STRUGGLES

Disclaimer: The Cullens, the Swans, and most of the characters mentioned in the story that are known from Stephanie Meyer's beloved Twilight Saga, are all hers and hers alone. I neither have nor wish to pass them off as mine. I do appreciate the fact that she did bring them to life and allows us to play with them in our imaginations. The only thing I will claim is the current storyline.

The awesome and talented dowlingnana searched out my errors and corrected them. She also makes the banners for each of my stories.

CHAPTER 1: WHAT NOW?

"Frank, do you have any objections about me going to the beach today with Rosalie, Emmett and Angela?" Bella quietly asked of her husband as he was finishing up his breakfast before heading in to work.

"What about your work here and what needs to be done at Isabella's?" He asked of her as he looked over the top of the newspaper.

"It's Jasper's day to make sure everything is being prepped and I'll finish up after I get there. And, as far as what I need to do here, most all of that has already been done yesterday and before you got up this morning. There is just a little left to do and then everything will be clean." She answered his questions.

"I see. So, when was this invitation issued and why am I just now hearing about it?"

"Angie and Rosie called yesterday to ask if I was interested. But, I told them that I needed to get some cleaning done around the house and needed to check with you before giving an answer. They asked what needed to be done and then came over to help get most of it done and I got up earlier this morning to get started on what little was left to be done.

"What little bit is left will be finished in less than an hour."

"I see." He repeated his two words from earlier. "So, instead of you taking care of your own wifely duties you allowed others into our home to handle things they had no business being allowed to touch."

"No, they only helped with moving the furniture and things of that nature for me to be able to clean underneath; then they put the piece back for me to continue on with the next area.

"No one handled anything of a personal nature that belonged to either of us." Bella was quick to try to reassure her husband to keep him from getting so worked up over her having her friends into their home.

"Very well. You can go, but, make sure you dress appropriately. I didn't marry a slut and I don't wish for anyone to get the idea that is what you are." And with that said Frank sat back, shook his paper to make sure it was straightened out before quietly folding it and placing it on the table. He rose, moved towards Bella who steeled herself not to show any sign of avoiding his touch while he placed a peck on her cheek before walking out the door to leave for his office in downtown Seattle.

Bella's mind quickly started to go down memory lane, but, it was too painful, so, she jerked herself back to the present. She had things to finish up before getting ready to get out with her friends away from the constant tension she lived under and to relax enough to hopefully be her old self for a couple of hours.

Bella was a totally different person when she was away from her home and husband. Although, her friends and her cousin, Jasper, knew there were problems between the couple, Bella made sure to never let them know to what extent the problems, or, the abuse really existed, especially, her dad. She knew that if anyone of her friends, cousin or dad happened to find out what her married life really was at home, then all hell would be upon her worse than what it was now.

Right now everyone accepted her excuses as they know how clumsy she was and they've seen the bruising she gets from tripping over her own feet and falling down. Sometimes when she has tripped she has even slammed into a door as she was growing up, so, any bruising seen now she is able to pass off as her clumsy state. However, comments have been made about how nervous she seems to be around strangers or her husband at times. How quiet she becomes and how quickly she jumped whenever he was near her or touched her. They've seen her tense up. But, Bella never gives away anything and refuses to talk about it. Even, her dad has noticed all of this and had his suspicions, but, until Bella was ready to confirm or request help he wasn't able to interfere to do something.

Quickly cleaning the kitchen from everything used to make breakfast, Bella went upstairs to her room to get ready for the arrival of her friend as she calls Rose to let her know that all was okay for them to head to the beach for a couple of hours. But, as Rose arrived to pick her up she shook her head at the shirt and jeans that Bella had on. "Oh, no, that, my friend, won't do for a bit of relaxation at the beach. Here put this on. I had an idea of how you would be dressing and got this for you." With that said she handed Bella the package and as Bella looked inside she turned a pretty shade of pink. She had never worn something this skimpy, but, as she took it out to take a closer look Bella realized that it was quite a bit more conservative than what it first appeared to be.

She quickly changed since she didn't see the problem she had originally thought existed with the outfit. It was a halter top that gently enclosed her breasts and ended just above the abdomen and the shorts just barely failed to be in the area called short shorts, but, Bella felt comfortable and pretty in the outfit. Turning towards her friend she quickly gave Rosalie a hug and then they headed out towards the car to begin their time at the beach since the sun was, which was a rare thing at this time of the year, out and shining. The day was warm without being hot and that made the type of outfits the two women were wear a must at the beach.

They met Emmett and Angela at the beach and then settled down for a bit of fun and sun worshiping. The time was pleasant and Bella felt such a sense of release and relief for a while that she was unaware of being watched. Her sister in law, Norma, was also at the beach with a group of her friends. While there she was busy taking pictures of everyone, including Bella which she sent off to her brother with the message of having seen Bella, but, not spoken to her.

It seemed as if time flew and Bella felt like she had only arrived at the beach then it was time to leave. She had brought her work clothes with her so she could change once she got to the restaurant, ISABELLA that her cousin, Jasper, and she owned together. Bella was the chef and in charge of all of the staff along with everything having to do with the menu while Jasper dealt with the business end of things. They both were working in areas that they loved so it made for a very pleasant work atmosphere for everyone there. Of course, Bella's cooking, Jasper's business acumen and the outstanding staff all working together had managed to make ISABELLA a very popular place to eat and its location was downtown in a high end district.

As always everyone was busy with barely a moment to pause to breathe, but, it wasn't anything new. That was a normal work day for the restaurant which had been opened for four years and took off almost overnight. Bella's talents as a chef was nearly legend within the first month the restaurant had opened and it has all been uphill from that point onwards.

But, part of the problems at home was the fact that Bella's husband thought he should be able to have control over Bella's share of the business and the profits from the restaurant, but, she refused to allow that. She allowed Jasper to invest it for her and to manage the profits.

Frank Harrison was of an opinion that a woman had an obligation to take care of her man and home first before anything else. Also, that man was better able to deal with business than woman. Bella told him the first time he had mentioned that opinion after they were married that he was out of his mind while making the mistake of laughing about his opinion. That was the first time he had struck her, but, not the last.

When Bella threatened to leave and file for divorce due to physical abuse, he just looked at her like she had grown two heads or lost her mind. Then he laughed at her before telling her that if she made any such move she would have to live with the fact that her parents would no longer be walking this earthly plane. And just to prove that he would do so he picked up the phone while standing in front of her to speak with an individual about causing an accident that would put her mother in the hospital. Four hours later at work Bella received a call from her dad telling her that her mother was in the hospital due to a hit and run. That was all it took to stay Bella's hand about leaving.

Bella and her mom, Renee, were close even though Renee had left and divorced Charlie, Bella's dad, years ago when Bella was only seven. They felt it was better to be friends than a couple. Bella knew they still loved one another, but, had been unable to coexist together as each had different ideas of how they wanted their life to be. So, instead of making everyone miserable they separated, divorced, remaining loving friends while living life in a manner that suited each.

Charlie was responsible, steadfast, quiet, alert and always the rock foundation. Renee was the easy going, carefree spirit of the moment and never able to stay with anything long enough to see it through. They both fell in love in college, married and Bella was born a year later. While trying to make things work each knew something was always lacking as they knew they weren't giving the other their all, except, when it came to their daughter. Bella was the glue that held things together for as long as it did, but, as she got older the problems with the couple and the total lack of togetherness became blaringly clear to the child. That was when Charlie and Renee decided it was better to part ways with Bella remaining with Charlie for a more stable life. So, a quiet divorce was done, each still loving the other, but, knowing life and their relationship would be better as friends, not as lovers.

From time to time Bella had tried to think of a way out of the mess that her marriage was, but, the fear of something happening to one or both of her parents always flashed through her mind as quickly as the thought of leaving did. It was what had happened to her mother that would be the deciding factor each time that she ended up staying and taking the abuse that Frank handed out on a regular basis.

Bella's place of refuge was ISABELLA, her beloved restaurant. She was able to truly let go and be her own creative self. No one standing over her telling her what to do, how to do and then telling her how stupid she was or behaved because it was never right. Everything she created in her kitchen at ISABELLA was right and enjoyed by all that came to the restaurant. She knew this because of the raves she received from the critics and from the customers. But, each night that she had to leave and go home she fell back into the submissive nothing that existed without light and joy; Frank, or, the thought of Frank and going home to him took that away before every arriving at the house they shared.

XXXXXXX

She no sooner arrived home, walked through the door closing it behind her and turned around than she was met with a fist to the jaw. This was delivered by an enraged Frank as he continued to beat upon her while spewing obscenities about he had told her not to go around looking or acting like a slut. But, she had ignored what he had instructed and did as she damn well pleased.

"I'm the master in my own home and you will learn to do as I tell you, bitch. And, this time I'll make sure it's beaten into you permanently. In fact, I'll make sure that no one, and, I mean no one, will ever want to see you or your face and body again." With that said Frank walked towards the kitchen. Bella wasn't sure what he was planning to do, but, she didn't waste any time to painfully run upstairs to their bedroom and lock the door.

Of course, Frank followed her and kicked the door in when he found it locked. In fact, he was so pissed off that she had dared to run from him in the first place instead of staying and taking her punishment as she deserved.

Bella saw the knife in his hand and realized what he was planning to do to her. So, she tried to reason with him, "Frank, you really don't want to do what you're planning. What would the neighbors think if they saw cuts on me? There's no way I can come up with the necessary excuses to keep them from knowing about the abuse." But, the more she talked and what she was saying was making him angrier by the moment.

He kept swinging the knife back and forth as he advanced towards her. Bella was being backed up against the wall and her avenues of escape were steadily being cut off. In a quick movement that wasn't expected Bella reached under the pillow as she realized in a moment of clarity that she was on Frank's side of the bed and pulled out the loaded gun he kept there.

As Frank realized what she was doing he made a leap for her and the knife buried itself deep into Bella's side. As he pulled it out and was making a swipe for her face Bella, still having a hold of the gun, fired and the bullet hit him in the throat.

Quickly pushing his convulsing body off of her she dropped the gun and ran to the phone dialing the one person that was always the truly trusted rock of her life.

A/N: Who is the true rock of Bella's life? What's going to happen to Bella now?

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