“You’ll turn over the record. Oh, because you…”
“I do like to keep up. Who poured you wine from the … refrigerator? Although, I don’t understand why people of your age prefer it so icy.”
Alma followed Bart into the living room, still wondering why things didn’t seem odder than they were. She remembered the Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoons she’d seen as a little girl. This ghost was acting—well, perhaps a bit more flirty than friendly. He only glowed a bit as they walked through the dim hallway that connected her rooms. You can hardly even tell he’s translucent. What had he seen of her, though? She was glad her frustrating night with Sid had been at his place.
As Bart bent over the turntable and flipped the record, the reading lamp by her couch highlighted the silver buttons of his coat. She curled up on the couch and put her wine glass on the glass-covered orange crate she’d turned into a coffee table.
Bart sat beside her, suspiciously close. He put an arm over the back of the couch, and Alma shook her head again. That’s the old sneaky-arm trick—like a high school kid. It’s kind of cute. She pulled her legs up under herself, and they quietly listened to the music.
“You’re right,” she said after a few minutes. “‘Fountains’ is really good, too. I almost never listen to that side.”
Bart made a quiet harrumphing noise.
Do ghosts clear their throats? Apparently so.
“Dear lady,” he said. “Although I do try not to snoop, as you would say, I have indeed observed your solitude. Let me assure you, your life will soon be happier.” He slid even closer to her.
Okay. Now the ghost is absolutely coming on to me. This is really happening. Oh, hell—why not? He’s not bad—for a dead guy.
“Um, Bart?” she said. His eyes really were a startling color—almost bronze… “You can’t actually be…”
Bart set his fingertips on her cheeks, looked into her eyes, and sighed. Then he smiled. “You think this is a ridiculous situation. It’s not ridiculous,” he said. “Not at all. Allow me to demonstrate … with your permission, m’lady.”
Somehow, that was funny, and Alma giggled. “Granted.”
Bart’s hands were impossibly soft and gentle—and his touch had some of the same fire-and-ice buzz that she’d felt before in the kitchen when he’d tried to get her attention. He guided her lips to his, and gave her what would have been a tiny peck—from anyone else. It shot a bolt of fire straight through her.
“Oh,” she said. It took a minute to get her breath.