when they’d returned to the park ofÞ ce so that Dev could pick up her truck for

the drive back to her summer quarters and Natalie had casually kissed her good

night as they’d stood in the dark parking lot, that had felt natural too.

Recalling the kiss, Dev knew if she’d done any more than return it lightly and

then step away, they might be waking up together right now. She suspected that

would have been pleasant. It had been a long time since she’d met someone like

Natalie, someone who might offer uncomplicated but satisfying intimacy. It was

an unusual combination, and hard to Þ nd. Which was probably why she hadn’t

had sex in over a year. But there was no rush, and she might be wrong. Not

worth the risk.

Still, thinking about it would give her something to enjoy in the shower. Smiling,

she stood and stretched and headed to the small, neat bathroom to start her



At 1:00 that afternoon, Dev pulled her black Chevy Colorado into the parking

lot at Lakeview, planning on a Þ fteen-minute stop to change clothes before

driving to a meeting in Troy. As she climbed down from the cab, she nodded to

Eileen Harris, who looked over from where she was leaning beneath the hood of

her dusty green Jeep Cherokee. Dev recognized it and Þ gured it had to be

twenty years old.

“Hey,” Dev said. “Problem?”

• 30 •


Eileen Harris, in her early Þ fties and still looking youthfully blond and Þ t in her

baggy jeans and well-worn blue cable-knit sweater, gave an exasperated sigh.

“The damn thing won’t start. Again.” She wiped sweat from her forehead with

the back of her hand and left a streak of grease behind. She looked even

younger then. “Paul has been promising to look at it, but you know how that

goes. He’s ferrying a group of campers out to the islands right now.”

Lake George Islands campsites, accessible only by boat, offered some of the

best recreational Þ shing, hiking, bird watching, sailing, and camping in upstate

New York. Not for the fainthearted, however, since everything had to be

packed in by water, and private arrangements needed to be made for trips back

to the mainland. If her husband had gone out with a group, he might not be back

for a while.

“I’d lend a hand,” Dev said, “but I don’t know as I’d be much help. Can I offer

you a lift somewhere instead?”

“Ordinarily it wouldn’t be such a problem,” Eileen said. “But I have to be at the

train station in Rensselaer this afternoon, and even if I reach Paul and get him

back here, and he can Þ x it, I don’t think I’ll make it in time.”

“I’m about to drive down to Troy for a short meeting. If you’ve got guests

coming in by train, I can pick them up and bring them back.”

The Rensselaer train station stop on the Amtrak line that ran from New York

City to Montréal was ten minutes from where she was going to be.

“I hate to ask you to do that. I imagine you must be busy.”

Dev sensed her hesitation and was embarrassed that Eileen Harris felt

uncomfortable accepting a simple favor from her. Eileen’s reserve was probably

due to the fact that Dev had avoided Eileen and her husband since her arrival.

Dev hoped she could make up for the rudeness now. “It’s right on my way.


“Well,” Eileen said, clearly still torn. She glanced once at the truck, then smiled

gratefully at Dev. “That would be great. My daughter’s coming in from New

York City, and I hate for her to wait there or Þ nd some other way up.”

“Your daughter.” Dev heard her voice and it sounded normal, but she felt like

she was hearing it underwater.

“Yes. Leslie. She’s an attorney in Manhattan, and she called unexpectedly. Just

this morning. It’s been a while since she’s been here, and I…”

• 31 •


Dev was trying to follow the slightly disjointed conversation but she didn’t seem

to be catching all the words. Leslie. Coming here.

She looked past Eileen down the grassy slope to the lake and the boathouse. It

looked exactly the same as it had Þ fteen years before. She could actually hear

the music.

The party at the Harrises’ boathouse was in full swing when Dev arrived

close to midnight. The parking lot was jammed with dusty pickup trucks, old

sedans, and even a few shiny new graduation cars here and there. She rode her

motorcycle onto the grass under some trees and sauntered down the slope

toward the music and the swell of voices.

Every teenager in the area would be there, including those who were only living

at the lake for the summer while they worked at the area restaurants and resorts.

It was the last big bash of the summer before half of the kids there left for


Dev wouldn’t be leaving just yet. She’d missed the age cutoff for starting

kindergarten with most of the kids close to her age by a month, so she still had a

year before she graduated. She looked eighteen, although she had six months to

go, but she never got carded when she bought beer or tried to get into the

Painted Pony, a local drinking hangout.

The fake ID she’d gotten mail order from a place in New York City didn’t hurt,

either. Fortunately, there were so many kids in Lake George during the summer,

it was all the cops could do to keep the really young ones under control. She

never got stopped on her motorcycle, and no one bothered about what went on

at private parties.

Dev strode through the crowd that had spilled out onto the grass in front of the

boathouse, looking straight ahead and ignoring the few people who stared in her

direction. She knew she looked nothing like the pretty girls in their shorts and

pastel blouses or even the boys who stood with their arms around those same

girls, nuzzling their necks and casually brushing their Þ ngers under the curve of

their breasts, arrogant with their male privilege. Knowing she didn’t Þ t and

knowing why, Dev wore her tight jeans smeared with engine grease, her heavy

motorcycle boots, and her frayed white T-shirt with angry pride. Her hair was

shaggy and dark with sweat. She ignored even the few who greeted her; she

had only one thing on her mind.

The boathouse, extending out over the water on three sides, was as big as a

basketball court and sweltering, the air thick with sweat and smoke and the

sexual energy of a hundred teenagers in the last throes

• 32 •


of innocence. Huge speakers in the back corners blasted Aerosmith, and

writhing bodies Þ lled every inch of the room. Most of the lights were off and

the cavernous space was so dim she could barely make out anyone’s features

until she was almost in their face, but she knew she’d Þ nd her. She always did.

It was like they were connected. Except only she felt it.

She grabbed a beer from a row of coolers below one of the open windows,

popped the top, and guzzled half of it. It was her fourth in two hours, but she

didn’t feel it. The adrenaline rush of riding her bike at high speeds along the

curving roads bordering the lake had burned off a lot of the alcohol. She loved

the way the wind felt blasting against her face at sixty miles an hour, like another

body molded to hers. The rush of speed and the engine throbbing and the pulse

pulse pulse of the pressure against her body was enough to make her come


The pleasure was enough to make her forget for a little while that she was alone.

She drank the beer and tossed the can into the corner. Leslie was perched in

one of the open windows, her face turned toward the water, her hair blowing

ever so lightly in the breeze. Moonlight highlighted her slim form, the curve of her

breasts and the arch of her bent legs so beautiful it was like a pain in Dev’s

heart. On the far side of the room, Leslie’s boyfriend Mike was standing with a

group of boys shooting pool, his legs spread wide, posturing with the cue stick

angled against his crotch like a phallic extension.

Dev snagged two more beers and eased her way along the wall in the near dark

until she was next to Leslie at the window. She placed a cold, sweating beer can

against the outside of Leslie’s thigh and laughed softly when Leslie jumped with

a small sound of surprise.

“Want another beer?”

“Dev!” Leslie smiled and took the beer. “I thought you said you weren’t


Dev shrugged and leaned her shoulder against the window frame.

The big rectangular window swung out on hinges and canted over the water, the

glass reß ecting the shine of moonlight on the black surface of the lake.

“Changed my mind.”

“Yeah?” Leslie sipped the Budweiser, trying not to grimace. It was the guys’

favorite, so that was what they had at the parties. “How come?”

“Just thought I’d hang out here for a while.”

• 33 •


“I’m glad you came by.”

“You leaving this weekend?” Dev knew she was, but somehow she kept hoping