As a small child, Ana experiences a paranormal sighting with her mother and aunt, from the red cliffs overlooking Big Creek in the foothills of South Carolina. She senses a deep sorrow and sadness while watching the boat-like apparition, and her mother guesses someone, or something, has both oars in the water as it moves straight ahead against the flow of the river.
Growing up with a nagging melancholia and an unexplained drive to conquer the unknown, Ana is drawn to the mysteries of music. She studies hard and relishes the journey on which music leads her. While marrying too young, raising her family, and staying active in church, she becomes a successful music teacher, even though she never considers herself good enough.
When a phone call turns her life upside down, she realizes how her path has been diverted and diligently pursues the original dreams she had laid aside. Starting college fifteen years late, she pushes through many obstacles to obtain the educational degrees she thinks she needs--never anticipating the byproduct of grief.
Ironically, not until she retires from her career as a college administrator, does she embark on her quest for the meaning of that paranormal experience, although it had haunted her throughout her life, in dreams and nightmares, and especially through the strains of “Unchained Melody,” always luring her to a mission she had yet to accomplish.
Her life's greatest fulfillment begins when she finally delves into her genealogy and discovers clues to that mysterious, childhood memory. Uncovering long-hidden secrets in her Uncle Jay’s attic opens up the world of her ancestors she never knew and ultimately brings her face to face with unsuspected murderers and back to the red cliffs at Big Creek.