After last week's spate of new stories, this time we head for another blast from the past with a snippet from The Haunting of Rory Campbell, another novel from ImaJinn Books. Rory Campbell is a professional ghost whisperer, I suppose you could say, although I wrote this book before that term came into vogue. While investigating a haunted historical site in North Carolina, she encounters Lachlan MacGregor, a Scottish immigrant who died in the 18th century. Ghostly hijinks ensue.
A few hours later, suitcases unloaded, cameras and tape recorders strewn all over the living room, Rory sat at the kitchen table writing out a game plan. Tomorrow she’d set up tape recorders in places most likely to yield results. Based on the background information, she’d already ruled out the pink bedroom, but the kitchen and the library seemed promising. Tonight she’d collate her notes on previous sightings, which would make a good first chapter to her book.
Finally she stopped, eyes aching from looking at the computer terminal. Time to wind down for bed. But she had nothing whatsoever to do with herself. The place had electricity, yes, but there was no TV, no radio, and she was tired of looking at the computer, even for entertainment’s sake.
She’d almost decided just to go to bed and read when she remembered the big, deep, claw-footed porcelain tub in the upstairs bathroom. The thought of a nice, warm bath made her realize just how long a day she’d had, and how much she needed the relaxation.
The water sputtered a bit when she turned on the tap, blowing a nice spray of rust with it, so she let it run until the water was clear before she stuck her hand in to test the temperature. She wondered how old the pipes were, and if they might have lead in them. She’d have the water tested as soon as possible.
The bathroom filled with steam as the tub filled with hot water. Rory went back to the pink room to retrieve the paperback horror novel she’d picked up at the grocery store. She found horror novels vastly entertaining. Devoting her professional life to the paranormal had given her a perspective somewhat different from the average reading public’s, and she often laughed her way through the most gruesome tales of preternatural mayhem. Stephen King could still scare the hell out of her on occasion, though.
Book chosen, tub full and steaming, Rory peeled off her clothes and settled down into the nearly too-hot water. It would cool quickly enough, but right now it was warm enough to turn her pale, freckled skin an interesting lobsterish color. She wished she had bubble bath, but unfortunately she hadn’t thought about it when she’d been at the store.
She read for a while as the water cooled to comfortably warm. The heat and the stress of the day combined to fill her body with lassitude. As the mayhem in the book began in earnest, she found her eyes drifting shut. Finally, after nearly dropping the book into the water, she laid it aside and closed her eyes.
Warm steam caressed her face, and the warm water lapped softly against her thighs and breasts. With her eyes closed, the dampness felt like a hand against her face, each bead of sweat seeming to pop as it rose on her upper lip. She felt as if she were floating, though her body rested securely on the floor of the tub. Giving herself up to the floaty sensation, she let it carry her away.
She didn’t fall asleep. Not quite. She hung suspended between consciousness and slumber, thinking of nothing, only feeling. Sensation filled her, until it seemed nothing existed outside the layers of her own skin.
The heat, which had lain soft and damp against her skin, shifted as her breathing deepened. It was like the caress of hands, moving up and down her body, the imagined touch adding to the deep, pervasive lassitude which had completely filled her. She smiled a little, sank deeper into the water, but her conscious self was unaware of the action.
And heat grew within her. Liquid still, like the heat of the water, but pooling within her body, sinking to lie between her thighs, until that place ached with heaviness. Sticky and hot, she moved, her hips pulsing softly. She didn’t know she did it. She thought she dreamed.
But the dream was all of heat and water, growing and moving as it passed over her body, molded firm around her breasts, slipped soft down her belly, feathered against the insides of her thighs . . .
Rory woke with a start and sat gasping, still feeling the heat, her body teetering on the edge of completion.
What the hell was that?
It had to have been a dream. Certainly the heat hadn’t been real--the bath water had turned almost icy around her. She stood, shivering as she snagged the towel from the sink. Her legs wobbled. She scrubbed herself dry and shivered her way into her pajamas.
She stared at the water as it swirled and glugged down the drain. She’d had strangely intense emotional experiences at haunted sights before, but never anything like this. It had to have been a dream, the result of fatigue and her understandable preoccupation with the possible haunting of the house.
At least, she hoped that was all it was. Anything else didn’t really bear thinking about.