“Like I have any idea what’s best for me.” Folding my arms on my knees, I buried my face in them. Ezra seeing me cry like that embarrassed me.
“I think you do.” His hand felt strong and gentle as he rubbed my back.
After a solid minute of crying, I decided that was enough and lifted my head. I wiped at my damp cheeks, pushing strands of hair off my face. I took a deep breath and reminded myself this wasn’t the end of the world. It was only a postponement.
“Do they know?” I asked, thinking of how cheery Mae and Jack had been.
“Jack got on about you turning last night, but I was evasive,” Ezra said. “No, I haven’t told him or Milo that you’re going to hold off.”
“Are you going to tell them?”
“You can tell them if you want, or I can, or we can. We can do it now, or next week. Whatever you’re comfortable with.” He brushed his hair off his forehead and looked out the window. “I know neither of them will take it well.”
“Not tonight,” I decided. It seemed like far too much watching Jack get sad and angry over this. Feeling it myself was enough without having to feel it for him too.
“So I probably need to get myself in order before I go back out there, or they’ll know something’s up.” I smoothed out my hair.
“You know what would cheer you up?” Ezra asked, getting to his feet. “Watching an elephant paint. It’s really much more entertaining than it sounds.”
“Okay,” I laughed a little and got up.
After Ezra showed me the video, he gave me a brief tour of his den, explaining some of his favorite books and the painting on the wall. He’d actually lived in Amsterdam shortly after Rembrandt died, so that had always held some significance to him.
When I finally looked like my normal self, we headed out in the living room to see what everyone else was up to.
For most of the night, Jack and Milo played video games, but nobody complained. I felt rather sad and lonely, and while I did my best to mask it, Mae noticed and let me curl up with her on the couch.
The time passed much quicker then I wanted it to, and before I knew it, the sun was rising and Jack was giving me a ride home. If I had been awake enough to talk, he probably would’ve noticed something was up, and I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t even want to think about it.
- 11 -
Nine days left of freedom, and Jack couldn’t return a stupid text message. I couldn’t spend another night locked up inside the stifling heat of the apartment. In anticipation of escape, I had gotten all dolled up, and I looked ridiculously foxy, at least for me. I could not stay inside looking that good.
Three text messages and one hour later, when I still hadn’t heard from Jack, I resorted to calling him.
“Alice,” Jack answered the phone, and he didn’t sound happy. So that was a good start.
“What can I do for you?” he asked, and someone talked behind him. “Hold on.” Before I could say anything, the sound muffled as he moved the phone away from his mouth. “No! Can you just wait? I’m on the phone.” He scoffed. “I don’t care! Just hold on!”
“Jack, what’s going on?” I thought I heard Milo shouting in the background. “Is something wrong?”
“No, everything’s fine.” Jack was talking into the phone again, sounding irritated. “Look, now’s not really a good time to talk. Can I call you back later?”
“Like when later?”
“I don’t know.” He growled and yelled at something happening around him. “No! Knock it off! You can wait one second for-” He exhaled angrily, and then spoke to me again. “Alice, I’m sorry. I gotta go. I’ll call you later, though.”
“Alright, fine.” I’d barely gotten the word “fine” out of my mouth before he hung up. He didn’t even say goodbye.
I collapsed back on the bed, knowing it’d mess up my hair. My nails were freshly painted a dark violet, and I had pulled out a fancy new top that did amazing things for my cleavage.
Not to mention that I had put on my one pair of black heels that looked fantastic, even though they killed to walk in. My eyes were in dramatic smoky makeup that would wash off when I started bawling in approximately five seconds.
After a whirlwind romance with a pair of vampires, somehow my life had amounted to waiting by the phone in hopes someone would call. Getting all dressed up with no place to go.
My phone buzzed in my hand, and out of the blue, my supposed best friend Jane texted me. Immediately after being blown off by Jack for the hundredth time this week, Jane sent me good news.
There’s a big party at Andrew Sullivan’s house. I’ll drive. You in?
My first instinct was to decline, but I decided that it was a sign. I had asked Ezra if it would ever make sense for me to turn, or if I was better off moving on with my life.
Jack practically hung up on me, and Jane invited me out into the real world. My path looked clearer.
Yeah. I’m actually already to go out. When can you get here? I responded.
Twenty minutes? Jane texted back.
Great. See you then.
I rolled out of bed and hurried to the bathroom to make sure I looked okay. With one last quick look over, I realized that something was missing. That something that screamed, “Let's go crazy.”
I dashed back into my room and changed into the final touch: a bright purple thong that Jane had insisted getting for me from Victoria’s Secret, “just in case” Jack ever decided… well, he was never going to decide that, so it seemed like a moot point.
Jane pulled up in her father’s car with Moby playing so loud, I’m surprised it didn’t blow the speakers. The whole car smelled of the strawberry lip gloss she layered on. With an overly happy “Hey girl,” she offered me some, and I took it.
She looked amazing. She’d always reminded me of some tragic socialite, like Edie Sedgwick, the way everything about her was perfect and completely poised to end up exploited.
While she drove, she laughed too much at things that weren’t funny and danced to the music so that the car weaved all over the highway.
“Jane!” I grabbed the wheel to keep the car from slamming into a divider. She giggled and put both her hands on the wheel, but it took an effort to keep her eyes focused on something as mundane as the road. “Jane, what’s going?”
“I’m rolling.” Jane leaned towards me, as if confessing a secret, and held her fingers out to me about an inch apart. “Just a little.”