“No one is going to kill anyone,” Ezra’s impassive baritone overrode everything else.
“You don’t know what they’re like.” His pleas bordered on whining. “It’s been too long since you’ve seen them in action!”
“We have been here for days, searching all over the lycan territory, getting our scent on everything. We’ve already ruined your attempts at self-sacrifice. Let’s go back to the hotel, get you cleaned up, and figure a way out of this mess,” Ezra said.
Peter groaned, but more at Ezra’s stupidity than at the thought of going to the hotel with us. Running a hand through his dirty hair, he scanned the forest.
“We probably won’t even make it back to the car,” Peter said at length.
“The lycan are in Sweden. We have a few days to sort things out.” Ezra took a step back, gesturing to the way back.
“Come on,” I said, speaking to Peter for the first time since we had kissed, since I had been mortal. “Come back with us.”
Peter looked at me, eyeing me up the way that he had before. I wasn’t in love with him anymore, but something about it still made me blush, and I lowered my eyes.
Finally, he nodded, and with Ezra leading the way, he followed us to the Range Rover. In the long, silent walk back, I often felt Peter’s eyes on me, but I tried to ignore it.
- 8 -
Peter had gone without eating for a long time, and he gulped down four canisters of blood when we reached the hotel. That was enough to make even the strongest vampire woozy, and he lie down on Ezra’s bed and instantly fell asleep.
Ezra leaned on the dresser, watching Peter sleep, with a sublime look on his face, and I stood next to him
“So what’s the plan?” I whispered, looking up at Ezra.
“There isn’t much of one at the moment.”
In my hand, I had my phone, and I twirled it around. It contained fifteen text messages and two missed calls from Jack, along with seven messages from Milo. They wanted to know what was going on, but I had nothing to tell them.
“So…” I shifted my weight. “Peter’s gonna sleep and rest up, and then what? We’re gonna hide here? We’re gonna go home? We’re gonna fight?”
Ezra chewed the inside of his cheek and chose not to answer me. Peter stirred in the bed, moving his head against the pillow, and Ezra tensed up. He felt over protective, and I didn’t blame him. But his paranoia should’ve left him plotting escape plans instead of just gazing at Peter.
“We should just get some rest. We’ll come up with a plan tomorrow,” Ezra said at length.
“There’s no way I can sleep after this.”
“Eat.” He nodded to the bathroom, where he stored the blood.
I had a million questions I should be making him answer, but as soon as he mentioned eating, I could think of little else. I decided it’d be better to give in and get some sleep. It wouldn’t do me any good to stay up all day worrying.
I ate quickly, and it hit me hard. I staggered like a drunk person, and I was thankful I’d already changed into my pajamas. Within seconds of hitting my bed, I fell asleep.
When I woke up, Ezra slept on the bed next to me, pressed so close to the edge he nearly fell off. I sat up, careful not to wake him. I looked over his shoulder and saw Peter sitting on the other bed, staring over at us. I gasped, and even though I caught the surprised yelp before it escaped my lips, Ezra’s eyes shot open.
“Sorry,” I smiled guiltily at Ezra.
He waved me off as he sat up. His eyes searched the hotel room, appraising it to make sure that nothing was out of place. He had slept on the covers, fully clothed, and he was much more alert than me.
“How long have you been awake?” Ezra asked Peter, studying at him.
“Not long.” Peter tried to tuck his hair behind his ears, but it was filthy, almost to the point of being matted.
“So what’s going on?” I asked
They sat across from each other. Peter lowered his eyes, but Ezra kept staring at him. I wrapped the comforter around my shoulders and scooted across the bed, so I was sitting next to Ezra. He glanced over at me and sighed.
“So… what?” I asked when neither of them said anything. “The plan is a staring contest of some kind? Cause that’s not a very good plan.”
“I have an idea,” Ezra said finally, and Peter gave him a hard look. “I can make an exchange.”
“What kind of an exchange?” Peter narrowed his eyes. “There’s nothing that you have that they want.”
“That’s not true,” Ezra shook his head. “They don’t enjoy money, but they require it. They have to travel to the larger cities to eat, and they can’t walk around in the rags they live in.”
“They won’t take money. You’ve been gone for too long. You don’t remember what they’re like,” Peter said.
“There’s got be something that they want,” Ezra said. “These aren’t self-sufficient creatures. Gunnar is power hungry, and there is always something he can use to make himself more powerful.”
“Yeah, because we really wanna make him more powerful,” Peter scoffed and stood up. “No. I appreciate the rest and food, but I have to face them myself.”
“It’s too late!” Ezra got up and blocked Peter’s path. “They’ve already seen us. They know we’re after you. Just taking you won’t be enough anymore.”
Peter looked at the floor and tightened his lips into a thin line. His jaw clenched tightly, and his mind worked furiously to find fault with Ezra’s logic. The lycans had to put the pieces together soon, if they hadn’t already.
“Let me go talk to them,” Ezra said. “I’m certain that if I talk to them, we can arrange something.”
“There’s nothing they want. Except to hurt me.”
“Well, then I’ll convince them that whatever I’m giving them is hurting you,” Ezra said.
“You can’t talk to them. They’ll just kill you!” Peter was almost pleading with him.
“They won’t hurt me,” Ezra assured him. “Gunnar won’t kill me. Not now, not like this.”
Peter shook his head again, growing irritated with Ezra’s certainty. They stood next to each other, trying to change the other’s mind and unwilling to back down themselves.
“Maybe we should just come up with something better,” I said when they had been standing for an uncomfortable length of time.