Prologue

Cold.

That was the only thought that registered to sixteen year old, Beau as he came to. He opened his eyes and took in his surroundings. He was still in the car and he could see smoke coming from under the hood. It was dark outside and the rain was still pouring down.

His head felt foggy and nothing was in focus. A sharp pain in his leg caught his attention. He looked down at it and realized part of the crumpled dash had pinned his leg. He tried to move it but it was no use.

Beau looked over to where his older brother lay unconscious in the driver's seat.

"Tommy?" He didn't move. "T-Tommy, wake up." He said, louder this time.

When he still didn't move, Beau reached over and touched his shoulder. Tommy's head lolled over and Beau could see the deep gash covering his forehead. Blood was everywhere.

"Tommy! No! No, no, no. Tommy, wake up, please!" Beau cried. "Please! I'm sorry. Please, just wake up!"

But Tommy remained unconscious.

Beau began screaming for help but he knew the chances of being heard over this storm was slim. He couldn't take his eyes off his brothers still body. Blood ran down the side of his face and was caked in his dark, blond hair. He could see the tree that had stopped their descent down the embankment. The only thing that had kept them from hitting the river below. It had crushed the drivers side door. Pieces of the door appeared to be cradled around Tommy's body. Like it was holding him. Beau wasn't stupid, though. He knew that if they didn't get out of here, they wouldn't make it. He had to cling to the hope that Tommy would be okay. It would be easier if their wasn't that nagging voice in the back of his head telling him that he already wasn't okay.

Beau turned as much as he could in the confined space searching for his cell phone. He had to call for help. Finally, he spotted it down in the floorboard by his left foot.

He screamed in agony when he tried to reach for it. Each move forward caused shooting pains through his leg and left him gasping for breath. He tried again.

"God, please!" He begged. Tears ran down his face as he banged his fist on the dash board before slumping, defeated back in his seat.

Beau was getting colder. He could hardly keep his eyes open. He fought to stay awake but he was getting so tired. He took hold of Tommy's right hand. It was so cold. He craned his head around to try and see in the backseat and spotted his nephew, T.J.'s blanket he'd been using last week. He could barely reach it and pulled it to him. He unfolded the blue blanket and took a deep breath before leaning over his brother's body to drape it acoss him. The movement again pulling at his leg.

"There ya go. Now you'll be warm." He said slowly as he adjusted it around him. His eyes were closing. The darkness was just about to over take him when he saw it. The tiny, silver flip phone sticking out of Tommy's front jeans pocket. His arm felt heavy as he lifted it to pull the phone free. It took three tries to hit the nine button because he kept seeing double. Eventually he dialed nine-one-one and hit send. He barely managed to get out a weak, "Help," when the operator answered before he blacked out.

James Anderson was awoken by the sound of a persistent knocking at his front door.

"What in the world?" He grumbled as he got up to head downstairs. His wife, Ruth felt his stirring and also got up. When she reached her husband he had just opened the front door to two police officers. Her immediate thought was that something had happened to her oldest, Wesley. He was working the graveyard shift tonight.

"Mr. Anderson-"

"Riley, David, what's going on?"

Riley Jennings swallowed hard. "It's Tommy, Mr. Anderson. There was an accident. Him and Beau were-"

Ruth stumbled back, clutching her chest. "What?!"

But James was shaking his head. "No, you must be mistaken. Beau's up in his room. I checked on him just before I went to bed. And Tommy, he...um, he-"

"I'm so sorry." Riley was saying, "They've taken Beau to the hospital Roane County, but Tommy, he was…" Riley closed his eyes. He'd known this family his whole life. Wesley had been his best friend all through school and his brothers were like his own. He couldn't do this. David sensed his friend's distress and stepped up.

"Tommy was pronounced on scene." He said quietly.

"Oh, God!" James said as Ruth screamed.

"My baby!" She began to sink to her knees just before James caught her. Both officers also made to help and they managed to get her to the couch.

"We'll take you to the hospital." David said. "When you're ready."

James held on to Ruth as he tried to wrap his head around what he'd just been told. Ruth was in hysterics by his side. He knew he needed to be strong. He held her close and looked up to Riley. "Wesley?"

Riley nodded. "He's been dispatched back to the station. He was out on patrol when the call came in. He'll meet you at the hospital."

"No." Wesley was saying to his commanding officer. "Sargent that's not possible."

Sargent Baker came around his desk to stand in front of his officer.

"Son, I know this is hard, but your parents are headed to the hospital. You should be there with them." But Wesley was shaking his head.

"No. How can you be sure it was them? It could have-"

"When they got to the scene, Jennings recognized them. Wesley, Riley saw Beau. You think he would mistake that kid for anyone else?"

Wesley wasn't listening. Everything was happening so fast. The room was spinning and felt hot. He needed air. He swiped his hands down his uniform pants to get the sweat off them. His breathing picked up and he could feel his heart racing. Like it was going to beat right out of his chest.

"Son, you need to sit down." Wesley couldn't focus on the Sargent. Couldn't make sense of the fog that had taken over his brain. Nothing seemed right. He could hear him, but it sounded distant. As if he were on the other end of a phone with a bad connection. Wesley felt a hand on his shoulder but he shook it off.

"No! I gotta- I gotta go."

"Wesley!" Baker called after him but Wesley was running out the door.

Outside he stopped to rest his hands on his knees and bent over. He took in great gulps of air and felt the coolness of the night seep into his skin. He had to get to the accident sight. He had to see for himself. They were mistaken. They had to be. His brothers were home. He'd just seen them earlier. They were home. He'd go to the sight and he'd see that it was someone else.

Wesley got into his patrol car and started it up. He was only a few miles from where the crash was reported. Out on River Road, he'd heard the dispatcher say. That's not even the road his parent's live on. They wouldn't have even been out that way. Mistake. It had to be a mistake.

About ten minutes later, Wesley saw the flashing red and blue lights of the other police cars and ambulance. He unlatched his flash light from his utility belt and made his way to where everyone was. His light shown on the car. Suddenly all the air he'd worked so hard to take in, wooshed out of his lungs. A '67 Javelin sat mangled against a tree. The driver's side was caved in around it. The Jaws of Life had been used to cut open the door so that they could free the driver. His eyes scanned the scene.

There, about fifteen feet from the car, a black bag was being loaded on a stretcher.

Wesley sank to his knees in the mud and dropped his head to cry.