“What if she wanted it?” Mae looked up at him, but she was talking about me. I was getting increasingly uncomfortable with the way she talked about me like I wasn’t standing right here.
“I don’t know why you have this idea that I have some special relationship with Alice.” He sounded tired by the idea, but he wouldn’t look at me.
“Because you turned her brother for her! I know you were against adding more vampires, but you did that for her anyway!”
“Yes, and I did the same with Jack, for you.” Ezra looked severely at Mae. Her face darkened with shame, and she looked down at the floor.
I had no idea what Ezra was talking about. From what I knew, Peter had turned Jack in order to save his life. The story that I heard from everyone never made any mention of Mae or Ezra at all. It had been an act of compassion, and for some reason, that made Mae squirm.
“That was different,” Mae said quietly.
“Yes, it was. Because Alice actually cared for her brother. He wasn’t just some random kid.” Ezra looked off at the wall behind her. “And Milo’s young, but he is not a child.”
“She is innocent! She deserves a life!” Mae twisted a tissue in her hands and turned to look at me, pleading with me. “Alice, tell him! I don’t care what he says! He’ll listen to you! If you tell him that he needs to do this, he will!”
“I-I don’t really know what you’re talking about.” I turned to Ezra for help, but he just looked grimly at me. “I can’t tell him anything if I don’t know what you’re asking.”
“My great-granddaughter Daisy,” Mae said, silent tears sliding down her face. “She is only five years old, and she’s going to die. She hasn’t had a chance to live her life yet. But if we turn her, she can live forever. She can do anything!”
“Except grow up,” Ezra reminded her. “She can never fall in love or get married. She’ll never be able to live on her own or drive a car or even go to a bar. She’ll depend on you for everything, forever, and that may delight you, but she’ll hate you for cursing her to this life.
“Other vampires will never accept her, or you, for it,” he went on. “They’ll try to kill her because she’s an abomination against everything we are. And that says nothing to our more perverse underbelly, who thrive on making childlike vampires to live as their slaves or to trade with human pedophiles in exchange for blood. Is that really the kind of life you want for her? Do you think that’s what her hopes and dreams amount to?”
“It won’t be like that,” Mae insisted. “We will protect her and love her, and she’ll have everything a child could ever want.”
“But she won’t really be a child forever! She’ll be a woman trapped in a child’s body with a child’s temperament for all of eternity. That is a horrible thing to do to someone you claim to love so much,” he said.
“You don’t understand!” Mae looked desperately at him, and he met her eyes. “I cannot let this happen! I swore I would never watch another one of my children die!” He exhaled deeply and matched her intense expression with a calm one of his own.
“Then don’t watch,” Ezra said.
“Ezra!” I shouted, unable to believe that he would say something that cold to Mae.
“I know she is hurting, but I can’t do this!” His collected façade evaporated for a moment, and he was merely exasperated and worried. Mae had gone back to looking at the floor and crying, and for a brief second, he looked completely lost. “There is nothing I can do to rectify this situation.”
“So then comfort her! Don’t yell at her!” I told him, still in shock over how icy he had been to her.
“No, it’s alright, Alice,” Mae said wearily and shook her head. “I knew what I was going to get from him. Ezra is many things, but he is predictable above all else.” Sighing, she got to her feet. She wiped the tears from her face and tried to smooth out her hair. When she had composed herself a bit, she turned to look at him. “I will do what I have to do.”
“I understand that, but you will not do it in my house,” he said.
“I know.” She nodded once, and then turned and walked back to her room.
For a moment after she left, I stood and tried to catch my breath. I had never seen the two of them fight about anything before, let alone something as intense as this.
I knew that Ezra was right, that turning a child into a vampire was an impossible idea, but I knew how desperate Mae was to do anything to protect her family.
Finally, Ezra started to move, picking up the pieces of broken glass of the floor, and I went over to join him.
“You were too cold with her,” I said, picking up a large chunk of glass.
My hair was still dripping cold water down my back, and I tucked it behind my ears. Part of me felt nervous at the thought of contradicting Ezra about something like this, but he had no reason to be that cruel.
“She wouldn’t have listened to anything else. She’s been pleading me with since she found out about the child being ill, and I decided that being forthright was the best avenue to take.” Ezra was incredibly tired, and I wasn’t sure if he was over what the lycan had done to him yet.
“Why is she pleading with you?” I asked. “I mean, if this is what she wants, then why doesn’t she just do it herself? Why does she need your permission?”
“She’s never turned anyone before, and she’s afraid to, especially with a child so young. She thinks she’ll do it wrong somehow, even though there is no real wrong way.”
He picked up most of the large pieces of glass, everything that we could get without a broom, so he stood up and tossed the broken bits into the fireplace. Since he had done it, I followed suit and threw what I had picked up into the fireplace.
“So is she going to do it if you don’t?” I asked.
“I honestly don’t know.” His normal booming voice sounded defeated. “She wasn’t really asking my permission, either. She knows my stand on it. If she turns the child, I will not be with her. I won’t go through that heartache. Neither of them would survive it, not for long. Child vampires never do.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
The youngest vampire I had met had been Violet, and she was fourteen. I couldn’t imagine what one would be like younger than that. Would they look older too, the way that Milo and Violet both looked about nineteen?