Chapter 1

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THE SEA BREEZE TUSSLED Logan's hair, and he licked the salt from his lips and leaned against the sill to breathe it all in. From his attic bedroom window, the distance to the barrier island that protected Chincoteague from the wind and waves of the Atlantic appeared only a jump away. The wind tugged at the long sea grass that separated the house from the sandy shore. Sunlight glinted off the crystalline waves of the water.

All of it felt so foreign, yet strangely familiar.

He backed up and surveyed his new bedroom. Not too dusty. Everything in blues and greens. A somewhat masculine sailor décor. His guitar leaned against the wall near his nightstand, the first item he'd brought into the house. His fingers felt along the edges of the fin of a driftwood Mermaid. In varying sizes and textures, the figurines were scattered about the old farmhouse. Some were small statues like the one he'd found on the sill of his bedroom window. Other carvings hung on walls and one was carved in the welcome sign on the front door. The workshop out back was full of half-carved pieces. The former owner had had an obsession.

"Logan! Could you give me a hand down here, please?" His grandmother's voice muffled by the old wooden farmhouse, called from two stories below.

Taking in one last lungful of the salty air, he closed his eyes and fostered the temptation to ignore the call. She'd only have him lifting heavy boxes and getting the house cleaned and livable again. He could almost hear Mama Wend say, "Procrastination isn't weed killer—it's fertilizer. It doesn't make a problem disappear; it nurtures it into full bloom."

With a sigh, he closed the window and latched it, his feet suddenly unbearable weights at the ends of his long legs. He trudged down the steps to his torture. It would only last a little while, right? His feet had just reached the bottom step when his grandmother started in. A dusty smudge barely hid the dimple on her right cheek.

"Could you head down to Bubba's grocery? I made you a list. Do you remember where the store is?" She shoved a piece of paper and two twenties into his hand.

He perked up and nodded. Had she really offered him this freedom?

"We already unloaded the truck, so you can take it. I can get the smaller boxes out of the van. I just plugged in the fridge—which was empty—thank God. But now we need to get a few things to tide us over until I can make it to the mainland for a proper grocery trip..." She continued rambling on, but Logan was already heading for the old, blue pickup.

Benji, their Jack Russell terrier, rushed in the house the minute Logan opened the front door. Logan's hand had just grasped the handle of the old pick-up truck before the screen door on the front of the house creaked open again. Mama Wend held Benji in her arms. "Make it a quick trip with no detours! My elbow says a storm is coming."

Logan eyed the clear blue sky before ducking his head in the cab of the truck. "Got it! No detours."

With a quick smile at his grandmother, he started the truck and backed out of the gravel drive. Although Chincoteague was a rather small island with seafront houses and only one main street, Logan still made a couple of wrong turns on his way out of the neighborhood. He should have been paying more attention when he was following Mama Wend in the van. She had called the place quaint, but for Logan it all seemed about as old and backwoods as it could get. Would they even have Wi-Fi out here? He checked his phone. He had a signal anyway, but no messages. Not surprising, since they'd moved seven times during his four years of high school. Although he'd always made friends easily, making lasting ones had been impossible.

Mama Wend had promised this would be their last move, and he could trust her on it this time. Because this time they were moving back to Chincoteague. The place where she grew up as a kid, where she married and had his mother. Where he was born and lived until he was six years old. But then his grandfather had had a sudden heart attack at the age of fifty-two, and a little more than a month later, his mother had died in a car accident. The series of tragedies, painful memories, and wanderlust had forced Mama Wend to pack up Logan and make a bucket-list out of their lives. She'd never lived anywhere but on the island and had decided she wanted to see the country. All of it. Thirteen years later, and when they'd finally lived in all fifty states, Mama Wend had decided it was time to go back home.

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