Faintly, I became aware of how weak I felt. At first, it had just been because the pleasure had struck me so forcefully, and even though it still felt amazing, I could feel my life draining away.
Some part of me knew I was dying, but there was nothing frightening or bad about it. I felt oddly at peace, and I let myself succumb to the drowsy, perfection that flooded over me.
My thoughts were dissolving. There were incoherent images of the sun shining over the tops of the building, and Peter’s green eyes, and Jack’s laughter. I thought of my brother, and I hoped he understood.
Then there was nothing except the way I felt, buried underneath a warm blanket. My heart had slowed considerably, and my lungs felt empty.
The sharp pain of separation hit me suddenly, and an intense chill. My mind felt strangely alert, but I didn’t even have the strength to open my eyelids.
I could hear the commotion going on around me. Peter wasn’t holding me anymore, but I couldn’t tell where I was. I just knew that his arms weren’t around me and his mouth wasn’t pressed to my neck. He had stopped too soon, and I was still alive.
There were banging noises and the sounds of rustling feet. Voices were shouting, and it took a minute for me to able to focus in on them clearly.
Jack was shouting at Peter, calling him all sorts of hateful names, and Peter was saying very little in his own defense. Then Ezra’s voice boomed in, and the movement stopped. He had broken up the fight.
“He tried to kill her!” Jack cried, and I could hear the terrified desperation in his voice.
“But she’s not dead,” Ezra told him soothingly. I felt his strong hands touching my face, feeling my pulse and inspecting the damage. I wanted to yell at them, to tell them to leave me here to die, but I barely even had the strength to breathe, let alone speak. “She’s lost a lot of blood.”
“She wanted me to do it,” Peter muttered, and this was followed by a loud smacking sound.
“Jack! Peter!” Ezra roared. “If you want to save her life, then you have to listen to me!”
“I don’t know if I want to save her life,” Peter told them quietly.
Ezra let go of my face so he could rush over to separate the fight. I could hear their bodies slamming against each other, and Jack growling viciously.
“Peter, step out,” Ezra commanded. “And tell Mae that we need type AB positive. We should have some in the cooler downstairs.”
“She’s going to be alright?” Jack whimpered.
“Peter’s right….” I managed breathlessly.
Jack crouched beside me, and I could feel how devastated and powerless he felt. He started saying something to me but forcing myself to speak had used up at the last of my energy. Everything around me fell black and silent.
Slowly and somewhat reluctantly, I felt myself rising to the surface. I blinked several times, letting my eyes adjust to the dim light of the bedroom. I had rather expected to open my eyes and find myself in purgatory.
Instead, I was in the room in the turret, the bedroom that had been mine. A weird weakness washed over me, as if I was lying underneath a weighted blanket, and I still had residuals of the intense pleasure from when Peter had bit me.
I also felt relieved and apprehensive, but I couldn’t understand why. They seemed out of place with everything that had happened, but then I stirred a little and found the source of the emotions.
“Hey,” Jack whispered. He’d been sitting in a chair in the corner of the room, but when he saw me waking up, he came over and climbed on the bed next to me. “How are you feeling?”
“Really, really tired,” I groggily, and when he smiled, I saw there were tears in his eyes.
He brushed the hair from my eyes, and his fingers traced down the side of my face, past my jaw line, and lingered on the trace of the bite Peter had left on my throat. His expression hardened painfully, so I swallowed and looked away.
“Am I gonna have to go?” I asked.
“You can stay as long as you want.” He moved his hand from my neck, resting it on the covers over my stomach.
“Peter said that I wouldn’t be allowed to see any of you anymore,” I told him thickly. A deep pain welled in my chest at the thought of it, and even without Peter here fogging up my mind, suicide didn’t seem like that bad of an idea.
“No. That’s not going to happen,” Jack said firmly. “I had agreed to it temporarily, until we could get things sorted out better. Peter was convinced that he couldn’t be around you, and apparently, that wasn’t far from the truth.” Just mentioning Peter made his voice fill with a deep anger, and I felt a jealous protectiveness radiate from him. “After what happened, we decided that was a horrible decision. So Peter’s gone.”
“What do you mean he’s gone?” I looked at him plaintively, and Jack tried to hide that it hurt him that I was even asking about Peter.
“He’s going to go out on his own for awhile. He’s done it before.” Jack shrugged, like it wasn’t anything for me to concern myself with. “We all just think it would be better for him not to be around you, at least not while you’re still human.”
“So he just won’t see you guys for three or four years?” I was tearing their family apart, and that did little to make me feel better. Admittedly, I wanted to be around Jack and his family more than I wanted to be alive, but not at the cost of ruining their lives.
“No, he won’t see you for three or four years,” he corrected me. “And maybe me too. But trust me, I don’t really have any urge to see him.”
“It’s not his fault,” I insisted quietly. Jack scoffed and looked away from me. “It’s really not. I asked him to do it.”
“He knew better.” He shook his head seriously. “He knows how much…” Just the thought of me dying agonized him. “If you had died, I would’ve killed him. It would’ve completely destroyed everything we had here, and he knew that.”
“You can’t kill him over me,” I said. “I don’t want to be the cause of your family’s destruction.”
“Well, then don’t do anything stupid like getting yourself killed.” He had meant to sound joking, but it came out more as if he was pleading with me. “It’s too late, Alice. You already mean too much to us. Dying doesn’t change that.”
“How am I still alive?” I attempted to change the subject.
“Ezra gave you a blood transfusion with the blood bags we have,” he explained casually.