A/N: I know, I know. It's been forever since I've posted a new story, and I apologize for that. Real life got in the way, my muse took a several month long vacation, and I just couldn't find it in me to write anything worth posting. So, I'll let you get on the with the new story.
Oh, and I'll be posting every Saturday, and a huge thanks to my beta, Heather, for fixing all my errors and coming up with an awesome summary.
"Rise and shine, Bells!" Dad hollered, and I let out a groan. The sun had just risen, not to mention that it was chilly, and I really didn't feel like spending my morning out on the lake fishing.
"C'mon, kiddo! Your tea and Pop Tarts are going to get cold."
Grumbling to myself, I tossed back the top portion of my sleeping bag, shoved my feet into my flip flops, and unzipped my tent.
Every summer my dad insisted on torturing me for the two months I spent with him. Two months of camping in tents, getting eaten by bugs, and fishing way too early in the morning.
Secretly though, I didn't mind it all that much. I rarely got to see my dad since I lived in Jacksonville, Florida, and he lived in Phoenix, Arizona. Sure, I saw him every other holiday, but ever since my mom had moved us to Florida when I was ten, I'd missed being near him.
"Eat," Dad said, shoving the paper plate at me and setting a cup of tea in front of me on the rickety picnic table.
As I ate, I watched him check his tackle box before putting it in the boat that was hitched to the back of the Jeep. My dad lived for fishing, and he didn't get to do a whole lot of it in Phoenix mainly because he didn't have much time. Dad was the captain of the Desert Palms police precinct, and that kept him pretty busy. Yet every summer, he took a two month long vacation and spent it with me. This year, Dad had taken me to Arcadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine, and it was gorgeous.
Finishing up my breakfast, I climbed back into my tent to throw on jeans, a t-shirt, and a hoodie. It was in the sixties, for the moment, and I knew it would be chilly on the lake for a few hours still.
Twenty minutes later, Dad was maneuvering the boat to a secret location that one of the park rangers had told him had the best fishing.
"Bet I can catch my five fish before you," he said with a grin as I hooked a worm to my fishing rod. I rolled my eyes at him before telling him he was on. Dad and I always had a running bet on who could catch their fish first, and whoever lost had to gut and clean them. I really hated losing.
As we fished in the cool morning, I caught Dad up on what had been going on in my life. Sadly, it wasn't much. I'd done well in school like usual, and I'd gotten a part-time job during the school year so I could pay for my own stuff.
"What about boys?" he asked, and I wrinkled my nose at his question.
"There aren't any," I said quietly.
"What about that one guy you were seeing? Gerald or Jerry or –"
"Jake?" I asked, and Dad nodded. "Oh, that's been over for months. He's a nice guy, but he's definitely not boyfriend material. He would act all stupid and immature whenever his friends were around."
Dad let out a snort.
"That's a teenage boy for you. Well, you don't need a boyfriend right now anyway. Focus on school for the time being," he told me, and I nodded, having heard it before from both of my parents.
They'd been high school sweethearts who had gotten married straight out of high school and had me before either of them was twenty. It had been rough for them, but they'd believed they'd make it . . . until they didn't. They'd divorced when I was three, and they had shared custody of me, but I lived with my mom. My mom, as much as I loved her, was flighty though and not the most stable of parents. She never remembered to pay her bills on time, she was always doing projects or taking community classes for something, and she tended to have a different boyfriend every month. Basically, I was the adult in our household, and it drove me insane some days.
"Your mom said that you were having some trouble with a girl at school."
I let out a sigh and silently cursed my mom.
"Yeah, Leah. She's a bit of a raging witch who likes to harass me every once in a while. It's no big deal. I promise," I told him which was true. Turned out that Leah had been harboring a crush on Jake, and once we'd broken up, she'd left me alone.
I felt a tug on my line a few seconds later, and I let out a whoop as I pulled up a rather large bass.
"Looks like you're gonna be cleaning my catch," I taunted, and Dad let out a growl.
In the end though, he caught all of his before I did, and I let out a groan.
As he steered the boat back toward the dock, I did my best to wheel and deal my way out of gutting and cleaning, but it was no use. Dad just laughed his ass off at me and told me I'd better do a good job.
Once we were docked, I made my way toward the cleaning station and got to work, trying not to grimace at the feel of fish guts on my hands.
"Oh man," a voice said from behind me. "That looks so gross."
I looked over my shoulder to see a huge teenage guy standing behind me, and I told him it was gross.
"Think I can have some of those guts?" he asked, and I stopped what I was doing and just stared at him.
"What in the world for?"
A wicked looking grin crossed his face. "To put them in my sister's sleeping bag. It would totally freak her out."
In that moment, I was incredibly glad that I was an only child.
"Emmett McCarty Cullen! Get over here now!" a woman called out, and I watched as the tips of his ears turned red.
"Aw man, she middle named me," he muttered before tossing a wave my way and walking off.
I stood there for a moment watching as he walked away. I couldn't remember ever having a weirder experience.
"Everything okay, Bells?" Dad asked me, and I looked at him as he walked toward me.
"Uh, I think so. That kid asked me if he could have these fish guts to put in his sister's sleeping bag," I told Dad, shaking my head in disbelief.
Dad barked out a laugh. "I bet he's a troublemaker."
A little while later, after we were back at camp, I gathered up my shower kit, towel, and some clean clothes, and began my walk toward the bathhouse. It was located around the bend from where our campsite was and housed the showers and toilets. Something I was incredibly grateful for. There was nothing I hated more than having to use a port-a-john.
I was halfway to the bathhouse when I heard the loud booming voice of the guy who'd asked me for the fish guts, and I heard a female squealing a few minutes later. Seemed as if he'd found a way to torture his sister after all.
After a quick shower that cost me four quarters with limited hot water, I got dressed and gathered up my belongings.
As I exited the shower area, I saw a girl around my age standing at the sink, trying to wash something off her shirt.
"Stupid oaf," she muttered. "I cannot believe he did that."
"It wasn't fish guts was it?" I asked her, and she turned to face me.
"Your brother did that, right?" I asked. "Huge guy with dimples named Emmett?"
"I saw him earlier at the marina, and he wanted some fish guts to put in your sleeping bag," I told her, and her mouth dropped open.
"That shithead! I'm so going to get him!" she scowled. "As for this, he threw peanut butter at me."
"Makes me glad to be an only child," I commented, and she let out a snort.
"I have two brothers. You can have one if you want."
"No thanks," I told her before holding out a hand and introducing myself.
"Alice Cullen," she said, shaking my hand.
We chatted as she finished cleaning her shirt and then began walking toward our respective campsites. I learned that she was seventeen, from a small town in Washington called Port Angeles, and that she absolutely loved shopping.
"Oh, this is my place," she said, stopping near a small sign that had the number twelve on it.
"I'm down the road at sixteen," I told her. "Feel free to stop by whenever you want."
She let out a laugh. "I'll definitely take you up on that."
After I got back, I told Dad about meeting Alice, and he shook his head and grinned.
"It always amazes me how you manage to make friends at every campground we go to."
It was true. I tended to make friends easily, and it was no different when I was camping. Heck, I'd had my first kiss at a campground when I was twelve with a boy from Ohio. Even now, almost five years later, and we still kept in touch. As a matter of fact, I kept in touch with most of the people that I'd befriended throughout my summers of camping. It had almost become a tradition.
"What's wrong?" I asked Alice as she made her way into my campsite and took a seat across from me at the picnic table.
We'd spent the better part of the week hanging out and getting to know one another, and we'd become fast friends.
"Edward," she said with a sigh, and my eyebrows rose. From what Alice had told me, Edward was the calmest of the three siblings and the quietest.
"He's spent the past few days moping around because he hasn't heard from his girlfriend for a few days. It's beyond pathetic the way he lets her drag him around like he's a dog on a leash. He caters to her every freaking whim, and then he gets all depressed and crap when she doesn't call or text him."
"That sounds unhealthy."
Alice nodded. "It is. We've all tried to tell him that, but he doesn't listen. He claims he's in love with her."
I snorted at her eye roll.
"Anyway, what about you?" she asked. "Got a boyfriend?"
I shook my head. I told her a bit about Jake and how that had never really been a thing, and then I asked her if she had a boyfriend.
"Yeah," she said with a sigh and a dreamy look on her face. "His name's Jasper, and he's the sweetest guy ever. Gorgeous as well."
For the next twenty minutes, I listened to Alice as she talked all about Jasper, her small town of Port Angeles, and her high school. Not to mention that she'd told me, in great detail, about her brothers. After hearing that, I could honestly say I wasn't surprised by any of the pranks that Emmett pulled.
"There you are," a quiet voice said a little while later, and we both turned to see Edward hovering somewhat nervously near the large tree at the edge of my camp.
Alice waved him over our way, and he slowly walked toward us, taking a seat next to Alice on the picnic table. I hadn't spoken to him much over the course of the past week.
"Is everything okay?" she asked him, and he let out a sigh. He looked so sad and depressed, and I found myself wanting to comfort him.
He shook his head and mumbled something about Tanya, and I shared a look with Alice. She heaved a sigh before asking him what Tanya had done now, and you could tell she sounded a bit fed up.
"She broke up with me," he told her quietly, his cheeks turning red, and he fidgeted nervously as he glanced my way.
Sensing his discomfort, I excused myself and told them I'd be right back. I wandered down the road where I ran into Dad who'd gone for a walk.
"What's up, Bells?"
"Oh, Alice's brother came over while we were talking, and he's upset, so I'm giving them a few minutes," I told him.
He nodded before slinging an arm around my shoulders and telling me that he'd stopped by the ranger's station on his walk and picked up a couple of maps for some hiking trails a few miles away.
"I thought we'd go into town tomorrow," Dad said. "Maybe we can take in a movie and get some pizza or something. Sound good?"
I nodded my head eagerly. I loved it when we had what I called town days. It meant that I could spend a whole day in air conditioned buildings and eating real food. It also meant doing laundry which I desperately needed to do because a majority of my clothes smelled like fish guts.
"Sorry about that, Bella," Alice said a few minutes later after Dad and I arrived back at our site.
I waved off her apology, and I noticed that Edward's eyes were red around the rims as if he'd been crying.
"Yeah, sorry," Edward said in his quiet voice, and I shook my head. Apologies weren't needed.
"I'm gonna grill up some fish and veggies," Dad said a few minutes later, breaking the silence that had fallen. "Do you guys want to stay?"
"Sure. Thanks, Mr. S," Alice piped up before pulling out her phone and texting someone.
My dad loved Alice, thought Emmett was riot, but he didn't have much to say regarding Edward. Probably because Edward never really came over and hung out with Alice and me whereas Emmett came over quite a bit.
A little while later, the four of us were sitting around the picnic table, eating the meal that Dad had grilled. The man wasn't much of a cook, but he could grill just about anything, and the dinner he'd made was damn good.
After dinner, I walked over to the Cullen camp with Alice and Edward, and I was immediately wrapped up in a huge hug by Emmett. The boy acted like he hadn't seen me in a year even though he'd just seen me the day before.
"Put me down," I demanded, listening to him whine about the fact that he hadn't been invited to dinner. I had to laugh when his mom shushed him.
"Bella, why don't you and your dad come over for dinner tomorrow?" Mrs. Cullen asked.
"Oh, I'd love to, but we're going into town tomorrow. I'm not sure when we'll be back."
"Well how about the following day then?"
I nodded in agreement, knowing that my dad would be fine with it. He'd met Dr. and Mrs. Cullen once before and had seemed to get along with them. Dad always liked to meet family of the kids I befriended while camping.
I hung with them for a while before I decided to call it a night. Even though it was a short walk back to my campsite, Emmett insisted on walking me back, and I appreciated it.
"Thanks, Emmett," I told him once we'd arrived back at my site.
"No problem, Bells. Have fun tomorrow," he said with a wave as he walked away.
After saying goodnight to Dad, I crawled into my tent with the hopes of getting some sleep.
a/n: So there's the first chapter of the new story. Let me know what you thought.