From the wandering mind of Tamela Buhrke
The tips of her high-heeled shoes inched past the edge of the window sill. If she hadn’t been so busy fighting against the movement of her body, she would have found the view below quite lovely. Like a pastoral painting.
Soon, it would be a scene from a horror movie. Her body impaled. Her blood dripping down the black rod-iron fence, soaking the Louisiana earth.
“It doesn’t hurt as much as you’d think,” the ghost whispered. The sound slithered across her skin, making it tighten with goosebumps.
It didn’t have to hurt at all, she tried to yell. Her throat constricted. Her jaw convulsed. But her mouth, like the rest of her body, was under the control of someone else.
How? How had she missed the signs?
Cassy knew how.
The last two novels she’d sent to her agent had come back scrawled in pen, red and angry. She was losing her edge. So when she’d heard the stories of this abandoned old mansion, she’d gone. She'd thought she'd find inspiration for her latest Southern romance. The local folklore had painted a particularly dark story of love, misunderstanding and betrayal—ending with a suicide. A woman throwing herself from the attic window.
Cassy thought she'd write it with a happier ending. A tension-filled romance was just what her career needed.
Imagine her delight, when she’d discovered the ghost. Her frail form hovered near the window. The ghost had been relieved. Relieved to have someone who could listen to her tragedy.
Cassy had spent weeks talking to the ghost. Writing the details in her laptop. The story was even better than she’d hoped. The family had practiced voodoo. Evidence of it was packed in several of the trunks she’d unpacked in the attic. Feathers. Bones. Blood. With each trunk opened, the ghost had become more agitated.
“At first, I thought it would be nice to have company."
Cassy's hand gripped the window frame. She barely heard the ghost's mutterings as she concentrated on how to stay alive.
"But then I realized what would happen.... Why didn’t you leave it alone? I begged you,” the ghost whined like a teapot on high boil. “I warned you.”
She had indeed. After every writing session the ghost had told her not to come again. Warned her that the house held danger.
Cassie’s toes inched farther off the edge. A bead of sweat curled it’s way down her spine. The pounding of her heart filled her ears, making rational thought impossible. Her head looked down. The ground seemed so far away. Filled with too many sharp objects. The blood-stained dress caught the breeze, pressing itself against her trembling legs.
The damned dress.
Her stomach clenched, pushing a shriek of laughter up through her heart, causing her whole body to convulse until it finally vomited from her mouth like gun fire.
She’d found the dress in the last trunk. Impulsively, she pulled it out. The flowing fabric was stiff with blood, yet still it was lovely. Red and bright as the dress Rhett had been forced Scarlett to wear—a symbol of her impropriety.
Cassie was overcome with the need try on the tattered gown. For her book. For research.
The ghost hadn’t even protested. She just stood silent. Still.
Pulling on the dress, she’d been seized by inspiration. By the end of the afternoon, she had typed the final words. The excitement had caused her to jump up with a Whoop!
Then a scream.
Pain bit through her side. A hook in the dress stabbed like a tiny knife. The more she struggled, the worse it tore her skin. Then there was more than just the prick. Something flared and spread like a wildfire through her veins. She’d struggled to get the dress off, tearing at the buttons, but her fingers weren’t working properly. They looked fuzzy, far away. Her breath came shallow and fast.
That was when the man walked out of the shadows.
He looked just as she had written him. Tall, chiseled and very, very dark. Even his ghostly form was shades of gray. His hooked nose sat beneath blue eyes that spread like frozen pools on his icy face.
A glance at the woman told Cassy that her silence was forced. This man controlled her in death, even as he had in life.
He gestured toward the window. Cassy’s feet moved. She’d tried to stop them. Even now she tried to make them obey. But some sort of poison had taken over her body. No. Not just poison.
The blue of the sky. The bright green of the grass. Why had she never really seen them before? She'd just taken them for granted. Now the colors called her name. The breeze caressed her face, brushing away her tears. The soft movement of silk murmured like leaves fluttering on an autumn day.
Then she knew the ghost had lied.
Because... oh, how it hurt.