Hey folks! Glad to see you here. Posting will be Mondays and Thursdays as always, this is a little special posting for all the love you guys showed for the banner. And as always, it's completely written.

Carrie ZM once again beta'd this bad boy for me, pouring her blood, sweat and tears into my words with a level of devotion I couldn't have even dreamt of. Because of my need to fiddle after, any mistakes you find are solely mine, as well as any decision to abuse the English language.

LayAtHomeMom pre-read for me, and let me tell you something - that girl comments with the best GIFs ever. I'm honored she agreed to join me on this adventure.

Without both of these ladies' insight, this would've been much worse. My love for them is boundless; words cannot express what their hard work has meant to me...i'm speechless, which is rare.

Oh, and you can thank Lolypop82 for that fan-fucking-tastic story banner. She put up with my nitpicking and general control-freakiness and boy, did she deliver!

Special little thank you to Suebee...she knows why.

Let's go...

Chapter 1

Well I've been down so very damn long

That it looks like up to me

Yeah, why don't one you people

C'mon and set me free

- "Been Down So Long", Jim Morrison and The Doors

The first persistent impression I had about Edward Masen was the feeling I'd get when his boots would scuff the floor as he skulked down the hallway. It had been weeks that he'd been there, invading my shitty school, but I never looked; I wouldn't turn my head from the act I put on of organizing books I rarely used. I would just hear it, like a car approaching far down the highway; slowly creeping closer to you while you waited to find out if it would pass by or hit you. Shuffle, scuff. Shuffle, scuff. The nearing sound of the untied, grungy work boots made my heart beat with the rush of adrenaline and my scalp perspire until the hum got so loud it was through me and around me and all over me. The blood would pound in my ears for a while even as the noise moved beyond where I stood. The shuffle never paused near me, never noticed me, and it would move on, falling distant until it was once again barely a whisper on the linoleum.

I don't know what any of the other kids surrounding me did when he would walk past, all of us waiting for him to be gone. The hallway sounded quiet in his presence, but I didn't know if that was my own fucked up head shutting everything out or if everyone had the same reaction as me; hoping to go unnoticed, hoping to be able to fit into the locker and hole up until he'd disappeared.

Like crabs making their way out of holes to check if things were safe, I'd begin hearing lockers being shut; voices would rise again around me. Girls squealed as boys teased and touched and made plans for weekend events I'd never be invited to. I'd take a moment; closing my eyes and gathering my might, before shutting the metal door quietly so as to remain ignored until I'd finally make my way down the opposite path of Edward Masen's shadow. The seams of the dirty green floor guiding me like a map, keeping me straight between the first line of tiles and the wall to my right.

I'd wonder about him occasionally, as I walked with my head down; my limp hair draping across my face just the way I liked it.

I dared to look at him once, the first day he arrived in this sticky Florida misery. I was outside, leaning against the brick corner of the building waiting for the last possible minute to enter when I noticed him approach from across the parking lot. It was like the air had become charged, its stagnant humidity suddenly swirling and moving. My eyes were drawn to him inexplicably, and I'd noticed that everyone else had had the same reaction. His entire being was hypnotic, pulling your eyes to him like a magnet.

Studying people from a distance was safe, and from my crouched position in my corner I started slow, my eyes landing on the boots first, a chaotic vision of laces and rugged use. I trailed gradually up the legs of his faded, slightly dirty jeans that had been pulled down low with the weight of a heavy black belt. My eyes widened as they continued up to see a worn, black Doors t-shirt, my favorite band, with a sizeable hole at the neck, an uneven tear, like it had been ripped with purpose. The leather jacket he wore, as used and marred as his boots, stood out in the sea of bare arms and sundresses. I watched as his hand moved to the last remnants of a cigarette dangling from his lips before he determinedly flicked it towards a bunch of freshman. They jumped and scattered away from its burning end, and I remember wanting to laugh at that but settled for smiling internally. That was until the humor in me was quickly replaced by a feeling I'd never felt before when I finally looked at his face.

Relief is what washed over me that day. Not the same sort of relief that a cold spray from a nearby sprinkler gives you on a hot day. No, it was the relief of seeing someone who had about as much rage on his face as I felt I had on mine.

I stood stunned, overwhelmed, and I hastily scurried away like the cockroach I'd been told I was.

I rarely brought any textbooks home. I managed to do whatever homework I had during lunch, I didn't study, and I wasn't academically inclined. There was no point. I wasn't going to be attending college as a pretty sorority girl in a pink fuzzy sweater.

The lightness of my backpack made the two-mile walk through the buggy, humid wasteland easier to accomplish, but I still lollygagged towards the trailer park Daddy moved us to a year ago. His excuse at the time was to get a "fresh start". I called it denial, a poor excuse to try and hold on to some semblance of the life he had. Lord knows why he thought that living in a flytrap of a home in the same damn town was better than moving far, far away.

Being such a small, stupid town, the sheriff's department let him keep his job regardless of his drinking and general decline that followed "the incident", because the cops in this town were lazy and didn't want to deal with finding a replacement. He worked fewer shifts then he had before, which meant less money, so I assumed there was no choice but to move us out of my childhood home and into the more depressing of the seven trailer parks that dotted the town, regardless of his false reasons.

Upon my arrival at what we called home, the ripped green and yellow stripes of the awning would turn my stomach, the colors making the white, metal siding underneath glow with a sickening pallor. It was always the first thing I'd see as turned down our alley, and those stripes were never a welcome sight, regardless of how badly I wanted to get inside and stick my damp neck close to the fan that resided there.

Sometimes, when I rounded that final corner and laid my eyes on our trailer, I'd smile just a bit after the initial twinge in my stomach passed, when I'd see the dirt patch of land where the brown sheriff's car usually parked, stood empty.

The old gray dogs Mr. Harris tied up on the side of his trailer would bark at me, and they'd drive me inside quickly, not that there was any reason for me to stay outside anyways. I had no garden to tend like Mrs. Harris; with her rows of tomatoes and cucumbers lined up perfectly inside a tiny white picket fence guarded by an army of garden gnomes, and I had no friends that would come calling to shoot the shit over a glass of lemonade.

There was no lock to fish out a key for. Daddy broke it months before after a night spent at the bar downtown. We had nothing of value, and even though most folk in our section tended to pretend we weren't there, neighbor was neighbor, making it safe enough, so he just never bothered to replace it.

Entering the musty trailer, I would immediately look to the left, as I did every day.

Sometimes, I'd see Mrs. McCarty's chipped casserole dish lying on the pockmarked counter, covered in her perky pink plastic wrap, and I'd be happy for a moment. I'd eat what she'd made before wrapping up the leftovers and returning the dish when I'd head to her trailer a few doors down to babysit her brats while she went out with the married owner of the Quickie Lube over on Route 41.

These were my good nights. These were my safe nights. Not having to be home when Daddy would return, both of us awkward with each other at his half-fucked attempt to talk to me. We'd both be relieved when I'd just grunt about my day, and he'd be free to head for the beer stocked cooler that lived next to the lawn chair outside where he'd settle in for the duration of the night.

A night at the McCarty's also meant I wasn't home alone when Daddy was out and Mike Newton's knock made the flimsy screen door rattle and bump, my mouth clamping shut on instinct with the acidic reminder of the taste of his come.

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From the planetblue Archive of Awesome Fic List:

Dirty Little Secrets by Brits23

Bella's new life in Miami is fueled by one anthem: No Regrets. A steamy late night rendezvous with a cocky playboy is just what she needed, but an encounter with a blond doctor leaves her aching for more. BxE, BxC, AH. Rated M for hot Miami nights.

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