“I need a knife.” He looked back at Mae for help.
“There’s one in the kitchen sink,” Mae nodded to it.
Jack sifted through the sink and grabbed the knife Mae used to cut fruit. He walked over to Milo, holding the knife, and his breathing got more ragged. He was afraid of what he was about to do, and that didn’t make me feel any better.
“Do you want to see this?” Ezra asked me, sending a new shiver down my spine.
“Yes, of course.” I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else when this happened, no matter how disturbing it might be. If this was where Milo died or turned, I had to be here, with him.
Jack glanced over at me, his eyes burning with apology. He looked down at Milo and took a deep breath. With one deft move, he sliced open his wrist and blood trickled out. Pressing his wound up against Milo’s mouth, he didn’t even notice the pain.
“Ezra,” Jack shook his head, his voice trembling. “He’s not responding.”
“Give it time,” Ezra said.
“What if he doesn’t wake up?” Jack started to panic. His cut already began to close, and he used his other hand to pry it open, allowing his blood to flow into Milo’s mouth.
“Give it time,” Ezra repeated.
My heart raced wildly, and I knew that wouldn’t really help the situation. Whatever was supposed to happen wasn’t happening. Jack was terrified, and Mae tightened her grip around me.
Jack gasped sharply. Milo woke up enough to sink his teeth into his arm, but little else seemed to be happening with him. Jack groaned, and I tried to understand what he was feeling, but it was too many things all at once.
Milo coughed, but he still didn’t seem to be awake. Jack pulled his arm back before Milo gagged on his blood.
“He’s choking!” I yelled, and Mae’s arms stopped me from performing CPR.
“No, he’s fine,” Ezra assured me.
“He’s okay?” Jack winced and wrapped a towel around his wrist until the blood stopped.
“It’s too soon to tell,” Ezra said.
“What do you mean it’s too soon?” I struggled against Mae, but she held firm. “If he’s breathing, doesn’t that mean it worked?”
“It’s a process that takes a couple days,” Ezra explained, then looked past me at Mae.
“I’ll go ready a room for him,” Mae said quietly and let me go.
I rushed over to Milo. He coughed and his body shuddered involuntarily. I stroked his hair, damp from the lake and his own blood, and his eyelids trembled but didn’t open. Jack’s blood covered his lips, and I wanted to wipe it away, but I was afraid to.
“Alice,” Ezra said and placed his hand on my arm.
When I finally looked away from Milo, I was surprised to see we were the only two in the kitchen, along with my brother. I’d been so fixated on watching Milo that I hadn’t noticed Jack leave the room.
“What?” I tried to focus on Ezra, but my eyes were sore and blurry from crying.
“Why don’t you go rest? I’ll take Milo and clean him up and make sure he’s settled upstairs.” Ezra’s warm brown eyes tried to soothe me, but I laid an arm over Milo possessively.
“I can clean him up,” I insisted, but Ezra shook his head.
“You can’t carry him, Alice,” Ezra said. “This whole thing has you exhausted and frayed. You need to clear your head a bit, and you can check on Milo later. There’s nothing more you can do for him now.”
“But-” I tried to think of a convincing argument to stay with him, but there was none. Except that letting Milo out of my sight seemed impossible
Out of nowhere, Mae appeared at my side, and I knew the battle was lost.
“Come on, love,” Mae cooed and put her arm around my waist, so she could pry me away from Milo. “He needs to be moved upstairs where he can be more comfortable, and you need a chance to breathe.”
Ezra scooped Milo into his arms so he could take him upstairs. If Mae hadn’t mentioned that he would be more comfortable elsewhere, I might’ve fought more to stay with him. But as long as it was better for him, I’d let it happen.
I went to the bathroom to change for the second time that night, and I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Milo’s blood covered my pale skin. I took a long hot shower and cried.
After I pulled on Mae’s pajamas, I left the bathroom. The panic and fear had died down, leaving an overwhelming sense of guilt and sadness and creeping numbness. It was hard to wrap my mind around everything. One minute, Milo was laughing in the lake. The next he was dying and turning into a vampire.
Jack sat on the steps leading upstairs, morose and freshly showered. As soon as he saw me, his eyes filled with terrified sadness. He felt responsible for Milo, and I didn’t even know what happened. In all the worry of trying to figure out how to save him, I’d overlooked how he had gotten that way in the first place.
“Alice, I am so sorry,” Jack said, his words rushed and shaky.
“What happened, Jack?” I walked stiffly over to him and sat down on the step below him.
“We were goofing off.” He shook his head and tears filled his eyes. “He was running on the dock, but it was wet. He slipped and cracked his head… I am so sorry, Alice. I didn’t even think-”
“How is he doing?” I interrupted him.
I don’t know if I blamed Jack, but I wasn’t ready to ease his guilt. If he and Milo didn’t have a habit of letting things get a little too wild, Milo wouldn’t have been hurt.
But then again, if I weren’t trying to let things get out of hand with me and Jack, I would’ve still been outside, reining them in. Or if I hadn’t invited Milo over tonight. Or if I had never even come over here. Milo never would have been here if it weren’t for me.
“Milo’s still unconscious. Ezra said that if he’s lucky, he should be unconscious through most of this.”
“If he’s lucky?” I shot him a worried look, and he dropped his eyes. “What does that mean?”
“Turning isn’t exactly pleasant.” He rubbed his hands together sheepishly.
“So Milo’s in pain? Like how much pain?” My eyes widened, and I hoped I hadn’t made the wrong choice.
“He’s completely out right now. Don’t worry. He can’t feel anything.” Jack tried to brush me off, and that made me more paranoid.
“He’s my brother, Jack! I’m going to worry! This whole stupid thing is my fault!”