Dani Trant is a 14-year-old girl in Louisiana who, according to her father, is “too big to be running off by herself.” Dani and her older sister Maureen, who is going off to college in the fall, are very close. Maureen helps take care of their younger sister, Missy, while their mother Abigail is pregnant.
Dani however prefers to run off to the neighbor’s creek to go swimming in the nude. It is here that she meets her new neighbor, 17-year-old Court Foster. Court kicks Dani out of his creek. When Dani goes home, her mother tells her to wash up because an old childhood friend is coming for dinner with her children. The Trants’ old friend turns out to be a widow, Mrs. Foster with her three sons Court, Dennis, and Rob. When Dani realizes who Court is, the two dislike each other. Court calls Dani “a little girl”. When Dani’s father Matthew tells Dani to accompany Court into town for groceries, Dani and Court drive into town and start to get along. Dani finally realizes that she is in love with Court.
Maureen goes on a date to a dance with her boyfriend Billy Sanders. When they leave the dance, Billy wants to park his car and have sex. Maureen gets angry and breaks up with Billy because she believes “love should be beautiful”. The next day, Dani asks Maureen for advice on how to kiss a boy. Maureen demonstrates by practicing on her hand. Dani and Court continue to go swimming during the hot sunny days and become very close friends. The two agree to meet to go swimming at night, since Court has too much work to do during the day. Dani sneaks off and swims with Court until they reach the point where they are about to kiss. Court pushes Dani away and says she is a little girl that doesn’t know what she’s doing, and runs off home. Dani leaves too just as a thunderstorm is breaking out. Abigail wakes up, knowing Dani isn’t home, and runs outside looking for her. Just as Dani gets home, and runs to her mother, her mother also runs and trips on a root, falls and hits her head. Dani’s father races her to the hospital, where she is kept for treatment (concussion and toxemia). When her father returns home from the hospital, he spanks Dani with his belt. The next day, Court brings food to the Trant house and apologizes to Dani for the other night. Dani, still hurt, just ignores him at first, until Court says he would still like to be friends. The next time they go swimming the two share Dani’s first kiss. Dani is still hurt and angry at her father for hitting her. When he tries to talk to her the next day feeling remorseful for using his belt on her, she only replies with “Yes Sir” or “No Sir” to his questions.
Once Dani has made up with her father, he tells Dani to invite Court over once in a while so he can get to know him better. When Court comes over for dinner, he finally meets Maureen. Dani can tell it is love at first sight for the two of them. While Dani visits her mother in the hospital, Court comes over to the Trant house and kisses Maureen. Over the next few days, Dani is getting pushed away by Court. While the rest of the family goes to pick up Abigail and the new baby from the hospital, Court and Maureen claim their love for each other, consummating their love in a field. When Maureen leaves for home, Court goes back to plowing the fields and falls off the tractor, and is badly injured. Dani sees this, and races home to tell her father. When Matthew returns home, he has some of Court’s blood on his clothes and the family realizes that Court has died. Maureen hides her pain at first, while Dani bursts into tears. After Court’s funeral, Dani continues to be angry at Maureen for stealing Court away from her. Matthew tells Dani that although she has a right to be hurt, being mad won’t bring Court back, and Maureen will be her sister for life. Dani comforts Maureen as she weeps on Court’s fresh grave, and the film ends with Maureen and Dani talking outside on the porch at night as the summer draws to a close, looking up at the moon becoming close again.