A/N: Hi everyone!! Sorry it took so long for me to get to this, but here is the sequel I promised. The beginning is a bit slower than the first one, but hang in there - we have to establish what's going on before we can get to the...rest of it, lol.
CFCT I is up for a few awards, as are some of my other stories (as most of you know from my annoying alerts). Please visit my profile page and go vote - it would mean a lot to me, and one of the contests ends in a few days (the Indies). Thanks again.
A special thanks to Ana - without her help, you probably wouldn't be reading this now. I was pulling my hair out, and she really helped me get everything sorted. THANKS ANA! *hugs*
It had only been a week since we'd returned from the disastrous camping trip. I still shuddered when thinking of all the things that had happened. The leeches and ticks had been the end of it for me, and thankfully, Carlisle had realized it as well and brought us home.
Upon our re-entry to civilization Alice had gone shopping crazy. She and Rosalie had disappeared for a few days, and every time I was at the Cullens during that time new deliveries would arrive, all with different shipping labels. When I'd asked Edward about it he'd muttered something about fashion week in New York, and to just be thankful that I hadn't been dragged along. I let it go at that.
With their wives absent, Jasper and Emmett had taken to yet another video game challenge. How that never got old to them, I'd never understand. Rosalie had been eager to go with Alice; she was still furious with Emmett, even though it had technically been Edward who'd caused the last mishap. She'd been mad at Edward, but had said that if Emmett hadn't started the nonsense with all the animals and hadn't acted so juvenile with his prank on Edward, then Edward would have never felt the need to retaliate.
They'd had to throw out everything that had been packed in the Jeep, and Rosalie and Emmett both had to soak in tubs of tomato juice for hours just to get rid of the skunk's smell. Just when we thought Emmett couldn't get any more ridiculous, we were all proven wrong. Despite Rosalie's flaring temper, he'd tried to make a joke of the whole situation by dipping a celery stick into her tomato bath and waggling his eyebrows as he murmured something about Bloody Mary's. When Rosalie blew up all over again I couldn't blame her – they didn't even eat or drink human food, so why would he have thought she would find that to be funny? Regardless, I'd had to throw out all my goldfish crackers; what was the point of keeping them – I'd never eat tomato soup again.
The second the stench was off, Rosalie had grabbed Alice and practically run from the house. She'd also taken the liberty of having Emmett's Jeep towed away to the dump.
I suppose a few days away from Emmett made Rosalie forgive him, because when she and Alice returned from their trip, Alice pulled up in her usual yellow Porsche, but Rosalie pulled up in a brand new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited – red, of course. Emmett had practically smashed the front door in his haste to get outside to see it, and when he got to Rosalie, he grabbed her up into his arms, twirling her around and around as her laughter filled the air. It was good to see them getting along again; I wondered how long it would last.
My mind eagerly returned to the present, as Edward was trailing his fingertips across my collarbone, gazing into my eyes. We were lying on a soft blanket in our meadow, and I was relishing the peaceful bliss this place held for us. I leaned in to meet Edward's lips with mine, when reality interrupted.
"So, Bella - what do you think?" Alice chirped. She was sitting directly across from us, holding yet another copy of her wedding binder in her lap, while staring at me expectantly. Edward and I had wanted some alone time, but she'd insisted on coming with us, and I was finding the usual private, romantic seclusion of the meadow to be definitely lacking with the addition of her presence despite my efforts to ignore her.
What was it she wanted now? Oh, right - she was asking me about finalizing the details with the caterer for the wedding. We'd had a tremendous response, and she was worried about there being enough food.
Wedding plans were not fun to me, but I still felt bad about Alice's previous binder ending up in the mud. Edward grasped my hand, squeezing it comfortingly.
"Well, Alice, I'm not sure - what was the final amount of guests we had confirm?" I asked, mad at myself for not paying closer attention. Alice glanced back down at the sheet in her hand, when suddenly, she froze. Her eyes became unfocused, and I knew the signs - she was having a vision.
After a moment, she shook her head lightly and looked at Edward. "Oh no, what is he doing?" she asked, as Edward began pinching the bridge of his nose. I knew he'd seen what the vision was, and I was becoming irritated at being left out.
Alice hopped up off the ground, papers flying everywhere, and pulled out her cell. She hit a button and waited. "He's not picking up - he's already on the other line, no, no, no..." she muttered to herself, hitting 'redial.' After waiting for the call to go through again and still not getting an answer, she jammed the phone back into her pocket, crouched down and collected her papers and binder within seconds, and took off into the woods at an unbelievable rate.
After I'd recovered from the blur that had encompassed my senses, I turned to Edward. "What just happened?"
"Alice had a vision - it's best if we just head back to the house, Bella," he said evasively.
"Was it something bad? You're worrying me, Edward," I said nervously.
Edward turned and kissed my forehead softly. "No, love - it's not...bad...your father just figured out a way to thank us for taking you camping. Come - let's go home, and we'll figure it out there," he replied, smiling softly at me. His smile always made me melt, so I willingly obliged as he tossed me onto his back with the blanket in hand, and began running us back to the car.
I wondered why the idea of Charlie deciding on a way to thank the Cullens had panicked Alice so much - how bad could it be? My father's resources were limited, so I couldn't for the life of me think of what had freaked her out, but as we reached the car, I realized it must be something big - Alice had rode here with us, and since the Volvo was still waiting where we'd left it, she must have forgotten the car and ran all the way. Uh oh.
"Edward, what exactly happened in her vision?" I asked, fastening my seatbelt.
Edward took a deep breath and sighed as he began to explain what Alice had seen. Charlie had decided to sign all of the Cullens - except for Carlisle and Esme - up to be counselors at Camp Catawba, a local summer camp for kids. She had seen him submitting the forms online while calling Carlisle to tell him the news, which explained her frantic phone calls - she had been trying to intercept Charlie's call; when Carlisle hadn't answered she'd panicked and tried to run home as a last ditch effort to somehow stop the situation.
Upon hearing this news from Edward, I sat in silence, desperately hoping that Alice had managed to stop this ridiculous situation. What was with my father, anyway? The closer the wedding got, the more sentimental he became; maybe he was just trying to become closer with the Cullens, and didn't know how else to do it. They didn't exactly have a lot in common, after all.
Minutes later, we were crossing the threshold of the house, taking in the scene before us. Alice was sulking on the couch next to a fairly disturbed looking Jasper, Emmett and Rosalie were standing in the corner, both with their arms crossed across their chests, and Carlisle was standing in the middle of the room, with Esme at his side.
"Edward, Bella - come in and sit down, please. We're having a discussion," Carlisle said kindly, gesturing to the rest of the family.
Edward paused, glancing at Carlisle, then sighed, and steered me towards the love seat. More silent communication; this time, however, I could assume from Edward's reaction that we weren't about to receive good news. I sat down with the ease of someone trying to get comfortable in an electric chair.
Carlisle cleared his throat. "Well, as we've been discussing, Charlie called this afternoon while the three of you were out," he said,indicating Alice, Edward and I. "Apparently, he's been struggling with trying to figure out how to repay us for taking the time to teach Bella the basics of the outdoors. While I tried to reassure him any such thing was completely unnecessary, he refused, insisting he'd found a way that would make everyone happy."
"Yes, and if you'd answered the other line when I was calling, we'd have been able to avoid this whole situation," Alice huffed.
"Enough, Alice - call waiting is rude, and I wasn't about to interrupt Charlie, so you're going to have to let it go," Carlisle admonished. "I still don't know which one of you keeps having it added to our phone packages, but it's nothing more than an annoyance." He glanced around the room, as each of his children's eyes shifted away from his gaze guiltily.
Carlisle went on to explain what had happened. This afternoon, while having lunch at the diner, my father had noticed a flyer on the billboard. It had been seeking volunteers to be camp counselors for a week. He'd immediately thought of the Cullens, and how much they loved camping, and how thankful I had been to him for setting up the last excursion. Me and my stupid sentimentality - I should have known I'd end up regretting my fake enthusiasm. He'd also considered it a wonderful way to thank Carlisle and Esme - he'd be emptying their house of teenagers for week, allowing them to have some time alone.
I glanced around the room, trying to determine from the surrounding expressions what our fate was, hoping my assumption was wrong - surely, we wouldn't have to actually do this, right? Edward was sitting motionless beside me, his fingers pinching the bridge of his nose again. Crap.
Carlisle sighed. "Now, I am sorry about your involvement, Bella; however, it won't be like the last experience, so things should go differently. You'll have a real roof over your head – there are cabins there, and since it's a camp for humans, all of the necessities will already be provided for, including food. I was told they've even been under recent construction, making improvements to the camp's facilities," Carlisle said, smiling apologetically at me before turning his attention back to the rest of theteenagersin the room. "As you all know, Bella's father has been trying to find a way to connect with this family since the wedding plans were announced. This idea had him so excited...and besides, I really don't see the harm. I see selfless people volunteering everyday at the hospital, and yet all of you, with unlimited free time on your hands, rarely contribute to society. I think some charity work will be good for you, and this is a great opportunity for you to do your part. Besides – if nothing else, our last disaster of a trip has made me realize more than ever that we need to be able to adapt and fit in with society if we're going to continue to live the way we do."
Carlisle continued to explain that the new camp owner had been overwhelmed with gratitude upon receiving the forms in her email – apparently, she had decided to relocate to the area recently to take the position and had lost the forms of most of the other volunteers in the moving process. She was still a few states away and was having trouble with her moving company, so she wouldn't even make it into town until two days before camp was scheduled to start. She had been on the verge of having to cancel the camp at the last minute this year due to a lack of help and had been in a panic. Even with the town's help of posting flyers expressing the need for help, she'd still only received new forms from one other counselor and had hardly any help aside from that – even their maintenance man had quit the previous year when learning the camp was changing owners. Carlisle said that it would have looked appalling to rescind our applications after practically being called heroes by the owner.
"Now, whether you like it or not, you'll all be leaving in a week to be camp counselors at Camp Catawba," Carlisle finished with a stern expression. He glanced pointedly back at Alice. "Oh – and you should all know, there are packing restrictions. The camp has a non-negotiable policy regarding all types of technology and such luxury items. They want the kids to forget about video games and all of those things and focus on the outdoors. That being said, you are all allocated the same size bag, and all of your items must fit in it. You cannot take anything other than the basic necessities, period. I'll be checking your bags before you leave, so don't try to sneak something past me."
Alice's eyes were practically bulging out of her head, but before she could say anything, Emmett interrupted.
"Seriously - a week with human kids on our hands? What are we supposed to do - I don't know anything about kids," Emmett said loudly. "And what about him - do you really think that's a good idea?" he continued, gesturing towards Jasper, who was still sitting in silence next to Alice, looking positively horrified. "What if one of the kids cuts themselves - doesn't anyone here remember the incident with Bella's birthday?"
At the mere mention of that horrible night, Edward growled, and pulled me protectively into his arms.
"Jasper's doing much better these days, Emmett, you know that," Alice snapped defensively, as she curled her tiny distressed frame into her husband's side.
"Quiet everyone. All of you attend school over and over again and have been around countless humans on a daily basis for years. I have no doubt that Jasper would fare just fine," Carlisle said, as his gaze flitted over to me. "At the same time...precautions should be taken just to be safe - luckily, there's an easy solution. Charlie said that the camp only needed five more counselors, but as I mentioned earlier, they need additional help – Jasper will be accepting the position as this year's maintenance man and groundskeeper."
While Jasper took in Carlisle's response, waves of relief swept the room, shortly followed by irritation and a heavy sigh...apparently he didn't like the idea of being a maintenance man.
"As far as what you'll need to know about kids, well, it's not rocket science, Emmett. You all understand the basics - that argument just doesn't cut it and you know it. And before anyone starts using the threat of the sun as a way out, Alice – begrudgingly – has checked the forecast for that week, and her assessment is consistent cloud cover. Of course we'll check again closer to the end of the week, but given the area's usual weather, I expect it to be fine." Carlisle paused for a moment, as if thinking.
"Oh, and one more thing - before any of you start mumbling about how Esme and I don't have to participate, you should know that I've offered my services as a physician for the camp. The regular nurse that volunteers has been given the time off, which she is grateful for. I will be taking some vacation time with the hospital for myself to allow me to be able to help out as needed. The camp offers accommodations for the on-site physician, so I'll be able to keep an eye on all of you. I'll have extra blood bags on hand in my refrigerator in the event any of you need to feed discreetly."
Of course he was going to volunteer – as much as he tried to make it seem harmless for me to be participating, it was fairly obvious that he was still concerned about my well-being - he was using his vacation time just to work somewhere else for goodness sake. I had to wonder if his giant medical supply trunk would be joining him on this 'vacation.'
"Esme, being the considerate, selfless person she is has also volunteered to help out in the kitchen. So, as you can see, this will be a family effort." As Carlisle's words rang with finality, the one person in the room who hadn't said a word the entire time suddenly spoke, practically causing the rest of us to jump.
"Wait. Are you saying that we'll each be in complete charge of a group of children for an entire week? That we are solely responsible for caring for their needs, and that they will be dependent on us?" Rosalie asked quietly, her arms still crossed.
Carlisle hesitated before responding. "Yes, Rosalie. That's exactly what I am saying."
We all braced ourselves, waiting for the fury.
It never came. Instead, Rosalie relaxed, her arms dropping to her sides, her expression ethereal. "All right," she murmured, so softly it was hard to hear. A smile slowly began creeping across her face. "When did you say we leave?"
Unbelievable - Rosalie was actually happy about this. Now that was something I wasn't expecting.
A/N: I was nervous about this story, so please review? You know how much I love reviews, lol...