The Haunted House
'My pumpkin needs teeth!'
Children's joyous voices filled the autumn air as Sofia and James walked arm in arm at the harvest festival. An unseasonably cold wind blew in from the north giving Sofia chills
"'It's colder than I expected, I should have brought a heavier coat' Sofia complained shivering
"'Here, take mine, Sof' James shrugged out of his navy blue corduroy jacket quickly and draped it over her shoulders engulfing her slender frame
'I don't want you to be cold' she protested but he just laughed and buttoned the front trapping her
'I can handle it, I would rather be cold than you anyhow'
He was always kind like that, from the moment she moved in the castle he was the one who always stuck up for her and made her feel special and welcome. His twin sister
Amber had been less than thrilled when their father, King Rolland II, married Sofia's mother especially when she learned she had to help train a village girl how to be a princess but after James talked to her she seemed more willing. Sofia never knew what he told her but it was effective whatever it was.
'Are you hungry?' James asked as he slid his arm around her coat covered shoulders making her blush. Sofia had secretly been in love with James for about two years now, he was her step-brother and she knew he would probably think she was crazy if he didn't already know. Her cheeks betrayed her every time he was around and she made a fool out of herself on more than one occasion.
She couldn't help it though, he was the most amazing person she had ever, and probably would ever, known not to mention he was extremely handsome.
Vendors were set up along the main road in Dunwitty, the smell of pastries along with smoked meats and candy engulfed the royals. Sofia's stomach rumbled reminding her they had rushed out so fast they hadn't eaten dinner.
'I guess I am' Sofia giggled
They walked up to a booth filled with jerky and turkey legs. After Sofia selected a big stick of venison jerky and James grabbed a turkey leg the size of a small child they continued their stroll until they came across a big sign that read 'HAUNTED HOUSE. ENTER IF YOU DARE' in red paint that dripped giving it the illusion of blood.
'A haunted house!' James exclaimed throwing the bone of the turkey leg he had eaten far too quickly away, he may be a twenty year old prince but he had the appetite and the excitement level of a pre- teenager
'Come on, Sof, it will be fun!' he began pulling her in the direction of the courthouse that had two suspicious looking scarecrows standing at the entrance
'I don't know, James' she hesitated pulling out of his grasp immediately regretting her decision when she saw the disappointment in his face 'you go, I'll wait for you here' she proposed sweetly but he shook his head
'There isn't any reason for you to be scared, Sofia, I'm here. I'll protect you' he told her gently, his sultry voice gave Sofia goose bumps and his jade green eyes burned into her Sapphire blues. She knew he would keep her safe and she wanted him to, always
'OK, but don't make fun of me when I scream' She told him sternly
'Never, let’s go!' he eagerly pulled her to the crowd of people waiting to go inside, the sound of screams from inside was almost enough for Sofia to go home and hide under her covers. But she wanted James to have some fun and if that meant she would have to be scared out of her mind then so be it. James and Sofia's group was starting to enter the dark building and unfortunately Sofia's distrust of the Scarecrows was warranted as they began chasing them inside.
Sofia clung to James as well as she could for still being trapped in his coat and he wrapped his arm around her tighter. The first room was a maze of mirrors, James figured it out quickly, to Sofia's amazement, leading the group out not a moment too soon since she kept seeing hooded figures following them. The next room was pitch black except for a candle at the opposite end that looked like it was about to blow out
'Do you see the way out?' she asked squinting to see if there was a door by the candle
'No, it's too dark'
The two of them were caught off guard by a blood curdling scream followed by fast flashes of light. They both saw the exit at the same time and James all but carried Sofia to the doorway nearly getting knocked over by other members of their group who were screaming and fighting to get out
'That was scary!' James said excitedly. Sofia could tell he was enjoying himself but she felt as though her eighteen year old heart was going to burst
'w-what's next?' Sofia asked meekly
'Are you ok, Sof? I can make them let us out if you need to' There was no judgment in his voice, only pure concern for her
'No, I'm fine' she lied just as the group ahead screamed more. She was glad he couldn't see her face in the dark. He could always tell when she was lying.
'If you’re sure, let's follow the screams' he laughed and guided her to another room that was set up to look like a sorcerer's lab. There were liquids that looked like potions on the shelves, a big spell book on a podium in the far corner, a broken vile of orange goo on the floor and what looked like blood splattered on the floor and walls.
'What is this room supposed to be?' Sofia asked uneasily knowing that something was going to jump out and grab her
'Maybe nothing, it looks real though, huh'
They were about to go out the door when three men dressed in tattered clothes and zombie make-up came into the room chanting 'brrraainnnsssss'
'Oh no, Zombies!' Sofia yelled grabbing James's hand and they ducked around them towards the door and hid around the corner in the dimly lit hallway. James was in front of
Sofia, her face inches from his muscular chest and his hands were on either side of her head pressed against the wall behind her. They were both laughing and trying to catch their breaths
'That was close!' Sofia said pressing her forehead against him trying not to hyperventilate
'Hey, Sofia, I have a question' James said slowly looking down at her. He looked a little nervous which was an uncommon occurrence
'What is it James?' Sofia asked concerned
'Well, I've wanted to ask you for a while but I haven't been able to bring myself to do so'
'You can ask me anything'
'Well, do you...um…do you like me?' his eyes were staring at the wall above her head and she knew what he meant. She was aware that she wasn't the most subtle person when it came to her emotions but she was hoping to keep it a secret longer, she liked the feeling of loving him and she didn't want to be condescended for it
'Of course I do, James. Your my best friend' she said trying to talk her way out of the conversation he was trying to have.
She knew he would turn her down hard and probably not want to be around her anymore. That was her greatest fear, ironic considering they were in a haunted house.
'Is that all?' he almost sounded sad. Sofia thought for a moment and decided to tell him the truth. She didn't want to lie to him, even if it meant she would lose him, he needed to know.
'No...' she sighed and felt him tense up 'James...I love you...not like a friend and definitely not like a brother...'
There was a long silence, the only sounds were their breaths and the distant screams of the new group making their way through the haunted house
'How long have you been in love with me?' he asked thoughtfully
'Um, two years. I've liked you longer though' she admitted shyly looking down at her brown dress and started fiddling with the embroidered red and yellow leaves that decorated it
'I've known for three' he said causing Sofia's heart to race. WHAT?
‘known what, exactly?' she asked carefully
'That I've been in love with you, but yeah, I've liked you for longer too'
Sofia looked up to see his eyes sparkling and he was smiling her favorite smile at her
'I-I don't know what to say'
She was so confused and she wasn't sure if he was just teasing her or not. He was known to joke a lot, but she hoped with all her heart he was being honest. James and Sofia stood in the dimly lit hallway hidden away from everyone in Enchancia. They had been alone many times before, they had a special part of the garden that was just for them that they would spend their afternoons reading and playing in the fountains in warm weather, but it had never felt like this.
Sofia had told James her most precious secret and he seemed not only to know but to reciprocate. Their eyes never broke contact and in a flash James's soft red lips were entwined with Sofia's. She felt like she was flying, falling and being shocked at the same time; she never wanted it to end.
Eventually it did, however, and James slid to the floor pulling her beside him. Sofia rested her head on his shoulder, it had always fit comfortably there like it was shaped just for her.
'Marry me, Sofia' James whispered pulling his coat off of her and taking something out of the inside breast pocket
'What?' Sofia couldn't hide her joy but she was afraid that they wouldn't be able to and that scared her
'I have loved you for a long time and I want the world to know' he slipped a ring she couldn't see on her small finger and it fit perfectly
'Oh, James, what if dad doesn't allow it?' she felt the warm metal on her finger and shivers ran up her spine
'I talked to dad a few months ago and asked him if I could make you mine, he gave me my mother's ring and told me to follow my heart which is exactly what I intend to do. You are the only woman I have ever loved, Sofia, and the only woman I ever want to love. Will you marry me?'
Sofia threw her arms around James's neck almost knocking him over and kissed him again
'Yes, James, a million times yes!'
Sofia thought how silly she had been not to tell him years ago how she felt and how the fear she faced was all in her head. She was going to marrythe love of her life and she couldn't be any happier sitting on the floor of a haunted house hiding from Zombies.
THE ENDiting here ...