“You’re in Finland?” Jack yelled, and I realized that I might’ve said too much. “That’s where Peter’s in trouble with vampires?”
“Um…” I shifted on the bed, thinking of a line to feed him.
“They’re not really vampires, are they? It’s lycan.” He sighed when I didn’t say anything, and he held the phone away from his mouth. “Mae! Mae!”
“Why are you yelling at Mae?”
“Because. If she knew that’s what you guys were doing-”
“What?” I interrupted him. “What would she do?”
He grumbled something under his breath but didn’t have a follow-up for that. Even if Mae had known about it before we left, she would’ve tried just as hard to talk Ezra out of it. Ezra hadn’t told anybody where we were going for that reason. He had made up his mind, and he didn’t want to waste time fighting about it.
“I should get on a plane right now,” Jack said.
“Don’t be silly. Ezra wouldn’t let anything happen to me. I’m just here to try and talk Peter into coming back, not to fight any stupid vampires,” I said
“Peter doesn’t need to come back,” he muttered.
“Have you been to Finland?” I quickly changed the subject. I couldn’t make him feel good about me being here, but maybe I could distract him enough where he worried a little less.
“Yeah, once, a few years back,” he said disdainfully. “We went skiing, and it was terrible. I broke a snowboard and rolled down the hill. It wasn’t that fun. Finland’s not that great. You should just come home.”
“Jack.” I smiled when I pictured him tumbling down a hill, but it faded when he went back to trying to convince me to leave. “You’re wasting this call. My phone’s going to die, and I don’t have a charger. Do you really wanna spend this time arguing with me, when you know you’re not going to change my mind?”
“Yeah, I kind of do,” he replied. “Besides, I’m sure Ezra has a charger that’ll work there, and you can use that.”
A few weeks ago, Jack bought me an iPhone. It was the exact same phone that both Ezra and Jack had, so if Ezra had a charger, it worked on mine.
“Ezra speaks Finnish,” I said, keeping the subject away from Peter or coming home. “It’s pretty fancy, although I can’t understand a word of it.”
“Ezra is fluent in like every language known to man, even the dead ones. He thought he was so cool when he watched The Passion of the Christ without subtitles because can he speak Aramaic, but I’m pretty sure that’s the only time that’ll ever come in handy.” Jack lightened up, just a tad, and it made me smile.
“Can you speak any other languages?” I asked.
“Spanish and German,” he informed me with pride. “I learned Spanish in high school, and German in college, so I’m not fluent in either. But I can ask if you speak English in both languages, and I think that’s the only thing I really need to know.”
“Yeah, that sounds helpful,” I laughed, but my happiness made fresh tears in my eyes. “I miss you.”
“I miss you too. You can come home, Alice, whenever you want. No pressure.”
“I know. But I have to help. It shouldn’t be that long, I don’t think. We’ll find Peter, and then come straight home.”
Jack started saying something about the Finnish wilderness being complex, but Ezra came out of the bathroom, distracting me. He had changed into flannel pajama pants and a tee shirt, and he ruffled his hand through his damp hair, looking at me questioningly.
“It’s just Jack,” I told him, holding the phone a little way from my mouth.
“Ezra’s there? Let me talk to him!” Jack demanded.
“You don’t need to talk to him,” I sighed.
“I take it he knows we’re in Finland then?” Ezra asked me, and I nodded sheepishly. “Oh well. He’d find out sooner or later.”
“Look, Jack, I should get some sleep anyway. I’ll call you soon and let you know how things are going,” I said. Ezra rolled down the teal bedspread, meaning he was getting ready for bed and I should probably do the same.
“Alice…” Jack was almost whining, and he realized it so he stopped. “Just call me soon, really soon. And take care of yourself, okay?”
“I will,” I promised.
When I hung up the phone, I fought the overwhelming urge to sob. Hearing his voice only made things worse. My heart ached in my chest, and my body felt completely out of whack. I hated that I could barely even survive being away from Jack.
“You didn’t have to get off the phone because of me,” Ezra said.
I swallowed back tears, staring down at my phone, and heard the rustle of blankets as he settled himself into bed. Even though I’d just gotten off the phone, I thought about calling Jack back. It wouldn’t do any good to make me feel better, so I decided against it.
“I know,” I said. Setting my phone on the nightstand, I crawled underneath the covers myself. “Are you going to call Mae?”
“Not until I know anything. Jack can fill her in.” He rolled onto his stomach and rested his head on the pillow. “Are you going to be okay with all of this?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I nodded, and I wasn’t sure if I was lying or not.
Rolling over so my back was to him, I allowed a few silent tears to slide down my cheeks. He didn’t say anything, and eventually, his breathing had the regulated quality that comes with sleep. Unfortunately, sleep wouldn’t be as easy for me.
Ezra tore open the shades while the sun was still up, and I squinted and pulled the blankets over my head. The little experience I had with the sun so far made me tired and cranky, and I had no urge to relive that. Fully dressed and whistling an old Neil Young song, Ezra went about the room, and I knew it was time to get up.
“What time is it?” I mumbled, still buried underneath the thin hotel comforter.
“It’s a little after one, but we need to get going. We’re burning daylight.” He chuckled at his own joke, and I was starting to think that I didn’t agree with his sense of humor.
“You’re actually expecting me to get up now?” I poked my head out, braving the blinding light that filled the room.
“We do need to get going.” He checked something on his phone, then he glanced back at the open window. “I can close the shades, if that helps.”