Icy rain blew into my hood and dripped down my neck as I knelt on the mossy stones. The sky was gray, layers of cloud hiding any hint of sun. The wind picked up, and I shivered, missing the hot desert skies of home. It was way too cold for a June day.
Not that Dad noticed. He grinned as he traced a crack running through the rocks. "Amazing, isn't it? You can almost feel the earth pulling apart."
"Yeah. Sure." I looked down into the small fissure and saw nothing but endless dark. I shifted my soggy backpack on my shoulders and rubbed my eyes, gritty from a night spent flying across the Atlantic. I'd never been much good at sleeping on planes. Yeah, Dad, I followed you four thousand miles to Iceland so we could stare at holes in the ground.
I got up, stretching stiff legs. Beyond a metal fence, the cliff where we stood dropped down to a grassy plain. A gray river braided its way through bright green grasses, and a few wet geese hunkered down by its shores. The geese looked cold, too. Probably they were thinking the same thing I was: the sooner they could get somewhere warm, the better.
"So this is where it happened?" I tried to sound casual, like I didn't much care.
Dad looked up. His dark eyes were shot with red--he wasn't good at sleeping on planes, either--and his hair stuck out from beneath his windbreaker, dripping water. "You mean the rifting? It's happening throughout this valley. The North American and European tectonic plates meet here, and they're forever pulling away from each other. Only the pulling doesn't all happen in any one place, so--"
"That's not what I mean." I fought not to let my frustration show. You know that's not what I mean.
Dad sighed. "No, Haley, this isn't where it happened." His sleep-deprived eyes took on the lost look I'd come to know way too well this past year. The look that made me decide Dad didn't need to know if I'd blown another test at school, or fallen asleep in class because nightmares had woken me in the middle of the night again, or was tired of peanut butter and jelly for dinner but just as tired of cooking if I wanted anything else.
I'd come four thousand miles. This was more important than a few bad dreams or missed meals. "Where, then?"
A couple brushed past us, clutching the hands of the toddler who walked between them. Dad looked at the cracked earth. "Logberg. Law Rock."
"Where's that?" Rain soaked through my running shoes, turning my socks clammy and cold. Back home, we canceled track meets for weather like this--but I was the one who'd asked Dad to bring me here. He'd wanted to stay at the guesthouse and catch up on his jet-lagged sleep.
Dad sighed again. "You're not going to let this go, are you?"
Let this go? I dug my nails into my cold, damp palms. No need for Dad to hear me screaming, either. When your mother disappears without a trace, you don't just let it go. "I want to see. Is that so much to ask?" I kept my voice calm, reasonable--the same voice I'd used to convince Dad to take me to Thingvellir today, because I really wanted to visit the national park that was the site of Iceland's ancient parliament and in the middle of a rift valley and, oh, yeah, just happened to be the place where my mother disappeared last summer.
"Fine, Haley." Dad got to his feet, and I knew for once I'd won. I followed him away from the lookout, my running shoes squishing on the wet gravel path. Dripping tendrils escaped my blond ponytail and clung damply to my cheeks. I slowed to match Dad's pace. I'd grown taller than him this past year, which still seemed strange.
The path cut down through a cleft between blocky stone walls that formed a perfect wind tunnel. Goose bumps prickled beneath my damp sleeves. Dad looked up at the rocks. "You can almost see how they must have fit together once, can't you? Before the rifting tugged them apart."
What I saw was my father hiding behind another geology lecture. Maybe Dad couldn't help it. Maybe when you spent your whole life studying rocks and earthquakes, you forgot how to talk to people. From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from Thief Eyes by Janni Lee Simner. Copyright © 2010 by Janni Lee Simner. Excerpted by permission of Bluefire, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.