With your arm wrapped around Claremont’s and Dominic’s wrapped around you, the three of you stride across the threshold of the mansion. A plaque sits by the door declaring this to be Waining Manor, but a stain’s dripped from the ceiling, blotting away the gold until it reads as Wailing Manor. You glance around, fearing to discover a banshee or spirit shrieking at you.
What you find is a grand staircase with railings carved to mimic the vines circling the property. A faded, dull-red carpet clings to the mahogany stairs rising to a second floor. You can only make out a hint of rooms above, wallpaper peeling from its base and darkness oozing down the halls.
“The grand dame has sadly seen better seasons,” Claremont muses before he jerks a finger to the chandeliers above. Fire springs to life, dancing above the long melted and moth-eaten candles. The unnaturally red flame moves as one, fading through the cobwebs stretched across the chains and scones of the chandelier.
A flash of a face screaming in agony bursts in your mind. You whimper and bury your face in Dominic’s chest. He ruffles through your hair, the edge of his stubble jaw brushing against your skin. “Are you tired? I know a good bed upstairs…”
“No.” You shake your head, dread overwhelming your soul at the idea of you having to venture up the stairs.
“What shall I delight my lady with next? Perhaps a romantic prelude upon the piano?” Claremont asks, his eyes shining.
“Ooh, the study with its warm fireplace. You could all strip off your clothing as I have and we see what happens next,” Dominic says, straining his body in a long stretch.
A snarl ripples from Claremont. “I’d prefer to never set foot in that room again.”
“So I’ll take her and you go play with your piano by yourself,” Dominic says, cupping a hand to your whole arm.
Claremont takes the other and sneers at the werewolf. “Are you capable of thinking beyond your animalistic urges?”
“Is this about the trousers again?” Dominic fights back, you caught in the middle. You raise your hand to tug them off of you so they can fight in peace, when a rumble rises from your stomach.
Guilt swarms your face at how loud your belly called but joy rises in Dominic’s. He plucks you up into the air and places you on his shoulders without a second’s pause. “I know exactly what you need!” he declares and takes off sprinting for the back of the house.
Your eyes are trained on Claremont, who solemnly pouts while floating in place. But when Dominic places a steadying hand on your ass, the ghost zaps right beside you. The two tussle over cupping your derrière as you run through a wide door that opens into a room decked out in black and white tiles. They run not only the length of the floor but up the cabinets. A great wall of plates sits at the far end covered in cobwebs built upon cobwebs.
With you still perched on Dominic’s shoulder, the happy werewolf darts around the room pulling cast iron posts from drawers in sunken cabinets and striking a match under an old stove. The fire crackles against old wood which you can only hear as your ass is to whatever Dominic faces.
He turns to talk to you. “I happen to be… Oh, oops.” With no strain, he picks you up off his shoulder and spins you around. Your stomach balances on the wide reach of his shoulder, your abs clenching, when Dominic takes your chin and kisses you.
You reach to hang onto him and return the favor, when your famished stomach complains. The werewolf chuckles again. “Would our lovely guest care for some refreshments?” Dominic asks before placing the skillet on the lone burner above the crackling fire.
“You’d be better off supping with the bog queen,” Claremont says easing into the room. He hovers beside a rack hanging off the ceiling. Herbs desiccated to little more than sticks and covered in spiderwebs dangle off it.
“I will have you know that I was the best cook in my regiment,” Dominic huffs. He tries to spin to Claremont, but it nearly sends you flying off him.
With a slow sigh of acceptance, he lowers you to the ground, but keeps a hand wrapped around the back of your waist. “You were in the army?” you ask.
“Yep. Fought for…who did we fight for?” Dominic asks the ghost left prodding at a sink that doesn’t look like water’s pumped through it for decades.
“Why do you think I can remember? Or care. I had to prove myself a man by killing another, so I did. Problem solved. Can we please not bring it up?”
“I remember the nights, all of us staring up at the stars, talking about things,” Dominic muses, his eyes misting over. He gazes at the ceiling as if he can see those old stars yet again.
“Ah yes, those nights when we listened to soldiers screaming in agony from their gangrenous wounds. Or the opium being snorted, smoked, and eaten by anyone who could afford it to escape the unending boredom punctuated by moments of terror. Wonderful times,” Claremont whispers to himself, his eyes meeting no one’s.
“Is that how you two met?” you ask.
“Hm? Nah. We’d known each other since we were little nippers running around chasing squirrels and rabbits,” Dominic answers with a shrug. He cracks open a cabinet and you’re shocked to find not only eggs but cheeses and what looks like fresh herbs inside. An unnatural chill wafts off it.
“My father found the feral child living off the land hilarious. When we could keep him from biting a dowager,” Claremont says.
“Now,” Dominic sneers while slicking butter over the skillet, “you know none of that’s true.”
“Truth is in the eye of beholder,” Claremont says.
A cautious laugh rises from Dominic and he turns to his supposedly oldest friend. “You’re always going on about silly things like that. It’s why I followed you to the army,” he says.
“What?” Claremont sounds taken aback. “Didn’t my father pay you to join me in war? Keep me alive so his legacy wouldn’t die out on the battlefield?”
“Pay? Don’t be foolish.” Dominic swerves the pan around, his bare hand touching the hot handle without a flinch. “I wasn’t going to let my mate go to war alone. Yer Da didn’t even talk to me unless you made him.”
That catches Claremont in surprise, his mouth dangling open as he seems to think upon what Dominic said. Unaware, or perhaps not caring at the soul-shaking revelation, Dominic turns to you. “What would the pretty lady from the woods most wish to eat? I could whip up a cheese soufflé.”
“Oh, that sounds unwise,” Claremont intercedes. “Best to stick to something simple. An omelette. Assuming you don’t cover it in dog hair.”
Dominic sticks his tongue out and slaps a hand to his chest. “I don’t have any fur left on me.” You stare longer at the spread of his pectorals, both rising like supple hills across the vast plains. Dominic darts his pinkie down his breastbone, drawing your eyes to his abs. There, a tuft of dark belly hair rises from the forest encircling his cock. You find yourself being pulled to it, your palm shivering at the idea of cupping it.
But two sets of eyes are boring into you and you turn to them.
“Well?” Claremont prompts, curling the tip of his ghost mustache with an angry panache.
“What do you want to eat? A cheese soufflé…”
“That will most likely cause your bowels to explode,” Claremont interjects. “Stick with the omelette.”
Which do you pick?
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