Sure, Jane was irritating and self-absorbed, but it was oddly comforting having her around. I always knew exactly what I was getting with her. Despite myself, I actually sort of enjoyed her.
For the hour I spent with her, I didn’t check my phone at all to see if I missed a call from Jack. I didn’t forget about him, exactly. The dull ache in my chest wouldn’t let me, but I wasn’t quite as obsessive as I had been.
After Jane went to bed, I went downstairs to get something to eat. The slow burning spread from my stomach, and soon it’d gnaw all over me. Jane didn’t entice me at all, but Bobby was starting to, so it was time to eat. I gulped down the bag of blood, then went back to my room and curled up in bed.
I was having a dream about this incredible warmth growing inside me. It wasn’t a burning, like a fire, but something different and more wonderful. Like a bright white light spreading out over me, until it became so much I couldn’t stand it, and I opened my eyes.
When I woke up, my breath was ragged, but the feeling from the dream hadn’t dissipated. I sat up, and I nearly screamed. Someone stood at the end of my bed, but when I saw who it was, I couldn’t even speak.
“I didn’t mean to wake you,” Jack said quietly.
- 28 -
I couldn’t breathe. Jack was pensive, his lips pressed tightly together.
The more alert I became, the more his emotions washed over me, and they were nothing pleasant either. Mostly, he felt nervous and hurt, and I didn’t blame him. After apologizing for waking me, Jack just stood there, arms crossed over his chest and stared at me. I sat up farther in bed and tried to think of something to say, but my mouth refused to work.
“I have to admit, I was a little surprised I didn’t find you in Peter’s room,” Jack said finally.
His words were cutting, and all the more so because they were from him. He never said things to hurt people, but he wanted to hurt me now.
“I was never with him.” My mouth worked numbly, and my heart hammered in my chest. “What happened was a stupid mistake. It didn’t mean anything.”
“What exactly did happen?” Jack’s normally soft blue eyes were like ice, and they pierced straight through me.“I don’t know.” All the rehearsed speeches I had explaining the kiss completely vanished. I had nothing except a blank expression.
“You don’t know what happened?” He gritted his teeth and took a deep breath. “How do you not know what happened when you kissed Peter? Kissing really isn’t that hard! I’m sure it started with you putting your lips on his-”
“No, I know what happened!” I held up my hand. Rubbing my forehead, I exhaled shakily. “I just don’t really know why it happened.”
“Well, maybe if you start telling me what exactly happened, I can help with the why,” he suggested coldly.
“We kissed!” I shouted, feeling exasperated already. I just wanted to get to the part where I sobbed and apologized, and eventually, he forgave me.
“Who kissed whom?”
“I-I don’t know,” I stammered and looked down. I pulled my knees up my chest, and I wanted to bury my face in my hands.
“Really? You have no idea? Just one minute you’re standing there and then next you’re making out with him? That seems pretty spontaneous.”
“Nobody was making out.” I couldn’t even look at him. This was much harder than I thought it would be.
“So… who kissed whom?” Jack repeated, and when I still didn’t answer, he got louder. “Alice?”
“I think… I-I might’ve,” I mumbled and swallowed hard.
I could’ve lied but I knew he’d see it on me, and that would just make things worse. I rested my hand on my forehead and leaned on my knees. He had to take a few moments to process what I’d told him, and his hurt was even rawer now.
“Are you in love with him?” His voice was so low I could barely hear it.
“God, no!” I shouted fiercely and looked at him. “No! I love you, Jack! And that’s all!” A wayward tear slid down my cheek. I wanted to crawl over to him and kiss him, but I knew he’d push me away.
“So why would you kiss him? After everything we’ve been through!” He was almost pleading with me now, and it made me cry.
“I don’t know! Honestly, Jack! I wish I did!” I wiped at my cheeks. “I was really thirsty, and I was trying to hold off on eating so I could get more self-control. And I just went into his room to talk, to distract myself, and … I don’t know. We were talking, and I just… I just kissed him. It was only for a second, and then I stopped it and I said that I couldn’t do it.
“And I am so sorry, Jack! I am so sorry! If I could take it back I would! I never wanted to do anything to hurt you!”
“I’ve just been thinking about it over and over in my head.” He rubbed his temples and looked at the ground. His eyes were moist, but he wasn’t crying. “I kept thinking, if you kissed him, could I forgive you? And if you slept with him, could I forgive you?”
“I never slept with him!” I insisted and sat up on my knees.
“No, I’m just telling you what I was thinking.” He shook his head. “And you know what I realized? I’d forgive you of anything!” What he was saying sounded good, but he didn’t feel good. He was completely agonized, and I had done this to him.
“I’m not giving you permission, but you could do anything, and I would just forgive you. I couldn’t not.” Jack stared off at nothing, thinking. “I don’t know if you know what that’s like. Even if what you do kills me, I would…” With bated breath, I watched him.
“You could kill me, Alice,” he looked at me seriously. “That’s how much you mean to me. As foolish and masochistic as that makes me, you are so much to me that even if it destroys me to be with you, I’ll be with you!
“And I don’t care why you kissed him or what you did. I don’t even really wanna know. But I am begging you to please never do anything like this again. Because I love you so much, and I am trusting you with far too much, but I don’t know how to be any different! You just… you can’t do this to me anymore, okay? Please?”
“I promise! I’ll never do anything!” I got up off the bed and ran over to him, unable to contain myself anymore. Putting my hands on his cheeks, I looked into his wounded blue eyes. “I am so sorry. I never wanted this, and I’ll never, ever do it again. I promise you. I love you so much, Jack.”