Edward has always been haunted by his past, but as the Twilight Paranormal Group goes to investigate a summer camp that has been tormented by a spirit; the events push Edward closer to new team member, Bella. Can they find a way to heal each other? This story is rated for language and lemons. No infringement is intended.
Mid WC one night, I got an idea while Paranormal State was playing in the background … this is the result. Hope you enjoy it. Love as always to Mizzdee for her love and dedicated beta work. This was part of the Fandom 4 Ovarian Cancer fundraiser, but I'm now free to post, so I'm sharing it with you. Thank you to everyone who supported this charity!
We all have ghosts in our pasts, but for me it is a little more literal. My parents' dream home in the suburbs of Chicago was a nightmare for me as the spirits that remained there tormented me. My parents never understood my outbursts and didn't believe me when I told them the house was haunted. My teen years were rocky, but when I arrived at college, I found my calling.
It was in a philosophy class during my sophomore year that I met Emmett McCarty, Jasper Hale, and his twin sister, Rosalie. Whenever we would start group discussions, the four of us would take over the class matter what the topic was, and by the end of the class our teacher was glad to be rid of us all.
It took a while to open up to them, but after meeting Jasper's girlfriend, Alice, who is a medium and has some pretty freaky moments with precognition, I told them about my past.
All of us were interested in the supernatural and we began researching different paranormal investigators who were in the area to see if we could learn something. That was when Alice told us out of the blue that we all had to go to some poetry reading. We didn't know it at the time, but that night led to the forming of the Twilight Paranormal Group.
Esme Platt was the poet that Alice dragged us to see, a beautiful woman whose poetry was as haunted as she was and who worked with her fiancé, Carlisle Cullen, investigating the supernatural. A late night chat with the couple led to a summer of working together on some cases, which brings us to where we are now, four years after the fact.
TPG really took off the summer after we all graduated and after a feature on a TV special that showcased paranormal investigators, we had plenty of calls coming in. So now we travel all around the country, trying to help people deal with their paranormal activity.
For a while it had been the seven of us, but in the spring Carlisle got a call from his niece, so as we started our fifth summer on the road, Bella Swan joined the team.
She fit in well with everyone, which was a relief, and she had good instincts when it came to investigating, but I had a feeling that this next case would change everything.
Driving down the long road that lead to the secluded camp, we all began to psych ourselves up for our biggest investigation yet.
The camp had closed last year after having a large number of issues with the teenage campers being frightened by the ghosts that were said to haunt the camp. Four other paranormal teams had come to the camp and failed to help matters, so we were called in as the directors' last hope.
Just as we made our way under the welcome sign for the camp, I noticed the single light on in the office, giving us an idea of where to find out clients. As soon as our matching black Volvo SUV's pulled up in front of the building, the woman in her early thirties was at the door, ushering us inside.
"Hi, my name is Jessica Stanley, and this is my fiancé, Mike Newton. Thank you so much for coming here; you really are our last hope."
I walked over to Mike and shook his hand as I began the introductions. "We're happy to try and help you in any way we can. My name is Edward Masen, and I believe you know Esme from your phone conversations. Let me introduce you to Carlisle, our religious expert, Rosalie and Jasper, our techs, and Emmett and Bella, our other two investigators. Alice Brandon, our medium and occult specialist, will arrive tomorrow so that she can arrive with a clean slate. Now, can you please begin by telling us when the phenomena began?"
Jessica smiled as she gestured for us to sit down. "This camp has changed hands a few times in the last forty years, but we first came here as campers the summer before starting seventh grade. We all heard the stories, but we didn't believe it at first. All camps have ghost stories."
"But things started to get worse when we became counselors," Mike added. "We've been coming here for twenty years. Living two hundred miles apart, we only had ten weeks together a year so when the former directors told us two years ago that they wanted to retire, we jumped at it. They were firm believers in the spirits, but when we took over that was when we saw the full extent of it.
"The further from the main entrance you go into the woods, the worse the activity is. Cabins seven and eleven are the worst of the sleeping facilities. Cabin eleven was destroyed last October after a fire that the inspectors couldn't explain. The activity is the worst by the lake and the amphitheater. Campers have seen lights in the woods when our generators run the only power out here, they've reported seeing figures, heard loud noises and voices. I know it sounds like what most people see when they contact you, but we've been here for the last two years living here all year around and there's been too much not to believe it is something otherworldly."
Jessica sat forward as she continued from where Mike left off. "This is the place we fell in love, we've sank our savings into this place and we want it to be the place it used to be for us. We didn't book campers for the first session, so we're hoping that this can be made better by the time our campers arrive."
"Okay," Emmett said, "I think it's best if we start with the tour because we have so much area to cover."
"Excellent idea," Carlisle adds and we walked out of the office with a handful of maps that were made for the incoming campers.
The tour took us two hours, with little stories being told of specific incidents at each stop. When we got to cabin seven, which was closest to the lake, the change was immediate. Jessica and Mike closed in to one another as they showed us the lake, never going close to it before they walked us to what remained of cabin eleven. Jessica told us about the night that they were sleeping in the cottage behind the directors' office and they heard the fire alarm go off. They grabbed the phone as they ran to try and save the cabin but it was already engulfed in flames. Parts of the building were destroyed, but it remained structurally sound so the couple waited for the investigation from the fire marshal to come back with his findings, when they found no reason, intentional or accidental, for the fire, Jessica insisted they not rebuild it until they got to the bottom of whatever was going on.
The amphitheater was another eerie place, but there was also a natural echo caused by the shape. As we worked our way back, Jasper and Rosalie were already taking notes on where they wanted to set up our various pieces of equipment, hoping to maximize our efforts. When we arrived back at the cottage, we explained what we would be doing tonight before sending Jessica and Mike off to their hotel for the night.
"What we will do tonight during dead time is set up in some of the more active places and see what we can uncover. We will be researching tomorrow, as well as asking Alice to do her walkabout, so we want to get our first pass done before that happens. We'll be in contact with you tomorrow to talk some more, so if you can try to think about other things you've heard that would be helpful. Also, we're going to need a list of the previous owners and contact information, if you have it."
"Sure, we'll get that information for you tonight," Mike agreed. "But what do you mean by 'dead time?'"
"The hours of midnight to three am are said to be the witching hour, with three am being considered the most evil by Christians because it is the opposite of three pm, the time it is said that Christ was crucified. Paranormal activity is uncommonly high at night, so we investigate at those hours." Carlisle finished his little speech as Jessica and Mike said their good nights.
With the clients gone, we started setting up for our first dead time. Knowing we would be out here for a few nights at least, we decided to split up for our first session and see where we got the most activity. Jasper and Rosalie were both going to be working tech in the directors' office, while the rest of us picked our locations. Emmett would be going out into the woods, I chose cabin seven, Esme took the burnt out cabin eleven, Carlisle selected the amphitheater while Bella opted to spend the night at the lake.
After eating dinner, we set up the motion detectors, microphones and cameras around the areas we weren't covering including the remaining cabins and buildings and parts of the woods. We were hoping to pick up some paranormal activity other than those of the normal woodland creatures, finally getting ourselves equipped so that we could begin dead time. Just as we were about to start, I decided to give the usual talk before we got under way.
"Okay everyone, they've had a lot of different kinds of activity, but we don't know what was exaggerated or what may have gone unreported by campers. Keep your eyes open and let's see what we can catch. Jasper, let us know when you're ready in tech."
It was a minute before I heard the slight crackle. "It's two eighteen am, we're officially commencing dead time."
Sitting alone on one of the tiny beds, I start with my attempt at communication. "To whatever spirit may be in this room, give me a sign of your presence."
When no sounds came, I tried again. "Knock something, bang something, let me know that you're here."
Little taps started, so I continued to talk, hoping to draw out a reaction. There were little hints but nothing too big. I noticed that it had already been nearly a half hour when I heard Rosalie's voice over our coms. "Bella, what are you getting out there? Your signal is going in and out."
Another minute passed before I heard the loud splash and then Jasper's voice yelling, "Edward, get to the lake now!"
I jumped off the bed and ran out the door, crossing the short distance to the lake only to see a canoe overturned in the center of the lake just as the splashing resumed and Bella surfaced for a second before going back under. Dropping my camera, I ran across the dock before I dove in. I swam to where Bella was and pulled her above the surface again.
Swimming with her to the dock, I pulled her up onto the planks and jumped up beside her. "Bella? Bella, can you hear me?"
I checked her for some kind of response before beginning rescue breathing. It took a few passes of my lips on hers before she gasped and gagged, coughing up a small amount of water. When I looked up, the rest of our team surrounded us, with Carlisle pushing his way forward.
"Bella, are you all right?"
"I'm fine, Carlisle," Bella told him.
"I think we should call it a night. Let's go collect the equipment and then get some rest before we start with the local research," Esme offered, taking Carlisle's hand.
Everyone nodded, while Bella turned to face me. "Can we go? I'll be fine to come back tomorrow, but for right now I need to get some distance."
"Sure, we'll get our things together and go," I said.
"Why don't you two go ahead, we'll meet up with you tomorrow morning," Esme encouraged.
Looking at the rest of our team, Jasper handed me the keys to my Volvo and I led a shivering Bella to the car so we could go back to the hotel. We were paired up, the couples all taking a room each, with Bella and I getting a room together. We were both fine with sharing, and for two people who had only known each other for a short period of time, we got along great in close quarters. I had a feeling with what happened earlier, tonight would be different.
Bella was quiet the entire ride back, only whispering a thank you when I turned on the heat and seat warmer. We got to the hotel and Bella opened her suitcase, instantly cursing as she rifled through the bag. "Shit! No … dammit."
"Bella, what's wrong?"
"This is Rosalie's suitcase. They're not going to be here for at least another hour and a half or two hours and all I want to do is shower and go to bed." Bella pouted a little as I moved to my suitcase.
"I think this is the only thing I have that will fit you," I offered, handing her a t-shirt and a pair of boxers.
She looked up and blushed. "Thanks, I'll be out in a few."
Using the time she was in the shower to change and climb into bed, I said good night to Bella as she walked through the darkened room to go to sleep. In the last moments before sleep took me, my mind was determined to focus on the tingle that passed between my lips and Bella's while I gave her mouth to mouth. I'd never used that training before, but now I was glad that I had taken that class.
I wasn't sure how long I'd been asleep, but when I got up to take a piss, I nearly jumped out of my skin when Bella's silhouette on the chair by the window caught my eye. "Jesus, Bella. You scared the hell out of me. What are you doing up?"
"I couldn't sleep. Every time I closed my eyes I was back in the water."
Moving to sit on her bed, I asked the question that had been bugging me since she opened her eyes on the dock. "Bella, if you can't swim well, why did you go out on the boat?"
"That's just it, Edward. I can swim. I was a lifeguard for five summers. My body wouldn't move how I wanted it to, all I could do was struggle against what I felt pulling me down."
That surprised me because I was able to pull her away without feeling her caught on anything. "Something was pulling you?"
She nodded. "I was on the dock asking what it was about the lake that scared people and I felt like I should go out on the water and see if the feeling was more intense there. I don't remember losing my oar and then I was in the water and I couldn't scream, or swim, or anything."
"I'm just glad I got to you quickly," I said. Bella looked so tired, I offered something I thought might help. "Why don't we lay down and we can talk until you fall asleep?"
"I'm not sure it will make much of a difference," she whined a little.
"What if we were lying together?" I saw her eyebrow rise, so I clarified, "I'm just talking about sharing the bed for comfort."
"I'll try anything at this point." Bella yawned and we moved into my bed together.
Now I went to sleep with the memory of her lips and the feel of her body next to me. We both seemed to drift off, but right around dawn Bella started to have a nightmare, so I shook her lightly and was able to calm her down.
When we finally woke up around eleven, Bella's ass pressed firmly against my very persistent problem. Moving my lower half away from her body, I looked down and groaned. It had been a long time since I'd seen a woman wearing my clothes and Bella looked damn good doing it. Getting up, I took one last look back at the bed before grabbing a change of clothes and heading in to take a shower.
The hot water felt good against my back and it calmed my nerves as I rinsed off and got dressed for the day.
Bella was already dressed and sitting on the bed when I came out, her laptop booted up and searching the local public records for information on the camp and its land. I turned on my phone and called Jasper, who was on his way back from the airport with Alice, so I arranged to meet him and take Alice over to the camp for the psychic walkthrough. Giving Carlisle the same heads up, I sat down beside Bella and let her know what was going on.
"Jasper's almost here, so I'm going to head back to the camp with Alice while Esme will come and bring you down to their room so you can continue doing the research."
"Edward, I'm not a child. I can work alone without falling apart." Bella seemed offended, and I wanted to apologize.
"I don't think you're a child, but you were involved in a very traumatic paranormal occurrence last night and I don't want you to be alone in case there are some residual effects. You're nightmares last night were -"
"Not about last night. It just brought up some bad memories." Her face fell and I wanted to do something to fix that too. "Well, you have to get going, so let's get me packed up and on my way to Carlisle's room."
"Bella." I took her hand, begging her to give me something.
"Did Carlisle ever tell you how we got so close?"
"No," I told her honestly.
"My mom is ten years older than Carlisle. She got knocked up in her first semester at college and wouldn't tell anyone who my dad was. So she dropped out of college and started working at whatever place would hire her as she moved across the country with whatever guy she was dating at the time. I was five when she married my step-dad, and even as young as I was, I didn't like him. One day we were out on someone's boat and he was annoyed that I was clinging to my mom so he told me to go swimming. But I didn't know how to. He picked me up and threw me in the water and I thrashed and screamed and swallowed a bunch of water."
Bella shivered as she continued to tell me the story. "My mom was freaked out that he had done that so she packed us up and divorced him. But all she did was drop me off with my grandpa and Carlisle. Carlisle's mom left when he was a baby too, so he knew how I felt. We were only eight years apart, so we were more like brother and sister than uncle and niece back then. It wasn't until my junior year in high school that my birth dad found me. He had been looking for me for a long time, but didn't have much luck. Until he became the chief of police in a small town and was able to use a few of his contacts to find me. I moved there halfway through the year and then went to school locally to get my associate degree in library sciences. I'd just gotten my degree when I called Carlisle and asked about joining you for the summer to help with research and see what it was like. That was how I got here. I actually became a lifeguard because of what happened when I was little; I didn't want anyone to ever feel that scared of the water."
"Which is why you freaked out when you couldn't swim last night?" I asked.
"Yeah. I'm just glad that you were there," she whispered.
"I'm always going to be there for you, Bella." My eyes travelled to her lips just as the door shook with someone's pounding.
"Come on, Edward," Jasper yelled. "Alice is waiting in the car."
"I better go," I told her. "See you in a few hours."
"Be careful, Edward," she warned.
"Always am," I responded.
Opening the door, I walked past Jasper and down to where he'd parked the car. Alice was quiet for the first part of the drive, but after about twenty minutes she turned to me.
"You guys are cute together," was all she said, but I knew she was holding back.
"Alice, please don't go there. You know that I don't date and I'm not about to just screw around with her. She deserves better."
"Better than you?" Alice asked. "That is how that sentence ends, right? Bella's this sweet, innocent, pure girl and I'm going to ruin her life with my baggage and my bullshit. Well I don't know if you've noticed, but that doe eyed young woman that you're holding at arm's length has her own set of mismatched suitcases to sit right next to yours. You can't put her on a pedestal if you aren't willing to be there to catch her when she comes tumbling off it. Carlisle's mother fucked up Renee, and Renee fucked up Bella. If it wasn't for Carlisle and her grandfather she wouldn't know love at all, and she's trying desperately to forge roots that she can't cut easily if things get tough, don't make it harder by making her feel that you wouldn't miss her if she gone."
"Of course I'd miss her," I told Alice. "How do I get rid of this feeling that I'm better off alone?"
"Let her in. Let Bella show you that together you can become whole, because there's no need for you to both be broken apart." Her hand found mine on the gearshift for a moment as I made the turn that would lead us to the camp. The remainder of the drive was quiet as Alice started to open herself up to what was happening around us. I parked the car right in front of the director's building and watched as she looked out towards the buildings scattered across the landscape.
"There's something malicious here. She hits me right away, but it's odd … she's saying 'hi' and telling me to 'get out' at the same time." Alice's eyes were slightly glazed over as I took her arm and let her lead me around.
There was an eeriness to Alice's ability and how accurate she could be, so I was hoping she would be able to shed some light on what caused the things that happened last night. We continued past the different activity buildings and towards the cabins when she started walking toward the amphitheater.
Alice froze somewhere off to the right and met my eyes. "They made a fool out of her here … this is the place where it all began."
We continued around and she kept looking off into the woods, like something was going to come after her. "What is it, Alice?"
"There are eyes out there, they see everything and they laugh." Abruptly, Alice turned to the cabins and ran into cabin number seven; walking over to the bed I had sat on the night before. "This was her bed. Even in her sleep they tormented her. And the cabin over there, on the other side of the lake … something happened there, something you're not going to want to hear."
"That's why it burned?" I asked.
"She couldn't stand the reminder." Alice was silent for a minute before she looked to the lake itself. "Why didn't you tell me Bella almost died in that lake too?"
"We never…" I started before I caught her meaning, "What do you mean, too?"
"This young girl, the night she was attacked … she was crossing the lake and drowned. That's why she's here. She can't crossover."
"Are you getting anything else?" I knew if she had a name, she would say it, but she shook her head.
"Not even an initial. But she's where this haunting started. Within days she brought on her anger, there was no one who could reprimand her, so she took it out on those who let her suffer. This is bad, Edward. And if we're going to make this place livable as a camp again, we have a lot to discover."
"How come you didn't ask about Bella's accident?" I knew she knew about it, but I wanted to know why she hadn't questioned me.
"I called Jasper when I saw it happening. How did you think he told you to get out there so quickly?" I stared at her, shocked as she called out, "And believe me, Edward, that feeling will be even better when you kiss her for real."
Running to the car, we buckled up and powered on our cellphones, which both started ringing. Looking to see Bella's name on my screen, I smiled as I answered her call. "Yes, Bella?"
"Edward, this is bad. Like Carrie at the prom, bad."
"I know, Alice has a lot of information for us to look into." I waited a minute before whispering, "Can we talk later? I really think we need a little time away from the group."
"Okay? Is it about the case?" She was speaking a little softer, so I assumed she didn't want to draw attention to herself.
"Not exactly, we'll talk at dinner tonight. See you in a while." I hung up and looked at Alice. "What was that comment about a kiss?"
"You felt it when you saved her. That connection that has been bothering you ever since. It's the reason you're questioning a relationship you wouldn't be considering otherwise. Trust it, trust her and you'll be okay." Alice was looking around again as we turned onto the main road. The rest of the ride was quiet and when we got back to the hotel, we met up with the rest of the team and they had a lot of information to share with us.
"Let's start with the analysis of the events from last night," Rosalie began. "Carlisle felt as if there were eyes on him everywhere, but the footage he shot didn't reveal much, it was all subjective on his part. Esme got some banging in cabin eleven as well as tugging at her clothes and hair. Emmett heard a lot of noises, some we're still trying to distinguish, and then there's what happened at the lake."
Bella pulled her knees up and looked around at us. "I felt compelled to go to the lake. I knew I was doing it, but it wasn't a decision to do it. I was maybe a third of the way across when the boat turned over. It wasn't like I hit something or I lost my balance … it was as if someone was holding the boat and pushed it, turning it over."
"That was when Alice called Jasper and I was out in the lake," I added. "You were luckily in the narrower part of the lake."
"Hy was closer to the middle, she had been crossing from cabin eleven -" Bella was talking about her research now when Alice interrupted her.
"What did you say?"
"Hy had been rowing across the river from cabin eleven. One of the boys confessed to what happened that night when the investigation got bigger."
"What is it you're calling her?" Alice implored.
"Hy. Her first name was Hyacinth, but her nickname was Hy."
"That's what she meant," I told Alice. "She wasn't dicking with you; she was telling you her name."
"What did the historical research show? Because I picked up on some pretty sinister things out there." Alice was leaning forward as Bella started telling the story.
"It started early in the summer of 1974, there was a talent night at the beginning of the second week of camp and they dumped freezing cold lake water on her, it soaked through her white camp shirt and gave the audience an extra show. Then after that, the boys started teasing her and laughing at her, the girls picked on her something horrible. One night, when the camp was almost empty, except for the campers and staff who were staying for the entire summer, James Trace told her to meet him by the dock on his side of the lake. She took a boat and crossed the lake, following him to his cabin where three of his friends waited." Bella stopped for a minute and I reached over to squeeze her hand as she continued.
"They held her down and raped her in the cabin and then finally let her up, which was when she ran back to the lake. Pushing the boat off the shore, she put a small hole in it going over the rocks and almost halfway through it started to sink. She tried to swim, but was physically spent and downed in the lake. The female counselor did a head count the next morning and realized Hy was missing so she went looking, and that's when the body was found. The boys were questioned and finally one of the friends cracked, ratting out James and the rest. The camp was closed for a few years and then was sold to a couple from out of state. They owned it until the mid-eighties and then sold it, which is when the previous owners bought it. We spoke to the former owners and they didn't know what happened at the camp, and Jessica and Mike had no clue. It's tragic, really."
Alice winked at me before she turned to Jasper. "Okay, well you said you still have footage and audio to go over, right?"
"Yeah, Rosalie, Carlisle, and I were going to order in and go over it?" Jasper admitted and she smiled more brightly.
"That's perfect. Edward, do you want to take care of what we were talking about earlier?"
I rolled my eyes at how far she was pushing this, like she was convinced I wouldn't do it on my own. "Sure, Bella and I will take care of it. We'll regroup tomorrow to talk about our second dead time."
"Sounds good, we'll see you too tomorrow." Carlisle smiled as Bella and I head out into the hall.
"So, what are we doing tonight? Was there something that happened out there that you wanted to look into?" Bella's eyes were so eager that I had to smile.
"Nothing particular, it was just Alice and I talking about what happened to you and how you revealed some things to me. You and I know each other the least out of the eight of us and I'd like to change that so I thought we could go to dinner and just get to know each other better. Is that okay?"
"I'd like that," she whispered. "Let me just go and change and I'll be ready to go."
Nodding, I opened the door to our room and let Bella gather her things. Changing into a button down shirt and some nice jeans, I waited for about twenty-five minutes, playing with my phone before Bella walked out.
"Damn," I whispered as she walked out in a blouse and skirt. She didn't dress up a lot, mainly because we spent a lot of time walking around people's houses and backyards, squeezing into crawl spaces and the like. Which was a shame, because she was gorgeous.
"What, is there something wrong? If this is too dressy I can change into jean -" Bella started, but I stopped her.
"You're beautiful. That was a good 'damn,' not a bad one," I assured her.
"Okay, where are we going?"
"There's a little steakhouse down the road, is that cool?" Suddenly I was freaking out that she might be a vegetarian, or at least not a big red meat person. Have I seen her eat a hamburger?
"Perfect, I could use something hearty," Bella said with a laugh. I guess she's not a 'just a salad for me' type of girl.
"All right, let's get going."
We walked out of the hotel and over to the Volvo, Bella thankfully allowed me to open the door for her before I jogged around to get in myself. "Is the case off limits tonight? Or can we talk about it and whatever the mystery elephant in the room is?"
I chuckled nervously before answering, "No, we can talk about the case."
Bella shifted for a minute and then looked my way. "Is it always like that? Because that was pretty scary."
"No, it isn't. Last night was a pretty rare thing. We get some form of contact, but we rarely have someone affected like you were. Normally Alice will tap into the energy, but that wasn't something we see often."
Nodding again, Bella let the rest of the short ride pass in silence. I walked into the restaurant with my hand on the small of her back, but it didn't stop the hostess from flirting.
"Party of two, and a table with a little privacy if you can," I said a little harshly as we waited for our name to be called.
It wasn't too long of a wait, but the waitress they gave us was going to be a problem.
"Welcome to Texas Steakhouse and Saloon, can I get you a drink to start?" Lauren, our waitress said to me alone.
"I'll have a margarita," Bella said loudly, her glare fixed on the blonde who was currently eye-fucking me.
"And I'll have a Corona. Can you also bring us an order of queso while we decide on our meals?"
Shaking her head, Lauren responded politely and scampered off.
"Well that didn't take long?" Bella muttered, catching my attention as I looked at the menu.
"What? You can't honestly think that I find that attractive?"
"She's pretty, Edward, you can admit it."
"She's passable, but she also isn't the person I came here with. I don't care who's standing over us when you're sitting in the chair across from me," I told her blatantly as Lauren returned with our drinks.
A few minutes later, Bella and I ordered our steaks and then I decided to move into the heavier stuff now that my liquid courage had kicked in.
"Bella, earlier you told me about your past, and I'd like to return the favor."
Shaking her head, she reached out to cover my hand. "You don't have to Edward. I just wanted you to understand why last night was so significant."
"I know I don't have to," I admitted, "but I want you to know. We've been working together for a little while and I haven't told you how this all got started." I turned my hand over so that I was holding her hand as I continued.
"I grew up in an old house in Chicago, and though my parents refused to admit it, the place was haunted. I was tormented in that place and no one believed me. After I met the gang in college, we decided we wanted to start investigating, and Alice led us to Carlisle and Esme. But the things I experienced in that house … it's with me every day. I spend my time looking for trouble out in these clients' homes and I can't imagine bringing that home to someone. The others work with their significant others so they see it too, but I'd hate to see someone I loved tortured by something that latched onto me, or see me struggle with my own demons."
"Have you ever thought of doing an investigation of your childhood home?" Bella asked, but I shook my head.
"My parents died a little over a year ago, and I haven't been back except to take care of some business. I don't feel comfortable there," I explained.
"Well, Esme said we have two clients lined up and then a little break," Bella told me as she played with the nacho cheese, "what if we went to Chicago and did a proper investigation on your house. Maybe if we were able to justify what you experienced it would help. Think about how it will feel for Jessica and Mike to know that Hy was reaching out in the only way she knows how. We could give you that, Edward."
"But we would be doing it without getting paid, unless I spent some of my inheritance to pay you guys."
"Edward," Bella sighed, "do you honestly think we'd take your money even if you were determined to give it to us? We're all each other have, really, so we look out for our own."
"I guess we could try," I conceded, and Bella pulled out her phone. "We'll tell them later, I'm sure we can let it wait until after we finish the camp."
Our dinner arrived and our drinks were replenished, but it seemed the fierce grip I had on Bella's hand was enough to deter Lauren from making another spectacle of herself.
I could tell the second margarita had killed a few of Bella's inhabitations, so it seemed it was up to me to keep things moving slow.
Bella ordered the brownie for dessert, asking for two spoons and some milk and from the moment it hit the table, I was in trouble.
Food seemed to be Bella's best weapon when she flirted, because her mouth did some downright sinful things as she ate that brownie. I had a few bites myself, but when I felt Bella's thumb brush the corner of my mouth to wipe some chocolate off of my face, I lost control a little.
Her thumb slipped into my mouth, and she moaned softly as I licked it clean, my hand already in the air to ask for the check. Bella ran to the bathroom while I settled the bill and soon we were back in the car on the way to our hotel room.
Our trip to the room was thankfully brief, but as Bella practically jumped me when the door closed behind us, I started to think that we might want to hold off a little.
"Bella, babe, we don't have to do this tonight," I told her. I felt her stiffen in my grasp as she started to pull away, revealing the moisture in her eyes.
"God, I thought you were … that you … shit. I'm going to go kick Carlisle out of bed. He's family, so he'll understand -"
"No, you're not going anywhere," I state firmly. "I wasn't kicking you out or telling you that I don't want you. Because Christ, I want you, but I don't want to rush into this, especially since you've been drinking tonight."
"Edward, I had two drinks, and I've wanted you since Carlisle first introduced us," she shocked me with her honesty.
"Come here, baby," I told her as I started moving toward the bed.
My shirt was pulled over my head quickly, and when it was gone I noticed Bella working on the buttons of her own shirt.
"Stop trying to take off your clothes," I said in a husky voice.
"Why, do you want to do that?" she whispered.
"Hell yes, I do," I answered as I went to work on the offending garment as her hands moved to my belt.
It wasn't long before Bella was standing there in a black bra and a pair of panties, her eyes focused on my boxers.
"Eyes up here, Swan," I teased, just as she reached around to unhook her bra.
"Quit talking, Masen," she countered as I picked her up and deposited her on the bed.
Our lips met and it was like fireworks as her hands trailed down my chest and mine went straight to her breasts. I smiled against her mouth as my attentions garnered a few gasps and moans. Her hips bucked against me and it was all I could do to hold off long enough to make this special.
After a few more minutes of making out and Bella was clawing at my back. "Edward, please … I need you."
A groan escaped my throat as I rolled over and went fishing for my wallet, pulling the lone condom out of the pocket, which reminded me that I needed to stop by the drugstore soon.
I was shocked by Bella's boldness as she sat up and took the condom from my hand, pulling down my boxers and giving me a few good pumps before she slid the latex over my dick.
Happy to return the favor, I pulled on the sides of Bella's underwear and flung it somewhere behind me as I climbed over her on the bed.
"You are so damn beautiful, babe," I whispered as I lowered myself over her, noticing the blush that colored her cheeks.
"So are you, Edward … sexiest man alive." She giggled, which turned into a groan as soon as I pushed into her.
She was so warm and wet and fucking perfect for me. She healed things I never thought could be and as I moved inside her, I was blown away by how intense my feelings for her were. I needed her in my life.
"Oh, Edward … yes!"
Bella's enthusiastic murmurs spurred me on as my pace increased to match her breathing. "Shit, you feel so good, babe. I'm close, Bella."
"Me too, oh, right there."
Repeating the motion that had caused her to call out like that, it wasn't long before she clamped down around me. Her name echoed off the walls as my hips stuttered out a few more erratic thrusts before I collapsed next to Bella on the bed.
I was aware of the fact that we cleaned up and put on some clothes in case someone woke us up early the next day, but the only thing I really remembered was Bella back in my arms.
The next morning, Bella and I walked hand in hand into Carlisle's room for the planning meeting. Even though we hadn't put words to what this was, we both know that last night changed something for us, and there was little doubt of it as we entered the room. But besides a pat on the back from Carlisle, no one said a word.
Bella grabbed her laptop and sat beside me as Jasper began to fill us in on what they'd discovered last night. "The sounds weren't anything distinguishable around the guys. It was louder than what the girls experienced, and it seemed more threatening, but there weren't any words or phrases picked up. Listen to what we picked up from Esme's mic and I will let you draw your own conclusions."
Jaspers started the audio track and I strained to make out anything. I was about to ask him to play it again when Bella gasped.
"Did she say 'run'?"
Jasper played it again and I heard it now that I knew what to listen for. "Holy shit."
"She's trying to send a message. I don't think she liked being forgotten about for all these years and the bully mentality is still present so she's lashing out," Rosalie said.
"There is also our numbers," Alice added. "She was raped by four guys and then we show up with for guys and Bella -"
"What do I have to do with this?" Bella asked.
"We didn't want to upset you with this first thing after you walked in …"Carlisle started, but seemed unable to finish, so Esme did.
"We were able to track down a picture of Hyacinth from one of the former camp directors."
They passed a copy of the old photo to Bella and I leaned over to see it myself.
"Oh my God," she whispered as she passed me the photo that looked a lot like her.
"Maybe you should stay back tonight," I started. "You could do the prelim on our next case."
"I'm not going to let a little resemblance -" Bella tried to argue, but I cut her off.
"And the fact that she tried to use you to reenact her death -"
It was her turn to silence me. "I came here to do a job. If you aren't going to let me help then I'll leave but don't think I'm going to hide every time things get scary."
Getting that tight feeling back in my chest at the mention of her leaving, I took her hand and gave it a squeeze. "I'm sorry, I'm not trying to be a jackass and dictate what you can do, but the other night terrified me, Bella."
"I know it did, Edward," she told me as her hand reached up to caress my cheek. "But Alice told me yesterday that she thinks having me there will be the best way to help put her to rest. If she is identifying with me or something, then I may be the best chance we have of helping her."
"If you start to feel weird or anything tonight, use your radio. I don't want you alone if she starts messing with you again."
"Well, now that we're on the topic of tonight," Jasper started, reminding us that we had an audience for our little display, "let's make a plan."
It took a little while, but we had our positions figured out. Alice was adamant that we kept distance between the guys and the girls, so Carlisle was going to be in tech with Jasper. Alice and Esme were going to be out by the lake, with Rosalie in cabin eleven and Bella in cabin seven. Originally, they wanted Bella in cabin eleven, but knowing what happened there, I didn't want her anywhere near that side of the lake. It was the one time I was allowed to put my foot down.
Finally, Em decided to try the dining hall, just to see if there was anything to be picked up there as it was the most frequently used building on the property. That left me in the amphitheater, which I was fine with. I was used to being in the high activity spots. It may have been tame last time, but I had a feeling tonight would be different.
We had lunch together before heading to our rooms to get some rest before tonight. In my head, I kept thinking about how we were the last chance Jess and Mike had. They had campers arriving in a few weeks for the second session, having postponed the start of their camp to allow for the investigators to do their work and then give them time to prepare. If they had to cancel the remainder of the summer, or if the kids had to be sent home at a later time after an incident, it could be enough to permanently close the camp.
There was also the woman in my arms, who had managed to knock down every wall I had built up. She was amazing, and I needed to make her happy. Thankfully, Carlisle didn't want to cut off my nuts for going after his niece, so that was an obstacle I had avoided. He actually seemed to be encouraging it. Thank fuck for that, because I couldn't fight the connection between them.
I eventually drifted off to sleep, only to wake to Bella's sweet kisses along my neck and jaw.
"Bella, what time is it?" I asked as she kissed my Adams apple.
"We have to meet everyone in thirty minutes. I thought maybe we could …" her words trailed off as she hitched her leg over mine.
"Oh, we definitely can," I told her as I pulled her on top of me and searched out her mouth.
Forty-five minutes later, I pulled her out of the room and over to where our cars were parked. It's evident that we're freshly fucked and I noticed Rosalie's scowl as she smacked a wad of cash against my chest.
"You can pick up our dinner from the diner."
"… the fuck?" I said, earning an amused chuckle from the guys.
Bella and I drove to get the food and then met up at camp. Most of the equipment was left in position, so we only had t reconnect it, but that had been finished while we were in route. The dining hall seemed like the logical place to eat and do any last minute strategizing. It was eleven pm when we were ready, so we hooked up our mics and coms, and tested everything before going to our various locations. Rosalie took the longest because she had to walk around to the other side of the lake, but finally we could start this.
"Okay everyone, let's do one last check on video and audio and then we can head into dead time." Jasper called each of us and we answered, shaking our cameras so he knew it wasn't a frozen image and then we went.
Carlisle's voice came into my earpiece, making the customary announcement, "It's 12:04 am, we're officially commencing dead time."
"Hy, we're here to help you find some peace. If you're here, send us a sign of your presence." I looked around the seating of the amphitheater, which was carved into the earth and then reinforced with stone. It was a nice space, but you totally felt surrounded. "Hyacinth, we know that you were hurt here, and we don't want you to be forgotten anymore."
I started to get that eerie feeling, like a thousand eyes were on me right before Rosalie came over the coms. "There is definitely something happening here. I've been getting little brushes and tugs since I asked for a sign."
"Fuck," Emmett's voice almost made me jump as it was unexpected in my ear. "Did one of you bump the thermostat when you left or something, because it's freezing in here. The heat sensors are showing a marked drop."
"Emmett, I don't even know where the controls are in the dining hall to have done something, but we can check for a timer or some malfunction in the morning," I told him as I continued to walk around the space.
I started to feel a pull to one particular section of the arena seating, so I began to climb, my requests for some sign never ending.
"Can you … me?" The jumbled message from Jasper broke a particularly long silence as I answer him.
"You broke up in the middle of that, try again," I asked, but it was Bella's voice I heard.
"Jasper my camera is malfunctioning. I don't know if you're getting any feed, but my display is out." She sounded a little apprehensive and I wished that I were there to ease her nerves. "Shit, my lights are out!"
"All of them, or just the flashlight?" I questioned her.
"Everything, even my backup, and they were all brand new batteries," she explained, just as a muffled screech of some type of feedback filled my ears.
"Be gone," the hushed whisper interrupted the silence around me.
"Hy, if that's you, I need you to communicate with my friends by the lake. I know you may not want to talk to us, but Alice will listen. We don't want to hurt you."
I had barely finished my sentence when I felt something shove me. I'd been walking along one of the rows so it wasn't a misstep to fall sideways down, but as I hit the first stone retaining wall, I knew I wasn't going to stop until I was at the bottom.
My ears were filled with a flurry of voices as what happened was communicated over the coms. I'd lost the camera sometime during my fall and I would have gotten up to look for it, but I was too sore try at the moment.
The pounding of shoes on the ground, the contrast between the sound they made on the grass and the stone alerted me to how fast they were moving. Bella's voice called out to me and soon her hands were tracing over my torso, but the feeling that had drawn me up to where I'd been attacked was still with us.
"Oh God, Edward, are you all right?"
"Bella, she's here," I groaned out, and was surprised when Bella took a protective stance over me.
"Listen to me, Hyacinth. The men who hurt you have been punished for their crimes, but Edward isn't one of them. He's a good man and he wants to help right the wrongs that being neglected caused you. This should be a place where children are safe and with your help we want Jessica and Mike to be able to provide that. The campers aren't safe if you keep attacking people. This isn't your camp, it's Jessica and Mike's. You have to give it back to them."
The coms started to crackle again, and Alice's voice came over. "She's reacting to whatever's happening over there. I think I know how we can end this once and for all."
I didn't move as Bella resumed her check of my body.
"I'm fine, Bella," I tried to reassure her.
"If you think telling me you're okay is going to get you out of a trip to the hospital, you're crazy," she countered as the rest of the team came down the steps, having made their way from their various spots.
"Edward, how are you feeling, that was a nasty fall." Carlisle killed any chance I had of escaping a trip to the ER because he'd seen it and let Bella know he was worried.
I looked around and noticed that Jasper and Alice were still missing. "Where are Jazz and Alice?"
"She went to tech while I came here," Esme explained as Emmett and Bella helped me walk up the stairs.
"Jasper said he was going to wrap up here with Rosalie, but we're taking you to get checked out," Carlisle told me as we walked in the path of the flashlight beams.
More than three hours later, I was sitting on the gurney in the empty ER of the local hospital with Bella by my side. The doctor was looking at my x-rays and scans and he seemed pleased.
"You have some bad bruises and some bruised bones, but luckily no breaks. You'll be sore for a while and I will prescribe something for the pain, but other than that you were very lucky. A fall like that could have been a lot more serious. I will see about getting you out of here."
"Thank you, doctor," Bella said as he went to get my paperwork in order.
It took another twenty-five minutes, but I was finally out of there and Bella was driving me back to the hotel. At some point during my stay, everyone else left after Bella assured them that the doctor was just being cautious with the extra tests.
The hotel was close by and soon Bella was helping me into bed. My clothes were carefully stripped off and I was lying there as Bella folded my shirt.
"Babe, you know that's only going to wind up in the laundry bag, right?"
I didn't know what happened in that instant, but Bella was hysterically crying. "Edward, I'm sorry … I shouldn't be crying like this, it's silly really … but -"
"You were scared tonight, that's allowed. Fuck, I was terrified. But I'm okay. You don't have to worry about it."
"I know, but seeing you lying there, I've never been so scared. If something happened to you -"
I cut her off again, pulling her gently onto the bed. "Nothing is going to happen to me. Bella, I'm not going anywhere. I'm in this until you kick me out."
A smile spread across her face as she leaned in to kiss my forehead. "Then you better get used to me, cause I'm staying."
The team let us sleep late and we were spared the task of removing all of our equipment from the camp before our meeting with the clients. Today we would be discussing what we'd found and giving them our final views on how they could move forward.
With everything packed up except the laptop we were going to be using to show our evidence, I settled in at the table just as Jessica and Mike walked in.
"Edward, we're so glad to hear you're okay," Jess said as they came over to shake my hand.
"This is nothing, believe me. Now, we've got everyone here, we'd like to show you the highlights of what we discovered."
Taking some time to go over everything, I watched as they seemed to be even more worried. They didn't know about everything that had happened on this camp before they bought it, and it didn't sit well with them. This was where we were able to give them the good news.
"I know that might seem overwhelming," Alice started, "but we have some good ideas about how you can move forward. There was a distinct shift in the energy after Bella and I spoke to Hy on the second night. From what we gathered, she was most upset about the fact that her story had been lost and that she was watching bullies continue to hurt other people. Now, we know it's hard to handle it all the time, but I honestly think that if you have some type of a system set up so that bullying isn't tolerated, it will help the situation."
"In addition," I continued, "Hyacinth is a flower, as well as our victims name, so we thought that if you planted some of them and maybe did a little tribute to her, it could be something to show your commitment to stopping the cycle of history repeating."
"We've always handled kids picking on other campers pretty harshly, but maybe if we send paperwork to the parents that inform them that if their child is involved in instances of bullying they can possibly be sent home based on the severity of the incident." Mike looked to Jessica, who seemed to agree with his idea.
"And I think putting some of those bushes right by the front of the office with a little plaque would be a nice tribute," Jessica added. "I would love for her to be a positive influence on the camp and feel like she wasn't lost in time."
"Those are both great ideas and I think they will go a long way to easing the negative occurrences you've had here." We stood up to say our goodbyes, and Jessica made a bee-line for me as she gave me a light hug.
"Thank you, Edward. You've helped us when we thought that everything was lost."
"You're welcome, Jessica. If you have any other disturbances, please give us a call. We do follow ups from time to time and we'd be happy to help if it is needed."
About fifteen minutes later we were loading up the cars and I noticed Alice and Bella whispering. Alice caught my eye and winked, before climbing into the SUV.
"Do I want to know what that was?" I asked Bella as she got into the car.
"No, but the cat's out of the bag about Chicago, Alice seems excited about it."
I took her hand and held it over the console as I began to drive down the dirt road, "As long as you're with me, I've got no worries."