Chapter 1

Better Days

Steam slowly filled the small bathroom as Alison turned on the water in the shower. Not even noticing the precipitation gathering on the mirror before her, she stared at herself blankly, unimpressed. She looked horrible to herself, even though she was in the best shape of her life. She stared at the sacs under eyes that had seemed to grow bigger with each passing week, due to her lack of sleep. Everything is Mark's fault…he kept me going, but then again we just didn't go together right. They just didn't match somehow; they had a good physical relationship, but the emotion element just wasn't there, and it probably never would have developed. Breaking up with him wasn't hard it was just losing the feeling of coming home to somebody else other than her cat that really bothered her. And even though it was quite clichéd they still were great friends, and both felt comfortable talking openly to each other.

After staring at her self until the mirror was completely covered in steam, she hopped into the shower and let the hot water sooth her aching muscles until her fingers were pruned and her feet were as red as cherries. She got out and wrapped a towel around her torso and found herself in front of the foggy mirror again. Hopefully the shower took care of my appearance, she thought as she opened the door to the bathroom letting cold air sweep in and the nice warm make its way out. After wiping down the mirror and applying her many hair products to her dirty blonde hair she put on some warm clothes and made some coffee, thirsting for some caffeine to give her the energy she needed to get through the day.

When her coffee was ready she quickly poured herself a cup and drank a sip, and immediately burned her tongue. Smart move dumb ass. She thought as she went to the sink for a glass of cold water to soothe her throbbing tongue. When her coffee finally cooled down she drank the rest of her first cup and poured a second thinking Wow, this coffee is actually pretty good. Almost as good as Mark's…God, I need to get him out of my head. After drinking a second, making a list of errands she had to do that day, and eating a bowl of cereal in between, she poured her third, a final cup of coffee, into a travel mug, grabbed her iPod, and headed out of the apartment to her car.

When she reached her car she unlocked the doors, climbed into the driver's seat, put her iPod into the car adapter, and turned on the car. Immediately the song she had been listening came on, blasting, scaring her half to death. God, I need to remember to turn down the volume next time I'm in a bad mood or just waking up for that matter. As she pulled out of the small parking lot behind her apartment building the caffeine from the coffee had slowly began to set in, and she could feel her drowsiness slipping away. On the ten minute drive to the mall, she mentally went through her mission for the day. Okay, I need to pick up groceries, grab that GameBoy game for Jared, buy the gift cards, and last but not least buy the Christmas tree.

When she arrived at the mall she drove around the parking lot to try find a good parking space, when she found on she took a long sip of coffee, grabbed her iPod from the adapter, grabbed her handbag and headed inside. After browsing in Sears, and not finding anything that interested her, she moved on to the toy store for the GameBoy game and other small stocking stuffers for her nieces and nephews. I spend more money on them then I do myself. She thought as she wrote the check for her purchase.

I wonder if I would spoil my own kids like this. Then again I don't have any…maybe someday. Heck, I am still young, and well I just have to find a good guy first. She thought as she left the store. God I am so much like my mother.

From there she headed over to a few clothing stores for herself, even though she knew that she would be receiving gift cards and things from her favorite places, but it was still nice to look and dream about how, if she were rich, she could afford to by everything in the stores.

After browsing for awhile she got back to business, looking for gifts for her siblings and parents. After about three hours of shopping she headed over to the food court, and reluctantly bought a soda (she had a lot of bags). After browsing in the book store that was near the court and finding nothing interesting, she headed back towards the entrance she came in, practically dragging all of her bags with her. Mental note to self, NEVER purchase this many things at once again. I look like a freakin' Hollywood heiress, where in truth my bank account is probably empty at this point! When she reached her car she hastily unlocked the back door, threw in all of the bags, slammed the door shut, then walked around to the front and started the car up.

After contemplating whether to go home and eat or go out, she finally pulled out of the parking lot and headed back down the small stretch of interstate towards her apartment to drop off the presents, then to headed out to lunch. Once her stomach was full and her bank account just about empty, (not really) she got into her car and again went down the interstate in the direction of the Christmas tree farm half and hour from her apartment.

As she drove along the dirt road to the farm, she began to feel very satisfied with herself; she had accomplished almost everything on her to-do list and it wasn't even three o'clock. If only I accomplished everything that fast. When she arrived at the farm and found a parking space as close to the tree netting station, she climbed out of her car, put her iPod in her pocket, and turned it on, then quickly put her ear-phones in, the song she just had playing in the car blasting in her ears. As she approached the map of trees, she quickly found her favorite kind, Fraser Fir, grabbed a saw, then headed in that general direction. As she slowly walked on the path to the trees she took in her atmosphere, the smell of the trees, and the fresh air. This was her favorite part of the holiday season, picking out her Christmas tree then going home to decorate it. She had loved it since she was a child, because her whole family would go out together and find the perfect tree. She missed being around her siblings and parents, but she figured it was for the best; they were always butting into her business.

After searching for the perfect tree she finally found it; it was almost six feet tall and had a nice thick trunk and long branches. After sawing her tree down and placing the cover back on the saw, and slinging it over her shoulder she took her earphones out, wrapped them around her iPod, and placed it in her pocket then slowly began to drag the tree. It was pretty lightweight, for an almost six-foot tree, and she had no problem dragging it along the ground, but luckily before she really got started dragging it, a tractor with a trailer pulled up and the driver asked "Need a lift?"

"Yes, that would save me a little time and a lot of energy!" she said looking at him, knowing that he caught the hint of sarcasm in her voice.

"Here let me help you load that up into the trailer," he said climbing off his post in the driver's seat. "You picked out a nice tree."

"Thanks," she said as he helped her load up the tree. Did he just my compliment my tree? I guess he is only trying to be nice, I bet he says that to everyone who needs a lift.

After loading up the tree, Alison climbed into the back with it and the driver began to drive the tractor back to the netting station. When they arrived, again the driver came around and said, "Here let me help you," and he carefully picked up the tree and began to drag it towards the netting machine.

"Thanks," she said again, as he began to pull the tree through the netting.

"So do you need help getting this on your car?" he asked obviously noticing that she was alone.

"Yeah, if you don't mind…How much is the tree?" she said whipping out her check book.

"Thirty-two fifty," he answered as she wrote down the cost and handed him the check. "So would you have dragged that tree all by yourself if I hadn't come and rescued you?" he said trying to make some small talk.

"Yeah, probably," she said. "Believe it or not I could've managed; I have been dragging trees since I was a teen."

"Really?" he said taking the tree again. "You don't look like the tree dragging type."

"Oh I don't huh? Well it is the truth; underneath all of this brand name clothes and blonde hair is pure muscle! I could've dragged that tree if I wanted to but I just didn't feel like it."

"Have you been shopping hard all day? I mean I know how heavy shopping bags can be!"

"Actually…yes, but that is beside the point."

"So where is your car?"

"Over there," she said pointing towards it, and they began walking in that direction, continuing their conversation.

"So do you live far from here? I mean I could help you bring it home, put it in the stand and even put some tinsel on it for you!"

"Ha-ha very funny, but I don't even know you name! Besides I can handle putting it in the stand and putting tinsel on it, despite being tired from all of that shopping today. And if I can't I will get some help," Alison said as mystery man lifted the tree onto the roof.

"Well for one thing I don't know your name either, but I am still offering to help," he said tying a rope around the tree to secure it. "Okay I am tossing the rope over for you to tie on that side."

"Okay," she said grabbing the rope. "I'm Alison."

"Grey," he said as Alison finished tying the rope, and threw it over.

"That is a unique name."

"Yeah, but the weird thing is my parents are pretty straight-edge and plain. So do you have a last name Alison?" he said jokingly, tying the rope again then tossing it back over.

"McGregory," she said pulling the rope tight then tying it.

"Hartwick."

"Well it was nice meeting you Grey," she said walking around the back of the car. "Thanks for your help."

"You're welcome, drive safe."

"Bye."

"Bye," he said and then she climbed into the car, placed her iPod into the dock and the final words of her song came on, saying "'Cause tonight's the night the world begins again,"

Authors Notes: I don't own the song "Better Days" and "iPod" they are both copyrighted names and brands.

I hope you liked the first chapter! Hopefully I will have more soon. For links to the lyrics and the music video for this chapter go to my profile page. The music video does not express my view of the theme of the song.