Rain On Me
Edward and I stood with our hands locked, fingers intertwined, watching the groups file back from their first exploration of the season. I still oversaw everything at Eclipse, and we both got to know each of the children, but we weren't as hands-on as we used to be.
Peter and Charlotte had retired to Arizona. Their old house was now our summer home. Charlie would spend a week here and a few days there with us throughout the summer. He was a little grey up top, but his caterpillar moustache that amused my husband and I so much was still dark, and still a waggler. We were certain he touched it up with a little 'Just For Men'. He never remarried. Claimed nobody could ever take his heart when it still belonged to Mom. He seemed to capture some of the solace I got from Eclipse while he was here. I'm sure the memories of their initial summers together were overwhelming.
Edward would put him to work when he was here, asking his help to chop wood and work on repairs around camp. He also enlisted his vast fishing knowledge to teach the kids who were interested in that particular skill. While his outward gruffness still made appearances, he had softened considerably being around the kids. Edward said it was due to being around my magical aura. He's still sappy and sweet, and totally lovable.
He had worked on his masters' degree while teaching middle school and moved on to teach American History in a high school. Two years ago, he got the position of his dreams—teaching university-level World History. Professor Cullen, my dream husband.
I still taught middle school, but I no longer worked for Mr Tanner. I transferred when Edward got his first promotion, and we bought our house. It was nestled in the woods, with a fantastic view of the mountains. But there were no garish glass walls. It was just how he described a house should be to me all those years ago, my first and only time in his parents' house.
We saw them from time to time. It was always stiff and awkward between them, but it simply would not look good for the perfect Dr and Mrs Cullen to not be involved with us once a grandchild was in the picture. Edward was courteous and always polite in their company. I couldn't completely detest them. How they had treated their son was deplorable, but they had given him life. Without Edward, my life would be void of the kind of utter happiness I had with him. Despite his hateful, overbearing parents, he was a wonderful husband and father, and we had a rich life together. So, we would both suck it up and play the game.
Afterwards, he would spend hours just watching our own family interaction. He made love to me differently on those occasions. Almost like he had a desperate need to hold onto what we have, even though he should know that he didn't have to feel any desperation. We were solid. But I understood where it was coming from, and I would hold him until he fell asleep, even though the weight of his head was killer.
I smiled thinking of that big head on my chest. Holding him. Stroking his hair. His soft snores rumbling against my skin.
"What's that smile for, beautiful girl?" Edward caught me and swung our arms as he nudged my cheek with his nose.
"You. Only you." I turned my smile on him.
He hummed against my ear. "I'm one lucky bastard."
"Shhh! The kids are back," I chastised lightly.
"Sorry, Alpha Lady."
The thing about Edward is, while he aged and grew more handsome and refined over the years, that damned smartass smirk of his always made me think of eighteen-year-old Edward. He had a hint of grey woven in between his bronze and brown, too, but he looked eternally youthful. Personally, I had taken to covering my own grey years before he even knew about it. Damned premature greying.
"Mommy said you had to do Ten Fingers with me." A sweet little girl stood in front of Edward and made her demand boldly. Her hair was in pigtails, and she wore a football jersey and jeans. There was no mistaking this was Bree's little girl.
"Did she? I can't believe she hasn't taught you already! I must have a word with your mother, Vanessa." Edward exclaimed.
"Just 'Van'," she corrected.
"Van, huh? That's the name of one of my favourite musicians. Come to music and I'll play some for you."
She smiled brightly. "Okay! And Mommy did teach me Ten Fingers! She told me you do it best!"
"Well, that's entirely too much pressure. Performance anxiety…hmm…" Edward scratched at his head, making his hair stand on end, stray greys and all. "We need more people to make it fun. Jackie! Grab your brothers and bring them over, would you?"
Edward never failed to make me laugh. If he was still anxious interacting with kids, he never let on.
With six of us gathered, he called out, "Favourite ice cream! You start, Van."
x – x – x
This summer was shaping up to be one of our best. Years ago, we had changed the age limits for campers. There weren't many teens wanting to do summer camp, so we switched the focus on the younger ones and offered counsellor and junior counsellor positions to the teens who did want to be part of Eclipse. This summer would be the first time every one of our friends' children would be with us, either as campers or counsellors. It was also the first time we would have the house at Eclipse to ourselves. Our daughter, Renee, had decided she wanted to bunk in the counsellors' cabin like the others.
The children were more than friends; they were like family. It made our decision to only have the one child much easier on us. We had debated having a second child, if only so that Renee would have someone after we were gone. This was the best of both worlds—she would never be alone and we didn't have to regret anything. In the beginning, Edward was skeptical about us having even one child. It went beyond his concern that he was incapable of connecting with a child—he was terrified that he would re-enact his own upbringing with our child. I didn't see how it was possible, and he proved me correct. He was amazing with Renee from the very beginning. He was determined to do better… to be better, for Renee. There was nothing our daughter couldn't talk to him about. He made certain she understood that. He went out of his way to make sure she knew how proud we were of her—every single day.
Charlie had once commented that Renee thought Edward's sun rose and set around her. In a way, it did. It made me realize that Edward was emulating Charlie's parenting skills rather than Carlisle and Esme's. My dad had frequently made me feel that very same way. They say you never really appreciate your parents until you are one yourself. While I'd always adored my dad, he certainly achieved more cool points once I fully understood what it was like for him.
And so Renee had more than enough "brothers and sisters" with the Whitlock and McCarty kids. Emphasis on Whitlock. Alice had made good on her vow to have six of Jasper's babies. In fact, she exceeded her mission, thanks to her last pregnancy resulting in a second set of twins for them. They had four girls and three boys, beginning and ending with twins. She claimed to be done, but I had my doubts. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if another pregnancy was announced in the fall. Having all their kids at camp gave them ample opportunity to get busy alone, at home.
Rosalie and Emmett took a much more sane approach, stopping at two. One daughter, and one son. Done. They always were very practical and reliable. If they set out to do something, you could be damned sure it would happen.
My camp girl elation over this being the best summer yet hit a snag. Uncharacteristically, it was Renee who burst my camp girl bubble. At home, she was a total daddy's girl—taking everything to Edward. But at Eclipse, she was my girl. We boosted each other up to be the most dedicated of all camp girls ever. Sometimes our joint enthusiasm even outshone Alice's frantic energy. That said a lot. It amused Edward to no end when we were like that.
So when Renee approached me, mid-way through the summer, clinging to her daddy as she did when she wanted him to back her on something important, I cringed. This wouldn't be good.
"Honey, Renee would like to speak to us about something. Do you think we could do dinner at home tonight? Just the three of us?"
I bit back my apprehension and smiled warmly at them. "That sounds great!"
If Edward had any knowledge of the topic to be discussed, he never revealed it to me. And I asked several times throughout the day.
"This isn't right, Edward. Something's off. You get her all year round—summer is my time to be the star parent." The mystery got to me by late afternoon, and I was in whine mode.
"What?" Edward asked in disbelief. "You're kidding me, right? For the past four years, I get more 'Oh my god, Daaaaaad, I can't believe you's!' than anything else! I'm a walking embarrassment to her without even trying. I can't say or do anything right. Were you this hard on Charlie when you were growing up?"
I shrugged, smirking as I turned away. I hadn't thought about it, but yeah, she pretty much mirrored my teen years. "Teenaged girls are embarrassed by everyone and everything thing. Don't take it personally. She idolizes you. Seriously."
He huffed, rolling his eyes like a teenager himself. "Whatever."
Snickering, I moved in for a cuddle and chin kiss. "You know she does. You're just being silly."
His crooked grin emerged. Yeah, he knew it. Peering down at me through those long, thick lashes, he kissed my forehead. "She hasn't told me what this is about, but I have a suspicion it involves a boy," he informed me. "She approached me with her usual determination, but she was blushing within seconds."
"Gotta be a boy," I agreed with a smile. "A really cute one. I know how that is."
"I don't make you blush anymore, Bella. I miss that. Guess I'm not really cute anymore?"
"You'll always be the cutest boy I know," I whispered huskily, delving my fingers into his hair. "Never, in the history of camp, has there been a guy hotter than you around."
His lips pursed and amusement lit up his eyes. "Remind me of that later on? We'll see if I can't make you blush when we're alone tonight." He let out a laugh, running his fingers across my cheek as I displayed my elusive blush for him then and there.
"You're incorrigible," I chastised.
"You're beautiful." His voice was as sincere as the adoration in his eyes.
I flushed a deeper tone of red. "You're…" I took two fistfuls of his shirt in my hands and gazed up at him. "You're my everything, you know that?"
"Ewww! Old people making out!" Jackie, one of Jasper and Alice's girls, interrupted our kiss with her teasing.
"You should be used to seeing an old couple kiss with the parents you have. They're human bunnies." Edward gave it back just as easily as she handed it out.
She laughed at his taunt before advising us that there was an overflowing toilet in the boys' washroom. The two went off together, exchanging "crappy jokes" as they departed. Har-har. I swear he was having his childhood in his forties. Better late than never.
x – x – x
"So, Mom, Dad… I wanted to ask you something." Renee pushed her food around on her plate as she began the end to our frustrating wait to find out what was going on. "You've always said that I couldn't date until I was sixteen, right?"
Edward's fork froze mid-way to his mouth, and I set mine down on my plate. He was right. This was about a boy.
"Well, I didn't jump right on that the moment I turned sixteen. That's got to show that I'm not taking it lightly. I didn't just go with any boy who asked."
"Boys have asked?" I queried. This was news to me. Glancing at my husband, his eyes dropped to his plate in haste. He knew!
"Yeah. No one special, Mom. No one I was interested in. I declined." Our daughter exchanged a look with her father. He then looked to me apologetically.
"Renee mentioned that some boy asked to her go to his prom with her. She said 'no thanks'. That was what… the day we were picking up all the camp supplies, right, honey? That's when you mentioned that?"
"Yeah. Right. We were so busy—"
"Totally slipped my mind—"
"It's not like it was important. I would have asked you if I wanted to go, Mom."
"She would have asked. You would have helped her pick out a dress! Right, hon?"
"Absolutely! Like I'd go dress shopping with Dad!" Renee giggle-snorted, and Edward laughed at her, exchanging another, loving look. They were doing the father-daughter thing where they talked over each other and made jokes so I wouldn't get upset with them. Frustrating.
And all right… it was sweet.
"But now you are interested in a boy," I stated, getting us back on track. "Someone special."
Renee bit down on her lip as her cheeks flushed straight through to her ears. She nodded. "Yeah. He's kinda great."
"He'd better be," Edward said with a smirk. "You've been in touch with him since school ended? What, texting? You're not going over our agreed limit, are you?"
Renee rolled her eyes. "Daaaaad! I've hardly texted at all! Most of my friends are here anyway. God! Chill on the texting thing."
I smirked at Renee's attitude. It was just as Edward had described it earlier. He flashed me a smug look, and I bit back a laugh.
"Okay, okay. But how have you been in contact with him then? Phone? Email?"
As Renee began fidgeting, I was hit with a realization. "He's here, isn't he? In camp?"
Edward choked on a sip of water. He actually paled when he got control of himself. "He's here. Who?"
Renee lifted an eyebrow in his direction. I knew she was counting on his support with this, and yet he was the first one to fire off a direct question that demanded an answer. "Um… well, you know him, of course."
"Of course," Edward repeated flatly. "Who, Renee? And is this the reason you wanted to be in the cabin rather than staying here with us? Do I need to be supervising the supervisors?"
Edward shook his head as a light warning to her to knock off the attitude. "You may have exhibited maturity in holding off on the dating longer than you had to, but you're still only sixteen. And you're still our daughter. I will oversee your social life when necessary. You can 'Daaaaad' me all you like."
"Sorry, Dad." Her chin dropped to her chest, abashed. "Nothing's going on down there, I swear. You can ask Jackie. Ask anyone! We all just hang out after the kids are sleeping. I swear. We're all together. No going off in pairs… well, Jackie and Lily and I sometimes hang out on our own."
Jackie, one of Alice and Jasper's oldest twins, and Lily, Rose and Emmett's daughter were particularly close with Renee. They were inseparable all year round.
I decided to jump in, figuring I knew exactly who it was. We only had one new male counsellor. "Is it Riley?"
Renee shook her head. "Nah. He's a little arrogant sometimes. Anyway, I think Lily likes him."
"Have we got a singles club going on down there?" I frowned, not liking the idea but at the same time becoming fully aware that it was exactly like that the first summer with Edward at Eclipse. But we were older.
Edward was strangely quiet throughout the last exchange. He had his chin resting on his folding hands, deep in thought.
"I swear to God, nothing's happened. We just talk a lot. Hang out. But, um, he asked if he could take me driving… you know, get some road practice in so I can go for my test as soon as summer's over. You guys are too busy for that."
I relaxed somewhat. "So it's not really a date—"
"Well, he suggested that we take a drive to Port Angeles. Maybe hang out on the pier for a while or something. That's kinda date-ish. That's why I'm asking if it's okay with both of you."
"If it's not Riley, then who—"
"I think I know." Edward finally spoke up again, surprising me once more.
Renee looked pleadingly at her father. "Yeah?" she asked in a shaky voice, unsure if he approved or not.
He nodded. "He's a good driver. Careful. Clean record."
"You sound like Grandpa!" Renee giggled.
"I'll have Grandpa do a full record check… just to be certain."
The giggles stopped and she gawked at her dad. "Seriously?"
Edward cracked a grin. "Nah. I know he's a good kid. Known him all his life. A day at the pier, huh? That was mine and your mother's first 'kinda date'. Twice, actually."
Renee smiled at us, turning red once again. "It's weird thinking of you two on an actual date. I mean, like a hanging out date, like that… at the pier."
Edward hummed, grinning broadly. "I highly recommend the burgers from the little shack set up across from the beach. And down about half a block, there's an ice cream place that has—"
"Are you two for real?" I interjected. "You're sitting there discussing the hot spots to hit on a first date, and I don't even know who you're talking about! Someone want to clue me in? Please?"
"Sweetheart, I'm sorry… I'm just a little excited about this. I've spent years dreading this moment—when some creep comes along and takes our little girl out. It's bound to happen. I'm just really pleased at her decision on this. It makes me a lot more comfortable, because I know he'll take care of her."
"Who?" I practically screamed.
"Daniel," he replied to me before turning to Renee. "I'm right about that, aren't I?"
"Daniel." I repeated. "Daniel?" He's Jackie's twin. The oldest of the lot. Two years older than Renee, in fact. He had a brother Renee's age, why couldn't it be him instead?
"You're freaked out," Renee stated. Her eyes flew to Edward for help.
"Daniel is a good kid, Bella. You've always adored him."
"Yeah. As a kid in the family sort of way—not a dating my daughter way. Isn't Mark more suitable for you? He's your age—"
That's when I got the teenaged eye-roll and snort. Me! I watched Edward's lip twitching as he struggled not to laugh over me being on the receiving end for the first time.
"Please, Mother. Mark makes armpit farts nightly. It's totally disgusting."
Edward's fist flew to cover his mouth. That was his patented move to stop from laughing out loud. He was amused by this!
"I'm sure Daniel made armpit farts at some point in his life, too. Mark is cute!"
My daughter gave me a placating gaze. "Puppies are cute too, Mom. Would you rather have had a puppy or Dad when you started dating?"
"Hey!" Edward protested the comparison. "I was much more of a cat person, myself."
Damn him! A laugh escaped as I thought of Puss-Puss. I didn't want to laugh. I didn't want to think of the start of our relationship right now. If I did that, I'd compare it to Renee and Daniel, and the thought of our daughter thinking of a boy the way I thought of Edward… oh boy. It was unavoidable. But Daniel? He's older. More experienced. Would he pressure her?
Renee and I eyed each other from across the table. Her determined look was a reflection of mine. Both of us scowled and folded our arms over our chests. Both of us sighed and gritted our teeth. Both of us held back things we wanted to shout out at each other.
"Can I just say one thing here?" Edward cut the silence. "I've been witness to Mark's armpit symphony, and it is rather disgusting."
Renee cracked up, and I threw my napkin at him. "Edward! Be serious!"
He held up a hand in submission. "Sorry. Okay, this is the one thing I do want to say… seriously. They're both good boys, albeit one is a little more mature than the other. Mark may be better suited age-wise, but not necessarily in maturity. And really, you can't help who you're attracted to. It's not like they've just met—they've grown up together. Renee obviously knows his personality, and she's drawn to it. To him. I think it shows a great deal of maturity that she came to us with this rather than sneaking around."
"Edward!" I hissed. "Dear… it's that maturity that I'm worried about. Do you get what I mean?"
"She thinks we're going to have sex, Dad," Renee quipped.
"Ah. Thanks for clearing that up for me." His eyes twinkled her way. I knew I was losing this one.
"Just so you know, I'm mature enough to know that I'm not ready for that. With Daniel or any other boy. Aside from when I kissed Tyler on the playground during recess in fourth grade, I haven't even kissed a boy. No way am I ready for sex."
I had to laugh at that one. I'd received a phone call from his mother, absolutely livid about my "loose daughter".
"You kissed… what?" It was Edward's turn to express his shock. "Tyler? You kissed a boy in fourth grade? Did I know about this? Why didn't I know about this?"
Renee got up and stood behind her dad, wrapping her arms around his chest. She planted a kiss on his cheek. "It's old news, Dad. I dumped him the next day anyway." She grinned as his disapproving huff. "Daniel is different," she added softly. "I'm not saying I want to spend my life with him—our parents are the only freaks who meet in camp and bond for life."
"Your grandparents, too," I reminded her.
"Yeah. Family trait, I know. I'm just saying, don't start planning a wedding or anything. I don't even know what I want, really. I just know that I'd really like to go on a date with Daniel. I swear, we'll behave. And we won't be alone in the cabin. You can make Jackie chaperone, if you want. She kinda does anyway."
Edward smiled over at me and winked. "They're all good kids, Bella. I'd rather it be a guy I know has our daughter's best interests at heart than some random idiot. Will you give this some consideration? We can talk more later on?"
I had been doing nothing but giving it consideration. Edward was right on all his points. "You approve?"
Renee squeezed him a little tighter.
I sighed. "Weekday. If traffic is heavy, Daniel drives. Bring your phone and keep it on at all times. We will be calling. You'll be home before dark—no excuses. He has to let his parents know, too. If they agree, then you can go."
She squealed in delight and flew over to me for a hug. "Thank you, Mom! You won't regret it. I won't let you down."
Edward cleared his throat and pointed to his cheek when she looked over.
"Thank you, Dad!" She gave him the same treatment and whispered, "You're the best!"
He's good. I'll give them that.
x – x – x
Slowly, I adapted the idea of our daughter dating an older guy. Edward's calm acceptance was quashed when the day of the date arrived. In a bizarre twist of fate, it was set for Daniel's birthday—Daniel's nineteenth birthday.
"Still feeling good about your baby girl dating an older guy, honey?" I taunted when I saw him doing the math. Renee wouldn't even be seventeen for another three months.
"Sure," he said with a nod, his voice cracking. "Charlie still has a gun. And I'm not afraid to use him."
His composure failed even more when Jasper and Alice pulled up with Daniel's birthday gift. A new car.
"You're fucking kidding me!" Edward growled under his breath. Despite the fact that it was our daughter going in this car with Daniel, I giggle-snorted at the irony. I had faith in Renee to keep her promises. She wouldn't be rolling down any hills with Daniel's pants around his ankles.
The entire camp gathered around to check out the new wheels, and Edward took that opportunity to pull Jasper aside. "A Volvo? My daughter—in a Volvo? Are you joking with this?"
"What?" he deadpanned. "It's the safest car around!"
"My daughter, Jazz!" he hissed. "In a fucking Volvo! On your kid's nineteenth birthday!"
Understanding flashed across Jasper's face before he cracked up. "Aw, dude! I'm sorry! I completely forgot about that!"
"Ha, ha. Yeah. Very fucking amusing, asswipe. Are you joking with this? Really."
He shook his head. "Really sorry, man. It's not a joke. We got it for safety."
Edward chewed on the inside of his cheek furiously. "Yeah, well I've got Charlie and his sidearm for safety, too."
Jasper chuckled good-naturedly over the threat Edward made. "I guarantee you, it won't be an issue. I've had a long talk with Dan, and he will conduct himself properly. His mother talked to him too, in case you're wondering."
We all peered over at tiny Alice with a hold on her son's head as she lectured him. Even though he towered over her, it was clear who was in charge and who was shaking in their boots.
"They'll be fine," Jasper announced.
"They'll be in my car," Edward countered. "I'm not taking any chances."
x – x – x
That night, I discovered that Edward didn't only make love differently after a stressful encounter with his parents. Apparently, his daughter's love life would do it, too. "Well, I guess there's a new couple in the family," Edward said with a sigh. "Do you think they kissed?"
"We didn't on our first date," I reminded him.
"Did you kiss on your very first date?"
I gave it some thought. That was a long time ago, and I hadn't thought of it since my lips met Edward's. "Um… nope. I think it was the third or fourth. You?"
He snorted out a chuckle. "Third or fourth month, maybe. But once we started, we were at it all the time."
"All that practice has served you well though, my gorgeous human kissing machine." I dug my fingers into his hair, rubbing at his scalp. He purred for me.
He would adapt to the new change. I was adapting, and I was more resistant to begin with. Seeing as the date had gone off without a hitch, and we had checked in on the counsellors' cabin after the lights were out—all staff were where they should have been—I decided it was safe to tease him a little. "You know, Sir Sex Hair, there's a shiny new Volvo sitting out there, waiting to be christened."
"Stupid Volvo," he said with a deep chuckle.
"You could show me your moves," I taunted.
He flipped us over, laying me out on my back as he kissed my neck. "I'm an old man, Bella. My moves are restricted to a firm mattress and a soft woman. I can demonstrate anything you'd like here. If you can handle it, that is. You are a cougar after all."
After a slap, I demonstrated my blush that made him smile and then my smile that made him melt. Rain danced against the glass as my sweet, smart-mouthed husband held me close and lovingly slid inside me. Eclipse still hadn't let me down.
A/N ~ Well, that's all she (meaning 'I' ;) ) wrote! At the onset, I didn't even plan for this one to be this long. I was going for maybe ten chapters, but I fell in love with the characters and couldn't let go. They took me on an interesting journey with them, even surprising myself with some of their story. I hope they did the same for you.
Thanks to sshg316 for the impromptu beta'ing, and msj2779 for the pre-reading love. And I cannot express my elation over the comments left each week. Thank you, dear readers, who took the time to leave a review. You make me smile and inspire my plot bunnies to transfer onto this screen. THANKS FOR READING! XX ~ SR