“I bought them for you,” she said. “We all knew this was a possibility.”
“Are you sure she’s okay?” Milo stood next to Ezra, looking at me nervously and fidgeting. “She’s just so pale.”
“She’ll be just fine,” Mae assured him. “Do you hear her heart?” She paused, and Milo cocked his head, listening for the sound of it. “It’s a little fast, but it’s strong. That sound means she’ll be alright.”
“We should get her up off the floor,” Ezra said.
Mae took the empty can from me, and Ezra bent down in front of me. I looped my arm around his neck and he lifted me up. Having never been that close to him before, I felt a little awkward, but I couldn’t help but notice how wonderfully male he smelled, like sandalwood and spice.
He set me on the couch in the living room, and Mae followed behind us, carrying a blanket. Once he put me down, Ezra crouched at eye level with me and he breathed deeply.
Almost sadly, he looked away and stood up. Mae wrapped the blanket around my shoulders, and left her arms with them, cradling me to her as she sat next to me.
Ezra stood in front of us, resting his hand on his chin, just watching me. Milo and Jack stood off to the side of the room, and I could feel them looking to Ezra expectantly. A decision was in the process of being made right now, one that I didn’t understand.
- 22 -
“Guys, I’m okay, really,” I said meekly, hoping to ease the tension in the room.
“We know, love,” Mae whispered, squeezing me briefly to reassure me, but she kept her eyes locked on Ezra.
“Yes,” he nodded, his expression regretful. “You can smell him on her.”
“Fuck,” Jack said under his breath and turned away, so his back was to us.
Mae let out a sigh and rested her forehead on my shoulder. I understood what Ezra meant as soon as he said it, but I shook my head in disbelief.
“I’m wearing his clothes.” I touched at my shirt. “And I don’t even know why it matters. So what if I smell like Jack?” I looked over at Jack, but he still had his back to us. “Who cares? Does it even matter?”
“It matters.” Mae lifted her head, looking up at Ezra. “But there are things we can do. Aren’t there?” He stared at me, to the point where I felt uncomfortable, and ignored her. “Ezra?”
“Mae…” Ezra shook his head.
“What does that mean?” Milo asked, his voice high and shaky. “What do you mean?”
“It means that Peter’s not here.” Ezra put his hands together, as if he was praying, then gestured widely. When he looked over at Milo, he tried to smile. “He’s not here. He can’t do anything. And that’s what we’ve got.”
“That’s all you’ve got?” Milo bit his lip to hold tears back.
“Milo, it’s okay,” I said, and somehow my tone was calm and even. Maybe I was too tired to really feel scared or sad yet. “I’m okay. There’s nothing to worry about. Not right now.”
For whatever reason, that’s when Jack had enough. He abruptly stormed out of the room, and I heard his feet pounding as he ran up the stairs. Matilda ran after him, but he apparently slammed the door on her because she started barking and clawing at the door.
“Matilda!” Ezra shouted, and she fell silent.
“Milo, can you go get my phone?” I asked, looking up at him. “I think it’s in Mae and Ezra’s room somewhere.”
“Try the bathroom,” Mae suggested.
“Sure thing.” Milo looked better being put on a task. If he was doing something, anything, it felt better than just standing there.
Once he had hurried out of the room, I turned my focus onto Ezra. I was a little surprised to find my eyes swimming with tears, but I imagined that being incredibly tired and suffocating in Jack’s feelings of guilt probably added to it.
“Tell him not to come back,” I told Ezra, and a heavy lump grew in my throat.
It didn’t seem right, but part of my sadness came from knowing that I would never see Peter again. The reason I can never see him is because he’d kill me if I did, but it didn’t change the way I felt.
My body felt intertwined with Jack’s, even more so than before. He wasn’t even in the room, but I could feel his terror and shame coursing through my veins. But some part of me still pulled towards Peter and didn’t understand how I could survive without him.
“You really want that?” Ezra asked.
“Do I even have a choice?” I swallowed hard. “He’s going to kill me and Jack.” I looked down at the blanket, fiddling with the corner. “I know you still talk to him. Convince him not to come back.” Then I shook my head, realizing how selfish I was being. “No, that’s not fair. I should just leave. Peter will never know, and he’ll never have any reason to hurt Jack.”
“Nobody wants you to leave, love,” Mae stroked my hair. “Especially not after last night.”
I was about to ask why Jack biting me would make them want me to stay even more, but then I realized she was talking about the fight at the club. Vampires were hunting me, on top of this whole other mess.
“I just don’t know what to do.” I had to gulp down air to keep from crying, and Ezra shifted uneasily.
“We’re going to protect you, Alice,” Ezra said. “We just haven’t resolved everything yet.”
“Have you resolved anything?” I asked pointedly.
“We will,” Ezra replied firmly.
“I found your phone.” Milo stood at the edge of the room, holding my phone out towards me and looking unsure. When he had left, I was mostly okay, but now I was hunched over, hugging myself tightly, and fighting to keep from sobbing.
I held out my hand, and he brought it over. I was surprised there weren’t messages or missed calls from Jane, but it was still fairly early in the morning, and I saw how badly Milo had knocked her out last night.
“I need to get home. I have school tomorrow, and I still have to talk to Jane, and I don’t even know what I’m gonna tell her yet.”
“It’s still very early. You’ve barely gotten any sleep, and you have plenty of time to worry about all that later. Why don’t you stay here and get some rest, and we’ll take you home in the morning to get you ready for school?” Mae suggested.
“Why in the morning?” I asked. “Why not tonight?”