“Jack, it’s just me. Alice. Um… I just wanted to apologize for last night. I know that I… overreacted to everything, and I’m really sorry. I just… I really want see you today. We need to talk. Okay. So… just call me back, I guess. Bye.”
Going through all the routine of getting ready, I managed to dress myself and apply makeup, but none of it felt real. It felt like some shell of myself going through the motions. My mind was completely locked onto the way Peter smelled and the way he looked through me and how my body felt pulled towards him.
When I had finished getting ready, I just sat on the couch, staring off into nothing, and tried to figure out what I would do if I never talked to Peter or Jack again.
“What’s going on with you?” Milo still sat at the computer, but he couldn’t ignore my zombie stare anymore. I shook my head and swallowed hard, so he got up from what he was doing and came over to sit next to me. “What happened last night over there?”
“Nothing,” I mumbled.
“Alice, come on.” He gave me a hard look, the one that said I-know-you-better-than-anyone-so-there’s-no-point-in-lying. “Did Jack’s brother do something to you?”
“No.” I bit my lip and wondered if he had done something to me. Why couldn’t I get him out of my head? It was as if he had crawled underneath my skin but not in a bad way. “I just really like him. Like more than I’ve ever liked anyone. It’s completely… visceral.”
“Did he blow you off or something?”
I wasn’t sure if Peter sending me out of his room was rejecting me or done to protect me… or maybe both. My phone felt very heavy in my hand, and I looked down at it, willing Jack to call me and fix everything.
“I don’t know,” I answered honestly. “Jack hasn’t texted me back. I think maybe he’s mad at me or something. I think I did something wrong.”
“You did not do anything.” Milo was so incredulous that I looked over at him. “They love you over there, like crazy love. Mae talked non-stop about you, and Jack looks at you like you walk on water. It’s a little sickening actually.”
“Really?” That made me feel a little better, but Jack still hadn’t called, so I wasn’t over-the-top better.
“Yeah.” He nodded, then looked down at my hands and wrinkled his nose. “Your nails are chipped really bad. Why don’t I repaint them while you wait for Jack to wake up?”
“You think he’s still sleeping?” I asked hopefully, and let my brother take my hands.
I had left my make up bag splayed out on the coffee table, and Milo leaned over and grabbed the nail polish remover, cotton balls, and dark blue nail polish.
“We left at like two-thirty in the morning, and everybody in that house was wide awake. Plus, he’s some rich, young playboy that doesn’t have a job. What does he really have to get up for?” He did have a point, and I finally started to relax.
“Considering this isn’t the first time you’ve painted my nails, I probably should’ve figured out sooner that you were gay,” I teased him. Milo had been painting my nails for as long as he could paint anything. When I really looked back at life with him, there were a lot of obvious hints that I should’ve picked up on.
“Probably,” he agreed.
After he finished painting my nails, he sat with me on the couch. He talked a little bit about how much he liked Mae and everybody, and that he hoped that I wouldn’t mind if he went back over there again. Honestly, I didn’t mind at all. It was nice being able to be around him and Jack at the same time.
Milo pointed out that he’d never met Peter, and we both thought that was strange. He hadn’t come down from his room all night, and Mae hadn’t given Milo a tour of the upstairs. Like they were purposely trying to keep them apart.
My heart pounded painfully when I realized that Peter might actually be dangerous, and maybe it wasn’t the safest place for Milo to be hanging out. I considered saying something to that effect when my phone rang.
“Hey, sorry, I didn’t call you sooner,” Jack said when I answered. Just hearing him made me elated, but his voice had a tightness to it. Something was bothering him. “I ended up having a really late night, so I just woke up.”
“Sorry. I hope none of it’s my fault.” But I knew it was my fault. I had done something wrong last night.
“No, it’s not,” Jack reassured me warmly. “It was just … a little family crisis, I guess.”
“What happened?” Anxiety gripped me, and Milo shot me a confused, concerned look, but I just shook my head at him.
“Um… I’ll tell you when I pick you up, okay? Will you be ready soon?” He was definitely keeping something from me.
“I’m ready now.” I was glad that I had gotten up and gotten ready before he called. If I had heard this when I first woke up, I would’ve rushed to his house in last night’s clothes with greasy hair.
“Good. I’ll be there soon.” He hung up, probably to prevent me from asking more questions, so I flipped my phone shut.
“What happened?” Milo’s worried expression mirrored my own, but I was too frazzled to answer him. Hurriedly, I slipped on shoes and grabbed my dark blue cardigan to throw on. “Alice?”
“I don’t know. He wouldn’t tell me.”
Why did I have to feel like crying? I swear, I didn’t really cry this much. Most of the time, I was a really sane, normal person. But something about Jack and Peter made me want to burst into tears all the time.
My emotions seemed to be on overdrive. It was like I had lived my whole life using just the bare minimum, and now this family had switched them into max.
“Is everyone okay?” Milo leaned over the back of the couch, watching me rush about. I probably had everything I needed, but I kept feeling like I was forgetting something, then running back to make sure I had it.
“I don’t know, Milo!” I snapped. “He didn’t tell me anything!”
“Sorry.” He sounded hurt, and I wanted to apologize, but I didn’t have time. Jack would be here “soon,” which could mean anywhere from five seconds to fifteen minutes. “Do you want me to come with?”
“Not today.” I finally managed an apologetic smile, and he slumped down in the couch. “Another time, I promise. Just… not today, okay?”
“Yeah, yeah, just go.”