Disclaimer: Of course, I don't own any rights to Twilight—Stephenie Meyer does. I just enjoy playing in the beautiful world she's created for us.

A/N: If you're in the mood for some angst and dark secrets mixed with romance & sexual tension, please give my little story a try. I promise you will not be disappointed! The setting is much the same—Forks is Forks—but the characters are AH. I'll forewarn you that Bella Swan got a serious personality makeover & is now a Southern girl. Hope you enjoy! Love, AddiCakes ;-)


Chapter One: Nineteen

The old, rusted Chevy rumbles down the rain-slickened streets of Forks, Washington, on a cool September evening. Isabella—no, just Bella, please—clutches the worn steering wheel and presses her tired foot on the gas as she makes her way home. The salt-white, two-story house is not home, really. Just a place for her to sleep, eat, and shower…a place for her sullen father Charlie to hang his gun belt and watch the Mariners on the plaid couch after work every day. This sleepy, overcast town has taken its toll on what was left of her sanity when she moved here in March just after everything happened… But she doesn't talk about that, and neither does Charlie.

It's almost nine on a Thursday night, and as usual, Bella has worked a double shift at the diner where the local lumberjacks and highway truck drivers come for the all-day breakfast menu and black coffee conversation. It's a far cry from being a promising career, but she makes good in tips and her boss is pretty easy-going as long as he has a full supply of cigarettes and caffeine. The thirteen-hour weekdays and half-day Saturdays motivate her blood to continue flowing through her veins, and give her a reason—however pathetic it may be—to wake up in the morning. If it weren't for jotting down orders from burly, bearded men, and wiping down sticky counters and tabletops, all she'd have to do all day is think. Think about her mother Renee's body under six feet of delta soil back home in Mississippi. Think about the scholarships she declined this spring because she can't find a reason to pursue a future when she's not sure she even wants one to begin with. Think about how the pile of empty beer cans next to Charlie's couch has grown to new heights in the last six months. Think about how she is turning nineteen this month and feels more like one of those forty-something waitresses that planned on doing things differently but never got around to it.

The grumbling truck comes to a stop beside Charlie's police cruiser in the driveway. She climbs out, mindful of the slippery pavement beneath her boots and immediately grows nostalgic for the long, dry summers of the South. In the Delta, the swelter of the summer sun starts in late April and leaves kicking and screaming by Thanksgiving; even a seventy-degree day in mid-December is not unheard of. But here in soggy, moss-covered Forks, the rain drizzles all year and the bitter winter arrives too soon and wears out its welcome.

When she unlocks the door and steps into the hallway, she is greeted by the voices of ESPN sports news anchors and her father's throaty snore. Dropping her purse by the door, she trudges her aching feet to the living room, covers Charlie with an afghan from the back of the couch, and turns off the blasting flatscreen TV. The fridge holds nothing that appeals to her nearly nonexistent appetite, so she settles for a glass of water and two extra-strength Tylenol instead.

Her weary body welcomes the cool sheets and lumpy mattress that await her in the tiny bedroom at the top of the stairs. Drained and listless, she kicks off her shoes, letting them thud on the floor at the end of the bed and allows sleep to overpower her. What's left of her makeup will be a greasy smear and her mouth will taste stale and vinegary in the morning, but in the moments before she's completely unconscious she cannot will herself to care.

The sunlight that filters through her off-white curtains isn't enough to wake her before the alarm on the nightstand begins to wail relentlessly. Her swollen eyes open as she is jolted from a nightmare that she knows was horrifying, but can't remember the details. Reluctantly, she slams the side of her fist on the snooze button. The green numbers read 6:42 a.m. and she realizes that apparently she's hit the snooze several times already.

"Shit," she mutters, crawling out of bed. She'll be late for work, and her boss, Cal, will be pissed when he's short-handed for the 7 a.m. breakfast crowd. Taking the cell phone from the pocket of the jeans that she was too tired to remove last night, she texts a message to her co-worker Jessica.

Tell Cal I overslept…sorry. Be there before 8.

Before she flips the phone closed, the familiar date on the screen catches her eye and she smacks her forehead. It's Friday, September thirteenth…her birthday. She stumbles into the bathroom and stares at the sad, disheveled girl in the mirror. The creases from her pillowcase are tattooed on her cheek and yesterday's mascara is a crumbly, black mess around her eyes. She traces the two-inch, jagged line that snakes along her hairline on the right side of her head. She remembers how the doctors assured her the scars that now marred her body would eventually fade, but she can't help thinking they look like red ink on white paper against her milky complexion. Removing her t-shirt, she studies the unsightly marks on her left shoulder and down her arm. The stitches and bruises disappeared months ago, but these little beauties will remain for years to come, a permanent reminder of broken glass and twisted metal.

She tosses her wrinkled, food-stained clothes in the hamper and steps into the shower. She stands motionless under the stream of hot water for several minutes, waiting for the tension in her muscles to relax. When it does, she scrubs the greasy residue of the restaurant from her skin and hair and wonders if there's really a point to washing it off at all when she'll be returning to the sticky atmosphere in an hour anyway. Resignedly, she shuts off the faucet and wraps herself in a tattered towel. Once again she looks into the mirror, wiping just enough of the steam clouds from the glass to see her face.

"Happy birthday, Bella," she says to the girl staring back at her.