Publication: August 2008
With her pale skin, heart-shaped lips, and piercing gaze, ten year-old Paula is luminous. No one can believe that Margie, as bronzed-skinned as she is plain, could possibly be Paula’s mother. But Margie knows better—behind Paula’s innocent, girlish beauty lies the heart of a destructive soul who literally loves to play with fire, cannot control her temper, and in school, leans toward the mean side of violence. Margie hopes that moving closer to the California waters will snuff out the mysterious flame growing in her daughter’s heart, but Bernard, a funeral parlor artist, senses something “strange” about little Paula. Bernard, a man with secrets himself, decides that his new neighbors may need a little encouragement to find another place to live. But Paula, though still a child, has keen instincts of her own. As her suspicions about Bernard unravel and lead to a suspenseful, disturbing battle of wills, the most shocking of secrets are revealed.