CHAPTER THREE — House of Horrors — A Dawn & Rosie short story

Titania Tempest
5 min readDec 29, 2023


The cover for “House of Horrors, A Dawn & Rosie short story”: yellow-orange sunset scene with black silhouettes of a witch on a broomstick, an owl, and the roofs of gothic town buildings.

Muttering, Rosie stomped through to the bathroom and roughly hauled the bath curtain aside so she could reach the taps. But she paused with her hand outstretched — for there, squatting by the plug hole, was another infernal spider. Typical — obviously the boys couldn’t even remember where they’d bloody put them all. Pursing her lips to a thin white line, she scooped it up — and it twitched. For a long, horrible moment, she froze, but then it scrabbled frantically in her fingers and cold comprehension dawned. She flung it away with a bloodcurdling screech, and the spider panicked upon landing, skittering haphazardly across the bathroom tiles at an abominable pace. Rosie’s shrieking reached fever pitch as she danced on the spot to avoid it, and, with a mighty effort, she flung herself up onto the side of the bathtub, clinging precariously to the curtain for balance.

Dawn came rushing in — eyes wide at the ruckus Rosie was causing — and bolted across to steady her before she fell.

Jesus, Rose! What the hell is going on?”

Rosie, whose voice proved incapable of more than bloodcurdling shrieks, clung to her shoulder with clawed fingers and frantically pointed as the spider dashed behind the toilet.

Dawn stared at the spot where it had disappeared and finally released a long, shaky breath. “Oh… Oh, I see.” She stood still for a long moment, debating where to begin, and then firmly turned her back on the arachnid. “Come on, now, Rose — get down from there before you hurt yourself.”

“It’s still there,” Rosie hissed.

“Yes, but it’s hiding. You’ve scared the living daylights out of the poor thing.”

“You’re siding with the bloody spider?!”

“Down,” Dawn repeated. “Now.”

Trembling violently, Rosie allowed Dawn to help her off the lip of the tub, but she kept a wary eye on the space where the spider had vanished.

“Right, then,” Dawn said when Rosie was firmly back on solid ground. “You stay here and keep an eye on it, and I’ll go find a bowl.”

“Are you mad?!” Rosie howled. “It’s out for blood!”

“Fine — you go get the bowl, and I’ll keep an eye on it. Bring that glass one — and a piece of card or something to fit under it.”

Rosie bolted for the door, and Dawn shook her head with a wry sigh. After a short wait, Rosie reappeared in the doorway and held out the requested items, but she refused to re-enter the room. Dawn huffed as she marched over to retrieve them, and then, armed with the bowl and a piece of card — covered in the strange scribbles that passed for art in Tommy and Nate’s opinion — she set about flushing out the spider. It cowered, all eight eyes watching the looming card suspiciously, and then made a dash for it. But Dawn was ready, firmly upturning the bowl over it in one fell swoop, and, thwarted, it scrabbled at the glass. Rosie shuddered audibly behind her.

Carefully — so as not to injure its legs — Dawn manoeuvred the piece of card under the bowl and then lifted the whole lot triumphantly. With a huff for her uncooperative knees, she hauled herself to her feet, and Rosie reeled backwards as she turned for the door.

“It’s only a house spider,” Dawn scoffed. “Relax, Rose.”

Rosie practically foamed as she backed down the passage. “Relax?! I picked it up, Dawn! It was in my effing hand — I’ll never relax again!”

Dawn gave an amused huff as she tramped down the stairs, and Rosie followed at a safe distance to supervise the disposal.

“Get the door, would you?” Dawn asked as she reached it.

Gingerly, Rosie skirted her to snatch at the handle and then whizzed back out of the way. But as Dawn made to drop the critter into the closest flowerpot, she snapped, “Not there! Take it further away!”

“It’s raining.”

“It’ll be straight back in the house, Dawn, to murder me in my sleep.”

Dawn straightened and arched an eyebrow, but then she scrutinized Rosie’s pinched face and took pity on her. With a resigned sigh, she scooted down the steps into the soggy garden and dropped the spider unceremoniously at the base of the hedge. She returned at a smart pace, dripping wet once more, and shook raindrops from her hair as she regained the shelter of the house.

Rosie closed the door behind her and then turned around with a sheepish expression. “Sorry… It really is pissing it down out there. Thanks, though, for saving me from the spider.”

Dawn pushed wet locks out of her face. “Saving the spider from you, more like.”

“Very funny,” Rosie sniffed.

“Go on,” Dawn said with a smile, “go and get ready, now.”

Rosie shook her head. “You first. A hot bath will do you the world of good — that’s the third time today you’ve been drenched.”

Dawn opened her mouth to argue but then stifled a shiver instead. “All right — but you’d better not make us late.”

Rosie pushed her onward. “Honestly, Dawn — when am I ever late?”


Thank you for reading! 🥰 This short story is a just-for-fun Halloween romp featuring the main characters from the novel PAPER DAFFODILS. If you enjoy hanging out with Dawn & Rosie, please check out their book on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited!

The cover of the novel PAPER DAFFODILS. Purple background remniscent of crumpled paper, overlain with a large yellow daffodil, the title of the book, and the author’s name (Titania Tempest)


Is it ever too late for a love story? Dawn Clermont certainly doesn’t think so. Rosie Bishop absolutely disagrees.

The last place divorcee Rosie wants to be is on a Seniors Retreat in the Lake District. She’s determined not to have
a good time, but an unexpected reunion with an old friend thwarts her plans. Her armour of bitterness proves no
match for the spirited widow Dawn; dragged through a whirlwind of adventures and betrayed by her own sense of humour, Rosie soon realises she hasn’t got a hope of staying sullen.

As Rosie clings to the remnants of her sarcasm, something about Dawn draws her closer than ever before. Soon, their bond threatens to run deeper, but is the possibility of a budding romance worth risking their rekindled friendship?

Get it here!



Titania Tempest

Author of Paper Daffodils, a sweet and sassy late-life lesbian romcom. Also currently working on a High Fantasy trilogy featuring sapphic sorceresses.