Authors: Renee Collins
Until We Meet Again
Young Adult Fiction
14 & up
This book represents the final manuscript being distributed for
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Copyright © 2015 by Renee Collins
Cover and internal design © 2015 by Sourcebooks, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by
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reviews—without permission in writing from its publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc.
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not
intended by the author.
Published by Sourcebooks Fire, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc.
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he 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
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
I lift the small creature into my palm.
What killed her?
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.
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:
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
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
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!
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
When Travis doesn’t reply, Brandon exhales. “We could go
“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
“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
“It’s not like that,” Travis says, but I can tell he’s really
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
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
Travis sighs. “Brandon’s right. We should probably get out
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.
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
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
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
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
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.