Was Halloween magic playing a trick on Lily? Or would it be a real treat instead?
“But it’s Halloween.” Lily stared at her sister.
“Please tell me you’re not scared of goblins coming to get you!”
Emma managed to raise one brow in sardonic fashion at the same time as she made a chuff-chuff noise to encourage her youngest son, Ben, to have a spoonful of food.
“You don’t mind, do you? Only it’s a bit of an emergency with this one being poorly. I’m better staying in and looking after him. He’s fretful and rather demanding at the moment, aren’t you my little man.”
She cooed at Lily’s ten-month old nephew with an adoring smile before giving her a hopeful look. “The other two are already dressed and ready.”
Lily’s face broke into a smitten look. Ben was gorgeous, no doubt about it, with a cherub-like face and shock of blond hair.
“How far do you want me to take them?”
Them being seven-year old Clara, and five-year old Mark. With Emma’s husband Jack working away from home a lot, Lily often popped round to help out.
“Just round the neighbourhood. You won’t be on your own – I’m sure there’ll be a whole pile of kids doing the rounds.”
“Do I have to dress up?”
“Of course you do. You can borrow my Morticia outfit that I wore a few years ago. Luckily we’re about the same size so it should fit.”
Lily rolled her eyes. “I don’t have to put that wig on, do I?”
“It will help you get into character.” Emma grinned. “It’s laid out on my bed, so you might as well go and change now.”
They were interrupted as Harry Potter and a cute witch rushed into the kitchen, yelling and screaming at the top of their voices.
“Take that, you silly witch!” Harry waved his wand over the little witch, who had a face that looked like thunder.
“You can’t magic me, I’m a witch! Anyway, I’m older than you, and I say what you can and can’t magic!”
Emma and Lily raised amused faces.
“OK, Witch Clara, do you want to help me get ready?” Lily enquired, defusing the situation.
Leaving Harry Potter, aka Mark, in the kitchen with his mother, Lily led the way upstairs.
Maybe tonight would be fun. She hadn’t been trick or treating for ages.
Wending their way among goblins, witches, a few ghosts and ghouls and a Superman, Lily wiggled her way down the drives of the various houses.
The dress was tight-fitting and with a fishtail, so it wasn’t the easiest costume to walk about in. How on earth Emma had coped she had no clue.
The wig was itchy too, and Clara had insisted on helping with her make-up so Lily felt like Aunt Sally from Worzel Gummidge.
Reaching the house at the end of the cul-de-sac, Lily clutched the kids’ hands as they trooped down the drive and knocked on the door.
The owner had made an effort with cobwebs hanging from above, and a pumpkin with carefully cut-out eyes glowing on the doorstep.
As the door opened, the kids yelled, “Trick or Treat!”
“Ahh, my favourite time of year. And who do we have here?” a deep voice asked, sending an immediate shiver down Lily’s spine.
The handsome man standing there looked to be about her own age, in his late twenties, with dark hair that had been neatly combed to one side.
The moustache he had affixed to his face didn’t look real, so she presumed he was normally clean-shaven. Neatly dressed in a striped suit, he looked to be dressed up like Gomez – Morticia’s husband from The Addams Family.
A boy about Mark’s age was standing beside him, dressed as Pugsley.
“I’m a witch, Mark’s Harry Potter and my auntie is Morticia,” Clara announced. “And we’re trick or treating.”
“An excellent pastime on such a night. Auntie, eh? My sweet Morticia, may I say how delectable you look. And, Harry, what an excellent wand. And what a wicked-looking witch. I must make sure I don’t fall under your evil spells!”
Seeing Clara preen, Lily’s mouth twitched. He was definitely in character, and quite the smooth talker.
“Come, I have treats for you all.”
As Mark and Clara opened their goodie bags, he popped some sweets inside.
“Not to be eaten all at once.” He winked. “Unless, of course, you like lots of trips to the dentist.”
Both Mark and Clara wrinkled their noses and shook their heads.
“Wise advice,” Lily agreed with a nod at Gomez. “And thank you.”
“Wait, where’s your goodie bag?” Gomez enquired, staring at her with brown eyes the colour of hot chocolate.
She felt her insides do somersaults and mentally cursed herself for being so easily charmed.
“Auntie hasn’t got one,” Mark piped up.
“In that case…” Gomez met her gaze with an intense look. The tension between them palpable. Gently taking one of her slender hands in his, he brought it to his lips, making her heart miss a beat.
She gave him a startled look and he winked.
“For a beautiful lady, who I will hopefully see again very soon.”
This is ridiculous! Some strange man flirts and gives you a kiss on the hand and you act like a simpering fool.
“Um… thanks… come on kids.”
Taking their hands, Lily sashayed up the drive – being unable to do anything else in the tight dress. Risking a look over her shoulder as they headed back home, she saw Gomez still standing there with a grin on his face.
He raised a hand and blew her a kiss before going inside.
The man obviously thought he was the bees’ knees, she fumed. For all he knew he was flirting with a married woman – the cheek of it!
Making her tone light she addressed Clara and Mark.
“OK, I think we’re done trick or treating. It’s bedtime for all magicians and witches.”
“Ohh!” they both wailed.
“No arguments. We’ve visited all the houses now anyway.”
Returning to Emma’s, Lily found her thoughts straying back to the man in the end house.
Just because a man pays you a compliment is no reason to act like a teenager. He’s probably an outrageous flirt and picked his outfit to accompany his persona. I never have to see him again anyway!
Though deep down, she hoped she might.
Having changed back into her own clothes, she sank onto the sofa with a cup of hot chocolate, her thoughts once again on the bewitching man.
“Everything OK?” Emma asked plonking herself beside her, having settled Clara and Mark. Ben was already sleeping.
“Fine… by the way, is there a new neighbour in the end house?”
She tried to inject a casual tone into her voice, knowing that Emma could jump on things like a reporter with a hot lead.
“Connor someone or other,” Emma said, “I’ve only met him a few times but he seems nice.”
“Yeah,” Lily said in noncommittal tone, before casually asking. “Is he married?”
“Single dad, I think,” Emma said swivelling her head and raising one brow to give Lily a questioning stare.
Drat! She obviously hadn’t made her tone light enough.
“I just wondered… only, apart from his son, I didn’t see anyone else in the house when he opened the door. He seemed a bit smarmy, to be honest.”
“In what way?”
“He kissed my hand. He was dressed like Gomez and obviously thought he could take liberties.”
Emma burst out laughing.
“You sound so Victorian! He was probably just in character. Anyway, he seemed quite warm and friendly when I bumped into him with the kids a few days ago.”
“I didn’t mean it that way,” Lily muttered, drawing her arms around her chest in protective fashion. “It’s just that…” She gave a shrug. “He seemed a bit full of himself, that’s all.”
“You’re just being overly sensitive.” Emma poked her in the ribs. “Halloween skulduggery has messed with your head. Honestly, Connor’s a nice, friendly guy.”
Emma hid a yawn and Lily patted her arm, glad to escape any further talk.
“You’re shattered. I’ll get going,” she said. “Looks like you need an early night. I’ll see you on Sunday.”
Emma liked to do a huge Sunday roast and quite often Lily joined them.
On the way home via a pathway close to Connor’s house, Lily saw that the lights were still on.
She felt her face burn again and she quickened her pace to try and put further thoughts of the man out of her mind.
She still thought him presumptuous, preferring a more self-effacing personality in a man. Not that she’d been on a date in a while.
Goodness only knows why she’d let him get under her skin; she wasn’t normally this sensitive.
There was just something about him…
As Lily walked into Emma’s living room late on Sunday morning, she practically fell over a pair of long legs stretched out in one of the armchairs.
Feeling her heart jolt, she glanced up, meeting the same dark brown eyes that had caused such rumpus in her heart from Halloween – she’d have recognised them anywhere. A blush spread across her face.
Emma bustled in with drinks, giving Lily an innocent butter-wouldn’t-melt look.
“Ahh, good, you’re here… Lily, meet Connor. He’s recently moved into the corner house and I thought it would be nice to invite him and his son David over for Sunday lunch. I believe you two met the other night?”
“We did indeed,” Connor gave a warm, friendly smile. “Though I believe your hair was longer and darker.”
Glaring at Emma, Lily pasted a smile onto her face before looking at him.
“Nice to meet you, Connor… or should I say Gomez?”
Connor chuckled. “We love dressing up. It was a fun evening, wasn’t it? Funny how we both dressed as characters from The Addams Family.”
“It was actually Emma’s outfit. I was just helping out with the kids.” Lily glanced round. “Where are Mark and Clara?”
“Clara had a sleepover with a friend last night, and Mark is upstairs with David,” Emma said.
A clattering of heels and running footsteps above heralded his arrival as Mark ran helter-skelter down the stairs and threw himself into Lily’s arms.
“Auntie Lily, come see what we’ve made.” He pulled on her arm.
“You’ve got five minutes,” Emma called as Lily was dragged upstairs.
Coming back down, having admired the boys’ latest Lego creation, Lily heard Connor give a throaty chuckle in response to one of Jack’s comments.
With her heart skipping another beat, she lifted a hand to her cheek, hoping she hadn’t reddened again.
What was it about the man? She wasn’t normally this gauche.
“Can I give you a hand in the kitchen?” she asked Emma, who emerged wiping her hands on a tea-towel as Lily reached the hallway.
“Everything’s under control. You sit yourself down. Jack, can you finish setting the table, please? And Mark and David, I need you both for one minute.”
With orders given, Emma winked at Lily before turning on her heel back into the kitchen.
Lily sank into a chair opposite Connor.
“So, do you live locally?” He gave an engaging grin.
“Not far away.”
“And you pop into see your sister regularly, do you?”
With annoying embarrassment, she felt like her normal polite social skills had deserted her and her brain had seized up.
Connor carried on chatting, seemingly not noticing her reaction to him.
“We love Halloween. Well, all of the holidays really. Actually, a friend of mine is having a party on Tuesday, it being Bonfire night. Would you like to come along? That is, if you’re not doing anything?”
Staring into his open, warm, friendly face, and feeling her heart jolt, Lily wondered what she’d been getting so uptight about.
Perhaps Halloween had been performing some sort of magical subterfuge? Emma was right. Connor did seem like a nice guy.
“I’d like that, thanks,” she smiled.
“Lunchtime!” Mark barrelled into the room, shouting at the top of his voice.
As Lily passed Emma, she winked. “Trick or treat?”
“Oh, I think definitely a treat,” Lily grinned.
Look out for a new series of short stories from our archives, starting on Monday! And don’t forget, there’s brand new fiction, short serials, book reviews and more in My Weekly magazine, out every Tuesday. Why not take out a subscription and save on the shop price?