Irrational tears welled in my eyes, and I fought to remember to breathe. He placed a hand on either side of me and lowered his face so it was directly in front of mine. All I could smell and see and feel was him. It was suffocating, and I didn’t know how to fight it.
The horrible truth was that I didn’t even really want to fight it. My body kept screaming that this was exactly what it needed, that this was how I was meant to feel. Always.
“How am I supposed to know how you feel about me?” I whispered hoarsely. “You were always pushing me away or running away. You’ve spent hardly a minute with me. All I know about you is that you’re repulsed and enraptured by me.”
“I’m sorry.” For the first time, Peter’s voice registered a strong emotion and not just restraint to mask something. He was deeply pained, but he went on, unabashed. “I have not been honest with you. There are a million excuses for the way that I’ve treated you, but none of them absolve me.”
He exhaled deeply, his breath warming my neck. He was hungry in a familiar way, one that I stupidly welcomed. Peter wanted me in the only way he could want me, the way flowers craved sunlight. Our bodies claimed that I was the means to his survival, in more ways than one, and Peter was giving in to it.
“Does it really matter anymore?” Peter continued huskily, and when he lowered his gaze to my throat, his eyelashes fell darkly on his cheeks. “It doesn’t really matter how much I love you, does it?” He moved in closer to me, breathing me in, and he sighed reproachfully. “You smell like him.”
“I’m sorry,” I murmured.
Maybe a little bit of me was sorry, but the rest of me felt oddly proud that I smelled like Jack. As if he had marked me as his, and maybe even my blood belonged to him. Deep down, I had always known it was meant to, and I think that even Peter had, so he always rejected me.
“He’s inside you now.” Peter brushed my hair back and ran his fingers through it, letting his fingertips graze my cheek and send surges of pleasure over me. His eyes had returned to mine, but they were dull and sad. “I’ve already lost, haven’t I?”
Before I could answer, his lips pressed softly against mine. Emotions swirled through me, and I found myself kissing him back. When he had kissed me before, it had been harsh and rough, but this time, it was gentle and a little sad. He realized this was going to be the last time that we kissed, and he didn’t want to waste a moment of it.
When I heard the low growl coming from across the room, I awoke in the moment, with my arms wrapped around Peter’s neck and my fingers buried in his hair. His strong arms had me pressed against the hard contours of his body with little room for breathing.
But as soon as I heard the growl, my heart froze, and I pulled my mouth away from Peter. He almost tossed me to the side, but that was merely for my own protection.
Jack came flying across the room in a blur. He slammed into Peter, and together, they landed on top of the dining room table and crushed it beneath them.
They were gnashing teeth and hitting at each other, and Jack went soaring through the glass windows of the French doors. Peter was on his feet, preparing to follow after him, but Jack was already up, brushing away broken glass.
They stood a few feet from each other, glaring at one another and seething with unbridled rage. I scrambled to my feet, thinking that I had to do something, but Ezra swooped in between them. He stood on the rubble of the table, closer to Peter, but held out his palms to both of them.
“Stop!” Ezra boomed. “This isn’t going to settle anything!”
From somewhere down the hall, I heard Milo struggling to get free. Apparently, Mae had locked them both in a room, which was probably the safest bet.
“There’s only one way to settle this,” Peter replied calmly, his eyes fixed on Jack.
Jack’s face had contorted with so much hate, it was almost unrecognizable. His whole body was tensed so tightly, all his veins stuck out against his muscles. His chest heaved, and his lips were pulled back in a snarl.
“Peter.” Ezra turned his attention on him, which didn’t seem like the wisest decision to me, considering the expression on Jack’s face. Ezra took a step closer to Peter and rested his open palm on his chest. “You know what this kind of thing leads to. You don’t want this.”
“Tell that to him,” Peter nodded at Jack, who growled in response.
“Jack!” I said, almost plaintively.
Peter winced, but Ezra tried to keep Peter’s focus on him, and it seemed to work. Jack, on the other hand, immediately softened at the sound of my voice, and when his eyes flitted over to me, he looked guilty.
“Come on.” Ezra moved his hand onto Peter’s back and gestured outside. Jack moved away from the broken window so that Ezra and Peter would be able to get by if they wanted to. “Let’s take a minute to clear our heads.”
Jack stepped down, even allowing his fists to unclench, and that seemed to convince Peter that he was safe enough to take a break. Ezra led Peter through the rubble, out into the thick fog and mist that had settled onto the night.
Jack watched them until they disappeared outside, but we could still hear the soft, careful tones of Ezra’s voice as he tried to reason with Peter.
Once they were gone, Jack hurried silently over to me. I opened my mouth to speak, but he shushed me. Grabbing my hand, he dragged me into Ezra’s den at the far end of the hall, and I could hear the bewildered calls from Milo coming from Mae and Ezra’s bedroom. Inside the den, Jack closed the door quietly behind him.
Again, I tried to ask him what was going on, but he pulled me into his arms and kissed me so ferociously, it erased everything. I remembered the way it felt when he bit me, his heart pounding with mine, and I could feel all the warmth and love radiating from him and surging through me.
Underneath his kiss, there was a desperation that terrified me, but I tried to concentrate on how amazing it felt to be in his arms again. I wanted to make this moment last forever.
“Alice…” Jack breathed.
He forcefully pushed me away. He didn’t want to be away from me, but I clung to him so tightly he had to use strength to get me off him. His placed his hands on my cheeks, his skin smoldering hot against mine, and his blue eyes pleaded with me.
“What?” My voice cracked.
“I’m so sorry about all of this.” He smiled sweetly at me. “Alice, please don’t cry. Okay? We don’t have much time. Once Peter realizes we’re gone together…”