“Don’t worry,” he attempted to reassure me. “They’ll like you. I think. Well, Ezra isn’t there. So it’s just Mae and Peter. That should make it easier.”
For some reason, knowing one of his brothers would be gone made me more nervous. Maybe Jack knew Ezra wouldn’t like me, and that’s why he was bringing me over when he wasn’t around.
“Business thing,” Jack shrugged. “He’s gone a lot with stuff.”
“Well, the Lamborghini doesn’t pay for itself.”
“Yeah, I guess that’s true.” He looked over at me, and then laughed at my nervous fidgeting. I had started chewing on my nails, which was an awful habit that I kept vowing to quit. “Seriously, you’ll be fine. They’ll like you. I mean, I like you so… they’ll like you.”
“Yeah, cause everything in life is really that simple,” I sighed.
“This one thing might actually be,” he smiled confidently.
The car started slowing down, and he turned off the road, meaning we were getting closer, and my heart thudded painfully. When he pulled up to his house, I cringed.
Incredibly, beautiful and massive, it was more of a mansion or a castle than a house. There was a five stall garage at the end of a short, winding driveway. The whole place had been done in some kind of pale sandstone.
The front door entered right into a rounded tower. There was a large rectangular window above it, covered in rod-iron bars. The tower flowed into what would otherwise be a rather conventional square house, if not for the gorgeous black iron balcony coming out of a second story window underneath a weeping willow.
“Oh my gosh,” I gasped as we pulled into the garage. “You live here?”
“Yeah.” He heard the awed tone in my voice and chuckled. “It’s just a house.”
“Nothing is ‘just’ anything with you,” I said under my breath.
He laughed harder and started getting out of the car, and I followed suit, but much slower. I had never felt so intimidated in my entire life. Everything about me suddenly seemed plain and dreary, and I felt totally ashamed that I had let him see the inside of my disgustingly tiny apartment.
“You know I didn’t buy this, right?” Jack turned to look back at me as we walked past the four other vehicles in the garage (Mae’s black Jetta, a green Jeep Wrangler with a canvas top, a black Lexus LS, and a shiny silver Audi TT Roadster). Then he gestured to the impressive collection of cars. “I didn’t buy any of this. None of its really mine.”
“Then who did buy it?”
“Ezra, mostly. And Peter.” We had reached the huge wooden door that presumably led into the house, and he turned back to grin at me. “Mae and I are just eye candy.”
Jack threw open the door, shouting hello. I had barely crept in the house behind him when a giant mass of white fur flung itself at him.
It caused a mild flashback to the night before and I almost yelped, but Jack was scratching the dog and telling her how pretty she was, and I realized that it was just his gigantic Great Pyrenees.
“Matilda!” A warm voice with a soft, British accent filtered through the house, and then I saw her rushing in to greet us.
She was beautiful, probably in an unconventional sense, but that almost made her more stunning. Her long, light brown waves of hair had been clipped back to keep it out of her honey colored eyes. Her skin looked like white porcelain, but warmth came off her in comforting waves.
She went over to the dog, pushing her down off of Jack with ease, and in a slightly scolding tone, she said, “Oh, Matilda, do be a good girl. Please.”
“Ah, she’s alright.” Jack crouched down to continue scratching the dog’s head. Watching him play with her, I realized for the first time how hard it must’ve been for him to kill that dog.
“I’m so sorry,” she apologized breathlessly, putting her hand over her heart to show how sincere she was. She looked at me for the first time and smiled. “Matilda’s still a puppy.”
“Mattie’s always a good girl, aren’t you?” Jack’s voice was verging on baby-talk, and Matilda licked his face appreciatively.
“Well, look at you!” Her smile grew broader and warmer. “You’re lovely!”
“Thanks,” I mumbled, feeling my cheeks burn with embarrassment. She was far more beautiful than I could ever hope to be, and I didn’t know really how to respond to her open affection.
“Oh, sorry.” Jack gave the dog one final pat before standing up. “Alice, this is Mae. Mae, this is Alice.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” I floundered.
Something about her made me feel safe and oddly loved, but it was so unexpected that I didn’t really have time to collect my thoughts and respond.
“The pleasure is all mine!” Mae gushed, placing her hand over her heart again. “You really have no idea.”
“What have you been saying about me?” I gave Jack a sidelong glance, wondering what he possibly could’ve said to get her so excited over me. He was the one with all the magical powers. I just argued with him and got myself in ridiculous situations.
“Not that much,” Jack shrugged, but he didn’t seem embarrassed or surprised by Mae at all.
“Shall I give you the grand tour?” Mae asked, looping her arm through mine. Then she looked over at Jack. “Would that be alright with you?”
“Yeah, go ahead.” He had already started playing with the dog again, seemingly contented to let Mae kidnap me and do as she pleased.
“This is the entryway, obviously,” Mae gestured to the vaulted ceilings and marble floors around us, and the rings on her fingers flashed in the light.
Then she started to lead me into an adjoining room, which appeared to be some kind of expansive living room. The rest of the house had dark golden oak wood floors and cream colored walls. Somehow, it managed to combine a warm modern motif with touches of a castle. It was beautiful and perfect and really, so utterly Mae.
“Here’s the living room. Windows, fireplace, etc.” Before I could even really take it all in, she started leading me into the kitchen. The tiles were granite in natural neutral colors and the cupboards matched the hardwood floors.
Off the back of the kitchen, giant windows and glass French doors revealed a beautiful view of the lake. A massive stone patio sat right outside the doors, leading down to the lake.