Jeff Baker: The Night in Question

Here’s another nice sweet (okay, maybe even mushy!) romantic story, this time with added ghosts, to get you in the mood for Valentine’s Day. As Jeff explains, the story was inspired by his local store: “The convenience store down the street from the College I went to was a real place (still is!) and I really did wander down there with my friends for beer, snacks and comic books just over forty years ago. Don’t know about romantic ghosts but it’s a possibility!


Pic credit: Jeff Baker

            He had been named after the sylvan glade of mysteries and after Merlin Sylvestris, the sorcerer. But the old convenience store with its pocked pavement and peeling paint was hardly anything pastoral. Nonetheless, something he sensed caused Silveria to stop the car (no traffic in the early evening, thankfully!) and take a second look at the young man standing at the corner of the building where the payphones had once been.

            At first glance, he seemed a young man of Silveria’s age; his early twenties. But his clothes were subtly out of date; bell bottom jeans and a button down shirt with an owl stenciled on the side. Silveria realized the man was not of this world.

            The man had no shadow.

            “Hello,” Silveria said, walking from where he parked the car. “I know who, or rather, what you are.” Silveria realized he could see through the young man, who looked up startled.

            “Connecting with spirits is my family’s gift. We help spirits move on.” Silveria said.

            “Uh, that really isn’t necessary,” the ghost said.

            “I am Silveria, and I…”

            “Look, I’m Johnny and I’m sure you mean well, but I don’t really need that,” the ghost said interrupting. “I’m okay, I’m just waiting for someone,”

            “I don’t think you realize what happened to you.” Silveria said. “I can help you.”

            Johnny started to say something when another young man came around the corner, seemingly not paying attention and bumped right into Johnny. The newcomer was wearing plaid knit pants and a worn brown jacket over a blue t-shirt with the old name of the college that was a few blocks away.

            Both men were slightly transparent.

            “Oh, my gosh!” the new ghost said, taking no notice of Silveria. “I’m sorry! I wasn’t watching where I was going! I was just…”

            Johnny was shaking his head and pointing at Silveria. “Ralph, this guy can see us.”

            “Wha?” the second ghost said looking up open mouthed.

            “I am Silveria,” he said. “I am here to give you passage. I can open up the way to the realm beyond for you.”

            “We already have that,” Johnny said. “He thinks we need help,” he said to Ralph, the second ghost.

            “Ohhhhhhh,” Ralph said. “Look, we’d better explain.”

            “My name is Johnny Cole,” the first ghost said. “This is Ralph Mayhew. We were going to Millington College back in January of 1976…”

            “It’s the University of Millington, now.” Silveria said.

            “Wow.” Ralph said.

            “Anyway,” Johnny said. “One January evening, right after school started back up after Christmas Break, I drove down here to get some munchies.”

            “And I bumped into him, literally when he was standing here making a phone call.” Ralph said.

            “I asked him if he needed a ride back to the dorm and he said yeah…” Johnny said.

            “Then we went into the store to get some snacks…” Ralph said.

            “And a six-pack of beer!” Johnny said, grinning at the memory.

            “This place never checked I. D.” Ralph said.

            “I don’t think they even make that beer anymore,” Johnny said.

            “Yeah, it’s too cheap.” Ralph said.

            The two ghosts laughed.

            “We went back to his dorm room and drank the beer,” Johnny said.

            “And I got a little tipsy and I said a couple of things I shouldn’t have.” Ralph said.

            “Like telling me you liked what I was sitting on, and you didn’t mean the chair.” Johnny said.

            This time all three men laughed.

            “To make a long story short, we realized we were…” Ralph said.

            “Simpatico.” Johnny said with a grin,

            “We moved into our own apartment the Summer of our Junior year.” Ralph said. “Discreetly.”

            “We were together for what? Thirty-two years?” Johnny said looking at Ralph.

            “Then all those cigarettes caught up to him.” Ralph said.

            “Yeah,” Johnny said, glancing down at his feet for a moment.

            “I joined him a few years later,” Ralph said. “And when we found out we could, we came back here on the date we met to re-enact how we first met.” The two ghosts grinned at each other, not looking creepy in the least.

            “We do it every year,” Johnny said. “And afterwards we go back. Of our own volition.”

            “What? No beer?” Silveria asked. The three of them laughed again.

            “One year we went into the store,” Ralph said. “Y’know, for old time’s sake? But the lights are too bright for us now.”

            “Okay,” Silveria said. “Sorry to bother you. Look, happy anniversary.”

            “Thanks,” the two ghosts said grinning.

            They waved as Silveria walked back to his car. As he drove away, he could somehow still hear the ghostly voices:

            “I wasn’t watching where I was going! I was just…well, I’m sorry!”

            “That’s okay. Hey, haven’t I seen you up at school? I’m Johnny Cole…”

Anne Barwell: Reported Lost

It’s time for another slice of m/m fiction and this week it’s the turn of Anne Barwell, who’s sharing a gorgeous poignant little slice of paranormal romance which made me sniffle (in a good way) when I read it!

Anne has written lots of paranormal books including her Sleepless City vampire series, so if you enjoy this you might want to check out her website for more.


Pic credit: Jaredd Craig on

“Got you!” Rupert Milne muttered under his breath.

Ghosts could be pesky things and next to impossible to spot, unless they wanted to draw attention to themselves.    

This one appeared to be a man in his thirties, his dark hair cut in a style popular several decades ago. While age could be deceptive—Rupert appeared to be in his fifties but was closer to four thousand and fifty—the ghost’s clothing confirmed it.

Rupert slid into the seat next to the spirit.  He’d always admired the way they could appear to be sitting on furniture although they were incorporeal. But Halloween was fast approaching; a night that often changed the rules.

“Good evening,” he said pleasantly. “Nice trick you have there, turning pages without touching them.”

The ghost looked up in surprise. “You can see me?” His eyes narrowed. “You’re not human,” he said flatly. “Who sent you?”

Rupert sighed. Better to get the formalities out the way first. He lowered his voice to make it harder for a human to overhear his side of the conversation.  “Would you mind telling me why you’re haunting this library? It’s creating attention that is better avoided. My name is Rupert Milne, and I have some experience in this kind of thing.  I’d like to help if I can.”

“How can you see me?” The ghost wasn’t going to let go of that one. “You’re not human. You feel…different. You’re not one of those with powers either. They can see me, but most of the time they don’t say anything.”

That’s because they don’t realise they’re talking to a ghost.

“Yes, yes, of course they can see you.” Rupert didn’t have time to go into Paranormal 101, and doubted the ghost would appreciate it. “I’m not going to hurt you. I just want to help you work through whatever or whoever is keeping you here.”

“You haven’t answered my question.”

One of the librarians walked past pushing a book trolley. She frowned in Rupert’s direction, probably wondering who the crazy guy was talking to himself. He waved cheerily and turned his attention back to the ghost.

“I’m a vampire. That’s why I can see you.  I overheard one of my students talking about you, which is why I’m here.”

“Someone noticed me!” The ghost glanced around, panicked.  At least he was more worried about that than the fact Rupert had just outed himself as a vampire.

“You pulled books off shelves.  People talk.”  

“It was an accident!” The ghost sighed. “I’ve been here so long and I’m tired. I just want to move on.”

“I know how you feel.” Rupert had been teaching at Victoria University for over twenty years. It was almost time for him to move on too, before someone realised he wasn’t getting any older. “Why don’t you introduce yourself and tell me your story, hmm? Then I’ll see what I can do to help.”

The ghost smiled, a glimmer of hope in his eyes. “My name is Bernard Pollard and I was on the Wahine when it went down in Wellington Harbour in 1968.”


“I shouldn’t be here.”

Joseph Tomley gripped the top of his walking stick. His breath came in gasps. Rupert hoped it was nerves, and not a sign that Joseph was about to expire on the spot.  While breaking into the library after hours hadn’t been that difficult, Rupert didn’t want to have to explain a dead body to whoever was in charge of security.

“Yes, you should.” Rupert guided him to the corner, and sat him down under the large windows. Although the building was dark there was enough light coming through them so Joseph could see. 

Rupert had figured with it being Halloween, it was easier for the two men to meet close to midnight.  At least this way they’d be able to talk to each other directly. Rupert had acted as a go between for this kind of thing before and it wasn’t something he enjoyed.

Joseph paled when Bernard stepped out of the shadows.  “Bernard. Oh my God. It is you.”

“Joseph?” Bernard said, his voice cracking. “You… I waited but you never came.”  He bit his lip, brushed one finger across Joseph’s wrinkled cheek, and sat down next to him. “I… can touch you…”  

“Halloween,” Rupert told him. “You only have a short time. Make the most of it. I’ll be close by if you need me.”   He headed toward the fiction collection, his attention taken by a familiar name on one of the books in the romance section.

He’d read at least one chapter of a book he wished he’d never opened before he caught a glimpse of someone behind him.

“Thank you.”  Joseph and Bernard stood together, in appearance a young man with his arms around the waist of someone old enough to be his grandfather. Both had tears running down their cheeks.

“It’s almost time,” he reminded them.  “I’m sorry.”

Bernard smiled. “Don’t be. I know now he didn’t forget me, that he never stopped loving me. I’ll wait for him.”

“I feel so foolish.” Joseph kissed Bernard softly. “This library was always our place, so I avoided it because I couldn’t bear the memories. I’d lost you, and I couldn’t tell anyone about our relationship. Then it was too late.”

“And I waited for you here because it was our special place. We were both idiots.” Bernard took a step back. “Good bye, my love. I’ll see you again soon.”  He turned and walked toward the back wall, before disappearing from sight.

“I love you too.”  Joseph watched that section of wall for a few moments but Bernard was gone, at least for tonight.  “Thank you,” he said again. “From both of us.”

Rupert nodded.  It was never easy losing the person you loved, and these men had done it twice.  “I’ll take you home now.” Joseph smiled, although his eyes were sad. “You already have.”