A single mother who left a six-year-old on his own while she went clubbing on a Friday night. An absent father with a hot teenaged girlfriend who didn't seem to care who was minding his former family. The police, the neighbours, the friends, the lovers turn accusing eyes on them both. Suspicious voices ask whether Nicky has run away; whether the fire is really an accident. And meanwhile, time is running out for Nicky.
She's just inherited a house and a bank account, and things appear to be looking up. Joel Parry - good-looking, charming and a wonderful lover - seems to know everyone who is anyone in Manchester. He just happens to need a place to stay. Before long Joel moves into Maria's house and is helping her to spend her money. But he isn't what he seems to be. Deep in the drug scene, his terrifying past is about to catch up with him - and the naive girl who trusts him . . .
She thinks her worst problem is the debt collectors at the door. But Leon has made some new friends: teenage gang members who have given him a mobile phone, a knife - and some drugs to hide in her flat. A part-time job seems to be the answer to Chantelle's prayers. But the violence is about to come home to her - with a vengeance. And the only person who's offering any help seems to be just as bad as the people she's trying to escape from . .
Very wrong. Robbing a small supermarket on a Manchester estate looks easy - but with one of them wounded and a dead body on their hands, things can't get worse. But they do. The supermarket is merely the front for something bigger. The friends are small fish who have unwittingly plunged into a very big pond and they are now swimming with the great white sharks of the criminal underworld.
Joe Weeks is new to the Grange Estate. Tolerant, doesn't mind a bit of weed, doesn't try to pull other men's women. Live and let live is his motto . . . Eddie Quinn is the hardest man on the estate. Everyone knows that it's a bad idea to cross him, or his pit bull. But everyone also knows he's honest, as drug dealers go. Joe's pleased when Eddie offers him a job. But then he meets Katya. A prostitute. A slave.
Amy's marriage to Mark isn't the best - he can't resist the girls, he can't hold down a job. But she doesn't want to know just how bad things are until his gambling habit brings the debt collector to her door. He makes it brutally clear how she can pay off Mark's debts . . . And Amy's troubles are only beginning. Someone else wants Mark for herself, and she is ready to steal Amy's man, her self-respect and even her children. As the stakes rise, Amy will either lose everything, or she'll have to learn how to be as hard and ruthless as her enemies . .
But she still has one friend to turn to: the sympathetic girl she's met in an internet chat room, the one who seems to have a home life as unhappy as Skye's. So when Jade offers Skye - now alone in Manchester and nearly penniless - a safe place to stay, Skye is willing to trust her. Even when it isn't Jade who turns up at the rendezvous, but a grown-up man who says he's Jade's brother .