The Red Velvet Suite
Chapter 1

Caution: This Horror Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Consensual, Romantic, Heterosexual, Humor, Extra Sensory Perception, Oral Sex,

Desc: Horror Sex Story: Chapter 1 - A pretty psychic, her gay friend and a handsome professor walk into a haunted house...Sound like the opening to a funny joke? What happens inside is anything but funny.

"You don't believe in this 'ghost' crap, do you?" Geoff asked me as we strolled to my car.

"I don't know, Geoff. I've seen a lot of weird things out there," I answered noncommittally. I put my bedroll and overnight case in the trunk and took the camera equipment from him. "I just like to keep an open mind."

"And in the meantime I'm heating up left-overs while you're out ghost-busting. That's just great. I hope a really big ghost scares the shit out of you." He shoved the remaining equipment at me and stalked back to the house in disgust.

"You'll live," I called over my shoulder as I slammed the trunk lid down.

I was starting to feel a touch of excitement and refused to allow his little tantrum to strain my mood. He was always behaving like a spoiled mama's boy and when I didn't give in to his whims he held out on me — sexually; and he'd been angry with me a lot recently. I realized just how sick of him I was becoming as I climbed behind the wheel of my prized, classic, candy-apple red 1965 Ford Mustang 2+2 Fastback with the 289ci V8 engine and fired her up.

I shoved all thoughts of dousing Geoff with honey and staking him out on an anthill to the back of my mind to feast upon later. If I didn't hurry I was going to be late picking up Ted. I wondered what kind of clothing he would be wearing today. The last time I took him somewhere he was decked out in a black fishnet wife-beater tank, a hot pink jacket, and pink and black tiger-striped spandex pants. I rolled my eyes at the thought.

Ted was the research assistant for Professor Grable in the parapsychology department at the local university. When the professor had announced this little project to his team, Ted had suggested inviting me. I was squeamish at first. Frightening thoughts and disturbing childhood memories tickled at the corners of my mind. But the more excited Ted got, the more he wheedled me into accepting. So there I was, packing my things into my car for a weekend of ghost hunting. I had to laugh at myself. It was all too funny.

Ted was sitting on the steps of his apartment building when I arrived. He was elegantly dressed all in black with just a touch of mascara and lip gloss, his things stacked around him. He peered over the top of the book he was reading when I pulled up. His face split into a wide grin as he stood and waved.

"You're right on time, girlfriend," he called when I opened my door. "I can't wait to get started." He gathered his things and loaded them into the trunk. "How's Geoff taking it?"

"With his usual amount of exultation," I said with a roll of my eyes. "He'll get over it. Ready?"

Ted ran to the passenger side of the car and opened the door. "Baby, I was born ready!" He waggled his hips in a funny little dance. "Let's go!" Ted sat down and slammed the car door a bit too hard for my liking. "Just what's going on between you two anyway. Is the honeymoon over?"

"What honeymoon? You have to get married to have a honeymoon and, if I ever get married, it won't be to him. I think he's getting ready to move out anyway. He'll probably be gone by the time we get back on Sunday. If not, I'll toss him out on his lazy ass."

"It's about time, girlfriend. I never could stand that colossal prick." Ted was being all too pleased with himself as he adjusted and smoothed his outfit.

"Well, if it's any consolation, he can't stand you either. He hates all queers." I shot him my sweetest smile.

"Hey, do me a favor after you dump the homophobe, tell him I'm hot for his bod and wanna suck his dick." Ted laugh maniacally at his own joke. "Man, I can't wait to get there. This is so cool! Hit the gas, will ya? Let's see what this hotrod can do." His voice ended the sentence in an enthusiastic squeak.

It was hard not to be infected with his enthusiasm. This was the kind of hands-on research he loved doing. He and I had been friends for most of our lives and he loved to put me in situations that would make people stand back and scratch their heads. It all started when we were kids and his cousin, Martha, was babysitting us. Martha decided with it being so close to Halloween that we needed a good scare so she conducted a séance. I suppose it really wasn't much of a séance since she had absolutely no idea what the hell she was doing, but the end result was pretty bizarre. I had ended up on the floor convulsing in a fit of some kind.

Four doctors and two CT scans later no one could find a thing wrong with me and Martha was never allowed to sit with us again. To this day I have never talked about what happened to me that night and just thinking of it now gives me the heebie-jeebies.

But I digress. Anyway, there I was returning to the jaws of whatever was out there, driving through the open countryside. It was a brilliant fall day with just enough autumn spice in the air to set the mood. The sun was shining brightly and the birds were singing joyously in the change of seasons. Little did those misguided little birdies know but the weekend was about to get a little freaky.

I decided to distract my thoughts from my memories. "So why you all decked out? I thought this was a working weekend. You look like you have a hot date."

"Grable told me he's bringing the new psych prof with him. I heard he's a real hotty. A girl's got to look her best, you know." Ted pulled down the visor and preened in the mirror. He fluffed his lanky hair with his fingertips and turned back to me. "You look like you could use a little touching up yourself, sweetie. That man of yours is really dragging you down."

My wounded woman's pride demanded retribution. "Fuck you, sista! At least I don't have shitty-looking stringy hair hanging in my eyes."

"No, yours is frizzy and could use some hot oil." He laughed at the expression on my face as I snapped my jaw shut.

It seemed to take forever before Ted told me to slow down. He was looking for the turn we were to take. His directions had taken us down a gravel road in the middle of nowhere. It hardly seemed like a road. There was barely enough room for two cars on its narrow expanse. The brush on both sides was overgrown and seemed intent upon reclaiming the ground that man had carved out of the wilderness.

"There it is," he screeched as he impulsively aimed his extended arm across my vision.

I swatted at his hand as it hit me in the face. "Are you trying to kill us? I'm driving here," I complained as I rubbed my injured eye.

"Sorry," he grinned. "That's the turn."

I looked to my left and didn't see a place to turn. I stopped the car. "Where? I don't see a turn. All I see are woods and brush."

"Right there!" he chirped as he stabbed out with his pointer again.

This time I ducked. I shot him another dirty look before craning my neck to study the area again. There was nothing there but brambles and brush. But, squinting my watering eyes, I finally saw what looked like it might just be a broken spot in the over-growth of brush. "Are you shitting me? You want me to drive my baby through there? Are you insane? It's bad enough just taking the gravel road but now you want me to drive through the middle of a bramble patch?"

"Well, it's either that or we carry all our stuff more than five miles over steep hills and rocks." He grinned again knowing that I was nearly fit to be tied.

"You asshole! You might have warned me. I could have gotten Geoff's crappy old Blazer for this trip. Do you realize just exactly what kind of car you are sitting in?" My grandfather had given me that classic candy-apple red 1965 Ford Mustang 2+2 Fastback with the 289ci V8 engine as a high school graduation gift fifteen years earlier, just to piss off my mom. She had nearly had an apoplexy when she saw it, stating that it was far too expensive. Beside that, she thought it was too dangerous for a kid my age. Gramps just laughed at her and handed me the keys. That's the way with wealthy Irish grandfathers. They love to do sweet things for their only granddaughters, especially if it annoys their own children. It's the game they play.

We sat there for a few minutes as I white-knuckled the steering wheel. Without looking at him I knew he was grinning at me. "You carry the heavy stuff," I said. I shut off the engine and opened my door.

"Okay," he said with an exaggerated sigh. "If you feel safe leaving it here... I hope someone doesn't come along and steal it." He started to get out of the car.

The sound that came out of my throat next was similar to that of a rabid wolf. "I hate you," I said quietly as I closed my door and cranked the ignition round.

He was laughing when he got back in. The lump in my throat threatened to choke me as I meticulously squared my car into the narrow opening of the thicket. With excruciating slowness, I gradually eased my beloved show car along what could only be described as a narrow footpath. With each screech and squeal of woodland branches against her flawless paint, I came up with a new and more creative expletive to hurl at Ted's head. He laughed his ass off.

"You love me and you know it," he said between gasps.

"You are going to buff out every inch of this vehicle when this weekend is over, you brat. You just better hope those scratches don't go too deep. I will draw a pint of blood out of you for every one of them that needs repainting."

Ted laughed so hard he had tears running out of his twinkling eyes. "You don't scare me," he chirped and stuck his tongue out.

The path we were on was not only over-grown but also pocked with chuck-holes big enough to swallow a dump truck. A couple of times I was forced into the clawing brush to avoid tearing up my suspension as we crawled up one steep hill after another. After about two miles the wilderness seemed to take pity on me and open up a bit as the path got a little wider. I breathed a sigh of relief as I was able to ease my poor classic, candy-apple red 1965 Ford Mustang 2+2 Fastback with the 289ci V8 engine away from danger.

"That wasn't so bad," Ted intoned quietly.

I slammed on the brakes. "Out! Get out of my car and walk, you flaming asshole!"

"Come on, Allinson... it's just a car."

I was incredulous. As I tried to speak I could feel myself becoming rigid with rage. All that came out was an impotent sputter. "You... I... aaa... prick!" I cleared my throat and tried again. "What do you drive? Oh, yeah, that's right. You don't have a car. When the bank came to repo it, all that was left was a twisted piece of junk. I think that pretty much says it all. Get out and walk."

He was laughing when he got out. He was like both the little brother and the little sister I was glad my parents never saw fit to grace our family with. He lived to annoy me to the point of committing a felony. Then, every time I got that angry with him and swore I never wanted to see him again, he would show up just at the moment when I most needed a friend. He was like that proverbial bad penny.

I drove for about another mile before I began feeling guilty. Berating myself for being too easy, I stopped the car and got out, lighting a cigarette. Practicing my smoke rings, I walked around the car inspecting the damage. Sure enough, she was covered in a fine mesh of criss-crossing scuffs and scratches. I swore at Ted, even though he was still too far behind to hear me and began rubbing the paint with my fingers. I put a silent curse on him, hoping his dick would fall off and his balls would shrivel up by the next full moon. And I took great delight in thinking that some would argue he didn't need them anyway. Fortunately it didn't look like any of the scratches would be permanent but Ted was going to be busy for a couple of days buffing them out. Then I thought that maybe I would let him keep his cock and balls after all.

He was still laughing when he topped the hill behind me and I had cause to rethink my inclination to recant that curse. He started jogging and called out, "I knew you wouldn't leave me," as he drew near.

"Just shut up and get in," I muttered.

The rest of the way to our destination was pretty uneventful. I maintained a stony silence as Ted giggled for no apparent reason from time to time. Suddenly the thicket opened up and a massive structure appeared before us. The car halted as I mashed my foot down on the brake pedal, causing Ted to slide forward on the genuine black vinyl bucket seat, smacking his chin on the hard dash.

I had never seen anything like it. "This is the place?" I asked, ignoring his pained whines. I was staring in awe at something that looked like it came out of one of those campy Hollywood B movies. I half expected ghoulish zombies to come shambling out of the doors and windows any minute, or Vincent Price to glide out in a blood red velvet robe. "What the hell is this place? This is straight out of Edgar Allan Poe."

What had obviously once been a grand and glorious mansion now stood in quiet and sinister condemnation over the neglect to which it had been subjected. I stared at the Moorish Revival style house that was better suited to Europe than the back roads of the mid-western United States. The windows and huge front doors were ensconced under imposing archways. The massive structure stretched to the sky as commanding towers topped with grotesque bulbous domes implied that we were insignificant and inferior in their presence.

"It's the Lovejoy Mansion," Ted said with a wink. "Drive around back. That's where Kyle should be waiting."

"And just what the hell is the significance of 'The Lovejoy Mansion'?" I demanded as the car rolled forward. I had never heard the name, much less the fact that the mansion stood less than two hours outside town.

"You'll see," he returned cryptically.

The cracked and decayed driveway curved upward along a gradual slope to disappear behind the east end of the depressed building. I was becoming increasingly agitated as we followed it. I knew it to be my imagination, but I could have sworn that the overgrowth of trees and brush that lined the drive was lunging out, like ominous grasping arms, to snare us. As we neared the end of the drive I asked myself why I didn't turn tail and run — I had no answer.

We pulled to a stop under a sprawling oak. The tree looked to be older than Methuselah, with gnarled branches that seemed to reach out for us. "There's no one here," I pointed out the obvious.

"That damned Grable, he's probably lost again. He'll be here. Let's unload."

So we unloaded the car. As the autumn breezes stirred, the branches overhead made a groaning sound that left my hair on end. I didn't like the place. It seemed to me that even the sun shone a little less brightly there. I felt a prickly sensation at the back of my neck, like you get when you feel someone watching you. I turned more than once to look at the house with its dingy red brick and broken shutters. It was very unsettling. I was reminded of Arthur Hunnicutt as Bull Harris in that old John Wayne movie, "El Dorado." That character had put it succinctly when he had said, "I got a itch on the back of my neck like there's a injun around and I cain't see 'im."

Ted carried his bags straight up to the back door. He set his stuff down to push aside the over-grown ivy that clung abhorrently to the structure. As he grabbed the doorknob he discovered the door was stuck.

"What are you doing?" I demanded.

"I'm going in." Ted grinned that clownish grin of his and I wanted to slap him.

"Shouldn't we wait for the others?"

"What the hell for? We get first dibs on the rooms. Come on." He motioned to me like we were going to a holiday picnic.

He struggled and pushed his bony frame against the old wooden door. It finally gave way under his assault and he let go of it. The door kept moving, opening slowly, creaking and groaning harshly.

A shiver ran down my spine. Every one of my good senses was telling me to get back in that classic candy-apple red 1965 Ford Mustang 2+2 Fastback with the 289ci V8 engine and get my ass out of there. "I don't feel good about this," I muttered and wrapped my arms around myself. "Something's wrong here."

Ted laughed. "Cool. You're having a reaction already. Wait till Kyle sees you. He's gonna freak." He walked into the dark interior and disappeared from my sight.

I decided to wait outside. The uneasiness in me was increasing by the minute and I just wanted to get the hell out of there. Then there was a blood-curdling scream inside. I raced up the steps, banging my shin and nearly crashing my face on a stone column. I limped to the doorway and grabbed hold of the frame. Peering inside, I couldn't see anything.

"Ted?" I called out. There was no answer. "Ted! Where are you?"

I didn't know what to do. The interior felt as cold as a walk-in cooler. There was a mood to the place that made me want to turn and run. Sticking my head in again, I felt as if something was trying to push me back out. There still was no answer from Ted. What could have happened to him? So I took my first step into the interior of the house. My legs felt wobbly, as if I were standing on a suspension bridge. I felt as if I couldn't hold my balance. The second step was a little steadier and the third put me back on solid ground.

"Ted?" I whispered this time for some unknown reason. Something grabbed me from behind and the door slammed shut. I screamed and whirled around. And there was Ted, laughing like a hyena and pointing his finger at me. I punched him in the gut.

Stepping over Ted's prone and gasping body, I moved a little farther into the room. It appeared to be an entranceway of sorts. The floor was lined in marble and the walls were covered in cracked plaster. Chunks of it had crumbled to lie in dusty piles on the marble.

I turned back around when I heard the sound of a vehicle outside the door. I tried to leave but nearly tripped over the wheezing Ted. He grunted in response.

"Get your ass up, drama queen," I told him flatly. "You ain't hurt."

He stopped his ridiculous pantomime and got to his feet, pulling the door open. "Oh, looky," he chimed. "They're here!"

He flounced out the entrance and left me standing alone in the chilling hallway. I wrapped arms around myself and backed out the doorway. Once outside I turned and fairly ran to meet the others. The air wasn't quite so oppressive in the yard.

I saw three people getting out of the car as Ted moved to my side and wrapped his arm through mine. He leaned over and whispered into my ear. "Look at that guy, what a hunk," he hissed as he dug his manicured nails into my arm. "You just know he has to be gay."

"You wish," I told him. The man had his back to us. He had a great set of shoulders that tapered to a narrow waist. He had the most excellent set of buns I had ever seen. Watching his buttocks flex as he moved made me want to reach out and get a handful. I mean, damn! Then he turned around. I was a goner. He was an absolute dream with dark, curling hair, cobalt eyes and a smile that could melt a glacier. If this was a college professor I was going in first thing Monday to sign up for another four years. Yeah, he was a hotty all right.

Professor Grable stepped forward first. He had the strangest expression on his face as he studied me like a scientist studies the hamster he has just injected with a mysterious poison. His eyes were wide and his mouth was hanging open like he was surprised. He reached out his hand as the drama queen made the introductions.

"Professor Kyle Grable, this is Allinson, the one with the magic. Allinson, the professor. And this," Ted left a pregnant pause and indicated the somewhat older woman behind the professor, "is his wife, Maryanne." I shook her hand as Ted quietly hummed the theme song from Gilligan's Island. I kept a polite smile on my face as I covertly jabbed my elbow into his ribs. He rewarded me with a very unladylike grunt.

"And, I don't believe I know your new friend." Ted offered his hand to the new guy as if he were the Grand Duchess offering her hand to the king.

Grable turned to his companion. "Bruce, this is my assistant Ted Randolph. Ted, this is Professor Mulvanes."

"Charmed, I'm sure." I rolled my eyes at Ted's simpering. "This is my friend, Allinson Jeffers."

I shook his hand. "Nice to meet you, Professor."

"Bruce will do." His smile was incredible. I caught him ogling my boobs, an impressive rack, if the drunks in the pubs were to be believed.

"Then you can call me Teddy Bear," interjected Ted with a giggle. I rolled my eyes again.

"Okay, boys and girls," Grable instructed as he rubbed his hands together. "We're here for a purpose this weekend. Now, the caretaker was supposed to have delivered food and supplies for us..."

"This place has a caretaker?" I whispered behind my hand to Ted.

"So we should have everything we need for a two-day stay," the professor continued. "Now, does anyone know the history of this house?"

"Yes, I do." Ted had a smug look on his face.

"Okay, Ted. But did you tell anyone else?"

"No." He turned to me with a grin.

"Good. As Allinson is going to be our resident psychic..."

"Excuse me? I wasn't told anything about that. I'm not a psychic."

Ted waved his hand down at me. "Denial... don't listen to her, Professor. I've seen her do her thing with my own eyes."

I was flabbergasted. "What thing? I don't do a 'thing'!"

"Oh, shut up. You do too and you know it."

"Okay," Grable held up his hand. "Let's just try to focus on the reason for being here."

"Which is?" I demanded. "I think I have been lured here under false pretenses."

"Don't mind her, Kyle, just go on." Ted poked my arm.

"Anyway," Grable said, somewhat frustrated. "We want to see if we can determine if the rumors about this place are true. We will use electronic equipment and your impressions, Allinson," he paused a beat then added, "if you have any — to try to ascertain the validity of the statements of the witnesses."

"What statements? What witnesses?" I blurted. Out of the corner of my eye I could see that Bruce was stifling his amusement.

Grable sighed. "We have been given statements from those that have visited here. The witnesses allege that the Lovejoy Mansion is haunted. We are here to determine if this is true."

"Great!" I threw my hands into the air. I had been led to believe that they were going to do a few experiments while I roasted marshmallows over a campfire. I wasn't told that I was the experiment. I couldn't wait to get Ted alone.

"Are you all right, dear?" Maryanne asked while surveying my obviously flushed face.

"Oh, I'm great," I answered. "I'm just fine." I gave Ted my most withering look. He pretended to be studying his manicure.

"Well, anyway," Grable continued. "Let's get our things inside and get set up. Ted, you've just been elected to go find the electrical box and turn the lights on. I think you'll find it in the basement." He handed Ted a flashlight.

I smiled maliciously as Ted whined something about spiders and dragged his feet back up the steps. I turned to pick up my bags when Bruce reached down to help.

"Let me get those for you," he said with that super-nova smile.

How could I refuse? He picked up my cameras and my overnight case while I retrieved my bedroll. Together the four of us headed for the house. Grable entered first, followed by his wife. Bruce stood back and waited for me to go through the door. I felt all three of them watching me as I hesitantly made my approach.

I stopped. "Is this how it's going to be all weekend, you guys watching my every move?"

"I'm afraid so," Grable said without an ounce of shame. "We will need to know everything you feel or see or sense in any way."

I let out a snort and stomped through the entrance. I knew my mistake immediately. I had that same sensation of being off-balance and dropped my sleeping bag. The floor seemed to wobble so that I had to extend my arms to find my equilibrium and keep from smacking my face on the marble floor. I took a few running steps until it felt solid again.

"What just happened there?" the professor asked as he sat his bags down and dug a small notebook out of his pocket.

"Nothing, I just sort of lost my balance." I hoped that would end his questioning. I could have sworn I heard a game show buzzer go off and the announcer say, "Wrong answer."

"How did you lose your balance? Was it a matter of feeling dizzy?"

"Not really." I just knew that this man was going to think I was a lunatic if I told him the truth.

"Please describe it for me."

I sighed and reached for my bedroll. "When I walk through it feels like the floor starts to wobble. Almost as if it's not really solid. It's hard to explain."

He was jotting down notes with the stub of a pencil. Then he flipped the little book shut, returned it to his pocket and retrieved his luggage. "Let's get settled in our rooms." He started to lead the way. "Now the house is fully furnished. You will want to be careful of the furniture though. Be sure to test it before putting your weight on it. Some of it is pretty rickety. The house has three stories, a basement, a sub-basement and two wings. Maryanne and I will take what is called the Blue Suite on the second floor. Bruce, I think I'll put you in the Yellow Suite in the west wing and Allinson, I want you to take the master suite in the east wing. It's also called the Red Velvet Suite."

I figured Ted would be jealous of my sleeping someplace called the Red Velvet Suite and I wondered if he was to sleep in the west wing with Bruce. The thought almost made me laugh out loud.

"Professor Grable," I said.

"Call me Kyle, please. If we're going to live together for the next couple of days I want us on first-name terms."

"Okay, Kyle. Where will Ted be sleeping?"

"I'm going to put him in the room next to ours. I may be working late and will need his assistance. No need to disturb everyone else's rest."

As if anyone was going to get any rest in this place, I thought. As we wound around from the back of the house to the front, I was amazed by what I saw. The kitchens (yes, that's right, plural, more than one) were massive. There was a formal dining room that could have seated an army, and a breakfast room that was nearly as big. We passed by, and through, so many rooms that I lost track of what they were and what possible uses they could have had. There was a thick coating of dust on everything and cobwebs hanging everywhere. Drapes in the windows were filthy and tattered, and it appeared that one of the massive chandeliers had given way at one time to crash on the in-laid flooring. I felt as if I were walking through a bad TV script.

"Why was the house allowed to fall into such a state?" I asked no one in particular.

Maryanne clucked her tongue. "It looks like it used to be such a beautiful place."

"No one seemed to be able to stay here long enough to take care of it," Kyle said. "It's still owned by the Lovejoy estate. They pay a caretaker to look after things, but no one has lived here in more than forty years. Those that lived here before that didn't stay long. Not even the caretaker will come here after dark."

A shiver prickled my spine. "Thanks. That's reassuring."

I followed the little group to the stairway. I felt another urge to turn and run. I heard a sigh behind me and turned, looking for Ted. There was no one to the rear, only the three people in front of me. The tiny hairs on my arms stood on end.

"You all right?" Bruce asked from two steps above me.

"Yeah, this place gives me the creeps. Where the hell is Ted?" At that moment I heard a buzzing noise and the grand chandelier in the main hall flickered to life. Ah, Ted was still in the basement with the spiders. I smiled spitefully at the thought of the pantywaist trapped in the dark with the objects of his worst phobia. It served him right.

From the back of the house came a terrible and horrified screaming. It started somewhere in the bowels of the structure and drew quickly nearer. My smile broadened. I knew that girlish scream. Within just a few moments, Ted came flying around the corner swatting at something that no one else could see. His immaculate black suit was covered in a fine netting of cobwebs.

"Ugh," he grunted as he swiped at the offending strands of spider silk. "This is disgusting. You can't make me go down there again! I won't do it." He pouted at the professor and I rolled my eyes. What a wimp.

"Get your things, Ted. You're taking the room next to mine." Grable turned his back and continued his climb.

Ted stomped a foot. I knew what he was thinking. He had intended to choose the room he wanted and he wanted to be close to Bruce. I nearly laughed at the comical way his face twisted in disappointment. But he didn't say a word as he turned to go find his belongings. We continued without him.

At the top of the first floor, Kyle opened a door and ushered his wife inside. "This is our room." He put his things down and returned to the hall. "If you follow me, Bruce, I'll show you the way to your room."

I followed as well. There was no way I was staying behind with the wife in the Blue Suite. We walked along the corridors until Grable stopped and opened a door.

"Here you are. All the comforts of home." I peeked in to see a sunny room designed for sitting. The room itself was massive with large sets of double doors at either end. "You'll find the bed through there. Get yourself settled in." He turned his keen eyes on me while taking my bags from Bruce. "Follow me, Allinson. I think you will find the Red Velvet Suite to be to your liking."

I had my doubts but I followed him just the same. As we crossed back by Grable's room, Ted was just topping the stairs with his arms loaded. "Where do you want me, Kyle?" he whined.

Grable sighed with the patience of Job and pointed at a door. "In there. The Green Suite adjoins the sitting room next to my bedroom. I want you to go in and set up a workspace. Get my laptop out and clean up some of the dust."

Ted turned and dropped his things on the hall floor. He shoved the door open and moaned just enough to voice his displeasure at the sleeping arrangements. I stuck my tongue out and said, "Nannee-nannee!" He was not amused.

Grable then led me down the long hall to another door. "In here," he said as he opened it, "is the master suite."

"Is this where Lovejoy slept?"

"Yes. Go on in. I think you will find it comfortable."

I could feel him watching me as I peered through the doorway. It was easy to tell that he expected something from me. I didn't like the room I saw one bit. It took me a moment to figure out what was wrong with it. The room was clean. The furnishings looked new. Everything in the large sitting room was done in blood-red velvet. Red velvet drapes lined one wall. I studied the drapes and hugged my sleeping bag tightly. There didn't seem to be a reason to have drapes hanging there. It was an interior wall.

"What do you feel?" the professor asked.

"Like I'm going to puke," I muttered. I couldn't seem to make my feet move as I stood in the doorway. "I don't think this is a good idea. I don't like it here and I want to go home."

"No one is forcing you to stay. If you feel that you need to leave then, by all means, go. But I think something important can be discovered here and I think you are a vital part of that."

Oh, sure. Make me feel guilty. "What's wrong with this place?"

"That, my dear, is what we are here to discover. So, will you stay?"

I closed my eyes and stepped into the room. I heard a woman scream and my eyes flew open. I whirled around to see the professor looking at me questioningly. Had he not heard her? "What was that?" I demanded.

Grable started digging once again for his notebook. "What? Did you hear something? Did you see something?" He started scribbling notes.

I shook my head. I was coming unhinged. "Nothing. I think I would like to get unpacked now."

"Of course." He flipped his notebook shut. "I'll be just down the hall if you need me."

"Kyle," I said as he turned to leave. "Why is this room clean? All the others are filthy and worn out but this one looks new."

"That, Allinson, is one of the mysteries we are here to solve." He walked out and closed the door.

The minute the door was closed, I felt the walls caving in on me. There was tremendous pressure in my head and the room seemed to be spinning. It became a roiling sea of blood-red fuzz, and I felt sick. I heard a voice whispering and a giggle. Tossing the bedroll down, I ran for the door and pulled it open. Horror of horrors, there, on the other side of the threshold was Ted. His sudden appearance nearly wrenched a scream out of me. I slugged him in the arm.

"You asshole!" I yelled. "You scared the crap out of me."

He made a great show of walking around me, looking at the floor under me and at my slacks. "No, I don't see any crap. I think you're exaggerating." I slugged him again.

"I am going to pound you for dragging me here. Why didn't you tell me that I'm the professor's guinea pig?"

"Ooo, how do you rate a clean room?" He flopped down in a crimson velvet-covered chair. "My room looks like the maid was cleaning in reverse. Can I sleep with you? I promise not to steal the blanky."

"Ted, I hate you. I want to go home. This house..." I looked around from my vantage-point at the room's threshold. "Something really strange is happening here. I don't want to be here."

Ted sat upright. "Don't tell me you're scared?" He leaned forward resting his chin on his hand. He had a gleam in his eye that reminded me of a gossipy old woman. "Did you see any spooks? What do they look like?"

"Ted, be serious." I was in no mood for games. "Something is wrong with this place."

True to Ted form, Ted sobered up and quick-changed into my friend. He trotted over to me and wrapped his skinny arms around me. "There, now. Don't you worry. The bogey man doesn't live here."

I pushed him away. "I'm not so sure about that." There was a sudden cacophony of voices echoing throughout the room. Clamping my hands over my ears I stepped back into the hallway.

"Allinson, what is it?" Ted was taking one step forward for every step I took back. He looked startled. "Honey, you're scaring me. What's wrong?"

The chaotic noise halted and I dropped my hands. "Nothing. I don't know. Everything." I turned on my heels and walked up the hallway.

Ted ran after me. "Girlfriend, you're starting to weird me out. Where are you going?"

"Away from that room!" I quickened my pace. When I reached Grable's room I kicked the door open. "What happened in the Red Velvet Suite?" I yelled at him.

"I rather hoped you would tell me," he answered, completely unperturbed. Maryanne looked startled.

"You know what happened. Tell me."

Ted seemed fascinated with the exchange. He cocked a hand on his hip and shifted his weight to one foot. The good professor continued unpacking his books. Maryanne looked at all three of us in turn as she tried to fathom what this crazy woman was doing in her room screaming at her husband.

"Allinson, for reasons of maintaining the purity of this study I won't tell you anything about this house. I wish to see if you can discover it on your own."

"You pious dick," I muttered as I headed for the stairs with Ted on my heels. He was laughing when we reached the bottom.

"I can't believe you said that to him. No one ever talks to Grable like that. I would have paid money to see it. High five, sister." He raised his hand in the air.

I left it hanging and turned from him in disgust. I tried to open the front door but it wouldn't budge. I walked toward the back of the house. Ted was still following me as I tried to find my way out of that accursed mansion. I finally found the kitchens but stopped short when I saw Bruce.

"Hey, where you going in such a hurry?" he asked as he rifled through a box.

"Oh, she's bailing," Ted crooned. "I guess it's just us now." He smiled sweetly at the psychology professor.

Bruce merely smiled in return and continued speaking to me. "I hope that's not true. I thought it might be fun to get to know you a little bit." All memories of my experiences in the room upstairs faded in the face of his brilliant smile.

"Oh, she has a boyfriend, but I'm available," Ted simpered.

I rolled my eyes and stepped closer to the box of supplies Bruce was digging through. "What are you looking for?"

"I was hoping Kyle saw fit to throw in a couple of beers but I'm not having any luck. I thought I would fix myself a snack. You hungry?"

"Oh, Ted, there you are." Maryanne walked into the room. "Kyle's looking for you. You better hurry."

"Oh, pooh," Ted pouted and stalked off to do his master's bidding. Maryanne followed, chastising him for disappearing.

"Ah, alone at last." Bruce flashed that grin at me once again. My poor little heart went pity-pat. "How about some PB&J?"

My stomach was still a little annoyed with the world. "No, thanks. So, just what is your interest in all this?"

Bruce began smearing peanut butter onto a slice of white bread. "I'm just here as an observer. I was intrigued when Kyle told me of his experiment. Doesn't sound like you're too happy about it, though." He reached for the jar of grape jelly. I was treated to a tasty view of his arms flexing as he cranked the seal open. I wasn't sure what was happening to me. It was like I was in a trance or something, but everything about the man screamed sex. I just couldn't seem to stop staring at his body.

"I'm not. I have to remember to give Ted the beating of his life if I ever escape this mess. I thought this was going to be a campout. You know, with sing-a-longs and hot chocolate? I didn't know I was gonna be the pet lab rat." I watched as he sucked a bit of jelly off his thumb.

Bruce nodded his understanding as he squashed both sides of his sandwich together. "I can see where that would upset you. Tell me about your abilities. I'm really curious about it."

I scoffed loudly. "I think Ted gave everyone the wrong impression. He's just like that, always exaggerating everything." I smiled as I tried to change the subject. "You better watch your ass, Doc. He's got the hots for you."

He laughed around the bite he had taken. "So I noticed. Is he always so... ?"

"Flamboyant?" I finished for him. "Yeah, that's my little Teddy, a flaming gayrod. He's a good guy though. And, don't worry, he's mostly harmless."

"Getting back to you. How long have you known about your special talents?"

I sighed. He had a one-track mind. "Here I was hoping you wanted me for my body and all you care about is my brain." The good Professor Mulvanes choked on his peanut butter. With nothing to drink he had to struggle to clear the food out of his windpipe. I smiled innocently at him and waited.

"Ahem," he sputtered. "Well, it's a truly magnificent body, and I didn't mean to minimize the significance of it in this conversation, but I really am interested in how you do what you do." His sapphire eyes did a sweep of my body.

I was starting to enjoy myself, maybe a little too much. I moved a step closer to him. "And just what is it that I do?" I had the sudden urge to reach out and run my hand down his chest. Something was wrong with me.

He set his sandwich down and dusted his hands off. "Are you deliberately evading the subject?" he asked, warming to the game.

"Could be. Maybe I just don't want to talk about it."

"Fair enough, but if you ever do I would really like to hear what you have to say."

I took another step closer, amused as he tensed up a little more. "Why are you so interested?"

"It's an extraordinary ability. When I meet a true psychic I'm always amazed. The way they can sense what the rest of us aren't even aware of is enchanting."

"Enchanting?" I lifted my left eyebrow. "Interesting choice of words. Do you find me enchanting?"

My inner critic was telling me to shut the hell up. I moved a little closer. We were standing just inches apart. I looked up into eyes of the deepest blue I had ever seen. I could feel his warm body and smell his masculine scent. This man was absolutely sexy and I wanted him. I was starting to feel a little frightened of the thoughts burning trails in my head.

Bruce cleared his throat again. "You're enchanting the hell out of me right now."

He was drawing nearer to me, leaning in without even realizing it. Our lips were so close they were almost touching and I could smell the fresh peanut butter on his breath.

"Cool, I'm flattered," I said as I turned and walked away.

I walked out into the entranceway and left the building. I could only imagine what was going through his mind at that point and I had to laugh. It was going to be fun teasing him all weekend, even though I didn't understand what was making me do it. Unless, of course, you counted the fact that he was one hell of a man.

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