My mind became a delirious fog, and I realized we could be closer still. With him, there were more ways than one, and both of them sounded too tantalizing to pass up. The way his lips touched my neck, I knew which one he wanted the most, but I wanted one that would least likely lead to our deaths.
I looped my fingers into the elastic of his boxers, and he moaned with surprise.
- 15 -
“Sorry to interrupt, but I thought I’d let you know I was home.” Ezra’s deep voice filled the room, making my heart stop. I looked over my shoulder to see him standing in the doorway to the living room.
“Oh, shit,” Jack groaned.
We had stopped kissing, and he let me slide off his lap. He wrapped the blanket around us both and kept an arm around me, warmly pressed up against him. I buried my head in his shoulder and tried to hide under the covers.
“Are you hell bent on getting her killed?” Ezra asked wearily.
Jack dropped his eyes to the floor instead of answering, and Ezra flicked on the living room lights. He went over and sat in the chair across from us. Leaning back, he crossed his leg over his knee.
“Well?” Ezra looked at us expectantly.
“What?” Jack asked, and I moved closer to him.
“I’m waiting for you to explain what is going on with you,” Ezra rested a hand on his chin, looking at Jack solemnly. “What do you think you’re doing with all of this?”
“I-I don’t know,” Jack stumbled and rubbed the back of his neck. “I wasn’t really thinking. We were just having fun.”
“That’s your answer for this and for taking her to the club?” Ezra asked, and Jack nodded. “I see.”
“This wasn’t-” Jack gestured to me but then floundered. “It wasn’t anything. I mean, it was under control.”
“Jack, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you don’t seem to ever be in control of matters that involve Alice,” Ezra told him dryly. “Honestly, what do you think would’ve happened if I hadn’t walked in? Do you think you’d be able to stop yourself?” Jack flinched and pulled away from me.
“I screwed up,” Jack sighed. “I get it. I always screw up. You don’t need to rub it in.”
“That’s what you think I’m trying to do?” Ezra sounded offended. “I am trying to keep you both alive.”
“I keep her safe,” Jack said defensively.
“A vampire club? Jack, really?” Ezra raised an eyebrow and shook his head. “Did you forget what happened when you were human? You nearly died. Vampires may try very hard to live a civilized life, but you know what they’re capable of.”
“Milo just wanted to check it out, and Alice wanted to get out and do something fun,” Jack shifted, and by now, he wasn’t touching me at all. Several inches of cold distance sat between us. “I’d been there before, and people go there all the time and they’re fine.”
“It takes so little to take it all away,” Ezra said quietly. “She is so fragile.”
“Then why can’t we just turn her?” Jack asked plaintively. “Then nobody would have to worry about me accidentally killing her.”
“You know I can’t do that right now” Ezra rubbed his eyes tiredly.
“Why not?” Jack asked.
“Milo is too young. Young vampires are far too dangerous,” Ezra sighed. “Vampires require proper guidance to keep them from turning into something horrendous. Morals and restraint are imperative to our survival. We have the power and strength to destroy everything if we don’t live in quiet moderation.”
“But we’re all here!” Jack insisted growing frustrated. “There’s three of us here to the two of them. We’d be fine!”
“You say that because this is what you were born into,” Ezra said with a mixture of affection and fatigue. “We were always stable and supportive and calm. You don’t know what it’s like when there are too many vampires and not enough leadership. You’ve led a very privileged life, and you’re taking that for granted.”
“It’s just two more vampires,” Jack said indignantly.
“It just takes one, Jack!” Ezra raised his voice, and I winced. “I’ve seen what it does, and I don’t want that for us.”
“But…” I said meekly, peering at him from over the top of the blankets. “Just because it happened somewhere else doesn’t mean it’ll happen here.”
“I’m sure Mae has told you of the unique position you are in.” Ezra rested his deep brown eyes on me. “You are one of the few that has a choice in this life. The rest of us were forced into it.”
“She did tell me that, yes,” I said.
“She also told you of the family she left behind, and how difficult that was.” Ezra rested his elbow on the arm of his chair and propped his head up. “But she told you nothing of my family or where I came from. Correct?”
“I think she said you were from England, but that’s it.” I looked to Jack for help, but he just watched Ezra intently as he spoke. There was something very captivating in the way Ezra talked, even to other vampires.
“I was born just outside of London in 1674,” Ezra said. “By the time I was fifteen, both my parents and two of my brothers had already died, leaving me in charge of my seven-year-old sister and the family farm. We managed to do quite well for ourselves, and I was able to support a family. I married at seventeen and went on to have four children of my own.”
“You had kids?” I asked. It never occurred to me that he would be married or have kids.
“Two boys and two girls.” His lips touched on a smile that quickly faded. “We lived a quiet happy life, but unfortunately, the skills that made my family thrive made me appealing to others. I was strong, hard-working, and diligent.
“A man called upon our house one night asking for dinner and board for the evening in exchange for money. Because of where we lived in the country, it wasn’t uncommon for weary travelers to take respite with us. My sister especially enjoyed it. She was at the marrying age and had yet to find a suitor.
“The man introduced himself as Willem, and he appeared wealthy and attractive, so I sent my sister to tend to him, in hopes that he would consider her.” He lowered his eyes, thinking heavily on the memory, and then shook his head.
“He stayed in the back room of the house, and he mentioned he was hungry. I sent my sister back with a bowl of soup, and when she didn’t return, I went back to check on her.” Ezra paused. “Willem stood in front of the window, staring at the black night, while my sister lay motionless on the floor. He drained all the life from her.