Claire Bryte Cloud is back in Boston ready to complete her last semester before graduation. Her two brothers - Colin and Carter - have transferred to colleges in New York and Claire has invited Chris and Clay Como and Clay's son Matty to live in the other side of their rental house. Claire has a soft spot in her heart for young Matty Como and makes the generous offer so that Clay can spend more time with his son. Upon arriving home, Claire is shocked that someone has been living in the basement of the house all summer as a trespasser. Thomas Winkler who is a native of New Zealand is trying to complete his last semester as well and practically begs Claire to let him stay in her basement. Claire is befriended by Leo Como - the father of the Como clan and begins to think of him as a father figure. Leo is charming and considerably older than Claire but the two of them begin to spend time together as Leo tries to help his son Clancey with his emotional problems. The Bryte Clouds get together in September in New York to celebrate their birthdays together and she is awed by New York and disappointed in herself for choosing such a tame career. Carter is a musician and Colin is becoming a chef - both of their careers seem much more exciting than sitting at a computer writing alone. New York is exciting and Claire meets a handsome older man who is serving as her brother's mentor for the semester. The weekend in New York is so different from Claire has known and she considers dropping everything and moving to New York to be with her brothers. She is a sensible girl though and knows that she must stay the course she has chosen. The big Thanksgiving dinner she and her brothers have planned is sabotaged by an epic snow storm. Claire spends Thanksgiving alone with Leo Como. Leo uses this time to state his feelings for Claire. When graduation finally comes in December, all Claire can think of is to leave Boston, pick up her brothers and head south for Cherokee. The last few days in Boston are frustrating, painful and tedious. Claire and her brothers arrive home in Cherokee on a moonlit night and Claire swears she will never leave Cherokee again.