Matthew settled further into the bath, luxuriating in the feeling of the warm, soapy water lapping around his shoulders. The glow of the candles set around the old-fashioned clawfoot tub illuminated the thick paperback he held in one hand. His other hand was occupied by a cold bottle of beer. Matthew idly pressed the bottle onto his flushed cheek, enjoying the contrast between the steam of the hot bathwater and the condensation of the cool glass. Gentle classical music played in the large room, piped in by his iPhone. Mmm... this is the life. I need to thank Arthur for recommending this rental house to me, he thought, turning another page in his novel.
Matthew puffed out his cheeks and gently blew away a bubble approaching too closely to his book. His wrist was starting to get tired from holding up the book - it really was quite thick. But he was unwilling to set down the alcohol, and he was too engrossed in The Thin Red Line to consider putting his novel away. It had been so long since he'd had the chance to read uninterrupted, especially in such a relaxing setting, especially since his new *houseguest* had appeared. Matthew turned another page as a candle fluttered out.
"Wait - turn back to the previous page. I wasn't quite done yet," a low voice murmured. Warm, beer-scented breath tickled Matthew's ear, sending a tingle down his spine that couldn't be blamed on the warm water. Matthew hummed and obligingly flipped back to the previous page. "Thanks, birdie."
...wait. Birdie? BIRDIE?! Matthew yelped and instinctively wrapped his arms around himself, flinging both book and bottle into the bath. Beer sprayed everywhere, dousing a few of the candles. Simultaneously, the classical music station switched to an ominous rendition of Night on Bald Mountain. Matthew was frozen in a tableau of dread horror, until the atmosphere was broken when the voice in his ear scoffed. "Really? The Fantasia song? Is this the Disney station?"
Matthew spluttered and clutched himself tighter, burrowing underneath the bubbles. "What the hell are you doing in here, Gilbert?!"
"Obviously, I was trying to read The Thin Red Line, until someone decided to drop the book into the bathwater."
"Shit." Matthew quickly fished the dripping book out of the water, shaking it in an attempt to dry it off. It was hopeless - the book was ruined, as was his pleasant mood. He flung the book to the ground and rounded on his companion. He was met with the pale visage of his unwanted houseguest, crimson eyes staring unrepentantly into his own violet orbs. Gilbert was wearing short red swimming trunks, had his arms crossed, and oh yeah - was floating two inches above the ground. Matthew could faintly see the flickering light of the one remaining candle shining through Gilbert's bare chest before he quickly averted his gaze. "I thought I told you that the bathroom was a ghost-free zone."
Gilbert pouted. "I got bored. The channel you left on for me switched to that weird Swamp People show, and your book looked way cooler."
"Ghost-free zone. Did you not see the sign I put on the bathroom door?"
"The print out of the Ghostbusters logo? Seriously? Do I look like a white marshmallow to you?" Gilbert gestured at himself. Matthew tried not to look at the ghost's lithely muscled form, which was shining in the candlelight with an ethereal glow. Unfortunately, Gilbert didn't show the same courtesy - his hot gaze lingered on what he could see of Matthew's long legs in the bathtub. The bubbles had slowly dissipated, leaving tantalizing glimpses of a hockey-toned body.
Matthew squirmed. "Get out. Now."
"Want me to bring you another beer first, since you wasted the first one while screaming like a little girl? Oh that's right, I can't interact with physical objects."
"Gilbert. Don't make me call an exorcist."
A flash of disappointment passed over Gilbert's face before it was quickly replaced by his usual confident smirk. "Fine, Birdie. I'll leave you to it. But you totally owe me a book report on the ending of The Thin Red Line!" With those parting words, he flickered out of the room, leaving a faint scent of ozone and beer.
Matthew slowly sank back into the water, batting aside the floating beer bottle. I'm going to kill Arthur for recommending this rental house to me.