“Thanks,” I replied off-handedly. “So what brings you to my neck of the woods?”
“I came to check on you.” He pushed some of my hair out of my face. “You sounded weird on the phone, and Mae thought I should see how you’re recovering. Did you go to school today?”
“I overslept,” I shrugged.
“Alice, you need to stay on track for graduation.”
“Oh, like you are?” I considered sticking out my tongue but decided against it.
His expression only got more disapproving. Too bad. He only wanted what was best for me, and right now, what was best for me was lying down and resting, not worrying about school. Graduation seemed pointless, even if I didn’t inherit a fortune from Jack’s family like Milo had.
“Have you eaten today?” Milo changed the subject. He glanced over at the kitchen, which was devoid of dirty dishes or any other relics of eating, aside from several empty Red Bull cans. “Hey. You stopped recycling since I moved out.”
“You’re not here to make the rules anymore.”
“So? Doesn’t the state of the world seem a little more prudent to you now that you’ll be living forever?” Milo walked into the kitchen to sort out the aluminum cans and empty Fruity Pebbles box.
“As of right now, I’ll be lucky if I make it to next year, let alone forever,” I sighed.
“You’re so melodramatic,” Milo scoffed.
I couldn’t see him, but I heard him puttering around in the kitchen, and my stomach grumbled. I was like Pavlov’s dog. The sound of Milo with cookware made me salivate.
“Are you making me something?” I poked my head over the top of the couch again to see what he was up to.
“Yeah. Mae said you need some red meat.” He rooted through the freezer, looking for some of the groceries he’d recently bought me. “Why don’t you go take a shower and get yourself cleaned up, and I’ll make you supper. Sound good?”
“You know, it’s so silly,” I said as I got up off the couch. “I was staying human so I could stay around and take care of you.”
He laughed, but it was pretty dumb. Milo had always been taking care of me. What exactly had I been sticking around to do for him? Really, I was keeping him company. I should’ve just gotten him a puppy, and let Jack turn me.
If I had done that, I wouldn’t be so damn tired right now, and I wouldn’t be on the brink of losing everything.
The bathroom smelled of flowers and cleanliness after my shower, but when I opened the door, all I could smell was delicious. The shower had given me a little burst of energy, so my stomach was even hungrier than it had been before.
Milo had made me steak, and it was so rare, I was a little shocked it wasn’t mooing. He already made me a plate, perfectly set up with spinach, and he’d place a single pink rose in a vase in the center of the table.
“This looks fantastic,” I said as I took my place at the table. “Where’d you get the flower?”
“I have my ways,” he smiled, and I decided to leave it at that. I was too hungry to worry about frivolous mysteries. “You look like you’re feeling better.”
“I am,” I said through a mouthful of food. He sat down across the table from me, watching me wolf down my food, and I couldn’t help but feel self-conscious. “It’s weird eating when you’re not.”
“I don’t think you’d have much of an appetite if I was eating right now.” He tried to make a joke, but a hint of shame was in his eyes. He hadn’t forgotten my reaction to watching him bite Jane, and frankly, neither had I.
“Thank you. For this.” I changed the subject. “It’s really good.”
“Anytime.” He leaned on the table, propping up his head on his hand. “So. What was your dream about?”
“Peter.” I furrowed my brow. “Isn’t that strange?”
“Not really. You’ve been worrying about him since Jack bit you. It’s only logical that it would manifest itself in your dreams.”
In the back of my mind, I hadn’t been entirely certain that Peter biting me had been a dream, but I couldn’t see any other explanation for it. Milo made it sound like the only conclusion I could come to. All my thinking and worrying about him had come out that way.
“Yeah, you’re right,” I nodded, and I devoured the rest of my meal in silence.
“Has Jane said anything to you?” Milo asked when I had nearly finished eating. “Have you even seen her in school?”
“Yes, and yes.” I chewed the last part of my steak and swallowed hard, then settled back in my seat. “She knows you guys are vampires. I don’t really know how she’s taking it. She hasn’t really talked to me since.”
“Hmm.” He looked down at the table, thinking.
“Nothing. I just hope she does okay with everything,” Milo looked back up at me and smiled. “Knowing her, she’ll probably just solve the problem with sex and drinking, and forget that it even happened.”
Whenever I’d seen her at school, she acted like her same old self. She was always flirting with a guy, or strutting somewhere and glaring at me. After a couple weekends getting blacked out drunk, she’d probably kill any brain cells that remembered vampires.
“On the subject of how people take things…” I shifted uncomfortably. “How is Jack doing?”
“He’s been kind of… stand-offish lately,” Milo answered carefully. “I think he’s really been beating himself up over what happened.”
“Regrets are always a fun thing.” I looked down at my mostly empty plate.
A lump grew in my throat. I knew he regretted it the second it was over. No matter his reasoning for it, nothing is more painful than knowing the most meaningful thing I ever felt was just another regret to the person I shared it with.
“Alice, you know he just doesn’t want you to get hurt.”
“Everyone keeps saying they don’t want to hurt me. It’s just so funny that the only way they can succeed in not hurting me is by hurting me.” I stood up and took my plate to the sink.
“Nothing is that cut and dried. At least not when you’re dealing with vampires.”
“Thanks for making me supper and everything, but I need to get some rest if I have any hope of going to school tomorrow.” I leaned against the kitchen sink, purposely not looking at him. I felt like crying, and I wanted to just stop thinking about all this stuff and go back to bed.