Isa sat on the floor of her bedroom surrounded by cream-colored love letters. It was a beautiful day in April with birds chirping, leaves rustling in the wind, and flowers reaching for the sun. Yet, Isa was inside.
The lover of all things nature was inside on a beautiful sun-filled day. Isa had determined that she was obsessed. This was not healthy. She wanted—no needed—to be outside. But she couldn’t do it. She had to find a clue in these letters as to who “Devoted” was. Aunt Hazel was at the store, so she had a very limited amount of time to investigate.
She ran her hand through her hair and her fingers snagged on a knot. Did she brush her hair this morning? Didn’t matter. Carolyn was the only one to see her today. Nate had gone to lunch with his parents. Not that it would’ve mattered if Nate had seen her hair a mess either. At least that’s what she told herself.
A pounding on the stairs, alerted Isa to Carolyn’s arrival. A few seconds later, Isa’s door opened and Carolyn came in and plopped on Isa’s unmade bed.
“What is all that?” Carolyn gestured to the sea of paper surrounding Isa.
Carolyn sat up straight. “From who?! Nate?”
Isa picked up a letter that she’d read twice already. “Don’t be ridiculous. They’re old letters from Aunt Hazel’s long lost love.”
“Are you still on that?” Carolyn rolled her eyes and came to sit beside Isa. “How do you know he just wasn’t a stalker?”
“Would you save a stalker’s letters?”
Carolyn nodded. “Yes. It’s evidence.” She picked up a letter and read. “’I can’t wait to see you again under our beech canopy.’” She dropped the letter. “I mean really who says that kind of stuff. Besides you, of course.”
Isa gasped. “What did you say?”
Carolyn furrowed her brow. “What? I mean it’s no secret that you talk kind of weird. I mean. It’s endearing.”
Isa waved her hands. “No. What did the letter say? What kind of canopy?”
Carolyn rustled through the letters and found the one she’d read. “Um…beech. Like the type of tree. I think. It’s scary that I knew that. I’ve been hanging out with you too long.”
“Of course.” Isa quickly picked up each letter and placed them inside the shoebox. “I should have known. I read that like three times.”
“Care to clue me in?”
“You know Old Man Roger’s land by the creek? The Clearing?”
Carolyn nodded. “We used to play there all the time.”
“Well, remember the abandoned house that we used to pretend was haunted?” Isa stood, her heart was pounding with excitement.
“Pretend nothing. That place is haunted.”
“Behind the house, next to the brook is an old tree with beautiful branches that twist and climb to the sky. Remember how we said we wanted to live in that tree.”
“You said you wanted to live in it. I said no such thing.”
“That beautiful old tree is a beech tree. It has to be their secret meeting place.”
Isa had to see if there was a clue at the tree. Or maybe even the house. Isa grabbed her purse off the bed and started toward the door. Nate would want to come with her.
“Where are you going?” Carolyn called after her.
“To get Nate.” Isa stopped and turned around.
“I thought you said he was with his parents.” Carolyn crossed her arms.
“Oh right.” Isa took out her phone and tapped out a text to Nate asking him to call her as soon as he was home.
A few seconds later, Isa’s phone rang. Nate’s name flashed across her screen.
Isa answered. “Are you already home?”
“No, but is everything okay?” Nate’s voice sounded deeper than usual over the phone. Usually they just texted or hung out in person, rarely did the actually talk on the phone.
“I just found out a really important clue. I think it might have been their secret meeting place, an old tree deep in the woods. Maybe they carved their names in it. I have to check it out.”
“Okay. Wait for me and we’ll go together.”
“It’s okay. Carolyn can go with me.”
Carolyn held up her hand. “I’m not sure what you’re volunteering me for, but I have to meet my mom in a half an hour so I won’t be going anywhere.”
Isa shrugged with the phone still tucked up close to her ear. “No biggie. I’ll go alone.”
“No you won’t,” Nate said.
“Yes. I will.”
“I’m a big girl.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. Just wait for me.”
Isa groaned. “Fine. Come over when you’re done with your lunch.”
Carolyn tilted her head and looked at Isa with slight smirk. “That sounded kind of heated.”
Isa rolled her eyes. “He wants me to wait for him before going to the house.”
Carolyn’s smirk turned into a smile. “He’s awfully protective.”
Isa shrugged. “He’s just a friend who cares.”
Carolyn nodded with a mischievous glint in her eyes. “I wish I had a boy cared that much for me.”