“I don’t understand.”
“You’ll see when you get home,” Jack said. “It’ll give you more of an incentive to get here quicker. As if I weren’t incentive enough.”
“No, you’re definitely enough,” I laughed sadly. Laughing at his silly jokes made me want to sob.
After I hung up, I knocked on the bathroom door to let Peter know the coast was clear, and he came out a minute later. He was much more subdued, so we said very little to each other.
I showered and got dressed, and after that, there wasn’t much else to do. Peter lay on the bed with his fingers laced behind his head, staring up at the ceiling. I paced the room and frequently peeked out of the curtains.
We just waited for Ezra to return.
Sun filtered around the edges of the curtains, and that scared the hell out of me. The lycan were even more strict about their nocturnal habits than we were, so the odds of them continuing a discussion into the daylight didn’t seem likely. If Ezra weren’t back soon, he probably wasn’t coming back.
“He’s still not here.” I peered out the curtain, letting the warm morning light stream in, burning my overly sensitive retina, and then shut it. I looked behind me, where Peter laid immobile, the same way he had all night. “Peter?”
“I’m aware that he’s not here, Alice.”
“Don’t you think we should do something?” I glowered down at him. Lying in bed did not seem like the right answer for this situation.
“I’m thinking.” He closed his eyes, as if that could block out my voice.
“You’ve been thinking all day! We knew that Ezra might not come back, and he’s obviously not going-”
“I have been thinking, Alice!”
“Well… you should let me in on it!” I crossed my arms over my chest. “I could help!”
“You mean like pointing out the obvious and peeking out the curtain?” He pushed himself up into the sitting position, letting his legs dangle off the edge of the bed.
“I don’t know what else to do!” I felt powerless and on the verge of tears, and I didn’t like it at all. I took a deep breath, and pushing a strand of hair behind my ears, I decided to start over. “What did you come up with?”
“Nothing useful. I just can’t see a way around anything.” He sighed, then muttered to himself. “I suppose that’s why he brought you.”
“What are you talking about?” I stiffened, as if he claimed something derogatory.
“Ezra brought you with because he knew how utterly useless you would be,” Peter explained. “And I’ve been going back and forth between it all day long, wondering what I would finally do when it came down to it.”
“What?” I asked, filled with an aching sense of uselessness.
“If I go after Ezra, and I bring you along, you’ll get killed. If I leave you here, they’ll follow my scent back, and you’ll get killed. If I try to put you on a plane to get out of here, you’ll probably do something horrible in bloodlust, and get yourself killed. There’s nothing I can do except stay here and baby-sit you!” Peter growled.
“I don’t…” I started to stumble out some kind of protest about needing a baby-sitter, but everything he said was true. After the initial sting of that wore off, I thought of something even stranger, especially given the way that Peter talked to me. “What do you even care if I die? So what? Let’s just go out there and give them hell.”
“Like you could really give them hell,” he laughed hollowly. “You’d just slow me down.”
“Maybe,” I admitted. “What you’re saying … or thinking… If Ezra isn’t coming back and they’re only going to come after us… Why don’t you just go? I don’t want to slow down your fight. But it’s better than the both of us waiting here to die.”
His expression changed instantly into something foreign. It took me a minute to realize that it resembled concern for me. Even when we had been bonded, he’d never looked at me like that.
“That’s an idiotic plan,” he shook his head.
“That’s pretty much what your plan is,” I said
“I’m not gonna just leave you here.”
“But you’re saying they’ll kill me no matter what. At least this way you can get in a few good punches, take out some of the bastards that-” I stopped myself before I said anything about Ezra being dead. It was too terrifying to say aloud.
“You’d be completely unprotected. You wouldn’t even stand a chance,” he shook his head again, sounding tired of the conversation, and stood up.
“So what? You almost killed me once before and now you’re suddenly my body guard?” I wrinkled my nose at his hypocrisy.
“Oh, god dammit!” Peter rolled his eyes. “I’m so sick of having that thrown in my face! I did that because I loved you, Alice!” He immediately regretted saying that and stared off anywhere but at me.
“Yeah, cause that’s a healthy way to express love! By killing another person!” I was purposely pushing his buttons. If the only chance at a rescue mission was Peter going off without me, then I had to piss him off enough to leave me.
“I wasn’t trying to kill you! I was trying to kill me!” He rubbed his eyes, looking as if he’d said too much and not knowing how to take it back. “Jack was in the house. I knew he was tuned in to your heart. When I grabbed you in the kitchen, he came flying in to save you. I thought if he found me, draining the life from you, he wouldn’t hesitate to kill me.” Tiredly, he exhaled. “I knew he was a better match for you than I was, and I didn’t see any other way out.”
I was too stunned to say anything. I’d always suspected Peter hated me. But he loved me so much, he’d been planning to die for my happiness. My heart thumped dully in my chest, and I tried to think of something say to him.
“Stop looking at me like that,” Peter snapped when he finally met my eyes again. “I don’t know why it’s so shocking that I wouldn’t want you to die. Do you really think Ezra would be so willing to sacrifice himself for me if I was such a psychopath?”
“Peter, I am so sorry,” I whispered, unable to muster the full strength of my voice.
“Stop!” Peter repeated. “Ezra is the one out there! We need to be worrying about him, not us! Because there isn’t even an ‘us’ to worry about!”