The car had started gliding into familiar territory, and I knew we weren’t far from their home.
“What about Jack?” I asked softly.
“Peter can’t know how he feels or how close he came to biting you last night,” Ezra warned me. “And he can never bite you. Peter will be able to smell him on you, and that won’t be good for either of you.”
“Am I still allowed to be around Jack?” My heart broke at the thought of a life without him, even if I had Peter.
“Yes, of course. You both must be very in control of yourselves.”
“Are you sure that I am meant for Peter?” I asked him carefully as we pulled into the driveway.
“Yes.” Ezra answered definitively. The garage door closed behind us, but we stayed in the car. “Something’s off this time, but there’s no other explanation.”
“Oh.” It was strange how one sentence could exhilarate and devastate me.
“Are you in love with Jack?” Ezra’s voice was barely above a whisper, as if he was afraid of someone hearing.
“I don’t know,” I admitted honestly. Tears welled in my eyes, and I bit my lip.
“Alice, listen to me very carefully. If you care anything for Jack, you mustn’t act on it.” His deep brown eyes settled on me, conveying the severity of his words. “I’m not trying to frighten you, but… it’s just the way things are, and I am very sorry.”
“It’s alright.” I wiped my palms across my eyes, trying to smear away the tears.
“Are you okay to go in?” Ezra asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I said. He waited for me to open the car door and start getting out before he got out. “So, does Mae like me so much cause of the whole blood thing and her being yours and all that?”
“No. Mae loves you because she’s Mae, and that’s what she does.” Ezra smiled brightly me, relieved to talking about a subject he was quite fond of. Putting his hand on the small of my back, we walked into the house. “Honestly, are we what you envisioned when you thought of vampires?”
“Hardly,” I scoffed, and he laughed warmly.
“You’re home!” Mae shouted, running into the entrance and throwing her arms around me. For the first time, Matilda didn’t run and greet us, but I realized that’s because Jack wasn’t with me. “I was a little afraid we’d scared you off last night.”
“You can never scare me off,” I said into her shoulder. She finally released me and cupped my face in her hands, staring at me as if to make sure I was real.
“Oh you look so tired! Did you sleep at all?” Her eyes were anxious, so I nodded and forced a smile. “You know what you need, love? A nice warm bath. We have a fabulous Jacuzzi tub in our room, and I’ll get some bubbles going and you’ll be as right as rain.”
“How right is rain really?” Jack wondered dryly, and I pulled my head away from hers to look over at him.
He leaned against the doorway, smiling crookedly at me. My heart swelled just at the sight of him. Last night, I had been so afraid that he would be gone forever, and I couldn’t contain myself. I rushed over to him and threw my arms tightly around his waist.
“Hey, I’m okay, I’m okay.” He gently pushed me off, holding his hands on my shoulder until I was a foot away from him. “Okay? I’m okay.”
“I was just worried.” I blinked rapidly, fighting back tears, and swallowed hard.
“Yeah, you look like it,” Jack said quietly, and his concern washed over me.
“She just needs a nice warm bubble bath!” Mae wrapped an arm tightly around my waist so she could pull me away from Jack, and it did require some effort on her part. “We have some wonderful lilac bath salts that just melt the tension away.”
Mae continued telling me all the amazing features of her tub as she led me away, but I glanced back over my shoulder at Jack.
“You’ve really got to be more careful,” Ezra warned him.
“I didn’t even do anything!” Jack protested, and I wondered dully how this all could possibly work out in the end.
The hot Jacuzzi wasn’t quite as magic as Mae had professed it would be, but it really did help relax me at least. All of this seemed so bizarre. In a time not so long ago, I hadn’t even known these people, and now it would be impossible to imagine the rest of my life without them, however long that life might end up being.
When I finally pulled myself out of the relaxing waters of the tub, I wrapped myself in one of their gigantic plush towels. Mae had filled her bedroom with lilac scented candles, and it was all aglow with candle light.
Laid out on the white bedspread, she had left satin pajama pants and a matching blue camisole for me. Since their house generally ran cold, I put my hoodie on over it, but it almost felt like sacrilege to put something so ordinary over her extravagance. They lived on a whole other plane from me, in every way possible.
“I merely stated that you rolled the Jeep.” Ezra’s words wafted down the hall towards me when I opened their bedroom door. “It’s not asking that much that you pay for it.”
“You just want me out of the house more,” Jack grumbled.
“That wouldn’t hurt you either,” Ezra said.
I made my way down the hall to the kitchen, and they all stopped talking when I came ins. Mae stood amongst a mass of dishes and food splayed out all over the counter tops. She had white powder on her cheeks and some kind of red sauce dripped all over an elegant white apron.
Jack sat on a stool pulled up to the counter, and I’m sure he fancied himself helping, but I’d imagine that he spent more time playing with the ingredients. As it was, he was juggling a tomato and a lemon when I walked in.
“Oh, you look so much better!” Mae beamed at me. Jack dropped the tomato on the counter and deliberately looked away from me. “Wasn’t that bath fabulous?”
“Yeah, it was pretty great.” I ran my fingers through my tangles of wet hair, and I could almost see Mae longing to play with it. Walking over to the mess she was making, I was careful to keep a distance from Jack. “What are you doing?”
“Trying to make you some kind of comfort food,” Mae smiled grimly at me. “I used to be an amazing cook, I swear! Everyone in my neighborhood loved my cooking!” Jack scoffed, and she reached across the counter to slap him on the arm. “I was! You would’ve been thrilled to eat anything I made!”