“How did you know where I lived?” I looked over at Mae, but she just stared straight ahead.
“I have to get home and take care of Jack before he hurts himself.”
“He might hurt himself?” I gasped.
“I have to go!” Mae pleaded. “We’ll talk to you tomorrow, okay?”
“Okay, go!” I jumped out of the car and watched her speed off, praying Jack wouldn’t do something stupid.
Everything about me felt so confused and jumbled, and I collapsed onto the cold sidewalk and sobbed.
One hot bath, two pm Tylenol, and a hot tea and brandy (courtesy of Milo and my mother’s alcohol cabinet) later, I managed to fall asleep. Milo saw the wreck I was when I came home, and I promised him that I would tell him another day, but I couldn’t muster the strength to do it then.
When I woke up, my pillow was soaked, and I knew I had been crying in my sleep. Milo informed me that I’d been moaning all night long, but thankfully, he couldn’t understand anything.
I stumbled around the house most of the day, and I’m surprised that I didn’t bump into any objects. Milo forced me to eat, but swallowing felt like a massive chore.
I put on comfy sweats and a tee shirt and didn’t even bother with showering. It would be too much work, and I didn’t even know if I’d see Jack or Peter today. There was a very good chance that I’d never see either of them again. Peter had run away, and Jack…
“Alice, I don’t think you should go over there anymore.” Milo stood next to the couch, frowning at me. I had curled up in a ball and stared blankly at the TV with my phone gripped in my hand. “You keep coming home looking completely drained. I don’t know what they’re doing to you, but it can’t be good.”
“You should see what I do to them,” I mumbled.
“What?” His brown eyes were filled with concern, so I just looked away from him.
“Alice, I’m serious.” Milo had that parental vibe going on, and normally, I’d cave under it, but I was too numb to react to anything. I just pulled the blanket up over my head so I wouldn’t have to look at him.
Eventually, he walked away, and I stayed buried underneath the covers. The horrible truth was that I didn’t really want to be alive anymore. Last night had devastated me too succinctly.
Everything was confusing and it hurt, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was all some kind of bad dream.
Then, my phone played “Time Warp” and my eyes snapped open.
Ezra’s back. He’ll be there to pick you up in fifteen minutes.
Why not you? Are you okay? Is everything alright? I demanded, feeling my heart race painfully.
I’m fine. Ezra will explain more. I’ll see you soon. Jack messaged me back, but I still felt relieved.
“You’re not going over there!” Milo watched me as I pulled on my Famous Stars and Straps zippered hoodie, the one I had worn the night Jack had been attacked by that dog.
“Yeah, I am,” I replied flatly, searching around for my shoes.
“Dressed like that?” Milo asked in disbelief.
“Yeah.” Finally, I found my shoes and slipped them on. “Things have changed. I don’t need to impress them anymore.”
“Are you like breaking up with them or something?”
“I don’t know.” I hadn’t really thought about me not choosing to see them, but as soon as I did, I dismissed it. It would be impossible for me to ever end things with them. I was inexorably tied to Peter, and I’d probably fallen in love with Jack.
“We have school tomorrow!” Milo called as I opened the door.
“I don’t care,” I said and then left.
- 15 -
Ezra didn’t drive quite as fast as Jack, or maybe he felt it was more polite to actually give me time to get ready. Either way, I beat him outside.
I sat on the curb, shivering in the cold and trying not to envision the worst, when he finally pulled up in the Lexus. I had never been in the car, but I recognized it instantly from the garage.
“I hope I didn’t keep you waiting long,” Ezra smiled warmly at me when I got inside. He saw me shiver, so he turned up the heat. “Let me know when it gets warm enough for you. We don’t really feel the cold the way you do.”
“Okay.” The seat felt warm and comfortable, especially after freezing on the curb, and I sunk deeper into it.
“How are you doing?” Ezra asked sincerely, and I tried to answer him as honestly as I could.
“I’m… absorbing a lot of things. Is Jack okay?”
“Yeah, he’s fine,” he nodded. “He just needed some time to get himself together.”
“Is he going to be okay being around me again?”
“Yes. Last night, there were a lot of emotions going for you both. It’s very new territory, for all of us, and there’s going to be some missteps.” He spoke evenly, and his deep voice managed to soothe me in a way that had been lacking since I came home last night. “But you both will have to be more careful around each other. It should be easier now that you’re both aware of the limitations.”
“I hope so.” I pulled my sweatshirt tighter to me, even though I wasn’t cold anymore. “Is Peter back?”
“Not yet. But he will be soon.”
“Jack said that I’m meant for Peter. What does that mean?” I looked over at Ezra, and half-expected him to give me the same run around as everyone else.
“Mythology has set us up to be extreme loners, but at our core, emotionally, we’re very human. We desire companionship, but ours has to be more selective.” As he spoke, he kept one hand on the wheel, while the other one bobbed a silver ring over his fingers. “Our blood is almost magnetized to our – for a lack of a better word – soul mates. We feel it intrinsically when we find each other.”
“Is Mae your soul mate?” I asked quietly.
“She is.” His eyes had that faraway look again, and the corners of his mouth curled up ever so slightly. “I lived 255 years before her, but now, I couldn’t imagine existing a single day without her. I even ‘dated’ before I met her, but it was impossible to make lasting relationships. That was part of the reason that I turned Peter. I was desperately lonely, and he traveled around with me for awhile. But then he met his mate.”
“Wait,” I interrupted. “I thought I was Peter’s ‘mate.’”