By Elin Hilderbrand

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This summer, if anyone asked her what she did for a living, she would tell them she was writing a screenplay. The other reason that Brenda had come to Nantucket was that John Walsh was in Manhattan, and even in a city of eight million people, Brenda felt his presence as acutely as if he lived on the other side of her exposed-brick wall. She had to sever ties with John Walsh no matter how strongly she felt about him, she had to flee the city of her disgrace, she had to help her sister. A summer on Nantucket was the answer all the way around, and the cottage that had belonged to Brenda and Vicki’s great-aunt Liv was, after three years, out of probate.

The university was still looking into the matter. Brenda had ostensibly come to Nantucket because Vicki had cancer and needed help. But Brenda was also unemployed, unemployable, and in serious need of money. Melanie wasn’t the only one who needed “time away” or “time to think”—Brenda needed it, too. Desperately. She had devoted her entire career to one narrow subject: Fleming Trainor’s novel, The Innocent Impostor. This little-known volume, published in 1790, had been the topic of Brenda’s dissertation and of the surprisingly popular seminar she taught at Champion.

Easy. Look at the way she was touching the kid’s shoulder, then shaking her boobs at him. And he was just a kid, in his twenties, though quite adorable. He had smiled at Melanie when he offered the first aid, like he’d wanted to help but wasn’t sure how. Melanie sighed. When was the last time Peter had smiled at her? She pulled the shades against the sun. The only good thing about pregnant sleep was that she was too exhausted to dream. Brenda was the only adult awake when the phone rang. She had cleared Aunt Liv’s tea set and all the ceramic knickknacks and enamel boxes from the coffee table so that she and Blaine could play Chutes and Ladders.

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