Chapter One

"Where the hell are you going?" Chris shouted at me before I walked out the door. He hadn't been in a very good mood for a very long time, and today was no exception.

I took a deep breath, preparing myself emotionally before answering. "I'm going to that dinner party at the inn. I told you about it a few days ago. I won't be out late. Just til about ten or so."

"What do I feed her?" he asked as he pointed up the stairs, referring to our six-year-old daughter, Rory. I was glad at that moment that she was taking a nap, because things often got loud with Christopher. She didn't need to hear anything more than she already had. The things that came out of Christopher's mouth sometimes made me cringe for my little girl.

"There's leftovers from last night in the fridge. I'm sure that'll be fine with her. She'll tell you when she's hungry and you just have to put it in the microwave for a few minutes." I silently prayed he was finished asking questions. One slightly wrong answer and he'd be set off.

"All right. Be back by ten."

"Ok." I sighed in relief.

I opened the door to leave and almost left without having to hear him say "You need to lose some weight, too." I looked down at my already frail figure, and considered what he said. It wasn't as bad as some of his other statements, considering. I just let his comment slide. If things kept going the way they were, he'd get his wish anyway.

I got in my car and drove off towards the inn, thinking about what had happened in the past few years to bring me to this point. After Rory was born when I was 16, Chris wanted to marry me, and I said no way. We were too young and we'd never make it. I left my parents house a month or so before Rory turned one, and moved to Stars Hollow to raise my daughter the way I wanted to. Chris went to college, dropped out, and got a job in Woodbridge so he could be close to me and Rory. He was a constant in our lives for a long time, so when he proposed to me again when I was 18, I said yes. Things were wonderful. I was so excited that when Rory grew up, there wouldn't be a time she remembered not having a dad. We live in a pretty little house right on the edge of Woodbridge, about twenty minutes from the hollow. Then, about a year ago, something happened to Chris. I don't know what, but something had to have happened. He started being incredibly mean to me and to Rory. He was perfectly charming to everyone else, but when it was just the three of us at home, he was different. He was never physically mean. I don't think he has it in him. But he doesn't put it past him to call me a whore or slut or bitch in front of his six year old daughter for no good reason. What's worse, he calls Rory a bitch too, for things like leaving her gym shoes in the living room.

I pulled into a parking spot and turned off the car. I took a moment for myself, closing my eyes and sighing. I figured a night out would be good. Any time away from Chris is good time.

After dinner, everyone milled about with their drinks, and eventually it turned into a dance party. The Independence Inn staff and guests are very good at having fun. At 7:30, I got a phone call. The phone call that started everything.

"Hello?" I said, walking into the kitchen where it was quiet.

"Momma?" my little girl said through tears.

"Rory? Whats wrong?" I said frantically.

She was crying hysterically. She couldn't figure out where to start. "I- I'm hungry."

"Okay, baby, just go tell dad you want something to eat and he'll make something for you," I told her, a little confused.

"I did. And he said that I'm too much of a hassle for him and he called me a little brat and he took me to Sookie's and told her I wanted to spend the night."

Christopher. "Well why don't you ask Sookie for some dinner?"

"Because dad told her that I already ate and I'm stuffed."

Oh my god, Christopher is taking this too far. "I'm so sorry about this, baby. Go ask Sookie if you can have a snack. Tell her that I said it's ok and if she's not sure, she can call me and I'll tell her to give you one."


"And I'll be over there by 9 to pick you up. I bet your dad also forgot that it's a school night and sent you without anything you need."


"Hang in there, baby. Sookie will take care of you. I love you."

"I love you too, Momma."

I hung up and sighed. Thank god Sookie decided she didn't feel like going to the party at the inn tonight. I don't know what Chris would've done with her if she wasn't home.

My mind wouldn't stop running. Eventually, everything just got to me and I started crying. Of course, right at that moment, Luke walked through the door. The resident cooker-outer. Whenever we had a dinner party, he was there to be the cook. And whenever I was having a bad day, he was there to pick me up. This time was no exception.

"Lorelai?" he asked as he walked over to me, concern in his voice.

"Hi," I said, looking up from the ground. I looked back down, and continued sobbing.

"Hey, what's wrong?" He wrapped his arms around me and rocked me back and forth. I really really wanted to tell someone what was going on.

"I- I can't talk here. Not like this," I said as coherently as possible.

"Follow me." He took me upstairs to an empty room and shut the door behind him as he ushered me in. We sat down on the bed and he took me in his arms again.

"Sh, it's okay. You don't have to tell me anything if you don't want to. Just let it all out," he said, soothing me as only Luke knew how.

I composed myelf and looked up at him. "I want to tell you. I've gone too long without telling anyone. You're my best friend. I can tell you anything, right?"

"Of course," he said, taking one of my hands in both of his.

I took my hand from his and removed my wedding ring and threw it across the room.

"What was that for?" he asked, a little confused.

"I can't stand being married to Chris anymore. But I have to be."

"Why? What's going on?"

I put my hand back in his, desperately in need of some comfort. "He's an asshole. He's so mean to me and Rory. He calls us both things that no six year old should ever hear for the smallest things. And today before I left, he told me I need to lose weight." I started crying all over again. "Look at me, Luke. I've lost so much weight already from worrying since this all began. I can't take it anymore, but I have to."

"Why do you have to?"

"Because I don't make enough money on my own to support Rory, and I know that if I left him, he wouldn't pay child support."

"You can live with me. I know the diner's only a year old and I'm just getting started, but we could make it work. You can't put yourself through this."

"I love that you'd do that for us, but I can't give Rory a maybe when it comes to her well being. I have to know she's going to be fed and clothed and able to go to school and have everything she needs. I've dealt with it for a year already. I can make it a while longer."

"A year?!"

"Yeah." I looked back up at him and started sobbing again. He took me back in his arms and held me close until the tears subsided again.

I looked up at him and saw something in his eyes that had left Chris's a long time ago. He cared about me. He actually cared to make sure I was happy. I reached my head up and kissed him softly. I pulled back to see his reaction. He looked me in the eye and dipped his head back down to kiss me again. He ran his tongue over my lips, asking permission. I opened my mouth and let the kiss deepen. A few minutes passed, and he pulled back.

He ran a hand through my hair and looked me deep in the eyes. "What is this?" he asked.

"Feeling happy."