“You’re a vampire,” I said breathlessly.
“I am,” Milo agreed with a wry smile.
“How do you feel?”
“Pretty amazing actually.” His smile widened and his stance broadened. “At first, it hurt like hell and I was sure I was going to die. Or at least I hoped I would. But now I feel better than I’ve ever felt.”
“Really?” I asked hopefully.
“Yeah.” Milo nodded, but his smile faltered. “Well, except for the hunger. It’s hard to get used to, but eating… Wow. There aren’t even words for it.”
“So you’re eating?” I asked, even though I knew the answer.
“If I wasn’t, I couldn’t be here with you,” Milo said with a strange threatening sound to his voice, and I involuntarily shrunk back in the bed. “I’m not even supposed to be out of my room now. But I woke up hungry, so I had some blood bags in the room. Mae was completely passed out in the chair, and I was sick of being locked up.”
“They think you’re going to eat me?” I tucked a tangle of my hair behind my ear and hoped my voice stayed even. He looked pained but said nothing. “Do… do you want to?”
“I’m not going to!” Milo insisted, but he dropped his eyes to the floor. “I want to. It’s impossible not to.
“Don’t kid yourself, Alice. They’re all thinking about it.” He looked back up at me, his russet eyes full of warning. “It’s really not safe for you here.”
“I think I’m pretty safe here,” I reassured him.
“You have no idea,” he said ominously, and then narrowed his eyes at me. “Do you let them bite you?”
“No.” I floundered under his judgmental gaze. “Well, it’s complicated.”
“Not Jack.” Milo’s voice had gotten small and plaintive and… jealous.
Definitely jealous. Everything he felt got more intense when he turned, including his crush on Jack. But more than his emotions were powerful. Physically, Milo was stronger, but just standing there talking to me, there was something menacing about him.
“Not Jack,” I answered quickly. “Once with Peter, but it was a very difficult situation.”
“What’s going on?” He stood up straighter and sniffed the air. “Something just happened.”
“What are you talking about?” I looked around the room.
“You. Something happened to you. You’re…” His eyes changed, and I recognized that burning hunger behind them. “Everything about you… It’s like… You want me to bite you?”
“No!” I shouted, alarmed.
“I don’t understand.” His face betrayed the struggle going on within him, and when he took a step closer to me, it finally dawned on me that I could actually be in danger. “What did you do?”
“I didn’t do-” I started to argue, but then I realized exactly what I’d done.
I’d thought of Peter, and my body turned itself into the most delectable thing a vampire could imagine when I thought of him. It affected Jack the hardest, but since Milo was so new, he had no defense for it.
“Milo!” Jack shouted, appearing in the doorway.
With a great effort, Milo pulled his eyes away from me, and he exchanged a look with Jack that I couldn’t read. Milo swallowed hard and his breathing had grown more labored, but he managed to keep his focus on Jack.
“Go back to your room,” Jack told him.
Milo shivered and walked past him. Jack stayed frozen in the doorway until I heard the bedroom door shut as Milo went back into his room.
“What the hell were you doing?” Jack turned back me, his voice full of venom.
“I didn’t do anything,” I said. “He came into my room while I was sleeping!”
“You should’ve yelled for me or Mae!” Jack crossed his arms over his chest. “And you’ve got to stop thinking about Peter! Do you want to get yourself killed?”
“It’s so impossible!” I groaned and flopped back onto the bed. “You know, in the real world, its okay to just think about people! There’s not little mind police checking to make sure that your pulse hasn’t quickened!”
“I know,” Jack sighed apologetically. “We’re just a little more sensitive than everyone else.”
“What was that, by the way?” I looked back over at him.
“That look you had with Milo. You were like… I don’t know. Connected.” A weird pang of envy stabbed at me that I tried to ignore. “You guys aren’t like… lovers or something?”
“No, no, of course not!” Jack laughed, and the clear sound of it made everything about me lighten and relax. “But we are more ‘connected,’ I guess. Because I turned him, it makes us closer.”
I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, but I’d better hurry and get used to it because there’d be nothing I could do about. The one thing I knew for sure about vampirism is that it was permanent.
“Are you okay?” Jack walked closer to the bed and looked me over.
“If I said no, would you stay here with me longer?”
Knowing Milo was alright had taken a giant weight off my shoulders, and it made me aware of how little time I’d really spent with Jack lately. I missed him terribly.
“I shouldn’t…” Jack trailed off, but I’d won.
Lifting up the covers, he crawled into bed with me. I snuggled up next to him and relished the feel of his strong arms around me. Despite Milo’s earlier proclamation, I knew there was nowhere in the world I was safer than in Jack’s arms.
“Everything’s gonna be okay.” He stroked my hair gently, and I rested my head on his chest, letting his heart thud slowly in my ear. “Milo’s going to be just fine. He just has to adjust to everything.”
“I don’t want to talk about adjusting or how everything is going be fine or okay or great in the future,” I said tiredly. “I just want to lay here with you.”
Jack settled into bed and I felt him relax with me. We rarely got to fall asleep together, let alone curled up in bed. The moments were few and far between, and I wanted to hang onto this one as long as I could.
We were woken up much too soon. I had been in the middle of a dream, and then I heard someone clearing their throat loudly in the hallway.
As I started coming to, I felt Jack’s arms pull away from me, and I clung onto them. He laughed quietly into my hair, but that only annoyed the interloper in the hall.