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Haunted by Love

by ScattySue 10/22/15

Welcome dear readers to this, my erotic lesbian romantic ghost story and entry for the "HALLOWEEN STORY CONTEST 2015".

I hope you will enjoy reading it but I feel I should warn t you that it is a lengthy story -- for those who have read some of my other work I hope this means you'll think "Oh goody!" and not "Oh no, not again!"

My thanks, as ever, to my wonderful editor Winterreisser, especially for his speedy efforts that allowed me to still meet the deadline after taking far longer writing this than I expected. Thanks also to Kat for her kind words and encouragement.

As this is a competition entry, do please take a moment to cast your vote at the end; comments and feedback are also always very welcome.

This is now a slightly updated (or updated, updated) version with an extended Chapter 11 and a few corrections.

Happy reading and Happy Samhain!

Sue

Copyright © ScattySue 2015

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Chapter 1: Creative Meeting

I push my hair back and gather my things -- pen, paper and notes -- push back from my desk and stand. Then I notice that, as usual, I've forgotten to lock my PC just as the reminder for the meeting pops up:

10:30 am (2 hour)
MM&M CREATIVE MEETING
Invitees: Mystery, Myth & Murder Research Team, Mystery, Myth & Murder Writers, Rick Ripley, Marcus Thompson
I drop everything so I can click the DISMISS button and then perform the three finger trick to lock the screen. Damn, I'm late now, which serves me right for leaving it until the last minute to leave I guess. I know why it is: I don't really want to see Rick after... it, last Saturday. Nor Marcus for that matter.

I pick up my stuff once more and kick the chair under the desk. I'd always considered myself ambitious but the truth is that my career hasn't exactly been meteoric and, at thirty-one, I'm still stuck as a researcher on, okay granted, a successful and popular BBC TV programme. Basically, my career has stalled and has been so for several years. Actually, the same can be said for my life as a whole really, with no boyfriend, let alone husband, disappointingly few friends that I can socialise with and a flat that is both small and dingy and at the same time, overpriced owing to its location. Still, however frustrating and disappointing my life is, I didn't think that I was the sort of woman to do anything to get ahead but it rather seems I might be. Today I find out if it's been worth it.

I head down the corridor to the lifts and press the call button to go up. I can still recall word-for-word Marcus's words to me when he came to speak to me two weeks ago. "Do you enjoy working on 'Mystery, Myth and Murder' Bethany?" he asked, bending over me as I sat at my desk working through an analysis of viewing figures for the recent episodes. Dull, dull, dull work when what I really wanted to be doing was the writing and scripting.

"I... do. I mean, I like doing the research I guess, though..."

"Though you'd like not to just be just stuck in the office finding out and confirming a few facts in between admin tasks," he said smiling. I suddenly worried that my thoughts were scrolling across my forehead in luminous green pixels as I nodded. "What's your ambition, Bethany?" he asked as his finger rubbed the stubble on his tanned face with a soft rasping sound. His tan silently boasted of the three weeks holiday in the Seychelles that he and his partner Blake had recently returned from.

"I'd like to write, Marcus; I want to go out and find and research stories and then script episodes of the show. I think I deserve the chance to try."

"Hmm. You know, Rick and I have always thought you rather... cold and standoffish." Knowing what Rick's language could be like I was a little surprised.

"Is that really what Rick said?" I asked and Marcus gave a little chuckle.

"No. He said that for an intelligent, pretty girl you can't half be a snooty little bitch sometimes." I bit my lip; where was this going? "So, you do have some ambition in you... which means you want to be a part of the next series?"

"Well, obviously. I mean, you did get that proposal for a story that I emailed, didn't you? The Purdew Manor Hotel haunting?"

"Yes... though we'll have to see if there's any interest when we discuss it, probably at the next creative meeting for next year's series, the week after next..." He left that hanging as he straightened up. "Just remember, it always pays to be a team player," he added before leaving me to get back to the viewing figures.

So, as the lift doors open for me, I wonder whether paying attention to Marcus had been either wise, moral or worth it. To my shame, I find that I'm more concerned that what I did ends up being worth it for my career than whether it was wise or moral. What kind of slut does that make me?

I enter the meeting room doing my best not to catch either Rick's or Marcus's eyes without seeming to ignore them. I manage it but more because the two of them are leaning in close together having a sotto voce conversation. Of course, I immediately worry that it's about me, that Rick is giving all the prurient details, and when Marcus nods and smiles I'm convinced of it. I bow my head trying to hide my embarrassment as I slip into my seat and shuffle my notes and papers.

Moments later Marcus calls the meeting to order and first on the agenda is the schedule for the next series. "Well, we're doing well with work on the next series and this was going to be a chance to look over that and look at planning the series episodes... However, we have something rather special to announce."

"What's that?" Janice asks, the beads braided into her hair clicking softly as her head jerks up.

"It's only a bleedin' Christmas Special," Rick exclaims. "When the scandal of you know who broke, they cancelled 'is shown at Christmas and offered the slot to us!" Rick's distinctly London accent always startles people when they meet him in real life as it's such a contrast to the rather more polished accent he adopts on-screen.

"However," Marcus continues, "as it's already October, we've only six or seven weeks to get ready for broadcast," he glances to Rick, smiling.

"Yeah, we're goin' to 'ave to get our arses in gear!"

"Will it be on Christmas Day?" I ask in surprise.

"Nah, the day after, on Boxing Day evening." Wow, this was a big deal. The schedulers didn't put anything on over the Christmas holidays they didn't think was successful.

"So you could have a Christmas theme in all the stories!" chips in Gavin. He's a junior assistant and is basically there to take the minutes so I flinch inwardly at his comment. I want to find a way to gently suggest that, in his position, he is much better not to speak unless he has a really good idea. Colin, however, ever keen to prove he should be given Janice's job as Assistant Producer, rips into him.

"Yeah, fab idea Gavin and hardly trite at all; what did you have in mind? Some brutal Christmas Day murder? Perhaps some haunting by a woman looking for her baby who died on Christmas Day? Or, yes, of course, Rick could do a cutting exposé of how Father Christmas isn't fucking real!" Gavin cowers before the tirade and I flinch, not least because I'd almost asked a similar question as to whether they were considering a Christmas theme. In my case though, it had been to check that they weren't because, and I had to agree with Colin here, it was a naff idea. Janice, however, comes to Gavin's defence.

"Okay, Colin, give the guy a break. Remember this is a creative meeting so we don't go ripping each other's ideas apart." An evil grin appears on her dark lips, "We save that for the editorial reviews!"

It occurs to me that old David Attenborough needn't be jetting off to Africa or South America, he could do an entire series here at the BBC: "Here we see the alpha female being challenged for her position by a junior male... but he is no match for her and he retreats, beaten for the time being."

"Okay, boys and girls. No, Gavin, there won't be a Christmas theme. What we need are really good stories or, even better, one story that can fill the episode." Marcus pauses. "Right," he says, "this seems like a good point to look at the feedback from the previous broadcasts. Bethany, you've been looking at that." My name jerks me to full attention, triggering butterflies in my stomach and I quickly pull the copies of the summaries from my stack of papers and hand them around.

"Um, yes. Well, the basic figures are on the sheet you have, summarising how the focus groups responded to each episode. I, er, I then classified the stories in each episode as 'Murder', for the unsolved crimes and, well, murder stories; 'Myth' for those that covered legends and 'Mystery' which are, eighty percent of the time, basically ghost stories." I look up and I'm startled to see polite interest in what I think is very dull stuff. "Anyway, the mysteries tend to be the most popular followed by the unsolved murders and finally the legends stuff, though the Loch Ness Monster piece was very well liked. However, what viewers really seem to like are when stories cover more than one area, like say, that story in the first series, of the stolen painting that was linked to the ghostly figure that seemed to appear over where they found the painting."

"Hmm, interestin'" Rick comments. "So we want more stories like that, definitely."

"Indeed and it's certainly something to bear in mind for the Christmas special." Marcus agrees, "So, with that in mind, let's look at what stories and leads we have so far..."

This is the cue for Janice, Colin and Terri, as the people mainly involved in writing and researching, along with Marcus and Rick to begin listing possibilities, thoughts and Ideas. I will occasionally make comments or suggestions but these never seem to do much raise my status within the team, even though I know that some have been really good and turned a mediocre episode into a good one; it always seems to be one of the others that get the credit in the end. I sit listening for Marcus to present my Cornish ghost story, probably without even crediting me.

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