The car trundled up the long driveway, the crunching of gravel beneath tyres the only sound as Stephanie and her girlfriend, Jenny, peered out of the windows at their surroundings.
Even at dusk the tree-lined driveway was impressive with perfectly maintained parkland, spanning for acres on either side of it. As Stephanie steered the Fiesta around a bend in the track, they both gasped. Their destination, Wilderhope Manor, had come into view and it was stunning. The Tudor style property was huge, with no less than three frontages visible from where they were. Chimneys with intricately built patterns jutted into the darkening sky, with tangles of ivy climbing parts of the manor, giving the place an appearance that was both beautiful and foreboding.
Presently, the driveway opened out into a gravelled area, which as far as Stephanie could tell, doubled as a car park for the weekend. Stephanie manoeuvred into a spot between two vehicles and killed the engine. As she turned to Jenny, she jumped, startled. Her girlfriend had leaned in close, making a scary face with her hands mimicking claws.
“Are you ready to be scared out of your wits, young lady?” Jenny rasped, wiggling her eyebrows and fingers theatrically.
Stephanie shoved her playfully, laughing. “Come on, you silly cow. It’s a murder mystery weekend, not a monster hunt. There will be no ghosts, ghouls or vampires involved.”
Stephanie got out of the car and closed the door. She’d already popped open the boot and started unloading their bags before Jenny appeared alongside her, pouting petulantly.
“But it’s Halloween tomorrow,” Jenny insisted. “Anything could happen. The veil between the living and dead will be at its thinnest, and this place is meant to be swarming with ghosts.”
“If you say so, sweetheart,” she replied, rolling her eyes. She was used to Jenny’s crazy beliefs by now. “Grab your bags and let’s get inside. It’s cold. You got the tickets?”
Jenny nodded, brandishing her handbag in response. Jenny picked up her overnight bag as Stephanie slammed the boot lid before locking the car, then followed her toward the grand entrance to Wilderhope Manor.
* * *
A little while later, they were installed in their room. They’d each been handed a “Welcome Pack” by the staff member who had attended to them at Reception, which consisted of their itinerary and instructions for the weekend.
As they unpacked, she voiced one of the thoughts that had run through her head. “Have you ever noticed how places never bat an eye at two girls sharing a room, and yet, if it’s two guys, they automatically assume they’re gay?”
“They’ll soon change their tune when they see your outfit for tonight!” Jenny replied, grinning cheekily at her. “It screams ‘lesbian’ with every stitch!”
“Whatever do you mean, you saucy wench? Someone with girl parts dressing as a distinguished gentleman does not a lesbian make.”
“True, but I wonder what it’ll do to you? Perhaps it’ll work in reverse and turn you straight!”