Jamie and his older sister Cate had a tough start in life. Their mother was just a teenager when they were born. She was raising them in a run-down basement apartment in a rough neighborhood near San Francisco when she bled to death from a gunshot wound. The orphans were adopted by the Henry’s, a wealthy couple offering them all the advantages, including but not limited to, a private school, new cars, and horseback riding lessons.
James both thrives and wilts in this environment. He’s a gifted student and talented piano player, but he finds it hard to make friends and suffers from several psychosomatic illnesses. For instance, his hands go numb when he is under stress and he has a tendency to faint under pressure.
Cate does well at first, but then grows wild as a teen. She dabbles in drugs and becomes known as the school slut. When a fire at the stable where she rides kills several horses and seriously injures her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend, Cate is found responsible and sent to juvenile detention. Now Cate is out, and the first thing she does is call her brother Jamie. Jamie teeters between trying to find and meet Cate, and trying to avoid her, just hoping to hold himself together long enough to figure out how that fire really was set – and what really happened to their mother.