It’s the last short story of this year’s Halloween Flash Fiction. This ghost story from Rayvn Salvador is a sweet finish to our blog event. I hope you’ve been loving all our stories this week. Be sure to check at the end of each one for the contests/giveaways!!
SIT FOR A SPELL
There was nothing quite like the Halloween season in New Orleans. If you asked me, it far surpassed anything Mardi Gras could provide. The festive décor, changes in the air signaling the thinning of the veils, and revelry were unlike anywhere else in the world I’d had the pleasure to visit. But maybe that was the priestess in me. Still, I knew my Vodou Houngan brother, witch mate, and cousin would happily agree.
I looked over at two of those three as they walked beside me down Elysian Fields Avenue, us and the newest member of the crew silently following the Krewe of Boo parade and sharing space with hordes of zombies, countless fair folk, and myriad revelers decked out in their finest Day of the Dead attire. The best part? We didn’t actually have to worry about the crowds because we were dead. Yes, all of us were the dearly departed, and all the result—either directly or indirectly—of a sadistic ritual serial killer they’d dubbed R℈DRΩM. He’d murdered Reagan, Burke, and me, and my partner Findley had died in a senseless accident the night he found my body. Thankfully, the psychopath was now in jail.
Findley slung an arm around my waist, pulling me into him and kissing the top of my head. I snuggled close and felt love burst through me like effervescent bubbles, fizzing in time to the lively Zydeco music filling the air. Findley McNair was my person; we had a love that would never die. And while our deaths had been tragic, I was so grateful that we had each other in the afterlife.
I peeked over at Burke and Reagan walking beside us, Burke’s arm thrown over Reagan’s bare shoulders, her purple and black braids catching on the cuff of his shirt. I couldn’t contain the smile that spread across my face. This was new. Burke hadn’t died that long ago, and we’d only reunited with Gunnie once her best friend Hanlen returned to New Orleans—ten years after Reagan’s death. Hanlen and my brother Deveraux were now engaged to be married, and all of us worked for Dev’s paranormal reality show, Haunted New Orleans, along with an amazing cast and crew of both the living and the dead.
“Hey,” I called out, getting everybody’s attention. I did a little twirl and skipped ahead so I could walk backward and face everyone.
“Yeah?” Burke answered, turning the full force of his surfer-librarian good looks my way.
“What do you say we break off once we hit Decatur and take a stroll past Café Du Monde?”
“You and your beignets,” Fin said, rushing me before pulling up short and kissing me soundly. I laughed and threw my arms around his neck, letting him pick me up so I could return the kiss properly.
When I slid down his body, I moved to his side and took his hand, tangling our fingers as I glanced across him at my cousin and Burke. “He’s right,” I said, patting Findley’s chest. “I may not be able to eat them anymore, but I am absolutely obsessed with smelling them.”
Burke looked down at Reagan, and she turned her gaze up to him. Her feelings for the historian were written all over her face. She may not have said anything to me—Gunnie didn’t say much at all usually, she was the quiet one of the family—but she didn’t have to. The woman had it bad. She was, without a doubt, one hundred percent wholly and utterly in love with Burke Mathers. And given the light I saw shining in his eyes, and what I could sense from him energetically . . . the feeling was entirely mutual.
“What do you say? Are you peopled out, or are you up for some sugar sniffing?” Burke asked Gunnie, sweetly brushing her braids away from her cheek and over her shoulder with a smile.
She ducked her head shyly. “We can go.” She turned to face me. “I wouldn’t want to deprive my cousin of her fix.”
“I love you, you know that?” I said, letting go of Fin’s hand so I could go and pull her into a fierce hug. I playfully tugged on the laces of her corset bustier and then licked her cheek like I used to do when we were kids.”
“Ew, Wren.” She batted me away and wiped at her face. “Seriously? I don’t need your ectoplasmic cooties.”
I burst out laughing, as did Burke and Fin. Seeing my usually stoic, super quiet cousin smiling and having fun again was amazing. We may not be of the living, but those who meant the most to us could see and talk to us thanks to natural gifts and magic, and we had each other. Always.
We insinuated ourselves in the midst of a baton-twirling troupe of skeletons and made our way to the next cross street, breaking off once the parade turned down Decatur. The hanging ghosts and ghouls from the balconies blew in the breeze, tangling with the faux webs strung across wrought-iron railings. This really was a magical time of year—in every sense of the word.
When we reached the area close to Café Du Monde, I inhaled deeply, the scents of sugar, fried dough, and chicory coffee filling my lungs, even on the astral plane. Fin came to my side, brushing a twisted tendril of hair off my cheek. “I love seeing that smile on your face, cher,” he said, then cupped my jaw and leaned down for a sweet kiss full of love.
“Well,” I answered, “I love you.”
“Always and forever, my sweet.” He kissed me again, then tangled our fingers and led me to where Burke and Reagan stood near a street performer.
“Thanks for humoring me, guys,” I said, bumping Gunnie’s shoulder with mine. “Is there anything you guys would like to do?”Burke stared off into the distance with a wistful expression on his handsome face. “There’s one thing I always want to do. And it’s the one thing I can never do again.”
I felt a pang in my heart and opened my senses a bit to try and get a read on what he might be feeling. The women in our family had always been empathic, something we’d honed over years of study and application in our religion and practice. I felt yearning, melancholy, and sadness, but it was tempered by acceptance. I saw the moment Reagan tapped into it, too, because she moved closer to Burke, wrapping an arm around his waist and snuggling in close. He slung his arm around her and pulled her in, and she rested her head on his pectoral.
“What’s that?” Fin asked.
“I miss books, man. Like the smell, the weight, the different textures. I miss the breeze when you flip through the pages of a particularly large tome fast to find what you’re looking for. I miss finger-walking through the cards in a catalog and tipping and then pulling a volume from a shelf. I miss the creak and smell of settling into a well-loved leather chair to read.” He shook his head. “Yeah, I miss it.”
“I miss cupcakes,” Gunnie said, her voice soft as it always was.
Burke looked down at her. “Cupcakes?”
She nodded and made a moue of regret. “Yeah . . . pumpkin, in particular. This time of year always reminds me how much. Spicy and sweet with a generous swirl of cream cheese frosting. The minute I start seeing Jack-o-lanterns on porches, it brings on the craving.”
Suddenly, Burke’s face lit up, and he smiled widely. “I have an idea. Come with me.” He wrapped his hand around Reagan’s, then tangled their fingers as he tugged her after him. She chuckled and let him lead her. Fin and I exchanged a look, an eyebrow raise, and a shrug and then followed.
When we reached the front of La Parisienne, one of the swankiest bakeries in the Quarter, I wondered what he had planned. He led Gunnie over to a bench they had on the walk outside the shop and had her sit before coming over to us.
“What’s up?” I asked, truly curious. He had his man-on-an-intellectual-mission face on.
“So, you guys know I have a particularly close connection to the Akashic Records, right? That I know more than most ghosts?” We nodded. “Well, I think something might be possible, and I would like to try if you’re game.”
“My interests are definitely piqued. What did you have in mind?” I asked.
“If you and Fin combine your magic, do you think you could let Reagan taste a cupcake? I know it would mean making her corporeal for a beat, but we’ve seen enough spirits do that on their own if they are powerful enough and utilize enough outside energy. The cast and crew investigate countless poltergeist sightings.”
My eyes misted, and I let go of Fin to wrap Burke in a big hug. “Thank you.”
He laughed and squeezed me back. “What for?”
“For understanding her. For helping her heal. For just being you,” I said and pulled back, my hands still on his biceps. “Of course, we’ll try. Go and keep her company. Fin and I will do what we can. If it works, we’ll give you a nod, and you can take her inside.”
He smiled and returned to Gunnie on the bench, the two of them talking quietly.
I turned to my love. “What do you think, handsome? Want to try and work some magic?”
Fin and I joined hands and combined our power, his witch magic with my voodoo, all wrapped up in the unique abilities we had from being ghosts. Because we had a direct tie to Gunnie, the intent was strong. I watched as a sparkly, swirling blue and purple cloud formed between us. Fin seemed to see it, too, since his face stretched with a smile. The miasma moved from us to where Reagan and Burke sat and surrounded her like a shimmery aura. She gasped, her magic likely sensing ours, and I nodded at Burke.
We watched as he rose and held out his hand for her. She took it and stood, the two of them phasing through the front of the shop to enter the closed bakery. Fin and I moved to the large front windows and watched as he led her to a raised, covered tray of pumpkin cupcakes and then leaned down to whisper to her. She turned to him, and I saw tears in her eyes as she shook her head. He nodded and pointed at the plastic dome.
She clenched her hand into a fist, shook it, and then reached out. When she neared the cover, instead of her fingers drifting through, she met resistance. The look of shock in her expression was truly breathtaking as she looked over at Burke, the excitement clear. And his face . . . It was enough to bring me to tears. The adoration and care I saw there, the true exultation at bringing her joy was the most beautiful thing I’d seen in ages.
Gunnie lifted the dome off the platter, her expression still filled with awe, and then grabbed a cupcake. She brought it to her nose and sniffed, her eyes closing in bliss. And then, tentatively, she took a small, delicate bite. The rapture that crossed her expression was pure beatitude.
She set the cupcake on the counter and launched herself at Burke. He caught her with a laugh, hugging her close. As the two embraced, I watched as the magic Fin and I had worked dissipated, dissolving into the air like a dusting of glitter.
The shop owner would have a shock come the morning seeing that tray and cupcake with no signs of a break-in, and I would probably feel guilty about that later, but it had totally been worth it.
If you liked this, make sure to check out the perma-free Haunted New Orleans prequel short story ETERNAL SPARK, where you get to find out how Wren discovered she was a ghost.
And learn what happened to Burke and how they rediscovered Reagan in MEMENTO MORI, book 1 of the Haunted New Orleans series. Then see how they all work together as Haunted New Orleans’ ghost crew in MALUM DISCORDIAE, book 2, and MEA CULPA, the final book of the original trilogy that just released on 10/25.
Cupcakes, and pies, and lattes, OH MY!
In honor of this pumpkin cupcake inspired short story — in the comments, we’d love to hear what YOUR favorite pumpkin flavored sweet treat is!
Rayvn has set up a Rafflecopter for her give away, and is offering signed copies of all 3 books in the Haunted New Orleans series!!
Contest starts now, and our winner will be chosen from all eligible commenters at the end of our event. Winner will be chosen, then announced in our wrap-up post after 4pm (ET) tomorrow, November 1st.
Check out the Kick-off post HERE to see the full list of authors participating in our 2022 Halloween Flash Fiction Blog Event. Links will be added to the main post each day when that author’s story goes live. Each post will include the inspiration image from a DeviantArt creator, the story, and the contest/giveaway info.
2 thoughts on “2022 Halloween Flash Fiction featuring Rayvn Salvador”
I enjoyed Sit for a Spell~ I love Pumpkin Spice Rolls ~ Happy Halloween!
Via the Rafflecopter results — and delivered by Rayvn —
Wendy Woolridge Boyer, you’re our winner!!! Please email me at FunkNFiction@gmail.com with your mailing address. You have 7 days to claim your prize. Thank you, and congratulations!