The lake looks different in the winter. Stark. Abandoned. I stopped my car on the main road where it dips down just before it rises up the hill towards the cemetery. There was a clear view of the entire lake from this spot. It was as close as I could get. The dirt road that led to the cottage was still covered in snow.

We were supposed to meet Kenny for lunch, but that could wait. Crystal and I got out of the car and looked over the frozen expanse of the lake. Except for a few spots where the snow had been pushed aside for ice-fishing, the lake was covered in white. I couldn't imagine how anything could survive under there. But then again, Johnny was a vampire.

I was officially divorced. Sam left me the house and moved to the city to be closer to his work. He was supposed to see Crystal on the weekends, but it's been months since he even called. I guess some things never change.

Crystal loves school, and for that reason alone, I won't consider moving to Lockwood until the school year is over. Maybe in the Spring. . . . It all depends on how things go with Kenny and me. He called me every night since I left, and we talked out a lot of our issues. He wouldn't tell me his family secrets over the phone. He said we needed to do that in person, although not this time. Crystal and I came to Lockwood for winter vacation. Kenny didn't think there would be enough time to get into the whole story about his family, our family, and his so-called 'Historical Society.' I won't press him on it. He doesn't know that I know already, and that he's on trial with me, depending on how truthful he is when the time comes. I love him, or at least I think I do, but love is not enough for me anymore. If I'm going to remain with Kenny, I want all of him, not just the pieces he lets me see.

We haven't seen Johnny since we left in September. He told Crystal he would wait for her to catch up to the teenager he appeared to be. That meant he planned to 'sleep' away the winter under the ice-cold waters of the lake. He wouldn't need blood then, and he wouldn't age.

Hand in hand, Crystal and I gazed across the frozen lake. Was Johnny really under there? It was hard to believe, yet I knew it was true. Johnny had never lied to me, unlike Kenny, which was why I would keep Johnny's secret even though I demanded Kenny tell me all of his. I blew out my breath in a plume of frost. It seemed all I did lately was compare the two of them.

Crystal patted our joined hands. "It will be okay, Mom," she said, in a voice too mature for a seven-year-old.

It would be okay. Before we left for the summer, Johnny had given me a handful of stones which turned out to be quite valuable. I met with his 'friend' in Boston, who turns them into cash for me whenever I need it. I have enough money now to buy Aunt Beth's house if I want to. I'm still undecided.

I miss Johnny. I can't lie to myself. Despite the fact that he used me as food and could kill me as easily as look at me, I still care about him. He said my blood tasted good. That means something, doesn't it? I may not be one of the special Smythes, but I was a Smythe descendant. Blood will tell.

"Ready to go have lunch?" I asked Crystal, smiling brightly. "Say good-bye to Johnny." We both knew he slept under there.

"Bye, Johnny," Crystal said softly. She waved her gloved hand at the lake. "See you next summer."

"See you," I echoed, waving too. I blinked to clear my suddenly blurry vision. We turned away from the lake and climbed back into the car. It had started snowing again. I turned on the engine and cranked up the heat and the radio and we headed up the hill, past the cemetery and Aunt Beth's house on our way to town. I looked forward to meeting Kenny and starting on the rest of my life. And if that didn't work out there was always next summer.


Stay tuned for "Black Water," part 2 of the story of Johnny, Lisa, Kenny and Crystal.