I do not own anything pertaining to Twilight. Please let me know what you think.

WARNING: This story will contain some pretty intense scenes, that will include violence.

Chapter One - A Better Man

He was the most beautiful boy I'd ever seen. He was the most beautiful boy most people had ever seen.

I was never anything special. Just a girl, existing. Going through everyday, wondering which one would be my last. Knowing that the end was inevitable. Certain. I took every hit, every blow wondering which one would be my last.

And then my secret would be out there, exposed for all the world to see. And then they would see: I wasn't this quiet-natured girl, this studious type, with the perfect grades and the perfect boyfriend. They would remove my clothes, piece by piece, and they would know.

My mother would come to identify my body, but she wouldn't see her little girl. She would see rainbows of bruises. Rivers of cuts. Scars that had once been carefully concealed by long sleeves and jackets. She would never see the worst, however, because the worst was on the inside. On the soul.

But just as the lights were about to go out, just before my curtain fell, he saved me.

The beautiful boy. He saw my soul before everyone else saw the bruises.

I'm getting ahead of myself, however. Because to understand the end, you have to start from the beginning.


"Are you going to the game tonight?" Angela's voice brought me out of my thoughts, her hand waving in front of my face. "Earth to Bella."

I shake my head, cringing at the slight pain that shoots through my neck as I do so. My hair, perfectly coiffed to hide the fingerprints, boldly imprinted at the nape.

"I can't, I already told Jacob I'd go with him to some party on the reservation," I say, pulling my sweater sleeves farther down my arms.

She sighs, leaning back in her seat as Mr. Parker continues on lecturing about Biology at the front of the classroom. I think she's accepted my answer when she turns back to me.

"You two are attached at the hip," She pouts. "I never get to see you anymore. Ever since you started dating him, you never hang out with us."

I give her an apologetic smile, not sure what to say. She's right though. I haven't been out with my friends in months. Haven't gone to see a movie, haven't drank a milkshake at the diner. I haven't really done anything on my own since they day I met Jacob.

"Bella, that guy at the counter is totally checking you out!" Jessica squealed, from her spot next to me in the diner booth.

I casually glanced over to see a tall, dark boy staring into my eyes. A smile slowly spread across his face, my own quickly mimicking. I looked away, my face turning the brightest shade of red.

"He was not, Jess," I said, sneaking another glance at him. "He was probably looking at one of you."

No guy ever paid attention to me. Not in my 17 years of existence. I was just a boring girl, living a mundane life, in the tiny town of Forks, Washington. I had known most of the males in my circle since the age of five. They had seen me through bad haircuts, braces and a horrible phase in which I thought it was fashionable to wear any and every shade of pink you could imagine.

"He looks like he's from the Reservation," Angela stated, slurping down the remnants of her vanilla shake.

"Yeah, he's got that whole tall, dark and mysterious thing going on," Jessica adds.

I can't help but bring my eyes back to him. His black hair is cut short, unlike a lot of the other Reservation boys who wear it long. His skin looks like he'd been lying out in the sun all day, despite that fact that it was mid-October. He was adorable. And he was looking directly back at me.

"Oh my god, he's coming over," I hissed, burying my face into a menu.

We all got quiet as he approached, the sound of his shoes made a sloshing noise on the floor-the soundtrack of living in a town where it was perpetually raining.

"Ladies," He started.

I glanced up, praying that all redness was gone from my cheeks.

"Hi, I'm Jessica!" She shoved her hand out, always the over-friendly type.

"I'm Jacob Black," He responded, turning towards me.

"Bella," I stuttered. "Is my name. Bella."

This evokes a laugh from the whole table, which only furthers my humiliation.

"Bella." He repeated, smiling.

After that, we became quick friends. At first we'd all meet at the diner, he'd bring his friends and I'd bring mine. Eventually, it dwindled down to just the two of us. Eventually, it turned into dates. Eventually, it turned into a relationship. Eventually it turned into a nightmare. One I couldn't escape.

For the first two months, Jacob was perfect. Looking back, I should've realized he was too perfect. He opened doors for me, called me every night to tell me to sleep tight. My father loved him, my mother adored him. All the girls at school were envious, that somehow boring Bella Swan had landed this amazing, wonderful guy. I could see the questions in their eyes everyday after school, when Jacob came to pick me up in his VW Rabbit. All of them wondering, why her?

I was falling hopelessly, utterly in love with him. I was picturing a wedding, a house, kids. All the things that young girls dream of, before they are hit with the understanding that the real world really sucks. It was at the beginning of month three when I was hit by it. . .figuratively and literally.

Jacob's mother had left him and his father when he was ten. Although Jacob rarely ever spoke of her leaving, I had gathered enough to know that Billy Black was an abusive alcoholic who showed no mercy on Jacob or his mother. She left in the dead of night, taking with her one suitcase and leaving behind one son.

It was late for a school night, but I hadn't seen or spoken to Jacob all day and I was worried. He wasn't returning my phone calls or texts. He didn't show up to pick me up from school. I waited for almost an hour, Eric Yorkie staying behind to entertain me and work on our joint English report, as we sat on the school steps. He never showed.

"Hello?" I knocked loudly on the door, with still no answer.

I hesitantly let myself into the Black home. Jacob hardly ever brought me here, instead preferring to hang out at my house, with my family. There were no lights on, so I carefully made my way in the direction of Jacob's bedroom. I was afraid that I'd run into Billy, despite the fact that his truck wasn't parked outside. Jacob's sparse stories about him were enough to terrify me.

I heard a noise coming from Jacob's room. I followed it, seeing light seeping out of the bottom of the doorframe.

"Jacob?" I whispered, hoping he'd hear.


"Jacob?" Slightly louder this time.


I slowly grasp the knob, turning it every so carefully. I pushed open the door to find Jacob, sitting on his bed, staring out the window while muttering under his breath. I inched closer, still unsure if he had heard me enter the room.

"Jake. . ." I said, in a sing-song voice.

He hated when I called him that, but I thought my teasing might lighten the mood I had intensely felt upon entering the room.

His eyes shot up at me, they were black and fierce.

"What are you doing here?" His tone was not one I recognized.

I instinctively took a step back, surprising myself as a feeling of fear crept in. This is Jacob, I had told myself, I have nothing to be afraid of.

"You never came to pick me up today and you weren't returning any of my calls," I started. "I was worried."

He stood up, his body looking more intimidating than I had ever remembered..

"I came to pick you up, but you were so busy trying to get into some guy's pants that you didn't notice me." He spat.

"What?" I laughed, sure he was joking.

He turned away from me and it was then that I noticed a small bruise on his right cheekbone. I reached to comfort him.

"Your face. . ." I said, as he shoved my hand away.

"Don't try to change the subject," His voice venomous.

He's just upset, I told myself. He got into another fight with Billy and is upset.

"What are you talking about?"

"You were sitting on the steps, talking to some asshole after school. You were practically all over him."

I laughed at the sheer and utter ridiculousness of his comments.

"You think it's funny? Me seeing you with another guy?" He said, stepping closer.

"Jacob, he's just a friend. We're working on an English project together," I replied, feeling the tension ease as I explained myself.

Just a simple misunderstanding.

I still felt the punch across my face long after it had actually happened. I was so surprised, I didn't react. I just stood there, hand on cheek, trying to see his face through the cloud of black that was now hovering over my eyes.

He instantly began apologizing. Telling me he loved me, telling me it was an accident, telling me was sorry.

I'd always dreamed of hearing the words "I love you" from a man. But in my dream, it wasn't right after he had punched me in the face.

There were no more punches or hits for several weeks. I began to relax. The bruise had healed up and after a story of my forever clumsy self tripping and falling on the sidewalk, no one was ever the wiser for the true source of my injury.

Then slowly, almost deliberately, they began. Once every two weeks, then once a week, then once a day. I never knew when they would come, but I knew they were coming. I could've left him, but I didn't.

Any love at all is better than nothing.