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Moving Shadows

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It should be right this way.

Then again, that’s what you told yourself an hour ago. Looking at the blinking out time on your crappy car radio, you frown. It’s nearly the middle of the night, and you can’t, for the life of you, find yourself on this gigantic map the prickly station worker had handed you.

There, in the distance.

Flickering lights from lanterns in the window draw you to a huge manor, at the end of a winding road. You can barely see through the heavy downpour of the thunderstorm, but you can tell it’s not your friend’s house. He’s not that rich.

Well. It’ll have to do for now, at least until this rain dies down.

You pull up the road, and thankfully, the gates are open. You park by the door, and run inside, covering your head.

Drenched and cold, you hurry inside… only to find that the entryway is less than welcoming. The light you saw in the window seems to have vanished, leaving the old place in complete damp, eerie darkness. You peer around, through the cobwebs and outlines of furniture. Or what could be furniture.

“And just who are you, now?”

You jump, and put a hand over your heart. A tall man with a flickering candle illuminating his face stands behind you. He appears more than a little inconvenienced by your appearance.

“I-I just came in from the rain. M-my name’s (y/n) (y/l/n)… I didn’t mean to intrude.”

“Yes, that seems to be the common greeting tonight,” the man sighs, and you frown.

“Wh-who are you?” you ask softly, shivering. The man stares for a second, then holds the candle closer to your face. Seeing how cold and disheveled you look, he sighs a second time.

“You had better come in, Miss (y/l/n). I don’t want to be responsible for the death of a young woman on my front doorstep.” He leads you in, and down the dark hallway somewhere.

“So. This is your place?” you ask, blowing on your hands. The man nods curtly.

“It should very well be.”

Not really understanding what he means, you blow harder into your cupped hands, and the man looks over.

“Here,” he mumbles, taking pity on you. He removes his tuxedo jacket, and drapes it around your shoulders.

“Oh, I couldn’t,” you start to say.

“You can and you will,” he replies gently, eyebrows lifting a little more kindly than when you two had met. “You’re freezing half to death, my dear, and I won’t have it.” You smile, managing to blush under the cold. He’s a gentleman, and a handsome one at that. His hand hasn’t left your shoulder, and you bite your lip as you look back at the slightly older man. He is very attractive, even in this low light. Just your type.

“Are you–” you begin to ask,

“Great. Who’s this one now?!” a loud, grating voice rings out. You two come up on the entrance to a lavish dining room, containing a somewhat gaudy banquet table set for six. You quickly run over to the fireplace, and kneel down to warm up. The rest of the people in the room, who seem to be dressed for some sort of formal event, all stare curiously.

“Oh sure. Just come right in, make yourself at home,” the young man with the loud voice huffs, tossing his hands up. The older gentleman from the door clenches his jaw.

“Need I remind you, Mr. Magee, that this is my house, to invite in who I see fit?”

“Hardly,” an older, posh British man says with a distasteful little purse of his lips. An eyebrow is raised.

“The same reminder goes for you and your family, Mr. Grisbane.”

“I never!” the posh man begins.

“Oh, I don’t think we should fight over it,” a shorter elderly man cuts in, hurrying over to pat you on the back, “Our doors are always open to those in need, like this poor young girl.”

“My doors,” the man from the door smiles tightly.

“But think of the web she has now ensnared herself in,” Grisbane says pointedly, turning from the bowl of punch, “Think of that, Sebastian.” Sebastian bows his head, silent.

“I… I really am sorry,” you speak up, feeling like you’re in the way, no matter how many people argue about it. “I’ll be gone in five minutes, tops. I just wanted to dry my–”

“No, no. You will stay here until this rain stops, and that is final,” the man says sternly, and walks over to you, glaring at Sebastian until he hurries back into his corner like a door mouse. “My dear. You have not been properly introduced, and as we have concluded you will be staying for the time being… I suppose the right thing to do would be to acquaint you as well as I am able.” He looks around at the others.

“Lionel Grisbane, as I have come to know,” he nods to the posh man by the punch, who gives a solemn nod back. “Sebastian Grisbane, his younger brother,” the frightened little man nods as well, “Author if I am not mistaken, Kenneth Magee…”

“You’re not mistaken,” Kenneth quickly confirms, shooting you a wave.

“–his… friend, Miss Norton. Everybody, this is Miss (y/n) (y/l/n).” He turns to you, taking your hand to shake. “And I, am the owner of this house. Mr. Corrigan.”

“That is a matter of perspective, I would say,” Lionel mutters.

“Mr. Corrigan,” you repeat, captivated for a second by the intensity of his stare. “Pleased to meet you.” You remember your manners. “All of you. I really do thank you, it’s just that– I can’t see anything out there, and the maps look like a bunch of garden snakes trying to get jiggy with it!” Ken and Mary Norton burst into quiet laughter, and you blush as you realize the sort of people you’re around. "Sorry.” Ruffled a little, Corrigan nods.

Lionel checks his watch. “Well. On that note. Before the lovely Miss (y/l/n) made her grand entrance, we were discussing a matter of utmost prudence.”

“Oh, yes,” Kenneth sighs sarcastically, “The matter of your locked up brother who escaped somewhere in this godforsaken place?”

Your eyes widen, as you pretend not to be too shocked. Had you happened upon the wrong house this late at night?

“You’re scaring (y/n),” Miss Norton bites her lip, and you turn.

“No, I’m… okay, really. I have no business being here in the first place.”

“But she could help,” Lionel narrows his eyes, stalking toward you, “She could lure him out.”

“She will do absolutely nothing of the sort,” Corrigan steps in to once again stand up for you. You smile a little, and he straightens up, standing by your side.

“I’m afraid the only remaining alternative we have then, is to split up,” Lionel says, lighting a candelabra one wick at a time and glancing up through the orange glow. “Divide our investigation throughout the property.”

Oh,” Sebastian starts to fret, downing his glass of wine. You look up at Corrigan, who seals his lips into a tight line. It’s decided then. You suppose going along with all of this would be safer than staying somewhere by yourself, during… whatever it was that you had the misfortune of happening upon tonight.

“I’ll stay with Miss Norton,” Kenneth starts off by saying, “We’ll investigate the basement.”

“Myself and Sebastian will look around the main floor,” Lionel says, “Which leaves Miss (y/l/n) and Mr. Corrigan the upstairs.”

“So it does,” you nod, and take his arm. “Mr. Corrigan? Lead the way.”

He swallows, and the two of you take a candelabra, navigating the stairway up as thunder booms outside. Branches cast spindley shadows, and with every occupied spiderweb you nearly walk through, your nerves are set even more on edge.

“Well, I’ve got to say that with some maniac brother on the loose, I’m starting to regret stopping in to wait out the storm,” you tease, tightening your grip on the arm of Corrigan’s well-tailored suit. He inhales through his nose, and lifts the candles up to the peeling wallpaper.

“That brings me to a question that’s been weighing on my mind.”

“Mhmm? Ask away.”

“What the devil are you doing this far North in Wales, Miss (y/l/n)?” Corrigan asks you.

“Visiting a friend. Or, I was. Didn’t expect my night to turn out like this,” you laugh.

“Yes, well. Can I confess something?” He leans in. “Neither did I.” You two share a chuckle.

“I was going to ask you something earlier as well…” you bring up, and bite your lip. “Are you married?”

“I’m not,” he admits, keeping his eyes ahead down the creaking hallway, “Not any longer. My wife passed away.”

“Oh,” your face falls as any possibilities for the night are dashed, “I’m sorry to hear that.”

“I appreciate the sentiment, but it was years ago. Nine, to be exact. I loved her, but she was sick. I’ve moved on with my life, as she would have wanted.” He looks down at you. “Why do you ask?”

“I was just curious,” you say, and your eyes flicker down to his lips. He parts them.

“Miss (y/l/n)–”

Suddenly, you feel a door knob along the wall. “Here,” you whisper.

“Let me go first,” he puts a hand in front of you, and moves forward. “Is there anybody in here?” he asks, lighting the oil lamp on the wall. At once, the room is illuminated, to reveal what appears to be a woman’s uninhabited bedroom.

“Doesn’t look like there is,” you say, checking under the bed. Corrigan checks the closet, and sets the candelabra down.

“I’m starting to believe that crazy family downstairs fabricated this entire peril, in a ploy to get us out of the house,” Corrigan looks up grimly.

“Why would they want to do that?” you ask, “You own it.”

“They’ve got it in their heads that since this was their ancestral home, it still belongs to them. They are sorely mistaken.”

“What do you plan to do with it?”

“Tear it down. Develop.”

You shrug. “Smart, I suppose.” You do love the charm of the old place, but it didn’t make very much sense to keep it around if he didn’t have any sentimental attachment to it.

Corrigan turns to do one last sweep of the room, but hesitates to douse the light. Your soaked through white shirt is falling down your shoulder to expose your collarbone, and the very top of your left breast.

“I…” Corrigan starts to say, and wills himself to take his eyes off you. But he can’t.

“What?” you look up, brow furrowed in concentration. He lets out a breath, and you instantly recognize his expression. You can tell when a man wants you. “Mr. Corrigan?”

“We’d better continue our search.”

You stand up, brushing your hair back. God, he’s so much taller than you. “I don’t think we have to go just yet. I mean… it’s like you said. This could all be one big lie.” You walk toward him slowly, and his back shuts the bedroom door. “You could be lying to me, too. And I could be lying to you. We’re strangers, you and I, and everyone in this house. Exciting, isn’t it?” You smile.

“Very,” he replies darkly, eyes roaming down your body. Your lips turn up even more, as you encourage him to slide a hand around your waist.

“Think about who I could be. I could be a killer. I could be a virgin, innocent and ready to be shown how it’s done…” You pout, then grin. “But I’m neither.” You press your lips up to his, and he lets out a breath he’d been holding, moaning. His hands travel down, one cupping your thigh and the other reaching between your legs. You laugh, walking him back toward the bed with one hand around his tie.

“Not so much of a gentleman anymore, are you, Mr. Corrigan?”

“On the contrary,” he whispers, undoing your buttons and laying you into the pillows, “I am always a gentleman.” He moves downward, parting your legs and pressing a soft kiss to your panties.

“Oh,” you breathe, and he kisses further down, swirling his tongue gently. Finally, he moves up, and resumes kissing you. After taking off his shirt, you break away. “I guess it’d be a laugh to assume you’ve got protection on you,” you sigh.

“My only sexual partner was my wife,” Corrigan tells you, chest heaving. “And yours?”

“I’ve had a few, but I’m tested and on birth control.”

He captures your mouth again, and you breathe in relief, wrapping your legs around his back. You use this position to your advantage, turning both of you over. “Do you like this position, Mr. Corrigan?” you ask.

“I can’t say I object,” he smiles, and you straddle his hips, lifting over top of him. He groans, holding your hips down as you start to rock. “It’s been so long…” he whispers. “Nobody’s wanted me the way you do.”

“Nobody’s cared for me quite like you did,” you reply, dragging your chest against his as you sink down again.

“I can’t imagine why,” he rasps, “You’re a beautiful woman.” You blush, and ride him harder, moaning his name.

“I’m close,” you say. He turns you both over, so that he’s on top, covering you with his body, making you feel safe beneath him.

“I want to watch you finish in my arms,” he mumbles against your lips, and you see his jaw clench as you grasp onto his bare arms.

“You’re so big… god, you feel so good…”

“Mmm, (y/n).”

You gasp, and he growls, beginning to make each thrust harder, deeper.

“Please!” you cry, then bite your fist, remembering that you have to keep your voice down.

“It’s alright,” he says softly.

“But the others–”

“Pay them no mind,” he smirks down at you, “This is, after all… my house.”

You hold tightly onto him as you come hard, and he moans not long after, finishing at the same time. He rolls off of you, laying back on the pillows beside you. You sigh contentedly as the shutters shake, banging around to remind you of the current terrifying situation you should be worrying about.

“Listen to the rain coming down– it’s not letting up. I wonder if they’ve found anything down there.”

“Or anybody,” he huffs, stretching an arm around you. You cuddle into his chest.

“Made up or not… I’m nervous in this old place. You’ll protect me, won’t you?”

He smirks. “I’d take an axe to the head for you, my dear. An axe to the head.”