2008-Freemont California

A whole day spent walking along the highway slowly. Fingers numbly struggling to clutch the handle of her suitcase. Her legs, feet, and back were sore. But being a horseback rider who had broken her limbs a few times and had landed in the dirt more than a few times, her body could take it. It was her mind that was really aching. The feeling of having lost someone forever...was the worst feeling in the world.

Which I already knew, Kris thought to herself. Why was I stupid enough to think I could have a family? Jace was right. When it comes down to it...in a real crisis, all we will ever really have is our own flesh and blood.

But right now, she was having a real crisis, and her own flesh and blood was nowhere to be seen.

1992-Oklahoma City

Four-year-old Kristine Amber Furillo shot up in her bed, eyes suddenly wide open. She saw the light under the door and started to shake, crawling back under the covers. Mommy had promised her that the theives weren't going to come back again-after all, what was there in that shitty old apartment worth stealing anyway-but it sounded like there were.

"Billie Jean is not my looover...she's just a girl who thinks that IIIIIIIIIII am the one...but the kiiiiiiiid is not my son..."

Kris tenatively peeled back the blanket that was in front of her face. Was that Mommy's voice? That sure sounded like Mommy's voice. But why was it so high and shrill?

"Come on, Barb. Sit down. I'll get you something to eat."

"She says IIIIIII am the one..."

"I mean, it Barb. Lay down. You're gonna wake up Kristine."

Kris sighed with relief, jumped out of bed, and ran out into the hallway. "Daddy!" she cried.

The minute her father, Juan Furillo, laid eyes on her, his face grew angry. "Dammit, Barb! Keep it down!"

"Kristine! Hey baby girl! Guess what?"

Kris was startled when she saw her mother, Barbara McCormick, laying there on the couch. She looked like she had bed hair, but she wasn't in bed and didn't look a bit tired. And plus, she had a really big smile on her face. Even bigger than when she was eating chocolate or playing candyland.

"Mommy? Did the wind mess up your hair?" said Kris.

"YES!" shrieked Barb happily. "I loooove messy hair! And I love wind! And I love youuuuuu!"

Kris looked utterly perplexed now. "Kristine, honey, your mommy just..." Juan tightened his jaw a moment. "Don't worry about her. I'll take care of her. You just go back to bed."

"Daddy, what's going ON?" demanded Kris, stomping one of her feet on the shaggy carpet. "What have you done to my MOMMY?"

"Nothing," said Juan. He got down on his knees, putting himself on his daughter's level. "Let me explain." Kris nodded, her eyes still wide with confusing. "You know how sometimes something kind of sad happens to you and you're feeling low?"

"Like when I dropped my birthday ice cream and we couldn't afford to buy a new one?" said Kris. Juan nodded. "Yeah."

"Well, right now, your mommy is feeling high," said Juan. "That's the opposite of low. She's just really, really happy right now."

"But why is she so happy?" said Kris.

Juan sighed. He was hoping that she wouldn't ask that. "Because...she went to a party and she had a good time."

"A birthday party?" said Kris.

"No, a grown-up party where people dance together," said Juan. "Your mommy really likes that. It makes her happy."

"Oh, okay," said Kris. But it wasn't okay, and she knew it. Kris did not get a wink of sleep that night.