"You handled that well," Mike said to the empty bedroom. He rested his head against the glass pane and watched Cyn scurry across the lawn. He pulled over a rocking chair and opened the window. An owl hooted in the near distance. Bullfrogs croaked a symphony from behind the house. He filled his lungs with the delicious scent of sweet pepper bush. Sounds of the night generally brought him comfort. So quiet, so peaceful; yet tonight it did nothing to ease the ache in his heart.
He hadn't wanted a woman so bad since Mary Jo. Not only in his bed but in his life. He'd been a fool to tell Cyn how he felt. Now, he'd have to live with the consequences. Both of them would feel the strain. There'd be no more camaraderie like there'd been for the last several months.
One by one the lights in her apartment went out. What were her thoughts as she climbed into bed? Did she, like him, regret opening the can of worms? Or did she lie in bed, thinking the time had arrived to leave what had been her sanctuary since Peter died?
Goosebumps covered his arms two seconds before he bolted out of the chair. His jaw dropped, as he watched Peter Jenks materialize. "Just going to give up and let Cyn slip away?"
Mike wiped a shaky hand across his eyes. "Jesus, Jenks. You know better than to sneak up on a man."
"I no longer have to worry about the ramifications of that, Sir."
Mike loosened the top button of his shirt. Sweat broke out at the sudden appearance of the dead tech sergeant. He lowered himself back in the chair and cleared his throat. "Cyn's doing just fine."
"I know. I've been keeping an eye on her. She has accepted my death and is moving on."
Mike studied the apparition. Peter's spirit had changed since the night on the bridge. Tonight he was almost translucent.
"You can tell I'm fading," Peter stated in a matter-of-fact tone. "It's near time for me to move on. I'd hoped to see you two together before that happened."
Mike wanted to groan. How did he explain to a dead man that the last thing his wife wanted was someone to take care of her? "Don't worry."
"You never answered me. Are you gonna fight for her?"
"Look, this conversation is way too strange."
"Do you deny having feelings for Cyn?"
"No. I care-more than I should. She's not interested."
"Up to you to make sure she gets interested, Sir."
"You're wrong, Jenks. Cyn's right. She has to find her own way this time."
Mike prepared for an argument and was surprised when Jenks spoke. "You're right." The young man's spirit had further faded until it was barely discernible. He doubted he'd be seeing the young soldier again.