“This is the kitchen, and the view.”
“That is truly breathtaking.” I pulled away from her just enough so I could peer out the window. It was dark out, so I couldn’t fully appreciate it, but several large lights lit the backyard and I got a glimpse of it.
“That’s why Ezra chose this place.” Mae put her hand on my arm when she returned to my side, and I noticed that her skin felt the same as Jack’s – silky soft, but completely temperatureless, like touching a doll. “This land, anyway. He built the house.”
“He designed it and everything?” I know I sounded surprised, which made me feel embarrassed.
Of course her husband had built this amazing piece of architecture. They were obviously superior to everyone in every way, and I'd better start getting used to it.
“Well, I helped, a little.” Mae smiled modestly at me, and I realized that I was already falling in love with her. Not sexually or anything lesbian like that, but they were just so inviting and charismatic, I couldn’t help it.
That’s when I realized that I was a little bit in love with Jack. He was impossibly wonderful, and I couldn’t stand to be away from him. I had started craning my head to look around for him when Mae pulled onto the next room.
“This is a really fast tour you’re giving me,” I commented as she went through the grand dining room connected to the kitchen. We had just started down a hall and she laughed.
“Well, you’ll see the house enough, I’m sure.” Her eyes sparkled at me, and I knew that she was implying that I’d be hanging out there more, which suited me just fine. “I really just wanted a chance to get acquainted with you, and this seemed like the perfect way.”
“Oh.” I nodded as if I really understood.
“There’s the lou if you need it,” Mae gestured to a gorgeous bathroom, and then vaguely pointed to two rooms at the end of the hall. “That’s Ezra’s office at the end, and our bedroom next to it. They’re not that exciting, really.”
“Somehow, I doubt that,” I said, but I let her pull me onward and up the stairs. She claimed that she wanted to get acquainted with me, but I didn’t understand how she really meant to do that when she as rushing me through the house.
“Here’s Jack’s room,” Mae pointed to an open door at the top of the stairs, and I took a moment to peek in.
The walls were dark blue, as he had told me they were, and the bed was massive and laid out in black silk blankets. A giant flat screen television hung on the wall, and tons of gaming gear and videogames filling the built-in entertainment center in the wall. Some clothes were strewn about the room, but really, it was exactly as I expected it would be.
“There’s a guest room, with another bathroom, at the end of the hall,” Mae explained, then looked a little perplexed. “I don’t know why there’s another bathroom up here. Each bedroom has its own attached bathroom, and its own fireplace. I think someone must’ve suggested it to Ezra that it was a good resale point.”
“This house is all bathrooms and fireplaces,” a velvety voice grumbled, and my heart stopped at the sound. It was coming from the bedroom across the hall from Jack’s room, and completely unabashed, I took a step towards it.
This room had been styled much closer to the rest of the house, with wood floors, and a four-poster bed made with white linens. There was a large white rug in the center of the room, and the French doors leading out to the balcony were open, letting the cool breeze ruffle the thick curtains.
Books lined the walls, and someone sat in the white chair in the corner. An aged copy of a German book covered his face from me, but just the sound of his voice had already mesmerized me. He wore faded jeans and a close fitting sweater.
His slender fingers were deeply tanned, but they seemed to be gripping the book unnaturally tight. I wondered if I was irritating him in some way, so I took a step back, trying to sneak out of his room, but I bumped right into Mae.
“Alice, this is Peter. Peter, this is Alice,” Mae introduced us. Maybe it was just my imagination, but her voice seemed to have filled with a sense of self-satisfaction. He grunted something but didn’t lower the book. “Jack told you that she’d be coming over tonight.”
“I remember.” Peter definitely sounded annoyed, so I tried to edge my way out of the room, but Mae, who either chose to ignore or didn’t notice his growing irritation, blocked my path.
“You could at least say hi to our guest.” Mae reprimanded him, but her tone was playful. “It’s the polite thing to do.”
“Hello,” Peter sighed and finally lowered his book.
At first, I could only see his eyes. They were an intoxicating shade of green and captivated me. His thick, chestnut hair landed just above his shoulders, and he tucked it behind his ears. His jaw had tightened, strong on his features.
He breathed in sharply, and his lips parted. It wasn’t his intention, but there was something so seductive about that. He was stunningly perfect in a way that made him almost painful to look at.
“Aha!” Mae exclaimed quietly behind me, but I was too preoccupied with Peter to figure out what she meant.
“Shouldn’t you continue your little tour?” Peter asked icily, and his eyes dropped from mine.
I suddenly remembered to breathe and tried not to gulp down air the way my lungs requested. My heart pounded wildly, and I felt the blood burning my cheeks.
“I think we’ve seen all the main points,” Mae looped her arm through mine, and the combination of her soft voice and reassuring touch calmed me down. “Would you care to join us, Peter?”
“I’ve seen the house.” He lifted the book again, hiding his exquisite features from me.
“Peter’s always a grump,” Mae explained, but she sounded a tad disappointed when she started leading me away from Peter’s room. “Come on, love. There’s still more for us to see.”
“Well?” Jack appeared at the bottom stairs, looking up expectantly at us. There was something anxious and almost protective about him. Mae and I walked slowly down towards him, and I couldn’t meet his gaze, afraid he would see what a fool I had myself of over his brother.
“Well what?” I asked, feeling dazed.
“What do you think?” He waited until I was at the bottom of the stairs, then I felt him inspecting me. The dog came over and licked my hand, and I absently started petting her.
“The house is amazing.” I tried to force a smile to prove how spectacular I thought everything was, and I hated that that sudden random confrontation with his brother had distracted me from all my other pleasant feelings about the house and Mae.