The ringing telephone brought Carla Baron awake in the early morning darkness. Confused and alarmed, she lifted the receiver to her ear. Her dead husband said, "Come back to me, Carla, you and Melissa both. Everything will be different from now on. I swear it, darling." He hung up.
Rigid, still clutching the telephone, Carla thought back to the day four years earlier when she had fled with her little daughter from her Arizona hometown to New York. She had been trying to escape more than the memeory of her husband's death by drowning in a mountain river. She had also been trying to flee the terrible thought that she might have saved him if she had acted promptly. Instead, perhaps because of his frequent ill-treatment of her, she had stood paralyzed on the river bank while he was swept toward a fatal plunge over the falls. But had he died? His body, like that of several others who had disappeared in the raging torrent, had never been recovered. Had her husband, Neil Baron, somehow managed to escape the river's grasp? Or was it he who had spoken to her moments ago? Perhaps it was someone playing an elaborate trick on her, someone who hated her enough to torment her in this fashion. Or---sickening thought---was it only in her imagination that she had heard Neil's voice on the telephone? But twice more, torn out of a deep sleep by the ringing telephone, she had heard Neil's voice, pleading with her.
Desperate, she returned to Baronsville, the Arizona town named after her husband's rich family. Here she hoped she could learn whether or not Neil was alive, and whether he or someone else was the caller in the night.