The Haunting of Mercy Moreau: Pt Nine.

Mercy stretched her muscles as the hot water of her shower cascaded down her back. She rubbed her shoulders and leaned her head under the spray, soaking her hair and reducing the cascade to a trickle. The red brick dust from the debris felt gritty to her touch. She let the water wash over her, and as much as she’d love to just soak; the old tank bladder held a limited amount of hot water. Just quick showers until a larger bladder was installed. She smiled and imagined herself soaking in a nice bubble bath in a claw-foot tub.

She wrapped herself up in a huge bath towel and pattered to her bedroom. Good thing the construction guys were gone for the day. Maybe she’d get them to work more on the upstairs. Having the bathroom so close to her sleeping area was nice, but being on the first floor was too exposing. She grabbed a second towel from her duffle bag and rubbed it over her hair. The sound of the breeze in the trees and soft bird calls lulled her into a tranquil calm, but her relaxation was interrupted by memories of the moving shadow from upstairs. She lowered her arms and wrapped the second towel around her shoulders. Sunlight dimmed brightened in the room as clouds passed overhead, edging on a feeling she was being watched. Mercy hesitated, looking around the sparse room. She wandered over to the window and drew back one of the curtains.

Relax. No one’s here.

The lake was like a mirror and reflected the bright colours of the evening sky. Birds chirping and the sound of a distant motorboat engine carried on the breeze. Not a sound of workers. She was completely alone on the property.

She grabbed some clothing from the bag and paused. The smell of Jasmine engulfed her it was strong. She hadn’t noticed any plants growing on the property. Not even in the overgrown garden on one side of the house. A cool gust of air swept through the room. It was a deep cold, like a winter chill. She went to the window and pushed it closed. The temperature grew colder to the point the air crackled as frost formed on the corners of the window, and slowly crept across the surface. Heat from her body escaped as wisps steam from her skin. She touched a frost vein and stretched across the mirror. It melted on contact. The frost moved quickly, covering the entire window in seconds. Her hands shook as she wiped away a small area.

Mercy gasped. The glass’s reflection held the image of a woman. The same woman from town, and she stood by the bed. Mercy turned but she was alone. She wiped away more frost. Her body trembled, part from fear, part from the cold. A larger portion of the window now reflected the room, and the young woman. She stood and watched Mercy. Not moving. Not breathing. Just staring.

Mercy held her breath and stared back, taking in as much detail as she could. The colour of her short party dress was at odds with the ash-grey colour of her skin, and the long dark hair was pin straight and slightly messed.

“Who are you?”

No answer.

“Why are you following me? What do you want?”

A gentle smile lit up the spirit’s pale face. Mercy relaxed, but kept focused on the spectre. “You don’t want to hurt me, do you?” She spoke calmly. Trying to keep her fear contained.  “Otherwise you would have by now.”

Her bathroom door slammed shut. Mercy glanced quickly at the door and then back at the mirror. The young woman was directly behind her now. She froze as a cold penetrated her towel. Goose bumps puckered her skin. She looked into the reflection of the ghost’s opaque eyes. Instinct said she should be frightened but there was calm to the atmosphere and Mercy’s courage grew. “What do you want?”

The spirit smiled slightly and raised her hand.

“You want to touch me?”

The spirit’s hand moved closer to Mercy’s shoulder. The touch was an odd sensation of a painful cold followed by soothing warmth; like placing an ice cube on your skin, followed by a warm washcloth. Both felt good. Tingling spread out along her shoulder blade and a jolt of excitement raced through her. Mercy’s apprehension faded as the sensation spread along her the muscle. The ghost pulled back and the sensation melted away.

Overwhelmed, Mercy gently caressed her shoulder and gazed at her reflection. “That wasn’t so bad.”

The spirit hovered behind and raised both arms. Mercy mimicked the movements. The spirit moved toward her and the cold chill settled along her back, inching moment by moment forward, through her. The light tingling grew into a more forceful numbness and caused her to tremble, but was quickly replace with the comforting warmth and calm. Mercy closed her eyes as it spread across her body. Every part of her felt alive as the jolt of excitement grew into a wave of anticipation. After a few moments the warmth dissipated. Mercy opened her eyes. The frost on the mirror was gone, and so was the scent of Jasmine, but there was something about the colour of her eyes that was different. They were more of a pale green now than hazel, and she’d never felt so alive and so full of energy.

“Now what?”

She thought about calling Stephen and Hector. No, they wouldn’t believe her, would they? Did she have to tell someone? Couldn’t this be her little secret? She was alone in the house so who would know?

She went for the bag and removed the silk dressing gown. Thomas had bought it for her last Christmas, and was one of the few things she kept from him. The cool fabric felt nice against her skin as she slipped her arms into the sleeves and tied the gown around her naked body. She went back to the window and admired herself in the reflection.

“I think I need more silk in my life.”

She rummaged through the duffle bag and grabbed a pair of panties. She unfolded them, and then stopped. No one was here. She could just forget the undies. It’s her house. Why shouldn’t she walk around with just a dressing gown? Who would care? She combed her damp hair with her fingers, threw open the sash on the housecoat and headed for the living room.

Excitement pulsed through her with every step she took as the silk brushed against her skin. Giddiness swept over her. She felt . . . naughty and she couldn’t stop smiling as she sauntered down the large staircase to the front hall. The worn wood floor was cool in bare feet, and she thought about running back up to her room and putting on a pair of socks, but socks would just ruin the mood.

The kitchen windows were open and soft sounds from the lake touched her ears. She placed her hands on her hips, forcing the housecoat to gather behind her back. She smiled as she traced the edge of the center counter with her finger. Maybe she’d paint this room in the nude. It would keep her clothing from getting paint smears. She strolled into the living room and stood in front of the wrought-iron mirror. It still sat in the crate, and it reflected a slightly angled reflection. She never really looked at her body before. She turned from side to side, examining her long torso form all angle. A little on the pale side but all in all, not too bad. Maybe a little colour would do her good.

She strolled to the bevelled glass doors and opened them wide. The cool late afternoon breeze play with the sash on the nightgown. Again, a flash of frivolity struck. She looked out the window. Nice and sunny out and warm. Mercy opened the door wider and walked on the back terrace. The breeze played with her wet hair and she ran her hands through the strands a few times combing it out to dry. The gown fluttered in the breeze. Another though popped into her mind and she twirled the sash in her hand. A gust came off the lake and yanked the top of the dressing gown from her shoulders. Mercy bent her elbows, catching the top half in the crooks of her arms. Her heart raced as she sauntered naked on the balcony; the wind playing with the gown. This wasn’t like her, but she felt so good!

She took a few steps back and let her head fall back. The sun was still warm and the heat sent tingles through her body. It was liberating in a way she’d never felt before. At this very moment she felt at one with nature; at peace with her life for the first time in months. Not even the sound of a speed-boat off in the distance could ruin her tranquil moment and she turned to head back inside…

…and found Charlie standing a few feet away on the steps leading down up to the balcony.

Mercy inhaled quickly, but instead of feeling embarrassed, she lifted her chin and placed one hand on her hip, forcing the gown behind her. “What’s wrong? Never seen a naked woman before?”

She caught his gaze with her own. She’d seen him nude; it was only fair she return the favour. Mercy kept her focus on him and mentally dared him to shift his gaze lower. Her pulse raced, and a small voice inside her head urged her to cover up, but a louder voice told her to keep still.

Charlie turned his gaze toward his feet. “Guess I’ll be going now.” With a quick turn he walked away.

Mercy broke into quiet laughter as Charlie rounded the corner of the house. That was the most exciting thing she’d done in a very long while and she couldn’t help but give in to her giddiness. She hurried back inside and raced to the front entrance. Charlie’s truck moved fast through the trees and was almost to the end of the driveway.

Mercy crossed her arms. “Y’all come back now.”

(To be continued . . .)

© 2019 Dark Conteur Collection of Works

About Darke Conteur
Darke Conteur is a writer at the mercy of her Muse. The author of stories in several genres, she prefers to create within the realms Science Fiction and Dark Fantasy. A pagan at heart, her personal goal it to find her balance within nature; exploring the dark through her stories and the light through her beliefs. When not writing or working with crystals, she enjoys knitting, gardening, cooking and very loud music.

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