Hello Everyone, thanks for taking time to look at my story. I will apologize now for the bad writing and any and all "clicheness" to this story. If you dont like this, please tell me why, i do want to improve as a writer and anything you have to say is important to me!

Thanks for your patience and happy reading (even if it isn't my story)!

Thanks, Sundavar

P.S. To anyone who has already read chapter one, i am SO SORRY! I originally created this story in 3rd person, however in the transition from 3rd to 1st person, it seems i messed up many of the my vs me places. I have re-uploaded this chapter and they should all be fixed, and future chapters are all being written as first person, so there should be no painful me vs my situations. Thanks to anyone and everyone who read this chapter before it was fixed!

I thought I had remembered everything. I had even written myself notes on what I should and shouldn't do. I thought, as I sat in a chair in the Emergency Room of Wisdom, Idaho, covered in blood, that I had planned for everything. But I was wrong.

6 months earlier

"And congrats to the Graduating class of 2011!" Laura shouted over the afternoon announcements. This remarkably familiar phrase signaled that it all was finally over. No more high school, but of course that didn't mean no more school. I was already planning my future away from this small town.

"Hey, Allie, you ready for tonight? We have a crazy party planned for later." I turned and was greeted by a group of my friends, Laura, who had just come from the main office, Andrew, Kirsten and the speaker, Randy. He continued, "You know it'll be the best graduation party in history right?"

If you had ever been to one of his parties you knew that by the end of the night the house would be trashed, the food fights would have the floor covered in Cheetos, there would be a five song wait time for the karaoke machine, and someone would be making yellow school buses, a drink of Sprite and orange juice blended to perfectly resemble beer in the dim light of his living room. And all while people would be yelling and screaming and having a good time; suffice to say that Randy's parties were the best.

"Sorry, but I have to pass this time. Dad wants me home to finish packing and all, so maybe next time." If there is a next time, I thought.

"Boo you whore!" Randy playfully shouted as I ran towards my car.

"I love you too, Randy" I replied as I hopped into my car. It was a black '99 Jeep Cherokee Classic with a rust bubble above the right rear tire, a 'v' shaped scratch on the passenger side of the hood, and to open the trunk you had to bang on the Ohio license plate three times before unlocking it. But all the same, it was mine and I loved it. Even with my mother's help, it had taken two months of searching to find this one. They had three jeeps bought out from under us before we found this one. You could say it was a parting gift from my mom, because just a couple weeks later she left me the keys with a note saying, "It's all yours," and left dad and me for another man. I didn't realize until later, but my mom must have figured that my dad would get worse and probably left me the car as a way to get out.

I thought I was lucky that I hadn't had to deal with dad's temper until my sophomore year of High School; mom had taken the brunt of it for all those years in my and my brother's place. But mom couldn't stand it anymore, probably figured I'd be able to deal with it myself now. Patrick, my brother, was lucky. He got into a good school out in Denver, Colorado, doing something with computers before mom ever left and dad took over everything.

Maybe it's just how an abuser works; dad took over everything. He wouldn't let me apply to any colleges out of state, and even went so far as to sell the house and rent an apartment ten minutes from school when I was accepted to Ohio State.

That wasn't the only thing he tried to control either. My bank account had his name on it, and until I turned 18 dad had to be present for me to withdraw any money. Dad also had any sensitive documents under lock and key, this included my Social Security card and Birth Certificate. He had everything I needed.

As I pulled into the driveway I had a déjà vu moment and I felt my stomach drop. I knew that the rest of today wouldn't be good. As I stepped into the house I could hear dad upstairs moving boxes and talking to himself. I should have known better than to go near him when he is in one of his moods, but I needed to get my papers from him, and today would be best because we were moving to the new apartment tomorrow. As I reached the top of the steps and peered down the hallway into my room at the end of the hall I could hear him in there moving boxes and mumbling, "wrong….wrong….Just disgusting…wrong…"

I decided to let him be and try to stay out of his way, I didn't want to get in his way now, it wouldn't be pretty. Maybe I'd even go to Randy's party. With that in mind I turned at the top of the steps and began to step down, only to find my cat sitting on the step below, so I quickly diverted my foot to the step one lower.

Bad idea. The step creaked, drawing plenty of unwanted attention to me.


Crap I thought.

I steeled myself for the torrent of emotion pouring out at me, the anger, sadness, disappointment, betrayal, seemingly every emotion my dad had ever felt directed toward me because I was the closest thing.

"Look at this." My dad yelled, "None of these boxes are labeled. They're just sitting around this room. How do you expect me to move when you won't help me, you fat lazy pig. Maybe you like to be a farm animal and wallow around in this disgusting room, but I don't! Go label all the boxes in the house and load them into the truck tonight."

"But that will take a few hours and it's already nine." I should have known better.

"I DON'T GIVE A FUCK IN IT'S NINE OR THREE IN THE MORNING GET THE BOXED LABLED AND PACKED." He stormed out of the room down the hall and into his room, slamming the door behind him, but not before shoving me into the wall.

A single tear made its way down my face as I thought, well, it could have been worse, but at least now I can get one more thing done: packing my jeep.

The next morning wasn't bad; in fact it was downright heavenly, all things considered. I had spent most of the night packing and cleaning the house while dad slept and it looked like today would be a good day for him.

"Dad, I need to run an errand before we leave."

"What errand?"

"I have to get my license renewed, remember, I'm eighteen today. I need my Social Security card and Birth Certificate to get it."

"hmmm… ok, hang on."

He set his coffee down on the counter and headed upstairs. As I followed him, I could smell the vodka coming from his coffee. No wonder he was so complacent today.

"Make sure you give these back."

"Right, you know this may take a while and the movers will be here soon…" I was pushing my luck now, I didn't know how wasted he was, "So, maybe you should go ahead to the apartment and I'll follow in the jeep later."

"I guess that will work, hurry up if that's your plan."

And just like that I was gone. Had it really been that easy? I did a mental checklist: Social security card, Birth certificate, clothes, computer, and emptied bank account. Everything was done. It was June 6, 2011 at 11:34 AM and I was finally free.

I drove west all day and when the sun finally began to set around 8:30 I was halfway to nowhere. I drove on for another two hours until the gas light had turned on for the third time today. A blanket of grey clouds enveloped the road, and as I pulled up to a motel, the fat drops if rain had started to fall heavily on my car.

With the rain becoming heavier and heavier, my thoughts drifted to my home and my friends. I wondered if dad had called the police or reported me missing. If he had they surely would have talked to my friends Laura, Andrew, Randy, and Kirsten. I suspected that it might happen, so I didn't let on what I was planning. I felt bad, but couldn't risk it, and just figured I would call them when I could, but for now I wouldn't contact anyone.

A white lightning bolt struck far off on my left, almost immediately followed by crashing thunder, and I really didn't feel like leaving the safety of my car just yet, so I locked the doors and climbed into my sleeping bag in the back seat.

I woke up the next morning with a stiff neck and back. I had known that it wouldn't be comfortable to sleep in the jeep, but I didn't have a choice. Suddenly, my stomach gurgling and although no one was in my car to hear it I began to blush and chided myself for not remembering to stop and eat something the night before. I also needed to get gas and to get back on the road, heading toward my destination. But what even was my destination? It dawned on me that I had never really given any thought to it. I had only focused on getting away, not on where I would go.

As I contemplated this new problem, I cautiously turned my car on and headed down the road from the motel parking lot which I had stayed in, back toward the interstate. I remembered passing a few gas stations on my way in and decided on the Pilot because they had a McDonald's where I could eat breakfast. Checking the clock on my radio, I noticed that it was just before 7, and although it was early, the gas station was open and not as empty as I had hoped it would be. There were many truckers at the station, all hoping to get an early start to the day. I parked my car right outside the McDonald's so I could keep an eye on it; although I knew I could stand my own in a fight at my school, I didn't feel safe, especially when I compared my frame to that of the tall muscular ones walking around me. My fears seemed unfounded, though, as I collected my food and went to sit at a table and take stock of my situation.

First, I needed to figure out where I wanted to go. There were so many possibilities, I could continue west and see California. Or maybe head a bit further south and see what Texas had to offer me. I could go to Colorado, maybe look for my brother.

Then I remembered the summer of my freshman year. Laura had invited me to her aunt's home in a little town a few hours north of Boise, Idaho. We stayed in their home right on the shores of a gorgeous blue lake bordered by the mountains. Every day we would take the jet skis out onto the lake and race to this little island right in the middle. There we would play like kids again, and pretend we were marooned on this island with nothing but a pocket knife and our own minds. We would make-believe like we did when we were young, until both our stomachs would gurgle, seemingly trying to cut our imaginary games to an end, but we didn't let that happen. We would play pirates on our way back from our hidden childhood oasis, then make brownies at her home and ride bikes on the forgotten roads until sunset.

I wanted to go there again.

When I left, I had about 1,700 dollars. I knew that to get to Boise I had to go about 2,560 miles total and my jeep gets around 21 miles to the gallon and the current average price of gas was about 3.15 a gallon. Still staring out at my jeep I did the math in my head, and totaled that I needed 122 gallons to get to Boise, which meant that it was going to cost me about 384.30 dollars in gas money to get there. So that meant that I had 1315.70 dollars left for the rest of my trip.

I was pulled from my reverie by an older man who slipped into the seat across from me. Only my eyes betrayed the fear I felt as the man who had sat down began to sip his coffee and read his newspaper. Finally after a minute the older man with a balding head and short grey beard looked up at me.

"Sorry if I startled you," he rasped out, "I was trying to ask you if you minded me sitting here, but you seemed lost in your own world."

It was only then that I noticed the crowd forming inside the little fast food joint and the fact that all the seats other than the ones across from me and next to me seemed to be taken. Finally getting a hold of myself, I forced a small smile and, without looking at the man, murmured, "It's cool, I don't mind." I didn't know what to make of the old man, but I didn't feel threatened by him. He just continued to read his newspaper and sip his coffee, looking up at me every once in a while.

Finally the old man said, "You seem awful young to be here by yourself." He waited for a response, but when none was offered shook his head and turned back to his newspaper where he proceeded to remove one part of the paper and handed it to me. I eyed the offered paper. "Come on, I don't bite." The man said as he held the paper out for me. I took the paper from the man before looking back to him. "My name Mike, Mike Burns, but most people call me Mr. Mike. I have a granddaughter about your age, I think, and she always liked to read the comics every morning, so maybe you wouldn't mind them either?"

I had to grin at that. I also liked to read the comics, but I hadn't read any since dad had stopped the paper years ago. "Thank you." I whispered to him, a light blush spread over me as I began to unfold the paper, missing the sad smile he returned to my statement.

We sat like this for a while, I finishing my pancakes and orange juice, lost in my own little world of comics and the odd safety I felt with Mr. Mike there reading the paper. "Hey, Pops, you ready to go?" the new voice pulled me out of this placid world and back into my harsh reality. I looked up to see a younger man, maybe late 40's, approaching my table. "Did you make a new friend Pops?" the man asked Mr. Mike.

"Sure did, this here girlie is…" He stopped realizing that he hadn't yet asked my name.

"I'm Allie." I supplied, smiling quickly at the new man at the table.

"Well, hello Allie, I hope my father didn't bother you much. I'm Joseph Burns." He gave me a toothy grin before turning to his father, "We need to leave soon. I'll be out in the car when you're ready."

"Ya, I'll be there in a second." He replied. Then turning back to me, he pulled out one of his business cards and passed it across the table. I took it and gave him a questioning look. "If you ever need some help, just call that number. Ok?"

"Sure, th-thank you." I stuttered out as he left.

Mr. Mike climbed into the car with his son. He didn't really understand why he had given the girl his card, but he had felt like he needed to. Later that day, when he arrived home, his wife had the news on, and a nation-wide amber alert had been issued for an 18-year old girl. When he saw the picture up on the screen he took a sharp breath. The brown haired, green eyed girl up on the news was the girl he had just seen not six hours ago at the Pilot just outside of Holden, Missouri. But there was something different between the picture and the girl he had seen, more than just their ages, since this picture had to be about three or four years old. The girl he had seen had a haunted look in her eyes. Like she was looking over her shoulder and running from something. Mike asked his wife about the news program. "I really didn't watch that much, but the main development was with the interview of the neighbors. All of them said that bad things went on in that house and they were worried about the girl. Apparently the girl's father was abusive, and right now they are trying to track down the rest of her family. Are you sure it was this girl? I mean, it could have been anyone right? It's such a sad story" even with his wife's words in his head Mike couldn't stop thinking about that girl; however he did refrain from calling the hotline at his wife's request. "You really can't be certain that it was this girl you saw. Let the professionals do their job and find her."

I stopped around 2pm in a little town called Alliance, Nebraska. I wanted to pick up some food for myself and coolant for my jeep, worried that there was something wrong with my car. I wasn't a mechanic, and I didn't want to waste money on having someone look at it, so buying coolant for my over-heated engine was all I could think to do.

The little city had a car care center right in the middle of town, so I parked over by their quaint little grass field which I figured must have functioned as the epicenter for activities like a farmer's market and fairs. I walked into the little shop and shuffled around the store until I saw the coolant in the back. As I was taking two bottles up to the front of the shop I noticed the cashier turning away from the television behind him just as an Amber Alert flashed on the screen with my name and a picture of me from my freshman year of high school.

"Will this be all for you?" the cashier asked, "Ma'am?"

I turned back to the cashier and nodded, not trusting my voice; I had become hyperaware of my surroundings, of the fly which buzzed inches above the television screen, the grungy dirt covered fingers of the cashier, the smell of oil which permeated the store, the jingle of coins as I took my change and quickly left, the crunch of gravel under my feet as I fought the urge to run and hide away, the greenness of the lawn I crossed to get to my car, the brilliance of the purple flowers I had parked next to, the eternal seconds ticking by as I fought panic to get the car door open, and the fear that someone would recognize me through all of it.

When I finally got it open I climbed in and closed the door, locking it. I sat there breathing, trying to calm down. I knew that if I was going to keep driving I would need to be calm. I looked out from my car saying to myself no one is out today, it's a normal day at three in the afternoon, no one will have seen you. I took a few deep breaths and decided I would fill my car with coolant and then get back on the road.

After the girl left, the cashier, Robbie, turned back to the television. He knew that for the last day and a half the Amber Alert had been fairly big news across the country. Though he himself had not seen the notice and did not know what the girl looked like, his mother and father insisted on watching the heartbreaking story. According to his mother, late last night the police had arrested Kenneth Marks and reportedly uncovered what had really been happening in that home. According to them the father used an amber alert as a means to cover up the homicide of his daughter. The police were going to press charges against him and they were soon going to remove the Amber Alert to focus on finding what the man had done with his child. So much for parents protecting their children, thought Robbie as he turned the television off and headed into the back to do inventory without giving another thought to the girl.

I wanted to keep driving, but I knew I couldn't, I was just too tired from driving and my panic attack after seeing myself on the news, so I took the next exit and pulled up to a hotel somewhere outside of Casper, Wyoming. The little town seemed eerie in the dusk light. I slid into the backseat of my jeep and changed into a nicer outfit, then pulled my hair up to look business like; hoping people wouldn't take a closer look and realize my age. I paid for a hotel room for one night in cash, which earned me some strange looks from the front desk staff, but who were they to judge? Business wasn't always steady around here, so they took what they could get.

"You're in room number 303, if you have any problems feel free to call us here at the front desk, just dial zero." said the overly bubbly woman who wore a nametag covered in star sticker, though the name was still mostly visible.

"Thank you, Monica." I attempted to say in a business like way, but I wasn't sure if my façade had worked or if they had seen through it; either way, I had a room to sleep in and a free breakfast in the morning. I took a small bag of my stuff into my room. The first thing I did was run a hot bath, striping off my clothes; I submerged myself into the welcoming heat. How long had it been since I had taken a bath like this? How long since I had taken time to relax away the tension which coiled in me like a spring threatening to snap under pressure? But that didn't much matter now did it. I relaxed back into the bath and allowed my mind to wander over the things I had left behind.

I thought about my friends, Andrew: he was like a big brother to me after Patrick moved away and my mother left, the one I could always count on to help me find solace after a particularly bad night at home. Kirsten: the girl I could always count on for advice, I was the most like her out of all my friends, not just in looks, but in personality too, unwilling to compromise her ideals and beliefs. Laura: the peace keeper among us, she kept all of us tethered together, she was truly the core of the friendship, able to communicate with each of us on a different level than any other could. And Randy: my go to man for all my school needs and my ride home when I didn't have money for gas or my car was broken, I couldn't count the number of times Randy had fixed my jeep and asked for nothing in return.

My thoughts turned to my father, the days of his drinking and yelling and screaming. The bruises and scars I covered up to hide my home life. The turtleneck sweaters I wore to hide the finger marks on my neck after particularly bad nights, and to the tears I refused to cry.

It was right then I decided to let it all go. I wept, sobbed, for the years I was throwing away and the memories I decided to forget. I dipped back into the water sinking to the bottom and just staying still, letting the water calm my thoughts and warm me to my core. When I could not wait any longer, I pulled myself to the surface, inhaling sharply.

I pulled the plug and allowed the bath water to drain away from my body before I stepped out of the tub. The full length mirror allowed me to examine all of my slowly fading bruises and scars. Dark blue and purple bruises had faded to a sickly green yellow color. I ran a gentle hand down my ribs, trying to gauge how long it would take for my three cracked ribs to heal. I had not felt their pain in a few days but I was certain that they were not fully healed.

Once satisfied they would not cause me pain any time soon, I went to my bag and grabbed a pair a scissors. I stood in front of the mirror and cut my long dark brown hair away. Meticulously cutting away inches until my hair, which was once to my lower back, was just below my shoulders. I shook my head experimentally, feeling the new freedom of movement the lack of weight allowed me. I felt like I could fly, like I could open a window and just follow the wind.

I left the hotel around nine the next morning, still headed west. It had been an easy drive so far, and after about six hours I found myself passing a "Welcome to Idaho" sign. Looking out on the horizon, I felt uneasiness in the pit of my stomach, similar to the feeling I often had when arriving at home late. Dark foreboding storm clouds were beginning to roll over me, threatening to break loose a torrent of water at any second. Rapid white fire seemed to rip open the sky as rolling thunder shook the jeep, yet the rain still would not fall. Again thunder shook the jeep, causing me to jump, I needed to get off the road, it was quickly becoming too dark and the ominous clouds promised a severe storm in the making. I pulled off at the next exit and turned into the nearest gas station.

I figured I would make this my rest stop, so I grabbed my wallet and headed into the grungy old building that housed the gas station store, not noticing the two hooded figures lurking in the shadows. I made my way to the restrooms at the back of the store. Just before exiting, I heard a scream and froze.

"Gimme the money! Come on, give it here!" a raspy voice called.

I gently cracked the door open, trying to see what was happening outside my impromptu safe house. Two hooded figures dressed in all black were next to the counter. One of the figures, a man, spoke again, while the other had an arm extended away from him out of my line of sight.

"Hang on… I...I…I'm getting it, oh god please!" I could hear the woman at the counter crying along with the rustling of fabric, then the ding of a register opening.

"Are you sure that's all?" the figure still holding his arm up asked.

"Ya, looks like this is it." The other rasped again. Then both figures turned to leave, allowing me to see why the second man had his arm extended. He was holding a handgun. It was big enough for me to know it packed a punch, perhaps even a deadly one, yet it was small enough to be easily concealed in a sweatshirt or coat.

Cold fear gripped my stomach. I tried to stifle the gasp which escaped me with little success, and in the eerie quietness which seemed to have descended upon the store my small whimper seemed like a scream.

Two hoods turned toward the bathroom door and although I could not see the faces, I knew the men were staring at me. I screamed in my mind, run, get away, lock the door, hide! But I couldn't move. I was frozen in place as though my whole body with the exception of my eyes had been carved from ice. The man turned and pointed his gun at me.

"Don't move, or that pretty little face of yours is gonna be gone." He stalked towards me holding his gun in the air, wrenching the door open. "Gimme your money, don't even try to hide that wallet there. Gimme all the cash you got." When I showed no sign of moving to comply the man yelled and swung the gun at down on my head, landing heavily on my left temple.

I collapsed to my knees, nearly crying from the lightning hot pain which throbbed inside my head in time with my rapid heartbeat. Black spots danced in front of my eyes as I fumbled with my wallet, attempting to follow the man's order before I was subjected to his gun once more. Reaching into the wallet I grasped the bills in my hand, thrusting them up at the man looming over me.

He pocketed his prize and turned, leaving with his accomplice, but not before kicking I hard in the ribs. Once the men had driven off, I staggered to my feet, gasping for air which my newly cracked ribs denied me. I needed to get away, needed to hide before any police were called, before I was found. Black dots swam in front of my eyes once more and I grabbed at the door frame of the bathroom for support.

"Oh my god, are you okay?" the woman behind the counter hurried over. "Oh my, you need to sit down, you probably have a concussion. The silent alarm was activated so the police should be here in a minute."

"No, I have to leave." I managed to mumble. I steadied myself and walked out the front, ignoring the pleas of the store clerk, who said that I should stay because I was in no condition to drive and needed to give a statement to the police. I knew I was in no condition to drive. Blood was trickling down my head from a cut hidden next to my left temple where a large bulge was forming from the blow to my head, I could also feel the tightness which invaded my chest informing me that at least one of my ribs was cracked or possibly broken.

During the attack it seemed the sky had opened up and a flood of rain was let loose. The gas station did not have a roof over the pumps and by the time I reached my jeep, I was soaked by the near hail like rain, my clothing offered little protection from the barrage.

I was shivering as I climbed into my car, barely cognizant of what I was doing; I started the car and returned to the highway, battling the torrential down pour.

I woke the next morning in my car, parked next to a diner. I was groggy and sore; I couldn't remember why my head felt so bad or how I had ended up at the diner. I took stock of my surroundings. My watch read 12:00 PM, but that was Ohio time, since I was in Idaho, or at least that's where I was last night, it was actually 10:00 AM. I glanced around the car seeing my wallet open on the front seat, as I grasped it, memories flooded back to me. My money had been taken and I became painfully reminded about my wound when I scratched the cut on my head. I pulled down the visor and viewed myself in the mirror, examining the dried blood which left dry cracked clots stuck to my hair.

I started picking at the dried blood, but it didn't want to come out. I looked again at the diner. There were not many cars around, the place seemed nice enough. Maybe I could slip inside and use their restroom, maybe get some food. I turned back to my wallet, the sharp twisting motion made my ribs stab with pain. I would need to wrap my ribs as well as clean the blood from my hair. Digging around for any change I could find, I was dismayed; there was very little, but I did find a twenty tucked deep into the zipper side of the wallet.

I slipped out of the car and into the diner without bringing much attention to myself. I made my way to the restroom, praying that it would be empty. I looked at myself in the mirror. I was pale, more so than I had been back home. My deep green eyes were surrounded by dark circles and I looked like I hadn't slept in a long time. Although the bruises of my home were beginning to fade, a new one had appeared from my encounter the night before. It was a sick looking yellow-green and I had a one inch cut just inside my hairline, covered by matted hair and dried blood. I approached a sink, determined to remove what I could, and was contentedly surprised when nearly all of the dried blood washed away easily and I was able to hide most of the bruise by parting my hair differently. I moved into a stall and removed my shirt to wrap my ribs, I was quick and efficient, evidence that I had done this many times before. Leaving the stall, I eyed myself in the mirror one more time when my stomach called attention to itself, or rather, to its emptiness, with a gurgle.

I decided to take the counter seat closest to the cashier and therefore the door, still nervous from my last encounter. I peered around the quaint little diner. It seemed like something straight out of Gilmore Girls, people had begun to funnel in, and although it seemed that rush hour had started, the diner was somehow able to retain its cozy atmosphere. The little diner had a coke-a-cola theme going for it, different shades of red complemented dark black leather seats. Eight stools were situated at a black topped counter right behind which was the kitchen. I watched for a few minutes as the cook flipped pancakes and made omelets on the griddle. I turned around slowly, careful not to twist sharply lest my ribs pain me further, taking in the other sights of the place. An old fashioned karaoke machine stood in one corner near the door, and on the adjacent window was a neon "Open" sign, lit in blue and red. Spinning around to the other side, I looked down toward the opposite end and saw an older gentleman with salt and pepper hair taking orders from customers at the counter.

"Hey, what can I get ya?"

I jerked back to look in front of me. I took in the man standing there. He had black hair and deep green eyes, he was large, but not from fat, he was more muscular than anything else. I could tell, even from my sitting position, that he was about six foot tall, which towered over my own five foot six figure. He wore a slightly stained apron and black shirt with a glinting silver colored nametag pinned to the right side of his shirt. Corey.

"So, do you want something or are you just going to sit there?" He asked again. I continued to stare back at him until I comprehended that he was speaking to me.

"Oh, sorry. Umm… Can I just get some coffee?" I was hoping the hot caffeine would ease the throbbing of my head which had returned and help to clear my fuzzy mind.

"Sure, one coffee for the beautiful lady. By the way, I'm Corey, and I'll be you server today." Corey winked at me when he said this and turned on his heel to the pot of coffee right behind him, returning to me in a short time with the coffee and some creamers.

Just as I was getting the sugar for my coffee, someone bumped into me. It was only then that I noticed a line beginning to form behind me. Corey was at the register, his face a bright red as he tried to make it work.

"Sorry, this stupid register is on the fritz again. Pops, this thing isn't working again" He hollered to the man with salt and pepper hair at the other end.

"Just use the calculator." He responded.

"Umm... So, you had the omelet breakfast which is 7.67 with hot cakes, so add 1.74 and coffee that's 1.32 and then six percent tax, so total is umm…" The man was fumbling for a calculator. He looked so innocent and flustered that I couldn't help but smile.

"It's 11.37, total." I supplied, slowly sipping my drink to hide my smirk. The man glanced down at his newly retrieved calculator and back at I.

"You can do that in your head?" He asked.

"Call it a gift." I supplied. After looking around and seeing only three people working in the small yet busy diner I continued, "If your register isn't working, maybe I could total the orders for you, I'm faster than a calculator and I can do change too? You seem a little short handed."

"Actually we are." The Corey's father answered. He was dressed in a similar fashion to his son, however his apron was an impeccably white and his nametag read Ben. He seemed lost in thought as he looked at me. "You wouldn't be interested in making a little money would you?" he finally asked, "I won't be able to get this thing fixed until tomorrow, so would you like to work the register for me?"

"Is that something you would trust me to do?" I looked him in the eye as I said it.

"I'll have some angry customers if I don't hurry this line up, so I'll have to." He winked at me with the same deep green eyes that Corey possessed, "What's your name?"

"I'm Allie." I thought for a moment before adding "Allie Marks."

"Well, Allie, I'm Ben, and for the sake of time right now, I'm going to leave the money drawer unlocked for you. Just take the receipt, add up the total, and give them correct change, it's easy enough."

I went to work, totaling the orders and giving change, I was happy to forget myself in the work by using my math skills, and although it wasn't hard math I enjoyed the challenge, it made me feel a little less groggy. I didn't even notice as the day wore on and the hands of the clock slowly worked themselves to read 8:27 PM.

When the night time rush had finally ended the diner was quiet. I was standing quietly at the counter next to the register. I was tired, sore, and just didn't feel well. Corey seemed to notice even as he cleaned the remaining dishes. "Hey, you okay? You look pale." he said. I felt light headed; I put my head in my hands and leaned heavily against the counter. Corey walked over to me and saw the yellow-green bruise on the side of my head that he hadn't noticed before, and could only now be seen because I pushed my hair back.

"What's that?" he reached out as if to touch it, causing me to jerk back and black dots to dance across my eyes. Corey's father had also looked over and seen my reaction.

I staggered away from the counter, I was scared, my head felt like someone was pulling it apart and I felt like throwing up. But I was determined to get to my car. The jeep, my sanctuary. I made it to the door before I was unable to keep myself upright; I felt the ground come up to meet me seconds later as someone yelled my name in the distance.

"What the hell?" Corey yelled as I hit the floor. He ran over to me and carried me over to a booth to set me down. "Dad, I think she's sick or something, look at her."

Corey's dad looked me over; what his son said was true, I was pale and clammy. He also noticed the yellow-green bruise that I had hidden with my shoulder length brown hair. He parted my hair to get a better look at the wound and found a deep inch long gash just past the hair line of my left temple. It wasn't something that should have been left alone, in fact he figured that it should have been stitched and he would be surprised if I didn't have a concussion from the looks of it.

"What are we going to do with her, dad? We need to help her, right? I mean, the car is from Ohio, I bet she doesn't have any place to stay, and regardless she doesn't seem able to tell us right now does she?" Corey didn't like the situation, he wanted to help me, and there was this nagging sensation that he felt he needed to protect me.

"Ya, we'll help her. Take her home to your mom and tell her to call the doctor, that gash needs to be looked at."