By Renee Collins
Young Adult Fiction
November 3, 2015
$16.99 Hard Cover
About the Book
They exist in two different centuries, but their love defies time
Country clubs and garden parties. The last thing Cassandra wants is to spend the summer before her senior year marooned in a snooty Massachusetts shore town. Cass craves drama and adventure, which is hard when she just feels stuck.
But when a dreamy stranger shows up on her family’s private beach, claiming that it is his property—and that the year is 1925—Cass is swept into a mystery a hundred years in the making. As she searches for answers in the present, Cass discovers a truth that thrusts Lawrence’s life into jeopardy. It won’t matter which century he is from if he won’t live to see tomorrow.
Desperate to save the boy who’s come to mean everything to her, Cassandra must find a way to change history…or risk losing Lawrence forever.
UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN –
Excerpt from UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN
The beach is empty. In the fading glow of twilight, the waves roll up to the rocks in sweeping curls of white foam. The sand glistens like wet steel. The grass bends low in the briny night wind. Always changing, yet always the same. I imagine the beach has looked like this since the beginning of time.
Stepping onto the soft terrain, I feel transported to some ancient evening, eons ago. Long before my uncle claimed this land as his own. Long before man even dared to taint these shores.
I wish the fleeting vision was true.
My gaze falls to the full moon’s reflection on the water. It’s broken into shards on the black sea, tossed about with each wave. A small, white shape catches my eye. It’s in the glare of the reflection, so I nearly miss it.
I step into the wave break. A seabird, dead and limp, is rolling back and forth in the foam. Her wings are spread open, her white-and-brown-speckled breast exposed.
I lift the small creature into my palm. What killed her? I wonder. There’s no sign of injury. Did she drown in the sea? Pinching her brittle, fragile leg gently between my fingers, I notice a small metal band snapped around her ankle. The sight of it startles me. Examining it closer, I catch the faint impression of numbers and letters etched into the band, but something in me resists reading them. I can’t say why.
What does it matter, anyhow? The poor creature is dead. And she reminds me that there is no going back. Time howls on, like the wind. And it is not only weaker creatures like this bird that succumb to it. Even the strongest man will fall before its crushing forward push.
I set the bird out into the water. As the tide pulls her away, I accept this truth. Soon the summer will be over. Too soon.
Date: July 8.
Days at my mom and stepdad’s new summer home: 22
Hours spent at the froufrou country club: 0
Hours spent on the fancy private beach: 0
Hours spent lying on the couch bemoaning my lack of a life: somewhere in the 100s.
Number of times Mom has told me to make some new friends and stop moping around: also somewhere in the 100s.
To paraphrase Shakespeare: Oh, for a muse of fire to convey how utterly and completely bored I am.
Given the circumstances, it should be clear that I have no choice but to try to sneak into my neighbors’ yard and swim in their pool at 2:00 a.m.
My two accomplices are less than ideal. Travis Howard and Brandon Marks are local royalty of this ritzy, historic neighborhood slapped on the coast of Massachusetts’s North Shore. Both have the classic all-American look—tall, sparkling blue eyes, and a crop of blond hair that’s been gelled to scientific levels of perfection. But given the circumstances, they’ll have to do.
Brandon can barely keep pace as we cut along the tailored brush that adorns the Andersons’ back fence. Maybe because he’s too busy shooting nervous glances behind us.
“We’re being followed,” he says.
Travis and I exchange a look.
“Chill out, dude,” Travis says.
I sigh. “Seriously. I didn’t pack my smelling salts, so try not to faint.”
Travis holds out his fist for a bump.
Brandon is resolute. “At the very least, we’re being watched. You think these people don’t have security cameras?”
“No clue,” I say brightly.
“Well, that’s reassuring.”
I probably should have come on my own. Trouble is, I need a pair of hands to boost me over the fence. My little brother, Eddie, couldn’t do it, since he’s three. And for obvious reasons, I couldn’t ask Mom or Frank. That left the only other person I knew here: Travis.
He and I met at a garden party. How bourgeois is that? I was so bored I was ready to claw my eyes out. Then I saw this crazy guy doing a chair dance, to the utter shock of the local hens, and I decided he might be okay. Travis is pretty cool. He reminds me a little of my friend Jade back in Ohio. A delightful troublemaker. Having Travis’s buddy Brandon tagging along, however, has proved to be an unwelcome change of plans.
It’s late, but humidity still hangs in the air. Not as oppressive as during the day, but enough to make the hair against my neck damp. Crickets chirp loudly in the surrounding brush, which makes me uneasy somehow, as if their incessant noise will draw attention to us. As if they’re crying, “Look! Look! Look! Look!” to some unseen guard. Brandon’s nerves must be contagious.
Luckily, I spy the edge of the fence before I can dwell on my uneasiness for too long.
“We made it,” I say.
Gripping the bars, I look for a good spot to grab midway up. Travis helps me with the inspection.
“Right over here,” he says, motioning. “The ground’s a little higher on the other side, and those bushes will break your fall.”
“Nice,” I say, impressed. “You have a lot of experience breaking into private property?”
“Yeah, except we usually go for cash and high-value items. Breaking in to go swimming should be a nice change of pace.”
I smirk and he gives me a Mr. Teen USA wink.
“All right then,” I say. “Hoist me up.”
Brandon steps in between us. “Are we seriously doing this? You know, your stepdad’s house has a huge private beach. If you want to swim so badly, can’t we go there?”
“You’re missing the point, Brandon.”
“You never explained the point.”
“Only a fool asks to understand that which cannot be grasped,” I say, pretending to quote some ancient philosopher.
Travis blinks. “Dude. That was deep.”
“I know, right?” I turn back to Brandon. “See? He gets it.”
“This is really stupid,” Brandon says, unamused.
I pull out my phone. “So, I guess you don’t want to be in the group shot then?”
Travis comes to my side and puts his arm around me. “Sweet! Selfie time.”
I hold out my phone, and he and I make an overly enthusiastic thumbs-up pose.
Brandon folds his arms impatiently across his chest. “Can we get on with this?”
“Well, look who’s eager to have some fun,” I say, giving him a hearty slap on the back. “About time you came aboard.”
Brandon shakes his head and holds out his interlocked hands. Travis stands across from him. Together, they form the perfect ladder. Pushing off of their shoulders, I reach for the top of the fence. One push and my leg tips over the edge.
“Got it!” I shout. Perched on the top of the wall, I survey my target. The pool is lit, even with the Andersons away for the week, and it gleams an appealing turquoise blue in the dark night. If I had time and my stuff, I’d paint the scene. For now, however, an immersive, performance-art type of scenario will have to suffice.
“Let’s do this,” I say, hopping onto the grass below. I land firmly on my feet and unlatch the side gate.
Brandon remains frozen at the threshold. “Cass…”
“Let me guess. You don’t think this is such a good idea.”
Travis laughs. “Seriously, dude, don’t be such a pansy.”
He starts through the gate when Brandon grabs his arm. “Trav. You know why we can’t.”
Travis says nothing, but a shadow crosses his expression. I frown. “What?”
When Travis doesn’t reply, Brandon exhales. “We could go to jail.”
“Oh, don’t be so dramatic—”
“No, seriously. We’re both…kind of on probation.”
He officially has my attention. “Explain.”
Travis shakes his head. “It’s not that big of a deal. Brandon’s freaking out.”
“Then tell me,” I say.
His eyes shift away from mine. “It was me and Brandon and some of the guys from the lacrosse team. One night a few weeks ago, we were a little drunk. It was late. And we sort of…broke into a liquor store.”
Brandon scrambles to explain before I can react. “It wasn’t my idea. We never would have done it—it was really stupid, okay? Anyway, we got caught, but Austin’s dad pulled some strings and got us off with a warning.”
I nod slowly. “I see. So, you got Daddums to skirt the law for you?”
“It’s not like that,” Travis says, but I can tell he’s really embarrassed.
Brandon sighs. “I can’t get into trouble. I’ve got a lacrosse scholarship on the line, and my parents would murder me if I screwed that up. Trav’s the same.”
I’m not sure which is more irritating, the sham justice system in these ritzy areas or the fact that there’s actually a legitimate reason to cut our little excursion short.
I fold my arms. “So after all this, we’re leaving?”
“I never said that,” Travis says, defensive.
Brandon glares. “Don’t be an idiot, Trav. It’s not worth it.”
I can tell by the look Brandon gives Travis that he actually means I’m not worth it. Irritation flares up in me.
“Well, I haven’t come all this way to wuss out now. You boys and your lacrosse scholarships are free to go back home.”
“Fine,” Brandon says. “I’m out of here.”
He storms off without a glance back. Travis lingers, but I can tell he’s seen the error of his ways and wants to go as well.
“Go ahead and leave,” I say. “I’m over the fence. I don’t need you anymore.”
Travis sighs. “Brandon’s right. We should probably get out of here.”
I plant my fists on my waist. “Nope. I’m going to swim.”
“Seriously, go. I can take it from here.”
“I’m not leaving you alone at two in the morning. It isn’t safe.”
I laugh. “How very gallant, Travis.”
“I’m serious. It isn’t safe.”
With only a smile, I turn and head for the pool. He calls my name in a sharp whisper, but I ignore him.
Little garden lights illuminate the path and surround the flagstone patio. The pool shimmers. You’ve got to hand it to the Andersons. They have a nice place here.
I circle the pool thoughtfully, then dip one toe in the water. “Ideal temperature.”
No simple entrance into the pool will do. It’s got to be diving board or nothing. With determination, I march to the elaborate diving area and grip the ladder.
Travis calls my name again. I glance over my shoulder with a sigh. He’s in the shadows by the shrubs.
“You’re crazy,” he whisper-yells.
“Guilty as charged, Travis, my dear.” I blow him a kiss and climb the diving-board ladder. My nerve ends tingle as I approach the long plank. It’s a stupid little thing, but I feel more alive now than I have all summer.
“Okay. Here goes nothing. One…two…”
The porch lights snap on with the fury of midday sun. It startles me so much that I throw my arms up to block it and almost fall backward into the pool.
“All right, kids,” a man’s voice booms. “Fun’s over.”
Who knew an uber rich gated community would have twenty-four-hour guards on staff? Oh wait. I knew. I just didn’t care.
A big man in a bouncer-type jacket strides in at the side of the deck, right near where I entered. To my left, Travis flattens against the house. Trapped. If he runs, the guard will notice for sure.
The beam of a high-powered flashlight blasts in my face.
“Get down from there.”
I shoot a look to the gently rippling pool water, then to Travis, then back to the guard. He’s clearly not in the mood to screw around.
Something about this situation feels so symbolic of this whole summer. There I was, about to plunge into that film internship in New York. Or go to Paris with Jade. Or maybe the acting camp. I hadn’t really decided. Either way, I was ready to start living and get out of Nowhereville, Ohio. And what happens?
Mom and Frank get the crazy idea to rent a beach house in Massachusetts. And because Frank can work remotely with his finance job, they don’t rent it for a week like a normal family. They rent it for the entire summer. And of course, they insist on dragging me and Eddie down with them. To sit on my butt all day and to go to garden luncheons.
“Where are the two guys I saw you with?” the guard calls out.
Cameras. Of course there are cameras. The beam of the flashlight cuts from me to scan the yard. Travis’s whole body tenses, and a wash of guilt passes over me. As much as I initially wrote him off as a rich jock, I actually kind of like the guy. He’s been cool and willing to play along with my ridiculous little shenanigans. I can’t let him suffer serious, long-lasting consequences.
Meeting Travis’s eyes, I mouth the word “go” and then wave to the security guard with both arms. “It’s just me, big guy. Me and my lonesome.”
The flashlight snaps up to me. My pulse races. What I’m doing, I’m not exactly sure. But the recklessness feels good.
“I thought I saw someone else,” the guard says.
He starts to pull the light away to search the yard. I have to act quickly. Drawing in a breath, I pull my sundress over my head and toss it on the patio. For a single, humiliating moment, the guard’s flashlight illuminates my red bra and underwear for all the world to see. Travis better be halfway home by now.
The guard’s voice is calm but laden with warning. “Miss…”
“Last one in the water’s a rotten egg!”
Drawing in a breath, I give one good bounce on the diving board, leap into the air, form the perfect swan position, and plunge into the water.
Praise for Until We Meet Again
“Mystery, romance, time travel, and danger…this one has it all…Suspenseful, poignant, and romantic: well worth the read.” — Kirkus Reviews
“A hazy, romantic mystery that might appeal to fans of Nicholas Sparks.” — School of Library Journal
“Until We Meet Again is tragically beautiful with twists you won’t see coming.”—Martina Boone, author of Compulsion and the Heirs of Watson Island trilogy
"A beach house, a mystery, and time-travel love make Until We Meet Again a romantic, engaging read."—Deb Caletti, National Book Award Finalist for Honey, Baby, Sweetheart
About the Author
Renee Collins grew up on a beach in Hawaii. Sadly, she never met anyone from the past on those shores, but she did go on to get a degree in History, which is almost the same. She currently lives in Colorado with her family..
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