My Ghostly Weekend

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Sometimes, when you are lost and all alone on the road at night, a small welcoming hotel is just what you need. That's exactly what Tessa thought when she drove through the open gates late one foggy night. But once inside, all was not what it seemed. She was the only guest, but not the only occupant.

Chapter 1

 

I never really believed in ghosts until that weekend back in the Fall.

I mean, you don’t do you. Unless you’ve actually seen one yourself. And now I have. Let me tell you what happened. See what you think. Could it have been a dream? No way.

My name is Tessa. I’m a lawyer. Well, that is to say I’ve recently left law School and have just landed my first job. It’s with a small rural firm across the country which suits me fine. My reasoning is I would much prefer to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a large ocean. I was looking for a fresh start away from my roots, away from my controlling dad, and away from my idiot ex-boyfriend Matt. He had let me down once too often. I set off in search of my new life late in the afternoon. My dad warned me it was a long drive, and I should set off in the morning. I ignored him and set off anyway. I was excited.

And here she was, in the country, lost, and surrounded by fog. I hate fog. The map indicated I still had a good three hour’s drive to get to my final destination. I needed to get off the road and find some shelter. It looked like there may be some sort of community up ahead. Folding the map, I tossed it onto the passenger seat and set off once again into the thick fog.

After another twenty minutes of tentative driving, I was getting towards the end of my tether when I saw it. A sign on the roadside indicated a hotel a few miles up ahead, along an even more bumpy road. The sign indicated it was just a short drive, but it seemed to take me forever. The road was winding left then right, had dips and hills, and it was 11pm when I finally saw the wrought iron gates and a sign that simply said ‘Hotel’.

There was no name that I could see anywhere but as I stopped in front of the rusted gates, I could make out a large building in the distance. The gates were closed but unlocked. There was a bell which said, ‘Ring for assistance’, so I did but nobody came. I managed to push the gates open with some effort, expecting someone to come out any minute and confront me and so I waited. There were no sounds that night, not even a bird or animal noise anywhere. No wind either which was strange as the fog surrounding the hotel seemed to lift as I approached. Everywhere else around was still shrouded in fog but somehow the Hotel was now in view. And still there was no wind. It was as if the Hotel was inviting me in.

There was some sudden movement which startled me. Must be an animal I thought. Then I noticed a light in the distance illuminate in one of the upstairs rooms.

The whole place was a bit creepy, but I needed to find a place to stay the night I got back into my car and drove through the gates and on up to the front of the Hotel. The Hotel itself looked as if it had seen better days. It wasn’t big by any means, more of an old country house really, but definitely in need of some serious tender loving care. So dark. The Hotel appeared to have no bright colors anywhere. Its door had not been painted for years and the black paint was flaking off. The same with the windows, of which she could see ten. Four large windows on the ground floor, two either side of the door. Then another four on the floor above, plus two smaller ones in the roof as part of an extended section jutting out from the roof. Almost all the curtains had been drawn and the only light illuminating her way came from one of the upstairs rooms. It was the only room she could see with the curtains open and the only light anywhere.

A slight gust of wind behind and a shadow moving caused Tessa to spin.

‘Hello. Who’s that?’, I called. Again, there was no noise, and no response. The only sound I could hear was my own breathing.

 

Tessa was no lightweight and not easily scared by anyone. At 22 years of age, she was a newly qualified lawyer, recently single, and had her life ahead of her. Something of a Tomboy, Tessa had always been able to look after herself.  Not afraid of anyone was her moto. She had always been more interested in contact sports rather than the more feminine hobbies her contemporaries chose. A black belt in Judo, an excellent shot with both a rifle and pistol, she preferred to watch a boxing match on TV rather than a Rom Com movie. Since her split with Matt last month, she had gone one further. A moment of madness one day led her to a local hairdresser who was initially reluctant but eventually had given in to her demands, removing her long dark hair and shaping her a new short-cropped hairstyle. Tessa still had the look of an attractive young lawyer, wore smart clothes to work, used expensive perfume, wore revealing underwear when the occasion demanded. But she did feel something of a release when her long hair was taken away. She felt she could go from pretty petite businesswomen to tough rough tomboy in a quick change of clothes. It suited her. She knew it did.

 

Walking up to the tall flaking front door I took a moment. There was a card pinned to the door that read. ‘Open. Please come in’.

I turned the knob and walked in. It was like walking through a time portal back to the 1960’s. Everything looked so old and out of date. On my right as I walked in was a desk with a bell. I picked it up and gave it a shake. No sound emanated and taking a closer look I saw that the ball and chain had been removed.

‘Great. Now what’, I said to no one in particular.

As I scoured the desk, I saw a hand-written note in the middle. It was a little crumpled as if someone had just taken it out of the waste bin and re fashioned it just for me. I initially struggled to read the words which were written in ink, very wavy, but eventually managed to read:

‘To our late arriving guest. You are very welcome. Please sign the register and take the key you have been left. Breakfast will be served in your room in the morning’.

There was indeed a key attached by a string to a piece of card. The card had the number 2 written on it in the same handwriting. I took the key and opened a heavy bound book, also on the desk. As I opened it up a mini dust storm appeared. I blew the dust away and opened it to the page marked by a length of tape. There was a list of names on the page which I could hardly decipher but no dates were in evidence. I picked up the quill from the ink pot, tapped it to remove the excess ink, and signed the register. I saw that all the names on the list were women. There were no couples listed, and no single male names. Just females. I pondered this as I walked up the winding staircase, each step crying out with a squeaking sound as I went in search of my room. As I suspected it was one of the top rooms. Small inside, it had one of the smaller windows overlooking the front of the hotel and the gated entrance. There was a single bed, a small mahogany desk, chair, bedside table, with one glass and a pitcher of water. There was no toilet or bathroom inside. I would go and find this later. Looking out the window something outside was different. I took out my mobile phone and still there was no signal. Tossing the phone onto the bed I looked out once more. Still foggy. More so than before. It was as if it had lifted to allow entry but had somehow drifted back down again. Then I saw it. The gates. They were closed. Someone had closed the gates. It was then I shivered as if someone had walked over my grave. I decided to forget the bathroom and just get into bed. It could wait. I had a bladder any camel would be proud of. Yawning now, I removed my clothes and carefully laid them on the chair. Taking my bra off last of all I got into the small bed with just my pants on. Switching the lights off I lay back and was soon overcome by sleep. A light sleeper, I was generally ok with background noises. When the sound of a slight but regular creaking sound appeared in the background, Tessa was not disturbed. It registered in her brain somewhere, confirmation perhaps that someone was indeed working during the night at the hotel. It was a sound that did not overly disturb her, and she drifted back into her sleepy state.

A sudden draught across my chest caused me to shiver and pull the sheet back up over my exposed breasts. My hand slid over my breasts brushing my nipples. Sleepy though I was I had a sudden flashback to happier times with Matt, his gentle touch, passionate embraces. As Tessa was lost in past memories of what she had left behind she could feel the sheet slowly being pulled down to reveal her nakedness once again. A gentle feeling of the lightest touch on her body. Memories of Matt returned once again. Still asleep, Tessa liked the feel of it and was lost in her dream. But her dream was not of Matt. It was someone else, a face she couldn’t quite see. A passionate embrace from a stranger took Tessa to places she had only dreamed of, then suddenly the adventure ended, and the man was gone.  Tessa turned over, satisfied, and went into a deeper sleep.

 

 

Chapter 2

As I awoke in the morning, I felt so refreshed. I had not slept that well for some time. I stretched out my arms until I touched the wall behind me. For a brief moment I forgot where I was. Then, realization set in and with a yawn, I propped myself up on the bed. I felt so energized, like I had slept for a week. I remembered something about an erotic dream from the night before and wished all my dreams could be that good. Rising from the bed with a smile I ran my fingers through my short hair and walked over to the window. Pulling the curtains aside I was disappointed to see that the fog had not improved. If anything, it had gotten worse. It also felt a little chilly too and looking down at myself I almost screamed out loud. I was stood in front of the window completely naked. Not even my pants were adorning my lithe body. I quickly closed the curtains, although anyone watching from any distance would surely not see a thing, and used a towel left at the foot of the chair to wrap around myself. Rummaging through the bedclothes I eventually found my panties at the bottom of the bed.

‘How on earth did they get there?’, I said with a grin on my face, as another memory of her dream the night before returned.

I must have removed them myself during the night. Had I pleasured myself in the night and removed them?

Who cares? she thought and opened the door to go in search of a bathroom.

‘Oh’, I cried, a little startled. There was a tray of food outside my door. ‘Thank you’, I called down the stairs hoping that someone would hear. Placing the tray down on the bed I quickly put on some underwear, wrapped the towel around me once again, and set off to find a bathroom. I found one at the top of the stairs on the first floor, almost directly below my room. At least it said it was a bathroom according to the sign on the door. Inside it was just a toilet which I quickly sat upon before I burst, plus a wash basin. No shower.

‘Great!’, I said to no one in particular. ‘What sort of establishment is this?’.

I quickly washed as best I could, then returned to my room and the tray of food so thoughtfully left for me. I was surprised to see the tray was laid with a selection of fruit, some bread, butter, preserves, and some hot tea. There was also a lovely red rose on the tray with another hand-written note. Again, it was a struggle to read the wavy writing, almost like reading some calligraphy, but I persevered. It read:

‘To my lovely guest. I hope you slept well. Please enjoy your breakfast. I hope you can stay longer. You are my only guest. Make yourself at home. I will be out all day but have arranged for your meals to be left for you in the small dining room x’.

I read the note again. There was a fragrance to it. I could smell it, a familiar scent somehow. Who leaves such a personal note to their guests? Why am I the only guest here? How much am I supposed to pay? I was a little confused by the whole scenario developing around me. It was as if I was taking part in a theatrical production and I was the only player.

The bread on the plate smelled freshly baked so I decided to eat her breakfast and go in search of some answers later. Now, I was hungry.

 

 

Chapter 3

After breakfast I dressed and went downstairs in search of the proprietor. There must be someone around as the lights were all on as I proceeded down the spiral staircase and into the foyer. Walking down the stairs there were photographs on the wall all the way down the foot of the stairs. Pictures of women. Lots of them. Each one was of a woman, asleep on her bed.

‘Creepy’.

There was a portrait of a couple on the first-floor landing. A large painting of a man and woman. He was stood behind her as she was sat positioned on a chair in front. The artist had captured a strange look on the woman’s face. It was a look of acceptance somehow. Of somehow accepting that she had been put on this chair and was about to sit here for hours. She was also wearing a beautiful red velvet dress and the artist had captured its magnificence on the canvas brilliantly. The man behind was dressed in a military uniform. A very handsome man, his long black hair cascading down to his shoulders in an unkempt sort of way. He had the look of someone important. Someone used to a position of power. He also had his hand resting on the woman’s shoulders in a way that said, ‘She is mine’. The painting was inscribed by the artist, but I could not read the signature. On the base of the frame it read, ‘Colonel Richard Armstrong and Evelyn Ashworth’. Both the names and the faces seemed somehow familiar. I looked up again and it was as if the woman was looking back at me. Warning me. She was a beautiful woman but there was sadness in her face.

I went back to the desk and again saw only my name in the register for today. The other names I saw looked as if they had been written some time ago. A doorway just off the entrance foyer led me into a large dining room. Tables were laid for breakfast. At least six tables were set with cutlery, but no persons were in evidence.

I called out, ‘Is anyone here?’.

No response came. I noticed a double half door in the corner. I pushed through into a large kitchen with pots and pans hanging from raised shelves and a long row of range style cookers. I touched the surface gingerly. Still warm. There must be someone still here.

From the kitchen I went back into the dining room then back out into the foyer. As I stood in the empty foyer, I called out again, my voice raised to almost a scream.

‘I need help. Can someone help me, anyone, please?’.

Again, no response.

I took the door opposite and found the lounge filled with a number of armchairs and sofas that had seen better times. The smell was very distinctive too. It smelled just like I remember when I last visited my grandmother in the care home she lived in up until her death. Is this what death smelled like? Maybe.

‘Fuck this’, I whispered to myself, left the hotel and returned to my car. I got into my small vehicle, put the key into the ignition and turned. Nothing.

‘What the fuck’, I screamed.

I turned the key in the ignition again. Nothing.

‘Fuck, Fuck, Fuck’, I screamed, hitting the steering wheel with my palms as if that would help. It didn’t.

This was no time to have a flat battery. I alighted the car and walked down to the gates. They were closed so I pushed them open. It took some doing but I managed to open them just enough for me to squeeze through. It was still so foggy. Not really a good idea to be out in this alone but I was determined to get away and continue with my journey. My mobile phone still had no signal, so I set off walking along the country lane in the hope of finding either some sort of human being I could ask for assistance or a signal on my phone.

After twenty minutes of walking through a thick fog I had still not succeeded with either quest. I began to worry that if I continued, I would be in real trouble. Lost and alone in a strange part of the country without shelter. I did an about turn and retraced my steps back towards the hotel. It seemed to take me longer to find my way back to the hotel and I was beginning to panic when I saw a faint light up ahead.

Five minutes later I arrived at the hotel gates and found the source of the light. It was her top floor bedroom light that was on. Tessa was sure she had switched it off this morning. Then, I was stopped in my tracks once more. The gates were closed again. Someone had closed the gates. Pushing my way through the gates I ran up the drive and through the front door, which was still unlocked. Out of breath I was bent over, hands on hips, taking in gasps of air, waiting for someone to come to my aid and finally allay my fears that I was not actually here in this old hotel alone. Then I noticed a smell in the air. I had smelled it earlier, a fragrance, a man’s cologne. Tessa ran up the stairs to her room, flung open the door, and the smell was there, inside. The same fragrance she had come across down in the foyer was now in her room, her bedroom.

I sniffed and followed the fragrance around the bedroom and found myself on the bed. The fragrance was clearly on the bed, lingering on the pillows. I noticed my tray of food had been removed and another note left in place on the chair. The note read:

‘Dear Tessa. A light buffet lunch will be available at 12.30 pm in the dining room. A further meal will be waiting for you at 8.00 pm, also in the dining room. I hope to join you again tonight x’.

‘Join me again tonight’, I repeated. This was getting really creepy.

Checking my watch, it was 12.25 pm. If I rushed down to the dining room now, I was sure to catch someone at least laying out the food. I ran as fast as I could and was in the dining room within sixty seconds. All the tables were just as I left them that morning. Apart from one, which now had another tray of food stood in the middle.

‘Where are you. Come out now. Show me where you are’, I screamed but all I received in return was silence. I slumped into the chair at the table. In front of me there was another selection of breads, cheeses, and meat slices. There was also another pot of hot tea.

‘Coffee. I want coffee’, she cried out.

Pushing back the chair, I rose from my seat and left the dining room. I was not hungry. And I was bloody angry.

 

 

Chapter 4

A cold breeze suddenly brushed over me causing me to sit upright with a jolt. I must have dozed off for a while. After leaving the dining room I had returned to my room, checked the fog situation, which was unchanged, then decided to go through some of my notes I had brought with me regarding my new job. If I was stuck in this old place I may as well get some preparatory work done. This had subsequently sent me to sleep and now I had awakened with a shiver. The room seemed really cold which it had not earlier. I also noticed the door was ajar and walked over to close it. As I pushed the door closed, I heard a faint creaking sound. It was the sound of the stairs. Someone was on the stairs. I opened the door and ran to the top of the stairs.

‘Hello’, she called. ‘Anyone there?’.

Slowly, I walked down the stairs; the whole way to the foyer but found the place just as empty as it had been before. Once again, I went in search of the Hotel telephone. There must be a telephone in this damned building somewhere. But try as I might, there was no telephone in existence anywhere. Returning to my room, I went to the bathroom and washed myself as best I could with just the small washbasin available and put on some fresh clothes for dinner. It was already 8.05 pm and I was starving. The place was beginning to give me the creeps but until the fog cleared, I was stuck here. And I was starving.

The same table was laid with a tray of food for me in the dining room. It consisted of a dish of hot broth, a plate of cooked vegetables and a whole roasted chicken. There was also an opened bottle of red wine and two glasses. I poured myself a glass of wine and drank a mouthful. It tasted rich and smooth and soon found its way to my stomach. It was good. Maybe someone was planning to join me after all. I devoured the meal and most of the wine. By the time I had finished I was feeling a little light-headed. Feeling somewhat inebriated I headed up the stairs to my room. It was 10.15 pm according to my watch. As I entered the bedroom once more, I was sure I heard that sound again. Another creaking sound. I paused, door open, and waited. Then I heard it again. I called out. ‘Hello’, ‘Join me for a drink if you want’, hoping that someone would at last appear. Anyone.

No answer, again. I closed the door. The room had warmed up again although I could see no actual radiator or heater anywhere. Feeling a little heady from the wine I took off all my clothes and got into the bed. The fragrance was not there anymore. I soon drifted off into a deep, alcohol fueled, sleep.  The thing is with me and alcohol. It makes me so horny and as I slept, I soon found myself dreaming once more. Another passionate dream involving another handsome stranger. Then I smelled the fragrance. The one from earlier. It was with me now, but I didn’t care. I kept my eyes closed and went with the feeling. A coldness suddenly at my ear and the feintest of whispers.

‘Tessa’, the ‘e’ being lengthened. Frightening and exciting at the same time. I felt a tickle on my shoulder, hair, long hair, not mine. I was hot and cold at once, caught up in an adventure with a handsome man once more. The coldness around me caused me to open my eyes briefly. I was aware of someone or something present although I could not make out any real image. Was I awake, lost in sleep, in a dream state, or wide awake? I did not know what was happening to me. Then the gentle cool air slowly drifted down my body until it left me completely. I lay there, face down, sweating. Then I heard the door close. I opened my eyes but didn’t turn around. I went to sleep. After all. It must be a dream.

 

 

Chapter 5

In the morning I awoke to sunshine breaking through the curtains. I arose from my bed and pulled the curtains open to let in a wonderful array of sunlight. The fog had lifted, thank goodness. Time to move on to pastures new. I wrapped a towel around myself and tentatively opened my bedroom door. There, once again on the floor outside my room was a filled breakfast tray. I picked it up and took it back inside and placed it on the bed. It was again laid with bread, fruit, and preserves again. This time there was a pot of coffee. Wow. Someone must have heard me.

‘Thank you’, I yelled, as I poured myself a cup. 

There was another note, and a single rose. I nearly dropped my hot coffee as I read the note.

‘Dear Tessa. The fog has lifted, and you may leave if you wish. Should you decide to stay another night I will reveal myself to you and we can have dinner together. Stay one last night. Rx’.

‘What the fuck?’.

Now I was truly confused. Had I been dreaming last night? Who was this person who sends his guests a note with a kiss? Who is R?

Leaving the coffee, I quickly dressed. I had an idea and virtually ran to the foyer and took hold of the hotel guest register. Flipping to the last page I saw my own name, written in the book with my own hand. As I stared down at the name before my own, I raised a hand to my mouth in shock.

It read, Evelyn Ashworth.

I ran up the stairs to the large portrait of the military man and the woman in the red dress. The names on the portrait read, Colonel Richard Armstrong and Evelyn Ashworth.

I just stared. The names were staring back at me. I didn’t know what to make of it. Evelyn Ashworth was the woman in the red dress. Evelyn Ashworth was also the last guest listed in the register before I had arrived.

‘What the fuck is going on’, I exclaimed.

And the Colonel. Richard. The notes left for her and signed with a kiss. Today it was signed with an ‘R’ and a kiss. Is this place haunted by this man? Had she been stalked by a ghost in her dream last night?

I went back to my room and ate my breakfast. The coffee was still hot somehow and the plate of food delicious.

As I ate, I looked over at the bed and into the mirror. For a brief second, I thought I saw a reflection in the mirror. A man smiling. A man with long black hair. I wasn’t afraid in any way. Whatever else this man was, he was certainly a great cook. Finishing my breakfast, I went outside to try my car. Was it still dead? It wasn’t. It started up first time.

I tried my phone and there was a good signal. I decided to make a call to the firm that was expecting me. As I spoke to one of the senior staff I looked up and thought I saw a shadow at my bedroom window.

There was a question on the other end of the phone which brought my focus back to the phone.

‘Sorry. I was miles away. Yes, I will be arriving tomorrow’, I replied. ‘I’m staying on one more night here and will arrive with you late morning tomorrow’.

She ended the call and looked up again. There was no one at the window.

 

 

Chapter 6

I spent the rest of the day looking around the hotel. I was looking for clues as to who this Colonel Richard Armstrong was but thus far, I had found nothing. There was a small library situated in one of the upstairs rooms, which overlooked the back of the house. The gardens were very much in bloom as I peered out, rose bushes in abundance, all in full bloom even though it was not the time of year for such things. This was obviously where my rose at breakfast had come from. The books on the shelves were all geographical and military in nature. Accounts of battles were in abundance from old Roman conquests to more recent military campaigns, although nothing later than the nineteenth century I noted. There were a few books by well-known poets from days gone by, Keats, and Byron mostly. No doubt to keep the lady of the house occupied. But nothing that could help me in my search for Colonel Richard Armstrong.

As I ate a light lunch, again left for me so thoughtfully in the dining room, I actually found something on an internet search for the local area.

‘Yes. Got you’, I cried.

I was looking at the records of famous soldiers from the area and had found Colonel Richard Armstrong of the 2nd Dragoons who had died of his battle wounds at his home whilst being tended to by the lady of the house.

The picture showed a handsome military man in uniform upon his horse with sword in hand ready to lead a charge. There was no picture of a woman anywhere and no clue as to who she may have been.

Colonel Armstrong had led his men into battle leading from the front it had said and had received a number of wounds before victory was declared. Having sustained serious wounds on the battlefield he was taken home by a team of his men and left with the lady of the house where he apparently died in her arms only one day later. I continued reading about the battle and was suddenly struck by the time. The sun was dropping in the sky and I found I had been reading for hours. This man was a true battlefield hero, saving many of his men from death as he led them in many successful campaigns with his battlefield tactics outwitting his enemies time and time again.

I put away my phone and walked up the stairs to my bedroom pausing once more in front of the painting.

‘Are you the man in my dreams? Are you real Richard?’, I said to the handsome Colonel Armstrong. Evelyn Ashworth was still at his side and I retained the feeling that she was still trying to give me a warning.

I put these thoughts away and walked up to my room. As I entered, I jumped back with a start. In the middle of the bedroom was an old metal bathtub. It was full of hot steaming water. On the bed a dress was neatly laid out. A red, velvet dress. Like the one in the painting. I was confused, my head spinning. What on earth was going on? I am an educated woman. This was not making any sense. I undressed and stepped into the bath. Shame to waste it.

 

 

Chapter 7

I looked at myself in the mirror. The dress fit perfectly. I looked like a different woman, from a different time. If only I had kept my long hair. I could have put it up and I would have looked rather regal. As it was, I had combed my short hair as best I could, and it would have to do.

‘Not bad’, I said out loud. ‘Even though I say so myself’.

There was the sound of a bell in the distance. A clock was sounding. It sounded eight times. Why had I never heard it sound before? I felt as if she was being called. It was eight o clock. Dark outside. Time for dinner. I opened the door and walked down the stairs to the dining room. For some reason I was nervous, my stomach had butterflies chasing around. Perhaps it was hunger, I hoped so. I needed to know the answers that were mounting up inside my head. Time to find out.

As I entered the dining room my hand was once again raised to my mouth. I did not know what I was expecting to find in the dining room but the man that stood there at the table took my breath away. He was stood tall, dressed in a fine military uniform, navy blue tunic with white braid on the shoulders, and silver buttons that gleamed out at me as if they had just been polished. His tight-fitting trousers, a shade of light grey, were tucked into knee length boots, the black also polished to a glass like sheen. He had a magnificent physique, stood with all the stature that a Dragoons Officer should have, and his long hair confirmed it for me. This was Colonel Richard Ashworth. I was sure of it. He smiled at me and all my nerves melted away.

‘Please join me Tessa’, he said in a strong Southern accent, holding out his hand to me.

I did as I was asked. There was nothing else I could do. Nothing else I wanted to do if the truth was known. I held out my hand to him as I arrived at the table. He took my hand and gently kissed the back before taking my chair and inviting me to sit.

‘Thank you, Richard’, I said as I sat.

He seemed surprised and paused momentarily before taking a seat opposite.

‘You know who I am?’, he questioned me.

‘I do’, I nodded.

He smiled and said, ‘Shall we eat?’.

We had a lovely meal together. There was a bowl of hot beef soup which Richard kindly ladled into a dish for me, followed by a whole salmon and vegetables, already in situ at the next table along. We drank heavy red wine with our meal and the conversation flowed easily between us. As the meal came to an end music suddenly started. A slow easy flowing sound and as Richard stood, he again offered me his hand and asked me to dance. I automatically stood and went to him.  Taking me in his arms we gently moved to the music, the feel of his long hair tickling my neck. We danced for an hour or so, each dance seemingly bringing us closer together. As the music stopped Richard stood in front of me, his blue eyes piercing into me, calling me, wanting me. I moved towards him and we kissed, a tender kiss. His lips were gentle on mine, if a little cold, the fragrance of him a reminder of the night before. I was lost in his embrace, wanting more of him. He stood away from me taking my hand once more and led me out of the dining room and up towards the stairs. We did not go to my room. Instead, as we took the stairs, he stopped outside a door on the first floor. Opening it, he invited me to enter. 

‘Please, stay with me Tessa’. He then walked into what looked like a fabulously opulent bedroom and waited for me.

I paused at the door. I don’t know to this day what caused me to wait at the door, not stepping inside. But wait I did.

Richard spoke to me again. ‘Please Tessa, come and join me inside’.

‘Then what?’, I questioned.

‘You will stay with me, here’. His smile had left his face now. An angry look towards me.

‘I have to leave. I’m sorry’, and with that I turned and left. Still wearing the red velvet dress, I grabbed my bag which I had already prepared earlier and ran down the stairs. As I ran, each door I passed slammed shut with a crash. It was like a wind had blown each one closed as I passed by.

I approached the front door and as I made my way through that one too closed with a crash catching the end of the dress. It was caught in the door. I could hear a creaking sound behind. Someone was walking down the stairs. I tore at the dress and it came free, a portion still left tangled up in the door. I managed to get into my car, turn the ignition on, and hit the accelerator. The gates which had been left open were now starting to slowly close.

‘No fucking way. I’m out of here’. I sped through the gates scraping the side of my car as I passed through.

‘No problem. It’s already a wreck’.

As I checked the rear-view mirror, my car heading down the bumpy road I could see the gates to the hotel were now fully closed. A figure stood at the gates. A man in uniform. I just drove. The weather was fine, and I just drove. I continued driving until I hit the highway and only stopped to fill up the tank.  I booked into a modern motel at my destination and made sure that I had plenty of company there before I retired for the night. There was no creaking sounds outside my room that night and no notes left outside my bedroom door the following morning.

 

 

Epilogue

My first three months as a small-town Lawyer went well. I worked long hours, learned so much, and I was looking forward to a bright future. I put the weekend in that old hotel behind me and hardly gave it a second thought.  I have been given a week’s leave now and am heading back to my roots for a quick family visit. Time to see my dad.

I headed back cross country using the same route I had taken three months earlier but in reverse. As I approached half-way and the turn off for the old hotel, I just couldn’t resist taking one last look. I turned off and headed down the bumpy road following the sign for the hotel. As I arrived at the gates, I must tell you that I could not believe my eyes. The hotel was nothing more than a shell. A burned-out shell. The gates were still in place and a chain was draped around them with a padlock to keep them secure. The roof was no longer in place and had long since collapsed by the look of it. Weeds were overrunning the place and it was as if it hadn’t been used for decades. But I knew this was not the case.

A sign attached to the gates read: LAND FOR SALE. I took out my phone and placed a call to the agent listed on the sign. The agent who answered my call confirmed to me the hotel was indeed owned by the Armstrong family. The current owner, a direct descendant of the famous Colonel Richard Armstrong, had finally decided to sell up.

‘That’s very sad’, I said to the agent. ‘It was a lovely hotel which I myself had the pleasure to stay in very recently’.

There was a pause at the other end of the line then the agent replied, ‘You must be mistaken. No one has stayed in this hotel for quite some time’.

‘Excuse me, why is that?’, I asked.

‘It burned down fifty years ago’.

I hit the accelerator on my car and drove on.


Submitted: April 30, 2021

© Copyright 2021 sparkles9999. All rights reserved.

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