Welcome to the Ripped Roaring Halloween Hop! We hope you enjoy a peek at Samhain/Halloween around the town of Talbot's Peak.
It was a dark and delicious night and...
The Midnight Ride of Ravi Khan
Pic from ~ elfwood.com/art/d/a/danielle/ghosthorse_copy.jpg ~
“Have we got everything?” Jazzed on caffeine but far more on nerves, Merry darted about her office, cell phone at her ear. She’d held the Haunted Hay Ride and Corn Maze After Dark at her dude ranch before, but this was the first year for the Haunted Trail Ride. Trying to co-ordinate everything perfectly was worse than managing a fractious bronc. Just because she personally hadn’t arranged the trail ride didn’t ease her worry about it. Exactly the opposite, in fact.
Dash, the mastermind behind the trail ride idea, entered the office without knocking, as usual. Merry waved distractedly at him and continued speaking into the phone. “Spare batteries,” she said. “We’ve got spare batteries, right? And extra flashlights? Somebody always forgets.”
“We’ve got everything we need. Phil made a run to town this morning.” Dash took the phone from Merry’s hand. “We’re heading out,” he said. He shut the phone and handed it back to Merry. “You got a good team, sugar. They’ve got it under control. Now settle down. You stay all het up like this, you’re gonna spook the horses.”
“That’s another thing. What about the horses? You didn’t tell me what you have planned for the ride. Scaring the riders is one thing. That’s what they paid for. But what if the horses spook? What if somebody gets thrown? The insurance costs – ”
“Honey, relax.” Dash took her into his arms and smacked a wet kiss on her forehead. “The riders are all experienced, just like you specified. I picked the horses myself and had a long talk with ’em. There’s a few surprises along the trail, but nothing too sudden or too close. Everything’ll be fine.”
“What kind of surprises?”
“The surprise kind,” Dash said with a wink. “I called in some favors and talked to some friends. Your guests are gonna love it, trust me.”
“I shouldn’t,” Merry grumbled, “but I always do, don’t I?” She pecked a kiss on his lips. “Where’s your costume?”
He indicated his human form. “This is it.”
“So no unicorn tonight?”
“Unicorns aren’t scary. Settle down. This outfit’s half Velcro. Anything goes wrong on the trail, I can always switch to horse. Not that anything’ll go wrong,” he hastened to assure Merry.
“I hope not,” Merry said. “If this works out, it’ll be so great financially for the ranch.”
“And it’ll be fun,” Dash added, giving her ass a light slap. “Don’t forget the fun.”
Merry stepped outside and straight into a problem. The riders were lined up and ready to go, all but the big one in the ill-fitting Stetson. Merry’s mouth twisted in a grimace of distaste. She’d never cared for Ravi Khan. He was always rough on his mounts, as if trying to prove a point. He was currently trying to force his horse to rear. The horse was being uncooperative.
Dash charged over before Merry could. “Ease up there, fellah. Horse wants his hooves on the ground, let ’em stay there. This a stallion? Instructions said no stallions. Let’s get you another mount.”
“I will ride this horse. He challenges me,” Ravi said in a tiger’s growl. “I paid my money like everyone else. Or perhaps I should file a complaint?”
“Let it go, Dash,” Merry said. Sadly, he had paid good money, and the ranch needed the revenue. Ravi’s father was supposed to be some kind of high muckety-muck down in Talbot’s Peak, and a complaint could bring them unwanted trouble. Also sadly, Ravi was an excellent horseman.
Once Ravi reined his mount into line and out of earshot she added in a mutter, “If he wants to get bucked off and break his fool neck, that’s his lookout. Can’t say we didn’t warn him.”
“Heard you there,” Dash muttered back. “Borrow your phone a sec?”
They set off shortly up the trail. The ride was to last about an hour, through the darkened woods and past whatever “surprises” Dash had arranged. Except for Ravi’s mutinous stallion, all the horses were geldings or mares, and the most laid-back in Merry’s stable. Barring that idiot Khan, this might go all right.
They’d scarcely left the ranch behind when an enormous bat swooped out of the sky to divebomb the riders. Several women screamed. The bat swept into the woods. Moments later a pale man in a cape stepped out onto the trail to confront them. “Good evening,” he said in a suave, cultured voice. “I bid you welcome to our trail ride. Be warned. You leave your civilized safety behind. Here, in the shadows of the night, the world is ours.”
As if on cue, a chorus of wolves set up an eerie howling that echoed all around them. Merry held tight to her nervous mare’s reins. That wasn’t any recording. That wasn’t any vampire, either. “That’s Brandon Wayne,” she hissed at Dash. “How’d you get him out here?”
Dash shrugged with a grin. “I know people.”
Obviously. “Perils lurk at every turn,” Wayne went on. “The ghosts of those long dead still haunt these woods. And the phantom mare, who lures unwary riders to damnation. Don’t try to follow her, or she’ll lead you to the mouth of Hell.”
“Infantile foolishness,” Ravi groused, just loud enough to dampen the others’ good time. “Get out of the way. We’re here to ride.”
“As you wish,” Wayne said, with a sweep of his cape. “Ride then, to your doom.” The riders walked their horses up the trail. Merry caught Wayne’s nod to Dash as they passed.
Dash had certainly set up an impressive show, even Merry had to admit. Strange lights bobbed in the woods, and odd moans and roars sounded from the darkness at unexpected intervals. A man ran at them, blood on his face and a hatchet buried in his skull. “Injuns!” he yelled. “Don’t go up there!” Merry recognized him as Pauly, one of her hands. The horses knew him and the blood was fake, so they took all his noise with aplomb.
At a bend in the trail a huge black panther with glowing green eyes snarled at them before leaping aside to become one with the darkness. Ravi’s stallion did rear then. The ride was held up while Dash hurried forward to get the hair-trigger horse and those around him back under control.
“Idiot’s going to ruin this,” Merry growled to Dash when he returned. “Wish I had some excuse to send him back to the ranch.”
“Hang in there, sugar. Something tells me our boy Ravi’s gonna get what’s coming to him.”
The words had scarcely left his lips when someone ahead of them shouted, “The mare! I see her! The phantom mare!”
Seconds later Merry did too. She straightened in her saddle. This wasn’t one of her horses. The pearly-white mare seemed to glow in the moonlight. Every horse in the line pricked its ears toward her. She pranced up to the trail and whickered seductively at them, trying to entice them to follow.
Her charms proved too great for Ravi’s stallion to resist. The animal half-reared, in spite of Ravi’s curses and rock-hard hand on the reins. Ignoring him, the stallion bugled and plunged out of line, everything but the mare forgotten. Including the rider on his back. The white mare whirled and dashed out of reach, into the woods. Ravi’s increasingly-frantic shouts were rapidly dampened by distance.
“Poor feller,” Dash said loudly. “He’ll be having breakfast with Satan tomorrow. We told him not to follow her.”
“Aren’t you going to do something?” somebody asked.
“Nothing we can do, now. He’s gone. The rest of you folks keep to the trail, no matter what. We don’t want to lose any more of you.”
The other riders settled down and were soon back to laughing and joking. They’d decided Ravi’s runaway horse was all part of the show. Merry knew better. “Shouldn’t you go after him?” she whispered to Dash.
“He’ll be fine. Rachael won’t let him hurt himself.”
“My half-sister. She wanted to be part of this so bad I thought she’d kick me in the teeth if I didn’t let her. I wasn’t sure about it, her being nigh-on to her season and all … ”
“Season,” Merry echoed. The light dawned. “Oh my … ”
“That’s why I said no stallions. I called ahead to warn her so she'd know what to expect. It’s Ravi’s own fault he wouldn’t change mounts. Stubborn cuss got what he deserved.”
Merry had to giggle. “What about Rachael? What if he catches her?”
“Sugar, ain’t a mortal horse alive can catch a shifter on the run. Anyway, she ain’t going far, just to the ranger station. Doubt if the rangers’ll take kindly to some pervert on horseback chasing a naked girl around in the woods.”
This time Merry laughed outright. “You’re no horse,” she scolded him. “You’re a certified, grade-A skunk.”
“I knew my B.O. would give me away. Now sit back and enjoy yourself. Halloween’s for fun. Have some.”
“I will,” she promised. And she did.
Posted by Pat C.
Sex and the Shape Shifter
Macy looked up to where Kazim sat. Seeing him astride the tall palomino gelding unnerved her more than she cared to let on. Two males in perfect symmetry and getting along added to the flutters looping through her stomach.
“Why do you hesitate, my tasty morsel?” Kazim’s deep golden brown eyes twinkled as he leaned down offering his hand.
Since they’d began dating six months prior, Macy learned about passion in ways she’d never thought possible. The man could bring her off just talking to her. He seemed to read her mind when her thoughts turned to desires she’d only fantasized about. His gentle eagerness to learn what pleasured her and brought her to multiple orgasms. Her cheeks reddened thinking about their latest adventures.
“As we ride, you’ve got to be kidding.” Macy inhaled and exhaled reminding herself that nothing ventured nothing gained. Yeah, right riding with the group of shape shifters from Dante’s bar who were bringing up the rear on the community organized spooktacular trail ride. She still didn’t know what to make of Kazim’s full moon furriness.
“Come and warm my cock with your hot passion.” Kazim gripped her wrist and tugged.
“Isn’t it gonna look weird with me facing you rather than frontwards? And then they’re going to know what we’re doing!” Macy blushed more.
“What makes you think they don’t already know?” She swore she flushed from head to toe as he sniffed the air. “I love the scent of you ready to rut with this hungry tiger.”
Macy swallowed hard. She’d bathed twice before putting on any of the skimpy lingerie she wore under her loose flowing dress. Crotchless panties and the plunge bra got her more than one yowl and whistle from Kazim as he watched her dress. The second shower had been to clean up after he’d climbed in with her during the first and brought her off repeatedly as he suckled her nipples and stroked her engorged clit.
“How am I supposed to get settled on you if I can’t see to guide you in?” Macy tried to grin and act nonchalant. Nothing about Kazim was casual or relaxed when it came to passion. He gave as good as he got. The man could lap up every drop of cream she produced and purr loudly enough to make her want to start all over again.
“You doubt my strength or ability to lift you up and find myself deep inside you?” Kazim slid off the palomino. “Stay put Cream.” He reached up and patted the gelding’s closest whither.
“Poor horse. He has to smell all this fertileness and not enjoy.” Macy clapped her hand over her mouth as she realized she muttered her thoughts out loud.
Cream tossed his head and stomped. Kazim tossed back his head and howled, reaching for Macy with his free hand. “Cream will enjoy the pleasures rippling through us and feed on our energy until he returns to the barn to carouse with the mares. Come dawn several horse shifter females and males will be grinning from a good night of passion.”
Macy gasped as Kazim lifted her up and settled her astride Cream. Kazim leapt up behind her working his hand around her waist as he nibbled her ear. “Lean forward over Cream’s neck my passion petal and let me in to your heated nest. It’s time to ignite the flames that will warm us as we ride.”Posted by Solara Gordon
The Lone Ghost Rider
Lord, he was tired of being a ghost.
Lord Almighty! He’d become weary down to his invisible bones listenin’ to women scream like a banshee whenever they caught sight of his misty transparent form.
His life as a ghost rider had worn thin -- like a wool blanket after several long winters on the trail. Never interactin’ with another human being, the exception being when destiny demanded he intervene to right a wrong, and that was quick as a rattler’s strike.
According to the Heavenly Council he had to pay for his past sins. Never mattered, he hadn’t done most of ‘em, and tried to have his say.
Satan had been gunnin’ for him ever since he’d cleaned out a nest of the worst hombres in the whole of Colorado territory. One of Satan’s infiltratin’ devil angels had gained the Council’s ear. One so slick, with a voice so golden and deceivin’ Denver’s own protesting voice had been hanged until dead.
Denver Zedediah, as his mother had named him, ignored the hollow ache in the spot where his heart should have been. As a specter, he’d come to loathe the ever-lastin’ loneliness, the endless riding for over a century now. As much as he’d once craved riding the wide open plains without a soul in sight, now he wanted a home, and a woman.
He’d lived as a lone wolf in the Western territories, travelin’ from town to town takin’ on any job offered -- long as it sat right with his conscience. And, takin’ only the ladies who offered their charms.
Tarnation! He was damn tired of being stalked by a bumblin’ and fumblin’ parade of ghost hunters while tending to someone in need. Their newfangled gadgets woulda broken the back of a good pack mule. During all his wanderings, he’d witnessed only a few of the modern hunters who shot true as a gunslinger -- at least, the ones in his time who lived to tell the tale.
With the Call on him, Denver reined his faithful horse toward sundown, and they floated over the Montana prairie at a trot. The blaze of color slowly exploded along the horizon. Hell’s spurs, at least, he could still see like a human, and had all his five senses, plus his wits about him.
Because it was what the modern day folks called Halloween night, likely enough, he’d be busier than a wrangler at fall roundup. As well, preventin’ evil from winning at the card table called Earth had become a high stakes game in this time of the Great Darkness.
Not used to the cold, Sionne zipped up her fleece jacket, then hugged herself tight until her trembling eased off. Only hours earlier she’d purchased it for the Haunted Trail ride. Anything to escape her stalker of an ex-husband. The unspeakable bastard.
Astride her mount, a Paint mare with a docile temperament, Sionne watched the idiot tiger shapeshifter saw at his stallion’s mouth with the bit to get him to rear up. What was he? A Roy Rogers wannabe? If she’d had her wish she would have turned him into the headless horseman.
Even though it was unlikely as snow in the Amazon jungle that her ex would find her in Talbot’s Peak. Yet, that is. And even if he did since he feared horses, he’d wait to attack her -- which had been her original idea when she’d signed up for the ride.
Impatient to get moving, Sionne took her place, then patted the mare’s neck to soothe her. Her on-the-run anxiousness was causing the Paint to tense up beneath her.
Despite herself -- not being a huge fan of anything Halloween -- Sionne had to admit the whole bat-winging welcome had tickled her. After that, she settled herself in the saddle enjoying the reactions of the other participants.
Of course, when the beautiful white ghost mare had appeared, luring the overbearing tiger shifter’s stallion into a dead run, Sionne had silently cheered. Her first warning that danger had found her -- and wanted her ass real bad -- occurred near the end of the trail ride.
Sionne scented Bone Breaker, her ex’s enforcer. Holy damn, batman! Arturo had overcome his notorious greed long enough to send the psychopathic jaguar shapeshifter to either kill her or retrieve her.
Calm, Sionne told herself as she dismounted, and gave the reins of her mount to a cute cowboy with a winning smile. Stay calm. Trouble was she’d had no time to learn her surroundings. Where to hide, and remain holed up.
If she morphed now, and ran for the hills, Bone Breaker would be on her faster than a vampire who needed to feed. Trying not to appear as panicked as she felt, Sionne strolled toward the large campfire where other guests were already gathering to hear ghost stories.
Like a deadly shadow, Bone Breaker appeared beside her. Every nerve in Simone’s body turned into ice, burning agonizing ice.
“Come with me now,” he growled low and fierce, “and I will spare you the punishment Arturo has ordered before I return you to him.”
Denver narrowed his eyes at the evil he witnessed, seeing it as warped black waves around the man who was a jaguar shapeshifter. Obvious as sin, he stalked someone.
Following, Denver remained incorporeal until he sighted the woman who had been targeted by the man-jaguar. With little time to save her, Denver materialized himself and his horse to a ghostly white, and sent the stallion flying over the ground.
Twirling his lasso above his head, he flung it true, capturing the man-jaguar’s shoulders. Like a cow pony his stallion abruptly stopped and sat on his haunches. Denver yanked hard sprawling the man-beast to the ground.
Cheering shouts were his reward, and Denver figured those observing him thought he was part of the Haunted Halloween show. Just as well. Still, his job wasn’t finished. The woman wasn’t safe.
A pretty little thing, her wide eyes both thanked him and begged for his help. When he urged his horse forward, blocking the man-jaguar as he sprang to his feet, the woman didn’t think twice, she rushed toward him, and leaped.
Surprised down to his boots, Denver caught her around the waist, swinging her before him. Like she was born to it, she balanced herself on the little bit of saddle, and grabbed hold of his stallion’s mane.
“Run,” she yelled. “Race the wind. Whatever! Let’s get out of here.”
Never one to deny a lady in distress, Denver wheeled his horse around, heading for open spaces. His one question: why did the pretty little gal think he was real instead of an apparition?
Clinging to the stallion’s mane, Sionne wished like hell she could appreciate the sexy tall cowboy who had rescued her. Even now, she was aware of his rock-hard thighs, his rugged frame wrapped around her.
Rarely did any man interest her these day. But, he had her panting like a she-cat in heat. That is, he would have if she wasn’t running for her very life. Or, technically, if his magnificent horse wasn’t running beneath her... even though, it felt more like flying than...
Why didn’t she hear hoof beats?
Eeriness slammed Sionne, then twisted her insides.
“You okay, Miss?” her cowboy baritoned close to her ear. His arm tightened slightly around her waist as he brought her closer.
“I... Sionne, my name,” she shouted over her shoulder. “What’s your name?” She might as well play this out, find out what kind of paranormal weirdness she’d stepped into now.
“Denver. That’s my handle.” As he spoke, her big strong cowboy pulled back on the reins slowing his horse to a ground-covering lope.
“Denver, do you know this area?” Given it was night, Sionne cast her cat-sight over the terrain, and saw rolling prairie.
“Like the back of my hand, Miss Sionne.”
“Where would it be safe to hide? My ex is a real gnarly snarly beast, and I...”
“Now, don’t you worry none. I’m quick with a gun, and quicker with my fists. There’s a cabin I know about. Could be fixed up real nice.”
“Sounds like heaven,” Sionne called back before she thought.
“Yep. It sounds like heaven. There’s supplies laid in for the winter and lots of chow, Miss Sionne.” He gave the reins a gentle tug slowing his stallion to a smooth trot. “I feel like I ain’t ate in a coon’s age. How about I fix us a late night supper?”
“I’ll wash dishes,” Sionne offered.
“Maybe afterward, you’ll curl up in my lap, little jaguar. I ain’t held a woman... well, I surely am in need of some practice.”
So, he knew she was a shapeshifter. Sionne rubbed and snuggled against him, reveling in the feel of his hunk-awesome body. Then she softly rumbled, “Being held sounds purrrr-fect, Denver.”
Have a Magickal Halloween!