Debbie Rowe knows Michael Jackson as no one else does. She's his ex-wife and the biological mother of his children, Paris and Prince Michael.
It's a strange, supporting role she knowingly chose, in a soap opera now gone wrong.
"It doesn't make it any easier that people form opinions and make judgment calls and think I'm something that I'm not, or do things that I don't," says Rowe.
Jackson and Rowe met in the dermatologist's office, where Jackson was a patient, and Rowe was a nurse. He thought she'd be the perfect surrogate mother, and it was a role that Rowe accepted.
"If someone needs something, I'm there, you know," says Rowe.
In 1996, Rowe married Jackson. It was an arrangement, but hardly a partnership. He played the King of Pop, and she seemed just fine with him making all directorial decisions.
The agreement came with world-class perks: wealth, celebrity and the Michael-mania that goes with it.
"I went to lunch at the Ivy. People started running across the street, and one guy almost got hit by a car. I started to freak out," recalls Rowe. "That put me into hiding for three weeks. I didn't leave the house."
Rowe and Jackson divorced in 1999. Rowe moved to Beverly Hills, in a million-dollar house that Jackson bought for her.
It was on Pat O'Brian's show, "The Insider," that Rowe let the public into her world. "The Insider," produced by Paramount, is also a subsidiary of Viacom, as is CBS.
Rowe shares her home with her a pack of dogs -- part companionship, part security force.
"We had someone come over the fence once. That was a mistake for him, let's just leave it at that, but it wasn't pretty," says Rowe.
But these days, the feeling in this home isn't about all that's here. It's about all that's missing -- the children, Debbie's children.
"You think you'll see pictures of my kids, you're wrong. Those personal pictures have been taken down," says Rowe.
And that's part of the deal she made with Jackson to bear his children, and allow him to raise them.
Jackson gave British Journalist Martin Bashir his take on their arrangement in a now-famous documentary.
"Do you think that your children would benefit from contact with their mother," asked Bashir.
"No, she'd prefer them to be with me," said Jackson.
And in another documentary, Rowe defended her choice: "People make remarks. 'Oh, I can't believe she left her children.' Left them? I didn't leave my children. My children are with their father."
As strange as it might sound, the arrangement seemed to work. Rowe agreed not to talk about Jackson or their children in public. And Jackson gave his ex-wife regular reports about how the kids were doing. But any trust that might once have existed appears to have been replaced with second thoughts, about her children living with an accused child-molester.
Rowe is now rethinking her deal with Jackson.
"My biggest fears I can't talk about," says Rowe. "And my biggest fear is that those fears happen, and I can't stop it."
"Debbie Rowe was never an enemy. How did that happen? I know how it happened. He just stopped returning her phone calls. And people get really upset when you don't return their phone calls -- if they've got important questions to ask about the children," says Randy Taraborelli, who chronicles the life and times of all things Jackson, including Rowe's evolving feelings about her part in the lives of Paris and Prince Michael.
"She has made it really clear that those are Michael's children," adds Taraborelli. "And that she really didn't want anything to do with the children. However, that apparently has changed when this case came to light."
The district attorney's case against Jackson has led Rowe to file her own set of legal papers, to get back the children she once gave Jackson as a "present."
But, as the tabloids dissect her once again, Rowe fights for the other thing she gave away: her privacy.
"There is no comment, there has never been a comment," says Rowe. "There'll probably continue to be no comment, a number of things for a number of reasons. Mostly, it's none of your damn business."
What's clear, however, is that Rowe is trying to make a change for once in her life, moving on. She's sold the house that Jackson gave her, which has been her refuge.
"Everybody needs a safe place, and it should be their home," says Rowe.
Wherever she ends up, Rowe will still be in the limelight. Only now, center-stage could be the witness stand. The district attorney has subpoenaed her to testify against the man to whom she literally gave the gift of life.