A/N: Okay, guys. First of all, I'd like to say that I am really sorry I haven't updated my other story, "That's What Friends Are For" for quite some time. I realize I left it on an evil cliff hanger, but I promise to finish that story. I've been working on it, but it's a really complex story as it goes on and it's a bit difficult to write and I've been really preoccupied with the stresses of life, working, and studying so I haven't gotten around to finishing Ch. 5 yet. What I'm going to do is keep writing the story until I get to around Ch. 7 or so and then start posting again so that you guys won't have to wait months for an update once I do start posting it again.

In the mean time, I've written this Ryan/Summer story so hopefully this will give you all a little something to read while you're waiting for the other story. Actually I'm almost completely done with this story so the updates should be pretty quick depending on how many reviews I get. The faster you review and the more reviews I get, the quicker I'll post the other chapters. This one will be 5 chapters (and I've written at least 75% of the story already).

I'm not sure how many of you are Ryan/Summer fans, but I love the AU idea of them. Don't worry... this is AU and Ryan never lived with the Cohens so he never even knew Seth... and let's face it... if Ryan hadn't come to Newport on the show, Summer would have never dated Seth. Also, she thought Ryan was hot and even wanted him to be her white knight at Cotillion on the show so she clearly was drawn to him and this is realistic.

All the background you need to know about Ryan and Summer will be revealed at some point in the story. You learn a little more each chapter. Ch. 1 is from Summer's point of view and Ch. 2 is from Ryan's. The POV keeps switching back and forth in that way, and their voices are written in "stream of consciousness" form and writing the dialogue for this story was a lot of fun. Ch. 2 has a lot of daddy!Ryan in it so you can look forward to that. ;-)

This story is based loosely on the song "For The First Time" by The Script so if you've never heard it before, go listen to it and you'll get an idea of where I'm going with this. You know I love angst and h/c so things will get far worse for the Atwood family before they get better, but I promise by the end, this story should be really touching and will have a happy ending. It's a very adult-like story and addresses many issues that plague our society today including lack of health insurance, unemployment, etc. and it's a story about two people struggling but standing by each others' side and putting their daughter first no matter what.

I want to thank beachtree once again for giving some wonderful insight and helping me with the story.

Sorry for the ramble! Now here is the first chapter!

~*~*~*~*~CHAPTER ONE~*~*~*~*~

I stare out one of the sliding windows of our modest two bedroom house, waiting for my husband to come home. After standing there for several minutes with still no sign of him, I sigh and grab the latest issue of Vanity Fair before making myself comfortable on the loveseat in our cozy living room. Yes, I'm 27-years-old and married with a gorgeous four-year-old girl and I still read fashion and gossip magazines. I really don't know if I could survive without knowing what stars just had a nip/tuck or who were the best/worst dressed celebrities on the red carpet at the Oscars. Plus, Johnny Depp is on the cover and he is totally hot.

Another half hour passes, and worry is beginning to damper my otherwise placid mood. It's a quarter past eight, and I still have no clue where Chino's sorry ass is. Of course, I don't mean the insults. After all, he's a great guy, a great father, and a great husband. I couldn't have asked for someone more caring. I'm just worried about him, which lately seems to happen a lot.

I chuckle softly as I realize what I just called him. Chino was the nickname I gave him shortly after we met in college at a small coffee shop called Aromas Coffee & Cafe. At the time we met, we were both twenty-one. I was in my third year at UCLA studying art history with a minor in environmental studies and he had just begun studying math and pre-architecture at a nearby community college hoping to transfer to a four year school eventually. He'd been the first person I'd ever met from Chino, CA, and well... back then I had this thing where I refused to call people by their first names. It's been a while since I've called him Chino out loud, but he'll always be Chino to me in my thoughts. I wonder if he misses the nickname though. When we're having a serious conversation I typically just call him Ryan, but most of the time I still affectionately call him Atwood. Maybe tonight I'll call him Woody just to piss him off. Kidding!

Anyway, the more time passes, the more impatient I get. Chino's usually home by at least seven in the evening to eat dinner with me and Alana. We normally just eat take-out or something simple that I can make with my limited cooking skills like spaghetti and meat sauce. Sometimes he shows up even earlier so that he can cook for us. He's one hell of a good cook, but lately he hasn't been getting home early enough and when he does come home, he's always too exhausted.

I feel a tiny hand tugging at my arm, and I turn my head to see two large, bright blue eyes looking back at me. Alana has my dark brown hair color, but she definitely got her eyes from her dad. We often affectionately call her Lani.

"Mommy?" She murmurs. She's so quiet that sometimes I have to strain my ears just to hear her. I smile again as I think about how similar she is to her dad in personality.

"Yes, baby. What's wrong?" I ask, picking her up and rocking her back and forth in my arms.

"Where's Daddy?" She pouts, and I'm reminded once again of her dad. Who can resist such an adorable facial expression? When she and Atwood make their "pouty" faces, they both remind me of a cute, sad puppy dog. Yeah, she's definitely Daddy's little girl.

"He's out working late, but he'll be home soon, sweetie. Want to watch a movie before bed?"

I can't hide my grin as her face lights up. She's definitely the greatest gift my hubby has given to me. I mean... he's given me tons, but our daughter tops the list by far. She's my pride and joy and my whole life now revolves around keeping her happy.

I work during the day in Nordstroms at Chanel as a retail cosmetic beauty adviser. Basically that means I am the head adviser in the make-up department for Chanel products in Nordstroms at South Coast Plaza. I also do work with ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Towards Animals) and Keep America Beautiful, inc. during my free time.

A regular work day has me going at it between nine in the morning and six in the evening for four days a week, but I get about an hour of free time for my lunch break, which begins around noon. Sometimes I visit lover boy (Atwood) at his job during this time, though not so much lately since three weeks ago he asked me not to—saying he no longer is allowed a break. I don't think he's lying—I mean, he's not a liar or a cheater. That still doesn't stop me from sometimes getting suspicious, but I love him so I've gotta trust him, right? Anyhoo, looks like my mind just went off on a tangent again. The point of all this is, I pick Lani up from day care at around a 6:15 in the evening and get home by 6:30 and by 7:00 Ryan is usually here, but now it's almost 9:00 and his sexy ass is still nowhere to be seen.

"Yes, pwease. A movie sounds gweat," Lani's soft voice interrupts my thoughts. She's still having difficulty pronouncing her L's and R's, and she's so cute that I have to fight the urge to pinch one of her chubby cheeks. She definitely got the politeness from her dad too because that sure as hell isn't the way I grew up talking to my parents. Nope. Definitely not. I was even worse around the evil step monster after my mom left us, and when I had a rage black out? Let's just say momma was a force to be reckoned with.

"Beauty and the... Beeeast!" She exclaims playfully while emphasizing the word beast.

I roll my eyes. There's only so many times I can watch this movie, but it's her favorite so I turn on the TV, grab the remote, and slip the DVD in, hoping it will get her mind off of her dad's tardiness.

About half an hour later, she's fallen asleep so I carry her up to her bedroom and tuck her in. My husband is quite the artist, and he fixed up her bedroom all by himself. The walls are decorated with colorful images from Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. Go figure. But it's so ridiculously cute! I'll give him that for sure. When I was Lani's age, my room was decorated with My Little Pony. To this day, I still hide Princess Sparkles in my purse, which Dickwood likes to tease me about. Ha! I'm so kidding again! I'd never call my hubby that. I'm not that mean...

I kiss Lani's forehead gently and place her favorite teddy bear in her arms before turning off the light and slipping out of her room to get ready for sleepy time myself.

I smile inwardly thinking about the months I was pregnant with her. Ryan and I had begun dating probably a month after we met. After two years, I'd finally graduated from UCLA and that very day he proposed. We got married a month later despite my dad's initial disapproval, and just one month after that, I found out I was pregnant.

He was perfect during the entire pregnancy. He never missed a doctor's appointment, he put up with my mood swings, catered to my every need, and even went to every lamaze class with me. I'll never forget when I woke up earlier than usual one Saturday morning and found him up building a nursery for our daughter. The gesture alone was sexier than Mario Lopez's abs. Plus, he was barefoot and wearing a white tank top with a pair of washed out jeans, which is so freakin' hot, especially if you've ever seen Atwood's biceps. And did I mention how much he turns me on when working with tools? I better stop or I'll have an orgasm just thinking about it.

Okay, that was totally random. So anyway... the most fun I had during the pregnancy was probably picking out baby names with him. I was also grateful to him for humoring me and putting on a couple of sympathy pounds just to placate me during the months I was feeling like a fat cow. It didn't show though. He was just as sexy as ever, and if anything, any extra weight just went to his biceps. God I love his biceps. Have I already mentioned how much I love his biceps? I'm getting hot just thinking about it... Wait, where was I going with this again? Oh, yeah! Okay, so at the time of my pregnancy, he was also still going to school while working an extra job as a secretary in a small architectural firm nearby. He was dead set on making enough money to support me and our unborn daughter, and I loved him for it. Well, I love him no matter what, but his dedication to our family made me love him even more. By the time he'd get home on the weekdays, he was always drained, but that still didn't stop him from giving me his undivided attention.

Picking up my toothbrush and reaching for the faucet, I continue to think about how perfect our little family is. An hour later I find myself tossing and turning in bed and growing increasingly more worried by the second. Where is he? If he's running late, he usually at least calls. Not to mention, I tried calling several times and can't reach him! Jerk. I mean, for heaven's sake… it's already 10:30!

I hop out of bed and turn the light on. I guess maybe reading another one of my magazines will help kill the time. This time I pick up Cosmo. Jessica Biel is on the cover. I always did like Mary on 7th Heaven. Too bad she went all crazy and turned into the family's black sheep. I turn several pages and see an interview with Enrique Iglesias. I guess he was "hottie of the week." God that makes sense because he's definitely hot. Those abs! Yep, this should undoubtedly help take my jumbled mind off of Chino's whereabouts for a few minutes—or at least help ease the pain of waiting.

Sure enough, another half an hour flies by and finally I hear the front door creak open, and I breathe in a sigh of relief now knowing that my husband is okay. Sometimes I admit I probably worry more about him than I should, but after the motorcycle accident he was in three years ago, I just can't help it.

Even the memory of it gets me all emotional. When I got the phone call that night from an officer telling me he was in a serious accident and was rushed to the ER, I thought I was going to lose him. Even worse, so did Lani. Well, she was only a one-year-old at the time so I guess she didn't really know what was going on, but I can't remember ever seeing her cry as much as she did then. She definitely missed her daddy while he was in the hospital—I'll tell you that.

Thank God his injuries weren't more serious. I mean... they were very serious... I don't want to play them down or anything. After all, his right hip was fractured badly leaving him with some permanent damage to the sciatic nerve, which was a devastating blow to him at the time since the doctors kept telling him he'd never walk normally again. He also suffered a grade 2 concussion during the accident and bruising all along his right side. Not to mention he'd broken his right arm in two places. His hip and arm injuries required immediate surgery, and his hip fracture later required a total hip replacement surgery. Of course, with Chino's luck he'd gotten an infection, and the damn thing never healed properly. Part of me also blames the complications on his health insurance coverage at the time—or lack thereof is definitely more accurate.

But still... it could have been so much worse. After all, the first night he was in the hospital, the doctors weren't even sure he'd live through the night. See? So at that point, I was willing to take any positive news I could get! As time passed, he'd even almost made a full recovery and after eight months of intense physical therapy, he was back on his feet despite the nagging hip pain that has lingered. On his worst days, the limp is very noticeable. On his best days, he can almost walk without a limp and those are the days he goes to the gym. He used to enjoy running, especially to blow off steam, but sadly he had to give that up so now he swims instead.

By the sound of his uneven footsteps tonight, I can tell that today must have been one of his bad days. Really bad days, in fact. Maybe I'll give him a massage after he climbs into bed.

I'm proud of him though—more proud than he'll ever know. He's always been a fighter, and he progressed better than anyone had expected during his physical therapy sessions, although I do worry about the amount of pain medication he still needs on his bad days.

I continue listening to the sound of his familiar footsteps as he makes his way up the stairs. I hear Lani's door open, and I know he must be kissing her goodnight. Both corners of my mouth curve up into a content smile. He's been such a good dad to her. He's been working so hard lately, and he really deserves a break.

You see... after the accident, Ryan couldn't afford to transfer to a four year school to finish his degree so in the mean time, he's been working as an assistant to an architect in a moderately prestigious building company while also maintaining his job as a waiter in an upscale restaurant called The Lighthouse on the weekends. What happened is... since he didn't have health insurance, my dad helped him the best he could.

Initially Daddy wasn't Chino's biggest fan because of his background, but after seeing how devoted he was to me and Lani, he quickly developed a soft spot for the boy who had stolen my heart. When Chino was in the hospital, the bills were very costly and after his recovery, the physical therapy he needed was even more expensive. During this time, Daddy helped us with the hospital bills and also got us this wonderful house and I, in turn, got a secure job. Thanks, Dad!

Anyway, Ryan's goal is to save up enough money to support me and Lani while still having enough to go back and finish his degree in architecture. What I haven't told him is, my dad and I plan to give him the funds he needs for his birthday, which is coming up in a couple of months. Last I checked, my dad can finally afford it... or he'll be able to I think. After being sued one million dollars for malpractice by a patient last year, hiring a top lawyer had drained his pockets of cash, but now the case is almost coming to a close and it looks like he's going to win.

When Ryan finally gets to go back to his studies, he'll only have one year of coursework left if he can get into a four year school. I know it would mean a whole lot to him. He's overcome so many obstacles in his life and he never experienced a loving family before me and Lani. His asshole parents certainly never showed him love. And his brother, Trey, tried to, but he's still in prison for burglary. You see? Chino's nothing like them. He deserves whatever success he gets.

"Hey, my love," Ryan's soft, husky voice captures my attention as he enters our bedroom. I still get butterflies when he calls me his love. And must his voice be so damn sexy? The perfect mix of manliness and vulnerability? Damn you, Atwood. Sometimes you make me love you too fucking much, but I wouldn't change these feelings for the world.

He gives me a loving smile and my heart flutters like I'm a twelve-year-old girl with a school boy crush.

"I'm home," he adds quietly as he takes off his leather jacket and hangs it in our spacious closet. He then kicks off his shoes and reaches into his drawer for a white tank top and a pair of boxers.

"No shit, Sherlock!" I reply, unable to resist teasing him. My attempt at humor gets a soft chuckle out of him. I know I'm not particularly funny at this time of night, but my stomach still does flip flops when he humors me.

He limps over towards our king size bed and winces as he struggles to stay standing. Poor guy.

"Did you take your pain meds today?" I ask.

"Nah," He replies, unbuttoning his rumpled light blue dress shirt and unbuckling his belt before slipping off his black work slacks. "I, uh... kind of ran out."

"How do you kind of run out, Atwood?"

"You know, you're an Atwood too," Ryan smirks. Bastard.

"This is not a game, Dufus! Either you ran out of meds or you didn't!" I snap, pissed that he's not taking proper care of himself.

"Summer...," he says. His voice is pleading as his demeanor visibly deflates, and it's almost like he's expending all his energy just trying to hold it together. And God, not the puppy dog eyes! I can read Ryan like a book, and right now I'm definitely not getting high frequency vibes from him. He's vibrating at a very low frequency, in fact. Red rims circle his tired eyes and his body is more tense than he probably wants to let on. Something's wrong—something that probably runs far deeper than the pain he's feeling in his hip from not taking his pain medication. I'm also guessing it's going to take me all night to get him to talk about it, but I'll get it out of him alright—even if I have to tie him down to the bed and tickle his stomach until he gives in. He hates when I do that, but nobody born with the last name Roberts takes no for an answer.

"Enjoying the view?" Ryan asks in a mischievous tone, interrupting my train of thought. He really is an enigma. One minute he looks miserable and sad and the next minute his facade is back up and he's teasing me again. He gives me a devilish grin,and it's only then that I notice I've been staring at his body while he changes. His hot, hot body may I add. And did I mention HOT?

His abs are still just as defined as when I met him. I can tell he's lost some weight in the past month though. I guess I'll just add that to my list of things to worry about. Last thing I want is for Atwood to turn into a walking skeleton. Scrawny guys? Uh-uh. They just don't do anything for me. Still, I'm always in awe of how perfect he looks in my eyes. I'm starting to figure out that whether he's a little stocky, medium built, or a lean, mean muscle-machine, he'll always be damn sexy and perfect to me. Plus, he's not too tall so our bodies fit together perfectly. There goes that word again. Perfect. Even his right hip is perfect to me. Hell—if he wasn't standing so awkwardly, I wouldn't even know anything was wrong with it. This Chino boy's really put a spell on me, and I like it.

"I guess that's a yes," He answers his own question with a smug grin on that freakishly adorable face of his, and I can feel my cheeks turning a deep shade of crimson. He got me. I am enjoying the view. How many times am I going to have to say damn you, Atwood in one night?

Instead of feeding his ego though, I bite down on my lower lip and say, "Ass hole" and he laughs.

I'd complain just for the hell of it, but I love to see him laugh. He was always so somber when I first met him. Over the years I've known him, he's loosened up quite a bit though the accident was definitely a setback. Still, like I said before, by now I can read him like a book and behind that laugh is a very distressed man, and I'm going to get to the bottom of whatever is making my hubby upset tonight.

"Where were you? Why didn't you call? I was worried sick!" I suddenly lash out, hitting him as hard as I can on the face with my pillow. "Don't you ever do that to me again, do you understand me?" I shout, gritting my teeth and punctuating the 'ever do that to me again' part with six more hits.

"I...," He tries to get a word in, but I cut him off with yet another smack on the face. Good thing this thing is made of down feathers and cotton or Atwood would have some serious bruising.

"No excuses, Chino! You're going to give me a heart attack one of these days!" I exclaim. He begins chuckling, and now I'm tempted to smack him with a book instead of a pillow. Must be one of my rage black out flare ups again.

"I'm being serious, you jerk! What's so funny?"

"You just called me Chino." He gives me a half smile. I love it when he goes for the half smile. "I just missed you calling me that. That's all," He adds softly, and I can't stop my own grin from forming.

"I'm sorry I overreacted," I say calmly. All agitation is now out of my system. Atwood has that effect on me when he smiles. "It's just... it's bad enough I still think about the night you almost...the night you... the accident...," I trail off, noticing as his eyes become distant.

"My phone died," He says, looking down and shrugging his shoulders. As he shifts his weight closer to my side of the bed and sits down, I notice him grimacing in pain again. He looks so vulnerable when he does that, and I just want to hug him and take the pain away. Okay, now I probably sound like I'm eight.

"Then why didn't you charge the phone, Numb-nut?" I ask.

"I forgot the charger," He answers, finally meeting my gaze. "It's on my study desk... and I was going to use a pay phone, but... I, uh...," He trails off, averting his eyes momentarily and laughing quietly as he runs a hand through his thick, dark blond hair before explaining, "I ran out of quarters."

"Sweetie, you do realize how pathetic you sound right now, right?" I tease him and he gives me that charming half smile of his again and a couple moments later we both burst into a fit of giggles.

"So that still doesn't explain why you were so late," I tell him—my tone turning serious again.

"My car was vandalized," He answers flatly.

"What? Ew! How? In Orange County? You've gotta be kidding me!" I'm shocked.

"Tires were slashed. Windshield was broken. Doors were smashed in," He explains.

I'm at a loss for words. So when he used to always joke that the Atwoods have terrible luck, he really wasn't kidding.

"Summer, please," He panics—almost as if he thinks I'm mad at him. "I'm trying. I just...," He replies, drawing a deep breath for comfort.

"Just what?" I ask, now becoming more fearful than anything. It's been a while since I've seen him this flustered, and I don't like it.

"I don't have the money to fix the car. Everything I've been earning has been going to you and Lani."

"How much do you need?" I ask.

"I don't want to burden you or Neil," He answers.

"I'm your wife! You can burden me as much as you want! My money is your money, and I'm sure my dad feels the same way!" I shout back at him, throwing up my hands in frustration.

He swallows hard and then replies, "I ...I don't ..."

"Ryan, please!" I cut him off. "You've gotta stop doing this! You've gotta come to me. Sometimes you can't take everything into your own hands!"

He just nods solemnly so I continue, "So how'd you get home tonight? Cab?"

He sighs and shakes his head no.

"Well why the hell not?" I press for an answer.

"I ran out of money," He explains. "And I didn't get paid today."

"Please tell me you didn't walk home, Ryan," I say in disbelief but he nods his head. I can't believe this. With a bad hip and no pain meds today, he walked eight miles to get home. No wonder his limp is so prominent tonight.

"Well why didn't you call me to pick you...," I trail off, remembering that his phone had died and he had no quarters. "Oh," I finish.

"You couldn't have borrowed a quarter from someone?" I ask.

"I did ask a couple of guys. They said they didn't have any. There was nobody else around. I asked one lady to borrow her cell and she said no. By the time I had walked two miles, I couldn't find another payphone."

His expression grows even more somber, and I can tell something is eating away at him emotionally. For a few seconds I swear the only emotion visible in his deep blue eyes is shame. He thinks he let me and Lani down.

"Summer, I'm sorry," He tells me. The look of desperation in his eyes is killing me and my attitude suddenly softens.

"Come 'ere," I drone affectionately, holding my arms out towards him. Poor guy had a terrible day.

He's reluctant at first, but after a few seconds, he leans in towards me and tenderly caresses my left cheek with his hand. Gosh, how is it possible for a hand to feel so rugged and calloused yet so soft and gentle at the same time? He sweeps a tousled strand of hair out of my face and he whispers an "I love you" before drawing me closer and kissing me deeply, and I swear right now my hormones are driving me crazy. I kiss him back passionately and wrap my arms around his taut neck before pulling away just enough to say, "I love you too."

After that we just sit there staring into each others' eyes for a few minutes. I know he has something else he wants to tell me so I patiently wait and admire his beauty. I mentally trace the angular outline of his face and make note of the small crows feet that are beginning to form around his eyes due to immense stress and exhaustion. Everything he goes through is really starting to take a physical toll on him and it breaks my heart.

"So...," He finally breaks the silence again. His demeanor instantly reverts back to that of a sad puppy dog. "It's been a rough day," He continues, averting his eyes again and absentmindedly playing with my hand. "Actually, it's been a rough few weeks and I haven't been completely honest with you."

"Oh no, Ryan. I know that look. What's wrong?"

When he looks up again, his eyes convey a combination of disappointment, guilt, and despair and it scares me.

He looks down again and wraps his arms around his torso, taking a deep breath before answering, "I lost my job at the building company. Three weeks ago. I've been searching for jobs every day for the past three weeks. That's another reason I've been coming home later than usual. I'm sorry I wasn't honest with you."

Well fuck. He didn't lie exactly. He probably just wasn't ready to tell me until now, but I'm not mad. He's got too much going on for me to be mad, but fuck. As if we hadn't already been through enough already... No wonder he's been struggling to pay the damn bills.

"Come 'ere," I summon him again in trademark Summer Roberts-Atwood style. "It's okay. We'll get through this. I promise," I assure him, wrapping him into a tight hug. He lets his body relax into mine and we share each others' warmth and comfort for several minutes.

"I don't know what I'd do without you, Summer," He says, gently brushing his right hand up and down my arm and nuzzling my neck. I can feel his heart beating against my chest, and I wish we could stay like this forever. "You and Lani," He continues—his voice thick with emotion. "You both are all I have."

"Well we're not going anywhere," I remind him.

My words are simple, but I know it's exactly what he needs to hear. After all the people that abandoned him in his life, he needs to know that no matter how bad things get, I'll never give up on him.


I wake up in the middle of the night courtesy of Atwood. Our legs must be tangled under the sheets because as he changes his sleeping position for the one hundredth time tonight, I can feel my leg moving too.

"Ew," I whisper, noticing how sweaty he is. Something's wrong. He usually doesn't sweat during the night.

He groans as I turn my body to face him, and I brush his short, sweaty bangs out of his face. His body seems racked with pain, even in his sleep, and my heart aches for him.

"Chino," I say, nudging his arm. He stirs slightly and lets out another groan so I nudge him again. "Chino, wake up, sweetie."

His long eyelashes slowly flutter open to reveal blue eyes clouded by pain and exhaustion. I reach over to switch on the night lamp and he blinks several times. I then help him distribute his weight onto his good side as he lethargically pushes himself into a sitting position—wincing as he does so.

"Are you okay?" He immediately asks and I can't help but smile. That's so like him. Here I am worried about his health, yet he's here worrying about me. Typical Atwood.

"I'm fine. Just concerned. All your tossing and turning woke me up," I explain.

He frowns and rubs his face with his left palm while setting his right hand tenderly on my knee.

"I'm so sorry," He apologizes. "I didn't mean to wake you up for nothing. I can sleep on the couch. That way you'll sleep better."

"No! Ryan, stop it!" I snap and he immediately flinches and looks up at me with one of his cute, confused kicked puppy expressions.

"I'm sor—," He begins to say, but I quickly cut him off.

"You're sorry. I know. And if you say that one more time, you're going to experience one of my rage black outs. All you do is apologize! You have nothing to be sorry for! Don't you ever think about yourself?" I continue shouting at him in frustration. He just doesn't get it.

He doesn't say anything and instead averts his eyes and tilts his head to the left as if he's in deep thought.

"You need a shower. You're sweating like a horse and you stink," I tease, breaking the tension and he regains eye contact with me—a hilariously dumbfounded look planted on his face.

He begins to get up as if he's actually going to hop into the shower, and I smack him on the arm.

"I'm kidding! I mean you are all sweaty and everything, but you don't stink," I smile at him warmly and wink. He appears to relax and even smiles back. If this indicates small steps in the right direction, I'll take it. Only seconds later, I hear another groan escape from his lips and now I am officially worried.

"Is it your hip?" I ask, noticing the way he shifts his weight a little bit more to his left side.

"Yeah," He sighs. "That and the back of my right thigh. And my calf muscle is throbbing."

"We've gotta get you a re-fill of your meds. Daddy can probably help. Come on," I soothe him. "Let me help you stretch out that leg."

"Have I told you how much I love you, Summer Roberts-Atwood?" He asks me in that husky voice that always sends shivers down my spine. Smiling brightly, he draws my body forward with both hands, kissing me fervently. He then begins a trail of kisses down my neck and shoulder and lifts his head just enough to give me an Eskimo kiss. This is, of course, his way of thanking me, and I'm enjoying every second of it.

"Okay, lover boy. Don't forget I have work in three hours," I giggle. I'm so tempted to pounce on him and tangle my hands through his hair like old times and strip off my panties, but unfortunately we haven't been able to make love for at least a couple of weeks. He's been in too much pain. Instead, I offer him my support and say, "Let me help you lie down on your back."

He leans back on the bed and I massage his hip and thigh as we go through the familiar exercises that he's had to do everyday since the accident. After about twenty minutes, he finally seems comfortable enough to go back to sleep, and I lay next to him and rub his head until his breathing falls into its natural rhythm and he's fast asleep.

Now hopefully I can get a couple more hours of sleep in, although I'm greatly dreading work in the morning. Maybe tomorrow will be the day Ryan finds another job. Maybe things will be okay. Just maybe.

A/N: Alright, so that's chapter one. If you get a chance, please review! It helps me as a writer and gives me inspiration! :D