“We’d just feel a little safer if you were here tonight.” She ran her fingers through my hair.
Jack was probably the least of my worries. My blood was already tainted. He couldn’t do anything worse than what he’d already done.
Outside of this house, however, there were Lucian and Violet, and not to mention Peter. Plus, I still felt incredibly weak, and it wouldn’t hurt for me to be under observation for a little while.
“Why don’t you and Mae take the master room? I can take the couch in the den,” Ezra said.
“I couldn’t kick you out of your own room,” I shook my head.
“I insist.” He turned to Milo, who stood awkwardly to the side of us. “Go upstairs and get some sleep. We’ve all had a long night. Mae will be with your sister, and I’ll be right next door. Nothing will happen.”
“You’re sure you’re okay, Alice?” Milo looked at me, and I nodded.
“I’m just gonna get some sleep, and he’s right. You really need to do the same.”
Reluctantly, he went upstairs to his room. After last night, he had to be exhausted. He’d been in his first fight ever, and it’d been with a pissed off vampire. That had to take a lot out of him.
When I stood up, I almost fell over, and instantly, Ezra’s arms were around me, carrying me. I had become accustomed to the feeling of Jack’s arms and the way they made me feel safe. It wasn’t that I thought Ezra would drop me, but it felt familiar and unusual all at once.
He left me on his bed to sleep on a couch in the den, and I felt guilty. I tried to protest, but he wouldn’t hear of it. He kissed Mae before departing, and she smiled wanly at me.
I crawled under the covers, trying to get comfortable in their sea of blankets and pillows, and she climbed in next to me. She was still in her pajamas, as they all had been, because Jack and I had woken them up.
“Are you comfortable?” Mae asked before she turned off the bedside lamp.
“Yeah,” I nodded, and she flicked off the light and settled in. “Thanks.”
“I’m really glad you’re here, even with all of this,” she said.
“Can I ask you something?” In the darkness of the room, it felt okay to address something that had been bothering me.
“You can ask me anything, love.” She moved in the bed, and although I couldn’t see her, I could tell she had turned on her side to face me.
“Milo bit Jane last night, and it was… I don’t know.” I wanted to say animalistic or predatory, but I didn’t want to say that about my brother. “But when Jack bit me, it was entirely different. And I know it was happening to me and I wasn’t witnessing it, but I don’t think that it looked the way it did when Milo bit Jane.”
“And you want to know why it was different?”
“Yeah.” I said.
When Milo bit Jane, it really freaked me out. When Jack bit me, it had been perfect and magical, and I wanted to do it again.
“Milo is younger and much more inexperienced with that sorta thing,” Mae explained carefully. “He was also starving when he bit her, and Jack wasn’t, so Jack was able to have more control.” She sighed, as if that wasn’t quite what she wanted to say.
“Forgive me for a lack of a better analogy, because I’m not saying anything against your brother when I say this,” she went on. “But think of sex and rape. They’re both the same physical act, the same way that biting anyone is essentially the same thing. But one is for romance, and one is forced.
“That’s still not exactly right, though,” she said. “When Jack bit you, he did it for love, and Milo did it for food.”
“So… when Jack bites other people, is it like the way it was with Milo?” I asked. For the first time, I understood what he meant when he said that it wasn’t the same when he fed on other people as it was with me.
“I wasn’t there with Milo, but I would say to a lesser extent, yes. Milo was more aggressive because of his age and hunger,” Mae said. “Does that help?”
“I think so.”
“Why don’t you get some sleep now? I know you’re exhausted.”
I rolled over, so I lay on my stomach, and she rubbed circles on my back. My mother had done the same thing when I was little and couldn’t fall asleep. Not that I really needed that much help.
This fatigue was like nothing I had ever felt before. Even after Peter had bitten me and almost drained me entirely, the blood transfusion Ezra had given me had boosted everything before I felt the extreme effect of it.
I didn’t wake up until almost ten o’clock that night, but I was still so tired that I knew I wouldn’t have any trouble falling asleep again before school.
Jack was around the house, but he didn’t even look at me the entire time that I was there. That hurt like nothing else.
We shared something far more intimate than I had ever imagined anything could be, and he wouldn’t talk to me or look at me. He could barely even stand to be in the same room as me.
Milo made me supper, and everyone moved around me as if they were walking on broken glass. Ezra was gone by the time I woke up, and Mae said he had some things he had to look into. I didn’t know if he really did, or if he was going to talk to Peter and try to keep him away.
Jane sent me a couple texts, demanding to know had happened last night. I didn’t really feel like explaining vampires in text message form, and I definitely did have the strength for that kind of phone conversation. So I ignored her, even though I knew she deserved an explanation.
Eventually, I fell asleep on the couch, and Mae woke me up a little after six in the morning. She dropped me at home, where I could shower and get ready for school. She’d sent me with vitamins and iron, as that would help produce more blood and combat my weakness. I felt frail and out of it, and I wasn’t sure how I would make it through the day.
After the August heat, I walked to the bus stop in a rather chilly mist. It still felt incredibly strange going to school by myself. Going back to school was like a return back to real life, but I was going alone. Milo was no longer a part of real life.
On the bus, I pulled out my iPod with the intent of listening to it, but nothing sounded good. I felt so disconnected from everything. I just wanted to sleep, but I didn’t want to go back to my apartment. It didn’t feel like home anymore, and everything about my life felt wrong.
I stumbled blearily through the first couple hours of school until Jane cornered me in a stairwell. I had put on my headphones to listen to MGMT very loudly to keep me awake, and I didn’t hear her calling my name or chasing after me.