Cover

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Title Page

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Dedication

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Chapter 1

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pp. 1-31

It would seem a wholesome American scene, an updated Rockwell portrait. Here, on a September afternoon in 2003, a young man—shirtless, tanned torso, blond ponytail, cut-off jean shorts—was mowing the lawn of a modest ranch-style home in a Dallas suburb thirty years past its prime. ...

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Chapter 2

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pp. 32-46

At the FirstCare Med-Stop on Town East, Burl and Lily took plastic scoop chairs and waited for a doctor to examine Burl's cut. Lily was restless, agitated, and after scouring the waiting room for magazines and finding only promotional brochures from pharmaceutical firms, she retrieved her briefcase from the car ...

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Chapter 3

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pp. 47-60

Jason knew to stay off the interstates, so they hiked over to Pioneer, where an elderly Asian couple in an old Lincoln Town Car with duct tape on the leather seats took them all the way to C.F. Hawn Freeway. There they thumbed in unison from the shoulder because the signs up and down Highway 175 ...

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Chapter 4

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pp. 61-76

Having obviously lost the argument when the kids hadn't come home, he was forced to concede to Lily's plan. But holding a press conference in his living room at dawn? Wouldn't happen. Amber Alerts were for when somebody sees a guy wrestle a screaming kid into a car and speed off, ...

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Chapter 5

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pp. 77-109

Jason and Emily sat on trash bags plump with crushed aluminum cans. The man behind the wheel—"My name is Jacob"—had driven from Chicago where he lived and had picked up his passenger—"I am his cousin, Emmanuel"—in Dallas. Jacob left Chicago "it would be three days now," he said in a sing-song foreign to Jason's ears. ...

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Chapter 6

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pp. 110-119

Burl had actually parked in the Albertsons lot before recalling that the trip to the store for coffee was only an excuse to get away from the house, and he couldn't summon the energy to troll the aisles. He couldn't recall feeling so tired, so jangled, jittery, woozy-headed. It must have been years since he'd had an all-nighter like that. ...

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Chapter 7

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pp. 120-134

Smoke woke him. Emmanuel had built a fire in a stone circle and had set a blackened grill across it. He stood over the fire, squinting with his head craned to the side to avoid the smoke while he positioned a skillet over the coals. From a small blue cooler he plucked plastic bags and set them on the picnic table. ...

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Chapter 8

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pp. 135-153

In Corsicana, at the interchange with 1-45, Jason insisted on buying ten dollars worth of gas, and while he was inside the Shell Mini Mart he perused a map and decided that they could go south with the Africans toward Houston on 1-45 to Buffalo, then hitch west to Round Rock. ...

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Chapter 9

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pp. 154-165

Lisa waited in the water, bobbing on swells, the slalom ski floating and held lightly by her side between her thumb and fingers. In the distance above the glittering, sun-struck surface of Lake Travis, Chris brought the boat back around to pick her up. Water glistened on her eyelashes as her feet dangled in a stratum of cooler water; ...

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Chapter 10

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pp. 166-176

He did Robert Earl Keen covers to warm up, then strummed a rough-hewn version of the Lisa song, working out the harmonic kinks, the lyrics, the rhymes, the rhythms, free to do anything since no one stopped to listen and the only audience he held for more than a few bars was Emily. ...

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Chapter 11

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pp. 177-189

Burl was careful to arrive five minutes early for his 5:30 meeting with Lisa 's father. Since the doctor's clinic was closed Saturdays, the parking lot was empty but for a white Astro van with a magnetic sign reading Martinez Cleaning Service on its passenger door. ...

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Chapter 12

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pp. 190-204

Emily had led Jason up several staircases and through a maze of rooms with shelved volumes, so that when they arrived at her secret spot, he had no idea what floor they were on and couldn't have found his way out of the building without asking for directions. ...

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Chapter 13

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pp. 205-222

Paige drove Lisa back into town, and Jorge went a long for the ride. They tried to make her feel better by claiming that they wanted to swing by his place and pick up some CDs, anyway, that he'd forgotten to bring. ...

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Chapter 14

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pp. 223-229

Guadalupe on an early Sunday morning had a holiday-calm, the air cool, the sun out but not yet baking the macadam, with early worshippers disappearing into the little Catholic church across from the campus for Mass. Jason and Emily strolled up and down the avenue looking for a working pay phone, ...

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Chapter 15

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pp. 230-241

Lisa's pulse flickered as her heart thumped up a notch. "Isn't he here?" She looked off toward Guadalupe, where the Sunday morning traffic had picked up. Hadn't Emily walked to the dorm from that direction? She wished now that she'd told the police eleven and not eleven-thirty. ...

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Chapter 16

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pp. 242-255

On Sunday morning Burl scoured the streets of downtown Austin, feeling hopeless in the face of nearly empty streets. Hopeless and useless, he didn't know what else to do but set himself onto the numbers grid, beginning of course with First Street and a ll the way up to Nineteenth or MLK just under the southern edge of the campus, ...

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Chapter 17

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pp. 256-268

"Oooo!" She backed away from the threshold in mock alarm, raised her palms at him. Her t-shirt peaked slightly at her chest, its fabric bunched under the small bulge. An impulse arose to tease Emily, but Jason thought better of it. She looked years older, like an altogether different person, an almost-teen, ...