It was a drenching, beastly night. Thunder and lightning tore the skies apart to the steady hum of the windshield wipers while Gaby and Raina listened to the eerie sound of Monster Mash ringing through the car speakers.
It was Halloween night and the women were on their way to a costume party that Gaby’s brilliant boyfriend decided to hold in an old abandoned house on Hanover Street. Gaby had decided to dress up as a dead bride. The gown she purchased from the thrift store was perfect especially once she ripped it in several locations and poured fake blood down the front of the dress. Even the veil was shredded and dirty.
Shifting one of the vents to blow heated air directly on her, Gaby rubbed her arms and shivered, “Raina, I think we should turn around and go home. I’m not having a very good feeling about tonight.”
Raina laughed, “Don’t be overly dramatic Gaby. I’m sure it’s just the weather creeping you out.”
Gaby crossed her arms and huffed, “I’m not being overly dramatic. I’m attempting to follow my gut instinct which has kept me out of trouble more times than I can count.”
Raina reached over and patted her leg, “C’mon Gaby, chances are you’re just freaking out because the weather sucks, it’s Halloween and the party of the year is being held in the old dilapidated colonial up on Hanover. I promise tonight will be a blast!”
They drove on in silence until they reached the house. Raina was almost positive that in its day the house was gorgeous but now it was run down and looked exactly like that one house that no one wanted to go into because they just knew it was haunted. The front yard was covered in fog and packed full of cars. Several of the windows on the first floor of the house were flickering with the soft glow of candlelight. Raina glanced up at the second floor of the house and caught a glimpse of a ghostly image in a window that immediately faded away. She grinned, “Man, they went all out for this party tonight. C’mon Gaby, let’s make a mad dash for the door!”
Gaby and Raina jumped out of the car and ran as fast they could to the front door of the house. Their only hope was that the rain wouldn’t wash away the makeup they spent hours trying to perfect. As they neared the door, it opened and the women were greeted by a sexy vampire, “Good evening ladies and welcome to my party.”
Gaby giggled, “Hi Josh. Thanks for inviting us.”
Josh wrapped an arm around Gaby’s neck and kissed her on the cheek, “May I have this dance? And perhaps a little sip of your blood?”
Gaby laughed, “The dance you can have, the blood will have to wait.”
Raina watched as Gaby and Josh disappeared into the throng of gyrating ghouls, witches, zombies, vampires, pirates, ghosts and anything else this lively bunch decided to wear as a costume. They had been dating for the better part of a year and were almost inseparable.
Deciding she needed to finish putting her costume on, Raina made her way through the crowd of partiers looking for the bathroom. She began walking down a hallway as a door on her left opened and a couple walked out. She looked at them and asked, “Bathroom?”
The guy, who was dressed like a 1920’s gangster, held up a lantern and said, “Right in there.”
“And the lantern?” she asked raising her brows in question.
He shrugged, “No electricity.” Raina nodded her understanding.
Accepting the lantern, Raina walked into the bathroom and turned the flame up as high as it would go so she could see herself in the dirty mirror. She had decided to dress as a gothic fairy for the party. She wore a black corseted dress that laced up the front and rather than displaying her naturally red hair, she opted for a white wig. The wings she was trying to clip on her back were made of black sheer material that had white airbrushed tips and silver glitter all over them. While she struggled with the wings she never heard the man enter behind her, “Can I be of some assistance?”
Raina nearly jumped out of her own skin as she spun and slapped her hand to her chest trying to keep her heart from beating right out of it. “You scared the begeesus out of me,” she breathed.
The man grinned, “My apologies. That was not my intention. I simply wanted to offer you some assistance with your wings since you seem to be having a bit of trouble.”
Raina smiled, “Well, thanks. I’d appreciate that.” She spun back around to face the mirror after the man picked up the wings that she had dropped on the floor when he scared her. After securing her wings he said, “You look great.”
“Thank you,” Raina replied turning to face him. “I’m Raina.”
“Brandon,” he replied.
Raina frowned, “I knew someone named Brandon once.” She sighed, “I miss him.”
“You miss him? What happened to him?” he asked.
Raina nodded sadly, “He was my boyfriend. He died a year ago.”
Brandon frowned, “I’m sorry for your loss. Did you love him?”
“With everything that I am,” she replied.
Wanting to change the subject, Raina glanced down at his outfit. He wore a pair of black slacks, a white collarless shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows and a dealers vest. His long brown shoulder length hair and been pulled back in to a pony tail at the nape of his neck and tied with a black silk ribbon. He face was covered by a black mask. She smiled, “I love your outfit. It’s very 1800’s meets Zorro.”
He chuckled, “Thank you.”
He held out his arm to her, “May I escort you back to the party? Or perhaps I could interest you in a leisurely walk around the house? I’d offer a garden stroll but the weather is making that impossible.”
Raina giggled, “Such a gentleman. You really are playing the part tonight aren’t you? Well, Brandon, I’d be honored to walk with you.” Raina wrapped her hand around Brandon’s arm and they began their stroll through the house.
As they strolled through the various hallways, Raina couldn’t stifle the shiver that ran up her spine. She began to feel like something bad was about to happen but wasn’t sure what it could possibly be. Deciding it was just her overactive imagination, Raina brushed it off to spending too much time listening to Gaby talk about her gift of prophecy and walking through a truly creepy house.
Raina and Brandon walked around the house while they talked of nothing important. They danced to a few songs and when the rain finally stopped he escorted her outside to a balcony that overlooked the rear gardens of the house.
Raina rested on the balcony railing and watched as the clouds shifted in the night sky allowing the full moon to peak out and shine down on the grounds making it look like tiny diamonds decorated the foliage.
Brandon studied Raina’s profile. He always thought of her as perfect. Smiling he said, “Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?”
Raina smirked, “Laying it on kind of thick there aren’t you Brandon?”
Brandon smiled, “I suppose you would think so. Do you have any idea how I’ve longed to hold you in my arms again?”
Raina slowly turned to face the man that she spent a majority of the night with as a terrifying fear gripped her heart, “Excuse me?”
He stepped towards her reaching for her as if to grab her, “I’ve missed you Raina.”
Stepping away from him, Raina scowled, “Is this some kind of joke?”
Taking another step towards her, Brandon reached up and pulled off his mask. Raina’s eyes widened in shock and fear as she stumbled back away from him shaking her head, “No, it can’t be!” Holding out her hands to ward him off, she continued moving backwards until she finally tripped on her gown and began to fall backwards and into the balcony railing that literally disintegrated when she hit it allowing her to tumble over the edge.
“RAINA!!” Brandon yelled as he flew across the balcony attempting to reach her before she fell.
Raina stared up at Brandon as she continued her slow motion descent to the ground below and only when she hit the mud covered ground did she finally lose sight of him.
Brandon rushed down the stairs to Raina’s side and cradled her head in his lap, “Raina, are you alright sweetheart?”
Raina frowned while she tried to clear the cobwebs from her head. I must be dreaming, she thought, because only in my dreams would Brandon be real. Ever so slowly she opened her eyes and stared into the honey gold beauty of his eyes. As realization set in, tears began to fall from her eyes. She reached up wrapping her arms around his neck, “I’ve missed you so much baby! I thought you were gone forever.”
Brandon smiled as he wrapped his arms around her, “I’ve missed you too sweetheart. And no, I wasn’t gone forever only temporarily. Are you up for a stroll through the gardens?”
Raina hesitated briefly mentally checking for any broken bones, when she felt none she said, “Sure.”
Brandon wrapped his arm around Raina helping her up then guided her into the gardens. Raina was surprised to see how well the gardens looked considering the house had been empty for years. He directed her to a stone bench where they sat with their fingers entwined together. Brandon cupped Raina’s chin and turned her to face him. He kissed her softly on the lips and whispered, “I love you Raina.”
Raina smiled, “I love you too.”
Brandon tucked Raina into his side and kissed her deeply. Rising to his feet Brandon held out his hand to Raina which she immediately accepted and began leading Raina back to the house as the pink light of day colored the horizon. Raina gasped as she looked at the gorgeous colonial standing in front of her, “I don’t remember the house looking this amazing.”
Brandon grinned, “You like it?”
Raina smiled, “I love it.”
Brandon squeezed her hand, “Then I’m flattered.”
Raina looked at Brandon in surprise, “The house is yours? I had no idea.”
Brandon turned fully to face Raina. He cupped her face and kissed her passionately stealing her breath from her chest, “Stay here with me Raina.”
Raina grinned, “Always.”
Gaby stood next to Josh clutching his hand as if he were the only thing left in the world that would keep her sane. The tears rolled freely down her face and no matter how much she brushed them away they just kept coming back. When a quiet sob broke free, Josh released her hand and wrapped his arm around her shoulders and kissed the top of her blonde head, “It’s okay Gaby.”
Gaby shook her head, “It’s never going to be okay Josh. I knew going to your party was a bad idea and yet I did nothing to stop her – us - from going.”
Josh sighed, “Raina’s a big girl and you better than anyone should know when she wants to do something she’s going to do it. Besides her fall was a complete accident. There was nothing you could have done to save her Gaby.”
Gaby sighed and leaned into Josh, “I know. I just miss her so much.”
Josh hugged her, “I know baby. I miss them both but at least there together for ever now.”
Gaby leaned down and placed a single white rose on the ground. She kissed the tips of her own fingers and touched the cold hard marble stone that read…
Brandon Summers Raina Hammond
May you find happiness
in each other’s arms for eternity.