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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

Haunted House 46: Further Plans

First: A story featuring a male keeper and a female Kept.
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“You don’t – you can’t – you would – what would you-”  Mélanie caught herself and focused very carefully on her breathing for several breaths.  “Sir. Jasper.” She looked at him with wide eyes and found that his grin had stuttered into something of a worried expression.  She patted his shoulder, not wanting him upset, and cleared her throat. “I’m sorry you, you, ah, you caught me by surprise. What did you mean – what-”

“Oh, Mélanie, my sweetness.”  Jasper pulled her into a tight hug, rubbing her back until she could breathe again.  “I didn’t meant to upset you, I didn’t. Why does this- what upsets you?”

She peered up at him from the confines of the hug.  “I don’t want you to risk yourself. I was so upset when the  – when those thugs had you, and I, if you got caught, it would be horrid.  I don’t want something like that happening to you!” Continue reading

Haunted House 45: Plans and Present

First: A story featuring a male keeper and a female Kept.
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“Listen.”  Jasper leaned forward towards Kearney. “In about a week, I’m going to have a job.  It might be tricky and it might be dangerous, but I’ll be watching your back, and I’ll pay well. I can’t tell you more right now – but can I find you if I come around here?” 

The kid shifted a little from foot to foot.  “Old barn, about a mile out of town that way,” they gestured.

“Okay.  I won’t show up unless I have some work for you and I won’t invade your space, but I might have something I need help with.  One thief to another, as it were.” Continue reading

Haunted House 44: Money

First: A story featuring a male keeper and a female Kept.
Previous:  Buying and Selling

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The second customer left having actually paid – traded – for their goods, just as a third one stopped to finger the silk blouse Jasper’d wanted Mélanie to keep.

“You have a knack for finding the prettiest things, Jasper Fox,” the man told him.  He was an older guy, his beard long and braided into several pretty braids on the sides and his hair almost completely gone.  “I don’t know how you do it – and no, I don’t want to know, either. Some secrets are better kept, hmmm?”

“Indeed, my old friend, indeed.  Mélanie, this is Doug Carter. He’s a good customer – and if you ever need to buy something from him, count your change when you leave, but he’ll have the right stuff, mm, Douggie?”

“I always have the right stuff, my man, but you’re never buying.  No worries, Tonya down the lane was buying so I have this honey here, and, let’s see, oh, no, you don’t need eggs, do you, but how about some very nice cured sausage?  You know Jake makes the best stuff…” Continue reading

Haunted House 43: Buying & Selling

First: A story featuring a male keeper and a female Kept.
Previous:  Thieves

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A job.  No matter the discussions, she knew what Jasper was offering Kearney.

Mélanie wanted to protest – this is a kid we’re talking about! –  but no matter how young Kearney looked, they were clearly already getting comfortable with being on their own. She smiled instead, like she thought this was a great idea.

Kearney looked between them, coughed a couple times, and seemed to decide.  “Sure. I can do that. But only because the lady here is nice.”

“She is nice,” Jasper agreed.  “She’s quite nice, and I would suggest you remember that as you deal with her.  Because I’m not the nice one.”

Kearney didn’t shudder, didn’t even look all that impressed, but there was a slight change in their manner as they looked at the booth Jasper had been setting up.  “So, where do I put this? What can I do?” Continue reading

Haunted House 42: Thieves, Thick As

First: A story featuring a male keeper and a female Kept.
Previous:  Market

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Mélanie stepped closer to Jasper and surveyed the area.  There were people everywhere. More than half of them hadn’t seemed to notice the shouting at all.  A few of them were looking across the market. A few more were looking at Jasper.

Was she going to have to do Workings again?  Was she even allowed to?

Jasper waved enthusiastically with one arm, balancing the packages with the other.  “George Ridges! I haven’t seen you in forever!” Continue reading

Haunted House 41: The Market

First: A story featuring a male keeper and a female Kept.
Previous:  Wants and Desires

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In retrospect, Mélanie thought perhaps she ought to have expected a question like that.  Dressing her in silk, treating her like a partner – she shouldn’t have been surprised that he asked her if she wanted anything.  Wanting her to want things, wanting to get her things, seemed on par with everything else that he’d done so far.

That it took her completely by surprise was a sign she wasn’t paying attention.

She blinked at him. Continue reading

Haunted House 40: Wants and Desires

First: A story featuring a male keeper and a female Kept.
Previous:  Honest

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Jasper was still laughing. Mélanie was staring at him with something between horror and worry.  Had she broken him?  Was he going a little mad?  Was this what happened right before he finally got angry with her?  

“Easy, easy,” Jasper managed through a chuckle.  “Oh, my dear, easy. Telling me that you think I’m doing something wrong.  Being a little difficult? I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have laughed at you.” He draped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close to him.  “I do apologize. I know you were serious. And I take it seriously — I do!  — that you feel strongly enough about this that you’d tell me you thought I was doing something wrong.  I know that’s hard for you.” He squeezed her a little more firmly. “It’s just that if that’s what it takes to get you to give me your opinions more often, it’s tempting to go find the nicest little old couple I can find and bilk them out of their life savings.”

“Don’t do that!”  Mélanie twisted in his hold to stare at him.  “No, don’t — please, I mean —” Continue reading