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Cullen Family Camping Trip

Summary:
Charlie insists Bella go camping with the Cullens, in order to acclimate herself with the great outdoors. After all, the Cullens are practically revered in town for their family camping trips, so they must know
what they're doing, right? *Post Eclipse Cullen Camping Banner


Notes:
Cullen Camping Banner


10. Chapter 10

Rating 5/5   Word Count 3207   Review this Chapter

(Previously):

Whether from all the recent giggling, or from the glow of the lantern that softly filled the tent, I couldn’t sleep. It had been at least half an hour, and I was tired of laying here. Besides, I could feel Alice studying me every few minutes, and I couldn’t help but wonder if I did actually fall asleep, would I wake up with a new make over? That thought alone was enough to keep anyone up at night.

As soon as I rolled over and began to sit up, Alice was at my side, staring at me with her wide, overly eager eyes. “Can’t sleep?” she asked innocently.

Not really. I think I might go look for one of those dried fruit packets,” I replied. The meals had become considerably smaller, and not nearly as good since my dad had arrived.

Ok, good - I’m going to go see what Jasper’s doing, then we’ll meet back here and decide what you want to do next,” she smiled at me, apparently thrilled at my lack of desire to sleep.

Chapter 10:

As we stepped outside, Edward was waiting for me.

“Edward? What are you doing?” I asked.

“I heard you can’t sleep,” he replied, grinning crookedly at me. “So, I thought I’d accompany you to find that dried fruit. Your father’s asleep for now, so it should be fine,” he added, taking my hand in his.

Edward led me through the dark to the Jeep, where we were storing the pouches of dried food. As he retrieved one for me, he paused, then rolled his eyes. “Unbelievable,” he muttered, his gaze shifting towards the area where the table was.

Curiosity getting the better of me, I followed his line of sight, squinting through the darkness. Then I heard a voice - Emmett.

“Hey, little buddy, did you find the crumbs I left for you? Pretty smart little guy, to follow them all the way here.” Who was he talking to? Without realizing it, I crept forward, trying to get a closer look. Edward mirrored my movements, staying right by my side.

Emmett was leaning over the table, seemingly talking to a baby racoon, who was nibbling on small pieces of dried fruit. Just as he reached down to place more bits of food in front of the tiny animal, something jumped onto the table, and catapulted itself onto the back of Emmett’s head. He jumped up in surprise, his hands flying to his head, trying to grasp hold of whatever was clawing away unsuccessfully at his impenetrable skin.

“The baby’s mother,” Edward murmured to me, before I even had the chance to ask.

“Agh - get off, get off, get off!” Emmett yelled, spinning in circles. The mother racoon was hissing and spitting, clinging defensively to Emmett’s hair. His uncontrolled actions caused him to bump into the table, which fell on it’s side, creating a rather loud crashing sound. Almost instantly, the mother racoon leapt from Emmett’s head, landing swiftly next to her baby, who had fallen to the ground when the table had tipped over. She checked her baby over for a moment, then nudged it in the direction of the woods, away from us. The two took off, with the mother only pausing once to look back, when she offered one last menacing hiss towards Emmett.

At some point during the fiasco, the rest of the Cullens had no doubt heard the commotion and joined us. They all stared on in disbelief, as Rosalie merely sighed and headed towards the Jeep again. She was only about halfway there, when Edward froze, and whispered intensely, “Charlie!”

At the mention of my father, everyone assumed ‘casual’ stances, some holding flashlights, others merely appearing to look around the campsite cautiously, directing their gazes into the woods, or up into the trees. A moment later, Charlie’s confused face emerged from the front of his tent. “What’s going on out there? Bella, why are you up - why are you all up?” he asked confusedly, rubbing his eyes.

“Ah - we thought we heard an animal - just a racoon, nothing to worry about,” Carlisle reassured him. “We were just chasing it off, go back to sleep, Charlie.”

Charlie nodded, muttering something about light sleepers. Then he told me to get back to bed, and disappeared into his own tent, just before glaring at Edward, who reluctantly went to join him again.

“All right, everyone get back inside your tents,” Esme scolded. Rosalie began to continue over to the Jeep, but Esme interrupted her, telling her she could remove whatever she wanted to later. Once back inside, I tried to settle into the blankets again. After half an hour, I sat up, unable to fall asleep because of a new problem.

“What is it, Bella? Do you need something?” Esme asked, concerned.

“Actually, I need to use the restroom. I didn’t really go earlier - I was waiting so I could use the real bathroom,” I admitted sheepishly. Everyone had pretended to head off into the woods before bed, making it appear as though we were all emptying our bladders one last time for the night, except for Charlie, who I presumed had actually gone.

“I’ll take you!” Alice chirped. She jumped up and was waiting by the front of the tent before I could pull the covers back.

When we stepped outside, Edward was waiting. “I’ll take her, Alice. Go back inside, Charlie’s already fallen back asleep.”

“No, Edward - you can’t go. You have to stay close enough so that if Charlie wakes up again - and he will - that you can get back in there and pretend to be sleeping. If you aren’t there, he’ll come looking for you, and if you and Bella are missing, well...he won’t be happy,” she said, grinning at him.

The two of them argued back and forth for a few moments, but Alice eventually won. Edward had to stay nearby, so that he would be able to keep up the charade, and get back inside his tent if needed; her vision had confirmed that Charlie was indeed paranoid, and that he would be an unusually light sleeper tonight, waking up off and on to check on Edward’s whereabouts. Edward was beyond irritated. We both knew what a sound sleeper Charlie typically was, and Edward hadn’t anticipated this. Alice told him it was his own fault, for hanging all over me all night, even after Emmett’s comment, not to mention the way he’d carried me off to bed - that had only made it worse.

“Guys? Can you continue this argument later? I really need to...” I trailed off, my voice pleading. My bladder was about to burst.

“Oh! Of course, Bella - let’s go,” Alice answered, giving Edward one last reproachful look.

“Hurry back, love,” Edward murmured, his voice full of anxiety.

When we finally reached the little yellow building, I darted up the steps, once again ridiculously thankful for this luxury of a building.

Alice was waiting patiently outside for me. I started to head back in the direction we’d come from, but Alice stopped me, turning me the opposite way. “Forgive me, Bella, but I refuse to spend all night sitting in that tent. It’s just too much. May I?” she asked, reaching her arms out toward me.

Oh - she wanted to carry me? How far were we going, exactly? “Alice, I don’t know...Edward is expecting us back.”

“Edward will be just fine - he’s not going anywhere, Bella,” she replied impatiently. I gave in, and she pulled me up into her arms, then began running. I couldn’t tell how far we’d gone, but finally, we began to slow. In the distance, I heard pulsing music, and as my vision came back into focus, I noticed faint, flashing lights ahead. That was odd; we were still in the middle of the forest.

Alice put me down, and excitedly began bouncing forward, pulling me along with her. We were approaching what appeared to be a series of caves, one of which seemed to be the source of the noise, as well as the lights.

“Come on, Bella,” Alice urged. I was moving more slowly, trying to take in my surroundings. When we rounded one last corner, and I took in the scene in front of me, my jaw dropped open, and I froze in astonishment.

“Alice, what on earth?” I managed, still struggling to comprehend what I was looking at. One of the caves was lit up brightly, lanterns dispersed throughout, with the disco ball from the dance party the night before somehow hanging from the cavern’s ceiling. The carpet from the front of Esme and Carlisle’s tent was now in place along the cave’s floor, with the overstuffed pillows and giant bean bags from the other’s campsites strewn about. The loud beat of the music drowned out the hum of the generators, which were in place near the far wall of the cave. They were responsible for the powering of the fridge, freezer and microwave, which were located just past the ‘lounge area.’ Racks of clothing served as a dividing curtain, blocking off the back part of the cave, which I only assumed the rest of the discarded supplies had been hidden. To top it all off, Jasper and Emmett were stretched out across the plush pillows, arguing over the Nintendo DS.

Wordlessly, I continued to stare at Alice, which merely caused her to roll her eyes. “What, Bella? This is what I was doing this afternoon, while you were all fishing. I just knew we’d have so much more fun this way - who wants to be stuck in a tent all night with nothing to do?” she trilled, as if it were obvious.

“But why are they here - how did they know? Edward’s going to be really mad,” I mumbled incoherently, pointing at Jasper and Emmett. Surely, Edward would be livid when he discovered he was stuck back at the campsite, while we were all here.

“Oh, he’s not happy, that’s for sure,” Jasper murmured, barely glancing up.

“Yeah - he’s pretty pissed, but so is Rosalie. She wouldn’t even come with us,” Emmett replied, shaking his head. “Bet she’ll be sorry after she has to listen to him complain all night,” he added.

Alice further explained that she had told Jasper to meet us earlier, and when he had gotten ready to leave, Carlisle practically insisted Emmett go as well - he was worried about Emmett causing more of a commotion which would wake Charlie up again. Edward had heard the entire exchange, and was furious that he had to stay at the campsite in case Charlie woke up. Rosalie wouldn’t come out of the tent at all, because she was still mad at Emmett for his earlier antics.

It made me feel bad, knowing how much Edward was probably worrying about me. As if to confirm my guilt, seconds later, Alice’s cell started ringing. It was Edward, demanding Alice bring me back, to which she adamantly refused. She told him he should be happy that I was more comfortable, and had access to all the good food again. They argued on for a few minutes, but I had become distracted at her mention of the food, and quickly found myself looking over the contents of the freezer.

After having microwaved one of the frozen pizzas, I was feeling much better about my current situation as I lounged across the overstuffed pillows, greedily stuffing my face. Alice had somehow managed to get off the phone, and was currently dancing around the room, perfectly in synch with the pulsing rhythm coming from the stereo.

With my stomach full from eating something far better than a piece of fish, I was just beginning to relax, when suddenly Alice gracefully landed next to me, with some sort of huge binder in her lap.

“Bella, since we’re here, and there’s not much else to do, I was thinking it would be the perfect time to sort through some of those wedding plans,” she explained excitedly, shoving the binder halfway onto my lap. Oh, crap.

The hours dragged on, as Alice covered detail after detail. Honestly, I didn’t even understand half of what she was talking about - I just nodded and smiled, wishing the nightmare to be over. She had just jumped up, declaring it was time for the bridesmaid’s dress selection fashion show, when Emmett decided to speak up as well. Thank goodness for Emmett. Really, who brings bridesmaids dresses on a camping trip anyway? It unnerved me slightly at how long ago she must have had them made - Alice wouldn’t have bought them off the rack.

“All right, I’m bored,” Emmett announced. “Hey Jasper, want to go cliff diving again? There’s a new set of cliffs over to the right out there - I saw them on the way here.”

Jasper looked up from his game, shrugging. “Doesn’t matter to me,” he answered indifferently.

“Yeah! Let’s go,” Emmett said, getting onto his feet.

“Wait - can we go too?” I asked, eager to escape Alice’s wedding binder.

“You’re not jumping, Bella - Edward would never forgive me,” Alice said seriously.

“Fine, I won’t jump, but can we at least go just for something to do?” I asked, refusing to give up without a fight.

Alice glanced over at Jasper, and she was obviously weighing out her desire to spend time with her husband in contrast to her excitement over the bridesmaid dress fashion show. As her gaze lingered on Jasper for a second longer than the clothing racks, I sensed victory. “All right, we can go with them - but I’m serious, no jumping, Bella,” she added. Before exiting the cave, Alice turned and grabbed the binder, muttering something about still having enough time in the night to go over floral arrangement options. Her efforts to get me away from Edward were becoming clearer by the second, as she continued on with her explanation of details that did not matter to me - he would have protected me from this.

Moments later, we’d found the cliffs Emmett had mentioned, and upon further inspection, Emmett and Jasper chose a suitable place to jump from that had another deep pool of water at it’s base. One after the other, they flew from the top, spiraling into the depths below. Alice and I stood in the shadows of the trees, as she pointed animatedly at something on one of the pages of the binder, waiting for them to scale their way back up the sides of the cliffs, while I simply nodded my head at whatever she was suggesting. Honestly, it was too dark to see anything very clearly anyway, despite the tiny key chain flashlight she was holding. After a few minutes, the guys reappeared. Alice went to give Jasper a ‘welcome back kiss,’ passing the precious wedding binder into my hands.

“That was amazing! Way better than the other ones,” Emmett boomed, shaking his hair of excess water. Jasper was right behind him, an exhilarated smile stretched across his features as he embraced his wife. At least someone was having fun. Frowning slightly, I sunk down to the ground, still holding the ridiculous binder. The longer it was out of Alice’s hands, the better.

“Actually, we saw the coolest thing on the way back up,” Emmett began, his eyes glowing mischievously. Alice’s gaze blurred, as she focused on her vision. Before she could snap out of it, Emmett was pulling me from the forest floor, up into his arms. “Hold on, Bella!” he yelled, rushing forward.

“Emmett, no!” Alice’s dainty voice objected distantly, too late.

As I tried to understand what was happening, I found myself clinging to Emmett, his arms wrapped securely around me, holding me in place, the stupid binder still tucked in my arms. We were sliding down the side of the mountain, through a soft trail of mud. The path twisted and turned, and Emmett continued sliding on his backside, as if he were a sled. Mud flew up on both sides of us, as the mudslide continued on, the only sound registering being Emmett’s booming laugh. A moment later, we landed in a shallow pool of murky water at the bottom of the path. Once we were still, and Emmett was sure I had my balance, he let me go, waiting for my response. We were both covered in mud from head to toe, and as I looked into my soon to be brother-in-law’s eyes, I couldn’t help but see the hilarity of the situation. Sure, I’d been halfway terrified on the way down, but looking at him now, it was just too much. Simultaneously, we both erupted into crazed fits of laughter.

“That was awesome! You should have seen your face!” Emmett roared, lightly smacking me on the shoulder.

“Bella! Are you all right?” Alice asked, running over to us, with Jasper following behind. She was soaking wet now too - she must have jumped off the cliff after Emmett had grabbed me.

“She’s fine, Alice - nobody ever lets her have any fun,” Emmett muttered irritably.

“Emmett, that was so irresponsible! When I saw you deciding to do that, you purposefully acted before my vision was over - what if I’d seen something happen to her? You should have waited!”

Alice reprimanded.

“Like I said, she’s fine, Alice,” Emmett replied, rolling his eyes. “I wouldn’t have let anything happen to my little sis - let it go, already.”

“Fine, but it’s your problem when Edward hears about it,” Alice said, which in turn made Emmett look worried for a second, before he merely rolled his eyes again. “Oh!” she exclaimed, her gaze shifting to the muddy pool at my feet.

Oops. The precious wedding binder hadn’t fared our trip down the mountain so well; it was lying open, face down, covered in icky mud. I must have let go of it at some point - I couldn’t really remember, the whole thing had happened so fast. I tried to feel guilty, but instead felt slightly victorious...I had killed the evil binder. Trying my best to control my expression, I glanced back at Alice warily.

“Sorry, Alice. I don’t know what happened...” I trailed off, a bit too much glee still present in my tone.

Her eyes narrowed, then she began to smirk. “Don’t worry about it, Bella. These things happen. Thankfully, I’ve got two copies of it on my computer at home. We’ll just start going over the details from the beginning when we get back,” she said, blinking her eyes innocently at me. Evil little pixie.

In an effort to block out the horror that awaited me when we got back home, I turned to look at our surroundings. That mudslide thing was incredibly fun, and I wasn’t going to let anything ruin it for me. “So, guys - how do we get back up?” I asked, still turning in circles, looking for some sort of path. I couldn’t very well scale a wall quite like they could, after all.

Nobody responded. Instead, the only sounds to be heard were three separate gasps, followed by one highly annoyed sigh. “See, Emmett? What do you have to say now?” Alice said, pointing at my back.

Taking in each of their horrified expressions, my panic began to build. “What? What is it? What’s wrong?” I asked, spinning in circles, much like a dog chasing it’s own tail - it was useless, I couldn’t see anything.