The Next Chapter

Disclaimer: I own nothing, but the plot.

A/N: Hello! How's everyone doing?! This is the sequel to 'Dealing With the Past', so please read that before this, if you haven't already or you may get a bit lost. New plots, new worries and, as promised, romance! Like DWtP, there are multiple plots, D/L are but one, though they are the main. This story is nowhere near as many chaps as my first story, but I hope you enjoy, but please heed the rating!! Reviews are welcome!

Chapter One

He loved her; of that she was certain. The way his blue eyes lit up at the sight of her and that big wide grin he shot in her direction convinced her. He didn't smile that way for everyone, just her and it made her feel so warm inside. It was her special smile. She coveted it, just like she coveted everything else about him. Like his sculpted body, trim and slender, belying the strength underneath; she'd seen his muscled and well-toned biceps, knew that he could pick her up with a single arm, easy. But she wasn't shallow. Her love was also smart and funny, tough and charming. Her parents were going to love him.

And they would see, everyone would see how much she loved him. How they were a perfect couple; they were going to get married, have children, and grow old together. How other couples would be jealous of them.

What they shared, just the two of them, was special, sacred. And she wasn't going to let anyone try to take that away from her. When it came to their love, no one else mattered. He was it for her. And she was it for him. Nothing, and no one, would come in their way.

Certainly not that woman who was always hanging around him, beaming him smiles and teasing him, tempting him with her soft touches. She knew how potent those kind of touches were. But their love was strong, she knew, and her love wouldn't be swayed by such a temptress.

When the time came, she was certain, he would send the woman away and come for her. He had to know she was waiting for him. She could imagine the softness in his face as he gazed down at her with an adoring smile before murmuring how much he loved her.

He loved her, he did. But, that woman kept distracting him, prolonging their reunion and while her love would never say anything mean, she was getting just a touch irritated. She just had to remind him that she was waiting.

He would be angry when he found out what she did. But then again, you always hurt the ones you love.

Early November and winter had announced its arrival prematurely if the frigid gusts of wind and swirling heavy snow was any indication. The weather battered against the buildings, unrelenting as it continued to pour down from the darkened sky. The cold crept up the window of a door, coating it with frost before whooshing in to the warm building as its outside door opened momentarily. Snow immediately began coating the thick gray overcoat of the man who had just stepped out into winter's embrace while the wind viciously swiped at his half-covered weathered face like needle-like pricks.

He walked with a heavy gait, slowly down the snow and ice-covered concrete steps, concentrating not on avoiding the ever-present danger of slipping, but on the newspaper held in one black-gloved hand. The gray gritty recycled paper turned darker as it fell victim to the wet snow; the black newspaper print ran and smudged the articles written on the page. But that was okay. He had already read it; uninterested in last week's headlines, hazel-green eyes with crow's feet locked on a small grimy, nearly unfocused, face in a picture.

Stella Bonasera.

The name resounded in his old mind and the newspaper slipped from his hand to flutter somewhere behind him, caught up in the rapid winds.

Her face was frozen, but her body shook with fear. He smacked her again, this time it was hard enough to send her small body flying into the couch. Words that she knew to be bad, words her mother would be mad at, spewed out of his mouth followed by the foul smell of alcohol. The man presented the image of a disheveled drunk, a mean violent drunk, she noted, as her frightened eyes tracked him.

He moved closer, large beefy hand raised to strike down at her fragile body once more, leaving new bruises in place of old ones and breaking bones that were just barely beginning to heal.

It was a horrifying sight.

She could feel his breath brushing her cheeks as he leaned into her face.

"You tell anyone about this and I'll kill you." His voice was raspy, hoarse as if he'd wasted it screaming and yelling. And his face was disgusting to look at; she shrunk away from him, but he was so large, overbearing. Her shakes got more violent. "I'll kill you and your parents, ya' hear me? Keep your mouth shut, little bitch."

Her eyes slammed shut, feeling the force of his hand as it pushed her back into the wall behind her. She landed with a thud that she surely thought the neighbors could hear. Couldn't they hear the shouting? The crying? Did they not care? Slumping to the floor, pain laced through her body.

A hand grabbed the front of her shirt, hauling her up from the dirty carpet. The voice was back in her ear. "Tell anyone and I'll kill you. Kill you dead, little girl."

The hand let go of her and she slumped to the floor and it was with both relief and fear when she heard heavy footsteps on the carpet moving away from her. Relief because she thought it was over and fear because she thought it was over; nothing was certain.

Nothing was for certain, her mind chanted, as she opened her eyes to a whimper and the sight of his large beefy hand coming down to smack against the flesh of a cheek. There was already blood speckling the floor; when would he stop? Nothing was for certain and the beating began again.

Hitting harder. Hitting faster. Blood. More blood. Was she still awake? More. More. More. Oh, yes, she was awake. How could she tell? Easy. She was screaming. Always screaming.


Penny screamed, jolting up in her bed, sweating and shaking. It was the second time that week and the same nightmare. Rocking back and forth, her hands flew to either side of her head, banging on it sharply, trying to rid her mind of the nightmares. She hit her head harder when they wouldn't leave. The pictures kept flashing in her mind, haunting her. Her hits became harder.

"Penny! Penny, sweetheart, stop it!" Sweetheart. That's what he had called her. Penelope Williams screamed again and shuffled away from the hands encircling her wrists, trying to take away her hands.

Helen Williams desperately watched with tears in her eyes as her seven-year-old daughter shied away from her in sheer terror. "Penny, honey, it's me, mommy! Penny! Stop it, you're hurting yourself." With the conviction of a mother wanting to save her child, Helen lunged forward and cradled her daughter tightly to her chest, murmuring reassurances and stroking her daughter's blonde hair. "It's okay honey, everything is okay. Daddy and I are here. It was just a nightmare. They can't harm you. Shh, it's alright."

A weight at the bottom of the bed caused Helen to cast a worried look towards her husband. It didn't reassure her at all when all he did was return her glance with one of his own.

What kind of nightmare was this?

Their daughter just cried and continued to rock back and forth.

A/N: There we go; the first chap. Updates for this story, I have to tell you, are going to be a bit slow since life's a bit hectic right now (exams! 'sob' ) But I finally found time to post this!