Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, musical content, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

I want to take the time to thank my pre-reader and newest friend Loulabelle19 for taking this story and making sure I do a good job. Her insight has been a tremendous help to me on this.

I can't say thanks enough to my beta and great friend andromida1964 who has lived this story with me and walked with me through every step of the way.

And a big thanks to all my WC girls who have encouraged me and have also given me some great comments and insight so I know this story is going where it needs to go. All of you ladies ROCK!

A/N: This story contains violence, abuse and death. If you are sensitive to those issues, this isn't the story for you.

Also, A majority of this story is told through flashbacks as Bella recounts different events in her life. This story will be told primarily from Bella's pov unless otherwise indicated so I won't be putting that at the beginning of each chapter.

I truly hope you enjoy this journey into her life.

September 13, 2009

As I stood on the balcony overlooking the water, the sun on my face was sheer joy. The breeze was light and warm and the smells of the ocean cleared my mind. The setting sun brought another day to its end and I was going to enjoy this one.

The scene before me was glorious. The small puffs of clouds were lit with a mixture of fiery red and orange as they reflected the sun's dying brilliance. The golden tint to the water shined as the sun lowered itself in the distance. A beautiful melody created by the faint sounds of the nearby seagulls and the thunderous crashing of the waves below brought the whole scene to life. The trees on the cliff top to the north were dancing to its tune as the wind flowed through their branches.

It was funny how some people never realized the true harmony of God's creation surrounding us everyday. We just had to take the time from our busy lives to watch and listen. I probably wouldn't have noticed it either if I weren't in this place with my world coming to a dead stop waiting to see what direction, if any, my life and future would take after tonight.

While I contemplated how this night would end, my mind was taken back to how I ended up here. I could pinpoint the exact minute that changed my life. I could see every face belonging to those whose lives had been or would be forever altered by knowing me.

I breathed in the ocean air just before I brought the wine glass to my lips. I knew I shouldn't have anything that could dull my senses tonight but one glass of wine couldn't hurt. My eyes closed as the sweet liquid ran down my throat. I took a deep breath, opened my eyes and watched as the last sliver of the blazing sun dipped below the horizon.

It's time to get ready.

I walked through the sliding glass door back into the family room and slowly made my way through the room making sure everything was in place for tonight. It had to be perfect.

I climbed the stairs heading to the bedroom. My clothes were laid out on the bed just waiting for me. I had never been a fan of the little black dress but tonight I would wear it just for him if it meant he would want to stay close to me. I showered making sure to use the freesia scented shampoo and conditioner that were always his favorite. As I completed my usual shower routine, I took a minute and just stood under the stream of water while I got ready to see him again.

One hour to go and I still didn't know how I wanted tonight to end. One outcome would allow me an eternity with the man I love. The other would force me to live a life completely alone. I had to choose…soon.

All the preparations were made and I still had a little time before he was supposed to get here. I pulled my old photos out from their hiding place and took a quick trip back in time. The faces of my friends stared back at me and I remembered the moment each picture was taken.

As I looked at the final picture in the pile his beautiful smile pulled at my heart. I stroked the picture with my index finger just as I would run it along his cheek every time we were together. The overwhelming need to see that smile again made my decision for me. My life was not complete without him. I had to be with him again.

Fifteen minutes to go now. I started to get anxious knowing he was almost here. The last thing I needed to do was set the mood. I turned the lights down giving the room a soft romantic glow. I put on the music that I chose specifically for tonight…all of his old favorites. Moving to the dining room, I set the table for two with a centerpiece made up of white and lavender roses with three pure white candles sticking out from the middle of the arrangement.

With five minutes left to go I heard the front door open and close in the other room. He always did like to be a little early wherever he went. My hands instantly started to shake, my breathing accelerated and my heart felt like it wanted to jump right out of my chest. I took a few deep, calming breaths regaining my control. I turned to face the kitchen counter to put the final touches on our dinner.

I heard his footsteps coming around the corner.

Breathe Bella. You can do this. Just breathe.

A shiver went through me as I heard him speak.

"My beautiful Bella." His voice had a seductive tone to it. "Just how I remember you."

I released the breath I had captured in my lungs, smiled and turned around to see him lounging against the wall. His arms were folded across his chest and he had that smirk on his face that he knew I couldn't resist. He looked different; more refined than he used to. Standing there in a nice pair of black slacks, grey turtleneck and black suit jacket he was more handsome than I remember. I took in a sharp breath and raised my eyebrow as my eyes looked him over from head to toe giving him an enticing smirk of my own.

Stay calm Bella. He can't know how much he gets to you.

"Don't you look nice?" It was all I could say at the moment.

I turned instantly back to the counter so I could take a couple more soothing breaths that he wouldn't notice. When I turned back to him I had a plate in each hand as I brought the food to the table. Once the plates were in their proper place I made my way to where he was standing.

"I knew you would be early." I grabbed his hand and led him to the table. "You had a long trip and you must be hungry." I looked into his eyes. "Let's eat."

He eyed the plate that held his steak dinner. "You always know what I like," he said as he picked up his fork to eat.

A soft laugh escaped my lips. "How could I forget?"

We ate in relative silence stealing glances at each other the entire time. It had been so long since I had seen him. I was breathing a little harder as his presence, so close to me, brought such strong emotions to the surface.

He laid his utensils down after his last bite. He brought his eyes up to mine. "I'm happy you called." He reached out and brushed his fingers across my cheek. "We've been apart far too long, Bella."

I closed my eyes as he touched me. "I couldn't stay away from you anymore." I opened my eyes to see him staring at me. "I've wanted to call you for a long time now."

The smile on his face grew. He knew he had me. This is what he had been waiting for. What he had begged me for since the day I walked out. I decided to give him what he wanted.

"Do you know what else I've wanted for a long time," I used the sultry voice that he loved to hear. "I want you… to come closer… and," I whispered the last two words, "…kiss me."

He moved the hand that rested on my cheek to reach around the back of my neck. He pulled me toward him slowly savoring the moment just as I was. Everything I wanted was within my reach.

Closer. I need to be closer.

I put my hand on the table for support as I leaned forward to meet him halfway.

He stopped just before his lips touched mine. "Baby, you don't know how much I want this."

In that instant of hesitation every memory passed before my eyes.

"Not even half as much as I do." I brought my lips to his, finally getting him right where I wanted him.

December 14, 2009

"God damn it Bella! Will you just help me out here?"

The folders being slammed onto the table ripped me away from my past. I was sitting on a chair by the window. I didn't want to speak to him. His presence wasn't needed and it definitely wasn't wanted.

I turned my head to look at the folders sprawled across the table. I lifted my eyes to see his reddened face. I laughed knowing it would piss him off. "Don't throw a fit. I can see that vein in your forehead again. One of these days it's gonna pop."

His hands instantly balled up into fists. "Don't you get it? If you don't start talking there's no way we're getting through this."

"What makes you think I care?" I narrowed my eyes while giving him my attitude because it really didn't matter to me. Also getting him all riled up was the only entertainment I had these days.

He forcefully pushed his chair into the table as he turned his back on me. I had the image in my head of him counting to ten. That visual caused me to snicker but I kept it quiet. He calmed down enough to let his hands fall loose but I could still hear the frustration in his voice. "Bella this is your freedom we're talking about here."

That statement sent me into hysterics. He whipped around at the sound of my laughter.

"Are you serious? You're fucking laughing about this," he screamed and his face went red again.

After a few minutes my eyes were watering, my sides hurt and I couldn't breathe. He threw his hands up in defeat and started packing up his things. He looked like he wanted to get as far from me as he possibly could.

I calmed myself down enough to speak. I was still breathing pretty heavily but the sentence was clear. "What do you know about my freedom?"

Something about saying that out loud cleared my head and now I was yelling back at him. Rage colored my tone as I spoke. "My freedom was taken from me four years ago. I'm living in a cage but it's still the most freedom I've had since the first day we met."

He looked shocked at my words. Of course, those two sentences were the most I had ever shared with him about my past. He pulled my chair to the table and motioned for me to sit down. He brought his chair around to my side so he could sit next to me.

"Tell me what you mean," he said in a calm voice.

I didn't like to have anyone that close to me. I jumped out of the chair and walked over to lean against the far wall. I crossed my arms over my chest and sighed in defeat. "Alright if you really want to hear it, I have to start way before that night. Are you sure you're up for that?" I challenged him.

"Bella, you've been charged with first degree murder. In three months I am going to be fighting with everything I have to save you from a life sentence or worse. Starting from the beginning will give me everything I need to do just that."

"No one has been able to save me yet, counselor. Don't get your hopes up."

Thanks for reading. Please take a minute and let me know what you think. I always love to hear it.

I'll be posting new chapters of this story every Wednesday. You can also follow me on twitter for little teasers during the week. Find me using mizzdee_FF