Continuing after Conn’s letter: (first draft only, subject to revision)
“If we already have a real ghost,” Rae grumbled as she stapled another swag of fake spider web beneath the porch eave, “then why does Miss Belle want so many fake decorations? Maybe she’s only worked up because this is the Bed and Breakfast’s first Halloween.”
“Afraid not, darlin’,” Conn replied from the front yard now turned cemetery. “Miss Belle has always loved Halloween. In fact, I think if forced to pick between Halloween and Christmas, she’d choose dressing up like a witch any day. Speaking of which: don’t be freaked out when she refers to her ‘Book of the Dead.’” He raised his voice so that his grandmother would hear through the open window. “That’s merely her cookbook.”
Sure enough, Miss Belle stomped over to the front door and glared at them both. Rae never thought she’d wish the old lady would wear more pink, her trademark color, but even retina-searing Pepto Bismol would be an improvement over Miss Belle’s costume. She wore an orange-and-purple-striped broomstick skirt down to her ankles, a goblin-green satin poet’s shirt, and bright red sparkling shoes straight out of The Wizard of Oz. At least her Spandex tights matched her horrendous green shirt. Even her old-fashioned straw hat had been replaced by a traditional black witch’s hat–with a huge orange bow in the front.
“Don’t spoil Rae’s first Halloween with us,” Miss Belle demanded. “If you give away all my secrets, she won’t enjoy the party nearly as much. Now you two hurry up–you don’t even have your costumes on yet!”
Rae concentrated on hanging a huge hairy tarantula on her fake web. She knew that Conn was going to wear his warrior garb he typically wore for Renaissance Faire demonstrations. He’d planned a mock fight with his best friend and math professor extraordinaire for tonight’s festivities. So far, he didn’t have any idea what her costume was–and she planned to keep it that way as long as possible.
She scrubbed her damp palms on her jeans and jumped down off the ladder. Her stomach already felt tight and trembly with nerves. Am I going to have the courage to pull this off?
Conn gave the incredibly realistic tombstone another shove so it leaned as if it’d been a part of the yard for decades. “I’ll be back in about an hour with Mason–he’s meeting me at the cottage.” He looked up at Rae and she gave him a hopefully excited—instead of nervous—smile. “You still won’t tell me what your costume is?”
“Nope,” she replied tartly, imitating his grandmother’s no-nonsense manner. “You’ll see soon enough.”
He reached through the porch railing and gripped her calves. “Why the secrets, darlin’?”
He had incredible hands. His powerful fingers dug into her muscles, firm and strong, just shy of actually hurting. He might be an English professor by day, but in his bed he was all domination. The slight squeeze of his fingers made her swallow and sent a warm wave of desire sweeping through her. The butterflies disappeared and she made the low, ragged sound in her throat that he loved to hear. “I want to surprise you.”
His eyes blazed like sapphires, but he released her. “How will I recognize you?”
Miss Belle smacked him on the top of the head with her witch hat. “If you can’t recognize your one true love despite a simple costume, then you don’t deserve her. Now get–I’ve got to get my cauldron started!”