!That Summer

Chapter 1

If you find some happiness inside yourself, you'll start findin' it in a lot of other places too.

I found myself travelling back to La Push along I-84 through Oregon with my boys from an unexpected, emotionally packed trip to Colorado. This old truck that I picked up still needs so many things taken care of to make it right. Thinking on the laundry list of things that needed to be fixed on Scarecrow, I couldn't help but feel a smile creep across my face, reminiscing about the very same conversation she would have with me about this silly old truck that summer five years ago.

As I had passed the open fields through Utah and Idaho with this year's wheat crops in or the pastures with the cattle quietly grazing the day away, I couldn't help but think back to that summer.

I pulled into the rest area just west of Boardman needing to eat some lunch. My stomach and the boys had been complaining about being hungry for the last 50 miles. I stopped at a fast food joint, ordered enough food to feed an army and then went straight to the rest area so that we all could stretch our legs, eat, play awhile and then get back on the road.

Gus was the first one to leap out of the truck. Right out of the window! Dopey dog. Tater at least waited for me to open the door. He ran after Gus and they both proceeded to tussle with each other on the freshly trimmed grass. The smell of the fresh cut grass took me back to that summer with her.

After we all had some food in our bellies and had a chance to take a potty break, I whistled, "FFFFWWWEEETT. Load up! Time to go." We jumped back into the cab and hit the road. I figured I had a good 8 hours to drive before I would have to stop for the night. I didn't know how well Gus and Tater would travel cross country so I didn't want to push it too far. That and Scarecrow still needed me to check under the hood every now and then to make sure he still had enough oil to keep him lubricated. He kind of reminded me of another old truck I used to work on occasionally.

Bella's truck finally gave up the ghost five years ago. She was very upset with the fact that it broke down on her way out to La Push one afternoon. I guess she wanted to come out and talk over some stuff considering all the fighting that we had been going through. I had been trying to prove to her that Edward was nothing more than a controlling, egotistical ass and she had been trying to prove to me that I wasn't far behind Edward with my attempts at manipulating her feelings. That was the conversation that had put a knot in my shorts and made me realize I had to leave for awhile so I wouldn't say anything I might regret. That summer held so many firsts for Bella and me. Many of them were experienced together. Some were not.

After one of our more heated conversations about whom I thought she should be with and why, I went home and found Billy in the front room watching the Mariners game with Charlie. They both picked up on the mood I was in, so they left me alone for awhile so that I could cool down and speak civilly.

"May I ask what happened?" Billy started.

"You may, but that doesn't mean that I have to answer." I grumbled under my breath just like a 10 year old kid who didn't get his way.

"OK. Let me try it this way. Is there anything that I can do to help?" Billy asked with a knowing look on his face.

"I need to get away for awhile. Just get some distance from Bella." I sighed as I finished.

Charlie's interest perked up at his daughter's name. "What do you mean Jacob? Get away to Seattle type getaway or get away to New York type getaway?" Charlie asked.

"I just need to get away, out of the state, for awhile so that it isn't easy for me to just drop everything that I am doing and rush to Bella every time Edward hurts her feelings." I said. After taking a deep sigh, I continued, "I usually wind up getting hurt as well. Charlie, you know that I love Bella with every fiber of my being, but she can just drive me stinking batty some days. I figure that if I get some distance for a short while that perhaps it might force her to deal with Edward on her own and discover that what I have been saying all along is the truth." I sat there on the couch with my head in my hands, feeling quite defeated.

"I think that I might have an answer for you Jacob." Charlie said with a smirk on his face.

"You do?" I looked confused I'm sure.

"Yes. I have some family that owns a ranch in Colorado. This ranch has been in the family for generations. I know that every summer they accept one kid from a reservation, any reservation, for an externship type program. With a kind word from me, I'm sure that I could get you that position. You will learn all about farming and ranching. Plus you get paid while you learn."

"That sounds like a deal to me." Billy added.

"Getting away for awhile will give you AND Bella a new perspective on things." Charlie said in an encouraging tone.

"I guess it couldn't hurt." I returned, still not so sure about REALLY leaving even if it was only for a few months. Being that far away from Bella may not be a good thing.

"The whole reason that this program exists is because they are teaching kids from the reservations skills that can be brought back to the rez and put to good use. The ranch in turn gets help to run things through the summer. It's really a win - win situation for all concerned."

Charlie was making it sound, ummmm, better anyways. I was already an accomplished mechanic. I had a few regular customers that I maintained their vehicles for, on a routine basis for my spending money. I wasn't sure about this ranching thing though. Charlie did say that I could make some real money to help out Dad with and pay for some stuff around here.

"What about Billy?" I asked. If I do this externship, it dawned on me that I wouldn't be here to take care of Billy's needs.

"Don't worry about that Jake. Billy can move in with me while you are gone. I am sure Bella won't mind helping out where she can. Harry will be around as well to take care of Billy when I get tired of looking at his wrinkly, worn out old ass." Now Charlie had a huge grin on his face.

"Wrinkly huh? I'll show you wrinkly!" Billy said as he ran Charlie's toes over with one of the wheels of his chair.

"Owww! I was just joking. Shit! That hurt!" Complained Charlie.

"Ya big baby!" Billy rolled off laughing.

"Oh my gawd! I am surrounded by lunatics! I thought that I was the kid here." I couldn't even look at the two men who were supposed to be the adults, shadowboxing each other. Some days, if it wasn't for the fact that I looked exactly like Great Grandpa Ephraim, I would swear that I was adopted.

Little did I know what that conversation would lead to now, 5 years later.

Every wheat field that I pass, every pasture that I drive by, all I can see is her face and although I know that it isn't real, I can feel her in my arms, from that summer spent in Colorado.

That summer.