“She has a point,” Ezra softened.
Peter crossed his arms over his chest and shifted his eyes between the two of us. He was skeptical about Ezra’s conceding so easily, even momentarily, and so was I. Ezra had seemed absolutely certain about his intentions, until I chimed in.
“Why don’t you take a shower and clear your head? We’ll talk after,” Ezra said.
Despite being suspicious, Peter was in dire need of a shower. He was a rather particular person to begin with, so his current level of hygiene had to be driving him insane.
“Alright.” Peter looked at Ezra severely. “I’ll get cleaned up. But we’ll talk after.”
“Of course,” Ezra agreed.
Peter gathered clothes Ezra brought for him and went into the bathroom. As soon as we heard the water running, Ezra rushed about the room. He grabbed the keys to the Range Rover and his cell phone, and I jumped off the bed as he slipped on his shoes.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“I have to talk to them.” Ezra glanced at the bathroom, making sure that Peter couldn’t hear us. “Stay here and don’t let him leave.”
“But Peter doesn’t think you should go,” I said, and I kept my voice low.
“He’s just paranoid.” Ezra brushed it off. “But he needs to stay here. They will kill him. Our best chance of getting out of here alive is bartering with them. And they won’t hurt me.”
“How can you be so sure?” I asked.
“I just am,” he said simply. “You’re just gonna have to trust me.”
I bit my lip and looked over at the bathroom door. If I yelled for him, Peter would rush out and stop Ezra. But Ezra had never given me any reason to doubt him. And I had to think about more than just Ezra, Peter, and myself. We had a family back at home that could be hurt if we didn’t put a stop to this.
“Hurry. And be careful.”
“I will.” Ezra smiled wanly at me. “I’ll be back as soon as I can. But you both need to stay here until I get back. Understood?”
I nodded, and he disappeared out the door. I stood in the middle of the hotel room with the comforter wrapped around me, wondering if I did the right thing letting him go.
When I heard the water shut off in the bathroom, I winced. Peter came out of the bathroom, shirtless, and I tried not to be wowed by the perfection of it. He wore drawstring sweats that were a little too big and ran a towel through his long tangles of dark hair. As soon as he looked over at me, still standing in the middle of the room, he knew.
“He left?” Peter growled.
“He said everything’s going to be fine.”
“Bullshit.” He tossed the towel aside and searched for a shirt.
“Okay, Peter, you can’t go!”
“Watch me,” he said as he tore through one of Ezra’s dresser drawers.
I put my hand on his arm, attempting to physically stop him. Some part of me still expected that electrical jolt I always got from touching him, and when there wasn’t one, I felt oddly lacking. His skin still felt warm and soft under my hand, but it was nothing spectacular.
“Alice.” Peter rolled his shoulder and pushed my hand off.
“You can’t go,” I repeated and let my hand fall to my side.
“You keep saying that but you’re not telling me why.”
“Because of me!” I shouted randomly.
It got his attention, which is all I really wanted. He held a shirt in his hands, but instead of putting it on, he turned back to me. The shower, along with eating and sleeping, had done wonders for him. He hadn’t shaved yet, but he actually looked really good.
“What do you have to do with anything?” Peter eyed me dubiously.
“If you go, they will kill him to spite you,” I said as calmly as I could. “But by himself, he has a shot at reasoning with them. This is the only chance we have of all three of us getting home alive. But if you go after him, we’re all dead, and you know it.”
“But if they kill him, and I do nothing-”
“If that happens, we’ll do something,” I cut him off, ending that train of thought. “Okay? But we have to believe he can do this.”
Peter scoffed and sat back on the bed, tucking his hair behind his ear. Unsure of what else to do, I leaned back against the dresser and watched him. I was afraid that if I did or said the wrong thing, I would accidentally change his mind, and he’d rush out the door after Ezra.
“It’s ridiculous how much influence you still have over me,” Peter muttered.
“What are you talking about?”“I shouldn’t even be listening to you!” He said it like it should be incredibly obvious, and he wouldn’t look at me.
“Yeah, you should. Cause I’m right.”
I wasn’t sure what he was insinuating, but it made me feel strange inside. Like somehow after all of this, broken blood and all, he managed to have feelings for me. And somehow, that seemed to matter to me, when it most definitely should not.
“Maybe.” Abruptly he pulled on the tee shirt and stood up. “I should go after him.”
“What? Why?” I asked. “
“I don’t know!” He sounded exasperated and rubbed his temples. “It just doesn’t feel right! Sitting here, with you, while he’s out there.”
“I agree with your sentiments, except for that random dig at me,” I said.
“Oh, come on, I didn’t mean it like that. I meant that I should be out there, with Ezra!”
“And not sitting around acting like me,” I finished for him.
“Being impossible doesn’t make me want to be around you more,” he said, casting me a look.
“Who says I want you to be around me?”
“Why are you here?” Peter asked honestly, looking at me.
“Um, well…” I stammered. “Ezra told us that you were in trouble, and um… I offered to go with.”
“But that doesn’t explain why you’re here,” he said, sitting back on the bed.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“You can’t still care about me.”
“Of course I do. Not like before, but I still care,” I said. Then I floundered, feeling embarrassed. “I mean, don’t you? Like… a little bit?”
“I don’t know that we were ever truly bonded anyway,” Peter answered brusquely, ignoring my question entirely.
It was such a ridiculous statement, like saying that the sky was purple, I didn’t even know how to argue with it. There was no other way to describe what we had gone through together, and he knew it.