Cullen Family Camping Trip
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
11. Chapter 11
Rating 5/5 Word Count 3484 Review this Chapter
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.
"Well, don’t panic, but you have some...leeches attached to the backs of your arms, Bella," Alice explained regrettably.
"Don’t panic?! Get them off of me!" I exclaimed, completely on the verge of freaking out, as I imagined the slimy, worm-like creatures stuck to my skin. Nobody moved.
"Well...that’s not really a good idea," Alice began warily. When my pleading eyes met hers, she continued to explain. "First of all, Bella, you can’t just grab them and pull them off - that would most likely result in leaving part of their head behind, which would cause you an infection. More importantly, when you do remove them, there will be some blood that escapes you, and for obvious reasons, that’s just not an option right now," she explained, glancing over at her husband, who looked guilty. "Don’t feel bad, Jasper - Emmett or I could very well have the same reaction, and it’s best not to take any chances."
"So what the heck do I do? I don’t want them on me!" I blurted, horrified.
"We’ll just have to take you back to Carlisle - he’s perfectly able to handle it," Alice said. "Get on Emmett’s back, and he’ll get you up the cliff, and while they change, I’ll run you back to camp - we’ll just change when we get there." Thankfully, she seemed to understand the urgency I felt.
Scaling up the side of the cliff on Emmett’s back was terrifying, while at the same time oddly exhilarating. As were neared the top, I had to squeeze my eyes shut after catching a glimpse of the height we were at. I knew I was safe, but it was just so...unnatural, to be hanging off the side of such a steep cliff with no support other than the boulder of a vampire I was clinging to.
When Emmett and Jasper headed back to the caves to change, Alice carried me back in the direction of camp, insisting we stop at the lavatory to get the excess mud off of me. Although she understood my desperation to get the gross things off of me, she said it would be bad enough when Edward found out what had happened, and if I showed up covered in mud it would only make his reaction that much worse.
It was approaching dawn as we entered the campsite, and Edward was waiting for us outside his tent. I tried to look indifferent about my current situation, in hopes of keeping him from overreacting. His eyes darted from me to Alice, where they lingered for a moment, as he most likely dissected her thoughts to see exactly what had occurred. When a quiet growl of outrage rumbled in his throat my suspicions were proved to be true. Thankfully it wasn’t loud enough for my dad to hear. Edward rushed to my side, pulling me away from Alice; he seemed overly agitated.
"Bella, love, are you all right? I’ve been so worried," he whispered, as he looked intently into my eyes. Then he abruptly changed course, and turned to Alice.
"What were you thinking? You never should have kept her out all night - did she even get to sleep? She’s probably exhausted, Alice. None of you have any idea how to take care of her - Emmett will be lucky if I don’t kill him myself," Edward hissed, causing Alice to merely roll her eyes.
"Edward, nothing horrible happened to her...well, nothing that can’t be fixed," Alice replied, glaring back at him. "You know I’d never let anything happen to her. As for Emmett - well, you know how he is when he gets bored. Despite his careless actions, you know he wouldn’t let any harm come to Bella either...actually, she seemed to have fun," she added quietly, then looked off over Edward’s shoulder to the other tents.
Alice whispered Carlisle’s name, so quietly I barely heard it, but of course Carlisle had no problem hearing her. He and Esme stepped out of one of the tents, and even Rosalie came out, curious to see what the problem was. When Alice pointed out my predicament, the others cringed, shaking their heads in sympathy, except for Edward, who continued to glower.
It was slightly humorous to me that they were all so repulsed by the leeches...I mean there were some obvious similarities in diets here, after all - yes, the Cullens are vegetarians, but they still drink blood, for goodness sake.
It was about that time when Emmett and Jasper reappeared at the campsite’s edge. Instantly, Edward froze, then immediately began to seethe, as he stared straight at Emmett. Carlisle reached out, placing his hand in the middle of Edward’s chest, and whispered something about my father. Edward relaxed slightly at the mention of Charlie, but he was clearly still furious.
The whole exchange made Rosalie sigh heavily. "Whatever, I’m just glad you’re all back - you have no idea how annoying Edward has been all night. Between periods of pretending to be asleep, he kept coming in and bothering Esme and I every half hour, begging to be allowed to go find Bella. When he wasn’t doing that, he was pacing outside our tent, muttering about Charlie’s unusual restless sleeping habits of the night. Honestly, it was pathetic, and I’m just glad I don’t have to listen to it anymore," she whispered irritably, before turning back to the confines of her tent. Her comments only made Edward growl, and pull me closer.
I managed to convince Edward that I needed to attend to my current attire, and after I had changed into some clean, dry clothes, Carlisle ordered everyone to distance themselves. He had me sit down on one of the chairs, leaning forward. Of course Edward refused, assuring Carlisle that he could handle it, and took his place next to me. After the others had disappeared into the tents, Carlisle began to rub salt above each of the lesions, which he said would cause the leeches to loosen their grip. The salt and the alcohol stung, making me wince. In response, Edward came even closer, and began rubbing circles on the back of my hand with his thumb.
One by one, the disgusting worms were plucked from my skin, and as each was removed, Carlisle tossed them into the low-burning embers of the fire. At the end of it all, he informed me there had been four of them, which only made me shudder more. He carefully cleaned the wounds with alcohol, and applied light bandages to catch any more escaping blood.
As I sighed, relieved that it was over, Edward squeezed my hand gently. "Are you all right? It’s over - you did great, Bella." He reached his hand up to push the hair out of my eyes. He soothingly ran his hand through my hair, then suddenly froze. Warily, I raised my gaze to meet his. "What?" I whispered. What was it now? What else could really happen to me at this point?
Instead of answering me, he swept his hand back over my scalp, then closed his eyes while shaking his head, as if in defeat. After a second, he looked back up, his expression full of pity, then turned to Carlisle.
"Ticks," Edward murmured, raising his other hand to pinch the bridge of his nose.
What? Ticks? In my hair? Are you kidding me? I started to panic; I’d heard about how those things burrow under your skin, and can be incredibly difficult to get out. Images of tiny parasites living under my skin flashed through my mind, and I think I started to hyperventilate.
"It seems that your blood is apparently irresistible to anything blood drinking. The mosquitos, the leeches, now ticks...I suppose if nothing else, it’s nice to know it’s not just me," Edward uttered, traces of sarcasm seeping through.
Carlisle sighed heavily, leaning back in his chair, as he rubbed his hands over his face. He stared at Edward, and after a moment, Edward nodded in response. Stupid silent communication.
Carlisle turned back to me, his expression full of sympathy, but it was mixed with something else - disbelief, maybe. "I’m sorry, Bella. Removing these may be uncomfortable." He instructed Edward to go and retrieve a bottle of mineral oil, cotton gauze, and a pair of tweezers.
I was just managing to get over the pain of the salt burning, and now we had to start all over again - wait. WAIT. Did he say ‘these?’
"How many are there?" I asked, my voice barely above a whisper.
Carlisle sighed again. "Edward said he felt three."
My eyes wide, I simply nodded at him in response, and waited for him to begin. Edward brought back the requested supplies, and Carlisle began by holding pieces of gauze drenched with mineral oil over the ticks, explaining that it would block their breathing and cause them to loosen their grip. After that worked successfully, he would grip them with the ends of the tweezers, and pull - once again, he disposed of them in the coals of the fire. He took care to clean the wounds, and finally it was over. I was about to get up and run before they could find any more hideous creatures on me, when Edward turned his head to the side, concentrating on something.
"Charlie’s waking up," Edward informed us. Alice and Esme promptly reappeared, and settled in with us around the lingering embers of the campfire. Emmett, Rosalie, and Jasper all remained in the tents; Emmett was most likely eager to avoid Edward for as long as he could.
As my dad emerged from his tent, he glanced around, his gaze warily resting on Edward.
"Good morning, Charlie. I just woke a half hour ago - I didn’t want to disturb you," Edward said brightly, probably trying to ease whatever thoughts my dad was having. Esme and Carlisle cheerfully greeted him as well.
Turning his attention to me, my dad began to speak, then stopped as he took in my appearance. Sure, we’d gotten the mud off, but my hair was still soaking wet, and the bandages on the backs of my arms were painfully obvious new additions to my wardrobe. He raised his eyebrows at me. Thankfully, before I could say a word, Alice came to my rescue.
"Bella and I went for an early morning swim, and she just got some scratches while we were in the woods," she explained rationally. If it had been anyone else speaking, I’m not sure Charlie would have bought it, or let it go at that, but with the way Alice was smiling up at him, he seemed to accept it quite easily. Since when was I a swimmer at all - not to mention an early morning swimmer? I swear, Alice could convince my father of anything.
Esme offered Charlie some dried fruit packets, explaining the rest of them had already had theirs. Right.
"So, what’s the plan for today? Any idea when you were planning on heading home?" Charlie asked, turning his attention to Carlisle.
The rest of us shifted our gazes to Carlisle as well, wondering exactly how long he was going to drag this charade out. Personally, I was wondering what the heck was going to attach itself to me next, which made me shudder again.
Carlisle sighed. "Actually, Charlie, I received a call this morning from the hospital. It seems they need me to return early, so we’ll have to leave sometime this morning. I apologize," he added, looking remorseful.
He hadn’t received any calls, or at least none that we’d heard of - was it possible that he was finally seeing the utter uselessness of this situation? Perhaps the last round of medical attention that had him fending of nature from draining me of blood had made him see reason. Huh. If that was all it took, I would have found the leeches and ticks on day one. Shuddering again, I decided maybe that wasn’t entirely true. Either way, thank goodness, we were going home - soon.
Charlie didn’t seem to mind, he was saying something about paperwork piling up. Not long after that, he gathered his things, and packed them back into his cruiser, before thanking all of the Cullens. Each member of the family made a ridiculous show of telling him how much fun they’d had, and how much they’d enjoyed the trip, except for Rosalie, who simply offered him a mix between a smile and a grimace. Coming from her, it was actually a fairly polite gesture. Before getting into his car, he wandered over to me.
"Bells...I can’t tell you how proud I am of you for sticking with this. It shows me how tough you really are," he said quietly. He was embarrassed - we didn’t express sentiments very often in our household.
In an effort to ease his discomfort, I smiled brightly at him. "I had fun, dad. Thanks for setting it up - I really did learn a lot," I added. I just wanted to make him happy.
It worked. He smiled hugely back at me, and threw his arm around my shoulders in a half-embrace. "See you at home, kid. You can take the night off from cooking, if you want - we can order pizza. You’ve earned it."
"Actually dad, I’d love to cook tonight - beef stroganoff sound ok?" It was his favorite. I was feeling oddly sentimental.
He nodded eagerly, waved again at everyone, at then he was gone. It wasn’t a minute later that everyone started flurrying around, hurriedly packing everything up, eager to return to the comforts of finer living. Jasper and Emmett collected the things from the cave, then returned to help load everything else.
Once we were all packed up and settled into the Hummer, we were on our way, heading back home. After a few minutes, I glanced behind our vehicle at Emmett’s Jeep, which Rosalie was driving, while Emmett sulked next to her. She was so mad, she wouldn’t even let him drive.
"Edward, I’m sorry you never got the chance to get back at Emmett for that whole shaving cream incident with my dad," I murmured regrettably. I had been hoping we would have come up with a plan for revenge, but since I’d been off with Alice, Jasper, and Emmett all night, Edward and I hadn’t had the chance to scheme.
Edward chuckled. "Who said I wasn’t going to get him back? I had a lot of time to think last night, love."
I glanced up at him, confused. "What do you mean? We’re already on our way home."
Edward glanced over his shoulder out the back window of the Hummer, still chuckling. Alice and Jasper were laughing quietly as well; clearly, she’d been clued into whatever he was planning on doing, and relayed that information to her husband. At least Carlisle and Esme seemed to be as clueless as I was.
"Bella, who’s the one person Emmett is actually afraid of? The one person in this entire world who he doesn’t want to anger?" Edward questioned, while he grinned crookedly at me.
"Rosalie?" I whispered back, still not understanding.
"Exactly," he answered simply, still grinning.
"Um...I still don’t understand," I replied. This was beginning to get frustrating.
"Well, any minute now..." Edward trailed off, glancing behind him again. Alice and Jasper continued to laugh from the seats in front of us.
"Ah - turn around, love, and see for yourself," Edward finished.
Edward, Alice, Jasper and I all turned in our seats, watching the Jeep behind us. Carlisle was cautiously looking in the rearview mirror, while Esme simply shook her head, and leaned back into her seat, probably not even wanting to know what we were all about to see.
A moment later, the Jeep swerved sharply, then pulled off to the side of the road, coming to an abrupt stop. Carlisle took notice, and swiftly brought the Hummer to a halt to further examine the situation.
There was a lot of blonde hair whipping around, along with shouting, then suddenly, the side of the Jeep exploded, as Rosalie literally kicked Emmett out, sending the vehicle’s door with him.
I darted a glance over at Edward, who merely nodded back in the direction of the Jeep. Rosalie was throwing something out of the Jeep - it looked a lot like the food packets from camp - yelling obscenities while she did it.
The force of her kick had thrown Emmett into the forest, where he had crashed into a tree. He was scurrying to his feet, his face full of confusion, when suddenly, his eyes narrowed, as his gaze lowered to the place where the passenger door used to be on his Jeep.
I leaned forward, trying to figure out what he was looking at. A second later, it became clear.
One by one, tiny forest animals were filing out of the Jeep, following the packets of food Rosalie had thrown out. There were squirrels, chipmunks, mice, rabbits, racoons, and who knew what else slowly hopping out of the vehicle, heading towards Emmett.
Amazed, I silently turned to Edward for an explanation. He met my gaze expectantly, grinning crookedly. "I took charge of packing the Jeep for a reason, Bella," he began. That’s right - he had done that this morning, insisting the others help Alice load the top of the Hummer.
"Early this morning, when you were all gone, and Charlie was still sleeping, I rounded up quite the selection of critters, keeping them all in a box hidden in the forest. When I packed the Jeep, I put the box in the back, with blankets covering it. I made sure to toss the rest of the food packets in with the animals, taking care to leave a trail of food from the back, up towards the front seats. I also added some food in Emmett’s jacket, just to be sure they’d find their way in the right direction," Edward explained. "Just before we left, I opened the top of the box, and added one last important addition," he added.
Carlisle sighed. "Perhaps we should let him in here with us. There’s no way she’s going to let him back in the Jeep," he said sympathetically.
"I’d rather not, as I’m sure you will all agree...what do you think made Rosalie stop in the first place?" he asked, glancing back towards the Jeep. The rest of us followed his gaze, uncertain.
Rosalie was leaning into the back of the vehicle, shaking blankets. A moment later, more screams of fury filled the quiet forest road.
The rest of us gasped as we saw the last animal jump from the open door of the Jeep. It was a skunk; that must have been the ‘one last important addition’ Edward had been referring to.
Shuddering, we all watched as Rosalie slammed down the accelerator, flying past us, with Emmett running along side the road, clutching the torn Jeep’s door in his hands, pleading with his wife to stop. His cries of, "I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it!" filled the air, as we all sat in shocked silence.
"Edward Anthony Masen Cullen...." Esme whispered disapprovingly under her breath. As Edward, Alice, Jasper and I all broke into crazed fits of laughter, Carlisle began quietly muttering something about the impossibility of immortal teenagers, and having to stop to pick up a bulk supply of tomato juice.
It was only when I finally managed to catch my breath that I was able to speak. "So, when are we going camping again?" I asked Edward, still laughing in between words.
"Very funny, Bella," he replied, shaking his head.
"Aw, what are we going to do for fun?" I asked, my voice full of sarcasm. Heck, I’d be happy if I never saw the outdoors again.
He smiled back at me, my favorite crooked grin making another appearance. "Oh, I’m sure we’ll think of something. With this family, is there really any doubt?"