Summer’s child by Diane Chamberlain

“the story offers relentless suspense and intriguing psychological insight..

Rory leaned forward abruptly.

“Well,” he said, getting down to business, “I received Shelly’s letter a few months ago, and I’ve decided to follow up on her request to find out who left her on the beach twenty-two years ago. I plan to make it an episode on True Life Stories.”

Dead silence filled the room. Chloe and Daria looked at each other, and Rory didn’t miss the disapproval on their faces. Shelly wore a sheepish smile, and Rory suddenly realized she had written the letter without her sisters’ knowledge.

“I thought it was a wonderful letter,” Rory said quickly “A wonderful idea. And if I can’t uncover the answer during my research, Shelly, maybe someone watching the show will know what really happened and contact me.”

Chloe tucked her legs up beneath her on the sofa.

“I don’t think this is such a good idea, Rory,” she said.

“Why dredge up something that happened twenty-two years ago?”

“Chloe’s right,” Daria said.

“I’m sorry to put a damper on your idea, but Shelly’s a Cato, Rory. She has been, right from the start. Of course, she’s always known what happened to her, but she’s one of us, an integral part of us. Who her birth mother was doesn’t matter.”

For the first time since his arrival, Shelly lost her smile.

“I know I’m a Cato,” she said to Daria.

“But I’m also something else. I’ve always wanted to know what that something else is.”

“Chamberlain manages a lot of plot with great skill…”

—Kirkus Reviews Award-winning author Diane Chamberlain’s background is in social work and psychology. She has a Masters degree in Clinical Social Work and she worked as a medical social worker for several years, both in San Diego and Washington DC, before opening a private psychotherapy practice special ising in adolescents. She closed her practice in 1992 to write full time.

Also available by Diane Chamberlain in MIRA Books





If you did, you should be aware it is stolen property as it was reported unsold and destroyed by a retailer. Neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this book.

All the characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the author, and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name or names. They are not even distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the author, and. all the incidents are pure invention.

All Rights Reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. This edition is published by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises II B.


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MIRA is a registered trademark of Harlequin Enterprises Limited, used under licence.

First published in Great Britain 2000 MIRA Books, Eton House, 18-24 Paradise Road, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 1SR

Diane Chamberlain 2000 ISBN 1 55166 509 3 580006

Printed and bound in Spain by Litografia Roses S.


” Barcelona

This story is dedicated to the memory of my grandmother, Susan Chamberlain, my inspiration and comfort.


I’ve only tampered slightly with the geography of the Outer Banks this time around, making enough room between the ocean and the beach road in Kill Devil Hills for the cul-de-sac in my story. I also took the liberty of leaving in place the trauma center I created for Keeper of the Light.

I would particularly like to thank the following people for their input into the creation of the fictional world in Summer’s Child.

Caitlin Heagy was instrumental in helping me add another layer to my story. Cindy Schacte not only cuts my hair, but enthusiastically aids and abets me during the plotting process. Skeeter Sawyer provided me with information about the Dare County Emergency Medical Services. Any mistakes in applying that information to my story are mine alone.

Joann Scanlon and Priscilla McPherson gave me excellent feedback on my outline.

My editor at MIRA Books, Amy Moore Benson and my agent, Ginger Barber, helped in countless ways to make this a better book.

Last, but not least, I’m grateful to my husband, David, for listening to my story line—repeatedly—without ever losing his patience or his sense of humor.

Prologue Or )n her eleventh birthday, Daria Cato became a hero. A deep hush had fallen over the Sea Shanty after the savage weather of the night before, and Daria woke very early, as usual, when the sky outside her bedroom windows held only a hint of dawn. She opened the window above her dresser to let the breeze slip into the room. The sound of the ocean was rhythmic and calm, not like the angry pounding of the night before, and she breathed in the smell of salt and seaweed. The sunrise would be spectacular this morning.

Quickly, she slipped out of her pajamas and into her shorts and tank top, then quietly opened her bedroom door and walked into the hallway.

She tiptoed past her sister Chloe’s room, and past the room where her cousin, Ellen, slept. Ellen’s mother was asleep in the downstairs bed room, and Daria’s parents were in their room on the third story. Her father would be getting up soon for early mass, but her mother, Aunt Josie, Ellen and Chloe wouldn’t be up for at least another hour. They didn’t understand the early-morning allure of the beach, but that was fine with her. She preferred solitude as she watched the sand and sea change color and texture each morning. This morning would be special, not just because of the storm, but be cause it was her birthday.

Eleven. Kind of a dull number,

and still two years away from being able to call herself a teenager, but definitely better than ten.

Daria padded quietly on bare feet down the stairs, trying to avoid the step that always squeaked. Would anyone remember her birthday this year? She was certain it would be nothing like the year before, when her mother had arranged a party for her with all the other kids on the cul-de-sac. No, this year was destined to be different, because her mother was different. She’d changed over this last year, and this first gloomy, overcast week of summer in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, had done nothing to lift her dour mood. Daria’s mother slept late almost every day and moped around the cottage once she did get up. She barely seemed to remember her daughters’ names, much less their birthdays. Chloe wouldn’t care, of course. She was seventeen this summer, the brainy one in the family, already finished her freshman year at college and interested only in boys and what color nail polish she should use to paint her toes. That’s when their mother started changing, Daria thought, when Chloe went off to college.

“I’m losing my little ones,” Daria had overheard her mother say to her aunt just yesterday.

And, of course, the kids on the cul-de-sac would balk at coming to the birthday party of an eleven-year-old this year, now that they were all teenagers. Every single one of them except her! It was a good thing she didn’t mind being alone all that much, she thought as she opened the front door and walked onto the Sea Shanty’s broad screened porch, because that was obviously the way it was going to be this summer.

From the porch, Daria could look directly across the cul-de-sac and see Poll-Rory, Rory Taylor’s cottage. Even Rory, who had been her summertime buddy for most of her life, was now fourteen and pretty much ignoring her. He seemed to have forgotten all the hours they’d fished together, crabbed together and raced against each other while swimming in the sound.

There were no lights on inside Poll-Rory. She looked at the upstairs window she knew to be Rory’s bedroom and felt a prickly pain in her heart.

“Who needs you, anyhow,” she muttered, pushing open the screen door and descending the steps to the cool sand. She began walking toward the beach, where she could see the sky just beginning its silent, peach-colored glide toward sunrise.

All six cottages on the cul-de-sac were built on stilts, like most of the ocean side structures in the Outer Banks. The Sea Shanty, built by her father and uncle the year Daria was born, was only the second cottage from the water, so Daria quickly reached the low, grass-covered dune overlooking the beach. She glanced at the cottage where Cindy Trump lived, the only home on the cul-de-sac directly fronting the ocean, to make sure it had not been damaged by the storm.

It was perfectly fine. She envied Cindy and her brother for living right on the water, but her father said the beach was narrowing in Kill Devil Hills and Cindy’s cottage would one day plunge into the sea. Still, Daria thought it would be neat to be able to look out your bedroom window and see nothing but water below you.

The beach was beautiful! The storm had washed the sand clean, and the tide had left behind a deep, wide row of shells, waiting for her to sift through them. The sun was already a thin sliver of copper on the horizon above the water, which was so calm it looked more like the sound than the ocean. Nothing like last night’s turbulent, frothy waves. She sat. down on the dune to watch the sun’s rapid ascent into the iridescent sky. The sand was cool and damp, and she dug her bare feet into it.