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Dedication


Karen and Chris would like to thank the following people for their kind assistance in the process of completing this book:

Patrol Sergeant Randy Dolesy for answering what probably felt like an endless stream of questions, and Pauline and Greg Jones for giving us an intimate view of New Orleans.

Thanks also to the following fantastic authors who gave us advance quotes for Degrees of Separation before we'd even sold it: Pauline B. Jones, Barbara Colley, Louise Titchener, and Celia Ann Leaman.

Finally, thanks to our husbands for their honest assessment of the book while it was in the first stages. Sorry if you ended up sleeping on the couch that night. In the end, your comments really did help shape the story.


"A certain period elapses, and some unseen mysterious principle again sets in motion the magic pinions and the wizard wheels. The silver cord was not for ever loosed, nor the golden bowl irreparably broken. But where, meantime, was the soul?"

~from "The Premature Burial" by Edgar Allan Poe


Prologue


I've done the right thing, Stephan Kelley told himself.

Just yesterday, seventeen-year-old Tyaa Savic had given birth to twin daughters. Considering the young girl's many dangerous addictions, it had been a miracle in itself that Tyaa managed to carry them for seven months.

"The first little girl that came out was kicking and screaming," the nurse had told Stephan--the adoption case representative--outside Tyaa's room. "Healthy as a horse with good lung development. All that blond hair! The second is smaller. Frail. She'll need to be taken care of 'round the clock for a good long while. I hope she makes it, poor little thing."

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