Soon-to-be high school junior David Harper hates his family’s move to the country. There’s nothing to do, and he misses his friends in the city. But he doesn’t have a choice. His mother’s job is in Mason County now, so David and his mom are too, and he has to make the best of it.
At first, the only redeeming feature of David’s new home is the swimming hole across the field from his house. Then David meets Benjamin Killinger, and suddenly life stops being so dull.
Benjamin is Amish, and cooling off in the swimming hole is one of the few liberties he and his brothers enjoy. A friendship with an English boy is not—but that doesn’t stop him and David from getting to know each other, as long as it’s on the neutral ground by the creek. After David risks his life to save Benjamin’s father, the boys’ friendship is tolerated, then accepted. But before long, Benjamin’s feelings for David grow beyond the platonic. Benjamin’s family and the rest of the community will never allow a love like that, and a secret this big can’t stay secret forever….
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ExcerptDavid sat on the front steps looking across the yard. He was as bored as he could ever remember being in his life. They’d moved into the house three weeks ago, and he had absolutely nothing to do. His mother was at work, and she’d left strict instructions about what he could and couldn’t do. They’d already unpacked everything, and David had spent the past two days watching television, but there was no cable and they only got three stations, so basically television really sucked. He’d gotten his mother to take him to the video store earlier in the week, but he’d watched all the movies already, and she hadn’t had time to take him back so he could get more. Standing up, David shut the door and decided to walk across the field to the line of trees and see what was there.
The summer sun was warmer than he’d expected, and David wished he’d brought something to drink by the time he was halfway across the field. He thought about turning back, but continued forward, eventually reaching the line of trees that bordered the open field. Turning around, he looked back at their house, which seemed so small and low on the land, before walking beneath the cool shade of the trees.
He hadn’t gone far when he heard the sound of water, and it wasn’t too long before he came upon a small stream that meandered and gurgled over and around rocks in a shallow ravine. With nothing else to do, David looked up and down stream before deciding to follow the flow of the water and see where it led.
The ground near the stream was squishy, but there seemed to be some sort of path, so he followed it, climbing over fallen trees and across grassy spots where the trees parted. Eventually he came to a spot where the stream deepened at what David figured was on old-fashioned swimming hole. The stream widened and for a short time appeared deep and almost still, with a large flat rock on the other side and a fallen tree running along his side of the stream. David sat on the log and took off his shoes and socks, then dipped his feet into the surprisingly cool water. He sat for a while, listening to the breeze, and he was about to get up and start heading back when he heard something or someone approaching. God, he hoped there weren’t any bears out here. For a second he sat still, unable to move as fear gripped him.
Managing to get his brain working, David pulled his feet out of the water. He’d started tugging on his socks and shoes, getting ready to run, when a boy appeared from the woods on the other side, near the rock. David nearly dropped his shoe into the water as he stared silently at the dark haired boy about his own age staring back at him from across the swimming hole. David had known, deep down inside, that he was different from the other boys. For as long as he could remember, he’d dreamed and fantasized about other boys. At school, he’d heard the guys talking about girls and which ones were pretty or hot, but they did nothing for him. Now, show him pictures of strong legs and a handsome chest, and he couldn’t seem to pull his eyes away. Instead of girlie magazines under his mattress, he had men’s underwear catalogs. All through school, David had dreaded gym class, afraid something would happen and he’d get a stiffie in the showers or something equally embarrassing. He’d had a lot of friends, but they were mostly girls. Staring at this boy with dark hair, deep blue eyes, and what looked like the palest, softest skin he’d ever seen made David’s mouth go dry and his breath hitch.