It was a question he had to ask…
Brendan Forrester loves his girlfriend, Nora. Like can’t-live-without-her, Gomez-to-her-Morticia-Addams loves her. But when he asks her for more, he can’t help but notice the look of fear in her eyes. Then a ghost from their past shows up at the horror festival they’re both in, and Nora starts to change. Soon Brendan is remembering things he’d rather forget–including the voice of a certain girl he thought they’d long since vanquished.
It was a chance she couldn’t pass up…
When Nora Travers is offered a part in a horror one-act directed by the daughter of a Hollywood bigwig, she knows she can’t miss the chance–even if it means competing against her longtime boyfriend and getting back in touch with the mean girl she swore she’d never be again. But the past doesn’t want to stay buried, and soon Brendan–her usually smart, adoring boyfriend–can’t seem to stop sneaking suspicious looks at her. Or spying on her kissing scenes with her new co-star.
It’s making them both wonder: do they have what it takes to make it through another Halloween?
SCARY, LOVESICK, FOOLISH is the sequel novella to CRAZY, SEXY, GHOULISH, but you can read either as a standalone. If you dare.
I crouched behind the bushes as the October sky blackened.
The house I watched was decrepit, but the guy on its porch was anything but. The boards under his feet were warped with age, but he was young, long-limbed and strong and sitting on a porch swing that squeaked with his movements. Paint peeled on the sides of the house, but he was dark-haired perfection as he sat hunched over a laptop, the glow lighting up his clear face and strong jaw.
Soon he’d be mine.
The house was set back in a neighborhood, almost swallowed by a forest. Tall trees grew on either sides of the moth-gray walls, welcoming the dusk and filling the yard with the sharp scent of pine.
There would be no one to hear his scream.
A dog barked in the distance, and he looked up.
I jerked down, out of sight.
When I pounced, I wanted him to have no idea who was attacking him, no warning except his own tingling fear as he stared into the night and wondered, Is there someone out there?
I waited a few beats—my breath coming faster now that I’d seen him—before I risked another glance. Straightening slowly, my hands brushing away the feathery leaves, I glanced at the porch.
It was empty.
The porch swing still creaked in the breeze, but the young man was gone. Vanished.
A hand covered my mouth.
“Nora Travers.” Brendan was behind me, laughing. “Trying to sneak up on me?”
I wrenched his hand away from my mouth. But he grabbed me from behind with strong arms and held me against him. I could feel the heat of his body and his breath on my neck. “Is this any way to greet your boyfriend whom you haven’t seen in three months?”
I laughed and twisted out of his grasp. “You’re lucky I didn’t knee you.”
“You’re a day early.”
His eyes danced in the moonlight as I faced him. They were a dark, evening blue that matched his shirt. The color of troubled waters—I’d always loved that color.
I jumped up, knocking him to the ground of the forest on top of a crackling pile of leaves.
“Oof,” he said.
“Shh,” I whispered as I straddled him.
“What—” He tried to raise his head.
I leaned down and pressed my lips against his.
Our faces were cold, our noses icy, but our mouths were warm and as they met, the rest of my body heated to catch up. We’d been together for almost two years, but his kisses could still light me up as sure as any bonfire.
“That’s how I was going to greet you,” I said as our lips parted. “Hi, Brendan.”
His eyes opened and a slow smile spread across his face. “Welcome home, Nora. I take it this is one of the stunts you learned this summer?”
“Yes.” I straightened up, still on top of him. “How did you know it was me? I thought I was being quiet.”
“I sensed a disturbance in the force. An evil disturbance.”
“Really?” I plucked a leaf from his hair. He smelled like my boyfriend, like cool air, but with a coating of old house on him. Paint and dust, somewhere I’d never been.
“Yeah.” He laughed low and tugged my ponytail. “And the motion sensor light came on.”
“I want to give you a tour,” he said. “Not that I don’t like where this is going.” He slid his hands up my jeans.
“It’s okay.” I smiled as I reluctantly moved off him. “I can show you some more stunts…later.”
This was what Brendan had done over his summer vacation. He’d moved into this old house, all the while I was involved in a summer stock theater company across the country in Boston. It’d gone so well, they’d kept me an extra two months to work backstage on a show at a nearby theater. It had been an amazing experience, and I’d grown so much, but it’d barely left time for visitors and no chance to return to my hometown and my college boyfriend.
Or former college boyfriend, I mentally corrected as he rose and I followed him up the creaky porch steps of the house. We’d both graduated in May, and now we were settling back into our hometown, the first time we’d been in the same zip code as a couple, me at my mom’s as I went to auditions and found a job, and Brendan here at the home he’d been texting photos of constantly.
His laptop was open on an overturned crate by the porch swing. A moth fluttered against the screen, drawn to its light. He shooed the insect away and closed the computer to carry it into the house.
“What are you working on?” I asked. “Your scene?”
“Yeah. Just going over some notes.”
“Can I read it?”
Laughing, he pulled open the house’s screen door—it screeched—and let me walk in first.
“You’ll get to see it soon enough,” he said. “The Horror Fest is next weekend.”
We entered a large, empty living room. It smelled dusty, and there was a long strip of wallpaper hanging from the wall, desperate from someone like me with long fingernails to put it out of its misery. He hadn’t decorated, and a pile of three or four boxes sat in one shadowy corner.
But what I really noticed was the huge fireplace on the far wall. It drew my eye. It had elaborate carvings in stone around it, but I couldn’t tell of what. I moved closer.
“Does this work?”
“The fireplace? Yeah.”
Up close, I could see the carvings were the small heads of demons, grinning wickedly. “Awesome.”
“I know, right? I knew you’d dig it. It’s probably the number one reason I decided to rent this place. Well, that and the rent was super cheap.”
Glancing around at the peeling wallpaper, scuffed hardwood floors, and general look of disrepair about the place, I had no doubt he was getting it for a rock-bottom rent.
I squinted at the fiendish faces, trying to pick out which dark underlords they were. “Yeah,” I said laughing, “it is kind of perfect here.”
“That’s what I’m saying.” His voice was close, and his arms wrapped around me from behind once again. This time I melted against him. It’d been ten weeks since I’d seen him, when he’d visited me in Boston. I’d forgotten how warm and strong he felt. I’d missed his arms. I’d missed him.
“You haven’t decorated,” I said.
“Are you going to?”
He moved my ponytail to one side and kissed my neck. “Eventually.”
His mouth grazed my skin, slow and teasing, and I bit my lip.
“There’s a big bedroom down the hall, and the kitchen’s got this giant old fridge that sounds like a monster in the middle of the night.” He held me tighter against his body. “The upstairs is really weird and small and there’s an attic where I think some kind of animal is living. And when you turn on the water in the bathroom, it makes this loud screech, and you’re never sure if a bunch of rust-colored water or blood is about to come out or not. I think some of this stuff might be a health code violation.”
“Cool.” He had his own haunted house.
“There’s just one thing missing.”
“What could possibly be missing when you have demons on your fireplace?” I said.
I twisted around.
His eyes had grown serious. “You’re missing.”
“I’m right here.”
“Yeah, you’re here, but… So, I didn’t want to bring this up at graduation, but… Do you want to move in with me?”
I tittered, but my heart rate kicked up. “What?”
“Move in. Here. With me. And whatever the thing is that lives in the attic.”