“Peter,” another voice boomed. His voice was deeper than Jack’s or Peter’s, and it resonated in a way that made me flush warmly. He was disapproving, and I knew that if I had been on the receiving end of his disproval, I’d probably faint.
“Sorry,” Peter grumbled.
“That’s Ezra,” Mae told me, smiling proudly just at the mention of her husband.
Jack finally put down Matilda, who had completely saturated his face in slobber, and she bounded away. Mae looped her arm in mine, and I knew she would revel introducing me to Ezra, so I let her lead me into the next room.
“He’s really not scary at all,” Jack reassured me as he wiped dog slobber of his face with the back of his arm.
Then we walked into the living room, and as soon as I saw him, all my fears melted away. My very first thought was that he looked like an angel. He was taller than Jack and Peter, but he didn’t seem to tower over anyone.
As I had suspected, he was gorgeous, and he wore a white dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up and collar unbuttoned, revealing a tantalizing hint of his chest. His eyes were deep mahogany and infinitely warm. His skin was the same tanned color as Peter’s, but his hair had sun kissed streaks through it.
He was in his mid-twenties, and he looked amazing, but he also looked… old somehow. Around his eyes, I could tell that he was much wiser than his age belied.
“And you must be Alice,” his deep voice rolled warmly towards me, sending pleasurable chills coursing through me.
There was something about his voice, I’d heard it when he said Peter’s name, but I couldn’t quite place it until he spoke more. He had a faded accent, maybe Irish or Australian, but I couldn’t be sure since it was so soft. He stepped closer to shake my hand, and that’s when it finally dawned on me.
Ezra had an accent, but Peter and Jack didn’t, and maybe Ezra being born in another country while the other boys were too young to pick up an accent could explain that.
But their eye colors were all so distinct and completely different. Ezra had deep brown, Peter’s were shocking green, and Jack’s were a soft blue. There was no way they were brothers.
“And you must be Ezra,” I said.
He held my hand in both of his, and he smiled so warmly at me, I thought I would melt. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Peter standing in the corner, casting an odd look at us, but I tried to ignore it.
“I’ve heard so much about you.” He let go of my hand and took a step back so he was at a polite distance. Mae stayed planted at my side, and she had started stroking my hair again. I realized belatedly that she was showing me off.
“All of it good, I hope,” I said quietly. It was an incredibly cheesy thing to say, but I couldn’t think of anything better.
With Ezra stepping back, he didn’t quite eclipse my view the way he had before, and I couldn’t help but sneak a glance at Peter, who was staring straight back at me. He leaned his shoulder against a wall with his arms crossed over his chest. Wearing tight fitting jeans and a black tee shirt, he was so amazingly gorgeous that I had to pull my eyes away to look back at Ezra, who suddenly didn’t seem quite as astonishing in comparison.
“Isn’t she lovely?” Mae gushed, putting her arm around me. All the attention was flattering, but very odd. Mae treated me as if I had cured cancer or walked on water, and all I had done was show up.
“She is something,” Ezra said, and I felt him appraising me, so I straightened my back slightly. “But you knew she would be.”
I didn’t know what the hell that meant, and I wanted terribly to ask, but I knew it would have to wait until we left and I was safely in the car with Jack.
“She’s just a girl,” Peter scoffed, making me crumble inside.
My body slouched automatically, but I fought to keep my facial expression even. Ezra turned to shoot a glance at Peter, who just looked away and shifted his weight.
“Peter.” Ezra wasn’t disapproving this time. He just sounded like he didn’t understand him at all.
“Well, you don’t need to put her on display,” Peter muttered. He refused to look at me, but he snuck glances at Ezra. “She’s here. I get it.”
“I was just introducing her to Ezra,” Mae told him, but there was a protective edge to her voice.
“I’m sorry about Peter,” Ezra turned back to me, smiling apologetically. “He seems to have completely lost his mind.”
Peter rolled his eyes at that, and I wondered what it was about me that bothered him so much. I’d barely said anything around him. In fact, I’d mostly just stood there and stared dumbly. How could that be so offensive to anyone?
“You know what would be fun?” Jack asked. He’d been standing off to the side of me, crouched down on the floor so he could pet Matilda, who had rolled over on her back so he could rub her belly.
“Nobody wants to play Guitar Hero.” Mae sounded exasperated when she turned to give him a look.
“But you can play the Beatles! You loved the Beatles!”
“He’s back on that again?” Ezra asked, looking a little disappointed.
“He bought a new system or something,” Mae said wearily. “I don’t know. It’s just been the past couple days.”
“Well, maybe we should let the kids play, and you can fill me in on what else I’ve missed while I was gone,” Ezra suggested.
Mae took a step away from me, and he slid his arm around her slender waist. They really looked perfect together, and something about them made me incredibly jealous. Not because I really wanted to be with Ezra (although, there were much worse things I could do) but because of how obviously they were made for each other. I wanted to be made for somebody like that.
“Have you played Guitar Hero?” Jack asked suddenly. I’m assuming he was asking me, but he was already hurrying over to the giant plasma television hanging on the wall and hooking up the gaming system.
“Let me know if you need anything,” Mae gently touched my arm. “And don’t be afraid to tell him when you’ve had enough. He can play that game for hours, so you’re gonna have to be the one to stop him.”
When they walked out of the room, Mae rested her head on Ezra’s shoulder, and I couldn’t help but feel sad to see them go. Peter, strangely enough, didn’t take this as his cue to exit, and stood where he was, glowering at everyone and everything.
“So have you?” Jack looked back over his shoulder at me.