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The summer air slid in through the windows, filling the car with the green scent of the park, and the frightening sound of highway traffic. I bit my lip and stared out the window, where children played in the grass. The car was only idling in the parking lot, but I kept imagining Milo losing control and running them over.
My younger brother Milo had just turned sixteen, and he talked constantly about getting his license. His new obsession with cars I blamed entirely on Jack, who drove at excessive speeds in luxury vehicles. Milo changed the instant he laid eyes on his Lamborghini. Things that beautiful captivated people, even gay teenage boys, apparently.
Even though I was a year and a half older than Milo, I still didn’t have my license, so Jack was the one giving the driving lessons, and it scared me.
Wearing gigantic sunglasses, Jack sat shotgun, but he didn’t really explain things to Milo. He pointed to a pedal and said, “That one makes it go. So push on it and let’s go.” That’s it.
Fortunately, Milo’s pretty cautious, so he pressed Jack for more information, but that didn’t make his answers any less vague. That might be because Jack’s tired. The mid-afternoon August sun shined brightly above us. Ordinarily, that sounds like the best time to drive, but sunlight made Jack groggy. He’d already started to yawn.
Jack is not exactly like everyone else. I really like him, more than I should. He’s attractive in his own right, with dancing blue eyes, perpetually disheveled sandy hair, and flawless tanned skin, but he’s not what I would call drop-dead gorgeous.
Everything about Jack and his family is complicated, thanks to one major fact: they just happen to be vampires.
They aren’t really dangerous to people, or I wouldn’t let any of them around my brother. I guess technically they are, since they could easily kill us if they wanted to, but I don’t think they want to. They do live off human blood, but they use either blood banks or human donors.
Vampires don’t have to drink a person to death, although they can and sometimes do. Jack has never killed anyone, but he’s still a relatively young vampire. He was twenty-four when he turned, and that was only sixteen years ago, in comparison with his brother Ezra who has been around for over three-hundred years and Peter’s nearly two-hundred.
They’re not really brothers, but brothers in the way vampires are. In order to turn, the human’s blood fuses with the vampire’s blood. Ezra turned Peter, and Peter turned Jack. This makes them close in unusual ways. Peter is attracted to me, or rather his blood is. But because of his attraction, both Jack and Ezra are very fond of me, and Jack much more than he should be.
I know that Jack won’t do anything to put me in danger, not intentionally. His ability to monitor danger in relation to human’s fragile bodies, like my brother’s, is lacking. If we got in a crash, Jack would protect me over Milo, and that makes me nervous.
“Are you sure you really wanna do this today?” I asked, and in the rearview mirror, I saw Milo roll his eyes.
“We can just take you home if you’re gonna be this way,” Milo glared at me.
Despite his age, Milo had one of those distinct baby faces. His cheeks were chubby, and his brown eyes were innocently large. When he threatened me, he looked more like an angry child then the teenager he was.
“Alice, everything will be fine,” Jack promised, suppressing a yawn.
“I’m the sensible one. So if I think something is okay, it probably is,” Milo reminded me.
We’d been sitting in the parking lot for twenty minutes while Milo made Jack explain every part of the car to him. Since it was Jack explaining, a disproportionate amount of the time had been spent on the stereo and the seat warmers (which seemed logical for August), but Milo was getting antsy.
When he finally put the car in drive, my heart locked up. Milo drove across the parking lot, jerking on the brake unnecessarily several times.
“Just ease into it,” Jack said, and Milo responded.
“Maybe he’s not ready.” I leaned forward between the seats.
“Alice!” Milo snapped.
Jack lowered his sunglasses enough so he could peer at me over them. “Alice, you’ve got to lighten up, or we’ll really take you home. And I’ll let him drive all the way back.”
“Fine!” I threw my hands up in the air and fell back in the seat.
Milo drove around the parking lot with more starts and stops than a circle should require. His driving eventually became smoother, and I allowed myself to settle into it.
This was precisely the reason I stuck around. Jack offered me a chance at immortality, but I temporarily declined. I wasn’t quite ready to ditch out on my brother yet.
Jack yawned loudly again, and his fatigue washed over me. To wake himself up, he fiddled with the radio, causing the Cure to come blasting out. I opened my mouth to say something about that being too distracting, but Milo slapped his hand away and turned it off.
“I can’t concentrate with that,” Milo said when Jack looked offended.
“See?” Jack thudded his head tiredly on the headrest of the car. “You’ve got nothing to worry about with this kid.”
“No thanks to you,” I muttered. Jack turned towards me, grinning his mischievous, crooked smile. “What?”
“You know, someday you’re going to have to learn to drive.” Jack’s delight only deepened when I grimaced in response. “What? You didn’t really expect me to drive you around forever, did you?”
“No. But not today,” I said.
“It’s all on your time anyway.” Jack went back to watching Milo drive.
He’d been trying to hide his ever growing impatience, but he could hide very little from me. For some reason, I felt everything he felt, and sometimes, it made things awkward. He was definitely ready for me to turn. Jack understood what I wanted and tried not to pressure me into turning into a vampire, but it was hard for him.
“Should I take it out on the road?” Milo had paused by the exit of the parking lot and looked at Jack.
“Sorry, kid.” Jack shook his head, and Milo looked disappointed. “You did really well today, but I’m pretty beat, and I think your sister’s had all that she can take.”
Jack got out of the car to switch places with Milo and grumbled something about the sunlight. It didn’t help that he wore a tee shirt and shorts, exposing even more of his skin to the sun, but that was his standard uniform, even in winter.
Today he’d gone for a white tee shirt with neon cassette tapes on it and black Dickies with pink Converse. He wasn’t exactly the image I’d had in mind when I thought of vampire, but very little about him was stereotypical.