A few days before the New Year Landon and Jamie take a short trip to the ocean. Jamie asks him if he has ever been in love. He says yes, and he knows she thinks he is speaking of Angela, but he is in fact referring to Jamie. He explains what he thinks being in love is like, but she makes no comment about her feelings.
At his mother’s suggestion, who tells him that a girl likes to be made to feel special, Landon decides to take Jamie out to dinner at an expensive restaurant on New Year’s Eve. He has to ask her father’s permission. Hegbert at first refuses. Landon tries again, saying that he loves Jamie. Hegbert replies that he knows that, but he does not want to see Jamie get hurt. Hegbert finally agrees, asking that Jamie be home by ten. Hegbert also appears visibly upset.
When they arrive, the restaurant is already crowded. The food is good, and they dance afterwards. Landon knows he is deeply in love.
They spend the next week and a half together, down at the river or the beach. They also visit the orphanage. Sometimes Jamie seems tired and on one occasion she has a fever.
One day when he is walking her home she is quiet, and Landon guesses she has something on her mind. She makes him promise that he will always tell her the truth. As they continue to walk, he notices a bruise on her hand. They are almost at her house when he stops and kisses her. He tells her he loves her, but she bows her head and starts to cry. She tells him not to say that, telling him that he cannot love her because she is very sick. Landon starts to say that she will be better in a few days but she cuts him off and tells him she is dying.
The revelation that Jamie is dying is the key that explains all the earlier hints that something was strange or wrong. It is ironic that Landon receives the news at the very time he has fallen deeply in love with Jamie. Falling in love with Jamie is startling in itself, since he never expected it to happen, but now he has to deal with an alarming situation that was also quite beyond the realms of his imagination. His new love is dying; he is going to lose her almost as soon as he has found her. His life has been tuned completely upside down. The question now is, how will he react to this bombshell? Will his newly acquired maturity crumble or will it survive and get stronger?