Highland Haunting: A Townsend Halloween Story (The Townsends, 3.5)

For the past few months, Ian Cameron and Robert Townsend have been settling into their new life together, but when a series of odd events occur at Llynmore Castle, Ian begins to suspect that he’s being haunted. The question is, is the spirit malevolent or benevolent? Does it want to harm him or warn him of something to come?

As Halloween draws closer, the ghost becomes stronger. Ian and Robert will have to trust each other and trust themselves to find the answers they need before it’s too late.

*Highland Haunting is 16,000 words

 

(Because I love Halloween and I love Robert and Ian from A Scot’s Surrender, I decided to throw them together and this ghost story was the result. It features Robert and Ian being cute with each other (and some sexy times), a spirit with dubious intentions, a little bit of Halloween style creepiness/violence, and appearances from some of the other Townsends.)

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Chapter One

Constable George Whitley was not, by nature, a superstitious man. There were things one could see and touch and smell, and to Constable Whitley, this was the extent of the world.

From The Adventures of Constable Whitley

 

OCTOBER 28, 1814

THE HIGHLANDS, SCOTLAND

 

Robert Townsend’s lover, Ian, was crouched over him in bed, working on the fastenings of Robert’s breeches—at any other time, this would have made Robert unbearably excited.

He still was, or his cock was—unbearably excited, that is—but his enthusiasm for the act was dampened a bit when he noticed that Ian kept looking at things. At what, Robert had no idea. One moment Ian would be unbuttoning something or kissing Robert’s thigh, and the next there would be this surreptitious sidelong glance, like he expected someone to come in even though the door was, quite emphatically, locked.

Finally, when the wind rattled the glass panes of the window, and Ian froze like a startled hare, Robert sat up.

Ian glanced at him, lips red and slightly wet, and Robert had to resist the urge to draw him back down. Instead, he refastened his breeches and held out his hand.

After a moment’s hesitation, Ian took it and let himself be pulled up to the headboard where he settled in next to Robert. Their shoulders pressed together, warmth blooming between them.

“Are you going to tell me what’s wrong?”

At first, Ian didn’t answer, and Robert took a moment to study him. Candlelight flickered over his hair, turning the brown-red strands to gleaming copper, and cast his face, with its hard angles, in sharp relief. Once, Robert had thought him immovable, unapproachable, but he wasn’t really any of those things.

He was only careful. With his heart, especially.

So it was a very good thing that he’d given it to Robert, who knew to protect precious things.

“I’m worried something will startle you and you’ll bite my cock clean off. I’m rather fond of it,” Robert said.

That made Ian’s mouth twitch. “Aye, me too.” He paused. “It’s almost Halloween.”

That wasn’t really the sort of thing Robert had been expecting. Of course, he supposed it was better than all of the sudden worries he’d experienced in the space of two minutes, like Ian doesn’t want me anymore. Ian wishes I talked less. Ian hates me because I finished the last whisky bottle at his cottage without telling him.

Of course, logically, he knew these worries were unfounded. Up until this very moment, Ian’s enthusiasm, sexually speaking, had been as ardent as ever. He always listened intently when they talked, even if he didn’t always say as much as Robert. And the last time Robert had finished off the last of the whisky—it was probably a habit he should break, come to think of it—Ian had only laughed and said he was reserving the last glass from the next bottle.

But logic and worry weren’t exactly compatible things.

“Is that significant?” Robert asked carefully.

“I thought I saw something when I was at Llynmore.”

Something? “That bothered you? Like…Theo in the bath? Willoughby the cat speaking with a human voice? Georgina sliding down balustrades and breaking her head open because she’s bored?”

“No—Lord Arden in the bath?” Ian seemed more horrified by the idea of seeing his employer nude than he did about talking cats. “I saw… The veil is thin this time of year.”

“The veil is thin,” Robert repeated.

“Aye.”

“The veil?”

“Aye.”

“Between this world and the next?”

Ian’s expression was shifting ever so slightly, from calm to impatient, as if he thought Robert was being foolish. “Aye.”

“Forgive me—Are we speaking of ghosts?”

“Aye.” His tone now was clear: Yes, you fool, of course we’re talking about ghosts.

Of course. Of course they were talking about ghosts.