A/N: Hey, everyone! I came up with the idea for this a few days ago. It's loosely based on the story of the song 'Little Lady' by Ed Sheeran, which, in case you haven't heard it, is absolutely heart-wrenching. I'm not sticking to the lyrics or the story completely, as Peter will be added partway through. Basically, Carla Connor is fifteen-years-old (and uses her maiden name). Frank Foster is her mother's bastard of a boyfriend. This is a completely AU fic, so a little imagination is needed here. Frank's in his mid to late thirties. Peter Barlow is eighteen and has just left the Navy, and becomes Carla's hero as Frank starts to force her to do things that a lot of young girls wouldn't even dream of. This is rated T, but there WILL be violence, swearing, sexual references etc. Nothing too graphic, but if you're easily upset then I suggest you look away now. There is NO specific mention of rape in this fic; it may be insinuated at times, but it is up to readers what they believe has happened in the past. I own nothing, unfortunately. Carter will be heavily featured in later chapters :)! I haven't written for a while, so this could be a bit iffy, please bear with me! And I'm going away from Saturday - Monday night and am back at school after that, so updates may be slow as I'm about to sit my GCSEs! . Sorry in advance!
'Home: An environment offering security and happiness and a valued place regarded as a refuge or place of origin'. For fifteen-year-old Carla O'Brien, 'home' provided her with none of the above. 'Home' was a rundown, uncared for two-bedroom flat that she was forced to return to each and every evening straight after school without fail. She lived in this hellhole with her mother, the ever-absent, constantly-off-her-face Sheryl O'Brien, and her six-year-old brother, Darren. It had been just the three of them for years, ever since Carla's errant father had miraculously disappeared, much to his only daughter's dismay. As useless as he had been, he had at least provided them with a bit of money, and had been around to look after the kids while Sheryl was off getting her next fix from god knows where. In recent months, however, the family set-up had been torn apart with the arrival of Sheryl's latest fella, infamous bully Frank Foster. He'd elbowed his way into the centre of the family, disrupting everything that Carla knew and had somehow grown to love. Now, her mother's addiction was no longer a shameful secret, dirty laundry which was not to be aired in public under any circumstances. The whole of Manchester had been made aware that Sheryl O'Brien was nothing more than white powder dependant, a woman who was forced to rely on some dodgy bloke for the cash she needed to fund her habit. The childish taunts that Carla was forced to endure at school may have become unbearable, but she would have willingly accepted a thousand a day if it meant staying away from home, away from Frank and his overpowering, bully-boy tactics used to get his own way.
"Carla, come on, hear me out!" sixteen-year-old Luke Strong sighed, placing a gentle hand on girlfriend Carla's shoulder and spinning her around to face him, "If all I was after was a quick shag, I'd go and get one from somewhere else. I wouldn't pressure you into anything."
"Oh, thanks a fucking lot," Carla muttered, folding her arms angrily across her chest and leaning against the lockers that were cleverly positioned behind her, "You'd rather cheat on me than tempt me into bed with your pathetic charm. Nice, Luke, real nice."
"You know what I mean, Carla."
"Yes. You do. So can we cut the crap, please? There's no need to inform your girlfriends of how I'm 'forcing you' to give me a good seeing to."
"Carla!" Luke exclaimed, placing his hands on the lockers behind her, one on each side of her head, "Promise me you'll stop going on about it. Please. And then let me kiss you." Carla held up her right hand, her fingers bent into a fist and her little finger left sticking out.
"Pinkie promise…" she replied, an obvious air of satire in her tone.
"You know, you're dead cute when you're angry," Luke teased, knowing just how much it would wind her up, as he leant in towards her and caught her lips between his own. For a brief moment, Carla was allowed to experience what it was like to be a normal teenager, a rare occasion. She was far from normal, and she had been forced to act a lot older than her years, meaning that something as simple as a kiss with Luke Strong was enough to remind her exactly who she was. Unfortunately, her best friend Suzie chose that precise moment to show her face, accompanied by the eternally cheerful and clearly loved-up Michelle Connor, whose doe-eyes and innocent expression were not enough to fool anyone around her that she hadn't spent a majority of her fourth year at school hopping from bed-to-bed with random Sixth Form boys.
"Sorry to interrupt the suck-off, but some of us have homes to go," Suzie announced, screwing her nose up in disgust as she grabbed Carla by the hand and dragged her out of Luke's passionate embrace, "Are you coming out tonight, missy?"
Carla shook her head, glancing down at the school's wood flooring beneath her. "I can't. I'm working." Technically, it wasn't a lie. She would be working, albeit not where her friends thought.
"No you're not. I checked the rota, idiot." Suzie frowned, slipping a finger under Carla's chin and tilting her head up so she could look her in the eye. "Hey. What's going on with you, Car?"
"Stop lying to me."
"I'm not lying, Suze, I'm fine. Just drop it," Carla snapped, dropping Suzie's hand and slowing down her pace so she fell behind and found herself walking next to Luke once more.
"Suit yourself, stroppy mare," Suze muttered, rolling her eyes before quickly leaping into conversation with Michelle about her the latest lad to succumb to her feminine wiles. Concerned, Luke slipped an arm around Carla's waist, halting her steps.
"Babe, what's up?" he asked, keeping his voice low and out of the earshot of the rest of the world, "You've been acting odd lately. Is it me?"
"No. No, it's nothing to do with you…" Carla assured him, anxiously glancing up at a clock hanging just above the main door leading outside, aware that if she wasn't back by half three on the dot, she'd be in big, big trouble.
"Then what?" Luke slowly moved his other arm around her, tilting his head forward and touching his lips to the side of her neck, mumbling his next words against it, "Is it school? Work? Something at home?"
"Oh, just give it a rest, will you? I'm sick of you playing Mr Nice Guy when all you're really concerned about is getting in my knickers by the end of the year! I've had enough!" Carla retorted, wrenching herself from Luke's strong grasp and storming to the door, her face filled with fury.
"Alright, Carla, no need to jump down my fucking throat!" Luke yelled, narrowing his eyes at her retreating back.
Slamming the front door of the flat behind her, inevitably causing the entire wall to tremble dangerously, Carla was pleasantly surprised to find that no one was home. Or so she thought. She gasped upon noticing her little brother, Darren, sprawled out across the living room floor, moving his little toy train along an old wooden train track.
"What time did you get home?" Carla asked, falling to her knees beside him. Darren held up his hand, his fingers spread out.
"Five minutes ago?" she continued. He nodded. It was then that Carla noticed exactly what he had been using as the materials that the train was transporting.
"Darren!" Carla exclaimed, grabbing the little bags of white powder from the back of the train, "What the hell have I told you about touching these?"
"I was only playing! I didn't take any!" Darren cried, his lower lip trembling as Carla quickly got to her feet and moved over to the sink.
"Don't you dare do it again. I'm only looking out for you, love…" Carla sighed, ripping open the little plastic bag and tipping the contents directly down the drain just as the front door banged open.
"What the fuck do you think you're playing at, you stupid little cow?" came the booming voice of Frank Foster, their mother's boyfriend. His eyes were full of rage as he glared furiously at Carla, though this did not startle her in the slightest.
"I've told you to keep these out of Darren's reach!" Carla yelled in reply, dropping the now-empty packet to the floor. Frank took a couple of slow steps towards her, clenching his fists.
"Do you not know how much this lot costs me, you thick little whore?" he roared, a few throbbing veins visible at his temples. "You can make up for it by taking that lot over there out to the shifty looking bloke at the end of the street!"
"And what if I don't want to?" Carla queried, bravely testing him. She was soon to discover that this was a massive mistake, however, as Frank furiously grabbed hold of her wrist, twisting her arm backwards.
"You will do as I say, because we both remember what happened last time, don't we?" he spat through gritted teeth, digging his fingers further into her pressure points at the sign of extreme pain in her expression. "Now go!" As he released her from his grasp, he slammed her back against the wall, her shoulder smashing against it and sending a shooting pain through her collarbone. Reluctantly, she scurried over towards the front door and, grabbing the small brown bag from the table as she passed, hastily disappeared outside. Once safely out of harm's way, Carla finally allowed herself to breathe, leaning against the wall for support as a flurry of tears cascaded down her cheeks as a result of Frank's vicious outburst.