*Disclaimer for this any all following chapters – All character names and themes related to Twilight are the sole property of Stephenie Meyer. I am ever so grateful to be able to play with them this way.
A/N ~ This story has been worming its way through my mind, and the only way to clear it is to get it out. So here it is. I'm going beta-free on this one, freeing up Shug to work her magic on 'Whatever Works', and still leave time for her other projects. ;) I am channelling her while proofreading, but inevitably, there will be errors. It will be shorter than my other stories, and should come out quick(ish). My goal is to wrap this in under 20 chapters. This would be quite a feat for me!
In this one, Bella is slightly older than Edward. Not cougar territory—but she is at an age where she thinks a few years make a huge difference. Silly girl! It's mainly told from her POV, but there will be a couple of chapters in Edward's voice, because we do love hearing from him. Or, I just like writing him… a lot.
I'd like to keep the updates simple and clean, so I'll tell any reader now that I'm so pleased that you're reading! You all know that already, right? :) And I do love to giggle and snort over comments, so if you have any, they'll make my day. Hope you enjoy! XX ~ SR
Rain On Me
I'm not going to lie—I was seriously pissed off with my dad. He had made arrangements that I didn't condone, without my knowledge or permission. He had interfered with my baby. My pride and joy. Eclipse was a summer camp that I had bought, and rebuilt, in memory of my mother. My baby was my mother's first love. She had attended camp every summer as a child, then as a counsellor. She met Dad there, and they fell in love. I came along soon after. When I was old enough, I attended the camp too, following in her footsteps.
Mom was everything to me—my nurturer, role-model, and best friend. She lived a full life centered on the things she loved most; family, children, and education. As a teacher, she was all about learning. Her opinion was that one should never stop learning. We should all approach each day with the attitude that we will learn something new. The smallest bit of knowledge, no matter how it was achieved, was an accomplishment. I tried to adopt that same attitude, only failing to achieve knowledge for the months that were my darkest—the months that followed her death. The only thing I learned in those months was that emotional pain hurt more than anything I could imagine.
Eclipse provided me with a place to feel connected to Mom. And in the months spent there, no matter how dreary the weather, nothing dampened my spirits. Eclipse masked all scars and temporarily covered all wounds.
And now, I was about to launch a whole new facet to our beloved camp—a spring break week. I looked at it as a way to get to know my staff for the upcoming summer, as well as a sanity break for myself and the small group of kids who had registered. Dad had gone and thrown a wrench into my reprieve from lunacy by offering a position to the son of a friend. From what I understood, this kid had gotten himself into a bit of trouble, and his parents were making him work to repay the damages amassed. I argued that it was a conflict of interests. Eclipse was all about offering a fun and safe environment for kids, yet Dad was asking me (insisting, really) to hire a delinquent. Not very smart for the Chief of Police.
"He's not a delinquent! He made a few bad judgement calls, that's all. This kid's got some lessons to learn, Bells…"
And, I was done for. "Thanks, Dad, for throwing that in there. You know you've just made it impossible for me to turn you down now."
He did this thing with his face, waggling his eyebrows and moustache simultaneously, that irritated me to no end. He only did that when he was feeling extremely pleased with himself. I could still picture it in my mind when I pulled into the camp site. Putting my truck in park, I rested my head against the steering wheel for a few moments to collect myself before greeting the others. Looking at the few cars in the parking lot, it seemed I was the last to arrive. The sound of a horn behind me stirred me from my resting spot. Looking in the rear view mirror, I smiled before climbing out to greet my friend.
"You made it!"
"Have I ever let you down?" Emmett pushed his door closed, and wrapped me in a hug. "Nice digs, Bells."
"Yeah, can you not call me that?"
He grinned broadly, knowing exactly what I meant. "What? Bells?"
Emmett loved teasing me with the nickname Dad had for me. His father worked with mine, and we'd known each other for years, but got much closer now that we attended university together. We were both studying to be teachers. "I'll have to call you Charlie Jr. if you insist on using that name."
"How 'bout Tinkerbell, then. Is that better?"
"How 'bout Chuck. Do you like that?"
"Speaking of Chucks… where are yours? I don't think I've ever seen you in anything but."
I smirked, staring down at my hiking boots. "A little too muddy for my Chucks here, I'm afraid. Ready to go meet the gang?"
I was correct in my assumption—Emmett and I were the last to arrive. After initial greetings, hugs, and introducing Emmett, I realized we weren't all present and accounted for after all. The delinquent was missing. Figured. Hot chocolate was passed out, and I took one last peek out into the parking lot before beginning our meeting without him. Just as I was turning away, a flash of silver caught my eye. Oh goodie, he's here…
For someone who drove in like he had just finished a race, he certainly took his time making his way from his flashy car to the main house. I was already out of patience with this kid. "Nice of you to join us," I quipped when he finally entered.
Emmett snickered at me. "You sound like a teacher already—but the one everyone hated in school."
I fired over a look that reminded him this was my place of business, not just a group of friends. My look was then turned on the new guy. "I assume you're Edward?"
He nodded from the doorway, his hands shoved deep in his pockets. He had a completely casual air about him, not bothered in the least that he had been called on his late arrival. "I can leave, if tardiness is a colossal concern of yours. Shall I go to the office for a late slip?"
I cursed my father out in my thoughts for sending me this smartass. "The rest of us made it here on time. I expect the same from you in future."
"Won't be an issue, Alpha Lady," he retorted with his hand over his heart and a deep bow.
SmartASS! Biting back the urge to send him packing, I sighed and walked over to him, extending my hand. "Bad start—sorry. I'm Isabella Swan."
He removed one hand for a brief shake before stuffing it back in his pocket.
"Maybe we could do our own introductions? Some of us don't know each other yet."
Peter stood up immediately, clearing his throat. "Well, I'm Peter Hale. My wife and I have run this place for more than a decade. Been through a few owners, 'til the right one came along. We live here, so if anyone had left something vital at home, we probably have a spare up for grabs." Laughter ensued. "And our door is always open for any of you." He took a seat, and his wife stood.
"Charlotte. Peter's my man. This is our home—welcome." She smiled around at everyone warmly. "And Bella is like our second daughter. No one treats our girls with disrespect." That comment was directly at the sullen boy standing at the door.
"I'm the other daughter, Rosalie. I live here too, when I'm not at school. Bella asked me to help out, so I guess I'll be working with you all." She waved, and took a seat.
Rosalie was a knockout, by most people's standards. Tall and curvy, blonde hair, blue eyes. She didn't have to work at it; she rolled out of bed perfect and beautiful, every day. A natural born Barbie. Most people also assumed that meant she was easy, and stupid. She was neither. I dreaded the reaction of guys meeting her for the first time. It was never flattering. Emmett's reaction to her was blatant. I reached over and snapped his jaw shut, as any good friend would. A glance in Edward's direction showed the same indifference he'd had to Peter and Charlotte. Strange.
"I'm Alice!" A tiny voice called out of a petite body.
"Get on a chair, girl! No one can see you!" Peter teased her with a gentle banter. She laughed, stepping up onto her chair.
"Hey! I'm Alice Brandon, former camp girl. Now I rule over the girls." She jumped down with a girly little giggle.
"Don't let her fool you," I called out. "This tiny titan rules over all—boys, girls, and staff!" Everyone who knew her laughed. "Em?" I nudged my friend who was still staring at Rosalie, though now using a bit of discretion.
"Emmett McCarty," he called out as he stood. "Bella and I know each other from school. I'm working on a degree to teach P.E., so I'm going to be doing anything athletically related here, and helping out with the boys."
"Thanks again, Em." I gave his shoulder a squeeze as he sat. Alice and Rosalie had their heads together, whispering. I knew he'd be a hit with them. "Edward? You're up!"
Since he was still standing, he merely raised his head. "Edward Cullen. Hi."
"That's it?" Alice chirped.
"Pretty much," he replied.
Peter took a shot. "Tell us about yourself, son. What brought you out here with us?"
He snorted with a disgusted look on his face. "Stupidity." He caught Peter's look of admonishment, and elaborated. "My parents thought it would be a good idea to spend some time here. They're friends with Chief Swan. I don't know exactly what I'll be doing, but here I am."
"Thank you, Edward. Thanks, everyone! We'll all get to know each other quite well, over time. Enrolment for our pilot spring break week is low, so this is the staff we'll be running on. A few more will join us for the summer program. I think this will be a great year!"
The eye roll from the boy in the doorway did not go unnoticed. Thanks again, Dad…
x – x – x
We had a staff-only campfire, since the kids were set to arrive in the morning. Edward joined us, but didn't say a word until it broke up. It was too cold to linger outside, so it didn't last long. He caught up with me when I went to my truck to get some more of my things out.
"Hey, I wanted to ask you… I don't really have to stay here all week, right?" He slowed his long strides to match my own pace. "I mean, I can go home at night?"
"No," I responded curtly. "Staff is here for the kids, 24 hours a day. No exceptions."
"Fuck," he muttered under his breath, drawing a glare from me. "Sorry. I know. I'll watch my language when the kids get here. It's just… It's a really bad time for me to be here. There's a lot of stuff I should be dealing with—"
"Do you want this job or not, Edward?" I asked, point blank. I wasn't prepared to deal with this all week, and worse, all summer. "If it's really not for you, I'll talk to my dad; your parents too, if it will help."
He smirked, stopping at my truck beside me. "I don't have a choice. Look, I don't want to be here—I won't lie about that. But I'll try to stick to myself, and try not to be a complete pain in the ass. It's only a week. I can deal with my life when I get home."
I watched him stride off to the counsellors' cabin, shoulders hunched over, and looking completely dejected. My nurturing mother's genes kicked in, and I was tempted to go haul him aside for a talk. He seemed like he had a world of troubles waiting for him somewhere else. My stubborn father's genes then took over, and I refused to let this boy destroy my happy place for me. If he had troubles, he could leave them at the edge of the forest, just like I did. Only I left mine in a beat-up old Chevy, not in a shiny, silver Volvo.