When we got to his house, Jack showed me to my room. It was the guest room at the end of the hall upstairs, the bedroom in the turret. I felt like Juliet or Rapunzel.
The walls were rounded and there was a balcony in the back. It’d been painted a soft lilac that eerily matched the walls of my own room, and the four-post bed had been made at in all white, luxurious comforters. Mae had even left satin pajamas on the bed.
“Wow, this is really perfect.” I touched the blankets and admiring the room. “It’s exactly like me.”
“It should be.” Jack stood in the doorway, leaning on the frame to make sure that I had everything, and he yawned. “Mae did it for you.”
“Like just now? I called and she painted the room?” I furrowed my brow in confusion and disbelief.
“No,” he laughed, shaking his head. “Originally, she kind of thought you’d just be staying in Peter’s room, but when that started seeming like less of an option, she did up this room for you. You were gonna end up here eventually, right?”
“Yeah.” I nodded, but it felt weird knowing that someone had been preparing for me before I even knew I’d be here.
“Mae likes to nest.” Jack noticed my unease and smiled to settle me down. “It’s her thing. This was just her way of nesting. She doesn’t get to decorate for girls very often, you know.”
“Yeah, I guess not.”
“Alright, well, I’m gonna get some sleep. But I’ll be right next door if you need me.” He took a step backwards and grinned mischievously. “But don’t you get any ideas.”
“Yeah, I’ll try not to.” I was being sarcastic, but I knew that I’d really have to try not to.
Jack laughed and walked into his room, which was just one thin wall away from mine. Peter was gone, and Mae was downstairs. It would be almost too easy to just go next door and start what we’d finished earlier…
But thankfully, my body decided to remember exactly how tired it was. I shut the bedroom door, put on my borrowed pajamas, and almost as soon as my head hit the pillow, I was asleep.
Milo hugged me like a hundred times, and his eyes welled with tears when I picked up clothes from him. Jack waited in the kitchen for me while I packed my things. I’d that his presence would somehow cheer Milo up, but it had the opposite effect. It reminded him that not only would he be seeing less of me, he’d be seeing less of Jack as well.
When I finally convinced Milo that I would see him again, he hugged me tightly once more for good measure, and then I escaped.
“We could’ve just bought you new clothes,” Jack pointed out on the car ride back to his house. “That probably would’ve been easier and less painful.”
“I know, but Milo needed to see me. I needed to prove that I wasn’t just gonna forget about him.” I looked over at Jack to see if he understood my sentiments, but he just stared ahead and didn’t say anything. “I will see him again.”
“I’m not arguing with you.” He wasn’t, exactly, but his tone wanted to contradict my claim.
“You don’t think I will.” Just saying it aloud hurt. “Why would you let me promise Milo anything if you knew it wasn’t true?”
“I don’t know anything,” Jack said. “But I do think that Ezra will be home when we get back. And it might be good for you to talk to him.”
“You always know more then you let on,” I grumbled, crossing my arms over my chest and sinking low in the seat. “You pretend to be dumber than you actually are.”
“Have you considered that I really might just be that dumb?” he asked playfully.
“I have. Many times.”
He laughed at that but didn’t say anymore until we got to his place. There would be very little he could say that would comfort me anyway. I was beginning to realize that I might have underestimated the cost of being with him.
When we went into the house, Jack called for Ezra and Mae, and they appeared in the living room almost instantly. Mae swooped in to hug me as if she hadn’t seen me in ages when reality it had been an hour.
Ezra smiled warmly at me, and somehow, it still made me blush. He had returned today early from the trip, citing that he couldn’t stand to be away from Mae for that long, but Peter wouldn’t return for a few more days. He could apparently stand to be away from me until the end of time.
“So I heard that you’re going to be staying with us for awhile,” Ezra said, and I tried to decipher if there was any disapproval in it.
He sat on the couch and Mae curled up next to him. They had only been apart for a matter of days, but being around him made her giddy.
I wondered if Peter would react anything like that when he returned, but I’d probably be lucky if he even looked in my direction. Something tugged painfully at my heart, and it amazed me that I still even wanted into this.
“Yeah.” I sat on the chair across from them, and Jack sat by my feet, rubbing Matilda’s belly. “Is that okay?”
“I don’t see why it wouldn’t be.” Ezra played with a long, wavy strand of Mae’s hair absently, and she buried her head in his chest. I realized that I hated people who were so comfortably in love, especially when my “love” life was bogged down by all sorts of unnecessary stipulations.
“What’s going to happen?” I asked bluntly.
“You’ll have to be more specific. There’s a lot of things up in the air for you.” He didn’t mean anything by it, but it stung just the same.
Nothing for me was set in stone, which should’ve been a relief, but I didn’t like having everything feel so uncertain and precarious.
“Exactly.” I took a deep breath. “Am I just gonna live here forever? What happens when Peter gets back? He doesn’t want me around. Should I even stay here with him? What if he keeps rejecting me? Am I supposed to just go back to my life? Are you planning on me someday being a vampire?”
“You can stay here as long as you want, regardless of how Peter feels. He has other places he can go if need be. You have made yourself an indispensable part of this family.” Ezra looked down at Mae, carefully choosing his words.
“Peter… No matter how any of us feels, there is a bond between you and Peter that is not easily broken. For his sake, as well as our own, it is essential that you remain a part of our lives.” His russet eyes rested warmly on mine. “As such, yes, it would be in everyone’s best interest if you were to turn.”