It was the week from hell.
There was, of course, more training – two days of it, in fact. On the second night, we all decided to go grab something to eat in the cafeteria afterward. Everyone was in good spirits as they talked about an upcoming game while I still felt on edge. I tried to hide it, but it was nearly impossible as I sat trying not to look at Edward…only to fail and steal glances at him repeatedly. There was a lot of talk, both about the game and about stuff in general, but I had no idea what was said. After we sat and ate for a while, we all headed home, much to my relief.
My relief was short-lived, though, because during my hours teaching, I did more of the same. I didn’t want to look at Edward, but I was drawn to him.
I just could not stop thinking about that night at camp or Edward himself. I still wasn’t sure if it was the same Edward or not, but I wasn’t about to go up to him and ask. That would be way too embarrassing, either way you cut it. He hadn’t said anything about it either, so I tried to ignore it and pretend like nothing was wrong… well, nothing was wrong, really. Unless by “wrong,” you mean my fantasies going into overdrive – fantasies that had starred Edward more times than I was willing to admit, even to myself.
I shot surreptitious glances his way constantly. He was the teacher I had been subbing for, and he was now standing on the side of the pool, trying to explain the rules of the exercise to the kids. I was standing directly across from him. We were in the deep end this time, so the two of us would stay on the side, and there would be three helpers in the water.
“Okay, listen up!” Edward shouted at the kids as they treaded water and listened.
“See all those colors at the bottom of the pool?” He paused for a moment, waiting for the murmur to die down as the kids looked where he pointed. “Each of those is a little colored bag. Your goal is to gather up all five bags that are the color we give you and put them on the side of the pool. You can only grab one at a time, and you can’t grab anyone else’s color. Whoever finishes first wins a prize.”
He looked at each and every kid as he spoke. “Do you understand what you’re supposed to do?”
They all shouted, “Yes, sir!”
“Alright then. You may begin when I blow the whistle.”
He nodded to the helpers in the water and then looked at me, making sure we were ready as well. I nodded and heard the whistle blow.
I watched the boys go under straight away, excited to be diving. The girls were a little slower, and I chuckled slightly at the difference of approach.
I glanced at Edward again; he was watching me. He nodded and smirked as the first bags started to appear on the side. The helpers were trying to keep up with the kids, but it was difficult. I looked down and frowned.
I knew there were nine kids, and I scanned the side of the pool… only eight colors. I looked down again; my heart rate increasing when I noticed something on the bottom as James popped up, his eyes wild. He opened his mouth to say something, but I’d already kicked my flip flops off and dove in because something was very wrong. I pushed down to the bottom and saw Jessica, her small body limp and unmoving. I grabbed her and pulled her up. As soon as we broke the surface of the water, I checked her breathing. Nothing.
“Damn it…” I checked for a pulse and found her faint heartbeat. Thank God, that’s something… I put my mouth to hers and gave a quick breath before swimming to the side of the pool.
Edward was already waiting, his face a mask of control, but his eyes flickered from the girl to me with worry clear in them. He nodded once as he took Jessica from me and proceeded to again check for breath and pulse. I pulled myself out of the pool and went to her side.
“Anything?” I murmured.
“She’s still not breathing, but her heart’s beating… for now,” he said in a low voice.
Two of the helpers had gotten the other kids out of the pool and huddled them into the showers. They didn’t need to be here. Only James was left now, and he stood a few feet from us, hugging himself, his eyes frantic as he watched us give her CPR.
One of the helpers was on the phone with 911, and I heard James begin to sniffle. His teeth were chattering as he kept saying, “Is she gonna be okay? I didn’t mean to…” over and over again. Neither of us spared him any time, though, as we focused on getting the girl to breathe again.
I could not lose her; I couldn’t allow another to die. The air between Edward and me seemed to crackle, but I had to concentrate on the girl.
Jessica suddenly started to cough and spit up water. Edward gave a shuddering sigh of relief as he looked at me, my own relief clear on my face. I blinked quickly to prevent the tears that were threatening from falling. I murmured to her and stroked her hair out of her face as her eyes fluttered open. “You’re going to be okay, Jessica”.
I tried to smile at her and then looked back at Edward, who had gotten up and was kneeling in front of James.
“James… what happened?”
James looked at him with fear still in his eyes. “I’m sorry… I was just playing. I didn’t mean to…”
“Didn’t mean to what, James?” Edward interrupted. “What did you do to Jessica?”
I could hear the barely controlled anger in his voice, and I saw him clench and unclench his fists. I looked back to Jessica, making sure she was still breathing. I heard the doors to the hall open and the paramedics come in. I stood up and stepped aside as they assessed the situation and quickly put her on the gurney.
I gave the paramedics her emergency details before turning my attention back to James. I stepped behind Edward and crossed my arms, half in an attempt to keep from shaking the boy and half to hold myself together and keep the memories at bay. I’d deal with those later. Right now, I was needed here.
“….held her shoulder… but she started to panic and …” I heard James try to explain as he drew in a deep, shuddering breath.
“I thought she was just trying to get free, playing along…but when I let her go, she’d stopped…”
He looked from Edward up to me and back again, tears in his eyes.
I heard Edward take a deep breath before answering him. “James. That was a very, very dangerous thing to do. Jessica could have died. She almost did. You know better than this; don’t you?” He looked at James, his jaw clenching. “We’ve been over the rules and the reasons behind them many times, James. Haven’t we?”
The boy nodded quietly.
“We’re going to talk with your dad as soon as he gets here to discuss what happens next. And I think we need to talk to Jessica and her mom as well.”
James’ eyes bulged with panic, but he just nodded his assent. “Now, shower, get dressed, and come straight back in here when you’re done. Okay?”
A very timid “Yes, sir” came from him as he walked off, his shoulders slumped.
Edward pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes for a moment.
“Thank you.” He opened his eyes as he stood back up, looking at me. The careful mask of control was slipping now that the emergency was over, and relief, anxiety, and anger all plainly showed in his eyes.
“If you hadn’t reacted as swiftly as you did…” He let the sentence trail off, shaking his head slowly.
We both knew what the consequences would have been. I nodded and shivered, the feeling of something… still flowing between us. I shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the other, and he tilted his head slightly, frowning. I watched as he rubbed his arm gently, and I noticed he had goose bumps. I cleared my throat and said, “I’ll just… go gather the rest of the bags and clean up, so we can get ready for training?”
It came out as a question, and Edward nodded.
“I’m going to go wait for James’ dad. I’ll send one of the helpers back in to give you a hand,” he said.
With a look of resignation and anger on his face, he walked out of the hall, closing the door behind him. I grabbed the basket and put it at the side of the pool. As soon as I heard the door open again and saw the helpers come in, I dove into the water.
I was glad to feel the water surround me, bathing me with a feeling of peace as I gathered the remaining bags from the bottom of the pool. I tossed them into the basket and crawled onto the side. I sat for a moment, resting my head in my hands and pulling my knees up to my chest. I closed my eyes and tried to relax and not dwell on the feelings of trepidation that lingered.
After a minute, I pulled myself together and grabbed the basket. I walked to the storage closet and put it in its place. Just then, Emmett and Bella walked up to me, both frowning slightly.
“Jasper, are you okay?” I looked at Bella and nodded.
“Yeah, I’ll be fine… I take it you heard what happened?”
Emmett spoke up. “Yeah, bro, we saw Edward talking to James’s dad. They both looked pissed. I know that the kid was wrong and all, but with how his dad looked, I feel kind of bad for him. It wasn’t looking pretty, and the kid looked scared to death…”
I just scowled at him, and Bella added, “Vanessa came up to us and explained what had happened. She said that Jessica’s mom had called back to let us know that she’s doing fine, but they’re keeping her overnight just in case.”
“Vanessa?” I asked. I still hadn’t learned all the names of the helpers yet as they rotated frequently.
“Yeah, she said she called 911?”
“Ahh, okay… I’m glad that Jessica’s doing okay. Thanks for letting me know.”
Bella nodded and walked up to me. I smiled at her, and she reached her arms around to give me a hug. I gladly accepted and returned it, whispering, “Thank you. I’m okay, promise.”
She gave a tentative smile as she let me go.
I sighed and said, “Okay, I need to go change into my training trunks. I’ll be right back… just go and start without me.”
I hurried into the locker room, showered, changed, and went back for the session.
Edward was following right behind me. I had not noticed him in there at all, but I had been preoccupied.
Emmett had started everyone off with the stamina exercises we’d done before. I jumped in and lost myself in the workout. After about five minutes, Edward blew his whistle and had us pair off to throw a ball back and forth. We started off about two feet apart and then had to move further and further apart from each other.
I ended up paired with Edward, much to my chagrin. I couldn’t very well try and ignore him when I was forced to pay attention to his every move. I tried to just focus on what we were supposed to be doing and, for once, I was able to do just that. My mind was still working through what had happened earlier.
I went through the paces of the session, paying minimal attention, and was almost surprised when our time was up. Edward started to gather the balls, and I went to help him. Neither of us said anything. The rest of the team left us alone, figuring we needed to talk about what we had just experienced.
Edward lingered in the storage closet for a while. I wanted to go in because the tension that I felt between us was still there. It was always there, confusing me.
“Do you need help with anything else, Edward?” I asked.
“No, that’s okay. I’m just going to check on some stuff in here, make sure we’ve got everything we need for the game next week.”
“Okay, man…” I walked into the locker room, leaving him to his task.
Everyone else had already left, so I had the shower to myself. I grabbed my towel from my bag along with soap and shampoo and hit the showers. I pulled my swimming trunks off and rinsed them before tossing them aside.
Grabbing the shampoo, I put a dollop on my hand, lathered it up, and started to wash my hair. I let out a sigh and closed my eyes, my mind going back to earlier in the afternoon as I was trying to get to Jessica. As focused as I was at the task at hand, I couldn’t help but think back to Brendan…my best friend.
God, I miss you…
I rinsed my hair and put my face under the shower head, letting my silent tears mingle with the water.
At least Jessica’s okay. You got to her in time…
Enough! You did what you had to do.
I sighed and rested my forehead against the cold tiles as I tried to compose myself, letting the hot water cascade over me.
Thank God for large water heaters.
I chuckled softly at myself and shook my head. I started to lather up my arms and my chest when, suddenly, I felt my skin tingle. Before I could turn around, a body pressed into my back, pushing me against the wall. The coldness of the tiles was shocking, and I felt my nipples stiffen as I let out a gasp. I saw an arm on either side of me pressed against it as well, encasing me.
I knew it was him.
The one person that had tortured me with his looks, his scent, his whole being, since the moment he had come back into my life. That same electricity sparked between our bodies again, and even after all this time, I knew. I could feel Edward’s hard-on pressing against my ass, as I heard him whisper huskily in my ear, “Care to play another round of Truth Or Dare?”