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For Round 2 of the July 2023 TeamWriter Writing Challenge, we had to write the first 250 words of a story based on a first line from Round 1. I chose to expand on this line: The house on Peachtree Avenue had a history of ghosts and strays. While I knew a ghost would have to come into it at some point, I needed a push for the rest. As is usual for me, an afternoon walk provided some inspiration.


My idea for two “strays” was a pair of young lovers. I wanted to write dialogue, but I also wanted to write a sex scene. (I have simple tastes.) I’ve been writing a space opera story that does have sex in it, but I’ve had a hankering to write something a bit more raunchy than what takes place there. I came up with some names – Kalle and Isa – and just started writing. With a sex scene in mind, the words flowed freely. It felt great. You can read those first 250 words here.

While those first 250 words to the story came easily, I got to the reveal too early. These young lovers never really got to the lovin’! So, I jumped into a longer telling, this one with more in-depth description. If you’re interested, you can read the first draft below. Now, this was before I outlined the overall plot, so this first draft has some elements that will probably change in a more complete writing. But it’s got some fun stuff, and I had a blast writing it. I hope you enjoy it, too.

Isa and Kalle – First draft first scene

The house on Peachtree Avenue had a history of ghosts and strays. While the ghosts were strictly of the past, the strays came in all modern shapes and sizes: animals seeking shelter, vagrants needing a dry place to sleep, even lovers in search of a spot for romantic rendezvous.

Kalle and Isa were two such strays, divided by class and county lines. Having discovered the house as children at play on the edge of the town’s encroaching forest line, they recalled it as a place of games of hide-and-seek and double dares. Its empty rooms and remote location offered for adults a different kind of clandestine comfort. At least, that’s what Kalle had intimated when he’d suggested meeting there, though Isa had second thoughts.

“Creepy,” she said, hugging herself at the threshold while Kalle made up the bedroll under the single unwebbed window.

He shot her a smile as he turned over his shoulder. “But private.”

Isa shivered. “Miss Bisley used to say people…did things here.”

Kalle grunted. “The same things we’re going to do, I bet.”

“More than that.” She cast her focus around the dark corners of the first floor, moving on before her vision could settle on anything, just in case.

“Such as?”

Isa sighed, frowning against the uncomfortable sensation her lace bra – chosen specifically for this occasion – made against her nipples, which went suddenly hard from an unknown chill. “Magic stuff,” she muttered.

Kalle got up and returned to the doorway, where he folded both arms around her and drew her close for a sway. “Miss Bisley was an eccentric old spinster who liked to scare little kids. Remember when she said the spirits of the frogs in the biology lab would haunt us for pulling their guts out for science?”

Isa slid her gaze away. “I had nightmares about that for a week.”

Kalle bowed his head for more murmuring. “And did anything happen?”

“No,” she said sheepishly.

He gave her hips a jostle and grinned. “Listen. If any frog-spirits come after us, I promise I will use all of my training to protect you. They won’t get past this Marine. Now, come on,” he said, nuzzling a drift of her forehead fringe. “Let’s forget about old Miss Bis and her ghost stories, and enjoy the time we’ve got.”

She pulled back from his seeking lips. “I don’t know, Kall. Maybe we should just get a motel.”

He jerked up. “Are you kidding me? Your uncle has eyes all over this county! Do you know what he’ll do if he finds out I checked into a motel with his precious only niece?”

“He won’t do anything—”

“He’ll throw me straight into his jail cell, that’s what. Just like he did last time.”

“Well, maybe you shouldn’t have pissed on Nicklas’s truck.”

“Or maybe Deputy Reckless shouldn’t have called me a Cherokee tomahawk chucker! Which isn’t even accurate, because my mom was Ojibwe. That guy was an ignorant motherfucker back at school,” Kalle grumbled around a white-toothed snarl, “and he’s still one now, badge or no badge.”

The offenses of the past prompted an uncharacteristic flash of anger in him, while in Isa his outburst flared a different feeling. Here was the boy she’d run races, played hooky, and flirted mischievously with, become the man she’d worried over for four years of dangerous desert duty, who in his emails and letters had made her laugh and fret and feel silently guilty for her privileged life at university. The man whose body had gone hard and broad from carrying a sixty-pound pack every day and whose gaze had become slightly twitchy whenever he was stuck in a tight room for too long, but whose hands were still as kind as the day he’d helped pull a wood splinter from her foot and whose mouth was still as soft as the time she’d dabbed the blood from it after an altercation with an errant ball. Her pulse had beat a little bit harder for him that day, and a lot in the years that followed, until the missive announcing his permanent return home nearly set her heart on fire. A similar heat rushed through Isa now, filling her cheeks and chest and belly and making her damp between her legs.

She fixed him with a hooded look. “Has anyone ever told you that you’re incredibly sexy when you’re fired up?”

Kalle came back with a snicker. “Is that a fact?”

“It is.” She slid her hands to his wide shoulders. “I like it.”

His hand slipped over the round of one buttock. “You do, huh?” he said, but didn’t wait for an answer. Instead, he bent his head and kissed her lips, and Isa both melted and exploded, throwing her arms around him and pulling him to her with all of her limbs.

They staggered to the bedroll and tumbled to the floor, where they shrugged out of shirts and shimmied off jeans. Left in just their underwear, they unlatched their lips and paused for a mutual visual perusal. While Isa devoured the definition lines of his torso, Kalle blew a low whistle.

“Oh,” he said with quiet delight.

Isa flicked her eyes to his; his focus lay on her breasts in their round, lacy cups. She smiled. “You like it? It’s new.”

“It’s very pretty.” His fingers grazed the bow atop the front clasp. “Almost hate to take it off.”

“You don’t have to.”

He lifted his gaze to hers. “I don’t want to ruin it. Looks expensive.”

She wriggled into new position, poising her hips over his and her chest toward his face. “I trust you to be gentle,” she said, then let go a sigh into his thick, wavy hair as he kissed her again, this time along the curve of one breast.

Each peck of his lips coaxed from her a moan of satisfaction until his tongue circled her nipple, and a jolt of desire shot straight to her groin. He lapped the lace and sucked her skin, and she gasped. She wanted his cock in her, now. She grabbed it through his trunks, and he grunted once. He put his hand over hers and guided her fingers under the cotton, leading them in a steady pumping grip.

“I want you,” he wheezed, and when she eked out the same, he nodded toward the edge of the bedroll. “There are condoms in my pack.”

“Always be prepared?” she teased, a little breathlessly.

He ignored her jibe. “Can you get them? I don’t want to lose this.”

“I wouldn’t let that happen,” she said, still jesting, but crawled off him toward the rucksack behind her. A quick rummage produced a coiled string of wrapped prophylactics, and she giggled. “Just how busy did you think we—”

The words died in her throat as a faint flicker drew her eyes toward the shadows along the far wall. Something wavered in the air. Not dust, as first she’d thought, but light. Light that started to take shape in the dim.

“Kall…!” She dropped the condoms and felt an abrupt and pressing urge to cover herself. Fear squeezed her voice to a squeak. “Kalle!”

“Iis, what—?” His voice faltered, too. “Oh, my God…!”

The light across the room had become the outline of a woman. While the body was translucent and not fully realized, the face was distinct, especially the eyes. They were narrow and wide-set, and they stared with unerring focus.

Isa felt behind her for Kalle, half-falling against him. His hands were clammy with sudden sweat. They should have been running, or maybe just screaming, but all they could do was huddle there holding each other while the specter kept on staring. Then the light inside it faded, and as unexpectedly as it had appeared, the vision evaporated.

Isa gasped for breath, fighting to find her voice. “Did- Did- Did you see that?” She whipped her head round to him. “Tell me you saw that!”

“Yeah,” Kalle croaked, though his tone belied disbelief. He didn’t blink, just watched the place where the vaporous woman had been, as if it might return at any second.

Isa didn’t care to think about that. “What was it?” she asked, not quite willing to admit to the word ghost.

Kalle swallowed, blinked, and looked to her at last. His voice was more rasp than ever. “I think it was my mom.”