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Haunted House 56: Sparkle

First: A story featuring a male keeper and a female Kept.
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The whole barn seemed to be holding their breath — even the slaver, who had stopped wiggling in his captors’ arms.  Do you understand what I am doing?

You’re turning things on their head, and it’s impressive.  Mélanie stayed quiet; she was holding her breath, too. 

The woman nodded, cleared her throat, and nodded again.  She tried one more time; Jasper handed her the water again.  Continue reading

Haunted House 55: Turn About

First: A story featuring a male keeper and a female Kept.
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Neil, the slave-guard that wanted to buy his own slave headed into the barn while the slaver (and, unseen, Mélanie) watched and listened. 

It took only a moment, a surprisingly short moment, for the shouting to start.  Jasper?  No, none of those voices were familiar.  She moved closer, listening until she heard Neil shout in panic. 

Good. She smiled a little bit.  It might not be stinging bugs in his pants, but it was probably just about what he deserved. 

The slaver looked between the barn and his nice warm house.  She could almost see the gears turning in his head. Safe house, profits, safe house, profits. Continue reading

Haunted House 54: Wasps

First: A story featuring a male keeper and a female Kept.
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One guard was heading for the slave factor’s house; the other was heading for Mélanie’s distraction.

Mélanie trailed back from the stalking slaver-guard enough to whisper a Working that would shake the grasses and make a lot of noise in  a slowly retreating stream and then one that would throw her own voice all over the place. Then she followed Neil into the house to the side of the slave pens, swallowing the bile in her throat.  She hated this place, even if she’d never been in it.

He let himself in — probably not fae; she wouldn’t give someone like this an open invite to her house if she had him in her employ, but humans weren’t limited by thresholds the way the fae were — and headed upstairs.  She waited on the porch, since she couldn’t go into the guy’s house without an invitation, and focused on making the noise outside the gate distract Neil’s partner.

The slave factor came down the stairs several minutes later and out the door, trailed by Neil and a slave.  The factor was buttoning his pants; the slave was wearing a blanket as a sort of wrap, a collar, and a nervous expression. Continue reading

Haunted House 52: The Raid

First: A story featuring a male keeper and a female Kept.
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It was a strange feeling, even after the little trick she’d done in the wagon, walking up to someone while completely invisible and inaudible.  

Mélanie did it anyway, because Jasper had agreed to let her come along, and this had been the thing she could do better than him (or than Kearney, but since, as far as they knew, Kearney had no magic, that wasn’t as much of an accomplishment.

Kearney was, in the meantime, sliding through the back in a gap in the fence that was too small for an adult or even most children — Kearney was very good at moving in tight spots and didn’t have much fear of getting caught on the wires.  A lifetime ago, Mélanie might have asked but shouldn’t we worry about DNA?, but here, now, there was nobody with the resources to pull that blood off the wires and run it through the right machines, even if Kearney left any blood. Continue reading

Haunted House 52: Perfectly Safe

First: A story featuring a male keeper and a female Kept.
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She was doing her damnedest not to be miserable.

Mélanie bit her lip. “It’s going to be dangerous,” she offered carefully.  The kitchen seemed too small, too tight; Jasper was getting ready to go out and she wanted to wrap herself around him and make him stay.

“I think it’s worth the risk.”  Jasper’s smile was still bright; he wasn’t looking at her right now, so she could look as worried as she wanted without bothering him.   “Besides, it’s not going to be that dangerous.” Continue reading

Haunted House 50: Secrets of the House

First: A story featuring a male keeper and a female Kept.
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Washing the House with Jasper was surprisingly fun. It was also hard work, because the House had years of embedded grime in her shingles. “Did you somehow roll in the mud?” Mélanie found herself accusing the house at one point. “And… in a pine tree?”

The House bumped one set of shutters in her direction.

“I can’t tell if that’s a yes or a no,” Mélanie admitted. “But I need some sort of brush that can get up here under the shutters. Maybe a butter knife, actually. “

Jasper frowned at the scrub brush he was holding. “I could–“

A window opened and a butter knife slid out into Mélanie’s hand. Continue reading

Haunted House 48: Nice Guy

First: A story featuring a male keeper and a female Kept.
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They rode on for a while before Jasper broke the strange silence again – not with anything related to their previous conversation, but just to tell Mélanie more about what he’d found and who he’d spoken to while at the market.  After a few minutes, Mélanie realized that he was giving her notes on his business – the people that he knew to talk to, the ones that he avoided, the ways that he tried to drum up more business. She found herself snorting.

“Networking.  It’s the end of the world – as we know it – and you’re networking.” Continue reading

Haunted House 47: Spurious Reasoning

First: A story featuring a male keeper and a female Kept.
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Mélanie brought both hands to her neck.  “Obviously-” she started slowly, not sure how anything she wanted to say would be taken, “I can’t be considered to be on the wrong side of a collar, since I’m not on any side of it.  Though I think you owe me a piercing of some sort, sir.”  She cleared her throat. “And, ah. I want to be here, remember that?  Please remember that?”

“Only if you call me Jasper again.”  He brushed his knuckles very lightly against the side of her neck, just over her hand.  “I haven’t upset you, then?”

“No, sir – Jasper.  No, not at all.”

“You’re sure?” Continue reading