For a moment their mouths pressed hotly together, Will’s free hand tangling in her hair. Tessa gasped when his arms went around her, her skirts snagged on the floor as he pulled her hard against him. She put her hands lightly around his neck; his skin was burning hot to the touch. Through the thin wet material of his shirt, she could feel the muscles of his shoulders, hard and smooth. His fingers found her jeweled hair clasp and pulled at it, and her hair spilled down around her shoulders, the comb rattling to the floor, and Tessa gave a little cry of surprise against his mouth. And then, without warning, he ripped his hands from her and pushed hard against her shoulders, shoving her away from him with such force that she nearly fell backward, and only stopped herself awkwardly, her hands braced on the floor behind her.
She sat with her hair hanging down around her like a tangled curtain, staring at him in amazement. Will was on his knees, his chest hitching up and down as if he had been running incredibly fast and far. He was pale, except for two fever splotches of red across his cheeks. “God in Heaven,” he whispered. “What was that?”
Tessa felt her cheeks turn scarlet. Wasn’t Will the one who was supposed to know exactly what that was, what wasn’t she the one who was supposed to have pushed him away?
“I can’t.” His hands were fists at his sides; she could see them trembling. “Tessa, I think you had better go.”
“Go?” Her mind whirled; she felt as if she had been in a warm, safe place and without warning had been cast out into a freezing, empty darkness. “I…I should not have been so forward. I’m sorry–”
A look of intense pain flashed across his face. “God, Tessa.” The words seemed dragged out of him. “Please. Just leave. I can’t have you here. It’s–not possible.”
“No.” He jerked his gaze away from hers, averting his face, his eyes fixed on the floor. “I’ll tel you anything you want to know tomorrow. "Tessa. I’m begging you. Do you understand? I’m begging you. Please, please leave.
"Very well,” Tessa said, and saw with a mixture of amazement and pain that the lines of tension went out of his shoulders. Was it that much of a horror having her there, and that much of a relief that she was leaving? She rose to her feet, her dress damp and cold and heavy, her feet nearly slipping on the wet floor. Will didn’t move or look up, but stayed where he was on his knees, staring at the ground as Tessa made her way across the room and down the stairs, without looking back.
I had this sing-along VHS as a kid (we still have it in fact) and this part used to scare me and it partially made the trips to the real Haunted Mansion scarier for me as a kid. I know at one point my mom only got me on the ride by convincing me that we were Ghostbusters and were gonna catch the ghosts. I had to shut my eyes through the whole attic scene though because back then it was just a series of heads jumping out of vases and I didn’t like it (still don’t like being startled like that).
But now the ride is my absolute favorite. I love the song and will randomly hum it from time to time. Funny how those things change.
“Back are you, Sophie?” Will replied without raising his head. “I told you if you brought me another one of those infernal pails, I’d–”
“It’s not Sophie,” Tessa said. “It’s me. Tessa.”
For a moment Will was silent–and motionless, save for the rise and fall of his chest as he breathed. He wore only a pair of dark trousers and a white shirt, and like the floor around him, he was soaking wet. The fabric of his clothes clung to him, and his black hair was pasted to his head like wet cloth. He must have been freezing cold.
“They sent you?” he said finally. He sounded incredulous, and something else, too.
“Yes,” answered Tessa, thought this was not strictly true.
Will opened his eyes and turned his head toward her. Even in the dimness she could see the intensity of his eye color. “Very well, then. Leave the water and go.”
Tessa glanced down at the pail. For some reason her hands did not seem to want to let go of the metal handle. “What is it, then? I meant to say–what am I bringing you, exactly?”
“They didn’t tell you?” He blinked at her in surprise. “It’s holy water. To burn out what’s in me.”
It was Tessa’s turn to blink. “You mean–”
“I keep forgetting everything you don’t know,” Will said. “Do you recall earlier this evening when I bit de Quincey? Well, I swallowed some of his blood. Not much, but it doesn’t take much to do it.”
“To do what?”
“To turn you into a vampire.”
At that, Tessa nearly did drop the pail. “You’re turning into a vampire?"
Will grinned at that, propping himself up on one elbow. "Don’t alarm yourself unduly. It requires days for the transformation to occur, and even then, I would have to die before it took hold. What the blood would do is make me irresistibly drawn to vampires–drawn to them in the hopes that they’d make me one of them. Like their human subjugates.”
“And the holy water…”
“counteracts the effects of the blood. I must keep drinking it. It makes me sick, of course–makes me cough up the blood and everything else in me.”
“Good Lord.” Tessa thrust the pail toward him with a grimace. “I suppose I had better give it to you, then.”