Chapter One

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:: Holly's POV ::

The bonfire lit up the dark Georgia sky as it crackled the wood it was slowly turning to ashes; the radiating heat from its slow dancing flames keeping those that sat around it warm from the coolness of the evening air. I looked up at the night sky admiring its simple beauty. It was so clear and the way the stars sparkled against the darkness reminded me of the way fresh fallen snow sparkles in the sunlight. Not that I saw much snow living in the south but the few times I had been up north to visit family, I couldn't get over the elegance of the soft white powder and the way each small flake glistened against the sun beams that shone down upon them.

I sat on the tailgate of my friend Will's truck as I watched my friends attempt a drunken game of corn hole, softly chuckling at the complete sloppiness of each one of their throws. I shook my head at the continuous stream of failed attempts; we found amusement in the smallest things around here. I guess that's what happens when you grow up in a small town. We got so used to entertaining ourselves by doing the silliest things, back when we were teenagers we had to get creative. Although our creativity didn't get us much further than bonfires, kegs and ridiculous lawn games. Well, that was after our friend Trey discovered that drinking and four-wheeling don't mix. Thank God no one had ever gotten seriously injured but I will say that Trey sent an ATV to the bottom of the lake and it was never to be seen again. It was definitely a memory that we brought up every time Trey came back to town. He was one of the few of us that actually left Cedartown.

Gosh, those years seemed so long ago. I often wondered how time got away from us so quickly. Although when we were kids the time never seemed to go fast enough, we were always in a hurry for the next milestone our lives would bring us; driver's licenses, high school graduation, becoming a legal adult, being able to consume alcohol in an actual bar. I couldn't help but to laugh, after twenty-one it seems like the time really starts to slip away. At least that's how I felt anyway.

A pair of headlights had pulled up along the line of our cars, the bright lights suddenly cutting into the darkness around us. The group I had been watching play corn hole suddenly looked like a bunch deer caught in headlights. We were all curious who they belonged to, anyone that would have come was already here. This had been our Friday night meeting spot for years; the only ones that knew about it were the ones that were lucky enough to have been in our small circle of friends. Granted as the years went on, our group became smaller and smaller.

The engine of the new car finally cuts out taking the headlights with it. We all watch the car, trying to make out the party crasher in the darkness that had been restored to us. The car, truck rather, was unfamiliar to me from the little that I could see. I kept going over a list of possible intruders in my head but kept falling short; none of them matched the truck that had just been parked.

"Some things never change!"

A voice finally sounds and a silhouette emerges from the truck. The voice was distantly familiar and sent a sensation through my body that I can't quite explain. It's smooth and definitely laced with southern roots. The night sky I was enjoying just moments earlier was making the task of identifying the intruder even harder. I had gone completely unnoticed by him as his back was now in my line of vision, part of me was thankful for that. As of right now we didn't know if he was a crazed serial killer or just a simple local crasher. It wasn't until he had come into the direct light of the fire that Will was able to recognize our impostor.

"Son of a bitch! It's Sam Hunt." Will's laughter boomed through the empty field in obvious excitement at the identity that had gone unknown until now. Me on the other hand, my stomach was in knots at the sound of that name. It had been years since I had seen his face, since many of us had seen his face.

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