CHAPTER 1

Lisa

A smear of Lisa Morrison's favorite color, azure blue, bloomed out on the white canvas. Streaks of burnt red, lemon yellow, and some deep oranges and purples followed. A pale hand, so thin it was almost skeletal, went to dip the brush that it was holding into some murky water. On the way to its destination, it knocked over a jar of midnight black paint. As the paint seeped into the carpet, the smartaleky voice of Lisa muttered sharply,

"Drat! That was the last friggin' jar!" And then out loud, "Mattie, bring me some soap and a towel to clean up this gunk! Oh, and add my special midnight black paint to Mom's shopping list, the right kind this time. Last time you got me 'dark black' and that was a disaster! Oh, and while you're at it, add that new sparkly mascara to the list, too. You know, the one on that commercial?"

Mattie, the house maid's usual reply of, "Yes, Miss Lisa, what ever you want, Miss Lisa" came floating up the expensive glass staircase. They had other maids, but Mattie was the most personal. She had lived there all her life, and was the only maid the Morrison's could find that lived up to their high expectations.

16-year-old Lisa sighed. Her curly blond hair and baby blue eyes made her extremely beautiful and striking, just like her mother. She had a pale face, and sharp features. You would think that living in a beach house in Florida would give her a tan, but Lisa seemed incapable of growing even a shade darker.

As she jumped up, Lisa's hair had life of its own. If you pulled it taut, it would be (from roots to tips) about 14 inches. But if you let it go, it would retract to about 10 inches. She had 4 whole inches of curl and bounce!

Lisa burst into her mother's room, where Mrs. Morrison was having an intense conversation, face flushed.

"No, of course not…Well, I understand that it's tough, but…Now, hold on a minute...OK, that's it!" Mrs. Morrison screeched.

Oh no, Lisa thought to herself, here goes the rage, I can always tell, the way her face gets red, and the authority worms its way into her voice.

Unfortunately, Lisa was right.

"I don't care if you have 10 mouths to feed, and are down to your last dollar! I wouldn't care if you had 20 mouths to feed, and were down to your last penny! I wouldn't raise a finger, much less loan you 50 whole dollars! Money doesn't grow on trees, you know!...Oh, quit crying I have real problems to attend to!" *click*

"Another beggar? How do you stand them?" groaned Lisa, sympathetically for her mom.

"I tell you, baby, they are wearing me down," sighed Mrs. Morrison, the energy drained from her face.

You see, Miranda Morrison was practically the most rich and famous business woman in all of Florida. That was probably because she could bully people into doing anything, and was very cunning about it, too. People were always asking her for donations for charities, and she hated it.

"Well, I did have another call to make, but after that last one, I don't know if I will. I'll probably just do it in the morning. Yes that's what I'll do," Miranda said decisively, more to herself than Lisa.

Just then, Mattie came up, across the hall, with lemon-smelling cleaning Fluid. She was humming a silly, little tune, as she worked at the deep black spot on the carpet with a rag, still humming that song.

While she worked, Miranda pursed her lips at Lisa, saying, "Lisa, what did you spill this time?"

Lisa looked shamefully at her expensive, fur-lined, high-heeled boots. Then she got a look on her face, and looked up sharply.

"Oh, so you automatically suspect me, huh? I see how it is!" Lisa shouted.

"Well, who else could it be? And no need to shout, pumpkin," Miranda replied.

"It was Frou Frou!" She shouted desperately back, thinking, No way am I gonna get away with this. But to her surprise, her mother ate it up.

"Sorry, dumpling. I'm going to get rid of that stupid dog someday," Miranda apologized.

Frou Frou was the family's pet, but no one loved her more than Lisa. She was like a fluffy white ball of fur, which spent most of her time skidding through the mansion on slippery, polished floors, and bumping into people's ankles. She seemed immune to pain, because when ever she ran into somebody, she would just go bump into someone else.

Lisa looked like she was about to protest, but then thought better of it. She started to walk away, but Miranda stopped her saying,

"Where might you be going?"

"Oh, just out with my girlfriends! I'll be back by midnight."

"OK, don't forget to wash your car!"

"I won't!"

And with that, she ran down the stairs, through the dining room, putting on a fur coat that matched her boots the whole way. She jumped into her hot-pink convertible, and sped off.

Lisa was not a safe driver. She texted and talked on her cell-phone, and drove way over the speed limit. She swerved and turned sharply, by yanking the wheel around on its axis. She drove around other cars, even when both yellow lines on the road were solid.

Finally, Lisa spotted Josh's house. It was a dingy little thing, but it looked cozy at the same time. It was covered with overgrown ivy, and weeds. Eww, she thought, He said it was beautiful, which I took to mean as a mansion. You see, Lisa had lied to her mother. Well, partly anyway. She was going out, and she intended to come back around midnight, but this wasn't with her friends, this was a date.

She had met Josh about a week ago, in school. They hadn't talked much, but they were both what people at Brooklyn High School would consider "hot", and that was all that Lisa needed. She just didn't realize that Josh had something else in mind.

She honked the horn twice, and then waited. A handsome figure with long, dirty-blonde hair appeared in the doorway. As he got closer, she could see he was wearing a black short-sleeve shirt, under a black hoodie, with black jeans, and shocking white tennis-shoes. Adding Lisa's tight, pink sleeveless and matching 4-inch high-heels (that she changed into on the way), they looked like the average high school couple.

"Josh!" Lisa squealed, "Josh, over here!"

"Yo, Lisa!" Josh shouted back, "You're a minute and 23 seconds late," he said, jokingly.

He hopped in the shotgun seat, Lisa started the car, and Josh said enviously, "Wow, sweet wheels. You're family sure has a lot of money."Something was wrong with the way he said it, but Lisa pushed it out of her mind.

They were zooming down the highway, at 60 miles per hour, the wind rippling through Lisa's hair. She leaned back, and grinned. She felt like she could fly, like she was flying. Flying away from home, from her mom, from her dad's prison cell, from herself. She was unaware of Josh beside her, unaware of the speedometer (which was pushing 75 mph), and most of all, she was unaware of the cop behind her, until it was too late.

"Ma'am, please pull your car to the side of the road."