I let him rush around my room and play dress up with me. Ordinarily, when I got ready, I would at least express an interest picking things out, but I was basically being forced out against my will. If it wasn’t comfy pajama type clothes, I didn’t really want any of it.
When Milo decided I looked good enough to present in public, I stood in front of the mirror in my bedroom, inspecting myself. He picked out a light weight dress that felt good in the heat, and I smoothed it down.
“Oh, you look good,” Milo said. “And I don’t know why you care so much if you don’t even wanna go out.”
“If I’m going out – with you and Jane – I need all the help I can get.” At the mention of Jane, I glanced over at the clock. “She’s like ten minutes late. Are you sure she’s coming?”
“Alice, it’s Jane. She’s always late.”
Besides being vaguely depressed, I was a bit jumpy. I really needed to get out and enjoy myself while I still could and shake this ridiculous sense of foreboding.
“Is this the book?” Milo asked. Peter’s book had been sitting on my nightstand, and he flipped through it. “Oh, yeah. It sure is. Huh.”
“What?” I turned to face him, wondering what that little “huh” was about it. “What book?”
“This book.” He held it up for me to see.
“I know what book you’re talking about, but what did you mean by ‘this’ book? How did you even know about it?” I wanted to walk over and snatch it from his hands, but that felt inappropriate, so I fiddled with the hem of my dress.
“It’s Peter’s book. Jack told me.” He skimmed a page, losing interest in the conversation. When I asked what Jack had told him, he just kept on reading.
“Milo?” I repeated louder, and when he still didn’t look up, I went over and grabbed the book from him.
“What’d you do that for?” Milo demanded.
“You were ignoring me.” I took a step back from him, finding a peculiar comfort in putting distance between him and the book. I tried to seem nonchalant and tucked my hair behind my ears. “I asked what Jack said about it.”
“He said you had a book that Peter wrote about vampires,” Milo shrugged.
My heart had sped up, and I saw a flicker in Milo’s eyes as he registered it. I felt protective of the book because it was the only thing I really had of Peter, and I don’t know why it was important that I still feel a connection with him.
Thinking about it only made my body scramble, and my best answer was to turn and quickly put the book in my top dresser drawer.
“What was that about?” Milo’s voice had tightened. “What’s going on?”
“Nothing.” I slammed the drawer shut. Taking a deep breath, I gave myself a moment to recover before I turned around to face Milo again. “It’s just Peter.”
“I wish I had met Peter.” His defenses had softened. “I’d love to see what all the fuss is about.”
“There’s not a fuss. Is there?” I didn’t feel like I was making one, or at least I was trying not to.
“Oh, there’s a fuss,” Milo nodded with raised eyebrows. “That’s a big part of what Jack’s ‘training’ is all about.” He did air quotes for training, which would’ve made me smile, if I hadn’t been too distracted by the implications of what he was saying.
Jack’s use of words yesterday threw me off, but I hadn’t really put things together. “Arsenal” and “exercise” and “training.” Things that Milo needed to “master,” and in my head I had questioned, “Master for what?”
But I hadn’t said anything aloud, and now I really wish I had. Because Jack was training Milo to battle Peter, and it made my stomach twist in knots.
“Jack’s training you to fight Peter?”
“No, no,” he quickly backtracked. “Not to fight Peter. Not like I’m going to seek him out and ask him to duel or anything. He’s worried because he doesn’t know how Peter will treat me if he comes back.
“And in case Peter tries to do something… you know, to you.” He floundered for a minute, showing me a glimpse of the self-conscious boy he had been. “Jack wants to make sure we’re both protected. It’s not a bad thing.”
“Maybe not,” I said, but my stomach kept knotting up. “But I don’t like it.”
“You don’t like anything.” Milo rolled over and hopped off my bed. “Jane is taking too long. Let’s go down to the clubs and tell her to meet us there.”
“It’s too far to walk.”
“How do you think I got here? Magic?” He snapped his fingers, insinuating he’d appeared out of thin air. “No. I took Mae’s car.”
“You can’t drive!” I said. “You’ve had like one driving lesson and you don’t have your driver’s license!”
“Easy, girl!” Milo held up his hands. “Jack’s been teaching me how to drive, and I’m a different kind of sixteen now. And soon I’ll have a license, claiming I’m eighteen. So… get over it.”
“But you don’t have that license today!”
“Alice! You’re supposed to be the fun one!”
“I was never the fun one.”
“Well, you’re supposed to be irresponsible at least.” He gestured to the kitchen. “I mean, when was the last time you did the dishes? You don’t go to bed until the sun comes up. You’re a rebel without a cause. You can drive a few blocks in a Volkswagen. Live a little!”
“Okay! Fine!” I threw my hands up in the air and gave in. Grabbing my phone, I followed him out of my room and shook my head. “I’ll text Jane on the way there. Let’s go.”
- 18 -
Milo had new sex appeal and wanted to flaunt it. He’d been sexually repressed and awkward his whole life, so he had a few things he needed to work out. The most logical place would be a gay club off Hennepin.
I wasn’t thrilled by the prospect of returning downtown to a place a few blocks from the vampire club, but it was a human club, so I figured it would be mostly safe. Plus, I had Milo with me, and he’d act as my bodyguard, if I needed it.
Jane wasn’t happy about gay clubs. She went to them sometimes, because they had drinking and dancing and the gays thought she was fabulous. But Jane liked being hit on more than anything else.