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CHAPTER ONE

The first time that Peter Macmillan heard the crying girl was when he was lying in his darkened bedroom with a headache. Mac was only eight, but he got a lot of headaches. His mother Zoe had taken him to his pediatrician three years previously when the headaches started, and after numerous tests and scans he was diagnosed with migraines.

The doctor was sympathetic, but had little to offer other than reassurance and some mild pain pills. “Keep him quiet, and try to reduce his stress. If he’s lucky, he’ll grow out of them.”

Zoe wasn’t sure how to reduce stress in a boy so young. Mac had always been precocious and mature for his age, the kind of boy whom mothers dream of. If he was stressed, Zoe didn’t know why.

Now Mac lay like a tow-headed cherub in the bed, a wet washcloth on his forehead.

“Mom, why is the girl crying?” he murmured drowsily.

“What girl, honey?”

His eyes opened briefly“The one over there. Why’s she crying?”

“Shhh, Mac. There’s no girl. It’s just the headache. Try to go to sleep.”

And Mac had gone to sleep. But in his dream, if that’s what it was, the girl stood in the corner of his room, tears running down her face. Her soft sobs kept up a steady rhythm that matched the throbbing in his head.

This wasn’t the first time Mac had seen things when he had a headache, but it was the first time he had seen the vision in the room and not just in his head. Usually, it was like a movie playing in his head, a movie that he could see when his eyes were closed. But this time was different. This time the girl wasn’t in his head. She was in the room. And he could hear her. She had blond hair down to her shoulders, and she was wearing jeans and a pink sweatshirt with a picture of a kitten on the front, all covered in sparkly things. Mac had seen other girls wearing tops that, but he didn’t know what the sparkly things were.

He must be confused, he thought. After all, this was his first day in the new house. Well, it was actually an old house, a farmhouse, but it was new to him. His parents had moved the beds and curtains down to the house in the pickup truck. The moving van was coming the next day. “We won’t sell the truck,” Mac heard his father tell his mother. “We wouldn’t get any money for it anyway.”

When Mac was about six, he had told his mother about the movies, about how he could see things happening, things that had happened already. Like the time his friend Colin, who went to the same private Lutheran school as Mac, got into a fight on the playground with an older boy and came inside with a bloody nose. Everyone else was playing on the jungle gym, so no one saw the fight. Colin told the teacher that the older boy had pushed him and then hit him in the face. The older boy ended up being sent home from school with a note for his parents.

Mac and Colin walked home together after school, Mac with an incipient headache, and when they passed the playground, Mac glanced over, and a movie began to play in his head. He stopped in his tracks and just watched it with his eyes closed. A basketball rolled into sight, and the older boy came after it. Colin ran to the ball and tried to kick it away when the boy reached for it. But he miscalculated—Colin’s hand-eye coordination was poor even for his age—and he tripped over the ball instead. He went down hard on his face, and the older boy picked up the ball and walked away with silent laughter.

Mac opened his eyes and looked at Colin, who must have seen something in his face. He shrugged uneasily and hurried away, leaving Mac standing alone.

When Mac told his mother about it, she didn’t understand what he was saying.

“You saw what happened?” she asked. “Why didn’t you tell the teacher?”

“I saw it in my head,” Mac explained. “Afterwards. Like a movie. I can see things in my head.”

He was going to say more, but the knot of concern and alarm on his mother’s face stopped him. In one swift moment of insight, he realized that the movies were something that had to stay his secret. So he shrugged and said, “I think it was just a headache coming on.”

He could tell that that relieved his mother. “The doctor said you might have some vision changes before a headache,” she said. “I’m sure that was it.” And so Mac had never told anyone else about the movies.

And he wouldn’t tell anyone about the crying girl now that he and his parents were living in a new town—Avongrove, Illinois-- in an old farmhouse that had caught his mother’s eye when they drove along the country road. Mac knew that this move was because of money worries and that both of his parents were on edge about the change. They didn’t even have cable or Internet in the farmhouse. His mother said they might get a hook-up when they’d saved some money. So there was no point in worrying them about a crying girl that only Mac could see and hear. And when he woke up, the girl wasn’t there anymore.

As soon as he had seen the house, Mac had sensed that something wasn’t right, but he didn’t know what it was. His mother, on the other hand, thought an old farmhouse in need of a lot of fixing up was just what they needed. His mother always liked to have a project to do, something that kept her busy. Since his father, Peter Macmillan, Sr., was a builder, his mother thought she’d found the perfect project for the family. They would fix up the old farmhouse and make it a home again. There was a fairly large kitchen downstairs, along with a dining room and living room, and upstairs there were three bedrooms. Mac’s parents had the largest one, Mac had the smallest, and the third bedroom was currently storing their winter clothes and odds and ends that sat unpacked in cardboard boxes.

They had come from the town of Gleason in the Chicago suburbs, where Peter and his brother John had owned a small construction company. They had plenty of work, and they lived in a nice house that Peter had renovated himself. Peter and his small crew did the manual labor while John took care of the finances and lined up projects.

Then the accident happened, and things changed. Mac wasn’t sure exactly what was going on, but there were a lot of urgent, whispered discussions between his parents, and he found his dad crying with his head down on the kitchen table one night. Mac had quietly tip-toed out of the room. He thought that maybe his dad’s leg hurt, because he’d fractured it in the accident.

At John’s funeral, three men who worked with Peter had quiet conversations with him, and Peter’s already grave face took on an added pallor. Shortly after that, the Macmillans put their house on the market and moved to downstate Illinois. It was spring, but Mac was ahead in his school work, and his teacher passed him. Zoe said she would enroll him in his new school in the fall.

Mac wasn’t sure how he felt about all of this. He knew that something had precipitated the move and that his parents were upset, so he didn’t want to complain. But he didn’t like the new town, and he didn’t like the farmhouse. It creaked everywhere, and sometimes doors slowly swung open with no one there. His dad said that the floor was sagging and needed to be replaced. He put a jack under the beam in the basement and said he would replace the beam and flooring as soon as he got some money ahead. For now, he’d hired on with a local construction crew. The house was often drafty, and the damp chill of spring filled it like fog. The old furnace in the basement would need to be replaced too. It huddled in a back corner like some metal beast that wheezed when it woke. Water and mud leaked in from somewhere. The floor was uneven, so it was impossible to see where the leak originated. But when it rained, a good part of the floor was muddy. Mac’s dad was going to get that fixed one day too. He said it was most likely a pipe from the well that hadn’t been sealed. The mud pooled in the corners and around an ancient piece of furniture that sat against the wall directly in front of the stairs. Mac didn’t know what it was, but it was covered in layers of dust and cobwebs. He supposed it held food at one time. His mother told him that people used to store their canned goods and vegetables in the cellar.

Mac avoided the basement as much as possible. His mother planned to store her own potatoes and canned goods in cartons to the side of the stairs, but Mac didn’t like going down there. The first time he did, exploring the house on his own when his parents came down to sign the papers, he thought he saw something in the corner, a figure shrouded in darkness. Automatically, he moved toward it, trying to make it out. It was large and bulky, and when it moved slightly, Mac scurried back up the stairs. The basement was dark and full of shadows, so it was probably just a trick of light, but still it made Mac uneasy.

The yard surrounding the farmhouse was no more welcoming to him. There were fields on each side with a narrow patch of grass separating them from the house. There was a covered front porch that spanned the width of the house, but its ceiling was covered in thick cobwebs, and there was a wasp nest on one wall. Behind the house, at the edge of the field, an old barn stood weakly on a stone foundation, its wood rotting and bleached. There was a huge oak tree near the barn, large squirrel nests at the top. Mac had walked around that first day, and for an instant he had seen a freshly painted barn and trees instead of the fields. There were lots of trees in neat rows, but when he blinked they were gone, and there was nothing there but dark, bare earth. The trees had seemed peaceful, and Mac closed his eyes, trying to see them again. He thought he heard the voice of a girl, singing, but when he opened his eyes there was no one there.

When the van arrived the next day, Mac’s parents were busy unloading it, and when Mac saw his bicycle sitting against the porch he couldn’t resist. His mother didn’t like for him to go off on his own, but that was when they lived where there were a lot of people around. This place was pretty much deserted, and he didn’t think it would hurt to ride down the road for a bit.

The road was paved, but not well kept. Mac dodged potholes and patches of loose gravel. There was another farm on the right, with a creek between it and the road. Mac stopped to look. The roadside dropped off sharply to the creek, and on the other side was a grove of trees with several abandoned cars and trucks lodged here and there among the trees. To Mac, they looked like old toys left out in the rain by some giant and forgotten, now solidly red-brown with rust. They might have grown roots where they were.

A school bus passed Mac and stopped further down the road where another farmhouse sat back on a rise. A boy got off the bus and took a long look at Mac before he started walking toward him. The boy was already light brown from being out in the sun, and his hair was red. He looked as though he belonged with the rusted cars.

“You’re new,” he said when he got close to Mac and shifted his backpack. “You’re the ones moved into the Marshfield place?”

“Yeah, I guess so. I’m Mac.” Not knowing what else to do, Mac stuck out his hand.

The other boy looked at it as if it were a foreign object and then nodded. “I’m Leo. I live there.” He pointed at the second farmhouse.

“Who lives here?” Mac asked, nodding toward the creek.

“That’s Mr. Marshfield. He used to live where you are.”

“Yeah?”

“His mother used to live here first, but then she fell down some stairs and she’s in a home now. But he’d already moved in with her just before that. It was after his little girl disappeared.”

It was a dizzying amount of information, and Mac tried to process it all. Leo had said it matter-of-factly, as though Mac should know this already.

“We can fish for crawfish in the creek sometime if you want,” Leo offered. “I do it all the time, but don’t let Lucy see you. She doesn’t like anyone coming on the property.”

“Lucy?”

“That’s Mr. Marshfield’s other daughter.”

“Okay.”

“Well, I’ve got softball tonight, so I’d better go. See you around.”

“Sure.”

The next day was Saturday, and Leo showed up on Mac’s doorstep just before lunch. Mac’s mother seemed to like him and invited him to stay for sandwiches. She had picked up bread and cream cheese at the store, and she offered to heat up some soup. The boys decided to take their sandwiches and walk around instead. Leo said he would give Mac a tour of the town on their bikes.

First they walked around the outside of Mac’s house, and Leo acted as tour guide, taking on an important air as he told Mac the history of the place.

“This used to be part of the Underground Railroad, you know. We studied it in school.”

“Railroad? Where are the tracks?”

“Not that kind of railroad. This was back when there were slaves. They came from across the river or got smuggled from the South. They stayed here until they could be moved north where they’d be free.”

“They stayed in the house?” Mac asked doubtfully.

“Not where anyone could see them. There are supposed to be some secret passages and stuff. My teacher said the farm should be saved before it all falls down. She said it’s a part of history. We came here one day on a field trip.”

“I guess so,” Mac said and shrugged. He’d heard about slaves in school, but not about this railroad. He supposed it had been a good thing to do, to get them away from slavery. His mind went unwillingly back to the shadow he’d seen in the basement. It must have been really scary for the slaves to have to hide in some dark place like that.

“This was where the Marshfields lived when their daughter got kidnapped,” Leo said as they headed back around the house with their bikes.

“Kidnapped? Really?” That was exciting news to Mac. A real kidnapping.

“Yeah, it was a boy who did it, a big kid that lived down the road there.” Leo pointed in the direction of his house. “It happened before I was born, but I heard my parents talk about it sometimes. His name was Donald, and my mother said he was slow. I think she meant he was dumb.”

“So did they catch him?”

“No. Nobody ever saw either of them again. One day they were there, and then they were both gone. People looked all over for them. My dad said he went out with a bunch of men looking. They even dragged the pond. Nobody saw them leaving town, but they must have.”

The boys were on the road now, riding toward town. Mac glanced back over his shoulder at the farm with the creek and the rusted cars. “That girl? She was Lucy’s sister? The one you said gets mad if you fish in the creek?”

“Yeah,” Leo said, pulling even with him on the bumpy road. There was no traffic. “Their mom had left them when they were real little. They lived with their father in your house. After Loretta was gone, her father wouldn’t live there anymore, and they moved in with his mother. I don’t know how that helped. They’d have to look at their old house every day.” Mac suspected that Leo had heard his mother say this often.

Mac pondered all of this on the way to town. The house felt even creepier to him now. It was full of secrets, dark secrets that scared him. A girl being kidnapped right from that house. What if someone came to kidnap him? It made him shiver through his denim jacket. He certainly wouldn’t want to hide in the basement.

He and Leo stood up to pedal up a short hill, and Leo pointed out the school on the right. They stopped while Leo explained that the squat brick building housed first through sixth grades, and the junior high and high schools were in town.

“Mrs. Detwiller is my teacher,” Leo said. “I’m in third grade, but she’s going to be my teacher next year too. They’ve got a new teacher for third grade.” He stepped onto his bike again. “It was Mrs. Detwiller’s son Donald who kidnapped Loretta,” he added almost off-handedly. “Some of the older kids give her a hard time sometimes.”

The sun was in Mac’s eyes and glinting sharply off the school’s windows, but Mac could see a car in the parking lot and a woman standing next to it. She was looking at a mass of scratches on the car’s side. She passed a hand over her eyes, her shoulders slumped.

“Who scratched her car?” Mac asked, and Leo stared at him sharply. He got off his bike again and came closer. “Is that Mrs. Detwiller?” Mac asked. Then he looked at Leo and realized he must be seeing one of the movies. The parking lot was empty. There were no cars and no woman.

“How did you know that?” Leo asked. His eyes didn’t leave Mac’s face.

Mac shrugged, suddenly desperate to get off the subject.

Leo got back on his bike, and they rode on, Mac thinking it must be pretty horrible to have a son who did something like that. He never wanted to make his parents feel bad. He knew he was a good student, but he wasn’t particularly good at sports, not at all like his father. There were photos at home of his father in a football uniform and another one of him holding a basketball and grinning widely. The boy beside him was holding a big trophy. There was another trophy—not just a photo, but an actual one—of a man with a tennis racquet. His dad’s name was engraved on it, along with a year and the words Illinois State Tournament. His dad didn’t talk about it, but once in a while Mac would overhear his mother affectionately teasing his dad. “Can the state champion carry a couple of bags of trash to the curb?” she would ask with a giggle, and his dad would grin. That hadn’t happened since the accident though. Mac hadn’t heard his parents laugh in a long time.

Mac would never hurt anyone, not like that Donald kid. Mac knew that he was small for his age, and sometimes other kids pushed him out of the way or made some comment about how weak he must be. But it didn’t matter to him. His mother always told him that what counted was what was in his head and his heart.

Leo had stopped in front of a gravel road leading into a junk yard. There was chain link fencing around the property and a gate across the gravel road. On either side of the road stood rows of mangled cars, some old, some new. Mac thought that every car in every accident in the state must have found its way here. He briefly wondered what had happened to the car his father was driving during the accident. They had ended up with just the truck afterwards.

“My brother was in an accident,” Leo said. Without looking at Mac, he asked, “Which car is his?”

Mac stared at Leo’s profile and realized that Leo was challenging him. He looked back at the cars; there must be hundreds. He let his eyes move slowly over the rows, and now and then a movie would start in his head. But the driver was a man or woman and not someone who looked like Leo. The right movie started when Mac looked at a black pickup truck. A tall boy with red hair was driving at night, and he drifted off the edge of the road. He jerked the steering wheel back, and the truck began wobbling across the road. Another steering wheel jerk, and the truck was listing to the side on two wheels. It ran off the road on the right side and went down an embankment, hitting a tree. It was a still night, and after the crash the only sound was a country music song playing on the radio. Mac didn’t know anything about country music, but the song sounded like someone wishing for something. The door of the pickup opened, and the boy staggered out, blood running down his face. His legs buckled, and he went down on the ground. Then he fished a cell phone out of his pocket. The movie stopped there. That happened sometimes. Mac couldn’t always see how things turned out. Sometimes he couldn’t even see everyone in the movie.

He looked back at Leo’s expectant face and thought of the other boys who had refused to sit with him after he’d blurted out something he’d seen in his head.

“Well?” Leo asked.

Mac let his eyes slide on to another row. “The red Chevy,” he said.

“Hah! I didn’t think you could do it.” Leo smiled, and Mac felt safe again.

It wasn’t until they were in the town of Avondale itself that Mac asked Leo if his brother was okay after the accident.

“Yeah, he missed the last half of football season, and Dad was pretty upset about that. But he’s okay now. That was five years ago when he was fifteen. I don’t really remember any of it. I asked him to show me the truck one time, and he did. It was the black one. He’s dating Lucy Marshfield now, and my parents are upset about that.”

“Why?”

“Because she’s a lot older. I don’t know. She’s like twenty-something. But he thinks he’s in love.” Leo rolled his eyes. “He’s always mooning over her.” Leo made loud kissing sounds with his lips pursed and shook his head.

Mac didn’t have any brothers or sisters, so he didn’t know what it was like. He imagined it was sort of interesting, but also annoying. He didn’t think he could put up with the kissing, although it was okay when his parents did it.

“My sister’s in high school,” Leo volunteered, “and she’s always thinking about boys. I don’t know. Sure seems like a waste of time to me.”

Leo showed Mac the library and the one movie theater before they stopped at a gas station for some soda. They took a different street out of town, and Leo pointed out a neat, one-story brick building, not unlike the school. “That’s where my grandma lives,” he said. “It’s like a dormitory for old people. Lucy’s grandmother lives there too. It would have been all right if you could have picked out my brother’s truck. My Mamaw can do stuff like that. She told my brother the night he crashed the truck that he shouldn’t go out, that something bad was going to happen. But he didn’t listen to her.”

They headed toward home, and Mac looked back at the brick building. He didn’t think he was like Leo’s grandmother. He couldn’t see what was going to happen. That was always a mystery to him. He only saw things that had already happened, and that was a lot different. He wondered if Leo’s grandmother had any friends or if they all avoided her because she could see things that they couldn’t.

The boys had each bought a candy bar with their soda at the gas station, and they stopped to eat near the junk yard.

“My brother wants a new truck,” Leo said as he chewed, “but Dad said he was going to have to buy it himself. And he still doesn’t have enough money. He works odd jobs plus a full shift at the grocery store, but the pay’s not good. Not much anyone can do around here other than farm.”

Mac wondered about his dad, if he would make enough money. He knew that his parents worried about money, but he didn’t know why. It had something to do with the accident, but all Mac ever heard were snatches of conversation that didn’t make any sense to him. Full restitution, his mother said once. Peter, those men need to be paid what they’re owed. Mac didn’t know what restitution was, but it sounded serious.

“Come on,” Leo said, crumpling his candy wrapper and dropping it on the road. “I’ll show you the pond.”

Mac shoved his own wrapper in his pants pocket and pedaled after Leo. They passed Mac’s house, and he felt a shiver of dread. He didn’t know why, but he just didn’t like the house. Maybe it would grow on him, like his mother said, but for now he didn’t like to be there.

Leo led Mac past the drive to Leo’s house and rode his bike down the embankment and across a field. Mac followed carefully, afraid he would lose his balance with all of the bumps in the tall grass. When he glanced up, he could see a tractor moving in a distant field. That must be Leo’s father at work.

Leo finally drew to a stop in a dip where the pond glistened in the sun. The water danced and glowed, mesmerizing Mac.

“Not much but sunnies to catch in there now,” Leo said. “Dad hasn’t stocked it in a while. There are probably a couple of big catfish left though.”

Mac had an urge to lie down in the sun and go to sleep, and he swayed slightly. He forced himself to stay awake. It was just the heat, he told himself. Then he caught a movement in the corner of his eye and turned his head to the left. There at the edge of the pond stood the crying girl. She was still in the jeans and pink sweatshirt, and she was looking at the pond while she cried. She turned as if to look at someone, but Mac couldn’t see anyone else there. He watched her, wondering what was wrong. She was pushing the hair out of her face and frowning fiercely, growing angry. She clutched her face as if someone had just hit her. Then she ran after them, but fell down. Whoever it was had gone. The girl got up and left, crying harder.

Mac slowly came back to himself and realized that Leo was saying his name.

“What’s wrong?” Leo asked. “You look sick. Are you okay?”

Mac nodded. “I just got too hot. I—“ He looked at the pond again. “They dragged the pond. That’s what you said.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“You said your father and other people dragged the pond when that girl disappeared.”

“Yeah, that’s right. It’s deep in the middle, so my dad said they used netting and poles. It took most of a day to do it. He figured there must have been fifteen of them. The fire department, the police, lots of farmers. Even the teachers came after school.”

“But they didn’t find anything.”

“Not Loretta. They never found her. All that was in the pond, other than fish, was part of an old fishing pole and a doll.”

Mac shivered despite the heat.

CHAPTER TWO

Zoe Macmillan was welcomed warmly into the community, although she suspected that her visitors came mostly out of curiosity. She was from upstate, and she wasn’t married to a farmer, so she was a rare specimen.

The first woman to arrive that morning was Leo’s mother, Anita Dempsey. She was plump and cheerful, her cheeks red from the sun and wind, her hair red like her son’s and cut short. She brought a loaf of homemade bread and a jar of jelly to go with it.

“I make crabapple jelly every fall,” she told Zoe. “We have trees in the back. A few apple trees too. They’re left over from when this was all orchard. There are a couple of cherry trees too. Good for pies.”

Zoe thanked her for the bread and got out some iced tea and a box of vanilla wafers she’d picked up at the dollar store. She had planned to make a layered dessert with the cookies, vanilla pudding and sliced bananas, one of Mac’s favorites. But the bananas weren’t ripe enough yet, so that could wait.

“So Mac and Leo will be in class together,” Anita said. “Mrs. Detwiller will be teaching fourth grade this fall. She was Leo’s third-grade teacher this year, and he likes her. She’s had some problems with some of the parents, but the kids like her.”

“What kind of problems?” Zoe put a glass of tea in front of Anita and sat down at the kitchen table.

Anita traced the wood grain on the oak table, wiping away a dab of liquid. “About ten years ago the little Marshfield girl Loretta went missing. She and her family were living here in this house at the time.”

“How awful. Did they find her?”

Anita shook her head. “They never did. And Mrs. Detwiller’s son Donald disappeared the same day. The boy had suffered some brain damage at birth and couldn’t keep up in school. The kids teased him, but he tried hard. He used to hire out for farm chores and such to make extra money. He’d worked for just about everybody around here. There wasn’t anyone who didn’t like him.”

“But people thought he took the girl?”

“Exactly. Especially since nobody ever saw either one of them again.”

“Couldn’t there have been some kind of accident?”

“Everybody thought that at first, but they searched all over and couldn’t find a trace of them. People started concluding that he’d taken her away somewhere.”

“The poor mothers of those kids.”

“Loretta’s mother had left the family a few years before. She was a wild thing. My parents said people just shook their heads when Randall Marshfield married her. She used to drink a lot, and she’d go to all the dances in the bigger towns. People didn’t care for her much, but when she left them her husband and daughters were sure broken up. I don’t think Randy ever recovered. And then to lose his daughter too.” She shook her head.

“I can’t imagine having to go through that,” Zoe said quietly.

Anita sighed. “The world can be a hard place. But it shouldn’t be that way for a child. I’m glad Leo and Mac are getting on together. Leo can be bossy, and some of the kids don’t want to hang around with him because of it. He drives his brother and sister crazy.”

“I don’t think Mac will mind. He’s easy going.”

“You’re lucky,” Anita said.

And Zoe thought that she was probably right. Mac was a good kid. God forbid she would ever have to go through what those two mothers did. She had to admire Mrs. Detwiller for staying around after what happened with her son. Having to face everyone’s suspicion and enmity day after day must be torture. Not knowing where your son is and imagining the awful thing he must have done. Zoe didn’t think she could live with that. Nor could Peter.

Peter had always been the conscience of the family, the one who set the moral code. He always wanted to do the right thing, and he taught his son the same.

“Well, I should be getting back,” Anita said. “I forgot. Is your husband going to farm the land?”

“No. He’s in construction. Right now he’s working for a small company, Barrington’s.”

“I know them. They do nice work. I think he’ll like them.”

“I hope so. Someday he’d like to get his own company going. He and his brother had one where we came from.” Her voice trailed off, and she looked down.

There was a moment of silence, and then Anita said, “Well, I’m sure things will work out for you here.”

After Anita had gone, Zoe was unpacking dishes and washing them when her second visitor showed up. She was a slender young woman with long blond hair. Zoe thought she was rather overdressed for such a rural area in her floral yoga pants and pink off-the-shoulder top. Her bra, a low-cut lacy affair, showed through the thin top. Her open-toed sandals were dusty from the walk. Zoe assumed it was a walk, since no car had pulled up. There was something unfathomable in her eyes, and to Zoe, the woman seemed both girlish and ancient.

She introduced herself as Lucy Marshfield, and a second later Zoe recognized the name. So this was the older sister of the girl who had disappeared.

“I just wanted to come say hello,” Lucy said in a husky voice, probably roughened by cigarettes. “My father and I live just up there across the road.” She pointed toward what Zoe guessed was the next farm up the road.

“I’m glad to meet you,” Zoe said. “You and your father should come have dinner sometime.”

“That would be nice.” Lucy’s green eyes roamed the kitchen, and Zoe remembered that the girl used to live here. Maybe they wouldn’t want to come back here after all.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

I've been writing for many years--greeting cards, confession magazine stories, romance novels, newspaper articles. I also paint watercolors and oils, and I eat. Yes, everybody eats, but it's more of a hobby with me. If I can eat while I'm writing, I consider that a good day.

Q. What is the inspiration for the story?
A.
I've always been frustrated by cold cases, the disappearances and/or murders that are never solved. I wanted to create a character who could see what had happened as if watching it unfold.
Q. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
A.
It was difficult making a little boy deal with such terrifying and sad circumstances. He has to confront things far beyond his young comprehension. But that's how we all grow up. The world can be scary and beyond our understanding.
Q. Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from this book?
A.
I think Iain Armitage, the amazing actor on Young Sheldon, would make a wonderful Mac.

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