don’t…” Shiloh’s voice shook with the effort to bring her breathing back under control. When another loud bang echoed through the space, she pulled closer to him, gripping his shirt in her fists and turning her face into his chest.
Running a hand across her hair in an effort to console her, he laid his head against hers. “It’s okay, Shiloh,” he said. “I’m right here with you.”
A full five minutes passed before Shiloh was brave enough to lift her head from the safety of her stronger counterpart and look up at him. “So, do you believe in ghosts now?”
He grinned. “I never said I didn’t.” He smoothed a piece of hair away from her face. “Are you going upstairs with me now?”
Shiloh blanched. “Are you kidding me?” Pushing off his chest, she stepped back. “You’re seriously still going up there?”
“Yes. I need to go investigate and make sure some squatter isn’t up there. You coming up, or would you rather wait down here?” Brett cocked his head to the side, waiting for her response.
Jesus Christ. The guy was crazy. That’s all there was to it. His bravado was going to get him killed by some angry ghost waiting upstairs to chop off his head. Or worse, inhabit his body and kill Shiloh. She swallowed. “I just…I don’t see the point in going up to check this out, Brett. I mean, look. Hello!” she called up the stairs, waiting a beat for a sound. “See? Nothing.”
Brett wasn’t convinced. “Are you coming upstairs or not?”
After a moment of indecision, Shiloh scuttled after him towards the stairs. She glanced over her shoulder as thunder clapped and ran square into his back with a grunt. “The hell you stopping for?”
“I’m trying to listen if you’ll quiet down.” Sticking her tongue out at his back, she waited. “Okay,” he said. “Let’s go.”
The stairs creaked under their feet, each flash of lightning from outside illuminating the ominous corners of the upper landing. Shiloh swallowed as she crested the stairs on Brett’s heels. Four doors greeted them: three bedrooms and one bathroom. The chair lay, crippled and broken, against the far wall.
Shiloh blindly reached out and grabbed for Brett’s hand. He glanced down at her fingers before giving them a squeeze and leading her forward. Terror and adrenaline surged through her, enhancing her senses. Every creak made her jump; every shadow was someone reaching for her.
Her breaths came in short spurts as they entered the first room. The air suffocated her with its thick hands and Shiloh couldn’t help but look over her shoulder, expecting to see a foreboding person staring at her. “I don’t like this room, Brett.”
“Your hands just got so cold,” he replied.
“Well, I -” She didn’t expect the cold chill to wash down her back, making her shiver and forcing goose bumps to erupt down her skin. And she sure as hell didn’t expect the slight shift in her hair.
“Shiloh,” said a faint whisper.
“Holy fuck,” she yelled, jolting forward while Brett watched her with wide eyes. “Holy – Oh, my god. Did you hear that? Did you – Oh, my god.” She frantically brushed at her hair, trying to get the crawling feeling out of the strands. “Damn it, I’m out of here.”
Shiloh bolted down the stairs, taking the steps three at a time until she burst out of the front door into the pelting rain. Brett grabbed her arm and she snapped back against him. “What the hell, Shiloh?” he yelled over the roaring winds.
“It said my name.”
He searched her face for a moment, unsure of whether to believe her. “Okay. Well, we have to get out of this weather.” He pointed to the excavator, the closest shelter that wasn’t part of the abandoned landscape. “Let’s go.”
Bracing against the wind and driving rain, they climbed into the cab. Hail pinged off the cold metal of the machine, creating a loud echo inside. Shiloh backed against a door, shivering. “What happened in there?” Brett gave up on wringing out his shirt and stripped it off in the hopes dry skin would be warmer than his wet shirt.
Shiloh tried to avoid staring at his well toned torso. “There was something in the house. It said my name.”
“Said your name.”
“That’s what I said,” she snapped, looking over at him finally. He wasn’t mocking or laughing; his expression was curious.
“Maybe it wants to take you out.” A fleeting grin crossed his features, quickly suppressed at her scathing glare.
“Wouldn’t that be romantic?” Shiloh rolled her eyes. “I want to go home.”
“Oh no you don’t. You signed a contract.” Brett watched a muscle flex in her jaw, knowing full well the former VP of a financial firm would never renege on a contract. “We’re going to find that diamond, come hell or high water.”
“But if -”
“If nothing. Nothing’s going to get you so long as I’m here.” He tilted her chin up as she looked down. “I promise.”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep.”
Here's the other flashers for the week. Don't forget to drop by theirs, too:
Julie Hayes M/M
Heather Lin M/F
LM Brown M/M
Victoria Blisse M/F
Sui Lynn M/M
Lily Sawyer M/M