Chapter 2

"Had to have high, high hopes for a living

Shooting for the stars when I couldn't make a killing

Didn't have a dime, but I always had a vision

Had to have high, high hopes."

High Hopes - Panic! At the Disco

Tessa Cameron

"Yes!"

Tessa began to dance around the kitchen table letting the excitement burst out of her. Her little brother raised an eyebrow in question, whether to what she was holding in her hand or to the weird jumping spazzing movements she was making, she didn't know, but also didn't care. Who would care what others were thinking when something this amazing had happened?

"And all of you thought I was crazy!" She shouted.

Immediately, plans began to form in her head, and she couldn't help but add another weird jump before she ran to her` brother waving the letter in front of his face. He kept eating his cereal keeping a straight face. Eh. What could you expect from a little brother?

"What are you yelling about?"

She turned to meet her older brother's annoyed face. He groggily sat up on the couch. Since Eliot had chosen his cereal over her good news, she held the letter up to Jared.

"Yeah, 'cause I can see that from all the way over here." He groaned and rubbed his face with his hand.

"I got my acceptance letter for the summer program in New York!" she beamed, too happy to return a sarcastic quip at him.

Eliot slow clapped, spoon in hand. "Congrats, sis!" He smiled before shoving another spoonful of cereal into his mouth.

"Yeah? And where exactly are you going to get the money to pay for it?" Jared snorted.

"Dude!" Eliot threw his spoon into the living room, but Jared caught it before it hit him in the face. Another flash of annoyance crossed his eyes before he shot the spoon back. Eliot didn't have enough time to catch it before it smacked his arm.

"Really?" He shouted back.

"You threw it first." Jared rolled his eyes.

"Yeah! Because I was defending Tessa!"

Jared sat up straighter. "All I'm saying is that we don't have money for stupid things like summer camp."

"That's what scholarships are for, jackass." Tessa snapped back. "And it's not 'summer camp'. It's an early college program. I can actually earn college credits while I'm there!"

"And what's that going to do for you?"

She glared. "It can help me get into better colleges. I'm going to get out of here and actually do something with my life."

Jared shot off the couch. "You know why I'm not going to college!"

Eliot snorted at the same time Tessa did. "Yeah, you're a 'protector' of the tribe."

Whatever that even meant. All she ever saw her older brother do was hang around the other tall, shirtless guys trying to act cool. He claimed they guarded La Push and met up with the council. Even if that was true, it was a pretty lame excuse to keep living with their parents. He could have at least gotten a real job and gotten his own apartment. She and Eliot had made a bet for how many years he'd keep staying here last week.

"He'll still be here after you move out," she had told Eliot.

Eliot shrugged. "Don't forget he has a girlfriend."

Kim Conwell, the poor girl, had been dating her brother since last year. She was gushy and hinted at weddings and kids way too much. "Please," Tessa rolled my eyes. "They'll be having their honeymoon here. They'll probably just wait for Mom and Dad to die and just keep living here."

"You don't want the family house?" Eliot asked.

She just gave him a look. "You think I want to stay here the rest of my life?"

"So, what's your bet?" Eliot grinned.

"Realistically speaking?" She paused for a moment thinking. "Five more years."

"I think you're underestimating the power of the girlfriend. He'll want to get his own place, so they can live together. I'll say two years, three at the most."

They shook hands officially starting their fifty-dollar bet.

"What do you protect us from?" Eliot said, bring Tessa back to the present. "The librarian?"

"No," she cut in. "Not even they could stop Miss Smotch from terrorizing the good people of La Push."

Both of them snickered, not paying much attention Jared at this point.

"No, you're right, Tessa! Maybe something less threatening . . . like those wolves."

She couldn't help it as she joined in Eliot's howling laughter. There was a pack of wolves who lived up in the mountains since a few years ago. Sometimes they came around the area.

"M-Maybe," she gasped through the laughter. "Maybe they protect us from the vampires!"

The front door slammed. Jared had disappeared. The two younger siblings calmed down, still giggling a bit.

"Okay, maybe that was a little too far." Eliot said before slurping the milk in his bowl. "I mean. The council did confirm that Jared and the others were working for the reservation. And bringing up the old stories was a bit low . . . You know how he gets about all that stuff."

He still had a shadow of a smile in his face despite his words.

"When he stops making fun of my plans, I'll stop making fun of his job." She huffed, annoyed that he was trying to be the good guy.

Holding up his hands in surrender, Eliot shrugged. "He does have a point though. How are you planning to pay for New York? You and I both know it's not cheap. I mean, how much is a plane ticket alone? Mom and Dad won't be able to help all that much."

He grabbed the cereal box on the table and studied it for a moment, probably debating whether to have more or not.

Tessa slumped down at the table. "Scholarships, savings, jobs . . . I'll do it."

"It's just a huge thing to travel so far so suddenly. I mean, we've hardly ever left the state much less the peninsula."

"I thought you were on my side," she said as he poured more cereal into his bowl.

"I am. You want to go to this program. It's an awesome opportunity. I totally support that, but you have to make sure you can get the costs covered before you get your hopes up."

Jeez, Tessa thought. Her fifteen-year old brother was handing her life advice.

She stared down at the letter in her hands. He fingers gripped the paper as if it would vanish, taking her whole future with it.

"I don't want to get stuck here, Eliot," She whispered. "This could really help me get into a university in New York. I'm tired of the small town life. I'm tired of feeling like I can't do anything because we don't have money."

A car pulled into the gravel driveway. They both looked toward the front door.

"Mom and Dad are home," she said.

Eliot cursed and scrambled to throw the cereal box into the cabinet and rinse the dishes before they came in. She laughed at him.

"You think Jared will be back soon? We kinda did insult him . . . I think something might be going on with him. Lately, he's been so weird." Eliot looked at her with questioning eyes.

"Yeah, he's just going for one of his runs. He'll be back. And I'm sure he's fine."

Tessa looked at the back door Jared had gone through, grimacing.

Before she brushed her older brother out of her mind, she couldn't help but think that it'd been months since he'd gotten angry enough to leave the house. She'd thought that phase of his angsty teenage years had been over finally.

At least Eliot was still a nice younger brother. Well, mostly.

He settled at the table again, and they waited for their parents to walk in the door.

She read the acceptance letter again, thinking of what would happen if she went there in the summer. Maybe the college would accept her when she was a senior next year applying for colleges.

As long as she got away from La Push, she didn't care what happened next.