We are introduced to a woman who has had a weekend tryst at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC. When she awakens, the man has left and the woman finds a handwritten note from him that devastates her. Feeling betrayed, and without thinking, she leaves the hotel in a hurry and is promptly mowed down in the street by a Harley. A handsome stranger stoops down to feel her pulse points to find out whether she is alive or dead, then fumbles through her pursr that has been wrenched from her grasp because of the accident. He is shocked to discover her identity.
Moving to the toney suburbs of Washington, we meet the privileged Frances Bittle Adler and her handsome husband, Bill, a high-placed executive, and we meet their four children-three gorgeous girls and one handsome son-ages 13 to 21. Frances, a college professor, is quite accomplished, and Bill seems to be the ideal husband. But, a malady that has plagued Fran for some time now comes to the fore and causes Bill to have to rush his wife to the hospital the morning after Christmas.
We move back to the scene of the first woman's accident and find that debris has been cleaned up and the handsome stranger has disappeared-along with the woman's purse. At Washington General Hospital, we find that the woman has survived her ordeal-largely because of the efforts of Dr. Pete Gregory, a handsome six-foot-six piece of manhood, who apprises her of her injuries and of what steps he will have to take in order to get her back to normalcy. Intermittently, the woman lapses into unconsciousness and has peculiar dreams.
In another part of the same hospital, Frances is examined, and protests having to be admitted for tests, but Bill assures her that he and the kids will be fine without her. After a while, the two of them realize that the other bed in the room is occupied by a whizened old woman with grayish cat eyes, Hester Culpepper Rockefeller, who doesn't seem to know where she, who she is, or even what day it is.
Francine Hacker, a very attractive, tall African American nurse, comes to attend to the old woman, Hester, who promptly repels her by calling her every name in the book, including the "N" word.
Cut to 1944, and we are made aware of Hester's background and motivations for her behavior.
Chapter XIII reveals a great deal about the life of the woman involved in the accident, especially about her relationship with her "grandmother", Millie, and about the woman touched by miracles.
In the ensuing chapters, we learn that Bill is not the man he seems to be. We are made privy to Francine Hacker's enigmatic life.
Now, because Hester has passed on, the two women, Fran and LaDeane, are made roommates and, thus, begin a relationship that will last for quite some time. They also get to know nurse Hacker extremely well. And, when LaDeane is released from the hospital, both Frances and Hacker petition to come and see her in her office. LaDeane wonders who will come to see her first as both Hacker and Frances are needy.
Because Bill, a bi-coastal husband, has been offered a very powerful position with another corporation headquartered in Washington, DC, he prepares to move back East from Los Angeles where his old company is headquartered. Another chapter marks a special time in Bill's life; now he gets to visit his new offices in a prestigious part of Northwest Washington, DC, and having familiarized himself with the layout and having made himself acquainted with those who will work for him, he prepares to just sit and luxuri