Siblings Jack and Jaz Donaldson just want to be regular kids. But one evening, after fourteen-year-old Jack protects his younger sister during an argument with another girl, the two suddenly realize that they are not regular at all. Soon, they share a dark secret between them—a secret so shocking that it has the potential to destroy their affluent family.
Jack and Jaz’s well-meaning parents have no idea what effect their own actions and, sadly, inactions have wrought. As Jack and Jaz continue on their coming-of-age journeys and experience life-changing moments, the confidence only they share is never compromised, yielding at least the appearance of a normal life. But decades later, their worlds are about to be turned upside down as separate tragedies strike each of them. With their unforgettable secret still lurking beneath the surface, neither knows whether these shattering events will finally allow them to be free or whether they both must somehow find comfort in living with the deception—forever.
Now nearly fifty years later, Jack and Jaz must decide if it is truly possible to escape the debilitating burden of their scandalous secret or if they have no choice but to take it to the grave with them.
Excerpts From the first and second chapter
First Excerpt (Beginning of First Chapter) Overcast, rainy days in Cap-Ferrat can be the same as Chicago, New York or Boston. The difference is that there are a lot fewer of them in Cap-Ferrat and even on rainy days, the people are much friendlier. This was one of the reasons we chose this area to finally become settled, that and the relative obscurity in which one can live their life here. This area of France is relatively free of the Parisian attitude, which seems to bother most Americans……… Regardless of its origin, that attitude is difficult to find in Cap-Ferrat. Today, though, it is raining and that is something I have always enjoyed. The rain seems not only to clean the air, but also my mind. On days like this, when even reading a good book becomes boring, I can look out the window and see clearly decades past. Memory is one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind and I have been blessed even further to have quite a good one. Undisturbed, sitting and watching the rain, it can carry me back to junior high school years, when it all started.
Second Excerpt (Later in First Chapter) One of the things that mother drummed into me was that girls were different. They were feminine, not to be treated like boys, but protected, especially by an older brother. During one of these rare Mother / Son talks, I said, “Mom, Jaz needs protection about as much as a scorpion.” But, on the other hand, there were also those times, even as a very young girl, that she definitely was the ultimate in femininity. It was at those times, that she actually did seem to need someone backing her up – and that was me. At fourteen years old, I was already 5’11” and had taken to lifting weights to put some muscle around an otherwise thin frame. During the Fall of that year, Jaz got into an argument with another girl after school. During the argument, a bit of pushing ensued and the other girl fell backwards. At that point, the girl’s brother stepped in and pushed Jaz down, which, unfortunately for him, was when I arrived on the scene. In an overly polite way, I asked “Is that how your mother taught you to treat girls?” The answer, “get lost”, did nothing to assuage my anger, so, having tried the polite approach to no avail, I hit him squarely in the mouth with all the force I could summon. He went down like the last bowling pin to fall when converting a spare. Missing two teeth in front, one of which was lodged in my finger, he was bleeding profusely. Ignoring him, other than taking the tooth out of my finger and throwing it at him, I walked over to Jaz and helped her up. “How’re you doing kiddo?” “Fine, but I didn’t want you to butt into this, it was between Rachel and me”. I was dumbstruck. “Jaz, when I got here, you were on your butt. What do you think Mom would say, if she knew that I saw a boy push you down and did nothing about it?” She turned and walked away, without offering the “Thank you – big brother Jack” that was certainly deserved. It was at this point in my life that I began to realize that I would never truly understand what girls, and later women, are all about. Later that evening, I was in bed reading before going to sleep, a ritual started early and one which I practice even today. Jaz came into the room, as usual without knocking. After closing the door, she sat on the edge of the bed next to my leg and said, “I’m sorry I didn’t thank you for sticking up for me today. I was mad at Rachel, because she got a better grade on a math test than I did. So, even though we were pushing each other, I knew that I shouldn’t be mad at her for that, and that the whole fight was my fault.” At that point I broke in; “That’s cool, but no reason for the guy to push you.” Absent mindedly, I thought, she started to rub my leg, as she went on talking. “The guy is her brother and I just believe that he didn’t want to see his sister get hurt. I don’t think he would have done anything more than push me down. Before today, Rachel and I have been pretty good friends and I don’t want this to get in the way of that.” Once again, I was dumbstruck, this time for two reasons. First, I had taken two of the guy’s teeth out, apparently for no reason. Second, with Jaz rubbing my leg, I was moving into the full erect position, and it was noticeable under the covers. At this point, she jumped up and said a little too loud, “Jack, you’re getting a boner.” She ran out of my room, totally absorbed in a screaming sort of laughter, leaving me there wondering what to do now and pretty certain either my mother or father would be coming in soon to see what all the commotion was about. Having just pulled my feet back, so that my knees were the only things protruding up through the covers, right on cue my father came to the door and uttered his usual question, “What’s up?”
Third Excerpt (End of Second Chapter) After the shower was turned off, Jaz disappeared into her own room. I did not know what to think. It was not clear whether my mind was a complete blank or if there were just too many thoughts in there that it became overloaded and shut down……… I was sort of horrified by what we had done, but, at the same time I knew that it was the most exciting night of my life.