Dead on Holiday – Part Three

At 2:45 am, something beeped.

It woke me, but decided to ignore it. It was one beep—nothing urgent. I could live with a random, middle-of-the-night beep, particularly because it didn’t wake up Wes. He remained cuddled into my chest, heavy but not a burden. I wrapped my arms around him and shifted to the side, so he was between me and the wall. He let out a soft snore but otherwise gave no indication he’d awoken. Satisfied to hold him for the rest of the night, I closed my eyes and started to drift off again.


I scowled into the darkness, waiting for a follow-up noise so I could pinpoint where the beep was coming from. All that greeted me, though, was silence. Silence that continued for so long that I was nearly asleep again when…


“What the fuck?” I couldn’t stop the annoyed rumble from escaping.

Wes snorted himself awake. “Whazzat?”

Another beep, this time after a shorter interval. “I don’t know. Something in the kitchen?”

“Is it a carbon monoxide detector?”

Good question. I was relatively sure carbon monoxide wouldn’t kill either of us, but there was a non-zero chance it would be an unpleasant experience nonetheless. I scrubbed a hand over my face, the prickle of my early-morning stubble scratching my palm. “I’ll go look,” I said with a sigh.


“Yeah, it’s coming from the kitchen,” Wes said, propping himself on one arm.

I scanned the small space that was the kitchenette. It consisted of a tiny stove, a tinier microwave, and a half-size fridge, along with a counter that took up two-thirds of the rear of the cabin, a sink stuck in the middle of it. There were two upper cabinets which I’d checked out earlier—they held only dishes and cups.


“This is getting fucking annoying.”

“Thought you were a predator,” Wes teased. “Mr. My-Hearing-Is-Better-Than-Yours.”

I glared at my husband. “You want to help or just make fun?”

“Oh, make fun. Definitely.”

“You—” I froze as the beep sounded again, then brightened as it occurred to me where it was coming from. The room next to the kitchen. “The bathroom.”

I yanked the door open, none too gently, and immediately spotted the culprit. As Wes had guessed, it was a carbon monoxide detector, one that plugged into an outlet. A red zero flashed on its display and as I stood there, it emitted another beep.

“Aha!” I pulled it out of the wall and held it up. “You were right. It was the carbon monoxide detector.”

“Are we being poisoned?”

“No. It was showing a zero.”

“Then why was it beeping?”

I was about to say I didn’t know, when something occurred to me. I’d been searching without the lights on this entire time because, well, vampire. I flipped the light switch in the bathroom, unsurprised when the light didn’t turn on. I recalled hearing about a similar situation from a colleague when I was still a cop, when someone had called 9-1-1 for a mysterious beeping sound during an outage. “Power’s out.”

Wes crumpled forward, his shoulders shaking as he laughed into the futon mattress. After a second he lifted his head, grinning from ear to ear. “No sheets or blankets, a leaky roof, and now no power. I’m sorry, are you sure this is supposed to be fun?”

“We would’ve been better off camping.” I placed the detector on the counter in the kitchen and returned to the futon.

“Despite the risk of encouraging you to think I actually want to rough it,” Wes said, chuckling, “I have to agree. At least then we’d have our own tent, which I assume would have no leaks, our own bedding, and there wouldn’t be a need for a carbon monoxide detector.” As I opened my mouth, he held up a finger. “Don’t take that as permission to plan a camping trip, Mr. Rojas-Westerson. Not. Interested.”

Grumbling, I rearranged myself on the futon with Wes between me and the wall again. “This good?”

Wes sighed a happy sigh, one of the best sounds in the world. “Yeah.”

“Maybe I’ll ask Evan to go camping.”

“Evan and Sam. You could be their camping daddy.”

Oh my god. “Never say that again.”

“What? You’re old enough to be their father.”

“That is not what comes to mind with the phrase ‘camping daddy.’”

Wes tucked his face into my chest, shaking the entire futon with his laughter. “Would you wear leather?”

“Shut up.”

“Call them a good boy and a good girl?”

“Jesus Christ.”

Wes laughed harder.

Something suddenly felt unstable beneath us. It was subtle—a creak, maybe, or the futon shifting in a way it shouldn’t shift. “Wes, I think you need to stop—”

“Why? Think me laughing is going to bring the leaky roof down on—”

The collapse of the futon beneath us cut off whatever Wes had been about to say.

I lay there for a second, stunned that the bed actually gave out. Looking down at Wes, I found him looking up at me, biting back more laughter. A smile grew across my lips, then I bent my forehead to rest against his as I let out the guffaw that had been building in my chest. Wes joined me, until tears ran down both our faces.

“This is so fuckin’ ridiculous,” I managed after about a minute. “Let’s go home.”

Finally. But, for the record, I want it to be known that I didn’t suggest that!”

“Duly noted. C’mon, if we get packed up and on the road, we can hit up that truck stop we passed for breakfast.”

I was about to get up when Wes stopped me with a hand on my arm. “Hey, Hud?”


He pushed himself up on one arm to press a kiss to my lips. “Thanks for trying.”

“A for effort?”

He wrinkled his nose. “Eh. More like a C.”

“C?” Before he could react, I had him pinned down, my fingers finding the ticklish spots along his ribs. “I’ll show you a C.”

“Stop—wait—that doesn’t even make sense!” Between bits of laughter and gasps for air, suddenly he was gone—disappeared like the ghost he sometimes was.

“Not fair!” I called out.

His voice drifted down the stairs. “If you think I’m going to put up with being tickled when I can teleport the hell away, you don’t know me at all.”

But the thing was, I did know him. For all his flaws—and not liking roughing it was a big one—he was the perfect partner for me. I wasn’t sure if I believed in the capital-G God anymore, but I owed whoever had made our paths cross again a giant thank you.

And maybe a “What took you so long?”


Dead on Holiday – Part Two

At 1 am, it began to rain.

With no internet, and no cell signal either, there wasn’t much for us to do but go to bed. Wes was definitely not in the right headspace for under-the-covers fun, so we simply went to sleep—him with the blanket from the Challenger, since the cold rarely bothered me.

What did bother me, though, was water dripping onto my face.

I spluttered awake and sat up, promptly slamming my head into the angled ceiling. I swore. Loudly. Suddenly the room was awash in light as my favorite god lit up like a Christmas tree to take on all comers. The switch from full dark to full bright hurt my eyes, but the pain wasn’t as bad as my head.

“Hud?” Wes was on his knees beside me a moment later. “What happened?”

“The fucking ceiling happened.” I lifted my hand away from my forehead, relieved to see there was no blood on my palm. “You don’t need to smite the cottage. I’m good.”

Grimacing, Wes let his godliness fade. “I might smite the cottage,” he grumbled. “Were you trying to get up for the bathroom or something?”

“No. I think the roof is leaking.” On cue, another drop splattered onto the top of my head.

Wes looked up, then at the foil emergency blanket. He opened his mouth and I held up a hand. “Don’t.”

He ignored me, of course. “You know what usually comes with bedsheets and a non-leaky roof?” Not waiting for a response, he continued, “A hotel. Plus they have room service. And maybe a spa tub.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

Or—and hear me out—we could just stay in our crazy amazing house.”

Our house was crazy amazing, but the whole point of this was to get away. Away from the norm, away from the city. And to experience a reconnection to nature. It was something I craved every once in a while, but I didn’t think Wes felt the same. Scratch that—I knew he didn’t.

“We need a bowl or something.” I got up—carefully this time—and went downstairs to the kitchen to retrieve a vessel to capture the rain.

When I got back upstairs, Wes helped me position the bowl under the drip. And by “helped,” I mean he gave directions that I ignored because they were wrong. Once it was set, I crawled into bed beside him—nice and close to avoid the bowl and the drip—only to have the bowl tip over with the shifting of the mattress.

I tried twice more, but no go. The bedframe and mattress moved too much as I was getting comfortable. Grumbling, I got out of bed.

“Where are you going?” Wes’s voice was sleepy, his eyes barely open.

“I’ll sleep on the futon.” No way was I going to try to fit on one of the twin beds on the other side of the loft. At least the futon was a double. “You stay here.”

He didn’t argue, and simply closed his eyes.

Thankfully the futon didn’t take much effort to open. It wasn’t long enough—my head and feet touched the metal armrests on both ends—but it would do. I’d just started to drift off, listening to the constant patter of the rain, when Wes suddenly appeared on the bed. On me. I made an oof sound of surprise, followed by, “What the…”

“The plink of the drop into the bowl was really annoying,” Wes whispered.

“Did you really just haunt me?” That was one of his abilities, to go, in his ghost form, to wherever someone he knew was, no matter how far away.

“Psh, yes. You think I was going to try that staircase in the dark?” He snuggled in to my chest. “You’re comfier than the bed.”

I drifted off with a smile on my face.

Mostly because I didn’t know what was going to happen next.

Dead on Holiday – Part One

I smiled, charmed by the appearance of the cottage I’d rented for Wes and myself for a long weekend away from the city. It was exactly as the pictures had illustrated, surrounded by pine trees and quiet. So, so quiet.

It was perfect.

“What do you think?” I turned to see Wes’s reaction.

“It’s, uh.” He paused. “Rustic.”

“It’s got indoor plumbing.”

“Was that even an option?” Horror filled his voice.

“Plenty of these places have outhouses, yeah, but I didn’t think you’d appreciate that.” I reached for Wes’s bag and carried both his and mine up the steps into the cottage.

It was rustic, which I loved. Constructed of bright logs stacked on top of one another, glistening in the late afternoon sun, with a bright red metal roof, it was clearly well maintained by the owner. Inside, the log walls were glossy and smooth from years and years of hands touching them, no doubt. It was only one room, with a small kitchen at the rear and a three-piece bathroom next to it. Beside the kitchen was a stone fireplace with a futon and a chair, and beside the front door was a two-seat table with wings that could be folded out to accommodate more people.

“We’re not sleeping on that, are we?” Wes nodded at the futon, his tone conveying his distaste at the idea of sleeping on it.

“No, there’s a loft upstairs with a king-size bed.” Thank god; the futon was way too small for the two of us.

The stairs to the loft were more of a ladder, the banister carved from a single branch of a tree. I had to tuck my arms in to my chest to squeeze through to the upper floor, and when I reached the…well, the only term for it was catwalk, which was…interesting. Anyway, I couldn’t unfold to my full height. Getting into and out of bed was going to be fun. But that was okay—this was all about getting away from everything, even the comforts of our massive home in Toronto.

One side of the loft had a pair of beds, and the other had the king sized one. The bedframes were low to the floor, almost like sleeping on a camping mat would be—but this wasn’t camping, so Wes couldn’t be pissed at me about that. We were in nature, but slightly removed. It was a good compromise, I thought. This weekend was going to be the getaway we needed.



“Aren’t the beds supposed to have, you know, sheets? Comforters?”

I frowned. “They don’t?”

Wes plucked at the sheet covering the mattress. “This is only the fitted sheet. No top sheet, no blankets.”

“Are you sure?” I stepped forward to double check.

He glared at me. “I might not be an expert in roughing it, but I can tell the difference between a fitted sheet and a top sheet.”

Okay, I deserved that. “Sorry. It was supposed to be fully equipped. Linens, kitchen stuff, whatever.”

“Well, it’s not.”

I shot him a reassuring smile. “That’s easy enough to fix. I can call the owner.” Pulling out my phone, I chose the owner’s contact, only to listen to dead air and then a distinct beep. It took only a second for me to identify the problem. “Shit. No signal.”

Wes rolled his eyes. “Of course not. So what do we do?”

“Let’s see if the linens are hiding somewhere.”

It didn’t take long to do a thorough search of the cottage and come up empty. By then, the sun had set—or it was far enough behind the trees surrounding the house that they blocked its light. Whatever the case, it was dark. I could still see fine, since vampire, but Wes grumbled about the dark and collapsed into one of the chairs in front of the fire.

“Please let me this place at least has electricity.”

For a brief second, I thought about saying no just to mess with him, but I was pretty sure Wes was on his last string of patience and wouldn’t appreciate the humor. So, in answer, I went over to the wall and flicked the switch there. A pair of overhead pendant lights came on, illuminating the space nicely.

Wes grunted in appreciation and leaned back in the chair, turning his head to look at me. “What are we going to do about bedding?”

“I’ll cover you.” I waggled my brows.

“Ha ha. You’re a little heavy for a blanket.”

I crouched beside the chair. “I suppose suffocating you wouldn’t be the best start to this vacation.”

“You think?”

“I’ve got the emergency blanket in the Challenger. That’ll do for tonight, and tomorrow we can head into town…or at least to somewhere I can get a signal, and call the owner. How does that sound?”

“Like a plan.”

I kissed his forehead. “This’ll be great. You’ll see.”

You know the saying about famous last words?