Genre: YA mystery
word count: 60,000
The small Michigan town of Mason has been sixteen-year-old orphan Tara’s home since her aunt adopted her. But its rustic beauty hides an ugly truth, something dark that happened ten years ago and cast a terrible shadow on Tara and her aunt.
When her cousin was bludgeoned one chilly autumn night, it was the start of a horrific murder spree. Over the next few years, the three girls who’d bullied her were killed and dumped in the lake, their murders coinciding with her cousin’s death anniversary. Though suspicion fell on her aunt, it went no further.
But the events have left her aunt traumatized and Tara fiercely protective of her. With time as a gentle healer, the shadows start to fade – until Tara herself falls victim to a cruel prank at school. When the girl who bullied her is beaten to death, Tara realizes that the past has followed her. Now she has a choice – either find the killer, or watch her town get destroyed all over again.
Tara dropped her backpack on the sofa. “Aunt June?” She raced up the steps two at a time. Her aunt’s room was empty. And so was the rest of the house.
Oh God, not again! Her mouth dry, she locked the door behind her and took off down the long, winding road to the lake.
The spells were getting more frequent and unpredictable. Normally her aunt would take off for the lake only on Beth’s death anniversary, or her birthday. But now Tara often returned home from school to find the door ajar and her aunt missing.
Halfway down the leaf-strewn dirt path through the woods, she heard the sobs.
A gentle breeze blew ripples over the lake’s surface. Aunt June’s sobs rose and fell. She kneeled on the rocks, her fingers threading through the water. As though caressing the tresses of her murdered daughter.
Tara’s chest tightened into a vise. Drawing her jacket tight against the November chill, she hunkered down next to her aunt and slipped her arm around her shaking shoulders, averting her gaze from the murky water. If she looked closely, she could still see her cousin’s long, blonde hair tangled in the dirt, the pale, freckled face smashed in.
“Shhh, Aunt. Let’s go back home. It’s getting cold.”
Shadowed grey eyes turned to her and widened. “Beth? My Beth?”