“Are you mad at me?” Jack leaned against the island with Matilda rubbing up against him so he could scratch her head.
“No,” I said, but that wasn’t exactly true. “You and Milo could’ve taken that Jonathan idiot. And I’m sure Jane would’ve followed you out of there. We could’ve taken her if we really tried.”
“Maybe,” he admitted.
I picked the fruit up out of the sink, but they were wet and slippery, and the grapes and strawberries tried making their escape onto the floor. He came over and caught what was falling and helped me carry it back over to the island.
“Thank you,” I muttered, not ready to give up on my anger yet.
“If we had to kidnap Jane, what good would it have really done?” Jack looked at me. “You watch that Intervention show about junkies. What do they always say? You can’t make a person change, and they can’t quit for anybody else. Jane has to want to stop.”
“Then why did we even go down there?” My hands felt shaky when I started chopping a pear, but I ignored it. I couldn’t forget the image of how sickly Jane looked, and how content she was with that.
“I thought maybe you’d be able to talk some sense into her.” He shrugged. “But now she knows that you still care, and if she has a change of heart, she’ll talk to you.”
“Jane’s never listened to me about anything, and you know it.”
“Maybe so, but this is her choice, and you have to let her make it.” He was on the other side of the island from me, leaning across it.
My body was naturally pulled to him, and I pretended like pears and apricots were more interesting. Unfortunately, I’d never been a coordinated person, and I didn’t do much better as a vampire. I was distracted by Jack and thoughts of Jane, so it was only a matter of time before the knife sliced my finger.
I yelped and pulled my hand back, sustaining my first real injury as a vampire. The pain was much sharper and more intense than any I had felt as a human, but it died away instantly. The cut was nasty, hitting the bone in my index finger. If my bones hadn’t been so strong, I probably would’ve sliced the tip right off.
I stared down at it, watching the blood seeping from my wound with some amazement. This was my blood, and I could smell it, warm and strangely exotic.
“You do smell really good,” Jack said in a hushed tone.
The pink edges of the cut were already healing, right in front of my eyes, and I glanced up at him. His eyes had gone translucent, and I heard his heart speed up. Nothing in the world was more enticing to him than the scent of my blood, and that hadn’t changed when I became immortal.
“Want a taste?” I offered my hand to him, knowing how wonderful it felt when he tasted me and how crazy it drove him. I imagined him throwing all the fruit off the island and pushing me back down on it, kissing me ferociously until his mouth found my neck…
“In the kitchen?” He raised an eyebrow, his breath shallow.
With great effort, he managed to pull his eyes from me to look around the room, pointing out how completely exposed we would be. At any minute, Milo and Bobby would come home, and Mae and Ezra had to be somewhere around here
“Suit yourself.” I shrugged, pretending it meant nothing, even though I knew he could hear my own ragged heartbeat. The cut had healed completely, and the blood dried on my skin. I put my finger in my mouth, cleaning it off.
“You’re horrible.” He shook his head and took a step back from the island, trying to clear his head of me.
Within seconds, Milo and Bobby came in from the garage. They both eyed up the fruit spread on the island with confusion, but Milo’s face contorted into something different. He sniffed, giving me an evil look that was somehow hungry as well.
“Why does it smell like your blood in here?” Milo demanded, then shot a glare at Jack.
“I just cut my finger,” I sighed and held up the knife that still had my blood on it. A few droplets were on the island, and I wiped at them with a rag.
“Oh really, Alice.” Milo rolled his eyes and came over to me. “Do you want me to do this for you? What are you doing anyway?”
“I thought you didn’t eat,” Bobby said. A strand of his black hair fell into his eyes, and he pushed it back, walking over to the island to inspect what we were doing.
“I thought you might be hungry,” I said. Milo had taken over chopping up the fruit, and he looked back at me with surprise.
“Thanks,” Bobby said and blushed lightly. Everyone clearly assumed that I hated Bobby, and they weren’t that far off base, but I did like distractions.
“Milo always used to cook for me when I got home,” I said lamely.
Tucking hair behind my ears, I caught Jack smiling at me. He knew the whole snack thing was about busy work, not Bobby, but he was glad that I made nice with Bobby. Jack liked Bobby, which for some reason, made me angry with Jack again, so I sighed and leaned back against the kitchen counter.
“Milo is a very good cook.” Bobby smiled at me before looking adoringly at my brother.
“He was gonna be a chef,” I said.
“I still can be,” Milo cast me a look. “I’m not dead.” Jack laughed at that sentiment, and Milo rolled his eyes again. “I have lots of time to become whatever I want.”
He finished cutting the fruit, and he went to the cupboard to get out a serving platter. Once he brought it back to the island, he arranged the fruit. Bobby smiled and delicately picked at grapes, afraid of disturbing the masterpiece that Milo had created.
The bedroom door to Mae and Ezra’s room slammed loudly, followed by quick footsteps, and Mae repeatedly saying the word no. She appeared in the kitchen, looking haggard. Her cheeks and eyes were red from crying, and her honey curls were pulled back in a very messy bun. Tissue was wadded up tightly in her hand, and she glared at us.
- 15 -
Ezra followed close behind Mae, looking better than he had in days. He didn’t appear as upset as her, but his expression was grim. When he reached out for her, she pulled away from him.
“Where have you been?” Mae demanded, her warm voice more shrill. Bobby had been in the middle of chewing, but he gulped it down whole and moved closer to Milo.
“Why? Did something happen?” Jack asked carefully.
“Just answer the damn question!” Mae shouted, making us all jump. Her hands were balled up at her sides, and stray curls stuck to her tear stained cheeks. “You think you all can just come and go as you please. This isn’t a hotel. We are a family, and this is our home!”