Carol took a deep breath as she stood on the Court House steps, her arms full of completed paper was done. Ed, her recent Ex husband, would never hurt her. She was free of him. The world seemed brighter, vibrant and full of color. Carol straightened her blouse with her left hand as she descended down the large steps, loosing her footing as a strong gust of wind blew the papers out of her arms, scattering them down the steps.
"No." she exclaimed as she raced down the stairs after them. People dodged out her way as she hurried after the papers, clutching the others tightly to her chest. Her eyes trained on the paper, she didn't see the young man standing before her until she had smacked into him, her papers flying again.
"Oh shit!" the man grunted as he recovered from the fall, reaching around to snag any papers he could get his rough hands on.
"I'm so sorry!" Carol stuttered as she worked to her papers back. Their eyes met for a moment and she stopped shuffling for a moment before her gaze was torn away by a stray sheet of paper floating away. She reached over, snatching it out of the air. Their hands brushed as they scrambled to collect the papers, laughing as they collected them.
"I'm sorry." Carol said again, looking at the man. He was tall and strong looking, his arms well toned and muscled, were poking out of a sleeveless shirt, a thin sheen of sweat glinting on his shoulders. He was handsome, his blue eyes almost dazzling as he looked at her, yet they held the same haunted look Carol had had for many years now. His hair was dark brown, reaching to about his ears, bringing out his eyes even more than they already stood out.
The man cracked a small smile as he looked away, handing her the last few sheafs of paper, his fingers brushing hers ever so slightly.
"Thank you." Carol murmured quietly as she got up. "I'm Carol." she trembled nervously as he got up, almost towering over her. He extended a rough, calloused hand and she took it gently in her small hand.
"Daryl." he said roughly, a southern kind of drawl falling from his lips. He was dressed in an olive green cargo pants and a dark, sleeveless shirt. looked like he had ripped 'em off himself. Carol's eyes found a faint scar that the fabric of the shirt didn't cover, then another. She frowned ever so slightly, almost not hearing his next question.
"What are you here for? If...Ya don't mind?" he looked at her with an innocent, questioning gaze. Carol shuffled the papers until they were lined up with each other.
"I've signed my divorce papers." Carol couldn't help but smile as she said this, happiness soaring in her chest as she looked back up at this strange man - Daryl. He nodded, a small ghost of a smile appearing. She wondered if he saw it too, the haunted look she had. Her scars that were visible and she watch as his eyes traced on her wrist.
"What are you here for?" she asked slowly as his eyes made their way back to her face. She saw it then. The hurt, the anger.
"Gettin' my dumbass brother." he growled slightly, causing her to flinch at the tone of his voice. It would take some getting used to, how others talked. She had to learn that not everybody wanted to hurt her like Ed did. She nodded as an awkward air set around them.
"Well...I hope he's not in any serious trouble..." Carol trailed off awkwardly as he looked to the Court House. "Thank you." she said gratefully. That was as much as a good bye Carol could muster and she began to descend the steps once more at a steadier pace.
"Carol!" she was at the bottom step when she heard him calling her name. She turned around quickly, watching as he came down the steps after her. She could see a little blush creeping through his face as he looked at her.
"Carol." he said her name again. He looked nervous as he opened his mouth again.
"Do...You want to go get coffee sometime?" he gave her a crooked, nervous smile. Carol stopped in surprise. She had just gotten her divorce papers signed, she shouldn't be jumping right into another relationship, but something inside her was screaming at her to say yes.
She nodded, a smile creeping onto her face.

And the haunted look went away.
AUAUAUAUAUAUAUAUAUAUAUAUAUAU AUAUAUAUAUAUAU
Took a deep breath in the mirror
He didn't like it when I wore high heels
But I do
Turn the lock and put my headphones on
He always said he didn't get this song
But I do, I do

Carol smoothed a hand over her summer dress as she brought her shawl over her shoulders. This was an outfit Ed would have never allowed her to wear outside the house. It was a tropical blue, reaching her knees and ending in a flowy cut. Her white shawl covered her shoulders slightly. This definitely wasn't something she would wear regularly, but she was up to experiment.
She and Daryl had arranged a coffee date. Not technically a date in her mind, but it was something. Sophia was in school now and Carol was running just a tad bit late. As she rushed around her house looking for her keys, negative thoughts started to cross her mind. Maybe he wouldn't come, maybe he'll just leave. The thoughts left her just as quickly as they came as she found her keys. She swung out the door, purse on her shoulder.
Walked in expecting you'd be late
But you got here early and you stand and wave
I walk to you
You pull my chair out and help me in
And you don't know how nice that is
But I do

The shop was quiet as Carol walked in, all the late morning coffee drinkers already at work or at school. Her eyes swept the shop and she noticed Daryl sitting there, watching her. He gave her a small wave, motioning her over.
"Hey!" Carol said breathlessly as she came over. Daryl got up as she came to her chair, helping her sit down. Her heart twinged as he sat down again. Thoughts from her last relationship came back to her. The unkind words, his screams, her swollen skin. All vanished when she looked at Daryl.

"I'm sorry I was late." she said, placing her purse down. "Couldn't find my keys." a chuckle escaped his lips at this as he played with his hands. He was wearing another sleeveless shirt, which made Carol wonder if he actually owned a shirt that had sleeves on them. He looked like a hard worker and her eyes found another deep scar on his forearm.
They fell into conversation when Carol brought up the mentions of dogs. She saw the way Daryl's eyes lit up as he talked about an old dog he had a long time ago. That dog had been with him forever. He told her how he hunted, and she told him how she wanted to write something worth reading. She could see him holding back as he told his stories about his family. He only mentions his brother sometimes, but she could see the hurt come back.
And you throw your head back laughing
Like a little kid
I think it's strange that you think I'm funny cause
He never did
I've been spending the last 8 months
Thinking all love ever does
Is break and burn and end
But on a Wednesday in a cafe
I watched it begin again

They both clutched their sides with laughter as Daryl accidentally sent a fork flying in the air, landing with a loud clang next to the cash register across the room. "Oh shit!" he laughed quietly as the person behind the counter looked around with wide eyes. Carol felt herself opening up as she looked out the window then back at Daryl.
His haunted look was gone, his face glowing with happiness she thought he had never really experienced. Her memory of him came back bit by bit. Flashes of him or his brother in the hallway of their Highschool, the recent talk of the town. The Dixon brothers were treated like trash, and as Carol looked at Daryl's face, she knew it wasn't true.
You said you never met one girl who
Had as many James Taylor records as you
But I do
We tell stories and you don't know why
I'm coming off a little shy
But I do

"What's wrong?" Daryl reached hesitantly across the table, his hand posed as if she were going to burn him. The memories had hit her so hard, the way Ed scorned her, called her good for nothing. And she agreed. His hand brushed hers gently and that got her attention.
"It's nothing." she gulped, but Daryl didn't seem convinced. They had been with each other for two hours now, and the way she had gone silent didn't sit to well with him. Then it came to him: She had just gotten divorced the day they met. He sobered up after that, not asking again as her lively chatter started back up. "Come on, I knew where we can go." Carol smiled as she got up, waiting for him. He paid, not giving in as she said she would for her share.
And you throw your head back laughing
Like a little kid
I think it's strange that you think I'm funny cause
He never did
I've been spending the last 8 months
Thinking all love ever does
Is break and burn and end
But on a Wednesday in a cafe
I watched it begin again

They ended up in the park, walking together towards the pond. He had started to talk about his hunting again and Carol listened intently as he went on with his stories, gesturing his hands as he explained, his face lively. She had never seen him this happy, her memories of him were dark. He always had a scowl on his face, or he looked like he wanted to kick his brothers ass.
"I hauled it back for me and Merle." he said, watching the water as the sun glinted off of it. He looked back at Carol for a moment as she stood closer to him, both of them sitting in silence, just taking in each others presence. Slowly, she felt his arm wrap around her, pulling her closer to him gently. She let him, enjoying the feeling of him around her.

And her husbands haunting voice left her.