AU: Jane and Mara are 17 and meet at summer camp. In this AU, they are 17 now, not when they were probably actually 17 sometime prior to the internet being so readily available. Suspend belief with me people and enjoy the ride!
Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters; they belong to Tess Gerritsen, Jane Tamaro, TNT, etc. I just like tinkering with them until I can come up with my own characters to tinker with ;) I also don't know much about summer camp as I've never been, but I've taken my superb knowledge from The Parent Trap, other TV movies, and fiction books and cobbled together my version of summer camp. Enjoy!
Chapter 1: Getting to Camp
Jane looked out the window as the bus made its way through the trees to Camp Pinecrest in Western Massachusetts. She'd been on the bus for hours with many other girls around the Boston area and was ready to be at this place already.
She wasn't sure she had made the right decision to be a camp counselor and be away from her friends and family for the next ten weeks, but it was certainly too late to go back know. Actually, being away from her family for ten weeks didn't sound so bad when she thought about her two annoying younger brothers at home and her overbearing mother. If objective, Jane didn't think her brothers were too bad, but they were boys, and teenage boys at that, and they just had different ways of going about things.
She glanced around the bus and felt extremely out of place. Most of these girls had gone to Camp Pinecrest as children and were now enthusiastically joining the ranks of "adults" by graduating to camp counselors. They seemed pretty, rich, and coming from the exact opposite side of the tracks as Jane. Her one saving grace was that her friend Bobbi had agreed to join her on this crazy-ass adventure, but she was driving up to camp on her own the next day, leaving Jane to fend for herself until she arrived.
Jane was actually incredibly relieved that she was able to talk Bobbi into coming. Jane had found out that Camp Pinecrest was hiring by sheer luck. As she stared out the window, she remembered back to the girls' locker room where she had overheard a couple of cheerleaders talking about Camp Pinecrest. Jane was changing after basketball practice and, with carefully trained eyes looking down, perked up her ears to hear what they were going on about.
"Can you believe we get to go back, but as the counselors this time? I am so psyched! Finally we get to be the ones in charge. After years of listening to the high-schoolers make all the rules, now we're the ones calling the shots!" Jane recognized the voice as a girl named Carolyn that was in her math class.
"I know. It's going to be awesome!" Shelly, Carolyn's friend also on the cheerleading squad, chimed in, making "awesome" an octave higher and sing-song in pitch.
"It's too bad it can't just be girls that used to be campers though. I hear the camp has become so popular that they've put up extra cabins and are trying to recruit counselors to staff them," Carolyn replied.
Shelly mirrored Carolyn's disappointment. "That is too bad. Oh well, what can you do? It's actually a pretty good gig. You get a decent hourly rate, the camp pays for full room and board, you don't need that much experience, and it looks good on your college applications. And you get to be away from your family all summer."
Carolyn laughed. "I think I'd pay Camp Pinecrest to let me be away from my family all summer instead of them paying me! But then I suppose Mom and Daddy did that for years anyway, so maybe this is the tide finally turning." Shelly giggled. Carolyn continued, "My mom is seriously driving me up the wall. I think I need a two and a half month break from her to endure senior year at home before going away to college. Ugh! College cannot come soon enough!"
"I know what you mean. So, you've already sent in your application then, right?" Shelly asked. "I think the application process is closing soon. I sent mine in this weekend." Carolyn concurred that she'd already sent her's in too.
Jane's attention waned at this point. She was excited about the prospect of a summer job being lined up months in advance, plus the added bonus of being away from her family for most of the summer. Having room and board paid for basically meant that she could save her entire paycheck and put it toward college. Though she wasn't sure what sort of experience you needed, she figured she would do a little digging and come up with a decent resume to send in.
She'd talk to Bobbi about it.
The bus clunked along the highway, hitting a pothole, causing all the girl to unintentionally become airborne for a moment. Jane shifted in her seat, and resumed her trek down memory lane.
"Hey Bobbi, " Jane ran to catch up with Bobbi the next day in the school's hall. Bobbi turned, "what's up chica?"
"Not much, but I wanted to talk to you about something that could be cool. What are you doing after practice today?"
Bobbi's eyebrows raised in curiosity. "Nothing I guess. Probably some homework, chilling out until my mom comes home. Want me to come over? I can give you a ride to your place."
"That would be perfect. You're mom won't mind?"
"Nah, I'll give her a call before practice and let her know. She's been working late on a special project at work anyway, so I think she'll be relieved to know I'll be at your place and not wandering the streets or something after practice."
Jane grinned at her answer. "Yeah, 'cause you're always wondering the streets and stuff when we're both dead tired after practice." Bobbi chuckled.
"Plus you could stay for dinner. You know my mom loves feeding people, and I bet your mom would like knowing that you're fed."
"Love the plan. Catch you at practice then," and with that Bobbi ducked into her English class while Jane hustled to make it to math on time.
Jane envied Bobbi's quiet homelife. It was just Bobbi and her mom. Her working mom, Jane thought enviously. Bobbi's mom was a paralegal at a big law firm downtown, which meant that Bobbi got to do what she wanted when she wanted and didn't have someone hovering around her every second of the day. Sometimes Jane didn't understand how it seemed that her mom was always around. Shouldn't she split her time three ways between all three children? But to Jane it seemed like she got the lion's share of her mom's attention, and not in the way that she wanted. Her brothers seemed to get more time to themselves, or maybe they just didn't get the same third degree she did, but it always seemed like her mom was up in her business. She couldn't figure out if it was because she was the oldest or the only girl, or a combination of the two. In any case, being away at camp and working would be sweet relief.
Jane's thoughts again returned to Bobbi. Sometimes it seemed like Bobbi was a little lonely, but between Jane and the other girls on the team, she knew Bobbi had a close network of great friends. She felt pretty pleased that she was counted as one of them.
After practice the two girls caught up in the locker room after showering and changing. "Ready to head out?" Bobbi asked. "You bet," Jane replied and they headed out to the underclassman parking lot.
Aside from Bobbi's quiet home life, Jane envied the fact that Bobbi had her own car. Though nothing fancy, it was still a car in working order with a heater (a necessity in the Boston winters). Bobbi's mom had given it to her when she turned sixteen. It had been her mom's car for six years and Bobbi's mom had just gotten a bonus and a promotion at work, so she felt that she could afford to get a second car for herself. To say Bobbi had been thrilled would be an understatement. She was floored that her mom was able to afford to give her a car and pay the insurance on it.
Jane remembered talking to Bobbi's mom later that weekend when Bobbi got the car. Bobbi had invited Jane over to check out her new wheels and ride around with her. When Jane got there, Bobbi was covered in grease smudges with a huge grin. "I just learned how to change a flat tire and how to change the oil!" Bobbi was infectious. Jane couldn't help but chuckle. "You look like you're wearing half the engine," Jane replied with a laugh.
"Oh, that, yeah. Let me go get cleaned up and then we can go out." With that Bobbi vanished inside. Jane took a seat at the dining table after grabbing a bottle of water from the fridge. "Hi Ms. Smith," Jane greeted, seeing Bobbi's mom in the kitchen. "That's quite a birthday present you got Bobbi. Think you could talk to my mom? I'd love a car too!" Ms. Smith just laughed.
"Wish I could, Janie," Ms. Smith replied affectionately. "Bobbi's been a real trooper, and you know it's just me and her. I need to depend on her to run errands for me or sometimes visit our family out in the suburbs where the T doesn't run. With her grades, my promotion, and the car getting a bit older, this just seemed to make sense. Plus I think she could really use it in a couple years when she goes off to college. Hopefully she'll remember this good will and come back to see her old mom on occasion." She finished with a wink.
Jane smiled. She really liked Ms. Smith. It was clear to see where Bobbi got her thoughtful mannerism from and, Jane thought, a high level of maturity. It seems like when you are treated like an adult, you have more of an opportunity to act like an adult. Clearly Ms. Smith treated Bobbi like an adult and not an annoying teenager. Jane sighed to herself. She wished her mom could treat her a little more like that instead of always nagging her about stupid stuff.
"Ready to go?" Bobbi asked, appearing from the hall, grease free with keys in hand.
Jane bumped in her seat on the bus, watching pine trees whiz by. It seemed they had turned off of the main highway and were now taking a winding road to their final destination. Her thoughts returned to that day after school, when she had to tell Bobbi about Camp Pinecrest and convince her to apply with her.
Jane threw her gym bag into Bobbi's trunk and hopped into the passenger seat.
"So what's up?" Bobbi asked as she started the car.
"Bobbi, you know how we both need to get jobs this summer so we can pay for college, or at least make it to where we don't have to take as much out in loans to get there?" Bobbi nodded, glancing at Jane from the corner of her eye.
"Well, I…um, heard of this cool gig that might be the answer." Jane filled her in on what she had overheard the day before from the cheerleaders. Bobbi remained silent through Jane's explanation.
"So, what do you think?" Jane was eagerly awaiting her friend's response. Bobbi was silent for several moments.
"Hmm, well, that's a lot to take in," Bobbi said as she continued to maneuver the car toward Jane's house.
"C'mon Bobbi! It would be so cool. Think about it. We'd be out of the city, we'd have our room and board paid for, we could bank our entire checks for college, and we'd be away from our families for almost three months! What's not to love about this plan?"
"I agree it has a lot of plusses going for it. But Jane, I think it would be hard for me to be away from my mom nearly all summer. I mean, I'm kinda all she has. And I'd miss her. I mean, I'll be going away to college in another year and a half. I'm just not sure I want to jump away sooner."
Jane could see the logic of this and sighed. If I had a nice quite home with just one family member, and a not-buttinsky mother at that, I might be less likely to jump ship too. "I hear ya, but I still think it would be a great way to save for college."
Bobbi agreed. "All right. How about this? Why don't we look into it a bit more at your place and decide if we should apply. I'd like to see more about the camp to see if I'd want to work there."
Jane agreed to this. Once they arrived at her house, they went to her room and began looking at the Camp Pinecrest website. They saw the advertisement looking for counselors, medics, cooks, and coaches. This could be really cool, thought Jane. They certainly seem to have a lot of staffing options. The camp itself also looked gorgeous. It was on a lake in the Berkshire mountains, the cabins looked adorable, and even the grounds look well-kept but shaded. What a relief it would be to not be in the city for awhile!
She stole a glance over at Bobbi. She also seemed to be impressed with the beauty of the camp, or at least what they were publishing on their website. She clicked on the want ads for the camp and read through them carefully.
"This does seem really cool Jane," Bobbi admitted. Jane smiled. She loved it when she earned the respect of smart people, and Bobbi definitely qualified on that short list. "We could both apply to be coaches. You play softball in the spring every year, and I could apply for that too or for basketball. It looks like they want a couple coaches for each sport and they currently have two openings for softball. It would be neat if we got to work together." Jane couldn't help the huge grin on her face. Her closest friend was totally going to do this with her! Sweet!
The rest of the afternoon they worked on their resumes and their applications.
Over the next few days, they continued to perfect their resumes, pull together references, and put all of the information into the on-line application on the Camp Pinecrest website.
"Geez, this is a lot of work!" whined Jane.
"Yes, but just think, it will all be worth it if this works out!" Bobbi replied enthusiastically. Jane grinned.
"Hey, when do you think we should tell our folks about this?" Jane asked. Bobbi paused. This had been something she had been struggling with too.
"Well, we don't really have anything to tell them yet. We might not even get the jobs. Or maybe only one of us would get a job," Bobbi said, though her tone indicated that she was more thinking aloud.
"Hey!" Jane shouted, taking offense at the idea that she might not get the job.
"I didn't mean you Jane. I think you're a shoe-in for the softball coach job. Honestly, between your volunteer work at the Y and making MVP two years running for the high school team, a triple A team, by the way, I can't think of someone better for the job. I was more thinking that they might not take me."
This caught Jane by surprise. "Oh, I don't think that's the case Bobbi. You're grades are better than mine, you've been playing softball just as long as I have, you've volunteered at the pediatrics ward of Boston Medical for the last two years, and you coached the little league kids this past summer. I think we've both got a good shot."
"Thanks Jane," Bobbi replied, truly appreciating her friend's words of encouragement. She continued to think about when they should tell their folks. "I still think we should wait until we've got something to tell our folks. I mean, they've got to interview us and stuff, right? If they like us on paper? And there's no use going into a big discussion if this all turns out to just be an exercise in paperwork."
Jane saw the logic in this and agreed.
But in the end, they both got the jobs they applied to. It had not been a short process, or, in Jane's opinion, an easy process. There were multiple interviews, and at one point the Camp Director came to Boston to interview several high school and college-age kids who had applied for positions at the camp. Both Jane and Bobbi were incredibly nervous meeting Beverly Buchanan, the camp's director and apparently default recruiter. But, thanks to Bobbi's due-diligence, they had researched popular interview questions, come up with answers, and thought of insightful questions to ask about the camp and the jobs themselves.
After they had received their offer letters, both girls had to face the music of telling their parents. They were scared but also incredibly proud that they'd both scored full time summer positions months before most people were thinking about the end of the school year. Bobbi and Jane agreed to tell their folks on the same night so one parent wouldn't call the other and spring the news before the other buddy was ready.
Bobbi's mom took it well, saw the logic of a place that would pay for your food and lodging and still give a competitive salary (very competitive, Ms. Smith said, with pride). She knew that would help Bobbi a lot in her first year of college. If things went well, maybe she could go back subsequent summers. But Ms. Smith admitted to Bobbi that she would miss her terribly.
Jane's mother, on the other hand, blew a gasket. Several statements of 'how could you not have told me, your mother?' and 'what were you thinking?' to 'I don't like this' and 'my baby's leaving us!' Jane did her best to wait patiently through her mother's rants. Thankfully Pop was there too. He always had a way of calming her mother down, even if it was by small degrees.
"Janie, I am very proud of you. It is not easy to get a job, any job, right now, and you've gone out and gotten a very good job," Pop said. He asked to see the offer letter and Jane showed it to him. His eyebrows raised as he read through it, impressed by the paid accommodations and the hourly rate. "You did good kid." Jane smiled.
Jane's mother did not praise so easily, but as the weeks passed, she too saw that Jane had made a good decision and shifted her energies to making sure Jane had what she would need to be safe, well-clothed, and well-fed at camp, at least to the degree that she could from miles away.
Which is how Jane now found herself on a bus with Carolyn, Shelly, and a bunch of other girls she didn't know. Jane consoled herself that though Bobbi wasn't on the bus with her now, she'd be there the next day. One of her grandparents had taken a particularly nasty spill in the shower and broken a hip. Ms. Smith had asked Bobbi if she could ask the camp if she could come up a couple days later, once her grandfather was out of the hospital and settled back home. Bobbi had called Director Buchanan directly and explained the situation, citing that her mother needed her help with visitation and doctors' visits, but that once he was home, her grandma and mother would be in better shape to care for him. Ms. Buchanan agreed.
Bobbi explained all of this to Jane, who was disappointed that they wouldn't get to ride the bus together. "But on the up shot, I guess that means you'll have your car at camp. That will be nice. Maybe we can go into town and catch a flick if this nature thing gets to be too much for us." Bobbi laughed. Jane always had a way of seeing the bright side of things.
Jane heard the bus screech to a halt. She noticed that the girls' conversations had picked up tempo and volume, a clear sign that they had arrived. That, and several of them screeching out as they saw old bunk mates from previous years outside getting off other buses. Jane hung back, not wanting to get run over by someone trying to get to her long lost BFF from the previous summer.
Jane descended the steps of the bus, the last one off, and headed toward where the driver was taking out the last pieces of luggage. She grabbed her large duffle bag and sleeping bag and headed toward the two poles with "Camp Pinecrest" emblazoned above.
On her way in, she noticed a girl about her age with light brown hair. She noticed that she wasn't hanging out in any of the clumps of girls that had started to form and chatter on about being back at camp. Jane shrugged her duffle more securely on her shoulder. I wonder who she is, she thought, before being swept away and losing sight of the girl.