Authors: Stephanie Brother
A Stepbrother Romance
By Stephanie Brother
© 2016 Stephanie Brother
All Rights Reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locations is purely coincidental. The characters are all productions of the author's imagination.
Please note that this work is intended only for adults over the age of 18 and all characters represented as 18 or over.
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Table of Contents
by Stephanie Brother
The old Calloway House sat the top of the hill, with barren trees surrounding it like an army of dead soldiers.
It had the archetypical look of every creeping, eerie and dilapidated haunted house ever imagined.
The two children could easily imagine ghosts or other evil entities inhabiting the rooms, crouching low behind the broken glass of the windows.
Creeping slowly up the broken paving stones of the drive, they held hands, bravely advancing on the main gate, their eyes as big as pie plates.
The boy, Brian, was putting on airs, trying to act brave in front of his sister, Kim.
Well, his stepsister, actually.
The old house had quite a reputation in the neighborhood amongst the other kids. Some said that the previous owner had murdered his entire family with an ax. Some of the kids talked about Satanic rituals, held on the night of the Harvest Moon. Some said that kids that had ‘moved’ during the year were sacrificed to demons to assure a prosperous harvest for the coming year.
Brian would simply point out that the farming community had long ago been urbanized. The others’ protests were then usually shouted down, or these believers would eventually leave, embarrassed when it was evident Brian knew the truth.
Even at that young age, he realized that some people wanted the fantastic to be real, that there was power in being able to mold opinion, even if it were completely and provably bunk.
Brian listened, carefully, evaluating the dreck from the facts, and sifting the fine pieces of evidence to ultimately know what was reality.
Brian and Kim had endlessly discussed the mystery surrounding the place, and tried to discover any angle that would shed light on the reason everyone thought it was ‘haunted.'
Even in the summer, and especially when the rains were pelting it with greasy drops of water, the house exuded evil.
It wasn't any one thing, but the entire appearance of the place, coupled with the strange, deserted architecture and rambling garden; the awkwardly planted trees and shrubs; the general disrepair of the structure.
Everything combined to make Calloway House something that seemed to seethe with unclean or nasty things.
Brian and Kim had always remained steadfast, through the long seasons, to the mission of investigating the haunted mansion.
Brian and Kim had decided that the best time for an investigation would be Halloween night. They would be able to roam freely, without the constriction of a parent in tow, because the neighborhood was perceived as being safe.
Once they had amassed a suitable amount of candy, they’d pitch their costumes behind a couple of garbage cans near the gates.
On the road leading to the mansion, they had hidden their technical gear behind the garbage cans, in some brush.
When they had arrived, they rummaged a bit, then retrieved their camera and recorder.
The old and angry-looking Calloway House stood watch at the end of the drive. To them, it looked like a dark angel has taken up residence and kept everyone out.
In full investigative mode, they decided to skirt the perimeter of the place, until they came across the opening in the fence they had found during their earlier daytime investigations.
Brian lifted the fence so Kim could scoot under, and then she held it for him while he ducked under as well.
His shirt, caught by a piece of sharp wire, tore slightly.
“Oh!” said Kim. “I hope you're okay!”
She smiled at him, and he felt his heart suddenly sing.
“It's nothing,” he said while at the same time worried that his mother might be upset at yet another tear in his limited wardrobe.
They pushed their flashlights ahead of them and crept towards the old house. The dim light barely cut the dark ahead of them, and Brian swore that next time they would carry the proper gear. Maybe even night-vision goggles, he wished hopefully.
Spooky noises could be heard in the trees, but Brian thought it was probably just an owl.
Kim was trying very hard not to show how afraid she was, putting a brave face on for Brian's benefit.
She was ready to bolt and run screaming all the way home. She wondered how she ever managed to let Brian talk her into this crazy escapade.
At ten years old, she knew enough about danger and obedience to know that if they were caught would be in deep water.
But Brian was so sure that this time they would get some video footage of a real ghost. It was too good a chance to pass up, and his enthusiasm convinced her.
It didn’t hurt that she thought the world of him.
He was so strong and brave and genuinely liked her.
He treated her well, and never yelled or tried to force her into anything.
In fact, he was the exact opposite of his horrible father – her stepdad. Now, there was a true monster; she thought, and immediately felt ashamed.
But, she knew it to be true…
“Kim, turn on the camera!” said Brian.
Kim held the viewfinder up to her face, the red light illuminating Brian's face and making it look bloodied.
It gave her a sense of foreboding.
Shaking like a leaf, she tried to keep the video picture steady, unsuccessfully.
“Geez, Sis, maybe I should hold the camera?” said Brian, with a kind of disappointed half-sneer. He wasn’t trying to be mean; he just had that jerky quality that she liked so much.
“You're shaking so much, the picture's probably all out of focus! Here, let me have it,” he said.
She gave him the camera, and moved close behind him, as they walked up to the front door of the place.
Now the wind was howling through the barren trees making a eerie noise that sounded like the moans of the dead.
“Brian, I'm scared! Kim said.
“Don't be a sissy!” he said, for his own benefit as much as for hers.
“I know we’ll get a good picture of a ghost and then we’ll both be famous! Just think of it, with all the money we’ll get, you can buy all the dolls you ever wanted, Kim!”
His infectious smile made her weak in the knees, but she didn’t have any idea as to why. She knew she really liked Brian. He was nice to her, even though sometimes he was a dummy.
And, he always made her smile, even after her step-dad was so mean to her.
Buoyed slightly by his dreams of avarice, Kim clutched at Brian as they moved right to the front of the door.
“Here, hold the camera,” he said.
He tried turning the doorknob, and it came off in his hand.
They looked at each other, not sure what to do, as the door slowly swung open, revealing a dank, musty interior.
The weak flashlight beams played over the furniture, draped with the folds of old, blankets and sheets, covered in mildew and stains, like ancient funereal shrouds.
As they explored, they could see something moving. The occasional bat flew through their beams of light.
“No way I'm going in there!” cried Kim.
“Oh, come on, Kim! We’re almost there!” said Brian. He felt just as scared as she, but he started to walk through the doorway.
“You baby!” he admonished her. “I’ll even hold the camera, just be careful!” he added.
He stepped across the threshold; the camera thrust out in front of him like a sword.
Brian’s foot plunged through the rotted floor, and he tipped over and fell flat.
With a crash, the camera went flying, as he landed in the midst of a bunch of animal droppings.
“Oh, gross!” he said. His feet had unearthed a dank, sickly smell, that made him want to retch. He could hear Kim gagging, and saw in the dim light that she was holding a hand over her mouth and nose.
Suddenly, a huge amount of some type of insects were swarming around them.
Kim shrieked as one of the insects lighted into her hair. She turned and began to run out away from the house, leaving Brian stuck in the disgusting mess just inside the doorway.
“Hey, Sis! Wait for me!” Brain shouted after her.
He jumped up, frantically brushing the bugs and filth from his shirt and pants.
Brian ran after Kim, trying to swat all the insects that were streaming over him off, as he smacked his arms and legs.
Brian finally caught up to Kim near the fence. She was white as a sheet.
Tears were streaming down her eyes, and suddenly she cried out in a fearful wail.
“I'm so sorry! I left you, Brian! I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” she sobbed.
“It's okay! It's okay, Sis! Really, Kim, I’m all right!” he said.
“It was just a bunch of bugs! I’m fine, okay? Don’t cry, please?” he begged her.
“Where's the camera?” she asked.
“I dropped it just inside the door, but I don't want to go back in there and get it,” he said, ruefully.
“Mom and Dad will be really mad if you lose that camera,” she said.
“I know,” he said. Brian scuffed his foot against the dirt.
“I really don't want to go back and get it,” he said.
“You've got to,” she said. “Otherwise, we will be in big trouble. It's already going to look funny with you all dirty like that.”
Kim shone her light on his pant legs, which were covered with grime and bug guts.
“Well, Sis, you don't look all that great yourself!” he said.
Kim frowned and stuck her tongue out at him.
He thought she looked cute, even though she was just as filthy from all the grime and dust that had been kicked up when he fell.
“Okay, tell you what. I’ll make a deal with you,” he said.
“Let's both go back and get it.”
She looked at him skeptically.
“I'll be more careful this time,” he said. She smiled at him again, and they both laughed with genuine joy.
Brian thought he’d never been as happy, with Kim next to him, on their shared adventure. He thought maybe he loved her.
But, that was kind of silly, wasn’t it? After all, she was his sister.
Well, stepsister, actually.
Still, he felt great, as they went to retrieve the camera.
The two of them cautiously walked back to the front of the house.
Brian could see the camera just outside his reach, its red eye glaring balefully at them.
“Hang on, Sis! I think I can reach it,” Brian said.
“Be careful!” she said.
Brian put one foot inside the door, and then another. He walked a few paces over to the camera.
He picked it up, and as he swung it around to make sure it was still functioning properly, he saw something.
Brian’s eyes grew wide. Kim looked over his shoulder and she peed herself a little.
Backing slowly out the door he hissed at Kim.
Kim didn't have to be told twice.
Already full of adrenaline and imagining the worst, Kim ran as if all the demons of hell were chasing her.
All the way down the path.
Out the fence.
All the way back to the house.
She barely even looked back to see if Brian was behind her, feeling terrible that she wasn’t brave enough to check if he were following her mad scramble to safety.
Kim ran to the front door of their house and crashed through it.
She into her bedroom and fell sobbing onto her bed.
Brian was right behind her and ran to his own room.
He quickly doffed his dirty clothes, shoving them into a garbage bag, and hiding them in his closet.
Then he made sure to make a copy of the tape.
He wasn't sure what he had seen, but he knew it was important.
Excited and laughing, adrenaline rushing through his blood, Brian knew he had found his calling.