We were all crowded inside Jane’s room, investigating her disappearance. Mae had tired of her pursuit of the alarm manual, so she had gone upstairs to bunk with Jane again, but when she’d come in the room, Jane was gone. That was all her evidence.
“Did somebody ransack the room or something?” Bobby asked, admiring the disheveled state of Peter’s room. Somehow, half of my wardrobe had migrated over here and had been strewn around everywhere.
“No, it always looks like this,” I said. I hadn’t seen her room lately, but this was her natural state of being.
“Not to sound like a dick,” Jack said, “but you just dragged us out of bed to show us Jane’s messy room? That’s not really an emergency, Mae.”
“She’s not here!” Mae gestured to the mess around her. “That’s the emergency.”
“Again, not to be a dick, but that’s not really an emergency,” Jack said.
“Something could’ve happened to her!” Mae insisted. “She wouldn’t just leave like this!”
“She might,” Milo said. “She was bitching downstairs about how boring we are.”
“But she didn’t tell me where she was going.” Mae looked at us all with disbelief. Jane had really gotten to her, and she wasn’t willing to let her go so easily.
“You know what? I’m sure she has her phone on her,” I said. “I’ll call her, and we can figure this out right away.”
“Good idea.” Mae was slightly relieved at that.
“Well, I’m going back to bed,” Milo yawned. “I’m sure she’ll turn up.”
I hurried across the hall to my room, and Jack trailed behind me. Mae stayed behind in the hallway to argue with Milo about how innocent Jane was while I pulled my cell phone out of my pants pocket. Jack rubbed his bare arms and shook his head.
“You don’t really believe something happened to Jane?” Jack asked quietly.
“I don’t really know, and I’ll feel better making sure.” I scrolled through my phone for her number, then hit call.
The phone rang in my ear, and I watched as Milo and Bobby slunk back to their room. Mae looked at me expectantly, and I started to tell her that Jane wasn’t answering when Jane picked up.
“Yeah, what?” Jane sounded bored.
“Jane?” I asked tentatively. “Where are you?”
“Out. Your place was a drag,” Jane yawned.
“Really? You’re calling us a ‘drag?’” I asked. Mae peered at me with concern, but Jack rolled his eyes and walked to the other side of the room.
“No, you’re not.” Jane sighed. “Look, I know you guys have been really good to me, and I appreciate all your hospitality. But… the thing is, I need a bite.”
“We have food here, Jane. You didn’t need to-”
“No, not a bite to eat,” Jane cut me off. “I need to be bitten.”
“But… No,” I shook my head. “We just got you out of there. That life is bad for you, and you know it.”
“Jonathan is bad for me, and I got a little carried away on Halloween.” Jane made it sound like she had a drink too many at an office party. She had almost died because a vampire was eating her throat. “But I still love the way it feels, and I’ve just been craving it.”
“Jane!” I shouted, incredulous. “No! You will die if you keep it up!”
“I don’t think I will, but so be it.” There was noise behind her, and Jane sounded in a hurry when she spoke again. “I gotta go. Thanks for everything, though, Alice. I’m sure I’ll see you again.”
“No, Jane! Wait!” I said, but she’d already hung up.
“What’s going on? Where is she?” Mae asked.
“I don’t know.” I shook my head and tried calling her again, but it went right to voicemail. “Dammit. She shut off her phone.”
“What did she say? Why did she leave?” Mae asked.
“She, um…” I considered lying to Mae, but what was the point? “She wanted to go get bit. I guess she’s going back to being a bloodwhore.”
“No!” Mae’s eyes widened with terror. “She can’t! She’ll die!”
“I know. I told her that.” I was taken aback by her intensity, and I looked to Jack for help.
“Mae, she’s a junkie,” Jack said, not unkindly. Considering how much he currently disliked Mae and Jane, he was handling this quite well. “The last high had worn off from being bit, and she had to go out and get another fix. You can’t keep her here for a couple days and expect to cure her.”
“No. She was doing so well,” Mae shook here head fiercely. “I refuse to believe she willingly went back out there. I’ve got to find her.”
“Mae, the sun is about to come up.” I gestured to the windows. No light ever spilled in around the curtains, but I could feel when the sun rose and set. It was a weird vampire tick. “She’s probably crashing somewhere for awhile. She won’t even be able to find a vampire until night fall.”
“You don’t know that!” Mae insisted. “I’m going out after her.” With that, she walked out.
“Mae!” I went to stop her as she left the room, but Jack put his hand on my arm.
“Let her go,” Jack said. “She’s not going to listen to reason anymore than Jane will.”
I ran my hands through my hair and stared out the door. Across the hall, Mae had left Peter’s bedroom door open, and I could see into the empty disaster that had been Jane’s space.
“Do you think we should go after Jane?”
“Where?” Jack stared across the hall at the same thing I was. “Do you know where she went?”
“No. It feels weird just letting Jane go, though.” I chewed my lip.
“You can’t save her if she doesn’t want to be saved,” Jack smiled sadly at me.
I knew he was right, but I just hated the way it felt. We had gone through a lot of trouble to get her here, and Bobby had risked his life. I thought Jane had really seen the error of her ways, but she just needed a place to crash. Jack put his hand on my back, and I leaned into him, resting my head on his shoulder.
“I probably say this way too much, but it’s going to be okay, Alice. Honest.”
“I know.” I wasn’t sure if I really believed it, but I had to hope it was true. Jack kissed the top of my head and pulled away from me. “Hey, where are you going?”