Disclaimer: I don't own anything Twilight related. I am not Stephanie Meyer nor do I present myself out to be her. I am not making a dime off this creation. I am just doing it to stretch and build my writing skills and self-gratification.
I love feedback, so don't be shy :)
Notes on my AU Pack-World - This is set three years after the last book. Jacob never imprinted on Nessie. The Cullens are still in town although Carlisle has 'retired to concentrate on his family and writing a book' (or something like that) as to not attract attention to their non-aging sparkly selves. Jake took over the Packs before Nessie was born. The whole confrontation with the Volturi happened and it went down like in the book. Most of the rest is explained in the next couple of chapters so it shouldn't be too confusing. Um...I think that sets the stage, so to speak. Oh – also – in case you haven't figured it out. This is playing on a what if scenario in my head – What if Sam's Father had other children out there? Then things rolled into placed after that.
A lanky, thin young woman climbed the cold, frozen steps in front of a tired two-story white house in Denver. Her arm is in a cast and she's trying desperately not to slip again. She doesn't have medical insurance and the free clinic isn't completely free. The last thing she wanted is to break her other arm or something. The only reason she's climbing the front door steps is because she's avoiding the land lady who lived right behind them and could see when they used their back sliding door.
They were late with their rent again.
The arm was almost done healing but the damage had been done. She had been laid off one job and the other job – the biggest paying one – wouldn't let her back in until she was better even if she could swing herself around a pole with a broken arm.
At least they understood that shit happened and she could go back on the active roster when it was off. Not before.
Meaning she was really, really late on rent.
She shoved the key through and shoved the door open. Immediately she felt the relief of the warmth of the house she spent hundreds of dollars warming.
It was worth it.
"Mag-NOL-ia!" A dark haired boy yelled. "Sunny won't give me the remote an' it's my turn!"
"Fuck off, Alby! It's still my show!"
"Sunshine Uley – you didn't pay your cussin' dues this month so you don't get to use that sorta language." Magnolia Uley called out as she slammed the door behind her with her good arm. She was met with the sight of her home she shared with her three brothers and her sister in a complete mess. She had let the kids call in sick today even though they weren't really sick because she was too exhausted to fight with them about it. They were good kids, they really were. When things got tough they stuck together. The kids got more frustrated when shit happened and they were too young to help solve the problem. Which was why they hadn't been in the mood to go to school.
Her eight year old sister bounced off the tired couch and shook her head, pointing to a jar labeled 'cuss dues' on the wall. "I did! I found a stash of quarters from this summer underneath my mattress!"
"Alright, no dishes. When your show is over hand the remote over and do some homework." Magnolia stated, locking the door behind her. She knew the people in this neighborhood and they knew her but shit still went down. It wasn't a normal night if she wasn't wondering if that was a bullet or a car back firing.
"Can we call in sick tomorrow again?" Her little brother asked with eager eyes.
"Nah, baby. Sister Maria will come here and kick all our asses."
His eyes widened at the mention of the nun that had taken a special interest in their situation a few years ago. She had gotten the kids into a private catholic school on special funding for struggling families and had forced Magnolia to take a GED test (which she had failed but at least she had tried).
The dark haired boy whose full name no one was supposed to say out loud because it was too embarrassing sighed resigned and flopped on the couch that took up most of the space of their living room which was two steps away from their kitchen. A baby with dark hair and dark eyes played on the kitchen floor with a bowl full of cheerios in a dog bowl.
"Alby, stop trying to turn Jackson into a dog." She scolded as she peeled her layers off and pulled her coat off of her cast-covered arm carefully.
"Why not? He's gotta be fed and we gotta train him to go pee and shit like a puppy." Alby wanted to know landing on the couch next to his younger sister who watching My Little Pony with lots of interest.
Magnolia shook her head and hung her coat up in the closet.
It wasn't a fancy house. She could probably get a cheaper trailer and have enough room to put the baby in his own room. But, then they would be living on the outskirts of Denver instead of inside and she'd spend a fortune sending the kids in for school and going to work. Their lives were in the neighborhood. Uley's didn't cop out on their lives.
At least she and her siblings didn't. Their Daddy was a whole different story. They hadn't seen him for over a year and that was normal. Not since she told him to go fuck himself when she was sixteen after he said they were moving on again. He left and she kept the kids and things were better for it.
That had been like...six years ago. She was twenty two now and felt more like forty. They saw him once or twice a year. Denver held his sort of crowd so he was in town often...he just wasn't around. He never sent money or support of any kind but that too was pretty normal for him.
They had been fending for themselves their entire lives. Joshua – their father – was always bouncing from one woman to another, from one city to another, and there wasn't anything that they could do to stop that. He was a drifter, mostly working the betting circles around the boxing rings though. He used to fight when she was a kid but an accident had stopped that shit early on. He collected checks on all of them and as long as she didn't try to interfere with that – he didn't interfere with them. The only chance the kids had at a normal childhood was if she dropped out and took on the responsibility. She didn't want them to turn out like her and they damn well deserved better so Mags did it without a second thought. She wasn't a book-smart girl anyway. She would have ended up doing what she was doing anyway. At least now she was doing it for a good cause.
Maggie had told their dear Daddy to fuck himself in Denver. Had they been anywhere else they would have stayed there. It was strange at first, to call one place home. But then they got used to it. Actually made fucking friends.
Lived their fucked up crazy lives that in her opinion was a little too surreal sometimes.
The TV was blaring cartoons and she heard music coming from the boys room and her baby brother was crawling over the cheerio-covered kitchen floor with a dog collar around his diapered waist. The sink was full of dishes, the table covered in crayons and toys and bowls full of dried mac and cheese, and her head was pounding...but it was good to be home. She had spent the afternoon pouring drinks
She put the thirty she got in tips in a cookie tin on top of the fridge and shook her aching head.
One month wouldn't get them evicted. But it would put them behind on everything until summer hit and the kids could get summer jobs. Alby could mow lawns, Cash could pick up more hours, Sunny was old enough to maybe be like a mother's helper or something. But that wasn't until the summer.
Maggie made most of her money at a strip club called the Lumberyard. The tips were good, she had some regulars, and the rest she made up with her other two jobs. Their brother Cash always kept a job. Different shit. This past summer he had worked a landscaping crew and other...odd jobs...Cash always had something working.
The house rule was that forty percent of everything went to the 'house'. Meaning – her for bills.
They hadn't seen Alby's Mama since she ditched him at the hospital, her Mama (also Cash's and Jax's Mama) was in the pen doing three for assault in Illinois and before that they hadn't seen her in years, and Sunny's Mama was a hooker on crack but she had parents in Louisiana that sent a hundred bucks up each month to assist. She usually worked sixty hours a month at the 'Lumberyard', bar-tended each afternoon, and was on the morning maid roster at a hotel. She cleared enough to cover them but most of her money came from dancing. And most of what they relied on was from her dancing. There wasn't much else out there for a twenty two year old high school drop out with four kids and no GED.
There wasn't anything she could do but wait for her arm to heal.
They needed a new washer in the fall and it had wiped out their savings. She should have pressed the land lady harder but getting anything out of that woman was impossible. Cash had read over the lease and said that since it wasn't mentioned in the language or something then it wasn't covered and they'd have to get a lawyer. Or she could have just not gotten a washer and gone to a laundromat – but then that would have been a fortune and hours a week she didn't have to spend.
Maggie leaned against the counter...for a moment her mind drifted over the endless things on her plate and melancholy settled on her shoulders.
Jackson looked up at her from the floor and banged his dog bowl against the ground, spilling more cheerios.
"Alby, come clean up the mess on the kitchen floor!" She yelled, snapping to attention and picking up Jackson with her good arm. He technically wasn't the younger kids' brother. He was Cash and her's Mama's kid. It...got complicated with their family. Magnolia had harassed, pestered, and nagged her Dad into getting a vasectomy when she got old enough to figure out there was a way for her Dad to stop knocking up random women across the United States of America. Jackson's father was most likely the thug that drove the getaway car for her Mama when she beat up that woman in Chicago. He was incarcerated as well. Magnolia had gotten a call from her Mama about a year ago. Mama had told her she was in jail, seven months pregnant, and could she take the baby when it was born?
The boys had gotten the privilege of naming him and named him after their favorite character on their favorite show – Sons of Anarchy. They watched it for the violence and general badassery – she watched because there were some very, very good looking male specimen that did lots of nude scenes.
It didn't matter who Jack's parents were to the kids. They were all family.
Jackson rested his head against her shoulder and made a move to grab her left boob as she juggled him on her hip without hurting her bad arm.
"Such a guy already." She sighed but kissed his soft head as she pounded up the stairs to check on the upstairs.
Three bedrooms and one bathroom. The yard was small, the driveway cracked, and the neighbors loud. But it was home and had been home since she started making steady money as a stripper when she was younger. Sunny and the baby shared a room, Cash and Alby shared the other. And she claimed her own because well...she took her clothes off for a living to support the family – that meant she got her own room. At least that's what Magnolia told her kids.
She rapped her palm against a music-pounding nude-women-poster-covered door.
The music paused and she heard muffled cussing.
"I'm opening the door. Cover up." She announced loudly, opening the door even though she had seen it all anyway.
Her brother was sprawled on his bed, shirtless, with a topless bottle-blonde girl straddling him – also in a state of topless-ness.
"Hi, Magnolia." Shontelle smiled at her boyfriend's sister. They had been dating for three months which was pretty long in his track record.
"Hi, Shontelle sweetie." She greeted stepping her heeled foot over questionable dirty underwear and rocking Jacks on her hip. "I don't want to interrupt but I was wondering -"
"If I got paid today?" Cash asked, he leaned over and grabbed a cigarette from his bedside table and stuck it between his teeth, lighting it after his blonde girlfriend found her bra and clasped it back on.
"Yea, baby." She said nodding giving Shontelle an awkward smile.
Cash looked like her – light olive skin, a lanky look even though they weren't exactly tall, and caramel hair. Their father...well...they weren't sure. Uley was like a weird, unusual name. Their theory was that it was a fake identity or something. Either way it was their name. And they figured that their Dad was Latino because it was the only nationality he looked like. Black hair, dark skin, dark eyes. Their Mom had been a natural blonde from Texas. Their looks came straight from their Daddy's side.
She could still see the traces of baby-fat on Cash's face. It could be hard to see, between the scar on his cheek (he said it was from a knife fight but it was really from falling out of a tree) and the responsibility that fell on his shoulders. He was...she couldn't do it without him. He handled so much shit for the family. They did this together. Like they did everything.
"Yea. Swung by the bank and cashed it in. I got something else for you too."
He leaned back and reached in his front jean pocket, clenching his cigarette between his teeth. He jumped up and gave her a roll of cash. "It's rent."
She eyed the thick wad and realized it was fifties and hundreds.
"What the fuck?" Maggie asked staring at it.
He shrugged and ran a hand through his hair. "I was going to run it over to the crazy bitch myself but I didn't want her asking questions."
Magnolia nodded slowly, trying to figure out if she should ask or not about where this came from. Rent...rent was expensive. He didn't make that with his current job of loading boxes after school at a warehouse three times a week. What'd he do...the options were endless...fake I.D., steal a car, helped liberate something from the back of a truck...all of those options were things that she had tried or done when she was his age to do the very same thing he was trying to do.
Take care of family. So here was no way she could yell at him. They had rules. Don't get caught and don't do anything stupid.
Use your head and do it for family.
She nodded, swallowing, and stuck it in her jean pocket. "I'll have Alby run it over to her. She won't ask him questions...do I ask?"
He shook his head no. "Nothing you gotta worry 'bout."
"Just don't get in trouble, that's all I ask." She replied, leaning over and kissing his cheek. "That includes babies, little brother. No getting this one in any kind of trouble. We don't need her brothers comin' over with a shot gun."
Shontelle shook her head "It'd be my Mom you'd have to worry about. She still thinks I'm waiting until marriage." She waggled what looked like a purity ring on her finger.
"Well...that's...yea." Maggie trailed off and shook her head.
"Use condoms, check." Cash said nodding his head with a smirk. "Anything else?"
"Use your head about money. Don't do anything that's gonna get us in trouble." She nodded and stepped her way out of the room so they could get back to their fooling around.
Maggie stepped down the stairs and caught her brother by the shirt collar as he bolted past.
"Go and give this to Mrs. Rinaldi." She instructed giving him the bills. "Tell her it's rent and that we're caught up now – wear a coat and gloves."
He nodded with a relieved smile. She heard him stop and tell Sunny in an excited voice. "We got rent!"
He bounded to the coat rack and pulled his coat off and raced out the door pulling it on in a hurry.
"SLOW DOWN!" She yelled loudly after him. "DON'T BREAK YOUR ARM TOO!"
Maggie walked into the living area which was about two steps parted from the kitchen and sat on the edge of the couch. The youngest biological Uley was doing her homework and watching My Little Pony. Maggie was a Carebear girl herself but My Little Pony was a favorite too. She slid next to her and slid Jacks on her lap.
"How you doing, sweetie?" She asked, checking in.
Sunshine was as tough as any of them but she was by far the softest. She was the most tenderhearted person in the entire world. Her Mama had showed up when Sunny was two and left her. They didn't know she had any family out there until a few years ago when her Grandparents tracked them down asking about their Granddaughter. They were too elderly to take on a kid full time but they sent money, called, and Sunny went down to see them every summer. Maybe that was why she was so sweet. It'd be nice to go somewhere to get spoiled and loved on. It'd definitely soften a kid up. She was always so thoughtful. Always bringing home extra rolls of toilet paper from the school bathroom and she was smart too – she could jack a tampon machine of quarters in her sleep. And always remember to grab some tampons and pads for her older sister.
"I'm fine." She looked down at her paper and wrote something very carefully before looking back up with a little smile. "I'm glad we got the rent – did Cash get it?"
Maggie nodded. "Yea he did – so you don't have to worry now, 'kay? I'll be back on the working roster in a couple of weeks and it'll all go back to normal. I promise."
Sunny smiled and nodded. Her dark, coiled hair was pulled in a pony tail. Sunny was half-Black on her Mama's side. Maggie usually did her hair better than a pony tail but with on arm it was hard to braid. It was super curly and they called it the 'It' because it seemed to have a life of its own.
Sunny showed her her homework and explained. "We gotta write about what we wanna be when we grow up."
"That's original." She toned out drily. Maggie looked at the carefully written words and smiled at her littlest sister. "What do you want to be?"
Sunny grinned. "I want to be nun like Sister Maria."
Magnolia blinked for a moment.
Okay. Well... that was a development.
The last time she checked Sunny wanted to be a veterinarian so she could make sure all the animals in the world were looked after. "Well, that's certainly nice. What brought that on?" She inquired, feeling a little impressed with herself. A stripper raising a future Nun. Take that gossiping Parish bitches.
"I want to be a helper like Sister Maria and help kids like us go to nice schools." Sunny explained. She grinned some more and held up her paper to her face and read out loud the various reasons why she was going to marry Jesus someday.
"You should make another copy and give it to Sister Maria. She'll love it."
Sunny nodded happily and went back to her paper.
Albie came back and settled at the coffee table to do his homework. She told them to watch Jacks as she went into the kitchen to clean up. Magnolia – who usually went by Maggie – was thin and had perpetual shadows underneath her eyes. She wore heels that clacked when she walked and announced her presence. Maggie didn't share her brother's curly hair – instead her hair was wavy or straight down her back. It depended on the humidity or something. Because of dancing she kept her face done out of habit, her nails perfect, wore heels because she was more used to them than not, and was always moving. Moving, cleaning, thinking, trying, doing, tapping nails, chewing her lower lip, folding laundry, swinging a child on her too-thin hip, dancing, walking with intent, always moving, always doing. Sometimes when the kids were busy and it was safe to let it all go she'd lay in the middle of the floor of whatever place they were living at and stare at the ceiling as if she had been struck by lightning. Because that's what her life felt like. Lightning bolts crashing over the work she had done, the dreams she wanted to have, like she was going no where but everywhere at the same time.
Maggie lit a cigarette and worked on it as she cleaned up the kitchen trying to avoid getting her arm cast wet. When she was younger, before she decided to keep herself and the kids in Denver, she had lived life full throttle. She had...there had been moments where she could have sworn she was burning alive. And it felt good to run away..run away from the feeling of lost and lonely. There was no one to tell her no, no one to tell her to be careful, to use her goddamn head.
Maggie wasn't like that anymore.
She couldn't be that way.
She didn't have anyone caring after her other than her brothers and sister. She worked hard, she played harder – but family. Family was her reason. Do it for family. That was what she told the kids. If you don't know what to do then know you gotta do it for family. It was the first rule she had learned when she was a kid.
The sound of music stopped upstairs and Cash came down with his girl wrapped around him.
"What's for supper?" He wanted to know.
"The fuck I know, I just got home shithead." She replied rolling her eyes.
"I gotta get Shontelle home. Do you have a twenty? I can grab a pizza on the way back."
She leaned against the counter and raised her eyes to the cookie tin. "Up there, take what you need."
He zipped his black hoodie and pulled on his leather jacket and grabbed the tin. "We good for bills this month?"
"We made it through. It won't be as easy even after I get back on the active roster at the Club. The Hotel manager called me last week and told me that it was a permanent lay-off."
He shook his head, his jaw twitching. "Fuck, want me to go down and talk to him?"
She looked at him, knowing what kind of talking he was planning on doing. That's how it worked, she was pretty sure a few other girls who were laid had brothers, sons, fathers, cousins, boyfriend, husbands or whatever heading up to see the manager. Rudy was probably hold up at his Mama's basement waiting it out.
"It'll be okay. It was shit pay and I can find something better."
It wasn't exactly the truth but she seriously didn't rely heavily on her maid work. There were other hotels that might want her on their morning roster and maybe she could ask around and see if anyone needed a morning sitter for their kids. Then she could stay home with Jackson instead of passing him off to daycare each morning. The cost of daycare almost made it worthless to work sometimes.
As if she was reading her mind Shontelle piped up. "You could like try cam work."
"It's basically what you do at the club except you do it on a webcam and get paid." Cash explained.
"Stripping on camera – a web camera. My cousin clears like um...five hundred dollars a week...I think." Shontelle furrowed her brow as she thought. She shook her head and gave her a smile as she slid her hand into Cash's back pocket. "She has regular clients and she works really hard at it. You'll need a web-camera for the lap top."
"Do we have one of those?" Maggie asked.
Computers weren't really a thing she did. She e-mailed and she face-booked. But when it came to other stuff – she was just too busy and too broke.
"We can get it set up." Cash replied.
"Bambi on the internet..." She ran her good hand through her hair and shrugged. "Sounds good to me."
Bambi was the stage name she used. It wasn't like she could go on stage and be like 'Hi! I'm Maggie! I have four kids that aren't my own and I need the money so fork it over!" Nope, the way to do it was to play their fantasy. And no one's fantasy was four kids and a high school drop out stripper.
That's how it rolled. She walked into the house a job short and late on rent with a broken arm and now she was standing in her kitchen her rent paid and a potential income source on the horizon. Tomorrow it could all go away. Tonight something worse could happen. Or maybe it wouldn't
Shit rolled that way.
She just used her head and did it for family.
What she couldn't expect was what happened. None of them did. As she watched her brother escort his girl to the car when he stopped by the mailbox and got the mail.
Cash stared at papers he ripped out of a large, yellow envelope - the kind that held important papers. She rapped on the doorway to get his attention.
"Watcha gawking at?!" She yelled out, pressing up against the screen door with her good arm on her hip.
"WE'RE FUCKING NATIVE AMERICAN!"
She waved them inside after a beat of staring and thinking she had definitely better get her hearing checked. Cash and Shontelle came back inside. The younger kids heard the yelling and came to the door, crowding around her.
"Joshua's Mom died and left us her house on a Native American Reservation in Washington State." Cash explained to the point.
"What?!" Maggie grabbed the papers but even as she grabbed it she knew she wouldn't be able to understand it as well as they. She wasn't..like...dumb. She had medical words memorized and she could read numbers so bills weren't that much of an issue. It wasn't like she couldn't read labels at the grocery store...she just...Maggie had missed too much school growing up and when she dropped out she had been held back once and was failing all of her classes without any hope of catching up.
She grasped the papers in her hand and stared at the words. Some words she recognized, simple words, the meaning of the papers were hard to find. It was a letter. Addressed to her. By a lawyer from somewhere called La Push. But then the words got technical or foggy and she had to sound them out in her head. Without trying she passed it back to her brother.
"It's from a lawyer from La Push. It says that Dad had a Mom and she died and left you a fucking house."
"What the fuck?" Magnolia's voice cracked in shock as she snatched the papers again and Cash snatched them immediately back.
"If this is right – Joshua is her son. He's a registered member of the Quileute Native American Tribe. Joshua's a fucking American Indian."
"Wait, does that make us American Indian?"
"Like in the movies?"
"But I'm Black? Does that mean I'm a Black Indian?"
"Wow, you're like an Indian Brave or something...that's fucking hot, baby."
The sound of her siblings (and Shontelle) filled her ears and her mind as she tried to think it all through.
Okay. Joshua. Had a mother. Always figured that – thought she was dead. Now she really was. Joshua wasn't Mexican but an actual real live American Indian...the kind that had special land and like...Indian stuff. She wasn't sure what all that meant. And what it meant for them.
Maggie sank herself onto the couch and shook her head. Cash settled himself with his girl on a chair and looked over the papers more thoroughly.
"Yea, the will she had clearly leaves the house to you and it's all paid up. Four bedrooms, on tribal land..." He trailed off and shook his head. "I didn't even know that he had a Mom."
"Me neither." She echoed quietly, her mind thinking hard.
She looked at the house they paid almost a grand for each month. They covered all the utilities – heat, electricity, water, gas. They didn't do air conditioning in the summer. Plus rent, and then there was the insurance for the van and gas to fill it up and it ate gas like the monster it was, food for them cost over a hundred each week if they weren't careful, there were bus passes to pay for the kids, daycare for Jackson during the day when she worked...the list went on.
"He sent us this too." Cash held up an envelope. "A packet on the Quileute Reservation. It's only got like four hundred people living and the tribe is like...eight hundred strong. Tops."
"A packet? Like a brochure?" She asked incredulously. He nodded and Maggie asked. "What about the reservation?"
He shrugged and read it over. "They got a free tribal school they look pretty proud of. They make their money fishing and running a marina and small-time resort."
"What about clinics and doctors and shit?"
"They got one." Cash read it over. "Sliding scale fee."
Maggie was quiet for a moment before asking quickly. "Does your cousin really make money stripping on web cam?"
Shontelle nodded. "It takes time to like build up a base but she says if you do it consistently and keep things fresh and stuff then it pays pretty good money."
"All from home?"
Cash leveled his gaze on his older sister. "What's in your head?"
"I'm thinking how nice it would be not to worry about rent and to work from home." Magnolia replied, holding his gaze. He squeezed his girl next to him and shook his head. "Maggie, we can't go there. We'll sell the house and keep the money as a back up."
The younger kids looked at her with wide eyes and she said slowly. "...I think it's worth thinkin' about."
I've updated this with some new edited features. Mostly fixing typos and grammar stuff. :)