She came every day, always after the sun had set. Sometimes the moon was full and lit her way, the lake reflecting its light. Other times the stars were the only things to guide her.
In cold weather, park security chained the front entrance gates at dusk to stop any riffraff with lawbreaking intentions. They never bothered with the back roads, the ones full of mud, grass, and gravel. The locals traveled them often, and they knew their way around the potholes, even in the dark. It was one of these roads McKenna Dunn took to reach her destination.
The lake stayed primarily quiet this time of year. The frigid water guaranteed no one would be coming to swim. Winter would be here soon. Already the leaves started turning the brilliant shades of red and gold and drifted silently to the ground. The snow would come next. The lake would freeze over. The earth would become hard with rain that transformed into ice.
The evening had grown cool as she stepped from her car, and she shivered, not knowing if the fog bothered her or the chill in the air.
Or perhaps the darkness surrounding her.
Or maybe the thought of what she was about to do.
Of all the times McKenna returned to Mosquito Lake, she felt this would be the day she would find him, her twenty-first birthday. No more doctors, no more parents, no more well-meaning friends to stop them, and her expectations ran high.
“Where are you?”
The sound of her voice startled her in the silence of the night, and she automatically glanced toward the clearing where she’d seen him that first time. Did she expect to see him now? Not really, but she held onto her hope.
Leaning against the car, she let her feet slide out from under her, and she slumped to the ground, not caring if her jeans got muddy. She buried her head in her hands and let her tears flow. “I need you, Dane. Please, come back to me. You said you would.”
They had shared a promise, after all. But a promise could be broken, couldn’t it? Weren’t there exceptions for this kind of thing?
There must be because she was about to break the only one she ever made to him.
She came here tonight to do something she swore never to do again.
She hoped he wouldn’t be angry. After all, she did try to talk herself out of it.
But her need was too strong, and finally, she stood, brushed off her jeans, and walked toward the water.