Part I:

I'll never forget the day I met her.

Daisy Sinclair.

She had the face of an angel and a smile that could light up the room. Sitting in that crowded diner for over an hour just watching her is nothing compared to the time I've logged watching her from across the street.

I'd watch the customers go by throughout the day, watch the men flirt with her, or try to at least, but they'd never get anywhere with her. She always gave them a warm smile though. The warmest smile I'd ever seen on anyone.

I hadn't seen a smile like that in years.

Not since my dad died.

Not since my brother died.

I feel a pain in my gut that's reminiscent of someone kicking me or punching me in the stomach, and almost immediately I know it's the feeling of guilt. Guilt over the things I'd done since my father's death. Things that ultimately lead to my brother's death.

That's something Daisy and I have in common. We've both lost brothers.

I killed them both.

My brother didn't die by my hands, hers did, but that's neither here nor there because the ending is always the same. Two young men are dead…and I know it's my fault. I know it and I feel it and it's the worst possible feeling you could ever imagine.

I'd been sitting at the table in the back with a cup of coffee -- gone cold -- that one of the earlier waitresses brought to me. I'd let it sit in front of me as I watched her go about her shift. I'd never seen anyone move with such grace. Watching Daisy do the most trivial things was like watching a ballerina flitter across the stage.

She was far and away the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.

And I knew the moment I revealed to her who I was…that warm, gorgeous smile would die. But that was the reason I'd come here after all. The reason I sought her out. There were things I needed to say.

"Would you like a refill?" I hear from someone standing in front of me and I look up into Daisy's green eyes, her smile not as wide but just as friendly as always, and I'm awestruck. Completely at a loss for words. I nod and hand her the cup. "You've been nursing this for a while. I can tell."

I give her a little smile as I stare at her through my dark sunglasses. "Oh, yeah? How?"

"I've been watching."

Somehow I doubt that. She's had far too many customers in her face from what little time I've been in here to notice one guy all the way in the back; plus, she would have noticed me watching her.

She doesn't know who I am and part of me is thankful for that. Part of me is relieved she's not screaming at the top of her lungs what a murderer I am and slapping my face. And yet, at the same time, it makes what I'm about to say that much harder.

"Have we met before?" She asked, breaking into my thoughts of her. How do I do this? How do I cause her more pain? She set the now refilled mug on the table and the thud echoes so loudly in my ears that it's the only sound I hear. "I feel like I've seen you before."

"You have," I tell her. I hang my head. Maybe in fear or in shame, I'm not quite sure anymore. All I know is that I have to tell her who I am. I have to make amends for the wrong I've done to her. I have to get absolution from one of the only people left alive to give it to me…I just pray my sins aren't too great. "We've never met formally or anything, but you've seen me."

I raised my head to see her staring at me with a look of confusion. The corners of her mouth are twitched up in a mixture of intrigue, amusement and anticipation, and again I realize she's the most beautiful creature I've ever seen.

And I love her.

I love her for her strength and her courage. Her ability to make every new day just that. A new day to make mistakes and take chances and to live life. A new day to forget the hate and to smile in the face of adversity.

Slowly, my hand reaches up and I remove my shades. I'm staring at her and she back at me when the smile dies from her lips, replaced by a bitter frown and the light that always shines so brightly in her green eyes dims and the look of angered rage, albeit calm, takes hold.

She does know who I am.

And she hates me.

I laugh bitterly on the inside, wouldn't dare crack a smile in front of her now. You may hate me, Daisy, but you can't possibly hate me more than I hate myself.

I open my mouth to speak, but the words don't come. I'm seared by the look she's giving me, and though I know it's less than what I deserve after what I've done, it still hurts.

"I'm Derek--"

"Vinyard," she interrupted abruptly, the pain in her voice just as clear as the anger in her eyes. "I know who you are." A cold, crooked, bitter smile crosses her lips. The coldest smile I'd ever seen. "You're the one who killed my brother."

Tears began to form as she stared at me for a moment longer, then turned and walked away; not daring or willing to let me see her shed one single tear. And then the pain in my gut starts all over again.

She disappeared into the back for a few minutes before coming back out and taking her usual place behind the counter. Where she stood stoically for the rest of the night without ever glancing at me again.

It was stupid to see her that way. I was dumb, an idiot, a fucking fool for thinking what I had in mind was a good plan. But I needed absolution. I needed her forgiveness more than anything else.

Maybe then I could move on with my life.

Learn how to smile again without feeling like I'm fucking dying inside.

Maybe then I could learn to forgive myself.

I'll never forget the day I met her.

Daisy Sinclair.

She had the face of an angel…

…with a smile that could light up the room.