“Nonsense! You know how much I love spending time with you. So come on. Get in the car.”
“You really don’t have to do this,” I said.
“I know.” She nodded towards the empty seat, so I sighed and I got in the car. “It’ll be fun. You’ll see.”
“I bet,” I leaned my head back on the seat as she pulled away. “The last time somebody came in place of Jack was when Peter picked me up. And we all know how well that turned out.”
“This isn’t like that.” Mae shook her head. “Jack really wanted to see you. He just can’t right now.”
“What is he doing? Teaching Milo how to turn into a bat?” I mocked, and Mae scowled.
“A lot goes into being a vampire, you know,” she told me gravely. “Plus, he’s been helping Ezra with the business. He was supposed to fly out to Tokyo yesterday, but…” She shook her head, pursing her lips.
“But what?” I sat up straighter.
“Something must be different in your blood,” Mae exhaled, talking more to herself than me. “I don’t understand it. But something makes you all so eager to bond. Who was your father?”
“My father?” I wrinkled my nose. “What does he have to do with anything?”
“I’m trying to understand your ancestry, because you and Milo are both so unique. I’m wondering if we’ve been looking at this all wrong. Maybe you weren’t meant for Peter. Maybe you were just meant to be a vampire.” Mae chewed her lip, looking sad and faraway. “We’re just a means to an end for you.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked. “An end to what?”
“You both bond so easily. It’s unlike anything we’ve ever encountered,” Mae said wearily.
“Milo’s super possessive of Jack, right?” I better just hurry up and resign myself to a life of mortal celibacy. “Jack kind of told me the other day.”
“These things just take time.”
“Why is that the answer to everything?” I scoffed. “All I ever get from you guys is that everything takes time and everything’s complicated.”
“What else am I supposed to say?” Mae asked pointedly. “That this will never get better, no matter how much time we have? If that’s what you want to hear, I’ll be happy to tell you that.”
“If that’s the truth, then yeah, that’s what you should say,” I said.
“Of course that’s not the truth!” Mae rolled her eyes. “Alice, the only constant in life is that everything is always changing. And that’s a little scary, but it means that things can’t be bad or hard forever.”
“And they can’t be good or easy forever either,” I countered.
“You’ve just got to trust me on this one.” Mae turned to me, smiling warmly at me. “I don’t know how yet, but things will end up the way they’re supposed to be.”
“Thanks for the blanket answer.”
“Let’s just forget about all of this,” Mae suggested. “Let’s just go have a girls' night. Just the two of us.”
“It’s after ten on a Tuesday. How much do you really think is open?” I asked.
“We’ll find something,” Mae insisted. “We’ll make do.”
We made do with a Wal-Mart that was open 24-hours, a Denny’s where she watched me eat, and a Blockbuster. We went back to my apartment, even though the whole point of the evening was supposed to be to get me out of the house.
Mae had never been inside before, but she ooed and awed over all our second-hand junk like it was astounding. She painted my nails and played with my hair while we watched Silence of the Lambs. It was one of my favorite movies because it was so terrible, and I felt better knowing that I was forcing her to watch something so terrible.
And despite my best attempts to hate everything about the night, she did manage to cheer me up a little bit. Of course, that went away completely when she left, when I was alone again.
- 10 -
I couldn’t get out to his car fast enough.
When Jack texted me the next day and asked to hang out, I hated myself for getting so excited about it. Even though I felt ridiculous, I spent an hour preening.
I rushed outside, and Jack sat in the Jetta, grinning broadly. Pat Benetar blasted out when I opened the door. He turned it down when I hopped in, but I barely even cared.
We were alone for the first time in what felt like forever. Nobody growled at me or chastised us for being too close. I could just be with him.
“Hey,” Jack smiled.
“I don’t wanna go to your house.”
“Why not?” He cocked an eyebrow.
“Because.” I pulled my knee up to my chest and looked at him, refusing to elaborate on my answer. I expected him to drive away or press me further, but he just nodded.
“Okay,” he smirked. “Where do you wanna go?”
“I don’t care where. Just drive.”
“You got it.” His eyes glinted, and he sped away from my apartment.
The buildings were a blur of lights beside us, and he had this weird ability to weave through openings in traffic that weren’t even there.
“So… how’s life with Milo?” I asked cautiously.
I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to know, but I needed to know. I had to make sure Milo was okay, and I wanted to hear how Jack felt about it.
“Good,” Jack shrugged noncommittally. “I like your brother. I like having him around.”
“I see,” I murmured.
“He’s already much better. Pretty soon you’ll be able to be around all the time. And I’m sure it will be all the time. He really misses you too.” Jack looked over to see if I believed him, and I wasn’t sure that I did. “He talks about you a lot. He just isn’t always thrilled when I talk about you.”
“Really?” I raised an eyebrow. “You guys talk about me? What do you say?”
“I don’t know,” he laughed. My heart flipped happily, and I settled deeper into the seat. “Nothing bad, if that’s what you’re getting at.”
“I just wonder what you say about me when I’m not around.”
“What do you say about me when I’m not around?” Jack countered.
“Hasn’t Milo told you?” I figured that by now, Milo had spilled everything.
“Yeah, he has, because apparently, all you ever tell him is that you’re not interested in me.” He tried to play it off with a smile, but I saw the hurt behind his eyes. “So yeah. I got all the juicy details.”