“You just might be right.”
I bit my lip to keep from smiling, and I realized with the surprise that it didn’t hurt. Running my tongue along my bottom lip, I searched for any bump or scratch from when I had bit it earlier, but there was none. Jack’s saliva must’ve healed it.
“Come on, Alice,” Milo pleaded when the doors opened. “Be reasonable.”
“When have you ever known me to be reasonable?” I shot him a look while stepping out of the elevator, and he just rolled his eyes.
We walked outside into the cold, and I wrapped my sweater more tightly around me. All I had on me were the clothes on my back and my cell phone in my pocket, and there was a very good chance that my only rides anywhere were a pair of vampires that had just gone to bed.
“So what?” Milo was walking to the bus stop, and since I had nothing better to do, I walked with him. “This is it? This is like the last time I’ll see you?”
“No, of course not!”
“Be serious.” He had pulled his bag onto into his back, and he readjusted the straps. “You’re going to move in with him and have all these fabulous adventures and completely forget about me.”
“You’re my brother, Milo. I can never forget about you.” And I wouldn’t, but I had a sinking suspicion that he probably wasn’t that far from the truth. “Look, I’m not saying things won’t be different or that I won’t see you less. But that doesn’t mean things will be bad.”
“Maybe you can just stay there for a night or something,” Milo suggested hopefully. “Give Mom a chance to cool down, and then you can come home.
“But she’s not completely off base, Alice. You have school and you stayed out until seven in the morning. I don’t care what you were or weren’t doing with Jack – well, okay, I do, and you’ll totally have to tell me later. But it doesn’t matter. You’re still in high school. You should be coming home before the sun comes up and getting an education.”
“I am way too tired for you to lecture me about school, okay?” I groaned.
“Just think about it, alright?” Milo asked as the bus came towards us. I didn’t want the bus driver to try to make me get on, so I started backing away from him. “And turn your phone on! If you don’t come home tonight, maybe you could at least get some of your things while Mom’s at work.”
“Okay!” I waved at him, then turned and walked down the block, away from my apartment, away from my brother, away from my life.
- 19 -
For a long time, I just walked around the tree lined streets. Spring edged ever closer, with warm temperatures and longer days. The nights would get shorter, too, and I wondered how Jack contended with that.
I was definitely cold and tired, but I was way too wired up from everything that had happened. My lips still tingled from kissing him, and I wondered dully if I’d ever be able to kiss him again.
Moving out of my mother’s had been rash, I’ll admit it, and she was justified in her anger. I just didn’t have the strength to deal with stuff that didn’t matter anymore.
Maybe I would’ve reacted a little better if I hadn’t had the reminder of Jack’s nearly-forgotten words ringing in my mind. When I asked what it was like to bite a vampire, he’d responded with, “You’ll understand when you’re a vampire.”
It would only be natural that I eventually segued into vampirism. Even if I didn’t move in with them today, I would some day. They were welcoming me into their folds for a reason, and as Jack had so ominously pointed out before I understood what they were, they wanted me to be one of them.
I sat down on a bench and pulled my knees up to my chest. The sun spilled over the buildings, warming my frightfully cold skin, and I wondered how much longer I’d be able to enjoy the sun like this.
Being with them would mean missing a lot of things, but it didn’t really feel like it. There would be so much more I’d be getting in return.
Pulling out my phone, I hoped that Jack would still be awake. My exhaustion and temperature were starting to wear me down.
“Hello?” Jack answered groggily.
“Sorry. Did I wake you?”
“Nah, I’m just about to go to bed, though. Why? What do you need?” He still sounded awfully tired, and he yawned into the phone.
“I was just… wondering if I could stay with you for awhile.” I grimaced at my own question. Maybe I asked too much from them. Maybe I should go home and try to make amends with my mother before she changed the locks.
“Yeah, sure. What’s wrong with your place?” Jack replied without even thinking about it.
“I got in a fight with my mom about coming home so late, and I’m not exactly welcome there anymore.”
“Oh, man, I’m sorry,” Jack apologized. “Yeah. Sure. You can stay here as long as you want. Do you need a ride right now?”
“It would be nice, but it’s not necessary.” I still didn’t completely understand his deal with sun, and I wasn’t sure if he could drive out in it to come get me.
“Yeah, yeah, okay. I’ll be there in like five minutes.” He yawned again and I heard a rustle of movement as he got up, meaning that he’d already been in bed.
“I’m not at home, though. I’m on a bench a couple blocks away.” I looked around for a street sign so I could tell him what intersection I was at for sure, but he could always find me.
“Cool. Hang tight.” He clicked off the phone, and I shoved my phone back in my pocket.
I felt better knowing that I wouldn’t be stuck on this bench all day like a homeless person, but it was still hard to know if I was doing the right thing.
Nothing in my life had prepared me to deal with situations like this. Up until now, my life consisted of sitting at home with Milo, shopping/partying/hating myself with Jane, and that’s about it.
I’d barely even kissed a boy, I’d never driven a car, or been out of the tri-state area. My father left before I was two, and my mother spent my whole life working continuously so we’d have just enough to survive.
I knew nothing about life, and here I was, preparing to give it up in exchange for something I didn’t truly understand.
Jack pulled up in front within six minutes of me making the phone call, and I didn’t understand how he could possibly get around that fast. But here he was, grinning at me tiredly behind gigantic sunglasses. I hopped in the car and decided that I was too tired to question anything. I just wanted to get to his house and take a nice, long sleep.