A sleepy seaside town, in winter. Emily (Victoria Thaine), a seventeen-year-old girl, lives with her mother Susan (Susie Porter). Emily never knew her father. According to her mother, he was a “tom cat” – a tourist who wandered into town one summer and was never seen again. Susan is struggling to forget the past. She hasn’t spoken to her parents for years, not since she shamed the family by falling pregnant at fifteen. Emily actively pursues a friendship with father-figure Stephen (Robert Mammone), who spends his days fixing boats at the harbour. But Stephen has his own troubles, constantly haunted by the past. Stephen’s sister Elizabeth (Wendy Hughes) is married to the town policeman Carl (Philip Quast). Elizabeth suspects Carl is being unfaithful but is afraid to uncover the truth. Her son Joel (Khan Chittenden) has a secret love of his own. When a bible turns up with an intriguing inscription, Emily is the first to realise that hoping for change is not enough.