Tarin King never wanted to leave her loving home in Maine. She never wanted to impose on her aging grandfather or have to share living space with his “adopted” son, the creepy and socially-awkward, Rylan. She also didn’t want to start a new school during her senior year. However, things haven’t exactly gone the way she wanted them to since her parents died in a plane crash, the same crash that nearly took her own life.
Her grandfather, while a sweet man, treats her as if she might break, Rylan treats her like she’s something to study and the kids at school avoid her like the plague. When she meets Dalton, a witty and handsome loner, Tarin thinks her social life just might be on the mend.
Still, there are things that Tarin must keep to herself. She doesn’t tell her new friend, or anyone else for that matter, that she’s seeing things. She doesn’t tell her grandfather that shadows dance in the vineyard of his Tennessee farm. She especially doesn’t tell anyone about the terrible headaches that cause her to lose time. She’s afraid of what happens during these blackouts; she’s terrified of finding out where she goes. Every time they happen, she comes back with cuts, bruises and sometimes items that she knows belong to someone else.
Tarin couldn’t remember which terminal she was supposed to be at. She looked down at her ticket again, checking the numbers one more time. Since the accident her head always felt fuzzy and her memory was terrible. It didn’t make sense though. The doctor said she was fine, “fit as a fiddle”. So, she didn’t press the matter of feeling like she was floating through life, light as a feather.
She heard a train enter the station as she searched her ticket for the correct terminal. She sighed as she instantly remembered the number as soon as her eyes found it marked on her ticket. The platform was number 7. She had to be at number 7. She knew her grandfather, Henry, was already there waiting on her.
The train station was busy. People moved like ants, crawling over each other, determined to get to the their destination. The sounds were ear shattering, metal wheels scraping against metal, feet scuffling along concrete; all of it was a little more than she wanted to hear. Even the smells were stronger and more vibrant. That is how she felt since waking up; waking up to learn her life was forever changed. She woke up to find she was an orphan.
Her mother and father were killed, their lives cut short by a bum engine on a small plane. It wasn’t one of those single passenger planes, but it was smaller than most commercial airliners. They were on their way to see her grandfather for his birthday. They hadn’t seen him in a few years because life was busy, her parent’s lives were busy, that was for certain.
Her mother, Nancy, was a busy book editor. She even ran her own publishing company with her father, Michael. They had started the business a few years before Tarin was born. It had grown into such a successful business, but the Kings remained in control even after making their first million. They didn’t want to turn into a publishing house that pumped out “garbage”; they wanted to publish books from authors that loved their craft.
Tarin understood their passion, but wondered if they realized the toll it took on their lives. Her mother would be up for hours, pouring over a new submission and her father would be right beside her, filing taxes or ordering supplies. They had an assistant and a full staff, but Tarin often thought their staff was there just to warm the seats. They gave their all to their company.
Now, they were gone. The business was there and being run by the company’s Board for the moment. Tarin wasn’t old enough yet. She had to wait until she was twenty-five and out of college before her parents would allow her to run the company. That was what was set in their will. Tarin was alright with that, until she learned her fate. She had to live with her grandfather until her senior year was over.
Tarin loved her grandfather. She adored him and he her. She would beg her parents to visit him when she was a young girl and loved spending time in the vineyard that he grew during the summer. That was up until she was nine-years-old and her grandfather adopted Rylan.
Rylan was the only son of her grandfather’s most trusted employees, The Martins. Rylan’s family worked for her grandfather for many years. They rented the house a few miles down the road from her grandfather and worked the fields harder than anyone her grandfather had ever hired. The first time she met Rylan was at her grandmother’s funeral and it wasn’t the best of meetings, she had punched him.
She remembered Rylan being quiet throughout the entire event until the family went back to her grandfather’s house. The two of them sat outside on the porch with a few other children from her family, cousins that she had never met. Rylan was fidgeting with the collar of his shirt and nervously tapping his foot on the front porch step. He was three years older than her and taller than most boys his age.
After not saying one word to her the entire day he suddenly turned and looked at her. His deep brown eyes seemed to look right into her soul.
“Your grandmother said that she left you the box up in the attic,” he told her and then stood up.
“What?” Tarin had asked, looking up at him.
“The box…up in the attic…it’s yours so please go get it,” he said as if he were getting impatient with her.
“OK,” she looked at him oddly as if he were insane.
“Well, what are you waiting for?” he snapped. “Go get it. Now.”
“Listen, I don’t even know you,” Tarin began.
“It doesn’t matter you nitwit!” he bellowed. “Just go get the box so she’ll stop screaming at me! Go get the box! Go! Go! Go get the box! Get it now!”
Tarin stood up and punched Rylan in the nose. She was so confused and scared that this strange boy was yelling at her about some box in the attic. Her parents had come out and scolded her. They had scolded her! Rylan was the one who had caused her to lose her temper and they made her apologize. After the adults had cleared the dust Rylan and his parents left, apologizing about their son’s behavior.
A few years later she and her family learned that Rylan’s parents had died in a house fire. Rylan had been spending the night with a friend when an electrical fire started in the family’s laundry room. His parents died of smoke inhalation before the flames had reached them. Since her grandfather had been such close a friend of The Martin’s he took Rylan in.
According to her grandfather, Rylan had nowhere to go as both of his parents had no siblings and he had no living relatives. There was no way that her grandfather could allow Rylan to be sent to an orphanage.
To this day, Rylan lived with her grandfather. Tarin assumed he was about twenty now and the last she heard he was working at the vineyard and taking classes at the local university. She tired to tell herself that maybe Rylan wasn’t as weird as he used to be. She also reminded herself that she would only have to be there for just a few months, as she would be going to college soon.
Tarin sighed heavily as she exited the gate at the right terminal. As she expected, she saw her grandfather waiting for her. He gave her that familiar smile as she approached him. The sun was peaking through the windows of the train station and seemed to focus on the top of his head. The thick, white hair caught the rays like an angel’s halo. In a way, this fit, he was indeed saving her, like a guardian angel. He was rescuing her from a bad place that she might have had to face on her own if he weren’t around.
“Sweetheart,” he said in that country drawl she adored.
They hugged each other and she could smell the vineyard on him. He tried not to hug her too tightly. Tarin was still recovering from the plane crash. Her face was bruised and stitches were visible over her right eye. Her right arm was in a cast and she walked with a slight limp. Tarin had been the only one to survive that crash while 35 others lost their lives. She was sure she looked terrible.
Before leaving the hospital, her nurse was nice enough to help her pull her auburn curls into a messy bun. Being one armed was much more difficult then she could have ever imagined. Her grandfather didn’t seem to notice how disheveled she looked.
“You’re looking great, Tarin,” he smiled. “But I’m sure you’re ready for a shower after your trip. Let’s get you home.”
He took the suitcase she was rolling behind her and lead her to the exit. After climbing into her grandfather’s beat up work truck they headed out of the train station and toward the vineyard. Tarin sat in the passenger seat as her grandfather tried to make her feel welcome by telling her he had “fixed up” his guest room for her. All Tarin could do was sit there and nod her head. What she really wanted to do was go back in time and stop her parents from getting on that plane.