Summer of Smut Contest
Title: Mo Chroi
Pen name: SweetDulcinea
Smut Category: Edward/Bella
Disclaimer & A/N: All recognizable characters, locations, products & poetry are property of their respective owners. I am simply borrowing. Many thanks to keepingupwiththekids and ForeverYoung82.
UPDATE: Mo Chroi was awarded a Judges' Mention in the contest! Thanks to all who read & voted =)
"Mary Alice Brandon, I can't believe you," I fumed at my best friend.
"Bella, I swear to Prada I didn't know! Jasper told me that Edward wasn't working this summer."
I threw my last bag down on my bunk and glared at her. How on earth my little fashionista BFF ever came to work at a summer camp is beyond me. You would never believe someone like her could be interested in camping, wilderness, and water sports, but she somehow managed to last each summer in Tommy Hilfiger and Sperry's. It was slightly less formal than her usual designer wardrobe, but for Alice, it was her version of camp wear. All my camp clothes came from Target.
Alice and I met at camp three summers ago when we were co-counselors in the same cabin. It was the last summer before we both started college and we bonded immediately. By midsummer, she changed her undergraduate plans and was enrolled at Texas A&M with me. That's where she met her boyfriend Jasper, and the second summer, she dragged him to work at camp with us.
That second summer – last summer – is when I met him.
Edward and Emmett McCarty were the Irish born wonder brothers, sent by the devil himself to torture and tantalize every female staff member and camper to step foot onto the grounds of Camp Chautauqua Lake. In reality, their American mother had worked here when she was a teen, many years before meeting Edward and Emmett's father and moving to Ireland. According to the guys, they attended a week of camp one summer when they were kids. Deciding to work there had been a last minute excuse to spend their summer in the States, and the camp director ate up the idea of having two "international" counselors on staff.
The thing you have to understand about working at a summer camp is that everything moves in fast forward, especially relationships. You spend twenty-four hours a day with a staff of less than fifty people for ten straight weeks. Every meal, every experience, and every night off are spent together. Friendships are formed quickly, and in such a small social circle, the bonds run deep and intense. In most cases, boyfriend-girlfriend relationships only take days to form from the point of initial flirtation to exclusivity.
That is exactly what happened with Edward and me.
Every counselor was assigned to a department, where we spent the bulk of our time instructing and leading campers in our particular activity. We were both in the boating, and together we taught sailing, canoeing, and kayaking to eager children. Our conversations never ceased, ranging from discussions about camp happenings to literature, music, politics, and faith. I fell fast and hard, and Edward happily caught me. Unfortunately, the ten week camp season passed all too quickly. With it came our break up.
"Where are you going?" Alice called as I stormed out of our cabin and trekked across the field that separated the girls and boys cabins.
Ignoring her, I scanned the groups of guys pulling duffel bags and camping equipment from their cars. "Whitlock!" I yelled loud enough to attract the attention of everyone standing outside. I repeated myself twice more until Jasper's blonde head popped out the door of his assigned summer residence.
"Hey Bella!" he called cheerfully, apparently oblivious to the venom in my tone.
"Out here now!"
From the rapidly decreasing distance, I could see his eyebrows furrow in confusion. I watched him kick off his flip-flops and jog across the field to meet me at the halfway point.
When he stopped, his hands were on his hips casually, but mine were folded tight across my chest.
"How could you not tell me? How long have you known?" I growled in an accusing tone.
"Crap…" he muttered, rubbing one hand down the side of his face. "Listen, Bella, I just found out three days ago. I swear he wasn't planning to come back this summer. At least not from what he told me."
"Some best friend you have there," I said through gritted teeth. I was staring at my feet, digging the toe of my beat up sneaker into the grass.
I felt a warm hand on my shoulder and looked back up at Jasper. His expression immediately made me flush with guilt. This wasn't his fault. I shouldn't be taking it out on him.
"I haven't actually talked to him yet. I just got a short email a few days ago saying he would be coming after all. Apparently, the director was short staffed this summer, and made some calls to former counselors asking them to come work. Rosalie got roped in, which made Emmett want to come back…and I guess Edward made a spur of the moment decision."
"What am I going to do?" I whispered, fighting back the tears I knew Jasper could see forming. He quickly enveloped me in a tight hug, rubbing my back and whispering "shh" softly in my ear.
"It will all work out somehow, B."
I sniffled, pulling back slightly so that I didn't mess his shirt. "I just don't know how I'll face him, Jazz. I know we said we weren't going to try and be exclusive or anything, but why Tanya?"
"At least she won't be here this summer," he offered, releasing his grasp until only one arm was around me. Walking slowly, he led me back to my cabin to unpack.
October 26th, 2008
"Bella, it's exactly two months until you get to go see Edward!" Alice squealed as she played around on the computer. I was getting ready for the Theta Chi Halloween party while she killed time online.
"I know," I said, smiling wistfully. "How awesome are my parents for paying for the trip? I get to spend practically my entire winter break in freaking Ireland with Edward!"
She turned to me and pouted. "I wish I could go. I heard Rosalie is crazy jealous, but she's trying to get into a summer program so she can spend the whole summer over there."
"I miss him so much. I mean, I know we're not technically together, but it's not like our feelings just went away when the summer ended and he went home."
"I know honey. I live with you, remember? Sometimes I think you two chat online more than I actually see Jasper! That boy probably won't let you out of his bed the whole time you're there…"
I smiled brightly at her teasing, applying one last coat of lip-gloss.
"Oh hey!" Alice said suddenly. "Tanya the Whore put up new pictures."
"I don't know why you even have her on your Facebook, Alice. It's not like any of us get along with her."
"Oh, sweet Bella, that's the beauty of the FB. You don't really have to be friends, you just have them on your list for internet stalking."
"Whatever," I shrugged as I walked to the closet to get my jacket.
"Oh. My. God..." my roommate muttered in a voice so low I barely heard it. My interest piqued, I moved to stand behind her desk chair.
Tears immediately streamed down my cheeks on their own accord when I saw Tanya's newest photos. There for the entire world to see were photos of Tanya on her European vacation. Apparently she had made a stop in Dublin to see the brothers McCarty. Plastered across the screen were snapshots of Tanya and Edward together…Tanya kissing Edward's cheek…the two of them taking shots together…candid snapshots of them kissing.
Alice and I didn't go out that night.
I cancelled my trip the next day. If it had been anyone other than Tanya, maybe I would have followed through with our plans, but it was Tanya. After what happened at camp last summer, I couldn't believe he would do something like that.
Three days later, Emmett and Edward arrived at camp, receiving a warm welcome from all their friends from the previous summer. I stayed away, allowing myself to get lost in the throng of eager staff members and fading in with the first year staff who wouldn't know the guys. My Where's Waldo routine didn't last long, though. By evening at the campfire, Emmett sought me out. We were in the middle of staff training week, and campers wouldn't arrive until next week, so our nights were still pretty laid back.
"Baby B!" he exclaimed cheerfully, sweeping me off my feet in a tight bear hug. All available air escaped my lungs in a quick huff so that when he set me back on my feet I had to hold his arm while I caught my breath. I looked around to see that the friends I had been standing with were suddenly MIA.
"Hey Em," I said hesitantly. I was worried he would be upset with me, but judging by his boisterous hello that wasn't the case. When I cut off communication with Edward, Emmett was an innocent bystander in that lack of correspondence. It hurt too much to think about Edward, and Emmett would have been a painful reminder of the Facebook fuckery.
Towering over me, Emmett grabbed my chin and began assessing my face and then my body. "You are a gorgeous lass, Bella Swan. Even better looking than last year!"
"Thanks," I smiled slightly. "How have you been, Emmett? Listen, I'm really sorry that I haven't…"
Before I could complete my thought, Emmett's hands were waving in my face dismissively. "I understand. So long as you don't plan to ignore me this summer we're fine."
I was relieved. Emmett and I had an amusing sibling-like bond, and it would suck to avoid him this summer. He was too much fun for anything like that.
For the next two days, I avoided Edward at every turn. There were a number of occasions that I caught him looking at me, and even a couple times it looked as if he would approach me, but I became a master of evasion. I kept my distance, making it a point to never be alone when he might be around to corner me. We were both in boating department again, so I made it a point to keep busy and avoid being left alone with him. Realistically, I knew I couldn't keep it up for the entire summer, but I just wasn't ready to face him, let alone have any kind of conversation about what happened in the fall.
Instead, I spent my time preparing my cabin, hanging out with my old friends, and showing the new counselors the ropes. Keeping away from Edward was exhausting, but it didn't last as long as I wanted.
On the last free night before our first round of campers arrived, the staff was given some time off, which included the option to go off site. Most everyone did, but I wasn't in the mood. I had always preferred the solitude of nature and the beauty of the lake, so I stayed behind. Alice and Jasper insisted I go out to dinner with them, but I was eventually able to shoo them away for their date without me. I took a long walk around camp, through the woods, and finally ending at our sailboat beach in time for sunset. I sat on the wide arm of a weeping willow that stretched out over the shore, my back against the trunk of the massive, ancient tree. The night was beautiful and warm, with an orange and pink sunset over the smooth surface of the lake. There was something about this lake that always made me feel at peace, and it was the reason I kept coming back every summer. This was the perfect way for me to decompress before the summer camp season officially began.
The sun had sunk below the horizon, leaving the lake aglow in the faint twilight. My eyes were closed, head resting on the trunk when I heard someone approaching from the wooded trail beyond the boathouse. I turned my head, squinting to make out the approaching figure. At first, I could only make out the outline of someone, and based on the height I assumed it was one of the guys. As the mystery man drew closer, I could see the unmistakable silhouette of a wild mess of long, disheveled hair. My heart clenched, realizing I would momentarily be alone with Edward…with no chance to get away this time.
"I thought you might be here," he said softly.
I nodded once in confirmation, but fixed my gaze on the moon's reflection across the water. My mind was working overtime, trying not to fall victim to the evil, seductive, velvety, fuckhot accented voice that belonged to my ex-boyfriend. I heard him settle himself so that he was seated on an overturned canoe, but I still did not look his way.
"You look great, Bella."
"Heh," I breathed in a single humorless chuckle.
"Is that all I'm going to get from you?"
I didn't respond.
"I don't know what I'm supposed to say here. I've apologized a hundred times, but I'll keep on saying it if I have to. I'm sorry, Bella. So very sorry. I have missed you so much. I still miss you."
His words hung heavily in the air for several minutes before I responded. "That's the first one I've heard."
"First what?" he asked.
"First apology," I whispered.
"What do you mean? I sent you more emails than I can remember. Didn't you read them?"
I shook my head, hoping he was looking so I didn't have to say it. "I deleted them all," I admitted.
"Seriously?" he asked with disbelief obvious in his tone.
I nodded this time.
Edward blew out a loud breath, piercing the stillness of night with his breath before he spoke. "Then I'll just say it now. The simplified version, I suppose. I'm unbelievably sorry for what happened, for those pictures you saw. I was more pissed that night than I've ever been…"
"You were pissed? What does that have to do with you making out with slutface Tanya? I don't even want to think about what else you did with her that night!" I barked at him angrily.
"Not angry. Pissed. Drunk, Bella. I was wasted, as you Americans like to call it. It's no excuse, but I don't even remember anything from those pictures. I can guarantee nothing else happened, though. I promise you I didn't sleep with her."
I squeezed my eyes shut tightly, trying not to swoon at the way he said my name, and attempting to keep my overwhelming waterworks at bay. "If you can't remember, how do you know you didn't screw her?"
"Because Emmett had to carry my sorry arse home and put me to bed himself. Quite literally – I hear he tossed me over his shoulder and I puked down his back."
"Gross!" I exclaimed, unable to hold back a slight laugh at the story.
"Not my finest hour," he sighed softly. "I'm getting a chill. Would you like to walk back toward the cabins with me?"
Hesitantly, I climbed down from my perch on the tree and walked toward Edward. He stood, and we took the long, wooded path through the forest together…just as we had so many times last summer. We didn't touch or say much aside from warnings of exposed roots or wayward branches hanging in the narrow trail. When we arrived at the girls cabins, he whispered a soft goodnight before crossing the field to his cabin.
A few weeks passed and camp was in full swing. Rowdy campers came and went each week, and new summer romances blossomed amongst the staff. Alice and Jasper were together, of course, and Rosalie and Emmett resumed their relationship from the previous summer as if they had never taken a break in the first place. Ben and Angela were a new item, as were Pete and Charlotte. It looked like James and Lauren might get together, but that coupling was a recipe for failure before it even began. I heard a rumor that Jessica had already made out with Mike, Tyler, and Eric…and possibly Victoria, too. She was proving to be no better than Tanya herself.
As for me and Edward, the progression was slow. We didn't speak much, and when we did, the conversations were light. Generally, we only discussed camp related matters or our friends. I avoided returning to our conversation by the boathouse, and he didn't press the issue. I always felt as though he wanted to say more than he did, but there was an invisible cutting off point every time we were together.
I missed him like crazy. It doesn't make sense that I could miss someone I saw every single day, but I did. Beyond dating the previous summer, we had become very close friends. After he left, Skype allowed us to video chat frequently…up until the Tanya incident, at least. It was torturous to act as if I no longer wanted that. I did. I wanted our friendship and I wanted his arms around me, but I couldn't allow it. He had hurt me in a terrible way and "pissed" or not, I couldn't erase those images from my mind. The last thing I wanted to do was set myself up for another heartbreak. Summer would end, and we'd each go back to our respective lives. The nostalgia of our location did little to stave off my reminiscing, though.
That is why I accepted Garrett's invitation to watch the fireworks together that night. Camp was located directly across the lake from a huge summer resort, so we had a fantastic location for the big show. As the Fourth fell on a Saturday this year, no campers remained on site. Most of the staff stuck around even though we had the night off work. Everyone spread across the big hill, the shore, and the dock to watch.
Garrett had been flirting with me for the last week, which I was definitely enjoying. He had been working at camp long before I started, and was the epitome of the sexy, outdoorsy type that fit in perfectly here. His sandy hair was long and shaggy, usually tied back in a ponytail on hot days. He seemed to maintain a permanent five o'clock shadow that screamed for attention. Of course, I cannot leave out the broad set of his shoulders and his beautifully sculpted body. Garrett was not as large as Emmett, but still bigger than Jasper or Edward.
We sat together on his sleeping bag, an extra blanket draped over our shoulders as we huddled next to one another. Despite it being July, the nights could still be a bit chilly here. Our conversation was comfortable and simple, mostly discussing his latest outdoor hobbies or the music on my iPod. We fell silent when the display began, leaning back and moving the blanket to lie over us. When the show finally ended, we remained on our backs, staring up at the clear night sky. I pulled my iPod from my pocket and gave him an earbud as we listened to Van Morrison and old Clapton. The attention was refreshing and sweet.
The following week continued with more time spent with Garrett. His flirtations increased, as did mine. I had no concrete intentions for the situation, but that wouldn't keep me from enjoying myself. Garrett was a nice, hot guy. Why would I pass up a few stolen moments together?
Conversely, Edward was an irritable jerk all week long. He was short with almost everyone except for Emmett, including me. Granted, we weren't around each other more than necessary, but he still managed to cop an attitude. This all culminated into a fierce explosion on Friday night.
On the campers' final night each week, we put on a big party and dance in the dining hall. There were games, snacks, music, and the opportunity for casual mingling. Of course, the majority of the staff and campers stuck to dancing, and I was amongst that crowd. Garrett and I managed to spend most of the evening together, as a number of the middle school campers from each of our cabins were getting along quite well.
The final slow songs of the night came on, and Garrett pulled me against his hard body to sway to the soft beats. I rested my head on his shoulder, enjoying the peaceful moment, and the feel of a man holding me. My eyes had been closed, but snapped open when I heard the loud slam of a porch door being flung open. The forceful culprit had been Edward, and I had a strong feeling I was the cause. The dirty looks Edward had been shooting Garrett for weeks had not escaped my notice.
When the music ended, I said goodnight to Garrett and went to find Alice. She agreed to escort the campers back to the cabin when I told her I would be a few minutes late. As I expected, Edward was standing like a statue on the back porch looking down at the lake. His hands were gripping the railing so tight that I could see his knuckles whitening in the moonlight.
"Edward," I spoke softly. He did not look or respond, but I watched him close his eyes slowly and open them again. I took a step closer so that I was at his side, almost touching him.
I gazed down at the lake with him for a moment.
"We need to get back to our campers. Meet me outside my cabin after lights out," I instructed, and then turned on my heel to walk away.
Thirty minutes later, when teeth were brushed, faces were washed, and fifteen little girls were tucked into their sleeping bags, I slipped out the cabin door. I had long since apologized to Alice for my overreaction on the first day of camp, and she had been nothing but supportive since then. She understood how difficult it was for me to be around Edward every day, which is why she happily agreed to skip her nightly walk with Jasper and stay with the campers. Staff lights out was an hour after the campers, and as long as one counselor stayed behind, we were free to leave the cabins until that time.
The voice from behind a wide oak was enough of a surprise to make me jump, but once my logical side caught up with my initial reaction, I knew it was just Edward.
"Sure. The dock," I replied, and we began our walk toward the swimming beach.
We strolled in the direction of the dining hall, and then down the large hill that overlooked the lake. The moon was merely a sliver tonight, so it was darker than usual over the water. The night was pristine and clear, an infinite number of stars doting the Lake Chautauqua sky. I walked down the dock first, lying prone on the planks when I reached the T at the end. Edward followed, lying perpendicular to me so that our heads rested close together. It was a position we had assumed many times before – perfect for the combination of stargazing, talking, and listening to the soft splash of water against the shore.
"I hate this," he said quietly, breaking our silence. "I hate seeing someone else make you smile…smile at you…touch you. It's not supposed to be that way."
I sniffled, trying desperately to form a proper response that didn't involve me bursting into frustrated tears. "Edward, he's a nice guy…" I tried, but it immediately felt wrong.
"I don't care if he's the fucking Dalai Lama, B! It's supposed to be you and me, and I fucked that up. Now I have to spend my summer being miserable, knowing I can't have you the way I want you."
His words were too strong, too much. I needed a moment. I needed to think.
"Are you guys together now?" he asked when I didn't reply.
"That's not what half of camp thinks."
"Well half of camp needs to mind their own damn business," I snapped. "It's not about them."
"You seem to forget that this place is a gossip machine," he said with a dark chuckle.
I shook my head against the dock, closing my eyes for a moment. "How could I? It took what, three hours for the entire staff to find out Tanya tried to blow you in the boathouse last summer?" Even without seeing Edward's face, I knew he would be cringing at that particular memory.
"You know I didn't provoke that, nor did I entertain her advances," he defended.
"No, but you sure didn't turn her down when she was in Dublin."
"I'm sorry. A thousand times I'm sorry, Bella. I told you I couldn't even remember. I didn't really care to even be there with her that night, which is why I got plastered. Everything just got a little out of hand."
"Why didn't Emmett stop you?" I asked. I couldn't place blame on Edward's brother, but it was still something I wondered.
"He wasn't there the whole time. We met Tanya and her friends she was traveling with for dinner, but our mum's car broke down and Em went to help her. By the time he got back, he says I could barely stand."
I considered his words, but it still didn't make me feel any better.
"I just can't believe you would even see her."
"What was I supposed to do, B? It's not as if Emmett or I hated the girl, and it was only one night. She wanted to see us while she was in Ireland. Nothing like that was supposed to happen."
"But you knew I didn't get along with her!"
"I'm sorry!" he said yet again, pounding his fist against a wood plank. "You didn't like her because she came onto me. Other than that, it was really hard to find a reason to refuse to see her. It's not as though I wanted to see her, but she practically begged. Did you see me smiling in any of those photos? I wasn't!"
I took a deep breath, preparing myself to tell him the whole truth about Tanya. "It was more than her trying to seduce you. I wouldn't say Tanya and I were ever friends, but we got along well enough the summer before you came here. When you arrived and we started dating, she went from amicable to utter bitch. She was inappropriately rude to me in front of campers, and she used to pull pranks on my cabin. The worst part was that Alice heard her make some joke to Irina one time about putting something in my food so that I would get food poisoning and have to go home. Edward, she said it as a joke, but who the hell makes jokes like that? She's completely fucked up in the head."
"Bella, why didn't you ever tell me any of that?" he asked, rolling over onto his stomach to look at me.
I shrugged. "I didn't want to feed into her dramatics. It would have been sinking to her level if I spread it around camp, and I'm better than that."
"God, I'm such an ass…"
"It's over now. I'm just glad she didn't come back this summer."
Edward rolled onto his back again and we stargazed together in silence. My right hand was flung over my head while the left rested on my stomach. It was surprisingly comfortable on the hard dock, or perhaps the twinkling constellations above just distracted me from any discomfort. When Edward's hand mimicked my own and clasped mine, I didn't pull away. We stayed that way for a while, until it was time for us to return to our cabins.
"We better get back before curfew," I said, sitting up and then rising to my feet.
"Right," he agreed.
He didn't try to hold my hand again on our walk back, but he did escort me to my cabin.
"May I…hug you?" he asked hesitantly as we stood a few feet from the back door. My heart stopped beating momentarily, but I nodded despite myself. Edward's long arms wrapped comfortably around my shoulders, leaving me to weave mine around his waist. I felt his heavy sigh and the way he nuzzled my hair. It felt so good…it had been too long. We weren't fixed, but at least I understood that none of my feelings for him had changed. The rapid fluttering of butterfly wings in my stomach was jarring until he released me.
"Goodnight, Edward," I whispered, pulling away.
His hand wrapped around my wrist, and I was gently yanked back toward him. Standing nearly chest-to-chest again, but not touching, he cupped my face in his hands. I prayed that he wouldn't kiss me because there was no way I could resist it. As much as I desired him that way, it wouldn't be right. I would be lost, powerless, and a complete mess. To my relief, he simply stared into my eyes, unmoving.
"There's something I never told you, Isabella," he whispered so low that only I would hear in the event that any eavesdroppers were around. "At the end of last summer, I knew, but I couldn't say it, not with our impending separation. Breaking up with you was the last thing I wanted to do, but it would not have been fair to ask you to wait for me when I was a world away."
My entire body began to tremble at the implication of his intense words. The sincerity and fire was obvious in his deep green eyes, and it scared the shit out of me. His thumbs traced over my cheekbones in a soothing manner, but my nerves continued to wrack my body as he spoke.
"I love you, Bella. I loved you last summer. I loved you all year, even when you weren't speaking to me. I love you still, and I will forever regret waiting until now to tell you. If there was any way for me to take the hurt I caused you and place it on myself, I would. Please forgive me."
I was shaking violently by the time he completed his confession. Had I given my sobbing a voice, perhaps I could have controlled my body, but it was one or the other. I chose not to wake up the entire camp with my emotional breakdown. It was all too much, so I hastily tore myself away from him and ran into the cabin.
Collapsing in Alice's bed, I had never been more grateful that junior counselors slept with the campers while senior counselors had a semi-private room in the back of the cabin. The few hours of sleep I managed that night were spent in the soothing arms of my tiny best friend.
"Oh God, Bella…fuck!" Edward groaned as I twirled my tongue around his hard dick before swallowing up the length once more. "I'm…sweetness, I'm…ungh…"
Feeling self-satisfied and proud, I slid back up his body and snuggled into his firm chest. The familiar arms I adored wrapped around me as a lazy smile spread across his face.
"You are so beautiful," he mumbled into my hair. "I don't know how I'll survive a day without you in that blasted country."
"You'll manage," I teased.
"Hardly! I used to love my home, but now it's like prison. Oh, I know! I'll smuggle you in my suitcase and keep you with me forever. Mum and Dad won't mind the extra company. You'd never leave my bedroom anyway."
"Well, I certainly never imagined dropping out of school to become a sex slave, but for you, I might consider it." I peered up at him and gave a sly wink.
"Fuuuuuck, you torture me, you siren. I don't think I could call you a sex slave if we've never actually had sex, but perhaps you could be my cuddle slave."
I shifted uncomfortably at the way Edward spoke directly of our lack-of-sex life. Like tonight, we had fooled around before, but it had never gone that far. It wasn't as though I didn't want to be with Edward that way, but things just never went there. He never pushed me, and with my minimal amount of experience, I was a bit hesitant.
"Is, um, that something…" I began, gulping nervously at the words. "Did you want to…do that…tonight?" I asked in an almost inaudible whisper.
"Bella," he breathed, turning on his side and readjusting his body so that we were face to face. "While I will admit that I did drag your sexy ass out to the middle of the woods and throw you in a tent so that I could have time alone with you, my intentions were not a fuck-and-run. This is our last night together. There is absolutely no way I could be with you that way tonight and walk away tomorrow. It would be the end of me. I'd go insane without you."
"And you won't go insane without me now?" I teased, feeling better about his sweet honesty.
"Of course I will, but it would be…different. Know what I mean?"
"Yeah, I know what you mean," I whispered, kissing his full lips one last time before drifting to sleep in his arms.
I awoke from my dream memory to the feel of smaller, more fragile arms around me.
"Alice?" I groaned.
"Hey baby girl, feeling any better?"
I rubbed the sleep from my eyes with the back of my hand and rolled to face her. She was propped on one elbow, her short hair in humorous disarray from sleep.
"Not really," I admitted. "But I'll be okay. Thanks for taking care of me."
Edward was not at flag raising that morning, which left me feeling disappointed and sad. Garrett shot me a warm grin from across the circle, but I could only return it with a weak half smile. As we entered the dining hall, Edward was still nowhere to be seen. I walked slowly to my table, and was surprised to find a small bouquet of wildflowers at my seat, bound together by a piece of string. Beneath the arrangement was a folded piece of paper. At the top it read, "i carry your heart with me – e.e. cummings," but the lines of the poem were written in what I assumed was Irish.
My gaze lifted, and I searched the now full dining hall for the bearer of this sweet gift. When I finally spotted him, a small smile played on his lips. I returned it shyly, blushing uncontrollably before I was forced to turn away from his piercing stare.
It was Saturday morning, which meant that immediately after breakfast everyone was busy packing up, exchanging contact information, and preparing for parents to arrive. There was no opportunity to see Edward until the entire camp reconvened down at the lake for our big send-off ceremony. Throughout the hour long performance of camp songs and shared memories, we stole glances and flirtatious smiles.
Back at the cabin afterward, Alice and I saw each of our campers off, and then worked with the junior counselors to clean the cabin for the following week. Physically and emotionally exhausted, I collapsed on my bed when we were finished.
"Hey Bella?" Alice called from the front of the cabin.
"I'm going to find Jasper before lunch. I'll see you there?"
"Sounds good. Have fun," I called back.
I settled into my bed with my eyes closed, cataloging the events of the past eighteen hours. The dance, the conversation at the dock, the confession, the flowers and the mystery poem, and all the seductive looks throughout the morning; coupled with my dream, Edward held precedence in my mind.
One part of me was thrilled about how far we had come in such a short period of time, but in the same respect, it was frightening. If things moved too fast and I became caught up in the whirlwind of emotions with Edward, I could be setting myself up for a hurt worse than the last time. It's not that I doubted the sincerity of his words, but our circumstances were difficult enough as it was. If we did get back together, what would happen at the end of the summer? Another break up seemed inevitable, yet the draw – the need – I felt was just as undeniable.
A knock at the backdoor pulled me from my reverie. Since girls were allowed to come and go between each others cabins, I knew it must be a guy at the door. I jumped out of bed, expecting to see Edward, and was therefore surprised when I was face to face with Garrett.
"Hey," he smiled. "Alice said you'd be in here."
"Yeah," I nodded, stepping out onto the steps to sit beside him. "What's up?"
"I just wanted to…talk."
My stomach turned at those simple words. I was instantly filled with dread. Everything was so confusing right now. Things with Garrett in the last couple of weeks had been pleasant and casual, but there really had been something there. Now I was suddenly more confused about Edward than ever, and it felt as though Garrett was caught in the middle as some innocent bystander.
"Okay…what about?" I asked.
"Listen, Bella, I really like you. A lot. I mean, a lot."
"No, it's okay. Just listen," he pressed. "I like you a lot, and I've always had a ton of fun with you, but I'm not blind. I know there's a complicated past with you and Edward, and it seems like something is going on with that again. So just tell me honestly, are we going anywhere?"
"I don't think so," I replied softly, shaking my head without looking at him.
A heavy arm curled around my back, pulling my closer to his body. "It's all right, I promise. I just want to know where we stand, and if that's it, I'm cool. You should be happy."
"Why are you being so nice to me about this?"
"Why wouldn't I be? We're friends, Bella. We'll stay friends."
"I promise," he affirmed.
"Thanks. Oh, I heard that new girl Kate has a thing for you," I said suggestively.
He chuckled, smiling down as he gave me waist a friendly squeeze. "Oh yeah? She's a cutie."
"Go for it," I said with a wide smile.
I met up with Edward at lunch, and since we didn't have to be back on duty until Sunday afternoon, we spent almost every moment of that day together. Things were not physical, but we talked endlessly. We took a drive to one of the little tourist towns on the lake and had dinner on the patio of a cute local restaurant. Afterwards, we walked through town and got ice cream cones from a little shop. There was live music in the park near the beach, so we sat on the swings listening and carrying on our pleasant conversations. When the music ended and night had set in, we returned to camp, but we were not ready to say goodnight.
At his suggestion, we took our sleeping bags and trekked out to the small beach by the boathouse. It was set away from the main camp area, and was not usually occupied late at night. We zipped our bags together, creating a large blanket pocket big enough for both of us to fit into comfortably. The confined space was small enough to be romantic, but large enough that it wasn't too intimate. Once inside, we curled into each other in a way we had not done since that night I dreamt of the previous evening.
Neither of us meant to fall asleep, but when the blinding light of the morning sun fell upon us, we both woke feeling groggy and stiff. After simultaneous stretches and a number of crackling joints, Edward pulled me close and then rolled us so that he was hovering above me.
"Why are you looking at me like that?" I asked, scrunching my nose.
"Because you are stunning, and I was just thinking how lucky I am to have woken up next to you."
"If by stunning you mean, 'frumpy and greasy,' then I must agree."
"Hush, you're beautiful."
We stared into each other's eyes for a minute, my hands instinctively moving to the back of his neck. I threaded my fingers into his thick, knotted hair, luxuriating at how soft and familiar it felt.
"May I kiss you, Isabella?" he asked. A note of hope lingered in his smooth tone.
I nodded once, and his lips were instantly upon mine. The kiss was soft and full of emotion – everything it should be for our first kiss in nearly a year. It was so perfect, yet when I felt his lips part slightly and his tongue seek entrance, I turned my cheek to him.
"What's wrong?" he asked quickly, pulling himself onto his elbows to peer down at me.
"Morning breath," I groaned.
"As if I care!" he laughed. "In case you haven't noticed, I've not had the opportunity to brush either, sweetness."
My breath hitched at the sound of my old nickname on his lips, but I still shook my head.
A wry smile formed on his gorgeous face as if some light bulb had just flicked on in his mind. "Perhaps I can convince you," he said, kissing my cheek. He looked me right in the eyes again. "I love you, Bella."
I giggled, shaking my head once more.
"What do you desire then?"
Playfully, I squinted my eyes and thought hard. "The poem," I decided.
He descended upon me, attaching his mouth to the sensitive hollow beneath my ear before whispering a rhythmic phrase to me…in Irish. Intermittently, he kissed down my neck and collarbone and recited lines. I moaned lightly, arching my back so our chests pressed together. Each breath I took was short and gasping, being released in desperate pants.
"You don't play fair," I whined.
"I never said I would," he countered, completing the last few lines of the poem and inching closer to my mouth. Just a moment from giving me the kiss we both ached for, I stopped him.
"Is something wrong?" The crease between his eyebrows was deep with concern. I smoothed it out with my thumb until he relaxed.
"No, nothing is wrong. It's just…I'm scared…of losing you again. My heart couldn't take that."
"I promise that won't ever happen," he told me, edging closer to my lips again.
"There's more!" I interrupted. He smiled sweetly at me, encouraging me to make peace however I needed. "Edward, I…I love you, too."
His mouth was instantly on mine, lips curved up into a huge grin as we kissed. The love and adoration that passed between us was palpable, exchanged in a thousand unspoken confirmations as our tongues tangled in the deepened kiss. It went on that way for what could have been hours or minutes. I felt my lips swell and chap, but neither of us would relent. The reluctant end to our make out session only came when our stomachs growled with rumbling need. Begrudgingly, we rolled our bags and headed back toward camp in search of hot showers and hotter coffee.
The next few weeks passed by blissfully. When time allowed, we spent it together. We worked through our issues, vowing our faithfulness for the coming year, even if we could not physically be together. Somehow, we would make this relationship work, even if it meant waiting another two years until we were both finished with our university studies.
One of the most interesting discoveries for me was learning how deeply affected Edward was when I cancelled my trip to Ireland and cut off all communication with him. Overshadowed by my own hurt, I never took into consideration that he was suffering from the same broken heart that I was. The biggest difference was that he had to wear the guilt of the Tanya situation along with the sting of losing me.
Thankfully, we agreed to leave it all in the past, and our sights were set on the future. Edward was my future, and I was his. The love I felt for him was imperfect in its own real life way, but it still felt like a fairytale to me. He knew how to make me smile, how to make me swoon, and how to read my moods and unspoken thoughts.
At night, when the campers slept, I would cross the field to the cabin he shared with Jasper, and Jasper would spend time with Alice at ours. The arrangement was beyond ideal, and I always looked forward to our nights together under the stars. No matter what kind of day I had, stargazing in Edward's arms always made it better.
The days of August passed quickly, causing me to become anxious and uneasy at the impending end of summer. Despite all our promises, the close of the camp season meant that my love and I could no longer be together every day. The thought alone was torturous. That is why I jumped at the opportunity to camp out with Edward one warm Saturday night.
"There's a meteor shower," he told me. "We can hike to the far corner of camp property and set up a tent and fire. There's a small clearing just beyond the edge of the woods."
"That sounds amazing. What time will we go out?"
"Well, the shower usually doesn't begin until two in the morning, so I propose we go out for dinner, and then come back to camp for a nap. We can head out around eleven tonight and get things in order."
We did just as Edward suggested, and just after midnight, we were nestled together before our modest little fire.
"Bella, I have some news to share with you."
"What's that?" I asked casually, not sure to what he could be referring.
"My dad helped me do some research, and it turns out I'm able to enter a study abroad program in the States."
"Oh my gosh!" I exclaimed, nearly jumping up from my seat on the blanket. "Oh my gosh! Where? When?"
"In September…at A&M," he told me with an unbelievably huge smile on his face.
"What?" I screamed. "You're serious? Please tell me you're not joking! Are you really coming to school with me?"
"Yes, sweetness, that's exactly what I'm telling you."
I roughly pushed him down on the ground, straddling his hips and kissing him furiously. He met each peck and smooch with equal excitement, and we were both soon laughing and rolling on the ground. When the initial shock and thrill calmed to a manageable level, we sat up, glued together in a tight embrace in his lap, but separated enough that we could look at each other and speak.
"So you'll be there for the fall semester?" I asked for confirmation.
"No, love, I'll be there for the full year."
I squealed in delight yet again, bouncing like a hyper child in his lap.
Between joyful laughter, he told me more. "Jasper and I are getting a place together. Not far from where you and Alice will be living, I hear."
"Wait, Jasper and Alice knew about this before you told me?" I asked incredulously.
"Jasper has known all along, but Alice is just finding out tonight. I suspect Jazz will have told her by now."
"This is amazing," I whispered blissfully, slowing my thoughts to take it all in properly.
"Indeed," Edward said, placing a chaste kiss on my forehead. "But there's more. If I'm able to work things out, I may be able to transfer to A&M permanently. I would lose a few credits in the process, but it wouldn't be that much to make up."
"Oh Edward…" Any further words were muffled by another kiss. This time, our displays of affection were tender and slow. I could hardly believe that all of this was real. We were really doing it. Edward would only have to leave me for a few weeks, and then we would be back together. Our road to forever didn't have to include interludes of separation or heartache or want. He was mine and I was his.
Carefully, he shifted me off his lap, lowering me down onto the blanket with a firm hand splayed out across the center of my back. As I sank back into the ground, his body pressed against mine – lips working together, chests, stomachs, hips flattened deliciously, and legs set in a loose tangle. Edward ground against me, seeking friction against my form that I gladly returned to him. Our hands were in perpetual motion against one another, never resting in one place for long. There was too much to feel, too many feelings to communicate through touch. My heart leapt in my chest, understanding that if Edward was willing, tonight would be the night.
"I love you so much," I told him, edging my fingertips to the hem of his shirt and dragging it up his lean torso. Complying with my actions, he lifted it the rest of the way over his head.
"Tá mo chroí istigh ionat, my Bella. Táim i ngrá leat."
With those incredible sexy words that I didn't know but understood meant something similar to what I had just told him, Edward pulled my shirt off and ducked down to kiss the swell of my breasts. His fingertips tugged at the thin material of my bra, lowering it enough to expose my nipples to him. With soft tongue and nibble fingertips alternating between the hardened peaks, I was the willing victim to his sweet torture. Lifting my back slightly, I was able to unhook and remove my bra to allow better access.
Each touch, kiss, and lick we exchanged across our newly exposed bare skin set me ablaze. I wanted him more than I had ever wanted anything in my life. We were out of control, though thankfully focused on the same end goal. No matter where or how I caressed and kissed him, it was never enough. I needed Edward on me and within me and intertwined with my soul. I breathed in his breaths, working for our mutual need, our mutual pleasure.
"Slow down, sweetness," he said softly. "We're not going anywhere. There's no need to rush."
I nodded, taking in two deep breaths before pulling his lips to crash into mine. With a softer pace and deeper reverence, I took in each and every inch as my hands trailed down his muscled back. I gripped my love's bottom playfully, eliciting a groan and sharp thrust against my center. Fingering the waist of the track pants he had worn out here, I began to slide them away from his hips, taking his boxers with them. He helped me complete the action, and then removed my obstructing clothing as well.
The night air was crisp, but not unbearably cold. Away from the lake breeze and coupled with the warm licks from our fire, it was a pleasant climate. Being this way together outdoors, exposed to nature felt incredible. It was arousing in an exhibitionist sort of way, but more than anything, a pure, natural sensation. It was just me, Edward, and a blanket of stars overhead.
Edward's hand tentatively trailed down my stomach, and with it went his hot mouth. The two joined at my moist sex, eager and ready for him to fulfill me however he chose. It was his fingers that met me first, parting my lips and teasing just below. Memories of his touch came back to me, making me even more anxious for what was to come. No one had ever touched me the way Edward did, and no one had ever made me feel as good. As his fingers dipped inside and began a slow pleasure pattern, his tongue cirlced my sensitive bundle of nerves. I jerked my hips upward, encouraging him to respond in kind. Alternating between slow and quick rhythms, everything he did was driving me toward the edge.
"Say it again," I begged with my last decipherable words.
"Tá mo chroí istigh ionat. Táim i ngrá leat."
My cries that accompanied my climax echoed through the clearing. Before I could fully recover, Edward was on me again, kissing me hard and fast.
I immediately moved my hands down his sides, grasping his stiff length in my hand. I thumbed at the tip, seeking moisture, but there was not enough for the friction I desired. To supplement, I moved my hand away from him for just a few seconds – long enough to palm between my own thighs and coat my hand with the excess wetness he had brought out of me. Now slick and ready, I stroked up and down with quick, firm movements.
"Bella…" he moaned, breathing heavily in my ear. He still hovered above me, and I could feel his arms shaking as he tried to maintain balance. We kissed in short bursts against each other's mouths, cheeks, jaws, and shoulders, but with the curve of our bodies, it was difficult to maintain much contact. I watched his abs tighten, and knew that he would come soon if I didn't stop.
"I want you, baby. I need you," I said, looking into his lusty eyes. "Tell me to stop."
"Are you sure?" he asked, stilling his hips from thrusting into my hand.
"Yes, completely sure," I said, nodding. "I want to be one with you. Please tell me to stop."
"Stop. Oh God, sweetness, stop," he replied quickly. "I love you…I need to feel you."
I released him, wiggling on the blanket so that we were properly aligned. His arousal was ready for me as the tip pressed against my opening, but more importantly, our hearts were ready to take this next step. Sensing his final note of hesitance, I lifted my hips so that he was slightly inside of me. With that encouragement, Edward closed the gap, fully sheathing himself inside my body.
Together, we worked in this beautiful unification. As he thrust, I rocked. When he pulsed, I squeezed. Our bodies tied together in intricate knots, while our hearts and souls sealed in unbreakable bonds.
"I love you," I practically sang, cupping his face in my hands and kissing him lovingly.
"Tá mo chroí istigh ionat…My heart is within you," he replied, finally interpreting his earlier words for me. The sentiment made my own heart seize and swell with the immeasurable love I felt for him. Our reality was so beautiful. Despite the bumps in the road, we were exactly where we needed to be. A single tear trickled down my cheek, but it did not stop me from giving Edward all my love.
"Sit up," I urged, guiding him to a cross-legged position on the blanket. Straddling his lap and wrapping my legs around him, I took him back inside me. We both called out at the deeper, closer position, and all the new ways our bodies connected.
This was more intimate, allowing more skin-to-skin contact, and perfect access for uninterrupted kissing. Arms curved around backs, stroking in time to the love we were making, and holding us tightly in place. I could tell by Edward's staggered breathing when he was getting close, and I wanted to reach our peak together. Unwrapping one of his arms from my back, I silently guided his hand to where we were united. This position already created amazing contact there, but I knew the feel of him inside me and touching me at the same time would be even better. As he stroked me, I rolled my hips harder and faster. He came a few moments later, calling out my name and some other words in Irish. I followed quickly, my entire body trembling as I floated like a feather down the mountain of pleasure. We held each other there for a long time, completely spent, but not wanting to relinquish our mutual hold. When we finally did, Edward lovingly wiped us both clean with his boxers, and tossed the shorts somewhere beside the tent.
He gathered our clothes that had been thrown askew, but I stopped him from putting his back on just yet.
"Do you think…I mean, it's not too cold yet, and if we lay in the sleeping bags…I just want to be close to you for a little longer," I sputtered.
"I would love that," he said with a smile and nod. "We should be fine in there."
Before climbing between the two joined sleeping bags, he tossed a couple more logs on the fire to keep us warm.
"Is it time yet?" I asked as I tucked my head against his shoulder and used him as a makeshift pillow.
"It's nearly two now."
As we watched the sky and waited, our hands wandered absentmindedly over the other's body. It was not meant to be teasing or arousing, though some of that may have resulted accidentally.
This is perfect. This is everything. I thought happily.
There was one final mystery that I needed him to resolve for me. While he had given me the title of the poem he left on my dining hall table, I had only seen and heard the words in Irish. I could always Google it, but I would much rather hear the words and significance from my Edward.
"Will you recite the poem for me?" I asked, tilting my head to look up at his face. "In English."
He chuckled softly, squeezing me gently with the arm that wrapped around my shoulders. With the soft tone and earnest passion of a poet, he recited the words to me.
"i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)"
By the time he was done, I was in tears. Those words and thoughts were so beautiful, and though they were not Edward's own, the sentiment behind them was. I knew what we shared was extraordinarily intense, but to express his love in such a way was overwhelming. I had complete and utter faith that he was all I would ever need in this life.
As the meteor shower carried on through the night, we counted each celestial wonder, and wished our future on each one. There were moments of silence and moments of quiet conversations, and, of course, moments when we became distracted from Heaven's performance. We stayed awake all night that way, and when the stars faded with the dawn, we made love beneath the open sky once more.
It was the perfect night, encapsulated within the perfect summer.
Endnotes: There is no such place as Camp Chautauqua Lake, though many summer camps exist on Lake Chautauqua in New York State. I had the pleasure of working at one for several years.
Edward's words in Irish:
Tá mo chroí istigh ionat – My heart is within you
Táim i ngrá leat – I am in love with you
Mo Chroi (title of story) – My Heart
Please forgive me if you speak Irish and any of that is inaccurate because I don't. I also want to note that I refer to the language as Irish, not Gaelic, in the story because that is what my friend from Dublin told me.
The Perseids meteor shower occurs every August. It's a beautiful thing.
I am aware that the particular e.e. cummings poem I quoted has been used in other fic. That has absolutely nothing to do with why I selected it. In perusing much romantic poetry, that one fit my characterization of Edward the best. And if the capitalization & spacing of it confuses you, go research some cummings poetry. That was his style!
Finally, while I am usually a stickler for some form of birth control/condom mention in fics, I let it slide this time. (*snorts* I said 'let it slide') Please assume that conversation occurred at some unmentioned point.
Thanks so much for reading! Please review!!