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Welcome to Camp Cullen

Bella takes a vacation with the Cullen's during the perfect summer after her junior year. new chapters are up, and more on the way. Thanks for reading. ")

This story takes place during the summer between Twilight and New Moon. It is light and hopefully amusing, I was aiming to ease off the angst and portray the characters "happy". There will be some conflict, and it wouldn't be Edward without a little angst remission,so look for that in future chapters

11. Chapter 10b

Rating 5/5   Word Count 1771   Review this Chapter


I gulped nervously, but followed obediently when Edward tugged me along in his wake towards the stable. We hadn’t gone more than 50 yards, when Alice came barreling out of the front door. She skidded to a stop before reaching the stairs and stared at Edward intently even while she spoke to me, “Bella, would you mind if Jasper and I joined you? He’s an expert horseman, and might be able to give you some pointers.” Her eyes darted briefly to mine, and she grinned distractedly,” Besides, Emmett is really getting on my nerves.” The question was innocuous enough, but I could tell by the way she was looking at Edward, the intensity of her gaze, that she had seen something, and she was showing him the vision. I chose to ignore the exclusion and answered,” I have no objection to you joining us. In fact,” I smiled wryly,” I’d welcome Jasper’s expertise.”

Edward’s answer was far more subtle, but I didn’t miss it. A slight lifting of his chin, and Alice spun on her heel, her voice wafting back as she sped into the house,” We’ll be ready in one minute.”

Refusing to meet my eyes, Edward simply reached for my hand and I placed it within his without question. He glanced at me and found me waiting. He knew that I knew and his gaze cringed away guiltily. Still, he said nothing, so I let it go. We fell into step, and seconds later, I heard the screen door swing shut behind us, and the low murmur of voices.

Livvy was already at the stable when we arrived. She was busy going about her chores, but acknowledged us as we approached. She stood on the edge of the hayloft, a bale of hay swinging in her gloved fists, and she grinned down at us knowingly.”Edward, I’ve already cut out the family horses.” She glanced down at the row of stalls and tilted her head to the right,” Aries, Zephyr, Milan and Anubis,” then to the left,” Stonewall,Nymph,Narcissa and Grizzly.”

Her eyes rolled and she snorted as she said the last name, clearly indicating who owned the horse and tossed the bale of hay she was holding, the length of the hay loft to land neatly on the stack that waited. Jasper raised his eyebrows in silent tribute to the feat, which Livvy had made appear deceptively easy. She drew herself up and gestured towards a closed door at the other end of the long line of stalls.”Tack room has everything you need.You know what to do.”

Livvy walked to the ladder that was leaning against the edge of the loft, and began to descend facing forward and trailing her fingers lightly along the side rails. If I’d have tried that, I’d have broken my neck, but she moved with an grace that Alice could envy.

An easy grin adorned her face, and as Edward moved towards the tack room she called out,” Hey Eds, I’ll show Bella what to do. You go ahead and get Aries ready. You’re going to want to take a few minutes in the arena before hitting the trail.” He nodded, then turned the full weight of his smile on me. This time I responded in kind.” I’ll leave the instruction to the expert,” he glanced over my head at Livvy and she chuckled,” Don’t be trying to charm me young man, I’m on to your tricks.”

He sighed with mock despair,” I can’t fool anyone anymore, can I?”

Livvy and I answered in perfect unison,” Not a chance.” Some of the tension I’d been feeling, dissolved with his laughter. There couldn’t be anything too life threatening, or he wouldn’t be so carefree.

Livvy took my elbow and led me toward the stall where Zephyr’s golden head bobbed in welcome. The mare nickered as we came closer, and Livvy dug in her pocket for the ever present wad of tobacco. The same ritual as before, ensued, and I offered my bribe. The friendship was cemented with her acceptance. Livvy grinned, and picked up a pail from the footlocker beside the stall door. She lifted each brush as she named them, and described their function.

She placed a soft bristled “Dandy” brush, in each of my hands, then showed me a Karate Kid, wax on, wax off, motion. “Use the circular pattern, follow the horse’s lines, and the way the hair lays. Got it?” she asked, and I nodded my understanding, moving to the mare’s wide flank and beginning hesitantly. I soon warmed to the task, and the gentle repetitive motion. The mares coat began to gleam, and she snorted in pleasure. I grinned in response, and bent to my chore with renewed attention. I heard Livvy cluck her tongue in approval, and she appeared at my shoulder carrying the mares bridle.

“Hold the bit like this,” she demonstrated placing it in the mares mouth, and I followed suit. Livvy grinned at me as she placed the blanket and a bulky western saddle on the mares back, showing me how to tighten the cinches.” I usually ride Zephyr with just a saddle pad because she has a Cadillac like gait,” her eyes twinkled with humor,” But I think in your case,” she grinned over at Edward, who had clearly addressed my continued battle with gravity,” We’ll give you something to hold on to. Just to be safe.”

I rolled my eyes, but when I thanked her, it was sincere. She motioned for me to precede her as she led the little palomino out into the arena where Alice,Jasper and Edward were already loping their horses around the perimeter. Edward on Aries, cut a magnificent picture. The big stallion gleamed blue black in the sun, and his rider glittered astride him. They moved gracefully, powerfully around the arena, Aries’ muscles rippling with each stride, flowing sinuously beneath his sleek coat. They moved as one and it was a sight.

Jasper rode a tall rangy gelding, a light dapple gray. His coat colored like pewter medallions lying in the snow. His mane and tail were black, and he traveled with a loose kneed,ground eating stride. They fit together like puzzle pieces.

Alice, too, was riding a fitting mount. The small bay mare danced and pirouetted beneath her with barely suppressed excitement. Her head bobbed incessantly, her neck arched as she pranced with impatience to be off. Alice’s tinkling laugh pealed forth in response and empathy. I grimaced at the ease with which they sat their mounts, as though they were glued to their backs. Livvy noted my expression with a chuckle,” trust me Bella,” she said,” I chose this horse for a reason.”

I nodded with a confidence I didn’t feel, but followed Livvy to the center of the ring. She turned the stirrup outward and showed me how to mount and before I could let a breath out, I was on the horse. I must have looked nervous, though the horse didn’t seem to notice, she stood placidly waiting for me to do something constructive. Livvy however, did notice and she said,”Let me illustrate my point here Bella. I want you to lean to your left until you feel overbalanced.” I eyed her with skepticism, but did as she told me. As soon as my weight shifted to the point where I might slide off, the mare moved beneath me and repositioned herself so that she righted my balance. I looked up at Livvy, surprised, and she gave me a proud smirk. “She’ll do that even at a full gallop. I told you, she won’t let you fall off.”

A wondering smile lit my face, and Livvy laughed with pleasure. “ You’ll stay on her back,” she said her tone heavy with humor,” Even if you run her off a cliff, you’ll hit the ground with her beneath you.”

I stuck my tongue out at her, hoping fervently that her joking statement didn’t turn out to be prophetic. After only a few minutes instruction, my confidence blooming, I was flying around the arena like the others. My hair swept back and feeling freer than I had in a very long time.

Edward had reined Aries in and was sitting it the middle of the arena. One leg thrown across the horses’ withers side saddle, while he watched me with a strange smile on his face. As though it had been etched there with a chisel of pain. Curious, I drew up next to him smoothly, the little mare following every clumsy cue to perfection. She made me look good.

“Wow,” I said breathlessly, exhilaration evident in my tone. But the expression on Edward’s face dampened my spirits a bit. He looked miserable and I wanted to shake him until his teeth rattled. What could be wrong now? I wondered.

With no small amount of exasperation, I asked him as much,” Edward…what the hell is wrong with you?”

His gaze traveled the planes of my flushed face and bright eyes, darkening as it moved like the shadow of a cloud. “You’re so….” He paused and exhaled a shaky sigh,” beautiful,” he finished, but I knew instinctively that wasn’t what he had been going to say.

“Trust me Edward…how were you really going to finish that sentence?”

His deep, troubled eyes fixed on mine and he only hesitated a second before replying,” I was going to say….alive.”

The anger that had been bubbling for hours, suddenly erupted. It exploded inside me, spewing magma hot jets of steam in all directions, until I thought I might melt under the force of it. To my credit, my only outward sign was the thinning of my lips, and the smoldering in my eyes. I leaned over very close to him so the others wouldn’t overhear what I was about to say. “Perhaps you should try acting as if you are Edward. I want you to know, I am not angry that you shared your thoughts with me. I am angry at the direction your thoughts invariably take. To that point where you believe you know what’s best for me. Disregarding my wishes in the matter. You should also know….I am sincerely tired of it.” I snapped my teeth together over the last word, and urged Zephyr away from him before he could respond.

I matched pace with Alice and Jasper, riding three abreast we swept past the immobile Edward. My whooping laugh of joy, a rhythmic counterpoint to the thud of the horses hooves. “let’s ride,” I called out, and headed for the gate that Livvy opened for me. She was grinning.