This is my first attempt at writing fanfic. I've struggled with putting it out for people to read because, well, I'm just that wimpy. ;) Please read and review, good or bad. I can handle it. This first chapter is short, but I can assure you that the later ones are not.

All characters belong to the wonderful Stephenie Meyer and I really apologize for what happens to some of them in this story. Believe it or not, I do adore them.

This story contains explicit language, abuse, rape, and yes, some happy moments. It's not all doom and gloom.



Crack.

Another bone snapped under the weight of his jackhammer punches.

Crack.

Cool air caressed her stinging skin but she was confused as to where it was coming from until she made impact at the bottom of the stairs.

"Stupid bitch. You fat, stupid bitch. You're bleeding on the floor and you cracked the banister. What am I going to tell my father now? I hope you're happy."

Bella couldn't be happy. She couldn't be anything. The darkness was mercifully taking her away from the yelling, the pain, the beating.

She felt someone jerking her head up. It was a strange, disjointed feeling, almost out-of-body. It was as if she could see what he was doing in her mind's eye.

"Bella, get up."

Getting up would be a good thing to do, but she couldn't. Great, she thought, he's really going to take a piece out of me this time.

The darkness was retreating, plunging her back into the stark, brutal, and cruel reality of the moment. Her shirt was pulled up and the burning end of a cigarette was butted against her skin repeatedly.

The rules were simple: Keep the burns, bruises, and cuts hidden. No one can find out. Never cry. Never tell. Never fight back.

"Bella, wake up!" James kicked her in the ribs.

"Awake," she mumbled.

"Did I tell you to speak?"

She shook her head.

James pulled her to her feet and dragged her to the corner. "Sit here and stop crying. Emmett'll be here soon."

Emmett- my older brother and my saviour. If only he knew how his so-called best friend treated his baby sister, Bella thought hazily.

"Drink this," James ordered as he thrust a glass to her lips and drained it, spilling more of it on her than in her. It burned like acid. She choked.

"That's expensive bourbon, you ungrateful piece of shit," he backhanded her. The metallic taste of blood began to overpower the burning alcohol flavour.

Oh, she thought, he was going to play the 'Bella came over, got loaded and fell down the stairs again' card.

"If you blow this Bella, your brother'll never believe you. He'll pick me over you every time. I'm his best friend and you're just his fat, ugly, little pain in the ass sister. He's all you've got left. DON'T. FUCK. THIS. UP."

Emmett stomped into the house as if on cue. "James, where is..." he inhaled sharply. "What the hell Bella! Not again!"

The pain was starting to bring back the blackness and Bella' head lolled as she lost consciousness.

"James, what the hell? Are you feeding her booze?"

"No man, I think she was loaded when she got here. I was up in the shower and when I came down, she was pounding back my dad's bottle of expensive bourbon. You owe me $70 by the way. Anyway, she went upstairs to use the bathroom and wiped out on the way back. She busted up my banister."

"Dude," Emmett said as he clapped James on the back. "I'm really sorry. I don't know what to do with her. Things have been hard since Mom and Dad died, and I guess she's not dealing with it very well. I think I might have to send her to a shrink or something if this doesn't stop."

James feigned concern. "Maybe you should put her in a home or send her to rehab or better yet, to fat camp."

"Shut up, man. She's my baby sister. I'm not going to toss her away. I love her. And shut up about her weight. She's just a little chubby."

Emmett went to the corner and picked up his limp sister. "Oh Belly, what am I going to do with you?"

James opened the front door for him. "Oh yeah, if you change your mind, dude dropped off a new batch of juice. Football season is coming soon..."

"Hell no! I told you before that I don't need to get caught up in that bullshit. I've got enough shit to deal with without dealing with 'roid rage and I'd like to keep my twig and two berries nice and big and juicy, unlike you, shrivel nuts."

"The offer stands, man. If you want to win state and get a proper scholarship so you can get the hell out of Phoenix you shouldn't bite the hand that feeds you."

"Whatever. Later buddy. Sorry about Bella."

Emmett carried his sister out to his Jeep and buckled her into the passenger seat. "I'm too young to be raising a troubled kid and you're too young to be an orphan, Belly," he said as he passed a hand over her pale cheek. He noticed a bump and saw bruising beginning to form. He went to push a stray lock of brown hair behind her ear and felt something wet on his fingers. When he pulled them back they were covered in blood. Gently, he turned her head and saw blood trickling from her left ear.

"Bella! My god!"