It was silent. Not a single sound penetrated the noiseless air. I couldn't even hear myself breathe. Time was only an object now, it was no longer a barrier, and it was no longer precious to me. I wasted it, waited for it to pass. This was how I spent my days now, waiting with empty thoughts for a daily phone call, and all the while, the already gaping hole in my chest only got bigger.

After I graduated—an event that I rarely allowed myself to remember—I continued with my education, but just for the sole reason of taking my mind off of the only thing that mattered to me, the part of me that was missing. That is, if you could consider attending a community college in Port Angeles continuing with an education.

Charlie never bothered my about my prolonged residence; he got a good meal everyday and he still clung to fatherhood.

"Bells, you're eighteen and half years old, you don't have to pack your bags and leave just because you graduated. This is your home," Charlie reasoned. For once, I didn't argue. Staying with Charlie was a good thing. At least I ate everyday—at least he was there to make sure that I stayed physically healthy.

I wouldn't have noticed that my body was literally collapsing on itself if it happened, I couldn't feel enough to tell. It wasn't always apparent, but Charlie still worried about me. On nights when I would lie awake in bed, too numb to force myself to sleep, I would hear him slowly open the door to check on me, just like fathers do with their little girls.

Now, everything was different. Three years had passed and not only did I struggle through each day, I feigned happiness to hide the truth of so much more than just my sorry attachment to what wasn't there anymore. I had found a new home, and I gave up on taking any more classes. To an outsider, it would seem as though I had turned over a new leaf.

The phone rang, sending shrieking echoes through the empty house. I slowly got up and walked toward the receiver. "Hello?"

"Bella? It's Angela, are you all right?" I sighed, thankful that she was calling. This was phone call that I waited for everyday—my motivation. After clearing my throat, I replied.

"Yeah, I'm fine."

"Are you sure? You sound upset," she pressed.

"No, I'm sure. I was just sleeping," I lied. Lying was another thing that I had forced myself into. Every day that I lived one giant lie.

"Oh, did I wake you up? I'm sorry!" she said quickly. I bit my lip and looked up at the ceiling.

"No, you didn't. I was already awake, just a little groggy," I said slowly. I had trained my voice to hide any trace of pain or sadness if help. I wasn't sure if it sounded happy, more along the lines of exhausted.

"Oh, well, do you think you could come over to watch Ian? I need to go the grocery store for about an hour," she asked. I smiled lightly, stopping myself before I said yes too quickly.

"Of course I can, I'll be over in a few minutes," I said. She sighed and thanked me. Angela and I had remained close friends; she was the only one who didn't seem put off by my sudden emptiness. It was the least I could do to understand and help her with her own situation.

Angela and Ben graduated high school expecting a son. Ian was born two months after. With all of the extra time that I had between classes at the college and feeding Charlie, I ended up becoming their nanny. It was something that I didn't mind doing, another thing I did to distract myself. I didn't expect to form such a strong bond with Ian, but things happen.

Before I grabbed my purse, I splashed cold water on my face and ran my fingers through my hair. As I readied myself to leave, I caught my arm on the sharp edge of a cabinet.

"Great," I sighed as I checked for the damage. A dark line had rigged itself across my skin and a thin trickle of blood was slowly seeping out of the small section of my skin that had been broken. Nausea rolled through my stomach and I fumbled around in the medicine cabinet, looking for a bandage. It wouldn't have made much a difference if I had covered the scrape or not, it would heal the same way.

As I stuck the band-aid to my skin, my eyes glazed over the faded scar that ran up my arm. The painful memory of it let me breathless and gnawing my lip to make it go away. I heard the phone ring again, and knew I couldn't answer it, my voice wouldn't have obeyed. I had to leave anyway.

The old roaring engine of my truck had been replaced with the quiet rumble of a Nissan Altima. The car was a gift from Charlie after my truck had broken down and got through its last mile. As I drove the familiar road to Angela and Ben's home, large raindrops splattered against my windshield.

I didn't bother to knock on the door anymore. I stopped doing that after the first year of being hired. Knocking only made Angela stop what she was in the middle of doing to answer the door. It was more convenient that way.

As I stepped into the house, a tiny head popped out from behind the couch. "Aunt Bella!" Ian shouted. I grinned when I saw him and shut the door behind me.

"Hi buddy," I said. He ran forward and threw his arms around my waist, burying his head into my stomach. I winced but pulled him into my arms anyway. "Where's your mama?" I asked.

"She's changing her shirt," he said. There was no denying that Ian was a very cute child. For the most part, he had his mothers face, honest brown eyes and light skin, but the head of curls that he had undoubtedly came from his father. Between the three of them Angela, Ben and Ian had a very happy family.

"Hey Bella," Angela called from upstairs. I set Ian down and placed my purse on the table. When Angela came down the stairs, Ian hid surreptitiously behind my legs. She narrowed her eyes at him and smiled at me.

"That's right, mister, hide behind Bella." She bit her lip to keep from laughing. "Somebody spilled grape juice all over my shirt," she explained. I nodded in understanding and ruffled his hair.

"All right, I'm gonna head out to the store. I'll only be gone for maybe an hour or so, but I'll be back with your check," Angela said to me, pulling on a jacket. "You two stay out of mischief while I'm gone."

As soon as I saw Angela's car pull out of the driveway, I kneeled down to Ian's height and asked, "What would you like to do?" He shrugged.

"Can we watch Spongebob?" he asked. I could see the excitement light up his eyes at the idea of watching his favorite tv show.

"Sure we can," I said, picking up the remote and flipping through the channels until I spied a yellow sponge dancing across the screen. "Are you hungry? Do you want a snack?"

"Can I have some cookies?" he asked politely. I walked into the kitchen and rummaged around in the pantry until I pulled out a bag of Oreos. I set some on a napkin and poured some milk in a small glass. Ian was nestled in his blankets on the couch, sucking on his thumb. I stopped in the doorway and shook my head at him.

"Okay bud, gotta sit up," I said. He groaned and scooted up. I pulled the coffee table toward him and set his snack on the table. The first thing his did was pick up an Oreo and dip it in the milk. He took a bite and smiled, flashing his black cookie-covered teeth. I laughed and sat down next to him.

Every few minutes, Ian would giggle at the TV between bites. It was amazing to watch him get so worked up over something as simple as a TV show. During a commercial, he sat there quietly until,

"Bella?" he asked.

"Mhm?" I answered.

"Why aren't you happy?" My breath hitched in my throat.

"What do you mean Ian?" I asked, trying to keep the panic from escaping.

"Mommy says you aren't happy, but you look happy to me," he said. I swallowed hard and took a deep breath.

"I am happy little guy, don't worry. Look, the show's coming back on," I said, desperately trying to divert his attention. He looked away but continued talking.

"Mommy and Daddy don't like Dan," he said quietly. I looked over at him, suddenly afraid. Sometimes, Ian seemed a little too bright for three years old. He caught on to things too quickly, overheard things he shouldn't have.

"What else do they say?" I asked, hoping that if any them knew what was going on, they had the sense to keep it to themselves until Ian wasn't around.

"I don't remember," he said, suddenly interested in the show again. I sat with him until Angela came home again. She handed me my paycheck, and I said goodbye to the both of them, knowing I would be back tomorrow.

I contemplated what to do if I came home and he was already there. Would I apologize? Or would I act happy to see him? Before I could come up with an answer, I was parking on the curb in front of my house. His car was parked in the driveway.

I walked up to the front door slowly and pushed it open. Dan was sitting in the living room with his feet propped up on the table. "Where've you been?" he demanded.

"I was working," I replied nervously.

"Is dinner ready?" he asked, setting his eyes on me.

"I just got home, I'll have it done in a few minutes," I said walking into the kitchen. I began to pull out ground beef from the refrigerator and some vegetables to make a burger with when the troubled started.

"God damn it Bella!" he shouted. "When I come home, I expect there to be food ready for me to eat and I expect you to be here waiting for me! I called earlier, where the hell were you?" He towered over me in the doorway and I stood shakily in front of him.

"I'm sorry Dan, I told you I was working." He grabbed my face and forced me to meet his eyes.

"You look at me when you talk to me," he ordered. "You're my wife, you belong to me. You respect me." His iron grip on my jaw tightened and I held back the whimper that threatened to escape.

Wife. I married into a seemingly endless period of abuse. Consistent beatings were what I endured for the sake of staying sane. Bruises marred the parts of my body that I conveniently kept covered. My stomach was decorated with a variety of colors ranging from dark yellow to purple. My back wasn't much different. And part of my body that would remain covered when I wore normal clothes was decorated much the same.

I married a man that I don't even know out of desperation. I was desperate to find some way to make the pain stop. Angela had probably caught onto my home situation by now. I could see it in her eyes, and of course, if Angela knew, so did Ben. Charlie didn't know, but I hoped he never would. His happiness when he saw that I was dating again was extraordinary, let alone the fact that I was dating someone who worked at the station with him. To be honest, I didn't have much of a choice, Dan was forceful even before I married him.

I asked myself over and over again so many times: why don't I just leave? I had always struggled to come up with some justifiable answer, but the truth was, I knew that if I left, I would still feel the same pain. Pain would be everywhere that I went.

Night after night, I somehow managed to find safety in the guest bedroom after he had fallen asleep. Tonight was no exception.

"Move," he growled, shoving my body across the large bed. I could feel the indentation of his elbow against my ribs. I groaned and rolled to the very edge of the bed, trying to keep still.

When the sheets became twisted around his ankles, "Damn it, MOVE!" and I hit the floor. I bit back the scream that racked my chest. My entire body cramped into one giant mass of pain, but I stayed on the floor until I heard his breathing deepen. When I was sure that he was asleep, I made my way to the guest bedroom and collapsed on the bed.

As necessary as it was for me to get out before it was too late, I couldn't make myself leave.

Okay, so some of you might be thinking "Why the heck would she come up with some freaky guy named Dan to be an abusive husband?" Well, I thought about using Mike for some other character from the books, but I decided against it. Trust me, I'm going somewhere with this story, so bear with me.

Also, for those of you that are wondering about why I'm coming out with a new story when I have other's that haven't been updated in forever, I couldn't get this idea out of my head, so I had to do it. I've been working on other things that pretty much take away time for fanfics, but this pretty much drove me crazy.

Anywho...review, don't review, just please don't flame too harshly. I have feelings. Happy upcoming Halloween!