“I really enjoyed her, too.” That was all I was going to say on that subject. The last thing I wanted to do was talk to Jack about Peter. It felt wrong somehow to admit any attraction to him to Jack. “That doesn’t explain how you knew where my house was.”
“Why would it? Mae liking you has nothing to do with where you live.”
“No, I mean, do you always know where I’m at?” I looked up at him, and he shook his head.
“I’m not psychic.”
“What about when you took me home that first night? I was sleeping in the car. How did you know where I lived?”
“Jane told me.” He kept looking straight ahead, and I wondered when he would grow tired of my constant stream of questions.
I knew that normal friends didn’t just continuously interrogate each other like this, but normal friends didn’t act like Jack.
“Why would she tell you that?”
“I asked her,” Jack said, again looking at me like I was an idiot.
“If I called and asked her that, is that what she would tell me?” I challenged him, and even pulled out my phone to prove I would call her. (I really wouldn’t, because I was avoiding talking to her about Jack, or anything, really.)
“I don’t know what she’d say, but it’s the truth.” That felt very true. Jack may not tell me things, but he didn’t lie to me.
“So, how did you know which apartment was mine that night you came over for supper?” I asked.
“See my answer to the last question.”
“She told you my apartment number and everything?” I asked skeptically. That seemed like an awful lot of information for her to give out to a complete stranger about her unconscious best friend, but then again, she was completely in love with him at the time.
“Sure did.” Jack shrugged. “You were passed out. I thought I might have to carry you up.”
“You would’ve carried me into my apartment and put me in my bed and everything?” I furrowed my brows at him. When I said it aloud, it sounded terribly creepy, which is why I had said it aloud. I wanted to feel as creepy as it sounded, but it didn’t. It felt oddly natural. “You just met me.”
“Would it have bothered you if I had?” Jack asked me honestly.
“That’s still a peculiar thing to do.” I purposely didn’t answer his question. “And you have an awful lot of secrets for someone that knows so much about me.”
“I guess I do,” he laughed, and then turned to me. “So when are you coming over again?”
“I don’t know,” I said hesitantly. He must’ve noticed my reluctance because he bumped my shoulder with his. “I can’t tonight. I’m doing this and then I have school tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow then, after school.” It wasn’t exactly an order, but it wasn’t really a question either. “Ezra will be home.”
Everything about me tensed up. After reacting the way I had to Peter, I was terrified to find out how I’d react to his other brother. Maybe it would be worse, and even if it wasn’t, it wasn’t worth the risk of lusting after Mae’s husband. That would be embarrassing and it’d feel like a betrayal.
“He’ll like you. Trust me.” Then he softened and lowered his voice, leaning in closer to me. “It won’t be like with Peter.”
“How do you know?” I asked stiffly, and even I wasn’t sure if I was asking how he knew what it was like with Peter, or how he knew that this time would be different.
“I just do.” Then he bumped into me again, teasing. “You know that I know. I don’t know why you always have to argue.”
“It’s just in my nature, I guess.”
“What’s that?” Jack noticed the Cosmo on my lap, and before I could stop him, he snatched it up. Embarrassingly, I had left it open to the quiz I had been taking. “What man are you pleasing in bed? And question four, you really do that?” He gave me a look that was both appalled and admiring, and I tried to take the magazine back from him, but he moved to quick for me. “I had no idea you were that kind of girl, Alice! I mean, this completely changes my opinion of you!”
“I was bored!” I finally managed to grab it from him. He laughed freely at my humiliation, and I just shook my head. “Ha ha. Very funny.”
“Yeah, it kind of is,” Jack said when his laughter died down. He leaned back and spread out his arms on the back of the chairs, so one of his arms was behind me. “The truth is, though, that I know exactly what kind of girl you are.”
“Oh yeah?” I asked, intrigued. “And what kind of girl is that?”
“Oh, you’ll see,” Jack smiled at his cryptic answer.
“You say stuff like that just to drive me nuts, don’t you?” I shot him a look, and he just laughed, confirming my suspicions.
Jack waited with me until all the laundry finished. To pass the time, we did a few Cosmo quizzes (although I refused to answer any about sex) and a crossword puzzle in the newspaper, which he was amazing at. He had to be the smartest person I had ever met, but he did a pretty good job of keeping it secret.
When the laundry was done, he carried all three massive bags out to his Jeep. He offered to take them up to my apartment, but I thought it would be better for Milo if he didn’t see him. Jack’s effect on people tended to wear off the longer they went without contact.
Before I went into the building, he reminded me that he was picking me up tomorrow at six, and whether I liked it or not, I was spending the evening with his family.
- 9 -
Jane had always been much more clothes obsessed, but suddenly, there were not enough clothes in my closet. It actually wasn’t the amount of clothes so much as the fact that they were all terrible. I’d even done laundry, so everything I owned was clean and neatly folded or hanging up, but none of it was good enough. I must’ve changed my outfit like fifty times before my phone rang.
“I know, I know,” I answered the phone breathlessly.
“I just wanted to make sure you didn’t chicken out,” Jack said. Fortunately, he sounded more bemused than he did angry. “I’m outside waiting.”
“I’ll be out in a minute.” I flipped my phone shut and rushed over to the mirror to inspect myself. Milo, who had been my wardrobe supervisor, sat on my bed amidst discarded outfits.
“Jack?” Milo asked, trying to sound offhand.