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First pages

The Prairie

Dakota Territories 1791…

He was kneeling in a clearing with his hands bound tightly behind his back. The rope bit deeply into his wrists causing small rivers of blood to roll down his bound hands. Eventually his warm blood ended on his fingertips, which dripped to his legs and the ground beneath him. Mercifully, the pins and needles sensation he awoke with disappeared minutes before, leaving his hands numb. The weather didn’t help either. When he came to, he lay on a white covered ground, ice and snow blanketing the area in equal measures.

At first, his sluggish brain couldn’t grasp what was going on. The last thing he clearly remembered was heading out with his best friend to hunt for pheasant. They’d stopped to take a break, letting the horses rest and drink at a nearby stream and to set up camp for the evening. He thought it too early to stop, but his friend claimed tiredness and wanted to rest.

The camp was a quick setup. They’d done it more than a dozen times over the last year. Making it even easier was the use of one tent. Less supplies to carry around and more warmth to gain. Those nights, when they were lying in their tent, his friend shared stories of his hometown, telling him about the history of Germany and the people he called family. His friend was an amazing story-teller. Perhaps he could convince him to write his stories down and find a printer to sell them. He’d earn plenty of money from those stories.

Last night was different, though. His friend said little to him for most of the evening. Ramblings and starts and stops that made no sense replaced the stories he enjoyed. Was his friend unwell or more tired than he had admitted? He was about to ask what was wrong when his friend rolled over and quit talking, not bothering to say good night.

Sounds of the wind blowing through the tall grass of the prairie hills and the murmuring of the nearby stream combined to lull him to sleep. He’d been dreaming of his future wife when a swift pain exploded in his right temple, jerking him awake. The pain attempted to send a warning to his body to flee. He felt his suddenly heavy limbs try to comply with the message, but another blow landed and then one more after that. Then there was only a pain-free darkness.

How he arrived where he was now, he couldn’t say. He didn’t even know where he was. All he knew was several people were standing around him, forming a small circle. There was no blindfold on his face. Odd, he thought, his brain beginning to work faster. Why hadn’t they tried to prevent him from seeing how many people there were? Didn’t kidnappers normally try to keep their victims ignorant?

Around the same time that went through his mind, his stomach dropped and he became dizzy, swaying from the lack of blood to his head. They hadn’t blindfolded him because they didn’t care if he saw them or not. His own question was answered in a flash of understanding. Why did it matter when you planned to kill the person you kidnapped? He frantically looked around, straining to see if his friend was nearby….

Chapter One

For as long as I, or anyone else, could remember, a grove of trees stood secluded from everything and everyone near my family’s original homestead. The grove grew in an area most considered prime farmland. There were no other group of trees around for at least 40 miles. That gave the area an aura of mystery and intrigue. And if that wasn’t strange enough to keep you up at night, there were other unnerving details about the odd trees. They didn’t grow straight or normal like your average, evergreens did. Their trunks and branches shot off in all sorts of different directions, some forming almost bush like bunches while others shot up high before branching off. Even their coloring was off. Instead of having a brown bark, their bark was almost black.

Rumor said if you peeled away some of the bark to bare the wood pulp beneath, a blood-like sap trickled from the exposed area. That was how they got their nickname. All the locals called them the Bleeding Trees or referred to the area as Bleeding Tree Grove. Some even shortened it down to the hip-sounding BT Grove.

The only other thing more mystifying than the trees themselves was who planted and maintained them. My brother and I never knew the rightful owners of the land the trees stood on. I’m not certain anyone around the county did. I asked most of my relatives about the trees. Most answered the same way, no one knows. Grandpa Engel, our dad’s father, sometimes mentioned the trees as he told us tales about his youth in Winner. Only once do I recall him giving an answer from the standard, the county took care of the grove and we weren’t allowed to go out there. His answer gave me nightmares.

I never believed the county owned the land and maintained the trees because in all my years of living, I never once saw a county-owned vehicle by the area. It was as if there was an invisible quarantine around the grove during the daytime. Only at night did people seem dumb enough to venture into their dark heart.

Because the Bleeding Trees were so mysterious and most all the kids were forbidden to visit the area, the grove automatically became the place all the local kids went to hang out. Most Winner teenagers considered a visit as a rite of passage. It became a ritual to go out on the first weekend before your senior year and party under the grotesque looking trees. To prove their worth to the in-crowd, new kids can spend the night out there among the ghosts and shadows. If they don’t make it, ostracization is all but guaranteed and they must find friends in the few remaining school cliques.

My brother and I, though born at the local hospital and raised in Winner, South Dakota, are a misfit group of two. Small towns are funny that way. You either fit in or you don’t, there isn’t much of an in-between status. The pathetic part of it all, it wasn’t even our fault we didn’t fit in with society.

Our outcast status came not from anything we did or our parents or their parents did, but from a mysterious disappearance back in the 1790s shortly after our great, great, great-grandfather, on our father’s side, arrived. The rumor was he and his best friend, Vernon Brown, ventured out to go hunting and only great, great, great-grandpa Ehrenbert Engel made it back. His friend was never located despite a massive manhunt, the largest in the Territories at the time. Various people in the area wanted to charge Ehrenbert with murder, but since there was no body or signs of foul play, no charges came. Over 200 years later, my family is still paying for a crime no one could prove happened. That also meant every time someone left town, often in the dead of night and with no witnesses or, even with a witness or two, our family gained another notch on our imagined ‘killing belt’. Every disappearance, accidental death, or natural death is the Engel clan’s fault.

We were the family other families whispered about, the ones they told horror stories about like the creepy house on the street corner all kids learn to stay away from when they’re young. They often told their children not to associate with any of us. The only reason most people even spoke with my family was because of the crops we raised on the different Engel farms around the county. I don’t know if my grandparents or parents were upset by this. Asking only caused my whole family to shut down on me. Our dad always said we needed no one else except family. Thank goodness, I was born a twin; it meant I had a built-in playmate because no one in town, or in most of the surrounding areas, would have played with me. Wasn’t like I could go visit a cousin. All were several years older than my brother, Daniel, and I. The couple of cousins I did like didn’t live anywhere nearby. So, we really only had each other. And I was fine with it just being my brother and I for the rest of my life.

That life, the life I lead in the small town of Winner is… interesting, I guess I’d call it. Winner is almost smack dab in the middle of South Dakota and down to the south. We are around three and a half hours from Rapid City and around three hours from Sioux Falls. That is, unless my brother Daniel is driving. Then we are two and a half hours from Sioux Falls and three hours from Rapid City. Nebraska is the closest state we can drive to, only needing about an hour and 15 minutes to cross the border.

Winner is a small town with a population near 2,900. Yet, we are the biggest city in Tripp County. Being the biggest city means we are the county seat. How we became the largest city in Tripp and gained the county seat is still a touchy subject over 100 years later. Seems that, at one time, there was a town just a couple miles away called Lamro. A few settlers and Lamro were trying to get recognized by the Chicago North Western railroad as they pushed west from Dallas, 22 miles away. Back then, getting a railway through your town or area was a big deal. It could either make your town by bringing people and businesses to you, or break your town by taking people and businesses away. And both areas needed the income the train would provide.

How the few settlers in the area now called Winner came to be victorious in the fight is rather amusing. Seems Lamro, back then the county seat, was all ready to gain the railway. Unfortunately for them, the railroad surveyor missed the town completely and chose another spot. And, just to rub it in Lamro’s face, the area changed its name to Winner. They were the winner of the railway grab.

As soon as Winner won the railroad, businessmen moved to the town. Some just built new buildings, but several literally moved their buildings to the new town. By 1910, two banks and a hotel had found their way the two and half miles to Winner.

The only thing standing in the way of Winner gaining the county seat was the fact Lamro held all the area records. Winner residents didn’t let that stop them. They just waited until the sun went down one day and raided Lamro’s records building. Once they had the records, the citizens set the building on fire to make sure the records couldn’t go back.

Were you to ask the average citizen of Winner, the telling of that story would go a great deal differently. Then again, most people wouldn’t want to admit their ancestors were a bunch of looters and arsonists. Kind of ruins the picture most possessed of their several great-grandpa. Personally, I thought it just went to show people were eager to buy whatever story someone would sell them in which their ancestor looked halfway decent. Burning the city hall building down after taking the records turns into saving the records from the burning building for most residents with family members in the group that went to Lamro.

Trains only ruled Tripp County for so long, though, slowly giving way to semi-trucks and cargo planes. Farms and livestock were the vitality of the area now. Most families in the Winner area made their living off corn, wheat, hay, and cattle. The different Engel families were some of those that relied on stocks and cattle to make a living. I frequently wondered; however, how long farms would be around. Especially the Engel family farms. I wouldn’t be surprised if the citizens of Winner didn’t eventually bring torches and burn them all down.

It was a normal, rather nice October day, when Trey Lange, the new kid in Winner, showed up at our regular table in the cafeteria. Our normal spot stood alone in a corner, segregated from even the few outcast tables dotting the landscape of the lunchroom. Not that there was a lot of space in the room. The one wall of windows on the far-left hand side gave an illusion of space. There was just enough of an area to fit 15 tables.

I believe the custodial crew set up the table in the corner after receiving a request from the Principal. That was fine by my brother and me, we didn’t need to be sitting close enough to hear people whisper lies about us or see them pointing and laughing. We got enough of that already. Trey didn’t ask for permission to join us, he simply drew an empty chair from the nearest lunch table to our spot, dragging it across the floor with a sound loud enough to attract attention, sat down the lunch tray full of food he held in his other hand, and introduced himself as he plopped into the seat he’d acquired.

“Hello! You’ve likely heard about me, but I thought I’d come over and greet you anyway. The name’s Trey Lange. I think I saw one of you in my math class.” He said by way of introduction, a smile on his face.

My brother and I just stared at him, blinking occasionally as our minds whirled in search of something to say. We were, understandably, surprised he’d sit with us… in the corner… where everyone would whisper and stare at him. Trey was new, but surely, students warned him about the Engel family in his first period class. Likely more than warned. Knowing everyone like I did, he was undoubtedly told to stay away from us as part of his orientation to the school just like they’d point out a bathroom or an exit. The situation made me wonder if administration added the information about us in the new student handbook. If nothing else, it would explain how fast new students learned to keep their distance.

It would be social suicide to eat with us or, more to the point, attempt to strike up a friendship with us. If it didn’t work out, he could easily become a misfit clique of one. And being he was a sophomore, it would be close to two years of isolation before the freedom of graduation. The mere thought of such a thing was enough to send most kids scrambling to find an ‘in’ with the more popular students.

Not knowing what to do, we’d never actually been in a situation like this, I introduced myself with a bluntness that might have been seen as rude from a majority of the world. And when I say majority, I meant everyone except me. “I’m Ann. Why are you sitting at our table?”

As pleasant introductions go, it wasn’t one and it wasn’t planned to be one. I had to know why he was sitting with us. Could this be a new initiation ritual with the other kids? Were they now sending any newbies to us to see if they were worthy of joining the inner circle? I didn’t like the thought of such things and it must have shown on my face because Trey was already frowning at me before he spoke another word.

“No wonder you two sit alone. You greet everyone who comes over that way?”

Daniel chose that moment to speak up, a very odd occurrence for him. Usually I spoke to people who tried to make contact. “No one ever comes to our table. You’re the first one ever.”

Trey’s brown eyes widened at my brother’s revelation. “Seriously? Ever? No one has ever eaten lunch with you?”

We both nodded. I already narrowed my eyes into slits of accusation. “Don’t pretend like you don’t know anything about it. I’m certain everyone in your first period class told you why we sit alone.”

I sounded a little bitter, I’ll admit it. Daniel shot a look my way before extending a slightly trembling hand to Trey. “I’m Daniel Engel by the way. Please feel free to ignore my sister, most do. She can be very… unsure of new people.”

A large, meaty hand engulfed my brother’s smaller one. It was that moment I looked closely at Trey and sized him up. He was a very big guy. If I estimated, I’d say he was six feet tall and could easily be an inch or two on the other side of that figure. And he had to weigh a good 220 at least. He had dark brown hair near black and brown eyes that sat below dark brown, bushy eyebrows. His nose didn’t fit on his face. Its large, bulbous shape made his features appear smaller than they were. Trey would never grace the cover of People Magazine’s Most Beautiful People Alive volume.

“Nice to meet you,” he told my brother, shaking the hand he held out, before catching my eye so he could address me head on. A very brave maneuver considering the look I was attempting to scare him off with. “And to answer your first question, Ann… yes, I was told all about you. I have to say,” he said and tilted back slightly in his chair, crossing his large arms over his huge, barrel-like chest. “I’m slightly disappointed in you. Was expecting fangs and hunched backs, possibly even crossed eyes. At the very least, I thought you’d suck the very soul from my body the minute I entered your radius. Instead, you’re just looking at me funny. I’m extremely disappointed.”

Neither of us expected anything like that. Before we all knew what was happening, the three of us were laughing like idiots. I attempted to speak, but the only thing that left my mouth were peals of laughter. We laughed so hard the whole cafeteria stopped to focus on us. I even saw a few high school staff stare. Their faces showed astonishment because in the year and two months we’d attended high school, there was never a peep from our table. Daniel and I went out of our way to be silent. The less noise we made, the less attention it brought. The less attention it brought, the easier our lives would be.

Eventually, I got myself under control and wiped at the tears of mirth traveling down my face. I knew what little eye makeup I wore was probably streaming down my cheeks. I think I managed to clean it all up with my napkin. Any other traces be taken care of later, while I sat in the back of my next class.

“If somebody put you up to this, please leave us alone, now.” I said, all traces of laughter leaving my voice as suddenly as it had come. Over the years, I’d learned to go from happy to fiercely protective momma bear in 0.1 seconds when my brother was involved. If Trey found my lightening quick change of mood odd, he didn’t mention it. He merely sat there and shook his head a little, as if the thought of being exiled for the next couple of years was of no concern to him.

I went on, trying to convenience him this was a grave issue and I wasn’t quite the crazy, psycho bitch everyone told him I was. “You know you’re committing social suicide by even speaking with us, don’t you? Does that register?”

That seemed to finally get his attention. “As if I care. I don’t fit in with any of those other people anyway.” His hand swept behind him, gesturing to the rest of the cafeteria. “And, just so you know, no one put me up to coming over here.” He said the last part while staring me straight in the eyes. “I was an outsider in my last school. Whatever your family did or didn’t do was a long time ago. At least, that’s what I think. I did kind of zone out on the person speaking to me after I heard the phrase: ‘don’t ever talk to them or you’ll die too.’”

Trey was silent a moment. “Besides,” he said, looking over to the people sitting at the nearest table and openly staring at us. “People shouldn’t be judged for things their family did or do. It’s stupid.”

Daniel, I could tell, loved the idea of having someone to talk to other than me. Not that I blamed him for wanting another male to spend time with. Dad didn’t even qualify as a possible confidant. Our dad worked, ate, and slept, occasionally throwing reading in to mix it up. I’m sure talking about girls, erections, and masturbation with your sister wasn’t something most guys wanted to do.

I wasn’t so sure about the new kid. If Trey wanted to become my friend, he would have to prove himself far more than just spouting crap of not believing what people said. If my 16 and half years on the earth taught me anything, it was you couldn’t trust people by what they said. My brother never understood that. He was the dreamer out of us. The one to always say once school was over, we’d run away from the homestead and find a place to live. One where no one knew our family history and where we could spread our wings. A place where we’d thrive and live happily ever after. Like I said, he was the dreamer of us. Me, I was the realist, the one to pick up the pieces of his fractured dreams once smashed beyond repair.

One more time, I eyed Trey before finally letting a small smile grace my face, though, if he looked close enough, he’d see it didn’t reach my eyes. “Well then, welcome to the most outcast of all the social outcast groups. I hope you enjoy it.” He probably imagined I would welcome him into our fold with open arms. And I’d let him think that for now until I made my mind up about him. I couldn’t begrudge Daniel a male friend for what brief time he’d be with us.

Trey looked at us thoughtfully for what seemed like an hour, but was more like thirty seconds. “It’s not so bad over here. Could use a mascot, a motto, or something. Maybe jackets with a logo on them. Something to make us stand out. If my dysfunctional family has taught me anything, it’s that you need to let your freak flag wave proudly.”

A guff of laughter came from Daniel, bringing color to his slightly pale face. “You’re going to fit right in.” My brother looked at me, his hazel eyes gleaming with... happiness. It was an emotion I’d only ever saw because of me and, if I was honest, when our family was being on their best behavior. “Sorry about Ann, by the way. She really was raised with better manners. I’m sure Mom would faint if she knew how her daughter was acting.”

I elbowed him in the ribs for his comment, yet knew it was true. Our mother would throw a tantrum if she knew how rude I was to this Trey kid. Even if she didn’t like meeting new people, she still expected manners. But, then again, Mom never had the early life my brother and I lived. She didn’t know what it was like to grow up with no friends. To grow up having no one come to your birthday parties except for family. She wasn’t us.

Mom was from Valentine, Nebraska, a town 74 miles south of Winner, not far over the state line. Life had been more comfortable for her than now. She came from a respectable family with no history of disappearances or mysterious deaths haunting their bloodline. The worst thing in her family closet was a great-aunt who slept with her husband’s brother then birthed his kid. We didn’t interact with her family much anymore because most were dead or too upset with Mom’s choice of husbands. The Engels caused none of their deaths I thankfully learned. Local newspapers and city records verified that.

Why our mom married our dad and, vice versa, I’d never understand. There must have been plenty of other husband material somewhere else even in an asylum or a prison. She was related to everyone in her hometown in one form or another, but there were other towns for her to go to closer to Valentine. Other towns were the same distance away from Valentine that Winner was; why pick a guy from the Engel family when there were plenty of other men in other towns without the baggage Dad brought into the relationship?

And it wasn’t like Mom was ugly. The years, along with birthing twins and working a night job initially, had seen her gain a good amount of weight. Back in the day, she was pretty, I thought. I recognized her high school yearbook picture even though she rarely smiled anymore. The woman who smiled happily at the camera was not the same woman who looked like she was tormented by unknown forces. She could have had her choice of any man in Cherry County. Yet, she still married our dad after meeting him at the wedding of a mutual friend.

Much like when I asked about the Bleeding Trees, Mom told me it was ‘none of my business’ and I ‘wouldn’t understand’ when I asked one day why she and Dad got married if all they did was fight. I only asked because it was clear my parents didn’t seem to like each other much. If you asked them, they’d tell you they didn’t like each other so it wasn’t just me reading too much into an argument, or two, or 1,000. Some of my earliest memories were of my parents saying if they could afford a divorce, they’d get one. Not like you can skip that stuff or merely shrug it off as some stray comment.

And then there was Dad. I couldn’t get over the fact I didn’t even recognize him in his yearbook picture even though I stared at it for a good 30 minutes, trying to pick out some feature that looked familiar. During his younger years, he’d been a rather handsome looking guy.

Now, his blue eyes twinkled because of his two cataract surgeries and their twinkling always weirded me out. He had dark hair, almost black looking, and curly as hair could get. I thought it was rather obvious we had an African-American ancestor in our family tree. Alas, not only was my family crazy, they were sort of racist as well and no one would admit to what I could almost guarantee was true.

Dad gained more weight as he got older, even being a farmer and getting all the exercise, which comes with taking care of a farm. His belly overflowed his pants by a few inches. The years robbed him of his hair, it had receded to the middle of his head with only the tiniest widow’s peak near where his normal hairline would be. As I watched Dad age, I hoped, for Daniel’s sake, he got more than just his hair color and eye color from Mom’s side of the family. But, overall, Dad was still a decent looking guy.

If one was to ask me which parent I liked most, I guess my answer would be Dad. It was true for handing out punishments, Dad was the one to do it, quite brutally, I might add, but he was still nicer in everyday life. Mom could have her moments, and I was on the receiving end of many, but Dad’s punishments were the worse because of his strength.

Our dad, mostly, was fun to be around when he actually spent time doing something other than reading, watching television, sleeping, eating, or working. I had my suspicions Dad spent so much time doing other things because he didn’t like being in the house. Not that I could blame him. If I had someone like Mom to come home to after working a long day out in the fields, I might try to stay away too.

The issue with Dad was he never tried being a father or a husband. I remember when Daniel and I were younger, Dad would spend more time with us, playing and laughing, unlike the father we now knew. He was like a big kid, more of a child than me. But, as time went by, those days of happiness and carefree behavior became less and less frequent. It was like he just gave up and left us to Mom. Sometimes he’d try to step in to help, but Mom’s power, by that point, was absolute and he couldn’t break through, not even for the children he supposedly loved.

Daniel’s hand waving in my face brought me out of my thoughts. “What’s upsetting you, Ms. Sunshine and Rainbows?”

My glare wasn’t as effective as I’d have wished. It never was with my brother. I needed to work on it more. “Nothing.” Came my voice, dismissive in tone. “Just thinking. You know I always look mad when I think.” And I did. I didn’t understand why.

“No smoke coming out of your ears, so it must not be deep thinking.” Daniel told me, a smirk taking over the grin as he tugged on my ear.

Trey watched the interaction between the two of us with fascination on his face. The closer I studied him, the more I saw the look for what it was, an almost longing that crossed his features. That had me frowning even more severely. Why’d anyone long to have an annoying, younger brother? If I had it my way, I’d be an only child. If nothing else than to save my brother from the life we lived. Heck, I was almost an only child. If the hospital hadn’t done an emergency C-section to save Daniel, I’d have been the only living twin. Let God strike me dead for the thought, but it might have been better that way.

“What?” I asked him, instinctively crossing my arms over my chest. I was instantly annoyed at the way he was just staring at us, at me. I hated when people stared. It always made me uneasy. There are certain stares people give and you know they’re judging you. Could be they’re judging your clothes, your looks, or you as a person. And it pissed me off because you can’t always judge someone based on what you see. You need to get to know them first.

His dark brown head shook a little, as if what he was thinking was nothing of importance. “Nothing. Just think it’s funny the way you two argue with each other.”

I shrugged, then glanced down at my hands before resting my eyes on him again. I was squeezing my hands into fists so tight red crescents where my short nails dug into the well worked flesh appeared. “All siblings fight. Don’t you fight with your brothers or sisters?”

He bent his head slightly, almost like he was ashamed of what he would say. “My brother and I fight. Only it’s different. It normally leaves bruises.”

Well, now I felt like a complete and utter bitch. I believe I picked up on my brother saying great going under his breath. Let’s count my sins against Trey so far. I’d been rude to him, insinuated he was a spy, and now I brought up the abuse going on in his home. And all within 20 minutes. I was really on a roll. The Winner humanitarian of the year award was as good as mine.

The deep sigh I let out was loud. I think a few people from neighboring tables heard it. “Listen. I’m sorry for being such a bitch to you. It's nothing personal. I just don’t trust people. Never have, most likely never will. You can ask my parents. I never sat on the store Santa’s lap because I was certain he was a pervert.”

It was kind of cute the way Trey looked to my brother quickly and smiled when he saw him nod. “It’s true. I remember the time Mom took us to see the Santa in town. We were about eight or nine.” He said with a small laugh. “I sat on his lap and told him what I wanted for Christmas. I even said thank you after we talked.” He said off handily.

“The helper elf grabbed Ann’s hand and walked her to Santa. He held out his arms and she just looked at them for a while, like they were going to bite her or something. She actually asked him if he liked having children sit on his lap. I think her question went something like: ‘Why do you dress up like Santa Claus and have children sit on your lap? Do you like the feeling of kids sitting on you? Do you get pleasure from it?’” Daniel and Trey cracked up laughing as soon as my brother finished the last question.

When he was somewhat under control, he continued with the story. “I thought Mom was going to drop dead of shame right then and there. Finally, the elf, knowing that the line was getting pretty long, picked her up and sat her on Santa’s lap. She screamed bloody murder and started saying she didn’t want Santa to molest her and he looked like a pedophile. I still wonder how she even knew about pedophiles back then. Mom ran up there and yanked her off his lap. Ann ended up grounded until Christmas and couldn’t sit for a few days.”

 “What did you expect me to do?” I stated in my defense, but couldn’t help laughing some. “His beard was thin, scraggly, and slightly yellow looking. The suit he wore looked like it had seen too many Christmases. Also, he smelled vaguely of alcohol and urine. Don’t care if that urine smell was from children or not. I didn’t want any part of him near me.” It almost seemed funny now when I looked back. We’d almost been seven not eight or nine like Daniel thought. My brother was never good at judging the timeline of memories.

Daniel chuckled again with a shake of his head. It dawned on me I hadn’t seen him laugh this much in forever. Then it came to me that I hadn’t laughed this much in years. If I narrowed down the last time I’d laughed this much, it would be around the time of the Santa visit. That was when I was old enough to notice the other kids in school shunned us. I believe that was also the year I first asked about the Bleeding Trees and our parents’ marriage.

“What does it take to get you to trust someone?” Trey asked, bringing his attention, and mine, back.

I could tell he was genuinely interested in knowing. It wasn’t asked out of the need to snoop or gossip. No, Trey was actually interested in hearing that answer. And that was the trouble. I didn't know the answer. Because, when it got right down to it, the only other person in the whole, wide world, I trusted with everything, was my brother. That bond forged itself while in the womb and it was strong, stronger than any other bond I had, or would ever have, with another person. In a world where children could no longer trust their parents, my brother was all I had. We knew almost everything about each other, every secret, every dream, and every nightmare. How did one ever hope to have another relationship with a person when they’d never know half that amount of information?

He cleared his throat, drawing me back to his question. “When I figure it out, I’ll let you know.”



About me

Angel Tracy lives in western Washington. Since the age of six, writing has been her main hobby and number one passion. It doesn’t matter the genre, Angel just enjoys writing stories that people find entertaining and, occasionally, thought provoking.

Q. Why do you write?
I love putting words down on paper (even though I type, I still like to write by hand). To me, writing lets you do more than just live a different life, it lets you create a different world, create something for people to get lost in.
Q. Where did the idea for this book come from?
I was in Winner, South Dakota visiting my twin sister. We were driving back from Sioux Falls when I saw this tree grove. They stood in the middle of the plains. I thought it odd and asked my sister about them. I remember thinking it was an interesting idea for writing. It just grew from there.
Q. This book is part of a series, tell us about your series.
It’s about a teenage girl and her family who are ostracized by town for a crime supposedly committed over 200 years ago by an ancestor. When the new kid introduces himself, strange things happen. He becomes the salvation for Ann and her brother, but a family secret threatens to destroy everything.

Next in:
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Tessa's Choice
Will the choice Tessa makes destroy all?
Shifting Sands
P D James' Dalgleish meets Ian Rankin's Rebus
Gritty Domestic Suspense like Defending Jacob