"I don't remember the last time it was this hot out," Lucie said, fanning herself with one of my magazines. Moonlight poured into my room through the opened window, forming a silvery pool of light on my floor. It was the night of my fifteenth birthday, but it was also the best night of my life.

"Is it time yet?" Julia asked her voice full of impatience. "We've been waiting for this for months."

"Yeah, I think we'd better go know," I said, glancing at the clock. It was five minutes to eleven. We stood up and crept out of my room silently, being sure to close the door behind us. "Wait here," I whispered and snuck down the hall. When I got to my brother Alex's door, I opened it gently and slipped inside. I nudged his sleeping form gently. When he didn't wake up, I shook him more roughly. He woke with a start, then, realizing that it was only me, relaxed.

"What do you want?" he asked gruffly, his voice rough from sleep.

"Remember, you promised to take us out on the lake."

"Oh, yeah. Hold on, let me get dressed." I waited outside his room for a few minutes until he came out. "Alright, let's go before Dad catches us," he whispered.

We went out the back door into the backyard of our house. The night air was so humid that it felt as though we were swimming. We pushed the boat up to the edge of the water and climbed in. Alex waited until we were all in the boat until he got in himself. It was a small canoe, but it was just big enough for all of us to fit. Alex picked up the oars and pushed off the shore.

The little canoe cut through the black water like a knife cutting through water. The only sounds were the rhythmic splashing of the oars, the thick, monotonous droning of cicadas, and the occasional splash of a fish.

"So, how far out do you guys want to go?" Alex asked after he had been rowing for a couple of minutes.

"To the other side," Julia said cheerfully.

"What? Are you insane, Anna?" He stopped rowing and glared at me. "You know Dad would kill me if he found out I'd taken you to the other side of the lake!"

"I know, I know," I said, feeling my heart begin to pound in my chest. "We'll be back before Dad even notices. It'll probably still be dark out."

"No way, Anna. I'm turning around. You can forget about it." He began to turn the canoe and I felt something inside of me die. My friends and I had been looking forward to this forever. We had been planning to meet some boys who lived in the town on the other side of the lake. But Alex just had to ruin it. He just had to ruin my only chance to be free of this town and my parents.

Chapter One

My friend Ashley said that there's no in-between when it comes to nature. She says that it's either summer or spring, never both. But I know she's wrong. As I sat there, sipping lemonade and rocking in my rocking chair, I could feel the elusive time that's right after spring but right before summer. It's a wonderful time, where the ground is covered in flower petals and cool, fragrant breezes make the shadows of the trees shift.

Even though Ashley was one of my best friends in high school, we never talk. Actually, I never talk with any of my friends from high school. Not after the night we went out on the lake. The night my brother went missing.

I remember everything from that night as clearly as though it were yesterday. The police searched for weeks, but he was never found. Ever since that night, I know I haven't been the same. I left something in that town all those years ago, and I know that I'll never get it back. I tried to find out what happened to Alex, but it soon turned into obsession. My parents sent me away to live with my great-aunt in Yorkshire, England, thousands of miles away from my birthplace in America. They said that the country would heal me; that the distance would help me forget. But they were wrong.

Now, five years after I moved to England, my aunt Susan is dead and I live alone in her huge old house about twelve miles outside of Yorkshire. It constantly rains in England. I think that the rain has replaced the blood in my veins by now because I'm always cold.