CHAPTER TWO — House of Horrors — A Dawn & Rosie shorty 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.

By the time Mary pulled up at two minutes to three that afternoon, the rain had set in heavy, and Dawn scooted out with a brolly to meet her. Rosie urged them on from the safety of the doorway, and Mary caught her up in a great, wet hug as she made it to the house.

“Dammit, you’re sopping!” Rosie exclaimed, fending her off.

“Nice to see you too, Mum,” Mary grinned. “Thanks for bringing the brolly out, Dawn.”

“Fat lot of good it did,” Dawn returned, doing her best to shake it out beyond the threshold.

“Tea,” Rosie announced. “There’s a spare coat on the rack, Mary — mind you don’t freeze to death, now.”

She turned for the kitchen, and after donning something dry, Mary and Dawn followed.

“Well,” Rosie said over her shoulder, “how was the trip?”

“Absolutely fabulous,” Mary replied. “If you get a chance, you really must go and take a gander.”

“France is a little foreign for me, don’t you think?” Rosie said, pouring the tea.

“Cheese, wine, and beautiful scenery, Rose,” Dawn countered. “What’s not to like?”

“It’s all in French,” Rosie reminded her.

“I speak a little French. We’d be fine.”

You’d be fine. Feel free to venture out there, then.”

“Stay here with your tea and scones, would you?”

“Do you have any scones?” Mary interjected. “I’d kill for one, actually.”

Rosie fixed Dawn with an I-told-you-so expression. “You see — one weekend in France and she’s gasping for proper grub.”

“Hardly,” Mary laughed. “But the last bite I had was on the plane at seven this morning — I’d eat just about anything at this stage.”

“They’re in the cupboard,” Dawn offered, pointing. “White container with sunflowers on it.”

“Thanks,” Mary said, fishing them out. “Where are the boys?”

Rosie turned to face her with a blank expression. “What boys?”

“Oh, ha, ha.” Mary dug in the fridge for something to dress her scone with but found only a tub of butter. “You don’t have any cream?”

“Sorry,” Rosie snapped, “wasn’t prepared for the Queen visiting.”

Mary chuckled, amiably slathering her treat with the butter, and Rosie hollered into the hall for Tommy and Nate. After a short pause, they tumbled into the kitchen and threw themselves at Mary, talking over each other in their excitement.

Observing the hearty reunion, Rosie leaned over to mutter in Dawn’s ear, “I don’t remember ever being that popular with my own child.”

“Perhaps if you weren’t so prickly…” Dawn elbowed her with a smirk, and Rosie put on an affronted expression. But she leaned against Dawn’s shoulder, content to watch the boys filling their mother in on their escapades, and quick-firing a million questions about her trip to France.

“Did you bring us anything, Mum?” Nate gushed, trying to peer into her handbag.

“I did,” Mary laughed, “but your presents are at home.”

“Aww,” Tommy said. “Can we go, then?”

“Are you even ready?” Rosie interjected with a snort.

The boys exchanged glances and then scampered to go and fetch their things. In a few minutes, they were back — hastily-packed duffel bags threatening to burst.

“Ready!” Tommy announced, and beside him, Nate bobbed his head in enthusiastic agreement.

“All right, then,” Mary said, downing the last of her tea. “I do need to get home anyway. Hardly touched base, yet. Cheers, Mum, Dawn. We’ll catch up soon, all right? Thanks for having the boys — oi, say thank you, you lot.”

Tommy and Nate warbled their gratitude and said their goodbyes, and soon, the car was pulling away through the steady rain. From behind the kitchen window, Rosie watched them go, offering a small wave as they turned out of sight. Dawn slid her arms around Rosie’s waist from behind, and Rosie leaned into her embrace as she stared at the steady stream of rivulets questing down the glass.

After a moment, she said, “Gosh, would you listen to that, Dawn?”

Dawn cocked her head. “I don’t hear anything.”

“Exactly,” Rosie said primly. “Peace and bloody quiet, at last.”

Dawn laughed and spun away. “Not for long, dearheart — best start getting ready, now, or we’re going to be late.”

Rosie turned, narrowing her eyes. “Late for what?”

“We’re going to that maze-thing, remember.”

“Oh. Yes. I’d hoped you’d forgotten.”

Dawn smirked. “No such luck. Go on, now, go and bath so we can get cracking. Your outfit is hanging in the closet, by the way.”

Rosie glared at her. “Remembered the costumes, too, did you?”

“Of course,” Dawn said, manhandling her towards the stairs. “It’s a Halloween maze, Rose — dressing up’s half the fun. Hurry up, now.”

“All right,” Rosie huffed, dragging her feet as she ascended.


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.