Within a month of losing her father, Alyssa Caine is in a serious car accident which leaves her in a coma for several days. Upon awakening, she claims she’s Rebecca Asher and insists on seeing her brother Steven. Alyssa knows enough details about Rebecca’s life to suggest the two knew one another, but neither Steven, nor Alyssa’s husband, Tim, have any idea how the two were acquainted. Leah Walker, Alyssa’s estranged older sister, takes it upon herself to unravel the mystery and bring Alyssa back.
Age 29. Alyssa is quiet and demure, considered “sweet” by those who know her. She’s blond and athletic, enjoying hiking, running, and cycling with her husband, Tim. She and her father were very close and she has taken his recent death very hard. Family is important to Alyssa and she regrets not being closer to her sister, Leah. Alyssa has an excellent, nearly photographic memory for details. She likes to dress up and even when she’s wearing casual clothing, her attire is very stylish. She loves children and works as an elementary school teacher (first through third grades), and looks forward to eventually becoming a mother. Alyssa’s sister refers to her as “the Princess”.
Age 24. Rebecca is loud and outgoing. She’s very intelligent and does not suffer fools gladly. Rebecca studied Journalism at Columbia University but did not graduate and worked as a cultural reporter for Creative Loafing and other regional online publications, and regularly attended movies, theatrical events, and concerts. She’s a very expressive writer. Rebecca has dark hair and features, giving the impression that she’s of Spanish or Mediterranean descent, and she’s not very tall. She’s not at all style conscious and usually dresses in shorts, oxford shirts or baseball jerseys, and sneakers or loafers. She’s a lifelong fan of the Atlanta Braves and frequently wears a jersey with the number ten on it (Chipper Jones’ number). She always looks as though she’s slept in her clothes, usually because she has. She smokes, and drinks to excess, but does not otherwise have problems with alcohol or drugs.
Age 41. Alyssa’s older sister. Leah was a dutiful but under-appreciated daughter who had a distant relationship with her father, but was very close to her mother. Leah was twelve when her sister was born and has never had a close relationship with Alyssa. Her father was a real estate developer, and Leah sometimes dabbles in real estate herself. Leah has a dry wit and a sardonic take on life. She attended Pace Academy in Atlanta, Wellesley College in Boston, and received a Ph.D. in computing from MIT, then a second Ph.D. in Internet Security from Georgia Tech. She sees things the way they are and can sometimes be very blunt and straight-forward in conversation. After her mother died, she deferred her admission to MIT and toured around the country doing improv with her friend Dan Barton. Leah dresses casually but it’s upscale casual, jeans with an expensive top, expensive shoes or boots. She’s very low-key but attentive to what’s going on around her. She’s also well-traveled and speaks several languages, including French, Italian, Japanese, and Russian. She’s dated both men and women, but generally avoids long-term commitments, and prefers living alone.
Age 23. Rebecca’s younger brother. Steven is studious and thoughtful, and generally easy-going, but can be serious when the situation warrants. He’s endured quite a bit of loss in his life, as his father abandoned the family when Steven was three, his mother died when he was ten, and his sister was killed in a car accident just after he went away to college. Steven chose to be the one who identified Rebecca’s body after the accident and it had a profound effect on him. He maintains a close relationship with the aunt who was appointed his guardian before being replaced by Rebecca. After Rebecca’s death, his father reestablished contact and they’ve slowly repaired their relationship. Despite the tragedy in his life, Steven remains upbeat and optimistic, but with a bit of a fatalistic view on life. He appreciates those around him and never takes anyone for granted. He’s attending law school with an eye toward corporate or international law, but does not aspire to be a trial lawyer. He had a good relationship with Rebecca and was always a bit in awe of his older sister.
Early 30s. Met Alyssa through friends during a hiking excursion about six months prior to their getting engaged. Tim works in the mortgage division of a credit union. He’s a caring and supportive husband who looks forward to raising a family with Alyssa. He’s a transplant to Atlanta, originally from the Pacific Northwest, settling in Atlanta after college. Tim got along well with Alyssa’s father and sometimes acts as the mediator between Alyssa and Leah as he’s less intimidated by Leah than Alyssa can be. Like her father, Tim sometimes tends to be overprotective of Alyssa, particularly when it comes to dealing with her sister.
Early-30s. Rebecca’s girlfriend. Claire is intelligent but very insecure, particularly about her relationships. She has a number of personality quirks, notably she does not like to be photographed and has very few pictures of herself as an adult. She and Rebecca had a very tempestuous relationship and she’s harbored a good deal of guilt over the fact that they weren’t on good terms at the time of Rebecca’s death. Claire’s from Middle Georgia, and was raised in a conservative church with a man she thought was her father and who physically and emotionally abused her. She uses her outward appearance as a shield to intimidate people, making her seem unapproachable.
Late-50s. An airline pilot. Owen walked out on his family when Rebecca was nine and Steven was three. He felt constrained by having a family, but later came to regret not staying in touch with his daughter and son. After his ex-wife’s death, he tried to reestablish contact with his children, but Rebecca refused to have anything to do with him and his former sister-in-law forbid him from contacting Steven. After Rebecca went away to college, Owen dropped in on her unannounced to try to patch up their relationship, and the encounter upset Rebecca to such an extent, she dropped out of college and started having problems with alcohol. Though he was counseled to stay away, Owen attended Rebecca’s funeral and reestablished contact with Steven, and since then they’ve made progress in repairing their relationship.