The town of Smithy's Grove lies quietly on the California/Nevada border, about 50 miles short of Reno. Just shy of two thousand people reside in Smithy's Grove, where most of them have spent their whole lives.

You can easily see from one side of town to the other; the two grubby gas stations, Annabelle's Diner, the small grocery store, Roger's Car Repair, a tiny inn, Smithy's Grove School (which taught grades K-12), a few other shabby-looking stores. Many trailer homes and small houses surround the town as if they were guarding it. It wasn't the quaintest looking town out there; in fact, it was downright ugly. That was probably the reason why tourists headed for Reno or Las Vegas rarely stopped in Smithy's Grove for anything other than a bathroom break. The town had been around for at least a hundred years, yet it had no historical value. Nobody knew if there was even a Smithy, and there sure as hell was no grove.

Down what residents called Main Street, at the very edge of town was a narrow, gravely road, aptly named Desert Circle. The trailer I lived in is about two blocks down, next door to the trailer with the many assorted gnomes and ornaments donning the tiny stretch of grass before it.

My best friend Lillian Hadley lived in that house. Her dad loved other people's junk – he owned the small pawnshop in town. Her mom was an alcoholic and managed to escape Smithy's Grove when Lillian and I were thirteen.

Lillian looked a lot like her mother, but acted more like her dad. She was eighteen like me, and had a slim figure with subtle curves, and long yellow hair. When I was eight, I decided she was beautiful. She was the shining star of Smithy's. Lillian didn't seem to be aware of that fact, of course; she was too wrapped up in her own little world. She was like a little child – fascinated by everything from desert snakes to the stars in the sky. Her feelings weren't hurt easily, or at least not that you could tell. It was difficult to understand what she was thinking because her mind was very complex.

Then there was me, Josiah Schaffer, not worthy of her friendship. I was completely average looking. I was tall and uncoordinated, and my flat brown hair was always falling into my eyes. I looked completely out of place next to an angel like Lillian.

I'd been in love with Lillian since we were thirteen years old.