Author's Note: Here it is: the long-awaited posting of Law-Abiding Citizen, something that both you and I have been waiting forever to post! I'm very proud of this fic – even more proud than I was of TCM, if that's even possible. I hope you all enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Rating subject to change.

Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight. If I did, the focus would have been on the werewolves, Bella wouldn't be a main character, and I would have expanded more on imprinting – A LOT MORE.

IMPORTANT WARNING: This story deals with sensitive topics that are much more emotional than those in my other stories. Warnings will be given at the beginning of each chapter to let the reader know what sensitive topics will be implied/talked about.

Chapter 1:

"Cinderella never asked for a prince. She asked for a night off and a dress." – Kiera Cass

Deep down, I believe that every single person on the earth – at some point in their life, no matter the age, gender, race, or religion – reaches a moment where they are forced to look back on all of their past actions and realize that there is nothing left for them to think except, "Boy did I really screw up this time."

On the dimly lit highway that led to our new home in what was obviously the middle of nowhere, I realized that 'screwing up' wasn't entirely accurate in covering the entirety of the deep shithole that I had unintentionally dug myself into over the past few months.

I know what you're thinking. "Gee, Audrey, life really isn't so bad when you think about it! There are so many things to look forward to in life! I mean, you have Broadway musicals, fantastic Italian food, butterflies, bonfires, hot chocolate and fireplaces, Christmas and hot celebrities – all of these things are just a few of the many experiences that make life wonderful! And if things are truly bad now, you know that they can always get better. It's always darkest before the dawn!"

Do you know what I say to that?

It's bullshit.

Tugging thoughtfully on the brass key dangling on the chain around my neck, distractedly attempting to find the correct turnoff in such a dimly lit place, I wondered what I had to do in life for fate to so harshly turn up its middle finger at me. Because that had to be what was happening; I honestly couldn't think of a better explanation as to why my life went from great to awful in a matter of days. But maybe part of it was my fault; after all, the decisions that I made were my own. My career was something that I had chosen for myself and, as always, no choice could come without consequences.

As the headlights of the truck lit up a rather worn sign reading, "Welcome to Forks!" I had to force myself to resist the overly strong urge to make an illegal U-Turn in the middle of the highway and head straight back to the life that I had unwillingly abandoned, consequences be damned. The churning in my stomach was too hard to ignore, an endless pain that kept reminding me of my mistakes and that I definitely couldn't go back, not if I wanted to risk yet another disaster happening to the two people I cared about most in the world. I did my best to keep my mind off of the annoying itch in the back of my skull, pointedly keeping my gaze away from the glare that I could feel burning a hole in the side of my head.

Reaching blindly in between the seats to the drink-holder, I pulled out my thermos and sipped at the cold coffee, frowning as the clock on the dashboard clicked to 1:00 AM. I struggled to stifle a yawn. All I wanted at that moment was to crawl into a warm bed and get some well-needed shuteye, but it was beginning to seem as though sleep of any kind was nothing but a distant fantasy. I didn't complain, though – I may have done a little griping about how my life turned on its head, but I absolutely refused to complain. After all, my situation was no one's fault but my own.

Plus, the seventeen-year-old teenager reclining lazily in the passenger seat with his feet up on the dashboard, glaring daggers at the world, did enough complaining to last both of us a lifetime.

As if sensing the direction of my thoughts, Isaac gave a heaving and completely unnecessary over-exaggerated sigh, and slunk down further in his seat, playing with a stray piece of leather that threatened to come loose from the upholstery.

"I already know what you're thinking and I am so not in the mood, so please don't say it," I warned, not even bothering to spare a glance in his direction. He was in one of those moods that came with being a teenager – when he would pick a fight with anything that moved – so it was best to put any of his sarcastic comments to rest before they even exited his mouth. "For the love of God, don't say it."

"I wasn't going to say anything," he replied innocently.

Innocent, my ass.

A retort was on the tip of my tongue but I held it back, chewing on my lip as the truck rolled to a halt at a stop sign. A slight drizzle fell from the sky, covering the windows in little drops as my eyes flickered over to him and then back to the road; it felt as though the sky could tell what mood I was in at that particular moment – gloomy, depressed, and frustrated.

His sudden change of tone surprised me when he spoke again, sounding both pained and emotionally drained. His voice was soft, as though he were only speaking to himself. "I can't believe that this actually happened to us."

The corners of my lips turned downward into a frown. "You never think that something like this will happen until it does. The kind of thing that you think happens only in TV shows or bad cop movies," I replied. "One in a million chance, kind of thing."

A low mumble and a yawn came from the backseat, and Isaac and I fell silent. I glanced in the rearview mirror – Lucas was still fast asleep, as he had been for the past four hours. The silence continued for several miles, neither of us wanting to break the quiet and put a bit of tense conversation into the air, lest we risk waking up the sleeping child in the backseat. Finally, after driving around aimlessly through our search for our destination and subsequently coming up empty, I sighed and pulled over to the side of the road.

My phone rang twice before being picked up, the voice on the other end of the line sounding amused. "You're late," the voice accused immediately.

"We're lost," I blandly responded, glancing over to the open map that rested in Isaac's lap. "It isn't my fault that this stupid place has to be in the middle of nowhere; God knows I'm not going to be able to find anything in this damn town."

"Do you know where you are right now?" the voice questioned. "Any defining markers or street names that stick out to you?"

I looked around, barely able to see a few feet in front of me with the darkness and fog. "Well there are some trees," I sarcastically replied, pushing a bit of hair back from my face. "And there's a streetlight a little further down the road. Honestly, Mona, if we were in a place that was a little more urban then I would be able to use my phone to find exactly where I needed to go, but I was lucky that I even got enough of a signal to call you."

There was a harsh huff of frustration on the other end of the line, and I knew that I had struck a nerve. The location of our new home had been a sore spot for everyone the last few days. "Just keep going down the highway until you reach a street sign labeled 'Mosley Lane.' That's where you have to turn; there's a dirt path that will lead you straight through the trees and all the way to the house."

I pursed my lips and pulled out onto the highway once more. Driving down the road at what could surely have gotten me an expensive ticket if I was caught, I told her, "Okay, whatever. I'll keep going down the road and see if I can find it – keep your phone on, though. You know I'm terrible with directions."

The phone let out a single beep as the call ended, and I tossed the device in my lap so I could rub at my eyes. This seemed to be growing more and more impossible; the gravity of the situation finally settled into my stomach like a boulder, as though I had been running on pure adrenaline for months until that moment. Weariness settled over me like a pungent cloud, heavy and unwavering.

Then to what seemed like a complete and utter miracle in dark times, a small sign came into view on the side of the highway. It read 'Mosley Lane.' Oh, thank God, I thought to myself with complete relief as I gently put my foot on the brake to slow down the truck. I don't think I could stand another hour of this.

I took a right turn off of the highway and down onto a partially invisible path through the trees that I would have completely missed if I had not been actively searching for it. I winced when the truck bounced harshly against the uneven road, threatening to wake Luke from his slumber.

As I was pondering how suspicious it would be to trade this old gas-guzzling Chevy for something better suited to my own tastes – like the Bentley I had begrudgingly given up for this rust bucket – a form covered in darkness and shadow appeared through the fog. I followed the path with ease, weaving down the winding road and hoping against hope that the giant approaching form in the distance was our destination and not just some hallucination caused from sleep deprivation.

Luckily it was the latter. The trees tapered off and opened into a nearly empty clearing as a house came into view, the white walls covered in a thin layer of dirt while vines trailed up the shutters and wrapped themselves around the beams holding up the porch. It was much bigger than the pictures had made it seem, and I vaguely wondered how Isaac and I would be able to handle the upkeep by ourselves. After all, the apartment in D.C., no matter how nice and extravagant, could never have prepared me for taking care of an actual house. Hell, I hadn't even lived in a house in years – since I was a teenager and before everything had turned completely on its head.

A lone, nondescript black car was parked in the gravel driveway, as though it had been waiting there for ages. It's driver, a young dark-skinned woman, sat patiently on the porch, swinging back and forth on an old swing as she waited expectantly for us to approach.

I didn't immediately get out of the car; turning toward Isaac, I stated, "if you have any stupid comments to say, now would be the time to get them into the open. Once we step out of this vehicle, you and I are going to have to work as a team; I'm not going to put up with any bullshit from this point on, okay?"

Isaac simply gave me a blank stare, not even bothering to dignify my comment with any sort of response. Instead, he shoved open the heavy door and slammed it shut behind him, making me jump and frown in response. I watched as he shoved his hands into his pocket and trudged through the yard and up to the porch, when a sleep-clogged voice yawned and called out, "Mommy?"

I forced myself to hold back the sudden urge to cringe at Isaac's retreat to the house, taking in a deep and calming breath as I turned around in my seat. "Hey, sweetheart, did you sleep well?"

He nodded, eyes drooping slightly as if he were still on the cusp of sleep. "Are we at the new house yet?"

"Yeah, we are," I confirmed as I unbuckled my seatbelt and pushed open the driver's side door. The grass crunched under my feet as I walked to the back, pulling open the door and reaching inside to unbuckle Luke from his car seat. He yawned again as I picked him up and cuddled him to my chest, one of his hands clutching tightly to a light blue blanket, and the other to the ragged ears of a stuffed bunny. His head went to the crook of my neck, his arms thrown over my shoulders as he gradually fell asleep in my embrace.

I pressed a gentle kiss to his forehead, casually throwing the blanket around his body to cover his pajama-clad skin from the chill in the air. A crackling sound came from somewhere to my left as I started toward the porch, shooting a glare up at the drizzling sky; I tensed, eyes shooting over to the line of trees and bushes that surrounded the house in every direction and shielded it from view of passersby on the highway. I stood there for several seconds, but no other sounds were heard. You're being paranoid, I thought to myself. It was probably just an animal or something, so relax. Breathe. Everything is okay.

I began walking determinedly toward the house, one foot in front of the other though I kept sparing suspicious – and probably unnecessary – glances out at the trees. "It's quiet," I commented softly to the woman on the porch, pushing a stray strand of hair from Luke's face. An owl hooted from somewhere in the distance, and looking around at my environment I had a fleeting thought that I had stepped back in time to a place in a history book. This area was so unlike the bustling city that I had lived in for years that it actually seemed like something brought from another time period.

"It's a sleepy little town," the woman, Monique Hathaway, replied as she glanced up at the dark sky. "It's a big change from the hustle and bustle of the East Coast government bigwigs, but you seem to be the type to adjust easily."

"I'm tired of having to adjust."

"That's too damn bad," Monique responded with a shrug of her shoulders, not unkindly. "Because you're stuck here whether you like it or not."

I frowned. "It's very… Little House on the Prairie," I commented hesitantly as I looked out at the trees. "I feel like I should start a bonfire and start singing Kumbaya. You couldn't have picked a better place that was a little less… rural?"

"Be happy with what you have here, because you only got this prime piece of real estate as a result of some good connections you made – AKA me." Monique sniffed as she stood up from her perch, pulling a large backpack off of the seat next to her when she spoke. "Trust me when I tell you that there were quite a few people you've scorned over the years that would have just as easily voted to ship the three of you off to a halfway house just as quick."

From the look on her face I had a feeling I knew exactly who those people were, and I sighed in relief, happy to know that those particular people didn't have anything to do with the decision-making process. "Thank God for you, then."

"It's nice to be the one saving your ass for a change, instead of having it be the other way around like it usually is." She hoisted the bag higher on her shoulder and nodded toward my truck, eyebrow rising amusedly at the nasty gaze that I gave the vehicle. "Nice truck; suits your dazzling personality."

I glared at Monique, pushing past her and into the open door to get into the house.

The inside was spacious – more than enough room for three people. It was already sparsely furnished, with a sofa and coffee table gracing the living room; both were covered in white sheets to keep away the grime, and I watched as Isaac – who was already examining most of the house and furniture with a look of utter disgust on his face – pulled one of the sheets off and wrinkled his noise at the dust that filled the air.

A fairly old television hung on the wall above a brick fireplace, where Monique immediately tried to start a small fire to combat the stale chill. "Turned on the heater before you all came, but I thought that a fire would be nice," she explained simply. "Real wood and flames – not that electrical contraption you used back in the city."

Isaac tossed the sheet over the back of the couch, frowning down at it and the rest of the room in obvious distaste. "Can I go look around upstairs?"

"Go ahead and pick out a room," I confirmed, nodding to the set of stairs leading up to the second floor while I shifted Luke in my arms. "Figure out where you want to put all of your stuff because we're going to start cleaning up as much as possible tonight."

"There are two rooms up there – it was originally an attic bedroom but we split it up into two sections; it'll be kind of cramped, but it's big enough for a teenage boy," Monique explained to Isaac's retreating back; once he had disappeared, she turned back to me. "The master bedroom is on this floor and across from it is the full bath; I doubt any of the beds have sheets or blankets on them at the moment – if they do, they definitely need to be washed before they're used."

"That will have to be a problem I'll deal with later tonight," I muttered, glancing around at the place that would be my new home for the unforeseeable future. The place was so sparse and so empty that I was brought back to a time in the faraway past, years ago, when the responsibility of taking care of two kids had fallen onto my shoulders and I had been forced to leave my home to a similarly unfamiliar and empty place.

But that had been a good thing – purposeful and with good reason. The place I grew up in had ceased to be a home a long time ago. Moving from that place had been what was best for everyone at the time, even though we had nothing. But I had survived – even thrived. I had made a name for myself without the help of anyone else and I had made a life for two kids that had no one else to care for them – I had been a success, and had never been prouder.

And now I had to start over again. It was like some sort of sick joke.

"You look tired," Monique commented as I moved to gently place Luke on the sofa, covering him with his blanket. "When's the last time you slept?"

I didn't answer immediately. Instead, I kept my hands busy with pushing back Luke's hair and straightening out his blanket, effectively tucking the stuffed bunny that had been affectionately coined 'Mr. Hoppy' back into his arms. "I haven't been able to sleep well since this whole thing started happening," I admitted softly. "My life was flipped upside down – it wasn't the easiest feat to sleep with the world crumbling around me."

"You're safe here," she softly reassured me, placing a gentle hand on my arm. "You don't have to keep looking over your shoulder for the next attack anymore."

"I know," I replied, straightening up from my position of protectively leaning over Luke. "I wish it was that easy to kick myself of the habit, but it isn't." I lowered my voice, following her into the decently sized kitchen. "I'm worried about them – Luke and Isaac, especially Isaac; about what this could mean for them. Luke doesn't really understand what's happening, but Isaac… he's seventeen, Mona; he was going into his final year of high school – getting ready for college –"

"And he's also resilient, Audrey, just like you," she reassured me. "You've raised two strong boys, even though you didn't have to do so. Besides, we both know that Isaac didn't have much of a childhood, all things considered, but you raised him to be self-sufficient and strong because you wanted to give him – both of them – a life you never had. I promise you that once the hype settles down, he'll be fine." There was a slight pause as she gestured to the bag she had laid on the table. "Everything is going to be okay as long as you understand the information in this bag, and follow instructions."

"Alright," I sighed, still not ready to face the inevitable. "Hit me with it."

Without further introduction, Monique dumped out the bag's contents onto the table; out fell several sheets of paper bearing government seals and thick envelopes containing stacks of important documents. With a dark-skinned palm, she pushed a particular folder forward and into my waiting hands. "In here is all of your basic information. Driver's licenses for both yourself and for Isaac, car and life insurance papers, birth certificates, bank information – all of your funds have been transferred to a new, nondescript account under your new name that you'll be able to access – and now you even have a college diploma from NYU."

I gave Monique a sour look before glaring down at the packet in utter derision. "So I down-graded to NYU? Fantastic. My professors at Georgetown would be impressed." I flipped open the envelope, frowning down at the pictures of myself that graced the faked documents. The effect was chilling, so I let the folder fall shut.

"A Georgetown degree would have drawn attention in a small town like this, as impressive as it may be."

"And let me guess – my cover story is just as impressive."

"Spot on." Monique shifted through the files and passed over another small stack of papers. "This is everything you both need to know about your new lives and your past history. Study it until you know it well enough to recite it in your sleep," she ordered sternly. "Your new name is Katherine Montgomery, sister to Aiden and mother to Thomas."

"Aiden is a stupid name," came a voice from somewhere behind us where Isaac had suddenly entered the room, leaning against the door frame with his arms crossed over his chest. "And we have to share a bathroom, by the way. If this isn't complete and utter hell, I don't know what is."

"I've spoiled you," I shot back. "If you don't like it, then you can use the hosepipe outside to bathe and build yourself an outhouse."

He made a face. "I'll pass."

Monique pursed her lips in amusement, glancing back down at the paper and continuing her speech as if nothing was wrong. "You attended NYU for the basic four years, received a degree in early American history and culture, and worked as a co-curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art before deciding that you wanted to move someplace quiet to fulfill your dream of writing a book. This seemed as good a place as any; rich in culture and history, two things that you apparently love." Monique's lips twitched. "Can't wait to see how the book turns out."

My eyes must have shown my utter anger, because Monique's smirk dropped. "Stop it," I snapped, hands clenched around the papers. "These are our lives we're talking about here and you're acting like it's some sort of joke. Everything I've worked for – everything I did for myself and for Luke and Isaac – it's all gone and you're making jokes? I've – I've gone from a lawyer working with the Department of Justice with a law degree from Georgetown to NYU graduate and museum worker! This is complete shit!"

"Relax," Monique commanded, unbothered. "I didn't mean it like that and you know it. It's just that you've always wanted to write a book but you never got around to it because you were always so busy – now you don't have a choice to do anything but write. It's just kind of ironic."

"I fail to see how it's funny, nor do I see how it's ironic," I commented sharply. "What else do I need to know?"

Monique shrugged. "Not much. You should know, though, that your house is basically on the border of Forks and the local Indian reservation. Technically it's on their land, but it's considered a part of Forks. Don't be surprised when you see a pretty big mix of locals when you go towards town."

"I've lived in D.C., Monique. I've seen the epitome of diversity."

"Very true. You should also be aware that you aren't supposed to be able to contact me at all unless it's a dire emergency. I'll be in touch maybe once every six months or so, but that's it. Otherwise, you won't have any contact whatsoever with anyone from your former life. You're on your own. You can't contact anyone you used to know, and you sure as hell can't go back to D.C. under any circumstances."

"What if something happens?"

"Nothing's going to happen," she said, shrugging her shoulders again. "But on the off chance it does, then you should contact the local sheriff. That's what he's there for. As long as you follow the instructions I've given you, you'll be okay. Honestly, have you seen this place? It's like Mayberry – no secrets, no surprises."

An ominous feeling sent chills up my spine but I pushed the feeling away. No secrets, no surprises. "Okay."

"I'm serious, Katherine," Monique urged, the fake name sounding strange on her lips. "No contact. Complete radio silence. If you talk to anyone you used to know, with the exception of me on very rare occasions, then we'll have to relocate you again. And next time, I can't promise that the place will be as nice."

A lump appeared in my throat; my eyes stung. "We - I understand."

Monique's eyes softened. "Every time I do this it never gets any easier, but now that it's someone I actually know… I finally realize how hard it can be. I'm sorry that this is happening – I truly am. If I could change it, I would."

The words were meaningless and did nothing to change my mood or situation, but deep down I knew that Monique meant well and I was grateful for her concern. "Thanks," I responded wearily, my heart not in my words.

She suddenly stood. "I should go and let you get settled. Long drive back to the airport." Without hesitation, she pulled me into a tight hug. "I'll call you sometime on your new cell in the next week or so to make sure you're doing okay, but that'll be the last time we talk for a long time unless there's an emergency – which there won't be. You're safe here."

"That means a lot," I forced myself to reply, returning the hug with equal strength. "But you don't have to check in on us. This isn't the first time I've had to start over."

But not like this.

There was a brief pause before she gathered Isaac into a hug of his own. "You make sure to take care of your big sister, okay?" She met my eyes over his shoulder. "She likes to think she can take on the world, but even she needs help sometimes."

Isaac managed to give her a sideways grin as she pulled away. "Will do, Mona."

"I'll call you later to see how you're settling – and make sure you give Thomas a kiss for me," she insisted, unwinding her arms and smiling, trying to find a light in the dark situation though I could easily see that her eyes were glassy; I looked away. "I should go," she repeated. "Look at the bright side – at least you don't have to worry about noisy neighbors."

I chuckled despite the tense atmosphere. "Yeah, that'll help me sleep better, I suppose."

Without another word, Monique waved a hand in farewell and left, the door swinging shut behind her. The headlights of her car lit up the windows for several seconds before they disappeared, the sound of tires rolling against gravel slowly fading away into the night.

"Okay," I spoke softly to myself as I retook my seat at the table, flipping half-heartedly through the papers. "We can do this. We have to do this."

Because according to the United States government, Audrey, Isaac, and Lucas Perdue were now dead and three strange people named Katherine, Aiden, and Thomas Montgomery had taken their empty spaces in the world. Inhaling deeply, I sighed, struck with the uncomfortable knowledge that we were, once again, alone.

I didn't sleep at all that night.

The house was a fixer-upper and some part of my already sleep-deprived brain figured that it would be a magnificent idea to work through the night and get things done instead of waiting for morning, after I had gotten some rest. But there was too much to do, too much to get done – the walls of every room needed a new layer of paint, the floors needed to be mopped and polished, light bulbs needed changing, furniture needed dusting, and every single appliance in the kitchen needed to be scrubbed at least twice.

A trip to the hardware store was in dire need, as well. The faucets in both the kitchen and bathroom were in need of replacement with something new and a little less… rusted, the light in the kitchen had partially destroyed and frayed wires that desperately needed to be taken out before they started a fire, and for some reason, the cable on the TV just wouldn't cooperate.

And then there was outside. That was a completely different story altogether.

I spent the better portion of the night working out my frustrations on my hands and knees, scrubbing down the hard tile and wooden floors in each room and wiping down the counters with some industrial strength cleaning products that I had found under the leaky kitchen sink. The rest of the house had been examined and explored, furniture uncovered, and two loads of old sheets and blankets had already passed through the washing machine and dryer. By the time I realized that I was only running on fumes, the clock had ticked toward 9 AM and Luke, who was the only one that had slept through the night, finally started to stir.

Overall I was extremely proud of both myself and of Isaac for getting so much work done in such a short amount of time. I sat at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee in my hand, resting my body a bit as I dug through one of the boxes of possessions I had been able to salvage from the debris of our former home. I slurped at the coffee greedily, dodging around Isaac as he was doing the dishes so that I could set a framed picture of the three of us on the windowsill above the sink.

Most of the morning passed similarly with me attempting to unpack as much a humanly possible before I crashed, and by the time 1:30 rolled around, the place looked halfway decent. It was at that moment, as I was climbing out of a well-needed shower and filled with enough coffee to rival even the most serious of caffeine connoisseurs, that I was introduced to my first resident of the tiny town.

The loud buzz of the doorbell reached my ears just as I was pulling on a shirt and a pair of sweatpants, trying to ring some of the excess water out of my dripping hair. Feeling both curious and suspicious, I slowly made my way over to the front door and, upon opening it, found myself face to face with a young native woman. She was so heavily pregnant that her belly looked ready to burst, and she was holding a wicker basket in her hands from which a delicious smell was wafting.

But neither of those factors could be considered the most defining trait of the woman. On the right side of her face were three deep scars, distorting part of her eye and pulling the right side of her mouth down into a grimace. Despite the flaws she was still beautiful, and I clapped myself on the back at my ability to keep my composure at such a shock, speaking as though nothing was wrong. "Hello, how can I help you?"

The woman gave a kind smile, her voice gentle and melodic. "I hope I'm not interrupting anything. My name is Emily Uley. I live just down the road – technically, we're neighbors." She nodded her head to the left, where I assumed was the direction of her home, before she held out the basket to me. "It isn't often that new people move around here so I just wanted to bring you a little gift to welcome you to the neighborhood."

I took the gift, dumbfounded. The smell coming from the basket was superbly enticing, and I lifted up the napkin covering the treats to see several large blueberry muffins as well as a glass container filled with some sort of pasta. My stomach grumbled and I was suddenly reminded of how the most sustenance that I'd had in the past 36 hours had been coffee.

"Oh, um – thank you," I replied, unsure what to say. I was completely floored by this kind gesture; people back in Washington D.C. never did anything remotely kind without having some sort of ulterior motive. As far as I knew, it was the same in other places; it seemed that Emily Uley hadn't gotten the memo – or at least, even more rare, she was just a genuinely kind woman. Gauging that she meant no ill will, I hesitantly stepped aside to allow her into the house. "I'm K-Katherine Montgomery," I greeted, mentally cursing myself for stumbling over my new name. "This was very kind of you, but honestly you didn't have to go out of your way for us."

Emily opened her mouth to respond but never got the chance. From the living room came what sounded like a loud battle cry from Luke, a shout of surprise from Isaac, a crash, then a high-pitched scream of fear and a loud curse. "Come back here, you little brat!"

Emily raised an eyebrow in surprise as I sighed. "My family," I told her in explanation at the very moment a small blur flew into the room, wrapping his arms around my legs and nearly knocking me over. "Would you two stop messing around?" I called out exasperatedly as Isaac ran into the room and glared down at Luke. "Especially when we have a guest," I nodded pointedly at Emily.

Isaac frowned and grumbled something under his breath.

I ignored him and turned to Emily. "My brother, Aiden," I gestured to the moody teenager, "and my son, Thomas." The younger boy was peeking out from behind my knees, looking warily at Isaac before he turned his curious gaze to Emily. He clutched at his stuffed bunny with one hand, a long blue towel tied around his neck like a cape. "Boys, this is Emily Uley – our new neighbor."

Emily's smile faltered for half of a second as she looked down at Luke, and I could tell exactly what she was thinking – it was as though I could physically see the cogs turning in her head, trying to add up ages and coming up with a number that was much too young for anyone to have a kid so old. But the look was gone almost as fast as it had appeared and her eyes twinkled with laughter. "It's nice to meet all of you. I like your bunny," she said to Luke, giving him a grin.

He immediately perked up at the sudden mention of his favorite toy. "His name is Mr. Hoppy!"

"Well it's very nice to meet both you and Mr. Hoppy," she said, leaning down a tiny bit to shake the bunny's paw as though it were a human, much to Luke's delight.

"What was the crash I heard?" I asked Isaac.

He rolled his eyes. "Thomas," he stated, arms crossed over his chest as he glared down at the younger boy, "knocked over a lamp when he tried to jump on my back when I was fiddling with the cable wires."

I rolled my eyes. "Go get the broom and dustpan out of the kitchen and bring it in the living room for me, and you, young man," I commanded as I gave Luke a stern pat on the back, "go play in your room for right now."

"Whatever," replied Isaac, pushing off from the doorframe and out of the room. Luke, on the other hand, did what I ordered without complaint.

When they had both disappeared, I turned back to Emily. "I'm sorry about that. Aiden is at that age where he has to be grumpy about everything and Thomas is – well, he's just a complete mess."

Emily merely laughed, placing a protective hand over bulging stomach. "It's completely alright. I have a hoard of my husband's coworkers going in and out of my house every day and honestly, they act like children most of the time; I'm completely used to it."

I didn't really know how to respond so I merely forced out a smile and shifted the basket in my grip, watching as she curiously glanced around.

"I'm sorry," she suddenly stated, sounding sheepish. "I'm sure you're probably busy getting settled. I just wanted to welcome you to town and give you the muffins and pasta. Oh, and," she determinedly dug a folded sheet of paper out of her pocket and handed it over. "My cell number. If you need anything, please don't hesitate to call."

I frowned, trying my best to hide how uncomfortable I was. "Thank you," I told her, knowing that it was a generic reply but hoping it would do the trick all the same. "You didn't have to do this; it really wasn't necessary."

She waved a careless hand. "It isn't a problem in the slightest. It wouldn't be a burden – I'm always happy to help in any way I can." Then Emily cleared her throat and rested her hands on her hips, as though she had just completely a particularly taxing task; with a subtle glance at Emily's huge belly, I concluded that she had every right to be exhausted. "I should get back before my husband sends out a search party – he's gotten horribly protective ever since we found out I was pregnant. Men," she shrugged, "what can you do?"

I forced myself to laugh when she did, but it didn't sound as convincing as I wished.

"It was very nice meeting you, Katherine," she said, sounding so sincere that I was actually taken aback. "I hope to see you again soon; have a wonderful day!"

Then she was gone, heading down the driveway to her car and giving a small wave when she climbed into the old vehicle, and I was stuck standing in my doorway in confusion and shock with a piece of paper burning a hole in my hand.

"I fixed the cable so the TV is working now," Isaac's voice came from somewhere behind me. "Audrey?"

I finally shook myself out of my reverie and my gaze turned away from the scribbled numbers on the slip of paper. "Katherine, Aiden. My name is Katherine. Even around the house you need to get used to using it so we don't accidentally have any slip-ups in public."

"The point is that I fixed the cable," he said impatiently, taking the basket out of my hands and digging out one of the muffins. "So if you don't mind, I'm going to take one of these and go sleep for the rest of the day because I'm exhausted."

"Well get some rest because we have a big day tomorrow."

And so it was, the end of the first day of what was probably the rest of our lives. With an ache in my heart but a heavy determination stewing deep within my chest, I let the front door fall shut behind me, effectively locking me into our new life.

Start us off on a good note and leave a review to let me know what you think!

Also, the issue with the names has been corrected - thanks to reader-chic-2 for pointing it out to me!