“Whatever you say.” Jack leaned back in the stool, moving farther out of arm’s length, in case Mae decided to swat him again.
“It’s just been so long since I’ve cooked anything.” Mae looked sourly at the mess around her, which consisted of everything from cucumbers to pears to pie crusts. “I’ve just forgotten what everything tastes like.” A spoon was in a bowl of something red, and she gave it one superficial swirl, then looked apologetically at me. “I don’t think that I’ve made anything that you can actually eat.”
“What about this?” Jack held up the tomato towards me, but I just shook my head.
“I’m okay. I’m not even hungry.”
“Oh!” Mae shouted, her eyes glittering. “Your brother is a cook, isn’t he?”
“Not professionally, but yeah, he’s really good,” I told her hesitatingly. I liked Milo and all, but there was too much going on over here, and I didn’t really want him to come over. At least not tonight.
“Oh fantastic! And I’m sure he knows all of your favorite recipes!” She overflowed with her own genius. “Here. Why don’t you just give me his phone number and I’ll give him a call. Oh, what time is it? It’s not too late is it?” She glanced around for a clock, and it was only a quarter to nine. “He’s still awake, isn’t he?”
I nodded, and Mae whipped her phone out of her pocket, and I gave her his number.
“Oh, Milo!” Mae smiled so wide, it looked almost painful. “I’m so glad you answered! Oh, I didn’t wake you, did I? I’m sorry, love. I don’t want to disturb you.” He must’ve answered with something positive, because she laughed lightly, and continued about making me the perfect meal to make me feel better.
“I’m really not very hungry.” I lowered my voice considerably, just in case Mae might hear, but she was talking to Milo and swooping around the kitchen, gathering pots and pans and whatever she thought she’d needed. “Why do you guys have pots and pans anyway?”
“It makes us look more normal.” Jack rolled his shoulders. “I mean, we don’t really need kitchens, and in a household of four people, we have seven bathrooms.”
“Bathrooms add resale value!” Ezra said. From his tone, I gathered that this wasn’t the first time they’d had this argument. “We’re not going to live here for that long, so its best if we get our money’s worth.”
“What do you mean you’re not gonna live here long?” I had been leaning on the counter, but I snapped my head sharply and looked over at him.
“I can only be twenty-six for so long before the neighbors start to notice,” Ezra elaborated, but it still took a minute for it to sink it. They were never going to age, but everyone around them would. “We move every five years so, but we’ve been staying around Minneapolis for quite awhile.”
“I’ve never lived anywhere else,” Jack added.
“You were born here?” I gave him an odd look. For no real reason, I had just always kinda imagined that he was a transplant from California or Vegas or something like that.
“Stillwater, actually, but it still makes it tricky living that close to my family.” He had said it casually, like it was no big thing, but something had just dawned on me, and he noticed the shift in my expression. “We can’t see our families. We change, at first, to look better, and then we don’t change at all.”
“And it’s too hard watching them grow old.” Ezra had somehow managed to take something that was really terrible sound at least vaguely soothing, but my heart still clenched.
I looked over at Mae, standing at the stove and chatting amicably with my brother, and felt the full ramification of what he was saying.
“It’s not as bad as it sounds,” Jack said gently.
There were things that I hadn’t thought about when I got involved with them, and I’m sure there would be even more things that would come up later. Nothing about this was going to be easy.
As if to solidify my point, Peter suddenly walked into the kitchen. His jeans and shirt were slim fit, revealing the slender lines of his gorgeous body. His blazing emerald eyes landed on mine, for just a second, then flitted away, as if he couldn’t stand to look at me.
Just being this close to him made my skin tremble and my blood pound heavily in my ears. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Jack flinch, but for once, I didn’t feel it. When Peter was around, he eclipsed everything else, including the feelings that I sometimes borrowed from Jack.
“What’s all this?” Peter gestured to Mae’s attempts at cooking. She’d been too distracted with her food preparation to notice him walk in, but when he spoke, she shot him a nervous, startled look.
“I’ll call you back,” Mae muttered into the phone, then quickly hung up and dropped it in her pocket. “Peter, you’re home!”
“I am.” Peter chewed the inside of his cheek, and he deliberately had to keep from looking at me. I wondered how he could even fight the urge. For me, it was so overpowering that I could barely breathe. “Am I to assume this is a feast for my return?”
“Peter, she knows,” Ezra told him quietly.
His eyes turned on me sharply, sending a rush through me so rapidly that I felt dizzy. Behind me, I heard a stool clatter to the floor, but I didn’t look back to see Jack storming out of the room. Peter didn’t really seem to notice either but walked slowly over to me, his eyes never leaving mine.
“So, you’re feeding her now?” Peter was looking at me, but he was asking someone else, not that anyone bothered to answer. He reached out and touched a wet strand of my hair and breathed in deeply. “And she’s showering here too. Is she living here now?”
“No.” Ezra let the word hang in the air.
Peter just kept staring at me. In the back of my mind, I was aware that there were other people in the room, and it should be embarrassing that Peter was looking at me so intently in front of an audience, but somehow, it wasn’t.
“So you know we’re vampires?” Even though Peter smiled at me, there was an underlying edge to his voice. “You know that we kill? You could’ve just as easily been food for us, but with a bit of luck and chance, you’re standing here instead.”
He narrowed his eyes at me. I could feel heat radiate from his body in a way that the others seemed incapable of. My skin tingled and that tugging feeling encircled my heart. Every single part of my body screamed out for him, and painfully, I was starting to believe that he didn’t feel the same way.