Rayna Sargent is a 35-year-old African-American artist who supports herself by working as a telephone hotline counselor at a clinic in Seattle. She finds it necessary, and even easy, to shut out the desperate voices on the other end of the phone once she leaves work so that she can concentrate on her true love--painting. Wrapped in routine and buffered from the reality of others' pain, she lives a sheltered existence until she meets Theodore, a caring, handsome man. Finally it seems like she might be able to break free of her shell. Then she learns that she's HIV positive, and finds that she must now cope with an illness that had previously been just another "issue," and a silent, desperate need for the healing power of another human's touch.