“Sorry. I’ll talk to you later.” And with that, I was out the door.
I should’ve said more, but I couldn’t even wait for the elevator today. I pushed the call button, and when the doors didn’t immediately open, I ran down the stairs.
Even in the rush I had been in, Jack had still managed to beat me outside. He’d driven the Jeep, and I practically dove into it. I looked at him expectantly, and he just smiled grimly at me.
“What happened?” I demanded as we pulled away from my apartment building.
“And a ‘how do you do’ to you too,” Jack replied dryly.
“Sorry.” He stared out straight ahead but kept taking sidelong glances at me. “So… last night, after you left… Peter left.”
“What do you mean left?” My heart had already started pounding and my stomach twisted in knots, and Jack just groaned. “Jack? Where’d he go? Why’d he leave? Because of me?”
“You have to calm down,” Jack sighed. “This is why I didn’t do it over the phone, but maybe I should’ve.” Then he looked at me somberly, his eyes pleading with me. “Please calm down.”
“I will if you just tell me what’s going on!” I said, but I tried to slow my breathing and the frantic beating of my heart.
“We don’t really know where he went.” He had waited for me to calm down a bit, but he kept his eyes fixed on the road, like he was trying really hard not to be distracted by me. His knuckles had gone white from the way he gripped the steering wheel.
“Ezra has some ideas because…” He trailed off and rubbed his temple. “He left because of… You can’t take this wrong way. I know that you will, though. You always take everything the wrong way. If I said, ‘hey you look nice today,’ you’d say, ‘and what I don’t look nice everyday?’”
“Jack, please focus.” I wanted to yell at him and make him just hurry up and tell me what was going on.
“Yeah.” He quickly glanced at me, but I didn’t understand what he meant so I just stared at him. “Yes. Peter left because of you. Because of what happened, well, almost happened yesterday. But it’s not because you did anything wrong, or there’s anything wrong with you. Peter’s just going through his own thing and I don’t know. I think he’s just being an ass, but Ezra says…” He trailed off, probably realizing that he hadn’t really said anything but he’d almost said too much.
My eyes had welled with tears. No matter what Jack said, Peter left because of me, because of something that I had or hadn’t done, and it was devastating. Everything about me craved him, and I drove him away.
“What did almost happen yesterday?” I asked quietly.
“Well…” Jack laughed hollowly, and his hand gripped the wheel even tighter. “What do you think happened yesterday?”
“I don’t know. Honestly, it’s hard to remember. When I try to think about it, I just remember being in his room and feeling this incredible pull towards him and this… yearning.”
I tried hard to focus on what had sent me in a tailspin, but it felt so foggy. I could remember Peter’s eyes and the way he smelled and wanting him so much it hurt. My heart raced, throbbing painfully, and I had gotten short of breath.
“Stop, Alice,” Jack whimpered, and he was in total agony. His blue eyes had gone almost translucent, and they had that hungry look that was very reminiscent of the one that Peter had given me last night.
“Stop what?” I asked breathlessly. He groaned and looked away from me, and I was about press him further, but then the Jeep started skidding horribly across the road.
“Ah, hell.” Jack gripped the wheel and tried to correct it, but I felt it start to tilt to the side, and he gave me a frantic look.
Before I could really understand what was happening, he lunged at me, wrapping his arms tightly around me and pressing me against him. I closed my eyes and buried my face in his chest, and I felt his body curl protectively around me.
There was the sensation of moving and I felt cold wind whip through my hair. The sound of crunching metal and shattering glass and this sickening thud filled my ears, but I could barely hear anything over the pounding of my heart.
I finally felt Jack’s arm relax around me, and I lifted my head, looking at him in the face. He was worried and scared, but there was still that underlying hunger.
“Are you okay?” Jack asked, pushing the hair from eyes to inspect for wounds.
“I think so,” I nodded. I felt dazed and scared, but nothing really hurt.
“Good. Then I need you to get away from me for a minute,” Jack said, not unkindly.
I hurried to do as he asked, pushing myself off him and standing up. He jumped up and took several steps back from me.
For the first time, I looked around. We were on the shoulder of the highway, and there were bits of broken glass and metal all over the road. Another car had been crushed against the cement divider in the middle, and there was an SUV farther down that looked like it had some minor damage. Headlights of stopped cars blinded me.
At first, I couldn’t figure out where the Jeep was, and then I saw it. About thirty feet back from us, the crushed remnants of Jeep were engulfed in flames.
I gasped, realizing that if Jack hadn’t grabbed me, I either would’ve stayed in that car to get smashed and burned up, or I would’ve been thrown from the Jeep going well over a hundred miles an hour and landed on the pavement.
“Are you okay?” I looked back at him.
Jack had taken the brunt force of everything, and if he hadn’t, I would’ve been killed. My body was much more fragile than his, but he had to have sustained some wounds.
“Yeah, I’m great.” He tried to compose himself and looked at the carnage around us.
There appeared to be some cuts on his arm, and when he turned away, I saw the back of his shirt was shredded and covered in blood. When he’d hit the road, he must’ve landed on his back and skidded for awhile.
“You’re covered in blood!” I shouted and took a step closer to him, trying to inspect his wounds, but he just waved me off.
I remembered the dog bite, and how the major wounds had looked so minor. I wasn’t really worried about this, but he had just been thrown from the car.
“I’m fine.” He held his arm out for me to see. A thick line of blood ran from where a gash should be, but there wasn’t one. There wasn’t even a mark.