“Ahem!” Mae coughed loudly.
“What?” Jack groaned.
“It’s time to get up,” Mae said.
“But I’m still sleeping,” he yawned.
“Too bad.” To enunciate her point, she clapped her hands loudly. “Get up!”
“I’m up!” Jack insisted and freed himself from me so he could sit up.
When Jack sat up, he cleared my view so I could see Mae standing in the hallway. Wearing an elegant housecoat, she had her hands on her hips. Just the way she looked at Jack made me feel guilty.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Mae asked wearily.
“Getting up, like you asked.” Jack leaned back and stretched, and I watched the wonderful muscles of his back ripple underneath his tee shirt.
“I meant, what do you do you think you’re doing in that bed, with her?” She nodded at me, but she never took her eyes of him. “Did you think that since you left the bedside lamp on it would make it okay?”
“Kinda.” He smiled at her, but she was in no mood for it.
“Get up. We all need to talk downstairs.” Mae took a step away, but Jack stopped her.
“Hey, hey. Did Milo tell you about his little excursion last night?” Jack asked, and his voice took a more accusing tone. “When he was on your watch?”
“We’ll talk about all that when you get downstairs.” She turned sharply, her housecoat billowing behind her, and disappeared down the hall.
“Its way too early for a lecture,” I muttered into the pillow.
“You’re telling me.”
He looked back at me, and his smile deepened, growing more genuine. He reached over and brushed a hair back from my eyes. His hand rested on my cheek for a moment, and it grew warmer, but he let it linger.
“You’re really beautiful when you sleep,” he murmured.
“I am not.” My cheeks reddened and I buried my face deeper in the pillow. He laughed, and reluctantly dropped his hand.
“Dibs on the shower.” The bed moved as he got up, and I turned my head so I could get a better view of him as he went over to the closet.
“There’s like twenty-seven showers in the house. Are you calling dibs on all of them?”
“Maybe,” Jack laughed and went into his closet.
I didn’t really mind him showering first. It gave me more time to lie in bed, burying myself deep in the covers.
I knew that many a love story had been written full of longing glances from across the room that could sustain a smoldering romance, but I couldn’t see how. I had spent the night curled up in Jack’s arms, and that wasn’t enough anymore.
- 7 -
It was worse than a lecture.
Ezra sat on the couch, and Mae sat on the floor next to him, resting her head on his knee. Her long honey waves of hair cascaded around her, and he absently ran his fingers through it.
Jack stretched out on the chaise lounge with Matilda sprawled out by his feet.
Milo stood off to the side, fiddling with the floor length curtains next to him. Under the bright lights of the living room, he was even more brilliant. He was still clearly my brother, but what he would’ve looked like in a few years if he worked out more and had a stylist.
It was hard not to stare at him when I walked in the room, but something distracted me.
They were all poised around me like it was an intervention. Jack sat up straighter when I came in. I sat in a chair and waited for whatever they were going to dump on me.
“So,” I said when it appeared nobody else would speak. “What’s going on?”
“I heard you had a visitor last night,” Ezra said, his accent lilting with a hint of dissatisfaction.
Milo’s cheeks colored with shame. Absently, he fiddled with the curtain and almost yanked it down. He reddened deeper and spouted apologizes that Mae just brushed away.
His movements were clumsily graceful. The way his slender fingers picked at everything was oddly elegant, but he didn’t understand how to control it or have any mastery of his strength.
He took a step away from the curtains and almost stumbled into the chair but caught himself with amazing ease. Milo gave up on movement and collapsed into the chair.
“The good news is that this is all perfectly normal.” Ezra watched Milo with a bemused smile.
“You’re just getting your bearings, love,” Mae said reassuringly. “We’ve all been through it.”
“Not all of us,” I whispered under my breath, and Jack shot a disappointed look my way.
“This is just so weird!” Milo lamented.
He meant to lean back in the chair, and he nearly tipped it over. He scoffed at himself, and underneath his perfect new features, I saw the frustrated little boy he had always been.
Whenever he uncovered a problem he couldn’t solve, he furrowed his brow and his eyes got faraway. Seeing him look that way again was reassuring.
“As you can see, Milo turned quite smoothly,” Ezra said to me. “He’s had very little problems, and he seems to have a rather large amount of self-control.”
“This is the least amount of control I’ve ever had in my life!” Milo scoffed.
“You’ll get it all back, plus so much more,” Mae told him. “You should’ve seen Jack after he first turned. He was a horrible mess.”
“Everyone is a little out of control in the beginning,” Ezra said. “Which is exactly why you never should’ve gone into Alice’s room last night.”
“I’m sorry!” The way Milo said it, I knew he’d already apologized a hundred times.
“Everything turned out fine.” I waved off Ezra’s concern. “It really wasn’t that big of a deal.”
“Yeah, it kinda was,” Jack said seriously, looking over at me. “If I hadn’t woken up…”
“If he hadn’t eaten before he saw you, there wouldn’t have been enough time for anyone to intercede,” Ezra agreed.
I hated the idea that Milo could kill me. They could all kill me, and according to Milo, they all wanted to. It didn’t seem fair that he was the only one guilt ridden and required a chaperone.
“Well, it’ll never happen again, and I’m still alive,” I said.
“You have no sense of self preservation.” Jack gave me a skeptical look.
“Obviously not,” I met his gaze evenly. If I cared anything for my life, I wouldn’t spend all my free time with a pack of vampires.
“That leads us to now,” Ezra said, but I didn’t follow. “Milo can’t go home, for many reasons. He’s got to stay on with us.”