“Be like what?” I asked, confused. Milo was having issues with bloodlust, but I didn’t understand why it was solely directed at our mother.
“Nothing,” Milo said sheepishly.
“Go pack up the rest of your stuff.” Jack gestured to his room. “Let’s get out of here before you do something really stupid.”
“Sorry.” Milo slunk off to his room.
Once he was gone, I whirled on Jack, and whispered fiercely, “What was that about? What’s going on?”
“Remember how things were complicated before?” Jack asked, shooting a glance over his shoulder to make sure that Milo was out of earshot. “Well, they just got a whole lot worse.”
“What are you talking about?” I narrowed my eyes at him.
“Milo is jealous.”
“Well…” He scratched the back of his head and sighed. “Everyone who interacts with me.”
“Okay see… the thing is, vampires bond with whoever turns them,” Jack elaborated. “I told you about how close I was to Peter and Ezra because we shared the same blood. Well… since Milo drank my blood, we’re really bonded. And it’s different than it was with Peter because apparently, Milo had a crush on me before he turned. And with the bonding, that’s intensified.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” My arms had been crossed over my chest, but they fell to my side. “Holy hell. First your brother, now my brother. It’s like this whole thing is completely impossible.”
“No, it’s not like with Peter,” Jack shook his head. “Milo’s like a brother to me, and that’s all. And this is just new. My blood is still fresh, and he doesn’t have a handle on any of his emotions. This’ll fade. With time.”
“How much time?” I demanded.
“The thing is… there’s so much uncharted territory with you,” he tried to explain, but I laughed hollowly and shook my head.
“You don’t know. You don’t even know if it will fade. This is all assumptions!”
“Shh!” Jack looked nervously back at Milo’s room, but when he didn’t come out, he turned back to me. “No, the bond does fade. Okay? When I first turned, it was like hero worship with me and Peter.”
“That was sixteen years ago,” I said incredulously. “Do you really plan on waiting sixteen years for this?”
“It’ll stop sooner. I just can’t say the time frame, but I really don’t think it was that long with Peter and me.”
“Whatever.” I rolled my eyes. “Milo will stop. Peter will stop. Everything will stop. And one day, it’ll be happily ever after. But instead of things getting better, more stuff just keeps piling up on top of it.”
“You know what the problem is? You’re looking at this all with mortal eyes,” Jack decided. “You see time finitely, and that’s not the case. This will take time, but we have time.”
“No. You have time. Because the last time I checked-” I stopped and held my fingers to my throat. “Yep. That’s a pulse. That’s mortal blood in these veins, Jack. I’m not a damn vampire.”
“Yeah, now. But this is just temporary.”
“Maybe,” I said. “But right now, you’re whispering and standing like three feet away from me. Because if you weren’t, my brother might kill me, or your brother might kill you. And until that stops, you can’t really get any closer than you are now.”
Jack sighed and looked sadly at me. Milo came out of his room, and Jack dropped his eyes and took a step away from me.
Yeah, this was all going to work out perfectly. Jack was now afraid of my little brother. Everything was right on track.
“I’m all packed.” Milo had two duffle bags and a garbage bag of stuff in his hands.
“We should probably get going,” Jack said, taking a step towards the door. “You’ve had enough excitement for today.”
“Alice, I’m sorry about all of this,” Milo said sincerely, and softness returned to his face. I hated him for it, because just then, I really wanted to be mad, and I couldn’t. “I know how much trouble this is for you, and I never meant for that.”
“Don’t be silly,” I shook my head. “None of this is your fault. You are a victim of circumstance.”
“I’ll see you soon, okay?” Milo promised.
“Yeah, I know,” I lied. He looked at me expectantly for a moment. “I would hug you if, y’know, I could. But you’ll get it under control soon. Okay?”
“Yeah,” Milo smiled wanly.
Jack held the door open for him, and gave me one last apologetic look as Milo escaped out into the hall. “I’ll talk to you soon. Have fun.”
Once the door shut, it hit me. I was alone in the apartment. Thanks to Milo’s complete lack of a social life, I could count the times I’d been home alone on two hands. The only time was when I skipped school, and Milo still went. Otherwise, he was always here.
And he was never going to be here again.
A few minutes ago, I mustered some pretty wicked anger at him, but it was all gone. The reality of everything sunk in.
No one would be here to lecture me about bedtimes or homework, or scoff at me when I watched reality TV, or make me supper.
For the first time in over sixteen years, I was alone. My little brother was really gone.
- 9 -
After becoming accustomed to the subzero temperatures at Jack’s, I was dying in my own apartment. To beat the heat, I drenched my tank top and underwear in cold water and put them on. It was the closest thing I had to a lake in my backyard.
To pass the time, I buried myself in Peter’s biography, although I wasn’t convinced that he had actually written it. Jack seemed sure of it, and he had been offended by me reading A Brief History of Vampyres.
Still, it was hard to think of Peter wanting to write anything down. Whenever I was around him, he wanted nothing to do with expressing himself, but Ezra had said he had been a different man before the love of his life died.
I felt strangely betrayed at the thought of Elise, Peter’s girlfriend that’d been murdered a long time ago. She was his one true love, or something ridiculous like that.
Every part of my being claimed that I was meant for him, and because of her, because of a vampire that had died before I was even born, he refused me. I will never be with him, and the way things are going now, I’ll never be anything except a lone corpse in the ground.