AUTHOR'S NOTE: A new story! This idea has been bouncing around in my head so much that I decided to just go with it and see where it takes me. I hope you guys like it, this is my first attempt at an all-human story so of course, things are going to be AU as well. Please, be gentle. I'm not used to writing the Cullens this way but I do hope to hold onto their personalities and back history as much as I can. Once I get rolling on this idea, the chapter lengths will become longer. Warning you guys now!

Stephenie Meyer's the one making money, I'm just having fun.


Chapter One:

"If a man hits you once, he'll hit you again."

I can't remember how many people told my mom that. The select few, those who really knew the kind of hell she'd become trapped in. Everyone had such sage advice, pearls of wisdom that were always easier said than done. But they never did anything more than that. They never tried to help her carve a new life for herself. They'd only offered their advice as if it would magically fix everything.

Only a handful of those people were there the day of her funeral. The ones that were there fought to keep the patronizing grins off their faces. It wasn't polite to say 'I told you so' in front of the newly-orphaned teen.

No one said a word to me as my mother and step-father's bodies were lowered into the dry dirt of a northeastern Texas cemetary. But I heard every whispered comment, every condecending little sneer as the pristine metal coffins disappeared from view.

"I told her not to go back."

"At least she took him with her."

"What happens to that poor girl now?"

"I heard she barely escaped...."

I forced myself to stop listening then. The entire town of Richardson, Texas was nothing but a bunch of gossiping old fools. They lived everyone else's lives but their own. They had nothing better to do than sit around, sipping tea and pretending to play card games so no one would know what they were really up to. These women spent hours dissecting people's lives, trying to exact the fate they thought the people mentioned deserved. If only they'd taken the time to look at their own lives.

The worst one, the head of this little clan was Mrs. Janice Becker. Her husband had run off years ago with a secretary from his law firm, but she spun a different story. He'd gotten relocated out of state and she just loved Texas so much that she'd refused to go. Ha. Nearly every person in Richardson had been told some variation of the lie. A lie that was probably helping Mrs. Becker sleep a little easier at night. Anything was better to that woman than admitting she was less than perfect. She'd been so busy butting into other people's lives that she didn't even notice when she started talking about herself in whispered conversations taking place in her living room. These women, trying to be thoughtful of course, never mentioned names.

Mrs. Becker was the first to reach my chair once the minister, Southern Baptist of course, spoke his final peace. I barely noticed his mad dash into the warming interior of his car. I twas almost April in northeastern Texas and still kind of chilly. My mourning clothes had been picked out with the weather as a distant concern.

"You poor child." Mrs. Beckers voice held a thick accent as she helped me to my feet. "I'm so glad they let you out for the funeral. Not that you have any business being here anyway. Funerals are no place for children. No matter how close they were to the deceased."

I'd never really been a violent person, especially not now, but I did seriously consider throwing something at this woman's head. Were all people her age this irritating? Did every town in the continental US have a group of women like this? Or was Richardson the only one? A chill shot down my spine as I contemplated other locations with different versions of these women.

I didn't need to really say anything as she led me back to my car. Everyone assembled had seen my escort. A police car that came complete with my very own officer and a nurse from the Baylor Medical Center of Dallas, the hospital I'd been held captive in since....

I traveled in style, that was me.

My nurse, a kindly woman no older than thirty with deep brown eyes and short jet-black hair, stepped forward quickly. "You should have waved to me." She scolded, a patient smile lighting up her pale, rounded face.

"No big." I shrugged then winced when old lady Becker leaned on me the wrong way. I guess she'd forgotten my own role in the family drama in her determination to trap me at her side. All so she could pump me for information in case she got the rare chance to get me alone.

"Okay!" Pam, my nurse, called and gently extracted me from under the old, heavy-set woman that had just dragged me up a steep hill. "Time to get you back, missy."

With a sigh, I nodded and moved toward the car. There was no use in trying to fight her. One of Dallas' finest stood near the hood of the car, looking more than ready to throw his weight around at the slightest hint of trouble.

Besides, getting into the police car locked me away from the mixed group of mourners. I could tell, just by how some of them were standing that they were dangerously close to approaching me. The words some of them wanted to say were practically written on their faces. It never ceased to amaze me just how many people showed up at a funeral, filled with false sympathy and compassion for those suffering through a loss.

Mine was extremely worse than most funerals I'd ever attended as a child. I was front and center on this one, sole survivor of the brutal attack that not only took my mother from me, but my step-father. If people in Richardson didn't know what had been happening in my home before, they would know by the time the sun went down.

"How are you feeling?" Pam asked as soon as we were settled into the backseat of the police cruiser. Because of all the high-tech machinery in the front, we both had to sit in the back. It made me smile a little, feeling like a criminal of sorts as we pulled away from the gravesite and merged into the light mid-evening traffic. As much as I loathed being out in the chilly sunshine with a group of people I didn't want anything to do with; it had gotten me out of the hospital for a little while.

Now I was going back. No amount of traffic on 35 was going to keep me from being locked up within the four walls that were seriously starting to close in on me. I'd never really been a major fan of hospitals, but because of my mother being a nurse; time spent within the sterilized atmosphere was manditory. When I turned fifteen, she'd even convinced me to start volunteering. College was still in the plans then and it would look good on my college transcripts. Of course, my step-father jumped in and began joking around that the only thing I would be doing was searching for future doctors that I could marry and mouch off of. How my mother had ended up with a man like him was still unfathomnable to me. Even after fourteen years of dating and marriage, I still couldn't understand. I'd grown up with this man, but he still felt like a complete stranger to me. Brandon Carter had tried to take the place of my father from the get-go. He'd done everything in his power to make me well aware of the fact that he was my 'new daddy'. I'd only been three when they began dating, I had no idea what was going on. I just knew there was this new man and my father was nowhere to be found. Once he and my mother married, I was given his last name too. More fuel to the proverbial fire.

It wasn't until I was much older that things began to start making sense. But by then, everything had turned upside down and inside out, all I wanted to do was hide from it all. By the time I was eight years old, all I wanted to do was forget about life and emerse myself in another world. A world where I knew what was going on, I could control everything and have things that I wanted to happen.

It never lasted long. No matter what, everything always came rushing back when I did not want it to. At that same age, I stopped hiding and just made best with what I had to work with.