I sat shivering as the icy water kissed my feet and the salty foam hugged my toes. Looking off into the distance I watched the water twinkle in the moonlight. Wondering why life is so hard, why no one seems to care. I unclasped my hands and let the picture flutter to the sand, leaving the face staring up at me. I winced in pain as the memories of my childhood hit me hard in the face. I remember as a child I was always full of fear, the time I lied to the teachers about the bruises on my arms, pleading I fell off my bike but they pleaded I was lying. And that's about the time my life changed for the worst. I was what the law considered to be a runaway, having no place to go. I was stuck in a world beyond my maturity level, and I had no way to get home.

One Year Before

"Kayla, I'm leaving." my mom yelled up the stairs not bothering to keep quiet. I sighed as I read the blood red numbers next to me, blinding my sleepy eyes. The number five glared back at me, taunting me. It was like the whole world didn't want me to sleep. I knew it was that time of day again, as always my mom and dad left for work leaving me alone to fend for myself. I walked fast towards the bathroom for the cold wood floor bit at my feet. I reached my destination jumping at the chance for the warm carpet. I looked at the stranger in the mirror wondering why I even bothered, for all I saw was a disappointment there. My blue eyes judged what they saw, ruffled brown shoulder length hair, a grey sweat shirt that lay nested on my shoulders showed how little I cared. I snapped out of my daze when I heard a car door slam. I quickly tore a brush through my hair and dove towards my closet door, pulling on a white tee and ripped blue jeans and layering a snug red v-neck sweater over top. With a burst of excitement I ran down the steps leading to the front landing. I hardly noticed the mess on the floor consisting of forgotten dishes and un-paid bills. I automatically brushed back my hair and pulled my sweater into place while grabbing my purse and slinging it over my shoulders. Before I answered the door I stopped and took one last look around the house, I had an urge to clean the mess that was left but didn't have the motivation. I swung open the door and gleamed up the person that mattered most in my life. He was beautiful, leaning calmly against the door frame. I was so tempted to reach out to him slowly but didn't, wanting to spare the moment. The first thing I took in was his beautiful eyes and messed up hair. He was wearing the black hoodie I loved so much and loose fitting blue jeans. I glanced behind him and regretted it. Parked in the driveway was his black corvette that went way to fast.

"Kayla, you know I have never crashed once, right?" He asked sensing my dilemma.

"Jackson you say that every time I get in the car, but do you remember last time?"

"Is it my fault that the guy doesn't know how to drive, and beside I missed him by inches." Jackson said with a grin.

"Yeah after you rode his ass all the way there, the speed limits 70 not 95." I pointed out joking with him.

As I sat in the passenger seat I stared off into the distance wondering how I was going to survive the weekend. How I was going to hide the bruises that were sure to come. I jumped as I felt Jackson's hand touch my cheek.

"Babe, are you ok?" asked Jackson as he wiped away a tear that trickled down my face.

I looked up and realized that we were no longer driving, but instead sat on the side of the dirt road that lead to the highway. I glanced over at the clock that read 2:20… we were supposed to already be headed to the beach by now, why had we stopped?

"Yeah I am perfectly fine, but why are we not driving?" I tried hiding my lie with a question.

"You were crying, and I'm worried. You have a bruise on your face again, why?"

I knew if I told him the truth he would just get pissed, I tried to think up an excuse, but I could tell by his face he was already starting to get suspicious.

"It's nothing, my…my brother and I were just messing around I'm fine." I explained calmly trying to get him to believe me. I gave him a huge smile hoping he would just let it be.

"You say that every time Kayla, you are not fine. I see in your eyes the pain that you are suffering, and it kills me to know that someone is doing this to you. Why can't you just tell me what's been going on with you. And don't say nothing because you won't let me touch you anymore. Every time I get close you flinch away like…like I don't matter. Is that it you don't want to be together anymore…

He let the sentence hang in the air for me to answer but I didn't know how, I didn't know how to tell him I was being hurt not only emotionally but physically. For him to know the person hurting me was my own parents. I wanted him to know but every time I tried the flashbacks hit me hard in the face. It was like he was hurting me all over again. I opened my mouth to tell Jackson everything was too complicated to explain, but he was out of the car and walking down the hill before I could.

"Jackson please!" I screamed jumping out of the car after him. I didn't want to lose him knowing if I did I would shatter.

He whipped around catching me by the shoulders hard, staring me in the eyes. The look he gave me brought the tears that I was trying to hold back to the surface. Without warning I let out a sob, I couldn't stop, what was wrong with me.

"Damn it Kayla, what the hell is it. You can tell me anything, all I want is for you to be safe. Please tell me who is hurting you." Jackson asked softly his voice breaking with the pain and sorrow he was suffering watching me like this.

Before I could answer I crumpled to the ground. Sobbing hard into his shoulders I wanted to scream, scream for all the pain I was suffering.

"You really want to know who's fucking hurting me. My parents they ignore me, treat me like shit. Hitting me when I have screw up. Calling me names when I forget to do something. And worst of all I was fucking raped and then blamed for it. I can't believe I was so stupid, letting him do that to me. Now that I did I have ruined everything." I screamed at him, trying to make the pain go away.

I slowly looked up when he didn't answer. What I saw shocked me, was he crying? I have never seen Jackson shed a tear for the three years we have been dating. I put my head back into his shoulders not wanting to see him cry, he was so strong how could I have ruined that I thought hating myself even more.

"Who….who raped you?" Jackson finally asked so softly that I could barely hear the question I was regretting. I knew I had to tell him who, but I was so afraid to that I started to shake uncontrollably. I promised Chris I wouldn't tell anyone, he said if I did he would kill them, and then kill me.

"Kayla tell me, who was it. I rather find out sooner than later. Who?" He asked harshly.

"Chris… I replied shyly, knowing he was going to flip out.

Jackson didn't reply as I expected him to. I looked up to make sure he was still there and all I saw was the anger in his eyes, he looked like he could kill someone.

"Babe….." I reached out to pull him closer.

"Don't fucking touch me, Chris did this to you. He fucking raped you… my own god damn brother fucking hurt you. Why in the hell didn't you tell me this? If I see him he is going to get the shit beat out of him, no he's going to get his fucking head bashed in." Jackson yelled balling his hands into a tight fist.

I grabbed him trying to settle him down, but he was in too much of a rage to let me.

"Jackson please don't it's not that big of a deal, it happened and beside it was my fault any way…I'm sorry."

"This is not your fault, and no big deal…no big fucking deal is all you say. I can't believe that I trusted my brother; they said he changed and finally gave a shit. Why didn't I see this, why didn't I stop the bastard from raping again. And to top it off he had to rape my girlfriend. He should have never been let out of jail, he should have been left there to rot in hell. "Jackson explained as he walked away.

"Please, if you want to help just take me away from here. Take me to a place where no one will know who I am, no one will be able to judge what I have become. Let's just runaway from everything, please let me make a new beginning, not only for myself but for my parents. They don't want me here anyway, they rather see me dead."

Jackson didn't reply right away, he walked up to me and wrapped me into a tight hug that said that he would protect me from all the evil that was sure to come. I knew I could trust him, I knew he would never hurt me. "Please, help me find myself again." I pleaded one last time. Jackson leaned down to kiss me softly and I relaxed for the first time in months.

"Babe, you are my life and I would do anything to make you happy, I don't want to lose you ever. I love you." Jackson whispered in my ear. That was the last thing he said as we drove off to a new beginning.