A/N: So, this is the start of my first genuine attempt at a novel, I guess. It's the expanded version of my old story Gracie.

Daddy's not home yet.

Uncle Ori promised Gracie she could stay up 'til her daddy got home, but here it is real late, and he ain't home. So Gracie sits outside on the porch, watchin' the moon go down and idly itchin' at a mosquito bite on her arm.

She feels a little wicked, bein' up so late. Daddy always says she can stay up to her age. Gracie ain't got a watch, she doesn't know what time it is, but she knows it's a real long time past seven. So she's disobeyin' daddy, but he ain't home, and he promised he'd tell her a story tonight.

Uncle Ori tried to tell her a story, but that wouldn't do. Gracie loves her daddy's stories. He always talks about fightin' and runnin' and livin' out in the middle o' nowhere. Uncle Ori always tries n' tell her about princesses.

Princesses ain't Gracie's sort o' thing. They just sit and wait for someone t'save 'em. Daddy says he knew girls like the princesses, and they just ended up gettin' fat or shootin' heroin. Gracie doesn't know what heroin is, but she's guessin' it's somethin' bad, cause daddy's face always gets stormy when he says it.

Daddy says most girls wanna be princesses. Gracie never sees other kids, though, she ain't ever seen another girl like her. Only people she sees are Daddy, Uncle Ori, and Daddy's friends. Though they ain't like what Ori told her friends were s'posed to be. They just yell at Daddy, and sometimes they hit 'im, but usually Gracie don't see 'em twice. Daddy always just tells her they took the back door.

She ain't ever seen their back door. Could be that it's in daddy's room. Gracie ain't allowed in daddy's room.

After Daddy's friends come n' visit, Daddy and Uncle Ori always close the door, but that don't stop Gracie from hearin' 'em yell. Sometimes she even hears flesh 'n flesh, and Uncle Ori comes out of Daddy's room bloody and wild. He even punches the walls sometimes.

That's all Gracie thinks about, waitin' for her daddy to come home. Princesses n' daddy's friends.

She's been sittin' outside for hours and hours when she finally sees her daddy's figure out in the distance. He ain't walkin' so good, and Gracie thinks maybe he's been drinkin' that icky fire-y stuff again, but when he reaches their front porch, Gracie knows that ain't it.

His eyes are too clear, he's too alert. He's got blood soakin' his best white shirt, and there's some pink, chunky, icky thing stuck in his hair.

He doesn't look angry that Gracie's up so late. He just bends down and kisses her on the forehead, and her head is against his chest long enough to feel his heart beat-beat-beatin' like some crazy hammer.

"I'm gonna go wake up Ori," he says, but he don't sound right. He sounds like Uncle Ori after their fights. He sounds scared.

Daddy's never scared.

"You wait here, girl," he says, putting a hand on her head and pressing down a little, like he's tryin' to make her sink into the rough wood and stay there.

Gracie's scared now cause Daddy's scared. She don't have any idea what's happenin', but she's never seen Daddy like this before.

She focuses on the crickets chirpin', and it calms her down some. She just listens to 'em for a few minutes, 'til Daddy's pullin' Uncle Ori out the door by the arm.

Ori looks angry, he's whisperin' somethin' angry to daddy.

"What's happenin', Daddy?" Gracie asks.

Ori pulls out of Daddy's grip. "Yeah, Gage, what is happening?"

"We're leavin', girl," Daddy says, pullin' Gracie to her feet by the arm. "We're goin' real far away."

"Why?" Gracie asks.

"I did somethin' real stupid, baby, now c'mon, we hafta get outta here now."

"Couldya carry me, Daddy?" Gracie asks.

"Nah, girl, later."

Daddy starts to leave, draggin' Gracie along with him.

Ori follows close behind, and he asks Gracie if she wants him to carry her. She just shakes her head and clings tighter to Daddy.

She don't know where they're goin', but she trusts her daddy.

A/N: Any and all feedback is really appreciated.