The sky was jet black. No stars. No moon. No light to give
them away. Tyler Benson led the way to the top of the
cliffs with Lilly by his side. Daniel Hunter, their best
friend, lagged behind. Lilly held onto Ty’s hand. Every
once in awhile she’d squeeze tighter, giving away her
fear. Otherwise Ty would think this was just another of
their adventures. He knew better.
Soon, Ty would start the car, slam it into drive and then
jump out before it toppled off the cliff into the murky
quarry waters below. Afterwards, Lilly Dumont would be
reported missing. Her uncle’s car would be found at the
bottom of the lake. Or it wouldn’t be found at all. No
body would be recovered. Lilly would head for New York,
take the new name the three of them had chosen for her and
Ty would never see her again.
All so Lilly wouldn’t have to leave the safety of Ty’s
mother’s foster home and return to her bastard uncle for
more abuse. She was only seventeen. She wouldn’t survive a
month let alone a year if she returned to her uncle. The
man didn’t love her but her trust fund, Ty thought.
“Hurry up, Daniel!” Lilly called back to Hunter, breaking
the silence. She was probably afraid he’d lose them in the
“It’s Hunter,” their friend and foster brother muttered
loud enough for them to hear.
Ty grinned. Once Ty had told him to go by his last name,
the kids at school stopped calling him “Danny Boy” and
Hunter quit trying to beat the crap out of anyone who got
in his face. Hunter and Ty were like real brothers and Ty
looked out for his own. Hunter did the same, which was why
Hunter stayed back now, so Ty could have these last few
minutes with Lilly.
The girl they both loved.
Hunter had never said as much, but Ty knew. He wasn’t sure
Lilly did. She was so damn innocent despite her attitude
and that was what made Ty care about her so much. They
weren’t boyfriend and girlfriend but they were something.
Too bad they’d never have time to figure out just what
The locket he’d bought her burned a hole in his pocket.
He’d bought it so she wouldn’t forget him. Ever. His
stomach cramped and he halted suddenly.
Lilly bumped into him. “What’s wrong? Why are you
stopping? We aren’t there yet.”
Ty swallowed hard. “I just wanted to give you something.”
He whispered even though nobody was around to hear.
Hunter, who knew what Ty had planned, waited somewhere
Ty shoved his hand into his pocket and pulled out the
small gold heart. A hot flush washed over him as he held
out his hand. Good thing it was dark and she couldn’t see
his burning cheeks.
“Here,” he muttered. It wasn’t much and that embarrassed
him as much as giving the gift.
Lilly accepted the tiny locket. Though it was hard to see,
she turned it over in her hand, studying it for so long he
shifted uncomfortably on his feet while waiting for her
“It’s beautiful,” she finally said, a catch in her voice.
He exhaled his relief. “I …” Ty wasn’t a guy of many words
and he didn’t know what to say now.
“I know.” As always, she stepped in, reading and easing
his mind. She clasped the heart in one hand and threw her
arms around his neck, holding him tight.
He smelled the sweet scent of shampoo in her hair and he
hugged her back, pulling her soft body against his. Too
many feelings and sensations rushed through him at the
same time. All the things they’d never do or get to say to
each other passed between them in this one final touch.
Ty couldn’t think or even speak past the lump in his
She pulled back suddenly and looked down. She messed with
the necklace and somehow she managed to hook the heart
around her neck despite the lack of light.
“Thank you,” she said softly, meeting his gaze.
He nodded stiffly. “You’re welcome.”
Seconds of silence passed, neither one of them wanting to
say the words but someone had to. They couldn’t risk
“We need to get moving,” Hunter said, joining them. “The
longer we spend here the more we risk getting caught.”
Ty nodded. “He’s right. We have to go,” Ty finally said.
“Okay then let’s do this,” Lilly said and the three
friends started forward.
A few minutes later, they walked through the underbrush
and came out near the cliff. A car was waiting for them
just like Ty’s friend who worked with him at the gas
station had promised. So was the reality of what they were
about to do. He got nauseated and struggled against
“Is it really Uncle Mark’s?” Lilly asked, rubbing her hand
over the dark blue Lincoln.
Ty nodded. “A buddy of mine knows how to hot wire cars. He
owes me a favor for not turning him into the cops, so this
was no biggie.” Ty had friends in different groups,
different places. Pulling this off had been too easy.
“I can’t believe we’re doing this,” Lilly said.
She stared at him, wide-eyed and afraid. But behind the
fear Ty saw her determination. She was strong and gutsy
and he was really proud of her.
“It’s not like we have a choice,” Hunter reminded her.
“I know.” She nodded, her dark hair falling over her face
before she tucked it behind her ear. “You guys are the
best, helping me like this.”
“One for all, all for one,” Hunter said.
Ty shook his head, trying not to laugh and embarrass his
friend. Hunter always said the dumbest things, but Ty
didn’t mind. Besides he figured Hunter wasn’t thinking any
clearer than they were at the moment.
“We’re the Three Musketeers,” Lilly said, grinning. Just
like always, she stepped in to agree with her friend and
prevent him from being mortified.
Besides she was right. So was Hunter. The three of them
were alone in this and it would bind them forever. Ty
stuffed his hands into front jeans pocket.
“So tonight Lillian Dumont dies and Lacey Kinkaid is
born.” Her voice quivered.
He didn’t blame her for being afraid. She was leaving
Hawken’s Cove, their small upstate New York town. She’d
take off for New York City alone with just the summer
money Ty made working at the gas station and the petty
cash Hunter picked up busing tables at the only restaurant
“Nobody talks about what happened here tonight. Not ever,”
Ty reminded them. They couldn’t afford for anyone to
discover even a part of their plan and piece things
together. “Right?” he asked, wanting to hear them say the
words. His heart pounded so hard in his chest he thought
it would explode.
“Right.” Hunter agreed.
The three of them had planned her escape down to the last
detail. And Ty knew they’d both protect their secret
“Lilly?” Ty prodded. She had the most to lose if her uncle
found out she was alive.
She nodded. “I’ll never talk about it.” Her gaze remained
locked on his, her fingers toying with the little heart
around her neck.
Ty stared into her brown eyes and suddenly everything was
okay. They’d go back to his mom’s house and he’d sneak
into her bedroom so they could hang out and talk all
night. They’d be together.
Instead she broke the spell. “I’ll never forget what you
guys did for me,” she said to them both.
She hugged Hunter first and Ty waited, clenching and
unclenching his fists.
Then she turned to him and pulled him tight. He held her
for the last time, closing his eyes and fighting the
fullness in his throat.
“Be careful,” he managed to tell her.
She nodded, her hair soft against his cheek. “I’ll never
forget you, Ty. Cross my heart,” she whispered, the words
for his ears alone.