“Sure,” I nodded.
Milo couldn’t go back to his normal life at school, and with everything going well for him, I would just turn, and nothing tied us back to our old lives.
“You, on the other hand, will not.” Ezra spoke slowly, letting the weight of his words sink in.
“What?” I shook my head. “What are you talking about? Why wouldn’t I stay? Milo was the only reason I even wanted to go back to my life, and he’s here now!”
“Alice.” Ezra held a hand up to calm me, and I could feel Jack struggle to reign in his own emotions to soothe me.
“You’ll be out here all the time anyway,” Jack offered.
“I don’t understand. If… if I can be here all the time, then why do I need to go?” A lump wedged itself in my throat.
“It’s not safe for you,” Ezra tried to reason with me. “Milo’s very dangerous to humans right now, and he wouldn’t be able to live with himself if something happened to you.”
“Why…” I trailed off, unable to form the words I desperately wanted to ask. Why couldn’t I just turn? Was this their way of saying they no longer wanted me?
“And there’s your mother,” Ezra continued, ignoring my open ended question. “You left a letter indicating that you and Milo were going away with us for awhile. If both of you were to disappear, she would find that suspicious and send the police.”
“But if Milo just vanishes, you think she’d be fine with that?” I asked dubiously.
“No, we’ll have an explanation for that,” Ezra shook his head. “We’ll have that all figured out by tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow?” I asked breathlessly.
“Yes. You’ll go home tomorrow,” Ezra said.
“Milo will have enough time to ready himself to visit your mother, one last time, and we’ll have enough time to get things in order,” Mae elaborated, smiling at me.
They were kicking me out, pushing me away from everything that I cared about, and they were doing it with a smile.
Before Milo got hurt, I hadn’t planned to turn so soon. It shouldn’t matter if I left, because nothing had really changed from a few days ago.
But somehow, everything had changed. I was being left behind.
“I know this is hard for you, but it’s for the best,” Ezra said, and the finality in his voice let me know this wasn’t open for discussion.
“No, it’s no problem,” I shrugged and blinked hard to fight back tears. I stood up before I decided where I wanted to go, so I mumbled a lame excuse.
Mae called after me, and Milo watched me. I just walked past them, through the kitchen, and out the French doors onto the patio bathed in moonlight.
After spending the past three days inside frigid air conditioning, the warm humidity of the night hit me like a sauna. Fireflies danced through the branches of the weeping willow by the lake, and I walked out on the dock, wiping at my eyes.
I looked at the planks of wood stretching about before me, at the source of all my problems. If Milo had never slipped, if he’d never hit his head, then everything could just go back to normal.
My grasp on normal was getting very tenuous.
I didn’t like this hurt and confusion welling up inside me. It had the definite sting of loneliness, and that was one thing that I had become unprepared for. With everyone I loved immortal, it never occurred to me that I would be left alone.
Heavy footfalls echoed on the boards behind me, and I wiped at my eyes. I didn’t want to cry, let alone have an audience. I kept my arms wrapped around me, and I refused to turn back to see Jack as he came up behind me.
“Alice. It’s really not so bad.”
“No, I know,” I nodded in agreement. My tears stopped enough where I could look at him. “I just wasn’t thinking. If I had been thinking, I would’ve realized that I’d have to go soon.”
“Alice,” he groaned, seeing through me. “It’s for your safety, and ours.”
“No, I know,” I insisted. “I get it. Completely. You don’t have to worry about me.”
“Nobody blames you for being hurt.”
“I’m not hurt!” I snapped, and he rolled his eyes.
“Why do you always have to be so damn obstinate?” Jack asked, growing frustrated with me.
“I’m not. I have no idea what you’re talking about.” I shook my head.
He exhaled and tried a different approach. He reached out for me, but I pulled back, and he let his arm fall to his side.
“I don’t know why you’re mad at me. I had nothing to do with this.”
“It’s your fault Milo’s a vampire,” I pointed out, and then instantly regretted it. He looked so wounded, and I wanted to say something to take it back.
“You’re right,” Jack replied thickly. “You’re absolutely right. This is my fault.” He lowered his eyes. “You take as much time as you need. I’ll be in the house.”
“Jack,” I said, but he just shook his head.
“Take all the time you need, Alice.” He turned and walked back to the house, his footsteps heavier and slower this time.
I stared out at the black water surrounding me. Jack almost never did anything wrong, but he and Milo got the brunt of my anger or frustration because they took it so willingly.
It wasn’t fair to them and led me to believe that I was most likely a terrible person. No wonder they didn’t want me around anymore.
It would all just be so much simpler if I had been the one that had slipped on the dock and hit my head instead of Milo. I was jealous of the fact that he had almost died.
- 8 -
Since Milo managed honor roll grades, it wasn’t a stretch to think he’d been offered a scholarship to a fancy boarding school. It wouldn’t even seem that strange that he hadn’t mentioned it to our mother. With her work schedule, they barely saw each other.
Ezra printed off documents to certify Milo would be attending Chester Arthur Preparatory School outside of Albany, New York. The semester was slated to start one week from today, and it was recommended that students get out there a week early to acclimate themselves with the school.
Or at least that’s what the letter claimed.
They had an extensive story to go with it. Milo went over it with Ezra and Mae all evening.
Jack had done his best to try to cheer me up, but there was little he could do. As time dragged on, I only got more nervous and upset as I thought about the life I’d return to.