Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I am just using the names that she created for her wonderful story.

X-NessieCullen-X, as always, has preread and beta'd this little project of mine. She's fantabulous and keeps me sane :)

WARNING- If you've read other stories of mine, you know I don't deal only in fluff and happiness. Dark themes underly most of my plot lines and this story is no exception. It is M for a reason. There. You've had your warning. ~Now you can enjoy it~

Chapter 1

A Fresh Start

"Fuck, Eddie, it smells like sex in here," Jasper Whitlock cringed as he walked over to the window and pulled the curtain wide, letting in the crisp, fall air.

Edward Cullen couldn't help but smirk as the girl he was currently holding to him grabbed the blankets and pulled them up over both of them. He wanted to tell her to calm down but he couldn't remember her name. Jasper just shook his head and walked back out of the room. "Don't forget! You told Lanie you'd pick her up at ten!"

Irritation hit Edward as he got out of bed without so much as a hello to the naked blonde and stalked naked over to the hallway. Not giving a shit that he was in his birthday suit, he glared at Jasper. "I fucking know when to pick her up! I have forty-seven minutes and traffic won't be too bad."

"Oh my, God. You're married..." the girl muttered as she dug around in the bedsheets for what Edward figured was some tiny article of clothing.

"I'm not married," Edward frowned, pulling on his pants and running his fingers through his hair to try to tame it. It never worked.

"Girlfriend, then?" she asked, now dressed in her tank top and jeans.

"Nope."

This allowed her to relax a little and shake her head. "Then who the hell is Lanie?"

"Don't worry about it."

"Do you have a kid?" the blonde asked incredulously, as if that was the last thing she would have expected.

"Do you need a ride home?"

"No. I'll take a cab," she spat, shaking her head. Guilt touched Edward for all of about ten seconds while he watched her storm past Jasper and walk out the door.

"You are going to end up with a kid..." Jasper began, shaking his head.

"I don't need a lecture."

"You need your own place to do this shit at...oh, wait, you have one!"

"I can't take girls back to my place. What if something happens and Lanie catches me? Besides, we were roomies for almost two years before shit hit the fan. It's not like you haven't seen me naked..."

"Still, it would be nice not to have to see you naked before I even get a chance to eat my breakfast. Your friend, though...I mean...where did you find that one?"

"Church group," Edward smiled, grabbing a cup of coffee off the counter.

"Edward!"

"Kidding, kidding. The bar. Tanya's been a piece of work lately. I couldn't get a hold of her so I found someone else."

"Edward, Lanie's going to be eleven years old in a few months. She's not stupid. She's going to think something is up."

"I have to go. If I'm a second late, she'll lecture me the whole way home."

"Oh, now you act like picking her up is your top priority! Here, take her some muffins. Alice made them yesterday afternoon."

Edward grabbed the bag Jasper was handing to him and set it back down long enough to put his shirt on and take turns with his feet as he stuck them each in a boot and tied them up. Without another word, he grabbed the bag and his keys and headed down to the apartment lobby. After fighting with his car for about three minutes, he finally got the damn thing to start and pulled out into the Sunday morning traffic.

Lanie, his ten year old sister, was staying at a friend's house on the other side of the city. As soon as he found a parking place, he remembered who he would have to deal with in the process. The little girl's mother was an...interesting...character. If it wasn't for the fact that Lanie didn't have that many friends since the incident, he wouldn't have let her stay there at all. The night before when he dropped her off had been bad enough.

Bracing himself, he knocked on the door and waited. Seconds later, the door opened to a strawberry blonde trophy wife who was wearing black stilettos and a silky robe. "Hi, Edward."

"Good morning, Mrs. Nichol," he said as politely as possible while only slightly emphasizing the 'Mrs.'

"Eddie!" a shrill voice from behind the woman called out.

While the woman stepped back, he was aware that she was staring at him. "So, Mrs. Nichol, I hope she was good. Thanks for letting her stay. She loves playing with Sarah. Hopefully they didn't keep you and your husband up all night."

"She's a total angel. Besides, Andrew's away for the next week or so."

Go figure. "Alright, Miss Lanie Bug, let's hit the road. Ally sent you muffins..."

"Mmm! Bye, Sara. Bye, Mrs. Nichol!"

"Bye, Lanie," the woman said, smiling warmly before looking at Edward. "I know that being a single parent can be hard. If you ever need anything, don't hesitate to stop by."

Swallowing hard, Edward tried to keep a civil smile on his face. "Erm...thanks. Come on, Lanie."

"Why does Mrs. Nichol always wear high heels when you come to pick me up?"

"I don't know," he sighed. He hated lying to her but there was no way in hell he was touching that question with a forty-foot pole. "Eat your muffins."

"I really like Ally," she said as she thoughtfully chewed a piece of her muffin.

"So do I, kiddo."

"Are you her boyfriend?"

Edward coughed a little before laughing. "No. She's Jazz's girlfriend, remember?"

"Then why do you have muffins from her in your car?"

"Lanie, I am not Ally's boyfriend, okay? I hung out with Jazz last night and he brought them over for you. I just left them in the car by accident."

"Do I have to go to school on Monday?"

"Yes, Lanie," Edward sighed.

"I hate school."

"I know. Just try, okay? The state says you have to go to school...I can get into a lot of trouble if you don't."

"Dad never cared if I went."

"Alana, enough. We're not talking about dad."

"You never went to school."

"I never went to college. I finished high school."

"Isn't the point of school to get ready for college? I'm not going so what difference does it make?"

"Who said you're not going?" When she looked away from him and stared out the window he asked again. "Alana, who said you're not going to college?"

"I don't like school," was all she replied.

"Don't give me that. You're smart, your teachers like you, and I thought you wanted to be a vet? You can't be a vet without going to college."

"You're smart."

Edward had no idea how to explain this to her. He'd done his best when she was growing up to not let her know about all of those nights he'd have to drag his mother home from the bar or beg his father to quit with the drugs-at least around Lanie. How did he tell a ten year old that he didn't go to college because he had to make sure that she was taken care of? "I work on bridges. I don't need a degree for that."

"I heard you tell Em all that time that you hate it."

"I don't hate it," he lied. Shaking his head, he decided to keep going. Lying, as of late, was his forte. "Remember when me, you, and mom went to the zoo? We were coming over the Veteran's Bridge and we had to get back off because of the detour? You even said it looked like fun to work the crane. Remember?"

"Yeah," she whispered as if she was lying just as much as he was.

"Lanie? I want better for you than what I have. I want you to be happy. I want you to be able to do anything you want."

"Edward?"

"Hm?"

"Would Uncle Jazz be mad if Ally came to visit us tonight, even though you aren't her boyfriend?"

"I think he'd be cool with it. You can call her when we get back to the apartment, okay?"

Bella's feet shuffled along the newly-paved sidewalk as her family's full-grown Siberian husky took her for a walk. When they had gotten Luca, he was only about two months old and already weighted fifteen pounds. Now, at two years old, he weighed one hundred and ten and had completely forgotten that he was the one on the leash. The neighborhood was safe at least, so if the dog pulled her where she didn't want to go, chances were they'd end up in a hockey players driveway or some doctor's yard. Once, he had plopped his pooch behind down on a local dentist's porch and absolutely refused to budge. Thankfully, Dr. Daniel's wife was a sweetie and had brought her out a glass of water.

He was still a beautiful dog, the image of what most people thought of when they thought of huskies. He had white and gray coloring with light blue eyes and black around his mouth that made him look like he was smiling. His calm demeanor put people at ease instead of making them anxious given his size and Bella had considered him a useful tool. The kids at the school she used to work for absolutely loved him and thankfully there were no allergies among her students. Once a week, as a treat for good behavior, Bella's dad would drop the dog off in the afternoon in front of the school and she and the kids would play with him on the manicured lawn of the schoolyard.

For some kids, it was their only chance of having a pet and they would use their free time to make things for him to play with and even write him letters. She knew, though, that this upcoming school year would be very different. Since her students had scored high on their PSSA scores, she'd been sent a letter by the State Board of Education asking if she would be willing to participate in a loan reimbursement program. A few neighborhood's over, in a place she wouldn't feel comfortable walking her dog, there was a school that needed some help. There were a lot of low-income students who Bella felt deserved a chance at a good life, even if their parents weren't there to help them. If she worked there for a few years, the interest rates would be lowered and some of them forgiven.

Her mom worked as a bank manager in a branch only a few blocks away from the school and always made comments about how many people came in to cash government aid checks. Most of the families that lived in the area were more involved in the drug trade than making sure their children got to school. Now, as she was pulled along by Luca, she thought about her parent's reaction when she told them she wanted to try and do it. Her mother was shocked but her father had been very upset, livid even.

Her father dealt with some of the same people her mother did because he was a police officer. He couldn't understand why she would want to leave her cushy job where she was now to work with, as he put it, 'low-life's.' Bella still didn't know why she wanted to do it. She didn't expect to go in there and be this heroic, miracle teacher. She just wanted to try to make learning a little more fun for the kids, maybe inspire them to want to at least want to show up.

So, she was leaving in a few hours to spend the evening in her new classroom just to make sure everything was in order for the next day. She was excited. A new group of students meant new stories, new challenges, and new lessons. She had decided to take the job as the sixth grade reading and history teacher. After reminding her father that she wasn't going to be working at the high school, or even the middle school, he finally backed off and let her alone about her decision. Still, as she walked with Luca towards the front of her driveway, her dad was leaning against the squad car. "You headed down to the school?"

"Yeah."

"I'll take you."

"Dad, I don't need a police escort..."

After putting the finishing touches on the bulletin board above her desk, Bella sat down and pulled out the big file folder that she had already gone through twice. Of her class of twenty-four, seven of those students had IEP's. The Individual Education Plan's were helpful and she knew that she had to do her best to stick to them but she didn't want to consider them the end all of what those kids needed. Only a few of her students in the previous two years that she taught needed IEP's and even then they were just pulled out to work with someone one on one in certain subjects for an hour or so a day.

This year she would be dealing with students who needed help and she was all the help they would have offered to them. Feeling overwhelmed, she flipped to the back of the folder where each student had their own page with a little bit of history on it. A few weeks ago, she had sent postcards to each family welcoming their child to her classroom. She knew that for some kids, the first day of school could be overwhelming and she didn't want them to be worried when they arrived. Three of the students were even altogether new to the district.

Her buzzing phone made her jump and she quickly reached into her purse to grab it. "Hey, Rose. What's up?"

"Nothing much. I have some news, though."

"What?"

"I have a date!"

"A date? I want the details!"

"His name is Emmett...I never did catch his last name...but anyway...I almost ran him over and when I went to check and make sure he was okay..."

"Wait! You ran him over?"

"I almost ran him over," Rosalie Hale stated, as if it were no big deal.

"Explain."

"He's a construction worker and he was holding that turny slow and stop sign thingy. Well, I was going too fast and I didn't see him..."

"Rose! My dad can only get you out of so many tickets! It's dangerous! You could have hurt this guy!"

"Well, I didn't. I went back and checked, remember?"

"Oh my, God," Bella muttered, planting her face on her desk.

"So," Rose continued, completely ignoring her friend. "He's really cute and after giving me a lecture, I asked if I could make it up to him by paying for dinner some night. He smiled, and yes he has dimples, and actually turned me down if he couldn't get to pay. So, we're now having dinner this Friday. He's even paying!"

"Well, gee, I'm glad the guys not dead..."

"Bella, don't be so dramatic. I almost hit him, remember?"

"That makes it better," Bella pretended to agree while rolling her eyes.

"So, whatcha doing? It's Sunday night...are you going to stop by?"

"I'll probably be here for a while."

"Where are you?"

"The school. First day is tomorrow, remember?"

"Oh, yeah. Aren't you scared?"

"No. You sound like my mom. They aren't criminals."

"Yet."

"Rosalie Hale!"

"I'm sorry. I just couldn't imagine working with kids who's parents are drug dealers and alcoholics."

"Not all of them are like that. In fact, I've had two responses to my postcards. Two parents actually sent me a letter to say hi and to let me know that they'll help with anything I need. There's hope."

"Still, not all of those parents are going to be that easy to deal with."

"I know. It's really sad, Rose. I have kids who are in foster care, I have kids who have emotional behavior problems...I mean, there's one parent who, if I'm understanding this right, had to have had this little girl when he was like fourteen."

"Well, that's what you're there for. Try to give them some type of positive authority figure while you can... Hey, I have to go. My mom's calling me."

Sitting back in her chair, Bella rubbed her temples. She'd been best friends with Rose for as long as she could remember. They were next door neighbors and had even gone off to college together. Rose's dad was a surgeon and her mom was an oncologist. Needless to say, the only Hale child didn't have the kind of debt Bella walked away with upon graduating. Still, as flighty as the blonde could be, she had always been there for Bella and was dearly loved by the Swan family.

As Bella realized how alone she felt, it wasn't the first time that she wished she could meet guys like Rose could. The girl could give Megan Fox a run for her money. Bella hated Megan Fox. She was too damn pretty. There was nothing very remarkable about Bella. She was about average height, with typical brown eyes, wavy mahogany hair, and was as clumsy as hell. Yep, she was a real keeper.

Forcing herself to focus on the task at hand, Bella pulled her glasses from her purse and popped them onto her face. Before the students arrived in the morning, she would have everything she could memorized about them. Still, one child's file still confused her. The legal guardian's birth date was April 6, 1988. That made him twenty-four years old, the same age as her. She couldn't imagine having a ten year old daughter. Shaking her head, she pushed on to another child's page and settled in for a long evening. Bella prayed that this wasn't going to be as bad as everyone was making it out to be.

As always, it means a lot to me when I receive reviews from my wonderful readers. Reviews are my payment after all the time I put into these stories and the motivation for me to keep writing. I beg of you, please leave me some feedback. If you enjoy it, share it. I have many wonderful ideas for this story but I also need to know that I have the fan base to keep it alive. So, please, leave me some love! Letzy xx