Will went to the doors leading to the balcony. “Do you hear that?”
Lexie got up from the sofa, and as soon as she came up to him, a low buzzing came through their back door. “What is it?”
Will hooked her waist. “Get behind me.”
“Just do it, Lexie!”
She curled into his back with her hands on his shoulders, looking around the nape of his neck while he reached for the door handle.
The buzzing got much louder when he cracked the door.
Her breath coming in quick gasps, she stared out into the night.
A wave of black shot up from the courtyard as if alerted by the light escaping from their door. The humming became deafening. Her eyes adjusted to the dark, and then Lexie became paralyzed with terror.
Flies, thousands of them, swarmed like a flock of birds, dipping and rising with a single mind. While poised over the pond, their mass obscured the floodlights from the adjacent buildings.
Aghast, Lexie’s nails dug into Will as the swarm pulled into a giant ball. A black wave flowed over the mass, bending and twisting in different directions, forming a shape.
“Have you ever seen flies do that?” Will mumbled.
Never taking her eyes off the object, she whispered back, “No. Never.”
Right after Lexie spoke, the ball suddenly contracted into a tight, flat orb.
She could not see the flies anymore, but their buzzing remained. Depressions sank into the orb; two eyes, a dip where the nose should be, and a thin line for the mouth.
The face reminded Lexie of a large black skull.
The skull then exploded, and the flies flew off in every direction.
“Holy shit!” Will slammed the doors and set the bolt. “What the hell was that?”
Lexie went around him to the window and peeked outside.
The only things hovering above the pond were a few bright beams from a neighbor’s spotlight. The flies had disappeared.
She stepped back, trembling. “It’s a warning.”
“Any idea who’s sending it?”
She rubbed his back, eager to feel his warmth. “No, but I’m sure I will find out soon enough.”
“Are you all right?” Magnus arrived in her living room. “I came as soon as I felt the black presence nearby.”
“We’re fine.” She looked up. “Just spooked.”
“Who are you talking …?” Will’s voice faded. “Oh my God. Is that …?”
Lexie held her breath. Will stared openmouthed at Magnus. “Can you see him?”
Will closed his mouth. He cleared his throat as he caught her eye. “Oh yeah.”
She rubbed her head, fighting the tension headache coming on. “This is all I need.”
“Others have seen me, why not him?” Magnus maneuvered closer to her husband. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Will.”
Will’s cheeks blanched, but he managed a courteous nod.
“Yeah, it’s nice to know you’re real.”
Magnus smugly grinned. “I’ve always been real.”
A long lapse of silence followed as each of the men—well, man and ghost—sized the other up.
Since she’d first met Magnus, Lexie longed for Will to see him, to know he existed. Her wish finally granted, she questioned if seeing Magnus was good for her husband. Will had stayed on the fringe of her world, opting to support her in any way he could, but leaving her to run her responsibilities without his assistance. She’d preferred things that way, seeking guidance from Titu instead of Will. He had his architecture firm and she her shop. Could they go back to their comfortable existence, or had the tide turned?
“Why is this happening?” Will staggered backward. “Why am I seeing him?”