Rex stared up at the blackened skeleton of the house and smacked their lips. She dragged her flashlight along the jagged roofline. The Mansion de Madonna de’Llova had gone up like a matchbox decades ago, when people still called this area the red light district instead of ‘that old dead neighborhood by the rail yard’. The fire had started downstairs and quickly engulfed the second floor. There had been no survivors from the actual rooms of the brothel. Fabric fluttered in a busted window, and Rex swore that the crow sitting on the roof was laughing at them. For all intents and purposes, this house looked haunted as fuck.
So it was perfect.
Rex glanced at Calliope. She bounced on her heels and bit her lip to keep from smiling too wide. This was starting off great.
“Is this haunted enough for you, m’lady?” Rex half bowed, miming a tipped fedora.
Calliope laughed and shouldered them. “Rexy! It’s perfect.” He kissed them on the mouth in an excited, sloppy swipe and went running for the porch steps.
Rex felt themselves smiling wide despite themselves. They ran a thumb over the small box in their jacket pocket. Their head snapped up at the sound of a sharp crack. Calliope clung to the banister, one foot fully through the front steps. “Floor’s bad!” he called cheerfully. Rex ran up and carefully pulled him up out of the hole. She kept her hands on his hips for a moment after setting him down. “This place is perfect, thank you.”
Rex rested her forehead against Calliope’s and ran her hands up his side. “I’m glad you like it. But it’s condemned for a reason,” she said, pulling back, “Be careful.”
“When am I not?” Calliope laughed. She kissed Rex again and ran into the house at full speed. “Hello ghosts!” she shouted, throwing her hands into the air. If there was a ghost nearby, he was definitely giving it a hug.
The remains of lacy blinds hung limply at the one intact window. A chair lay on its side on the floor, upholstery ripped and charred. The fireplace was ashy and devoid of warmth. This appeared to have been a sitting or living room of some kind, but no one had been here for a long, long time.
Rex leaned on the open doorway. “No such thing as ghosts,” she added.
Calliope immediately spun to her with an angry pout. “You say that now, Mx. Skeptic, but I’ll have you know that of all the haunted places in town, this is definitely one of the most haunted!” The house groaned in agreement. Rex was unimpressed.
“Just like the last three places?” Rex teased.
“Somebody definitely died in that convenience store, and that other house was a regular murder so it shouldn’t have been counted anyway. But I definitely picked up readings in the train station! But” –she pulled Rex up to standing by her jacket’s collar– “you’re hot when you’re contradictory.”
Rex couldn’t help but snort out a laugh. Calliope rolled her eyes fondly and continued looking around the room. Then Rex felt a chill down their spine. She looked behind her at the outdoors – still and calm – and stepped fully inside. A cold wind…
When Rex turned back, Calliope was sitting with an ouija board on the singed area rug. “You brought a wee-gee?” Rex asked incredulously. Calliope pulled out a squat candle from her duffle. She wielded it at Rex.
“Never come to a haunting unprepared!” She placed the candle at the corner of the board then placed another out, mirroring it. “Sit,” he said, gesturing to the open spot across from him. Rex sat. Calliope pulled out a box of matches and struck one on the bottom of his boot. It didn’t take. Struck again, it burst alight.
He held it to the wick of the candle and Rex felt a sudden wave of panic: Put it out it out out out put it out!!!
As Calliope reached for the next candle, Rex’s hand jumped forward and cut off oxygen from the tiny flame. Calliope held the match to the side and peered at Rex.
Rex shook her head. “Sorry, don’t know what came over me.” She rubbed anxiously at her palm. It was pink and irritated from the brief contact with the flame. Calliope examined Rex’s expression. “What’s that face for?” Rex asked, tucking a strand of purple hair behind their ear.
“You said this house burned down right?” Calliope asked. Rex nodded. “Hmm,” Calliope hummed, looking up at the exposed rafters. She reached over and set the flashlight down beside the ouija board. Its light cast a long shadow on the exposed beams.
Rex could swear she heard a low hum below the floorboards. “Do you hear that?”
Calliope didn’t answer, only stared. Slowly, a manic smile bloomed across his face. She put his hands onto the planchette. He blew out an anticipatory breath then set his shoulders in determination. “Is there anyone here? Can you hear me?” She bit her lip. “Can you send us a sign?” His eyes searched the room.
“Not like that, love,” Rex heard themselves say. She blinked.
Calliope chuckled. “Since when do you call me ‘love’?”
Rex shook her head. She wanted to say something, but… No, that thought went against her entire philosophy on life, on death, on, well, on everything. She was pulled out of her thoughts by Calliope dragging a hand down their thigh.
“You okay, love?” Calliope teased. His hand trailed down their inseam, and immediately Rex was keenly aware of how badly their jeans were chafing.
“Yeah, I’m–” Her brow furrowed. Calliope’s thumb trailed lazy circles along their fly. With the way he’s leaning forward, Rex could see the top of his breasts peeking out of a lacy bralette. He punctuated the action with an intense stroke downward with his thumb. “Yes,” they sighed, tilting their head back. “I want you so badly.”
“You two are so precious, I could just eat you up,” Calliope said. A stricken expression crossed her face and she sat back with a thump. “Rexy, I think…” she trailed off.
“You’re scaring them,” Rex heard their voice scold. She pursed her lips, raising an eyebrow at Calliope. That… wasn’t them. And what Calliope said didn’t sound like him either. This didn’t seem to be real, but from Calliope’s expression, Rex knew it wasn’t their imagination.
Not at all, my dear. Rex felt that same shiver, and the hair on their neck stood on end.
“Maybe yours is scared, but this one…” Calliope’s voice cut off and a giggle bubbled up. “Rex! Rex this is!” He bit his lip. He nodded at no one. Then he got onto his knees and reached for Rex’s hands. Rex felt her body pull in two directions, chilling fear from… whatever this was and arousal for their partner’s clear excitement. She could already see that Calliope was flushing down her neck. Calliope kissed their knuckles and laughed again. “Whatever happens, we’re going to have so much fun, Rexy.”
I do hope so, said the voice, and Rex had to acknowledge that it was a voice. We’ve been waiting ages for an occasion to try this out.
“Try what–?” Rex’s question was cut off by an exuberant laugh from their partner.
“Yes,” Calliope replied, but not to Rex. “Yes!” Then her eyes went glassy. For a split second, her grip on their hands weakened. Then all at once her eyes snapped to Rex’s and they felt an uncanny sense that this was not Calliope.
“I’d like to kiss you,” not-Calliope said. They ducked their head and pinned Rex with a decisively not-Calliope grin. “Please?” When they didn’t get a response, they started to crawl forward, knocking aside the planchette. “I promise Calliope is just as excited as I am.” They placed a hand on Rex’s chest and pushed forward. She laid on her back and gaped at their not-partner. Calliope narrowed her eyes at them, and they saw a very her nod as she bit her lip. Then the moment passed and Rex saw someone else entirely on top of them. “Please, Rex?”
“Kiss me,” Rex breathed. Not-Calliope smiled toothily and pressed themselves fully onto her chest. She felt their tongue press against her mouth as one hand stroked along her chest. It was achingly slow, and Rex wished this stranger would go further.
He’s a bit of a romantic. Rex could swear the disembodied voice tutted.
Rex pulled back and not-Calliope’s eyebrows knit in concern. His face held the hint of a barely-suppressed pout. Rex shook her head to reassure him. “No, it’s good, you’re good. You’re…” Rex found themselves arrested by not-Calliope’s eyes. Her normally hazel eyes burned gold in the flashlight’s beam. “What’s your name?”
Not-Calliope ducked his head into Rex’s chest. He released a low laugh then looked up at Rex through dark lashes. “You are too sweet. I can see why she likes you so much.” He leaned forward and nipped at Rex’s earlobe. “It’s Francis,” he whispered. Then he delivered a bruising kiss to the side of Rex’s neck.
He sat up and pinned Rex with only his eyes. “Unbutton my shirt,” he breathed the command. Rex hurried to rip the flannel off of Calliope’s body. Francis smiled at her. “So sweet.” Before he could say anything else, Rex sat up to capture Francis in a kiss and caressed his breast, flicking Calliope’s nipple as she went.
Francis moaned into Rex’s mouth. He reached for Rex’s pants and began unzipping his fly. After all of this teasing from both of them, Rex was already wet. He ran his hand along her entrance and cooed, fucking cooed! Not to be outdone, she grabbed his hand forcefully and placed two fingers between her lips. He pushed in and she could taste herself on his fingers.
He pulled out and stared blankly at Rex for a brief moment.
Rex tried to catch their breath. Then Francis smiled again. “That was inexcusably attractive,” he chirruped.
Rex struck a pose. “I get that a lot.”
Francis laughed then inhaled sharply as Rex pushed up Calliope’s bralette and sucked on her nipple ring. “Oh my!” Rex paused and Francis frantically slapped her on the back. “I didn’t say stop. Do that again!” Rex did as he asked and reached up to pinch his other nipple in between her fingers. Francis threw an arm over his eyes and panted out a “good heavens.” He reached down into Calliope’s pants and started a vigorous rhythm with his own hand. As he pushed through his climax, Rex sped up, and as he came over the edge, Rex gave his nipple a twist. Francis gasped, then all of that energy leaked out of him.
Rex pulled back and grinned at her own handiwork. Francis sat, leaned back on his elbows on top of the ouija board. Calliope’s braids had started to fall out of her space buns. Her chest rose and fell while Francis struggled to regain his composure.
Once Francis had caught his breath, he fixed Rex in place with his golden eyes. “I must say. I am undone.” He placed his fingers into his own mouth and licked them clean. Rex watched with rapt attention. “But don’t you think it’s about time you had a bit of fun yourself?“
Already, Rex knew this underwear was completely ruined.
Francis disengaged and rustled in Calliope’s duffle bag.
I’d like my turn, if it’s all the same to you. The voice had returned. We’ve been waiting so long to do this, and it will be a fun ride for you as well. Its tone became furtive: Don’t you want to feel a lifetime of experience all at once?
Francis turned back to Rex with a maniacal grin on his face – it was so much like Calliope that for a moment Rex wasn’t sure who she was looking at – and then held up his prize: a shiny silver strap-on. Rex’s eyes grew wide. This wasn’t one Calliope had used before. “Never come to a haunting unprepared,” Francis said.
“Let’s do it,” Rex agreed, and she felt all the air in the room go still. For a second that felt like a lifetime, she could see the voice – Imogen – approach her from across the room. Ve stood in front of her with her hands clasped at her waist.
“Thank you Rexy,” her lips piqued in a small smile. Then the energy that was Imogen swirled around Rex, and through Rex, and into Rex, and Rex could feel every neuron and nerve fire at once. And it was ecstasy.
When Rex opened her eyes again – only a moment later – she didn’t open her eyes. Imogen did. Francis had pulled the strap-on on, now standing over Imogen. “Francis, if you don’t use that on me immediately I am going to do it myself,” ve stated. Francis surged forward and pulled Imogen to her feet. Ve pulled Rex’s shirt over vir head and Francis tugged vir pants down. Francis kissed along the plane of Imogen’s abs and sighed into the sensation of Imogen pulling his hair to guide him lower. He placed his tongue on Imogen’s entrance and licked up in a broad stroke. Imogen roughly pulled him to his feet to look at her. “You’ve always been so mouthy.“
“But dear it’s been ages since I’ve been able to taste you,” Francis sighed.
“You can do that later.” Ve dropped his hair and pulled him forward so his hips were in line with vir own. “Presently, I have other activities in mind.” The silver dildo glinted in the dim illumination of their flashlight. Rex could feel her body tense with anticipation as Francis aligned the dildo with her entrance.
Hold on tight, Imogen warned in their head. Rex felt vir smile with her own face.
Francis pushed into her and Rex moaned without a voice. It felt like a firecracker filmed in slow motion. The wave of pleasure crested over her as Francis picked up speed. He was less coordinated than Calliope, but his enthusiasm and determination made up for it. “Faster, Francis,” Imogen grunted. Ve pressed vir heaving chest against Francis and scrabbled to grip onto his back. Ve raked Rex’s blunt, chewed nails down his back. With each thrust, ve dug ver fingers into his back. Every sensation was elevated for Rex, experienced twice over, and she could barely maintain her grip on her consciousness.
Stay with me Rex, Imogen commanded. We’re almost there. Her voice cut off with a quick grunt. Francis found a particularly sensitive spot and both Rex and Imogen were beyond speech. The feeling was tenfold for Rex, and for a split second she swore she could see a strapping young man glowing in front of her.
Francis grinned up at Rex. “This is even better than what we’ve been dreaming up. Thank you both.” He bit at Imogen’s neck as he slowly rocked her through the end of vir climax. “I fear I’m about spent, love,” Francis sighed into Imogen’s neck. He pulled out and began pressing lazy kisses down vir chest as they both sunk back to the floor.
“Do you really have to go so soon?” Imogen scratched at the nape of Calliope’s neck.
Francis nodded against vir stomach. “I fear so. Not before I do this.” He pulled Imogen forward as he lay back, placing himself directly below vir. He placed his thumb on Rex’s nub and Imogen jerked to attention. Francis leaned up and pressed his tongue inside Imogen. Vir eyes fell closed as ve rode his face. She pressed herself against his mouth as he desperately lapped at her entrance. His tongue was quick and unforgiving. A few breathy moments later, he stopped. Imogen looked down, and Calliope’s eyes no longer shone gold.
“That was incredible,” Calliope breathed.
Imogen sighed, then caressed Callope’s face. “I’ll see you on the other side,” Imogen said to Francis. Thank you again for your hospitality, love, Imogen said inside Rex’s head.
Wait! Rex stopped vir. Calliope lay under them in a reverie, his pupils blown out. Can you stay with Calliope for just a little longer? I want her to have fun with you too, like I got to with Francis.
Though Rex couldn’t see it, she could feel Imogen’s smile.
“Calliope,” Imogen purred, “Your Rexy wants to know if you’d like to play with me.” Calliope’s eyes raked over Rex’s body. When he met Imogen’s eyes, a feral grin bloomed across her face.
Imogen lay out on Rex’s back, chest heaving. Across the room, Calliope tucked away the small treasure trove of toys he had brought with him back into his duffle bag. Your lover, Imogen thought, is a veritable delight. Truly. Imogen sighed contentedly.
Rex hummed their agreement. Then without fanfare, they were alone again. Imogen was gone. Except… In the back of her head she heard one half of an argument.
Francis, you are going to spoil it. A pause. Fine, fine, I’ll tell them. Rex felt themself become Imogen’s focus. Francis suspects she’s going to say yes. Not that I thought you were worried. Rex swallowed and took a deep breath.
Calliope zipped up the duffle and turned around. Rex pushed herself up to her elbows. “Did ve leave?” Calliope asked, she waltzed over and knelt next to Rex. He laced his fingers through her hair. Rex nodded. “Good. I wanted to give this to you.” She leaned forward and kissed Rex with searing tenderness.
When Calliope sat back, Rex wished it could go on for just a bit longer. They chased and pressed a chaste peck onto her lips. “I love you,” they said.
“I love you. Thank you, Rex. I know you didn’t know it would be” –he gestured at the burnt-up house– “all this. But this was perfect.” She idly scratched along their side.
“I have something for you too,” Rex started. “It’ll make tonight even more perfect.” She searched for her jacket in the pile of discarded clothes. Calliope’s light laugh twinkled.
“I don’t know what it could possibly be that would make tonight any more–” his voice died in his throat. In front of him, Rex knelt on one knee. They held up a box with a simple ring with a tiny amethyst at the center.
“I love you more than I can possibly say. Marry me?” Rex asked. Tears sprung to Calliope’s eyes and he held out his left hand.
Stark naked in an honest-to-goodness haunted house, Calliope said yes. And – maybe less importantly – Rex converted from skeptic to true believer.