About your Book:
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.
Targeted Age Group: Adult
Genre: Paranormal Romance
The Book Excerpt:
Hawk took another draw on his cigarette. It soothed his nerves to smoke. He’d come to it later than most. Before North Africa, he’d despised it for its smell and taste, but when nothing else would stop the shakes after a harrowing mission, smoking could. He’d smoked ever since.
Now he stood looking at the walled garden at Grange End and contemplated life. If the garden seemed to change subtly between each breath of smoke, he didn’t really notice. After all, how could evening turn to morning, morning to night, winter to spring, spring to autumn all in the time it took to smoke one cigarette? He didn’t even question being at Grange End even though he hadn’t been back to the wonderful old farmhouse since 1940, some four years ago.
He felt the prickles on the back of his neck and fought the urge to stiffen. He knew that warning sign. Someone was watching him. In the air, it meant there was an enemy pilot on his tail that he couldn’t see yet, probably above him. Here and now, it meant something different.
He brought his body around slowly, scanning his surroundings more stealthily. He saw nothing in the shadowed garden that was blooming with late summer foliage. How could that be? It was barely the end of spring, but from the look of the garden it appeared much later in the year, and the air was warm and heavy, like in North Africa. It was cold the last time he thought about it; so much so, that he’d considered getting his great coat if he planned to stay outside much longer.
His head swivelled around and then up. The watcher was always up. He’d seen people watching him from the house before. There had been a stocky young farmer who must have been one of Alf’s sons. Then Mildred had caught a glimpse of him and looked downright shocked. Before he had a chance to consider why she would be surprised to see him when he’d been invited here often enough, he’d let the thought go. Her face had faded from memory.
There had been more faces at the windows above… now that he thought about it. Alf, looking much older than he remembered, a young boy with bright red hair and a cheeky grin, a woman in her thirties who was dressed most peculiarly and then a younger woman… the sister of the one he’d seen before? She was a pretty girl in her early twenties, with brown hair and bright red cheeks. So many people watching him from the house – were they all visitors? He didn’t remember it being a party he was invited to. He’d thought he was the only one here besides the family.
This time when he looked up at the windows of the top floor, he saw a face that shocked him. It was a young, exquisitely beautiful woman. Only three quarters of her face was visible in the darkness, so he wasn’t quite sure what colour her hair was, but he gained the impression that she had it scraped back into a severe bun and that it was very pale. It appeared not much different to the light colouring of her skin.
However, it was her eyes were that drew him. They were huge and serious, as if she carried the weight of the world on her narrow shoulders. He’d seen that look before in the eyes of refugees from war-torn Europe. Eyes that had seen too much pain, too much loss.
As he turned to study her more closely, she moved forward a fraction so that the last of the evening light illuminated her face fully. Not pale hair pulled back from her face. The beautiful woman was bald.
He expected to be repelled by the sight, but oddly, he wasn’t. French women collaborators had their heads shaved like this, so he’d been told. What would a woman who’d collaborated with the enemy be doing in England?
Before he could properly consider the possibilities she jerked back out of sight, and the feeling of loss was suddenly more than he could handle. It caught him in the gut and had him gasping for air. The cigarette in his fingers dropped thoughtlessly to the ground as he took several stumbling steps forward, trying to catch a further glimpse of her.
She was gone.
For the first time in a very long time, he found he wanted something. He wanted to see that delicate, fragile face again. He needed to see it. But how? She was in that bedroom. Going inside was… not what he did. But that was ridiculous. Of course he could go inside. The door was always open to him, Alf had told him that often enough, so he could go inside.
But upstairs? He’d only ever been upstairs a few times. Once he’d gone to see Marnie’s aeroplane collection. She’d hung the models on string from the ceiling in formation. It had surprised him to see how enthralled a young girl could be with planes. Boys were usually the ones who found them fascinating.
Another time he’d gone upstairs to wash up before dinner. The bathroom was at the end of the hall he remembered. He’d glanced into the other rooms upstairs as he’d passed. Four bedrooms – two facing the front of the house and two facing the back. There was also one window at the top of the stairs, which made up the three windows along the back of the house that he could see from the garden.
Whose room was that? It was in the middle. Therefore, it was the first bedroom on the right at the top of the stairs. Wasn’t that Marnie’s room? But that woman wasn’t a child, even though she appeared thin enough to be one. Who was in Marnie’s room? He had to know.
In the next blink of his eye, he found himself in different surroundings. He staggered from the dislocation of it. Quickly he scanned his location. It was apparent that he was no longer in the garden; somehow, he was inside in a bedroom. He spun around in confusion, trying to get his bearings. How had he gotten here? One minute he was in the garden wanting desperately to be in that bedroom, the next he was inside in a bedroom, but it wasn’t Marnie’s. There were no planes hanging from the ceiling. The room was unlike anything he’d seen in the farmhouse before.
It was the carpet that drew his attention first. It had a thick cream pile and ran right to the walls. But he quickly reassessed it, because if it had been as thick a pile as he’d first thought, his boots would have sunk deeply into it, and they didn’t.
Then he noticed a wall of doors painted the same cream colour as the walls. Hadn’t the rooms upstairs been wallpapered? The plainness of the furnishings was peculiar, too. He walked over to the window and saw that he was, indeed, upstairs in the farmhouse. The garden he’d been standing in only seconds ago was below him, lit with bright moonlight.
He turned from the window, frowning. When had it gotten dark? When had the moon come up? It was still twilight moments ago. Puzzled, he let his eyes take in the moonlit bedroom more fully. There was a mirrored dressing table of white wood next to the door. In the middle of the wall, which was at right angles to the window, was a double bed with a white, wrought iron headboard and pale bedding of an indeterminate colour. Was it pink or mauve? The moonlight was deceptive.
Then Hawk saw her, sleeping on the side of the bed closest to the window. Her forehead was pressed against a little bedside table that held a lamp.
What was he doing in a woman’s bedroom at night? This was an abuse of hospitality. If this lovely creature should awaken and find him here, she’d scream and wake the rest of the house. How would he explain himself? His open invitation to Grange End would be rescinded.
He began to back toward the door, but when he reached for the knob to let himself out, his hand went through the object. Time and time again, he tried to grasp the handle, but it was as if it weren’t really there. It was an illusion. Panic pressed in on him. Think. Think. What was going on here?
Maybe he was dreaming. That would explain how he’d come to be in this room so suddenly after wishing for it. It would explain the way the scene in the garden could change so strikingly. That made perfect sense. He hadn’t noticed those things as peculiar until he’d begun lucid dreaming. Up to then, he’d accepted everything as normal. That was the way of dreams.
Reassured, he moved back across the room so he could get a better look at the woman. The moonlight highlighted her smooth skin and the rounded curves of her features. Rather than distracting from her beauty, her bald head added another dimension to it. She looked like a fairy or elf, and whimsically, he checked her ear to make sure it wasn’t pointed. It wasn’t.
What made her so breathtaking? Was it the perfect skin, the small upturned nose, those huge eyes, now closed, with their long, thick lashes resting like fringes on her cheeks? Was it the wispy eyebrows that curved gently above the hollows of her eyes? They were dark – not pencil thin as was the fashion, but not thick either. Her pointed chin was appealing, too, adding to the pixie impression. Then there was her mouth, lush, full and made for kissing.
That thought had him hardening. This was wrong. He shouldn’t be watching a strange woman while she slept in the privacy of her bedroom, even in a dream.
But though he chastised himself furiously, he couldn’t move away. It was as if his body had a mind of its own. And his body wanted to stay just where it was, drinking her in hungrily. It was as if he’d been waiting forever to see her, to be near her. And now that he was, every moment was precious. Every second needed to be savoured.
He was reminded of that first moment he crossed the threshold of this house. He’d wanted to savour that moment, too. This was that same feeling, but multiplied tenfold. Without conscious thought, his hand came out and stroked the warm cheek. It didn’t feel as potent as he expected. With more resolve, he touched her again, this time with more pressure. Yes, there was sensation, but not as much as he would have expected. Every nerve ending should have been firing from that touch. Instead, it felt like the gentlest breath of air against his skin.
Although his fingertips were incredibly sensitive, he decided he would need to test her skin with his lips. Someone had once told him that the lips were the most sensitive part of the body. He didn’t know if it was true but he was willing to experiment. Leaning over, he let his moistened mouth slide over her cheek. Something… an echo of something… no more.
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 toward 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 not to be able to touch things when you’re a ghost, surely.’