And the last thing I remembered was feeling a smile on my lips.


The girl walked along the cemetery path, her feet remembering the way. She had been here so many times before that she didn’t need to see where she was going. The boy next to her swung her hand in his, to a rhythm only they could hear, his curly brown hair ruffled by the wind.

She clutched the flowers she held tightly. Red ones. Her favorite color.

The headstone came into view, the surface smooth and polished. She dropped to her knees, kicking off her sandals in the warm afternoon sun, and Kristen Maxwell laid the roses reverently next to the words that made up the sum of her best friend’s life.

She traced the carved name in bold letters, ABIGAIL.

“Hi, Abbey,” she said, pulling the graduation cap from her head and setting it on top of the stone. “Today was the big day. I wish you could have been there.”

The boy sat down beside her. “I think she was. There with us in spirit.”

“I know, Ben. But still …”

He took her hand, laced her fingers through his and pulled them up for a quick kiss. “What do you want to do today? To celebrate?”

Kristen looked off into the distance. In the direction of a cottage that she would never know was there. “Let’s stay here with her a bit longer. Then I want to go downtown and look at the vacant shops. I had this dream last night about a beautiful little store with perfumes and lotions and creams. That was what Abbey always wanted to do. To open a perfume shop here in the Hollow.”

She played absentmindedly with the ribbon in her hair. It came loose and fell free.

She tried to catch it. Stood up, laughing, as she tried to chase it down. But it slipped through her fingers, and she couldn’t hold on. The wind carried it away.

I watched them from the edge of the cemetery. Kristen and Ben. She looked so beautiful, in her graduation cap and gown. And Ben … It was obvious that he couldn’t have been happier.

Caspian came up from behind me, wrapped his arms around me, and kissed the side of my neck. I leaned into him.

“I’m so glad she’s happy,” I said.

“Me too,” he replied. “Are you happy?”

I thought about all that I’d lost. And then I thought about all that I’d gained. I threaded my fingers through his and watched my friends holding tightly to each other.

“Yes,” I answered. “I am.”

Something touched my bare feet, and I looked down. A green ribbon was lying there.

I bent to pick it up, and smiled.

Tucking it into my pocket, I turned to Caspian. His lips met mine, and the world faded away. The stars came out. And the sun shone brighter than the moon.


Special thanks go to Washington Irving, of course. I hope you don’t mind that I’ve added my own pinch of salt to the soup mix. To my editor, Anica Rissi. Thank you for all your hard work, enthusiasm, and patience, especially when I wrote and chopped, and chopped and wrote, and chopped and chopped and chopped some more. “THE END” seemed so very far away, but I finally found it. To my agent, Michael Bourret. Thank you for working so hard on my behalf and championing this book through the many levels of the publishing process. To the Simon Pulse team: I am so thankful for all of you!

Thank you, Lee and Lucy Miller, for your unconditional love and support. I know I don’t say it enough, but you really are Mom and Dad to me. To all of my friends and family members who came to signings, posted messages on my Facebook page, and spread the word: “Thanks” seems so inadequate, but I’ll say it anyway. Thanks.

The Hollow trilogy started with best friends and ended with best friends, so I’d like to thank all the best friends who have been a part of my life: Steph Batchelor, Rachel Hall, Nicole Sandt, and Lee Miller. Some of you I talk to more frequently than others, but I love you all. Thanks, besties!

To Mrs. Vincenty for her encouragement, Mrs. Carson for always knowing when to read another chapter, and to Mr. Welch: I didn’t become a rocket scientist, but at least now I’ll have the chance to write about them! P.S. You were a great teacher.

To Johnny Cash: The journey almost ended before it began, and you helped me make it through. See you in September. Thanks to the people, places, and things that have inspired me along the way, including the Jack Daniel’s distillery, the Buffalo Trace distillery, and the George Dickel distillery. Not just for the fruits of your labor, but for teaching me that sometimes the best words come slowly and steadily, aged with time.

Thanks to Michelle Zink for being a confidante along the way, and for being willing to put up with me when I e-mailed to say, “So, how about going on this crazy book tour that we put together ourselves?” You are an amazing person, and I’m honored to call you my friend. To all the bookstore owners, booksellers, libraries, librarians, and store employees who were a part of the Ghosts and Graves tour: Thank you for your enthusiasm and graciousness; thank you for welcoming us. We couldn’t have done it without you. Thanks also to Jim Logan at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery for the walking tour and arranging the bell ringing at the Old Dutch Church! Best. Moment. Ever.

To Erin and Keith: Here’s to a happy and healthy future for both of you, always. I love you guys. To Ephraim: You inspire me with your adorableness and never-ending spirit. I am so incredibly proud to be your auntie. As soon as Mom says it’s okay, I’m buying you that puppy. To Lauren, Matthew, Caitlin, Connor, and Samantha: You guys make me feel old, but that’s okay, because I am completely amazed by how gorgeous, talented, smart, and beautiful you all are. (I get bonus points for putting you in a book, right?) And to Aunt Debbie and Uncle Albert, thanks for showing me just how cool the garbage biz can be.

And now, thank you, dear reader. Thank you for investing your time in this story. Thank you for coming to see me at my book signings. Thank you for e-mailing me to tell me how much you loved the story and how much you loved Caspian and how much you want to be BFFs with Abbey. Thank you for telling me what my words meant to you.

Last but not least, my eternal thanks go to Lee. I could fill a whole page, but you already know all the thank- yous that should come your way-from the very big to the very small. Lots and lots and lots of ’em. I’ll keep trying. Maybe one day I’ll get thru them all.

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