Those who see the ghostly figure of the WWII fighter pilot in the English farmhouse garden at Grange End are destined to die within a week of that sighting. But when Cassie Grant not only sees the Polish flying ace in the garden, but talks to him in her bedroom, it's clear that something more than a prediction of death is at work here.
Hawk has been waiting for something at Grange End for nearly 70 years, and from the first moment he sees the fragile beauty at the upper window he realises what it is - Cassie!
But is he there to accompany her to the other side when her time is up or is his increasingly corporeal presence meant for something else? When the enemy of the past becomes the enemy of the present, Hawk is determined to save Cassie from her untimely death, even if he has to cross the boundaries between Life and Afterlife to do it.
What a strange dream this was. Usually his dreams were more real than reality, every sense intensified. This… muffled sensation… was disconcerting.
He let the tip of his tongue taste her damp cheek. She tasted… bland. How could such a beauty be tasteless? There was the slightest scent of almonds, but no corresponding taste.
As he contemplated this odd phenomenon, her eyes flew open and she stared directly up at him. She gasped and jerked back, hitting her head on the iron headboard. She cried out in pain and reached for her scalp.
In the same instant, he jerked back away from her, standing up straight and stepping away from the bed. This was not supposed to happen. In his dream, she wouldn’t wake. If she did, she’d smile warmly up at him and move to kiss him.
Instead, she rubbed at her naked head and stared up at him, her kissable lips open in a stunned gape.
‘I am sorry. I did not expect to wake you. I will go.’ He began backing up towards the door.
‘Hawk? That is who you are, isn’t it? Your accent sounds Eastern European.’ Her voice was croaky with sleep and shock, her accent upper-class English. He’d heard it often enough amongst the upper echelons of the British military.
‘Andrezej Drzewiecki, but I am called Hawk. I do beg your pardon for intruding. I am not sure how I came to be here. I was outside and then I was inside; just like that.’ He clicked his fingers to indicate the speed.
‘How can I be talking to you? How can you look so real? Am I dreaming you?’ She scooted up so that she was sitting with her back braced against the metal headboard.
He noticed she didn’t wear a nightdress, but instead slept in a short singlet that revealed the flatness of her chest and her bare midriff. What she wore below her waist he didn’t know, as that was covered by the pastel sheet.
As if seeing where his eyes had wandered, she wrapped her arms over her chest self-consciously.
‘I thought I was dreaming, too, but this is the oddest dream I have ever had. I tried to open the door when I realised where I was, but my hand could not grip the doorknob.’
‘Well, that’s only to be expected, isn’t it?’
‘In a dream? No, not usually.’
‘No, not in a dream. You’d expect you wouldn’t be able to touch things when you’re a ghost, surely.’
He stared at her blankly for several long seconds. He couldn’t understand what she meant. Ghost? He did understand the meaning of that word correctly, didn’t he?
‘You think I am an apparition?’
‘Well, that’s what Marnie thinks you are. She says you’ve been haunting the place since near the end of the war.’
‘Haunting? Do not believe the fanciful stories of a child. Do I look like a ghost to you?’
‘Marnie isn’t a child. She’s an old lady, and no, you don’t look like a ghost. I can’t see through you. Marnie said everyone who’s seen you in the past could see through you. You seem quite solid to me. Can I touch you?’
Hawk tried to process all that she’d told him. Did his little Marnie have an old relative with the same name? Families did that. But what was this nonsense about being able to see through him? She was right. He was quite solid. Of course he was. Now she was making him doubt himself.
However, she wanted to touch him, and that was the best idea he’d ever heard. He craved this strange fairy-woman’s touch like a drug. He took a step towards her.
‘You can touch me. I have already taken the liberty of touching your cheek while you slept.’
Her hand came up to her left cheek and she tested the sensation of her palm against her face. ‘I felt something… when I was waking. I felt something.’
He took another step closer so that his legs touched the mattress, but he didn’t feel the bed. Looking down, he saw that his legs weren’t flush with the mattress – they were overlapping it by several inches. Shocked, he jumped back.