Chapter 1….A Fresh Start

After a LARGE number of requests I have finally given in and started to share my totally A/U with you all. I'm going to see how the first few chapters go with you and decide if I should keep going with it. This is very dear to my heart. Most of the dead girls know why. So posting this is hard. The characters are borrowed and have some traits from the show, but this is my brain child and I'm molding it my own way. And Carol was never married to Ed; she was married to Shane, so enjoy that for a moment! HENCE, the A/U, so here we go… kind…please….Kaye

-Pink Palace-

Daryl Dixon groaned as he pulled himself from the bunk of his cell at Western Georgia Correctional Prison. His brother was already up sitting on the can, "Well good morning sleeping beauty. Today's the damn day."

Daryl nodded, looking out the cell bars not sure how his brother could shit anywhere, "Yup, what time did Michonne say we were gettin' out?"

Merle shrugged, "Don't know but I know we best have our asses a job by the end of the week. I ain't doin' time again."

Daryl huffed, "Pfft, if memory serves me ya were the one who thought cookin' meth was a damn good idea. I just happened to be the son of a bitch that lived with ya."

Merle chuckled, "Oh come on baby brother, this hasn't been so damn bad. Six months is all, did it standin' on our heads."

Daryl rolled his eyes, "Only cuz we had somethin' on that damn cop."

Merle huffed, "Yeah, no one wants to know one of their sainted deputies has a little drug problem." Merle stood up cleaning himself up and meeting his brother at the bars, "Yup after today this shit will be a bad dream. I'll have ya out in the woods before ya know it."

Daryl nodded, "Ya best hope ya do, I ain't doin' this shit again. If ya can't keep clean then ya live on your own. "

Merle watched as his brother crawled back on top of the bunks, he knew he owed Daryl not just for this but for the life they had lived before this. He hadn't meant for them to get caught. He just wanted to make some money and help the boy out and now they both had strikes against them and were heading out into the world without a thing to their name, but his bike which was in a friend's garage. Yeah this was going to suck, but Merle Dixon always found a way to fall into shit and smell like roses and this time wasn't any different.

-Pink Palace-

Carol stretched in her bed, her head was still trying to wrap around the changes that her life had taken over the last year. She pushed herself to her window and looked out into the street checking for his car, she smiled when it wasn't there. Maybe today would be a good day, a peaceful day. She smirked as she heard her daughters running up and down the stairs. She headed out her door and made her way into the kitchen. Sophia was sitting there trying to finish her homework, while eating some toast. The fifteen year old hardly noticed her mother when she came in, her dirty blond hair hanging in her eyes as she concentrated on her work. Beth was standing at the fridge searching for something to eat and Maggie was perched on the counter kicking her boots against the cabinet slopping cereal everywhere.

Carol shook her head and put on a pot of tea, trying to get her bearings. "Sophia why wasn't that done last night?"

Sophia smirked over at Beth, who grabbed the juice out of the fridge and kissed her mother's cheek, "Don't worry momma, we had so much fun last night that I let her go to bed without doing it. Sorry it's my fault."

Carol huffed, eyeing Beth, "What time is your first class today?" Her nineteen year old blond beauty looked like a deer in the head lights for a moment.

Beth looked at the clock, "Oh shit, it's eight, come on Sophia I'll drop you off on the way. Love you Mags, love ya momma."

Sophia shoved her things into her backpack and walked over kissing her mother, "By momma, see you later, Daddy said he would pick me up and have me home by nine."

Carol hugged her daughter, hating that the court had given the man any visitation but knowing that Sophia loved to spend time with him, "Ok, honey, keep your cell on and call me if you have any trouble. I'll be at the club today."

Sophia nodded and took off behind her sister, both girls leaving a mess in their wake. Carol made her tea and looked over at her oldest daughter, twenty two year old Maggie who was still sitting on the counter, "So any luck finding a job today?"

Maggie rolled her eyes, "I told you mom, I'm working on it. Give me a little time will you?"

Carol nodded, sipping her tea, "I know, I know, I just don't see why you don't take me up on my offer. I mean living above the club it would be so easy for you to just work there. I wouldn't be your boss the new bartender would be."

Maggie looked at her mother for a minute, she had been having a hell of a time finding a job and she really could use the money, but working for her mom made her nervous. The two butted heads a lot and even though Maggie knew that was her own doing she was having a hell of a time getting up the nerve to take the job her mom was offering her. Hell she was already living above the club for free. Maggie jumped off the counter and crossed her ankles her arms mirroring them, "So if I take this job, the new bartender will be my boss, not you."

Carol nodded her head, "Yup, I'm interviewing today. I just don't want you to give me any shit. Do your job, learn what you can and then if you don't like it you can find something else."

Maggie sighed, "Alright, I'll do it. Thanks I guess."

Carol smirked, that was the first thanks she had gotten from Maggie since the divorce a year ago. "Well I'll see you at work. I better get this mess cleaned up before I leave."

She turned around doing the dishes, cleaning the table off, and wiping down the counters. She could hear Maggie in the laundry room finishing up her clothes. She started thinking on how things had changed, how she and her girls had come through almost twenty three years of hell and found their selves on the other side.

Carol had met Shane Walsh in high school. She was one of the quiet smart girls and he was the line backer of the football team. She had been surprised when Shane had started hanging around her mom's flower shop and he asked her out she was floored. They had dated until she got pregnant with Maggie their senior year, she had cried into his chest the night she told him. But he had been a good man then, he wrapped and arm around her and told her that he would take care of things.

True to his word, they both graduated and told their parents, who insisted they get married and live with her parents while they both furthered their education. Shane had gone to the police academy while Carol took night classes in business at the community college. By the time they both graduated they had their second child on the way, Beth.

After they moved into their house, things were going good. Shane got a job with the local sheriff department; they had the kids, friends, their families. But things started to change after Sophia was born. Shane started getting mad about the silliest things, yelling and throwing things at Carol. Until one night he came home drunk and hauled her around by her hair, beating her so bad that she went to her mother's for a week.

But he had showed up, begging her and the kids to come home. Saying that things would be different, that he'd never lay a hand on her. They went to counseling for awhile, until his drinking became too much again. By then her mother was sick and Carol felt trapped the kids didn't know the hell that Carol went through every night when they were asleep and she was glad for that.

But three years ago, Maggie had come home to find her father brutally beating her mother. Maggie had jumped between them and Shane had hit her, Carol went into a blind rage. He could do whatever he wanted to her, but she wasn't going to let him hit her daughter. She called Rick, Shane's partner that night and he had come to the house, collecting Shane and his things.

The next day Carol had gone and filed for divorce, with her best friend Andrea. Things didn't get better, Shane seemed worse than ever and for awhile she thought he would never leave them alone until Rick had come to her and confided that Lori his wife had been sleeping with Shane. Now Shane and Lori lived in Woodbury a town over from Senoia where Lori was excepting Shane's baby. Carol had been glad that Shane had found someone; she had hoped that it would stop him from following her, but sometimes she still saw him when she was coming out of the store, or sitting in front of the house.

Six months ago, her mother and father had died in a car accident off of route 91 and left her everything. Including her father's bar. Now she was the gossip of the town as she transformed the old bar into a new night club for women called the Pink Palace. She smirked to herself as she walked up the stairs toward her room to get ready for her day, little old Carol Walsh was the owner of Senoia's first ever male strip club. It sounded funny even to her.

-Pink Palace-

Stepping out of her car Carol groaned to herself when she saw Pastor Blake standing there waiting for her. She had really loved the man at one time, he was a wonderful minister and he had taken great care of her family in times of hardship. But as soon as she left Shane something changed, he looked down at her for leaving her husband, even said that she was sinning against God for not trying to help Shane work through his problems. The final straw had come after her parents had died. The bar had become hers and she had no clue what to do with it. She had really thought about selling it when Pastor Blake had told her to burn the devil's nest down and cleanse the ground. Up until that point she had no desire to run a club or a bar, but something changed in her. She had lived under Shane's thumb for so long and now here was this asshole saying that how her daddy took care of his family was sinful.

Before she could stop the words from slipping from her mouth she told him no. Told him that she was opening a club just for ladies, a safe place for them to eat and drink and have fun. It wasn't until a few bottles of wine with Andrea that they came up with the strippers. Carol still blushed every time they interviewed one, but Andrea was great taking care of most of that for her. Now she had invested all the money her parents had left her in adverting and radio spots. The first night was sold out and the men, the strippers had been practicing all week and she had to say they were getting good.

As she stepped toward the door Pastor Blake smiled at her, "Good morning Carol. I was hoping we could chat a few minutes."

Carol looked at him and shook her head, "No, I think I'm good. Nothing you have to say will be any good for either of us." Carol went to open the door and grabbed her elbow.

Pastor Phillip Blake was not one for being told no and he sure as hell wasn't going to take no from this little whore, "Carol, I'm telling you I can make your life hell if you don't stop this madness and get rid of this place. It's a palace to breed sin."

Before Carol could answer a gruff voice came from behind her, "Ya best let her go!"

Phillip looked up to see two large scruffy looking men staring him down, he released Carol and huffed, "What is this your talent?"

Carol looked at the men she had never seen in her life and before she could speak the older of the two stepped forward, "No mister, we're too damn pretty to be strippers, we're the muscle that throws shit to the curb and the ways I'm seein' it you're shit."

Phillip turned bright red, his fists balling, "You'll regret this Carol, mark my words you'll regret this WHORE!" He stomped off toward his car and Carol let out a sigh of relief.

She turned to the two men and smiled, "Thank you so much. I'm Carol, Carol Walsh."

Merle stepped up, "Merle Dixon, this here's my brother Daryl."

Carol smirked, "And your other brother Daryl?" Both men looked at her like she had two heads, she laughed, "Sorry a bad joke from an old television show, come on in boys."

She unlocked the door and led them into the club. Merle made a gagging sound, "Jesus sugar ain't never seen so much pink in one fuckin' place."

Carol chuckled, putting her bag on the bar, going around it she grabbed the coffee pot and starting making a fresh pot, "Well that was my best friend's idea. She loves pink. And since this place is for women it fits. So what can I do for you two since you saved me out there?"

Daryl cleared his throat, "We came by a friend of our daddy's Dale Horvath said ya was lookin' for help."

Carol nodded, "Yes, I'm lookin' for a bouncer and a bartender. Have either of you ever tended bar before?"

Daryl nodded, "I worked down at the Cherry Pit in Lancaster for five years tending bar."

Carol nodded, "So you know what to order and things?"

Daryl nodded, "Yes ma'am. But ya need to know we got records ma'am."

Carol looked at the two men, "Are you clean?"

Both men shook their heads yes, "You plan on staying that way?" Again they both nodded, Carol eyed them closely, "Are you going to steal from me?"

Merle and Daryl both huffed, "NO!"

Merle started to get up, "Hell, we ain't never took nothin' in our lives sugar."

Carol nodded, "Alright, well if your brother can make me an Apricot Sour and then you have the job."

Daryl stood up and came behind the bar with Carol; he grabbed the apricot brandy, lemon juice, and the syrup. He pulled out a glass and got the shaker. He mixed the ingredients together and poured it into the glass, he looked at Carol, "Do ya want a garnish?"

Carol smirked, "No, this is fine." He watched her closely as she sipped the drink, her nose crinkling up and her auburn hair that fell just to her shoulders. He could see sprinklings of grey and wondered how old she was. Carol smiled at him, "Ok, boys, you're hired."

Daryl looked at Merle and they both grinned, they had found a job in the least likely of places. Things were looking up for the Dixons.

Ok, be gentle, it's A/U so keep that in mind! Kaye