The Captain of the Manor
After writing the various pros and cons of true ghosts, paranormal activities, and researching everything possible about the manor and the Carslyle family, Aiden paced through the suite. He knew what he saw, but how could he believe it. A ghost. An actual ghost.
There was a knock on the door.
Turning to face the door, not sure he wanted to answer it this time, Aiden moved across the room and opened it. The man or ghost in question stood in the hallway, hands behind his back, a quiet expression upon his handsome face. No matter what, the man was still damn gorgeous.
"I wasn't sure if you wish to speak with me after what happened. I can leave you alone, if you desire," Edmund said in the unusual accent and way of speech which caught Aiden's ear.
"I think we need to talk. If you can," Aiden said, stepping out of the way.
"I hope to answer what questions you seek."
When Edmund moved past him, Aiden reached out to touch him. His fingers found solid muscles under the soft fabric of the black shirt. He moved his fingers and noticed Edmund stopped.
"Are you trying to figure out how I am standing before you and solid in form?"
"How can this be? How can you be standing before me in solid form but disappeared in front of me last night?"
Edmund closed the door and waved Aiden back to the table where they dined last night. "Please, have a seat. My twisted tale is long."
Dropping in the seat, Aiden watched Edmund pour them two fresh cups of tea from the sterling silver pot a server brought earlier to the room. Edmund lifted the small tongs over the sugar bowl and glanced at Aiden.
"Oh, two please," Aiden said.
With a nod, Edmund dropped two cubes of sugar in the cup, carried the delicate porcelain saucer and cup to the table, and set it down. He returned a moment later with his own cup, some milk added to the liquid which he stirred. He settled in a chair, crossed his long legs at the ankle.
"Where do you wish me to begin my tale?"
"Wherever it is relevant," Aiden said.
"My name is Edmund Darcy Carslyle. I was the Captain of the Hope's Adventure, a dragoon I sailed under a privateer license by the King of England, but I gathered the profits for the young American colonies," Edmund said.
"I was born in the spring of 1688 here in this manor. When I was thirteen, I traveled north to learn at the brilliant shipyards and sail with the captains. Over the years, I rose in rank and became captain of a ship, the Hope. I sailed her with my crew under the ruse of a privateer license by the King, but really we all sailed to plunder all enemy ships for the good of the colonies. I was a true patriot."
"1688. Which means you're…" Aiden thought about the years.
"As of this past spring, I've seen 325 years," Edmund said.
"As much as I regret saying it, it is the truth. I've seen wars come and go, countries torn apart and pulled back together, loved ones born, grown, and died, and the landscape and culture changed around me. Yet I remain the same. Cursed."
"By a voodoo priestess whose lover died after I ordered his ship captured and plundered. He was caught in the crossfire and I thought he would survive, but he died on the way to his Caribbean hideaway. His lover, a powerful voodoo priestess, placed a curse upon my soul and body."
Aiden set the cup on the saucer. He licked his lips and dragged a hand through his hair. "You're a privateer who's been alive since 1688 and was cursed by a voodoo priestess."
"In the fall of 1720, the curse took effect over me. I disappeared from my ship and reappeared in the manor several months later. I can travel throughout the manor and shift to the lighthouse, but I can't go beyond. I can walk the widow's walk and balconies, but I can't walk around the exterior grounds. The beach is always within my sights, but I'm never able to step foot upon it, the water, or a ship."
"How does this all work?"
"Even after three centuries, I don't understand all the differences in this life. From the time of the autumn equinox to All Saint's Day, I'm able to take a corporeal mortal form whenever I wish. It costs me energy though and when I'm exhausted, I revert back to my ghost form."
"This is what happened last night."
"Yes, I was in this form for a good portion of the day dealing with several situations and didn't take time to rest and recharge before locating you."
"Why are you able to take form this time of the year?"
"The veil between the shadow world and this one is the thinnest. It's also when the curse happened, her lover died, and she cursed me to live without life and love until I learned the same. Or something to the effect."
"You never asked how to reverse this?"
"I tried throughout the first century to find other priestesses or houngans, but none wanted to help me. The priestess who cursed me was very popular and strong, in life and in death. No one wanted to touch her magic upon my body and soul for fear of her lashing out from the grave."
"So… You're stuck then."
"I'm forever trapped this half life. For a few weeks, I can taste, touch, and enjoy sex. Other than those weeks, I'm a watcher of this world, unable to take part."
"How does the manor work?"
"For the weeks I'm able, I run things. When I'm not, I have a capable manager who oversees everything and looks forward to these few weeks of vacation time. It's a mutually favorable compromise for a unique situation."
Aiden scratched his jaw, feeling the scruff he didn't shave this morning. "I could do some research for you. I've been… looking into the story of the manor and your family."
"What did you locate?"
"You were assumed missing in October of 1720 when your ship came aground after a late hurricane."
"You found that much about me, I'm impressed."
"It's what I do. Do you want me to find a way out of this curse?"
"I doubt one exists."
"Do you remember the words of the curse?"
"Never forgot them," Edmund said as his gaze settled on Aiden.
Aiden rose, scrambled in his bag, and returned with a pad and pen. "Write them down. It could be the clues to free you."
"Why would you wish to free me?"
"So you can return to your life and home."
"When? In 1720 or here?"
"Wherever the curse lets you return."
Edmund rapped his fingers along the table as if considering the options. He picked up the pen and scribbled down several lines and pushed it across the table. "This is what I heard above the winds and waves, but I do not know how much it will help."
"Nothing will happen until we know what we're up against."
"We? Why are you willing to help me? Everyone else screams 'ghost' and flee the manor."
"What your lovers? The one you indulge at this time of the year."
"Last man in my bed was over a decade ago. Not too many want to fall in bed with a cursed man."
"A decade ago, but you're…" Aiden waved a hand over Edmund's form.
"There is a bad habit of doing this to my lover…" Edmund said in a dry tone before he faded to his ghost form.
"Damn… You're even more gorgeous," Aiden said as he rose and walked around to study Edmund.
"Can you see me in this form?"
"See and hear you." Aiden studied him. "Could you stand?"
"No one but one of my family line can see me in this form. Even during this time of the year, how can you see me?" Edmund said as he rose.
Dressed as a privateer in the 1700s, Edmund's tailored outfit reverted back to knee high black boots, tight black pants, and a flowing white shirt and vest. His hair was longer and pulled back with a leather tie.
Aiden itched to reach out and touch this man. He wondered what a ghost would feel like. Taking a chance, he stepped closer and reached out with both hands. Instead of misting through like he believed would happen, his hands rested on Edmund's chest. The man was cool to the touch, but still there under his fingers.
Edmund stared down, his gaze widened. "This is… impossible. No one can touch me."
TO BE CONTINUED