I was someplace warm. Cass’s arm was tight around my shoulder. It was thirty degrees, tops, but I felt hot.

“Can you drive me home?” he asked. “I came here with Pieretti and I think he’s w-wasted.” In addition to the chattering teeth, his voice sounded slurry.

“Well, that was a given,” I said. “Can’t you be the designated driver? Or, oh, were you drinking too?”

“N-no. My lips are j-just numb. B-but frostbite may be set-ting in.” He held one whitish blue hand outside the blanket, flexing it gently, wincing. “I can’t feel my fingers. Doesn’t seem safe to wait. Jimbo’s car’s got a stick shift. Hang on.”

He disentangled himself from the quilt, and my arms, and walked slowly up the beach toward the bonfire. Vivien imme-diately scooted to my side.

“What’s going on?” She gathered the quilt folds around me more securely. “What’s up with you and Sundance?”

“Nothing. I thought he was d-drowning. He wasn’t.” I gave a short laugh. “End of story.”

“I doubt that.” She ducked around to the other side of me as Cass returned, carrying his clothes and Converse.

“All set,” he said. “Thorpe is d-driving Pieretti home. You can drive me—can you handle a s-stick? Pieretti can grab it when he sobers up. Then I’ll bring you home.”

I found myself saying only, “I can drive a stick,” concentrat-ing on pulling Mom’s parka back up. After lying on the cold beach sand, it felt like an ice pack.

“Cool.” He put a hand on my down-covered back, steering me to Jimmy’s car up in the beach parking lot.

It was a Kia. Why did huge Jimmy Pieretti have the smallest car in the world? I squelched my way into the driver’s seat, shivering again. I’m sure my lips matched the navy-blue vinyl seats.

“Here.” Cass tossed the keys to me. I snagged them in midair, and he smiled at me, the sidelong curl revealing his dimples, crinkling the corners of his eyes, taking his face from perfect to real. When I turned the keys in the ignition, he snapped on the hot air, which blasted glacial currents at us.

“It’ll heat up in a minute.”

“That’s okay. I’m f-f-fine.”

“Gwen, you’re a Popsicle.” He dropped his clothes in my lap. “P-put these on.”

My face heated instantly. “I c-c-can’t do that!”

He folded his arms. “Want me to do it f-for you?” He flexed his fingers. “As soon as the numbness and tingling go away . . .

But I thought you m-might not wanna wait that long.”

“It’s fine. I’ll just change later.” I notched up the heat a few more degrees. It seemed to get even colder.

“C’mon. I can’t have your f-freezing to death on my conscience.” He said all this in a flat, logical tone without glancing over at me. “Just change.”


“Well, I th-thought you might like the privacy of the backseat, but whatever my fearless rescuer w-wishes.”

“You want me to take off my clothes in the backseat?” I echoed, like an idiot.

“C-can’t get warm if you just put the dry clothes on over wet ones,” he told me, still in that serious, scientific way. “So, yeah, d-ditch yours, put on mine. I’ll wear my parka over my suit. It’s fine. But do it fast. I’m f-freezing.” He shuddered.

His clothes were faded jeans, a black turtleneck, thick woven gray wool socks. Sandy, but not dripping wet or icy cold. I stumbled over the stick shift and into the backseat, unzipped Mom’s parka, then halted, my eyes flicking to his in the rearview mirror. “No looking.”

“Damn. I was hoping you’d forget about the m-mirror. No problem. I’ll just shut my eyes. I’m getting kind of warm and drowsy, anyway. Must be the hypothermia c-coming on.”

I tried to move quickly. My drenched hoodie made a wet slapping sound as I yanked it over my head and onto the backseat. My fingers were too stiff to undo the clasp of my bra, so I just left it on. Though I’d forbidden Cass to do so, I couldn’t avoid a glance in the rearview mirror. Fantastic. My hair stood out in icy-dark Medusa curls, my nose was red, and my lips, yes, blue with cold. I’d never looked more bedraggled in my life. I shoved myself into Cass’s clothes and stumbled back over the seat.

Cass did indeed have his eyes closed; his head slanted back against the headrest, his black parka bundled around him. There was a silver strip of duct tape on the shoulder, starkly bright against the black. He looked pale. Had he really gone to sleep?

Into a hypothermic coma? I bent over to take a closer look.

He opened his eyes, smiling. I caught my breath. He moved in infinitesimally closer, dark lashes fluttering closed, just as Coach rapped hard on the window.

“C’mon, you two clowns. Get a move on. This isn’t a drive-in movie.”

We were silent after that as I pulled out of the parking lot, through town, following Cass’s mumbled directions. He reached out, flexing his fingers, then drumming them against the dashboard.

I tried to drive resolutely but couldn’t resist a few stolen glances.

Always when he was doing the exact same thing.

It was strange. Like a dance. One I’d never done.

“First left up here,” he said. I turned onto one of those quiet, tree-lined streets with wide, paved sidewalks and gener-ously spaced houses with their rolling lawns. So different from the scrubby twisted pine bushes, crushed clamshell driveways, and shoulder-to-shoulder ranch homes of my side of Seashell.

“You turn down this road.” He indicated a right onto a drive with a sign that said “Shore Road.”

I couldn’t help but gasp when I saw the house. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen . . . Modern, but somehow old-fashioned, built along the long strong lines of a sailing ship, a schooner, a clipper ship—something majestic poised to conquer the sea.

One whole side of the house was bowed out with a narrow rail around the second story, high and proud, jutting like the prow of a boat.


Cass tilted his head at me. “My uncle designed it. That’s what my parents were building—that summer.”

“It’s amazing. This was where you went? When you left us?”

Then I winced because . . . because the Somerses were on the island for one season. It’s not like they abandoned us. Me. But Cass didn’t blink.