Prologue

This should explain everything - at least what I want you to know :) let me know if you have any questions :)

"That's what I'm talking about." The lewd voice echoed across the dark street. Laughter followed from the other men in the group. Another voice called after her. "I'd hit that."

Drunk bastards. She thought as she walked down the sidewalk opposite their lewd chorus. She pulled her coat close to her thin body, wishing that the streetlight reached more corners of the New York City darkness. And she wished that the subway could have been just a few more blocks closer to the club.

Her boots clicked on the hard cement beneath her, and she listened for other shoes behind her to know if those men were going to try anything. If it's the same assholes, their bark is worse than their bite. She smirked to herself when she didn't hear anyone following her. They were probably at the club when it closed and were too drunk to try and get home. She wished that this was the first time that had happened.

She rode the subway the three stops on her route, walked the last three blocks, and unlocked the door to the apartment almost in a trance – it was so old hat. At least since the car had broken down and he had decided that it would be stupid to repair it when she could just take public transportation.

Setting her purse on the table, she kicked off her boots and opened up the fridge to find nothing but three cases of beer and a container of Chinese takeout. Knowing she should save the food for the kids, she willed her stomach to stop growling. I'll just go to bed. Sleeping might stop the hunger.

Hanging her coat over the kitchen chair, she reached into the pocket and pulled out a wad of cash. Thumbing through it, she tried to figure out what bills they had to pay this week. Rent. Electricity. Water. Her fingers reached the end with only fifteen dollars to spare. She was too tired to cry. Maybe tips tomorrow will be better.

She went to turn off the light in the room that doubled as the kitchen and living room, but she was startled when she heard his voice.

"How was it tonight?"

His words were slurred. Just like those men outside of the club. And he was laying on the couch. Just staring at her. His face, unshaven, looked wild with his eyes bloodshot. She looked around the floor to find aluminum foil and his lighter. His hands were shaking as he sat up to look at her. And his voice shook even more when he asked, "How much did you make tonight?"

She was so disgusted with him. And her tone, quiet but angry, conveyed that. "How about we talk about how much money you snorted away tonight."

He rolled his eyes, and sank backwards into the sofa that had pretty much become his bed for the past two years – not forced by her to stay out here, but because that was where he would usually pass out before making it to the bedroom – and that was fine with her. Especially since she didn't get home until three or four in the morning; by that time, she just wanted to fall asleep before she had to get up at seven to make sure the kids were ready to go for school.

"Oh, lay off of it, Lor." He whined. "It wasn't much. My god, it's not like you don't make enough money to have a little bit extra."

She knew it was pointless to argue with him when he was high like this. He wouldn't remember. But she just couldn't hold it back anymore. "A little extra? Really, Chris?" She tried to keep her voice down to make sure she didn't wake the kids, but she kept the edge there. "This place is a hell-hole. We have one bedroom. The kids and I sleep on mattresses on the ground. Last week they turned off the electricity because we didn't have enough money to pay the fucking bill." She gestured to the room around her. "There's mold growing up the side of the living room. There's been two drive by shootings in the last month outside this apartment building."

He started to argue with her, "I'm not saying that it's a perfect set up, but once I can find a job, everything's going to get better."

She put her hands on her head in frustration. "You haven't had a job in four years." She let that sink in, which took a bit longer because of how high he was. "You're never going to pass a drug test for a job if you're still doing drugs." Then her thoughts went to the bedroom where the kids were sleeping. And her voice got a little louder as she realized, "Chris, you did drugs while you were watching the kids?"

He looked caught. And he tried to worm his way out of it. "No… I mean… they were in bed… well I think… they went into their…"

Shaking her head, she turned away from him on the couch.

He called after her as she walked into the doorway of the bedroom. "It's your fault we're in this situation in the first place."

Right before she closed the door on him, she said, "Get some sleep, Christopher."

Her whole body just wanted to lay down and sleep. And rest. But she was so angry with him right now. Not only is he doing drugs, but now he has no problem doing them when he's supposed to be watching the kids. She wanted to scream at him. She wanted to throw him out of the apartment. She wanted to tell him he couldn't see their daughter again. But that was the hard part. He knows I need him. I have no other place to go.

Sinking to the floor with her back against the bedroom door, she put her head in her hands and tried to think of some way out of this mess. This mess that had been their lives since she had gotten pregnant at sixteen.

Born into prestigious families, when Lorelai had gotten pregnant, the only course was to make her and Chris get married. At least that was the only option that their parents had given them. Christopher was more than willing to go along with the plan – he had proposed three or four times. But Lorelai knew Christopher so much better than even his parents knew him. She knew that he was not a disciplined person – that he only wanted to get married because that was the thing to do – not because it would be best for them or for the baby.

So Lorelai had offered a second solution to Chris. They would leave after the baby was born. He would get a job, and she would take care of the baby. And they would try to live like a family would. They wouldn't take anything from their parents, no money, no support, no control – they would do this on their own. And then after a year or two, they could reconsider marriage.

They had left in the middle of the night, leaving a note explaining what they were going to do – but not where they were going or any way of contacting them.

And those two years had been amazing. Chris had found a job working in a factory, which gave him good hours with good pay. Enough to support taking care of a baby and paying for a small apartment in a good part of the city. Lorelai had learned to stretch what they had, but they never went without food and Rory never lacked anything that she needed. They had been happy. She smiled as she remembered the day they went down to the courthouse, Rory walking along holding both their hands, and they had been married – and it had been just as magical as having a huge wedding that their parents planned.

It was about one year later when things started to fall apart. But slowly. Nothing drastic. It started when Christopher met one of his friends from high school in the city. He brought the friend by the apartment to see Lorelai and Rory, where she had made them dinner and they had talked about how things were. Something happened when Chris' friend said, "I mean, think about everything you could have if you weren't straddled to a wife and child, Chris. You could be traveling the world. Partying in college. Head of your father's law firm. But I'm glad you are happy here in a small apartment going to work hard every day."

Something had changed that day. Lorelai watched as her husband would come home from work later and later on the weekends. Less and less paycheck had come home, until Lorelai had confronted him on the fact that she didn't have enough money to buy groceries. They had fought about the fact that he was making the money – he should get to have a little fun every once in a while.

But after that talk, things had gotten better. He would still go out late, but the money started coming in like normal. And Lorelai had forgotten about how he had been slipping. Until she got the bill. She found out that he had been charging all of his trips to the bar to a credit card. And among other things, he had racked up a huge bill on the credit card. When she confronted him, he had stomped out, and hadn't come back for almost two weeks, leaving Lorelai at home with Rory with no money, no way to get anywhere.

When he got back, he told her that he had been in Vegas, living it up and he had won big – 10,000 dollars. They had used that to pay for the bills that had come up while he was gone, pay off some of the credit card.

He would leave for work in the morning, and come home at nine or ten at night. He took over paying the bills, and for about a year, everything was paid, and Lorelai thought that maybe he had just been discouraged, but that things were getting better.

Until the day that her landlord came to the door and handed her an eviction notice. They had 48 hours to vacate the premises. She had begged and pleaded with the landlord, promising that she would get him the money if he would just give them some time, to which he replied that they were almost four months behind in their rent. And that the utilities would be shut off that night at 9. When Chris came home that night, Lorelai had snuggled Rory up in all the blankets in the house because the temperature would be below freezing that night. She handed Chris the eviction notice, and told him that if he valued his life, he would tell her the truth.

Chris had lost his job when he had gone to Vegas, because he skipped work for two weeks. Instead of looking for another job, he had decided that he would just drink and fool around during the day. He found a gambling ring that operated around the area. He would pay the rent with whatever he had after those games. And he paid for everything else with credit cards. In her name.

She had thrown him out of the house that night. She made him leave, telling him that he needed to realize what he had done – he had left them homeless.

Then she had found an apartment – in a horrible part of town, with only one bedroom, and a combined kitchen living room. Because the apartment was in such a bad place, Lorelai had been able to get them into the place with one-month credit, if she promised to pay double for that month at the end. To her, anything was worth keeping from sleeping on the streets with her four-year-old daughter.

And then someone offered her a job. Offered her something that would pay so well – something that they said they could teach her – something that was easy to learn. But it was operating from eight at night until two or three in the morning. She needed to be with Rory. It was still a year before she could go to kindergarten, and even then, someone would have to be home with her at night while her mother worked.

Then Chris had shown up, having found a job, a legitimate job back at the factory. She didn't trust him, didn't trust that he wouldn't do the same thing to them again. But he told her that he would help her pay off the credit cards, and he would watch Rory while she was at work during the night.

She didn't have any other choice, because she had no job and they didn't have money for food or rent or life. So she had taken him back. And she took the job.

It had only been about four weeks before Chris had lost his job. But she was able to make ends meet because of her work. All she asked was that he keep looking for a job during the day and be home by eight to take care of Rory.

Lorelai startled when she heard rustling from the mattress in the corner. And the little voice of her angel met her ears, "Mommy? Are you here?" The sleepy voice of her eight-year-old brought her out of her reminiscing.

She walked over and curled up beside her little girl, covered in a threadbare blanket. "Honey, Mommy's here." Making sure Rory was covered completely, Lorelai snuggled her little girl up against her, and whispered, "Go back to sleep."

Soon the breathing of the tiny person against her was even, and soft. And innocent. This is what makes all this worth it. She told herself. Making sure she has a roof over her head, food in her stomach, an education, and knows that I love her – that's what makes everything I have to endure worth it.

But as she thought about the fact that Chris had done drugs when he was supposed to be watching the kids – that scared her to death. This was a horrible place to live, and it wasn't safe. To think that he could be passed out on the couch and someone might break in – or the kids could get ahold of the drugs – or if one of the kids got hurt and he couldn't help. But what choice do you have? She asked herself. If you throw him out, you're leaving the kids with no one to take care of them while you're gone. And you can't take them to work with you. Her work wasn't fit for upstanding citizens, much less little innocent children.

And those thoughts flooded her mind as sleep overtook her worry. Snuggled up to her daughter, Lorelai faded out into sleep that was still full of worry – just irrational worry.