Surprisingly, he hadn’t really caught on that they weren’t human. Jack had been more discreet about his paranormal abilities, but Milo was a smart kid. I thought that he suspected something but let it go, because they didn’t seem dangerous and they made me happy.
“It’s a really beautiful night out,” Milo said. He floated on his back, admiring the night like I was.
“It’s been a fantastic summer.”
“I can’t believe it’s almost over,” Milo sighed.
“Don’t remind me!” I cringed.
School was only three short weeks away. Milo tried to convince me that it had little effect on my life, but it changed everything. There’d be no more all-nighters with Jack, and soon everything would get cold and snowy, and Milo would make me do homework.
Something grabbed me and pulled me under. I tried to scream but water buried me. I pictured some evil sea creature coming to eat my soul. Clawing my way to the surface, I grabbed onto something strong and soft and pulled myself up.
As soon as I reached for him, Jack pulled me up out of the water and let me cling on to him. Over my own frightened gasps, I heard him laughing softly, and I realized he’d been the one that grabbed my ankle. After a summer of similar antics, I should’ve caught on that Jack thought it was funny scaring the crap out of me.
I should’ve slapped him or told him he was a jerk, but the feel of his arms distracted me. His chest pressed up against mine, and he had to feel the frantic beating of my heart that drove him crazy.
I looked up in his soft blue eyes, and I felt breathless for a whole new reason. His laughter died down, and his smile faltered as his body temperature started to rise, smoldering against my skin.
Ordinarily, he would’ve pushed me away by now, but he let me linger in his arms. I tilted in towards him, hoping he’d let go just long enough for one innocent kiss.
“Hey! Look! A shooting star!” Milo shouted.
It was just enough for Jack to realize what was happening, so he pushed me back and swam away. Jack did everything he could to keep from letting things get out of hand, and sometimes that meant that he’d physically push me away. It was getting harder to shrug off, though.
Although I hadn’t asked about it, his temperature only seemed to rise when things between us got physical. During our one crazy passionate kiss, his skin had felt like it was on fire.
“Did you see it?” Milo asked.
I meant to shoot him an angry glare for disrupting my rare moment with Jack, but then I saw Milo just staring blissfully at the sky. He hadn’t been paying attention to anything but the stars, so he hadn’t known that he’d interrupted.
“Nah, sorry, I missed it,” I said.
“There’ll probably be another one,” Milo assured me, and I probably sounded very heavy with regret. Sure, I do love a good shooting star, but kisses with Jack were even a rarer commodity.
“I hope so.”
I treaded water, and Jack moved on to harassing Matilda. He’d gotten very good at finding ways to ignore me. Poor Matilda stood at the end of the dock, barking her refusal to jump in. Milo tired of his stargazing so he went over to join Jack in cajoling the dog in the water.
Being in the water suddenly didn’t feel like much fun. The adrenaline from the near sea monster death, followed by the near kiss, left my body feeling achy and tired. I knew Jack would do his best to steer clear of me for awhile, and even if I understood the routine, it didn’t feel good.
“I think I’m gonna head back inside and see if Mae needs a hand,” I said to no one in particular, which was just as well. Matilda was far more captivating than I was.
By the time I made it to the shore, I heard the loud splash and their shouts of triumph. Matilda finally jumped in the water. If only my resolution with Jack could be that simple.
Wrapping the towel around me, I stepped in through the French doors. My skin froze instantly, thanks to the arctic draft from the air conditioner. Amy Winehouse blasted out of the stereo, Mae’s one new guilty pleasure. Jack was always trying to get her to listen to new music, and so far the only things that took were Winehouse and Norah Jones.
Mae danced around the kitchen, singing into a spatula, and despite my aggravation over the Jack situation, I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Oh my gosh!” Mae put her hand over her heart and her golden eyes flashed with embarrassment. “You scared me!”
“Couldn’t you hear me come in?” I asked as she turned down the stereo. “Aren’t you guys supposed to have super hearing or something?”
“Well, yes, when we’re paying attention,” Mae smiled sheepishly at me. The fruit snack looked complete and nicely arranged on the island, and she was just cleaning up when I interrupted.
“Do you need a hand?” I offered.
“No, and you need to go put some clothes on first.” She nodded at me, and I had begun to shiver. “Unless you’re not done for the night.”
“Oh, no, I’m definitely done,” I replied grimly. The thrill completely wore off the instant Jack pushed me away.
“I should probably go change too.” She started untying her apron.
“You don’t need to stay in on my account.” I held up my hand to stop her. “You can go out there and swim while I clean up.”
“Nonsense,” Mae laughed, as if she would ever let me clean up after her. She whipped off her apron and set it on the island. “If you and Ezra are in the house, I can’t imagine what kind of fun I’d even have with the boys. They’ll probably throw frogs at each other.”
She wasn’t that far off base. When left to their own devices, Jack and Milo turned into very silly little boys. Once, when it was raining, I split up a mudball fight in the backyard. It’s very similar to a snowball fight, except with mud. That seemed like a genius idea to them both until Milo started getting bruises, because as it turns out, vampires can throw much harder than weakling sixteen-year-olds.
Mae shook her head and headed off down the hall to change. I followed her to the main bathroom across the hall from her bedroom.
In the bathroom, I changed into my ordinary clothes, and I wondered if I was being too stubborn not letting Mae buy me new clothes. After she’d spent decades buying for only boys, it would thrill her to take me on a shopping trip. The suit I set in the tub to dry had cost over a hundred dollars, and she’d bought me three of them. But then again, they already gave me far too much, and I returned so little.