“Nothing that’s coherent,” Ezra shook his head. “He’s not exactly conscious.”
“But you just said that he woke up and he’s eating.” I felt bewildered.
“Yes, but he’s more…” He paused, trying to think of how he wanted to phrase it. “Delirious? He’s not completely there yet. It’s more instinct and confusion than anything else.”
“Has he asked for me?”
“He hasn’t asked for anything. He only mumbles complaints of pain and hunger,” Ezra reiterated. “Mae is doing her best to see that he feels as little pain and hunger as possible.”
“So… what happens next?” I asked. “He turns, and then what?”
“Let’s just get through this, and take things from there,” Ezra hedged the question.
“Why? What does that mean?”
“There’s no blanket answer for this. We’ll have to see exactly how Milo reacts to everything before we can say with any certainty what’s going to happen. So far, he’s turning differently than anybody else I’ve encountered,” Ezra explained carefully.
“You’re supposed to know everything,” I said, growing frustrated.
“I understand your impatience, but there’s really nothing more I can tell you.” Ezra smiled sadly at me.
Jack lumbered down the stairs, and I wondered if he was responding to the quickened beat of my heart. He was so sensitive to it, and it alerted him whenever I was upset about anything. He read my emotions almost better than me since he had a direct link to my heart.
“How is everything going down here?” Jack was full of forced cheer, and his overly broad smile masked the anxiety underneath it.
“How do you think they’re going?” I cast a look at him.
“Well, I just checked in on your brother.” He ignored my glare and tried to give me information he hoped would comfort me. “He’s asleep again, but he’s looking really good. I think you’re gonna be really happy when you see him.”
“He’s not a house that you’re remodeling,” I grimaced at his poor choice of words.
He made Milo sound like some kind of fixer upper that they were working on, and while that wasn’t very far from the truth, I didn’t want to think of it that way.
“Sorry.” Jack shifted uncomfortably. “Mae sent me down here to feed you.”
“I’m not hungry.” Stress destroyed my appetite, but I hadn’t eaten in a long time, and my stomach already reminded me of it.
“Why don’t you let Jack make you some food and I’ll go make sure everything is going well with Milo?” Ezra posed it like a question, but there was no mistaking it for anything but an order.
“I’m perfectly capable of making food for myself,” I said as I stood up. For some reason, I had resorted to refuting their generosity with pouting.
“Fine, I’ll watch you make food then,” Jack rolled his eyes.
In the kitchen, I made a show of slamming things down and banging drawers. Jack sighed and watched me make the angriest peanut butter sandwich in the world.
But for all the stomping around and tantrum throwing I did, I wasn’t angry with Jack or Ezra or anyone. I was just scared.
- 5 -
Even standing in the hallway, I could smell Peter and hated what it did to me. The ache I tried to ignore burned unbearably inside me, and my heart sped up so quickly, it made me weak.
Thankfully, Jack was downstairs, doing his penance by washing my laundry. Under normal circumstances, Mae would be happy to do it, but she’d been preoccupied with Milo, who required 24-hour care.
I’d been here for almost three days, and I had seen almost nothing of her. I hadn’t seen Milo since Ezra warned me not to.
That left me with a lot of time to wander around the house feeling lost and confused. Jack tried to console me while simultaneously keeping his distance, and it did little to make me feel better.
He’d been sleeping on the couch downstairs, leaving me with his room. I snooped through his drawers in hopes of finding something incriminating, but everything was innocent. He had a trunk of graphic novels in his closet that I leafed through, but it was hard to focus on anything.
I should have found comfort in this, because it meant that I would never have to give Milo up. Maybe if I had already turned I would feel that way, if I could completely understand what was in store for him. Instead, I had Jack’s vague assurance that being a vampire was awesome, and that was about it.
What if it did something horrible to Milo? And he got sick or died or turned into something completely vile? What if he stopped being Milo, the timid over protective geek I loved, and turned into some overzealous blood sucker?
Or what if he turned out fine, but he hated me for letting him turn? And for lying to him about vampires? What if I had to spend the rest of eternity with him hating me?
When I tired of searching through Jack’s room and driving myself mad with worry, I finally gave into Peter. I stood in the hallway for a long while, just breathing in the intoxicating, tangy scent that Peter left behind.
Since Peter took off last spring after the incident where he nearly killed me, Mae simply shut the door to his room. No one talked about whether or not he would be back, although he hadn’t packed any of his things.
The unspoken consensus was that Ezra would find a cure for us, and life would go back to normal. Not that I even knew what it would mean to be “back to normal” anymore.
I opened Peter’s bedroom door, checking the hall both ways just to make sure that Jack wasn’t around. Nobody had forbid me from entering his room. I doubted that Mae and Ezra would care at all, but Jack was liable to take offense.
Even mentioning Peter’s name made him tense up, and I hoped that someday, he’d be able to move past that. I began to doubt that Jack would ever want anything to do with Peter again, regardless of how our relationships resolved themselves.
His room was just as he had left it, but I barely noticed. I closed my eyes, breathing in more deeply, and a wonderful heat surged through me. There was a physical pull inside me, and I was drawn into his room.
Peter had been gone for months, and my body still clamored to get in every last drop of him.
On the floor in front of Peter’s massive bookcases, a white rug had been stained with a few drops of my blood. I remembered the terrible ecstasy when Peter bit me, and the way the life drained from me in this beautiful, peaceful feeling. Nothing, not even my magical kiss with Jack, had ever felt as good as that.