RandomSugarRush: Thank you for tackling my mess of typos and grammatical errors! Thank you for your support and loyalty and for laughing at my silly mistakes! :D You are a great writer and a great friend!
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters Stephanie Meyer has created. I am just a girl writing a fan fiction story.
Warning: This story contains a bit of course language and it might offend readers sensitive to abuse, neglect, rape, or topics of sexual nature. NO lemons...but some eluding moments (limes) in later chapters.
*AN- So, I am going to come right out and say it once at the start: I respond to my reviews and answer any questions the best that I can, so don't be shy. :) Each response includes a preview for the upcoming chapter unless you tell me 'no preview please'. I know some of you may be shy...but I don't bite. Hehe. This is an AH story anyway so I couldn't bite you if I wanted to. ;)
Key points: This is a AH/AU story. It is categorized as angst/hurt/comfort. It is rated T, but it may be changed to M at some point. The main character is Rosalie, and yes, canon pairings do apply in a small sense, but this is also a Cullen family story just as much as it is about Rosalie's struggle. The characters are human (AH) and therefore their ages vary. Carlisle and Esme are both 33. Emmett is 16, Edward is 15, Rosalie and Bella are 14 (almost 15), Jasper is 11, and Alice is 9! The POV will change from chapter to chapter- mostly, Rosalie, Esme, and Carlisle.
I am telling you all this at the beginning so there is no confusion.
I hope you enjoy the story.
Happy reading. :)
Saturday, June 25th, 2009
Mrs Newly was walking swiftly ahead of me. She had tried to tug on my arm to make me walk faster, but I was not someone who was easily led. For spite, I was dragging my feet.
"Pick up the pace, Rosalie. I will not ask you again. You have been nothing but trouble this morning and I will not stand for it!" she ranted. I wondered why she even bothered to scold me. This trip we were on — walking from her hybrid Lexus towards the bus station on Eighth Ave in downtown Manhattan — was one to end our relationship, thus as it was. She was handing me back over to my caseworker for the summer.
Rebecca hated me from the first day we met. It was one month ago exactly. I was only trying to be pleasant to her husband, but when Stan Newly took liking a to me I knew that I would not be staying with them for very long. That was always the case.
They said they could not tolerate my blatant disregard for their household rules and that they wished me the best of luck in finding a family — how did they say it? Oh, ya… — "better suited to care for someone with my unique upbringing." Ya, ya. Up yours too! I was not the most discrete girl, I knew that, but it was not as if I purposely caused Mr Newly to favor my attention at the dinner table. He liked me. How was I to be blamed for that? He must have felt guilty because last weekend he dropped me off at Manhattan Mall for a few hours with his credit card telling me to "Go nuts and by yourself a new summer wardrobe!" That was a nice surprise until I found out what they were for!
"Impossible! You are an impossible, ungrateful, stubborn girl!" Rebecca hacked back at me as she clip-clopped her way down the long, cement pavement towards the Greyhounds Station. I was walking sluggishly, but not for lack of joy to be rid of her. I just found it rewarding to see the blue vein jutting from her forehead when she was enraged.
"Oh, good. There you are!" My caseworker, Mrs Clara Butterfield, greeted us. I suppose Rebecca was right, we were running late. I smiled to myself, knowing the reason we had almost missed my ride.
"The bus is loaded and ready to get going. Where are your things, Rosalie?" My caseworker asked as she waved us over to one of the large, silver buses. I didn't answer — seeing no point in wasting my breath — and I raised the two black duffle bags I carried all my personal belongings in. I may not have a lot to call my own, but my clothes — collected from numerous 'starting over' and 'guilt' shopping trips with foster parents — were in good shape. I knew how to dress, as I knew how to present myself so I looked my best.
"Well, I guess this is it. Have a safe trip, Rosalie. Best of luck to you in your future endeavors," Rebecca forcefully chocked out the words. I smiled and nodded insincerely and then I turned my head from hers for the last time. I was stubborn. I could stand there not looking at her for as long as it took for one of us to walk away.
"All right, go get your seat then, dear. I will come talk to you in a moment before the bus takes off," Mrs Butterfield instructed, tapping my arm underneath my elbow. I gladly did as I was told this time. It was a relief to be rid of the Newlys, though it meant another family was about to try their way with me. I didn't want a new family, but it was better than living with my mother. The state would not set me free so I had no choice, besides going back home, than to live with strangers.
I passed my luggage to the driver so he could load it underneath the bus. He winked at me — pervert — and I climbed into the vehicle and scoped out the seating options. I was the last to board, so it looked like the front few rows was all that was left vacant. I quickly slipping into the third row on the right and took a seat by the window. Outside, I could see Mrs Butterfield making peace with Rebecca. You know, killing the bitch with kindness? I had learned that from her. Rebecca was red faced and waving her hands around, occasionally letting one of them point in my general direction. I couldn't hear her through the thick windows of the bus, but I watched Clara speak to her calmly before I had enough and turned away and focused on the seat ahead of me.
I don't like buses. They are crowded and the seats are made of rough, hideously patterned material that reeks of previous passengers. Who knows what these people were like; what scum they had left behind on the seat? They could have been a drug addict, a dealer, a liar, a thief, or a hooker — smearing their scent of disgrace all over the tired fabric that has seen too much abuse as it was. I know about these people. They were all I knew for the first eleven years of my life.
I am done with that life now, done with the mother who had destroyed lives. Mine included. Nothing had ever been good enough for her. No man was ever worthy of her love… and no child was either.
I don't know my father.
Lillian, Lily as I was to address her when she was working, was my mother. She told me — once, strung out on who knows what — that I was conceived because her fees were doubled if protection was waived. She needed to pay rent that month, I guess. I didn't know what this meant at the time. At fourteen, almost fifteen, I am wiser. It meant she gambled… and lost. I was unwanted. I knew that now more than I knew back then. I used to think Lily and I were a team.
She put me to good use. She was a businesswoman, after all. She could make money without overhead costs, without it costing her one-penny in income tax, and without losing her sense of pride. She would brag like she was doing us both a favor when she would bring strange men home every night. Lily told me that their love made her feel worthwhile. Their terms of affection for her somehow proved she was important in this world. Somehow, she felt validated when they paid her for sex.
I had thought I was worthy too. Lily had told me I was a special girl. She was proud of my beauty. "Your good looks are a useful tool, Rosebud. Never forget that," Lily would tell me. She taught me how to use my beauty to get what I wanted and settle for nothing less. That was maybe one of the best gifts she could have given me. It taught me to be assertive and always be the one in charge.
"That way you will never be a disgrace," she would often say. "Now, be a good girl. Make your momma proud and keep him busy for a few minutes while I freshen up." And I would do as my mother told me to do, because I was her business partner and I wanted to be a good girl.
The business was booming up until the end. We never went hungry — "Only the best for The Hale Girls," — and we had the finest clothes and accessories as well. Lily said that it was maintenance. "Cleanliness and presentation is the key to success, Rosebud. Even though you might feel like trash on the inside sometimes, you can never show that to our clients. You're the boss of your body. Remember that! They will respect you more if you respect yourself."
Lily and I were never poor in appearance. From the outside looking in, we appeared to have it all. We were pretty and well off. That is why she could charge so much for our services. She would never call herself a whore — and I dared not call her that to her face — but that is what she was. A first class whore!
Every time we brought in the big bucks from some well-to-do married man, she would wrap her arms around me and tell me how proud she was of me. She sometimes would say, "I love you," when we had a bountiful evening. She'd squeeze me tight and then bounce up and down waving a wad of bills in the air like we had won the lottery or something. "We've got it made!" It was hard not to pick up on her enthusiasm and believe that we were a family during times like that.
But love is conditional. I found out the hard way. If mother gets a rich boyfriend who wants her to quit the business and marry him, she can change the rules.
"Don't ruin this for us. He loves me!" she had insisted. "He says he wants to marry me! We will never have to deal with any other men… ever again!" But I knew what this man was like. He was rough with her — rough with me, too — and was not a kind man at all. When I tried to tell her how he touched me, she didn't believe that he would disrespect me that way. She said I was jealous that she had found 'love'.
Threatening to turn your mother in for solicitation didn't work. "They will take you too. You're just a miniature version of me, Rosebud!" she had told me on that last night living with her.
Now, I am just a pretty girl on a bus.
Usually, if I have to ride by this mode of transportation, I sit a few rows back from the front rows. Reason being, that if you sit right up front, you end up having to smile at the bus driver every time he turns around and the draft from the door is always present. Also, elderly people seem to sit closer to the front of the bus for numerous reasons and they are generally too chatty or too grumpy for my liking. Sometimes they are too touchy—which is the worst! I can't stand being some old geezer's bus buddy. The ones I usually end up next to have trouble keeping to their own seat.
However, if there were no seats in the middle for the taking, I would rather sit up front then in the rear. The rear is where the bathroom is. That stench was definitely worse than old person smell. I would take the smell of menthol and licorice any day! I could put up with a little bit of admiration from an older passenger if it meant steering clear of the riffraff that sat at the back of the bus.
My mother used to insist on sitting at the back of the bus. "More private," she would elude to me, winking. Then she would turn me around and tell me to mind my own business while she tipped her gentleman companion, in hopes he would tip her in return.
Today's journey was not of the pleasant nature either, but not very often, is an unscheduled, four-hour bus trip! At least I was traveling sans Lily this time. I was done with that lifestyle. She had given up on me about the same time I had given up on her. The innocence of childhood had to wear off at some point. Good thing for me, I got out from under her roof before I go sucked in any deeper. I could still hold my head up high. Well, I could hold it up reasonably high, in any case; I would not say I was completely naïve. I had done a lot of things I was not proud of. I am sure I will do a lot more things in my life that I will not be proud of, but that is life. I will take care of myself, by any means necessary.
Lawfully, however, I was a ward of the State of New York. My caseworker was in charge of where I ended up, so today I didn't have a clue where I was going or who was going to meet me when I arrived at my next destination. I was following orders today. I had no choice — unless I planned on running away again, but that only seemed to land me a position in holding cells, shelters, or detention centers for troubled youths — so I did what I was told… for today.
"Here is your travel documentation," Mrs Butterfield told me as she hung a God-awful tag around my neck, like I was some sort of pet in transfer. I felt my lips curl up a touch and my nostrils flared in annoyance. Clara just shot me a reproachful stare and continued. "You are not to leave with Dr and Mrs Cullen until they have signed for your arrival. Phil, the bus driver, has the paperwork. He will be keeping his eye on you, so be on your best behavior. It is only about a four-hour drive from here to the Ithaca station where they will be picking you up. From there, you will be journeying with them to their cabin out on Blue Mountain Lake."
I was silent as I watched her with perfect stillness. What was I to say? Thank you for sending me to some secluded, woodland cabin to live with a group of do-gooders for two months? No! I was not going to thank her for this 'gig'. Sure, it was better than living in some decrepit shelter — gross — and it was certainly better than spending a night locked in a cell in some prison. Hell, it was probably better than any of the other homes I had invaded in the last several years. Foster parents are not like the ones you see in the movies. They are not forgiving and their love is always conditional!
"Esme is a kind woman," Clara continued. "I have had the pleasure of meeting her on several occasions at the school where she works. When I mentioned your situation to her, she and her husband were kind enough to offer you this once in a lifetime opportunity. I don't mean to sound harsh or cruel, Rosalie, but you need to smarten up and get your act together. It is not easy to find a new home for you every few months. Rebecca has some pretty nasty things to say for your behavior -"
"She is a jealous witch! I never did anything wrong. Stan was the one who couldn't keep his eyes off me!" I hissed at her so the other passengers could not overhear. Clara was still staring at me with wide eyes, waiting to speak again. She was so cool about everything. Like she didn't have feelings.
"Regardless of who did what, the fact is I have several reports from foster parents saying you are haughty, rude, and on occasion overtly sexual in your dress and demeanor. We have talked about this, Rosalie. That type of attitude is not appropriate for a girl your age. For a girl of any age!"
"So… okay, you want me to behave. I get it. I will behave!" I answered back.
"Yes, you will, because I am warning you, Rosalie. It is getting harder and harder to find quality homes that will take you. That may sound harsh, but it is a fact! I want you to think long and hard about this while you are away with the Cullens, because when you return to New York in the fall you may not be getting too many more chances with such well to do families. I will hopefully find you a more permanent placement, a really perfect match, but you need to do some of the work too. You are running out of options, my dear."
I hadn't noticed until she paused for a moment that I was clawing the seat beneath me with my fingernails and gritting my teeth so hard they began to hurt. The truth hurt sometimes. I was used to dishing it out, but hearing someone talk so plainly — and not pussyfooting around the issues at hand — was a slap in the face.
"Now," she breathed heavily, changing the topic. I relaxed a bit and folded my arms across my chest. "As I was saying, Esme is a school teacher, morning kindergarten, and Carlisle is a physician at Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca. Carlisle takes time off from work so the whole family can get away from the city and spend time together. They have children of their own, all around your age, so you should have plenty of companionship this summer. I saw pictures of their cabin, Rosalie. You are in for a real fun time out there by the lake. It is just beautiful!"
Clara seemed happy. Too happy, like she had done me a huge favor this time. I'll believe it when I see it! Being out in the woods by a lake with the bugs and the dirt didn't seem like a favor to me, but perhaps I really am just an ungrateful girl, like Rebecca Newly said.
"Sure," I mumbled, tugging my ivy cap lower on my head to signal that our chat needed to end. She was finished talking anyway, I could tell. There was little she could say that would make this any easier. Meeting strangers and going on a road trip with them to their woodland cabin for the summer was not something anyone could prepare for.
"I will be going, then. You must keep this ticket around your neck until the Cullens pick you up in Ithaca. Promise me you will be cooperative?"
"And polite," she stressed.
"Yes," I hissed. I didn't like to be patronized.
She got up from the seat next to me and said pleasantly, but with a stern tone, "Have a wonderful summer, dear. I will see you at the end of August. The Cullens have my phone number so if you need to reach me, I am available anytime."
I nodded routinely. She told me that every time she left me in a new home. I had never wished to call her. I suppose it was a nice enough gesture though. She continued to stand there and stare at me, but we were done with business now.
I began to rummage through my shoulder bag for my cheap mp3 player. It was charged this time, but more often than not, I put the ear buds in my ears just for show so that I could ignore people freely and not seem rude. It was one of my favorite possessions because of this usage. The one good thing I remember about living with my very first foster family, the Sharps, had been the day they gave it to me. It only held about sixty songs and they had never been changed since the day they were loaded into the little trinket. I had lost the USB cord for it anyhow — not that it mattered since I didn't own a computer. Still, those few songs were better than no music at all. I used to love to sing, but I had not sung out loud in years. It made me sick to hear my voice singing like it once used to.
I took out my only book, Little Women, which I had read probably about one hundred times. I always bitterly compared myself to young Amy, who was conceited — rightfully so — but I desperately wished I could be more like Jo or Beth. They seemed happier somehow. Even plain Jane Meg with her normal husband and kids would be better than being Amy. Amy was never satisfied, no matter what good fortune came her way or how beautiful she was.
I was not intending to read the book again, but if I held it open it might keep people from talking to me — just another precaution. I didn't want to appear rude or haughty, after all.
Clara tapped the brim of my hat and smiled lightly at me before she turned and walked the few feet up to the front of the bus, quickly saying something in passing to the bus driver. He nodded and looked like he had done the 'child transfer' before. As she got off the bus, Phil shut the door behind her, and sat down deep into the driver's seat. I heard the engine roar to life as I watched Clara walking to her parked car, glancing back at the bus a few times, looking worried.
Clara didn't like to ship me by bus, but sometimes it had to happen because she didn't always have a half-day to spend with me as my taxi driver. I was not selfish enough to expect to be the only kid she was responsible for. I was selfish enough to want that sort of treatment, but not stupid enough to demand it or to ever suggest I was more important than the other homeless kids my age. That would be unreasonable.
Now it was the Cullens who were responsible for me – for the summer anyway. The way Clara talked about the Cullens, she made them sound both wealthy and wholesome at the same time, though I am sure this cannot be the case. Wealthy couples and wholesome couples had both taken their turns fostering me at one time or another, but my stays usually only lasted a few months — five being my record. The only similarities these families shared, was that neither seemed to find my charms 'expectable' and then soon enough, Clara would appear like some sort of dark fairy and whisk me away to the next eager family.
Clara Butterfield had been my assigned social worker since the day I ran away from my mother, so I knew how she worked. She was compassionate, but she kept a professional distance. She never beat around the bush; gave it to me straight like a no bullshit kind of woman. I had to respect that. The police who found me that day had me put me in a small holding room for hours until Clara came to talk to me. They had not been very nice and I was seething mad. I took it out on Clara, but she never ruffled. I had hated her then, but I had come to the conclusion she was the lesser of two evils. It was she or some other righteous social worker. Clara was clean and she was honest.
I like clean. I like honest — though I was hardly the poster child for this trait. Lily was clean — most times, but she had lied to me for my whole life. How was I to know that our business was illegal? I was just a kid back then. It was around the time of my eleventh birthday when I began to see how untrustworthy my mother was.
I never liked to remember that incident, but as I watched the city streets flip by me though the darkened window, I couldn't help but think of how my life had gotten so screwed up.
To Be Continued…
Thank you for reading.
If you don't know me already...I like to draw out characters as I see them and sometimes I draw chapter scenes. So, check out my profile for links to my deviantart gallery if you are interested.
If you didn't read the AN above...chapter previews are available via review response.
Credit where credit is due: A special thanks to The Sound and the Fury for being my inspiration to write a AH fic (it is my first for Twilight).