Terror ripped through me.
I had no idea where I was. I woke up expecting the familiarity and safety of my bedroom, and this wasn’t it. It was hot, almost unbearable. Sweat soaked my skin, but I shivered. Disoriented, I stumbled out of bed.
I tripped over my own foot and fell onto the floor with a heavy thud. Cursing myself, I rubbed my knee, even though the pain had stopped. I’d been training hard to work on my strength and grace, and I hated when my clumsiness returned.
The light flicked on in the room. I sat on the floor and squinted up in the brightness to see who turned it on Peter stood in the doorway, wearing only ripped jeans, and he stared down at me.
I finally remembered where I was, but I still couldn’t shake the panic. My heart pounded like crazy, and that’s what summoned Peter.
“What are you doing on the floor?” Peter asked.
“Are you okay?” He walked over to me and bent down so he could help me up.
I took his hand, and when he pulled me to my feet, I noticed the sweat gleaming all over his chest and his arms. If I hadn’t been so distracted by my own terror, I might have taken the time to hate how perfect and gorgeous Peter looked. Every time I saw him, I wished he would get less attractive.
“What’s going on?” His voice had taken on a protective edge that I was unaccustomed to hearing from him. He’d been working on showing me his gentler side, but it still surprised me.
“I don’t know.” I shook my head.
“Alice, you’re terrified.” He heard the panicked racing of my heart and no matter what I did, I couldn’t slow it. “What happened?”
I bit my lip and pushed my hair behind my ear. He put his hand on my arm, and his bright emerald eyes managed calmed me a bit. I wanted to tell him everything, but I couldn’t explain what freaked me out so much.
“It was like a bad dream,” I said. “But it wasn’t a dream. It was more of a … feeling.”
“What kind of feeling?” Peter asked
“Just fear, this really intense fear.”
“You were just sleeping, and then you were afraid?” He dropped his hand from my arm and studied my face. “No images that went along with it?”
“No.” I furrowed my brow, trying to remember what exactly woke me up. “There weren’t images, but I felt paralyzed. Right before I woke up, I felt really scared, and I couldn’t move.” I shook my head again, this time to clear it. “It’s over now, and I’m done talking about it.”
“As long as you’re okay.” Peter sounded reluctant to let the topic die.
“Yeah, I’m great.” I forced a smile. “Except I’m really hot. Why is it so hot in here?”
“The central air is broken. I’ve been out back trying to fix it, but the sun is really getting to me. And, as it turns out, I know nothing about air conditioning units,” he sighed. That explained the grease stains all over his jeans and the smudge that ran just above his naval, on the hard contours of his abdomen.
“That really sucks,” I said and looked away from him.
“I’ll call a repairman, but I don’t know how long it will take them to get here.” Peter ran a hand through his dark hair. He’d been wearing it shorter since he moved, probably because of the continuous heat. “It’s the drawback of living out in the middle of nowhere.”
“Yeah, I bet,” I said. “I think I’m gonna take a shower.”
“It’s only noon.”
“I doubt I can sleep anyway,” I shrugged.
“I’ll see if I can find a fan for you,” he offered and stepped towards the door.
“Alright. Thanks,” I smiled at him. He nodded, then left me alone in the room.
I went over to the closet to look for clothes. It was mostly bare since I hadn’t packed that much for my ten-day stay. As soon as we’d gotten here, Mae insisted on putting my things away and doing my laundry.
I would’ve been fine with living out of a suitcase, but Mae wouldn’t stand for it. With Daisy around, her maternal instinct seemed to be in overdrive. Really, I wasn’t sure how Peter tolerated it.
After Mae had gone against Ezra’s wishes and turned her great-granddaughter into a vampire, he’d given her three days to get out. They’d left in two. Peter chartered a private plane, and he, Mae, and Daisy had escaped to the Australian outback.
Even though they were gone, Mae still kept in contact with us, particularly with Milo. She’d been sad we spent the holidays apart, and after Christmas, she began plotting to see us.
Milo started school next week, so he decided now would be the best time to visit. Jack didn’t think it’d be good for him to come with because he didn’t really want to see Mae or Peter. He didn’t even want me to go, but he didn’t try to stop me.
It was just my younger brother Milo, his human boyfriend Bobby, and me spending a week and a half with Mae, her child vampire Daisy, and Peter. With a broken air conditioner.
Milo told me that January was summertime here, but if I had understood exactly how hot that could be, I might’ve put off visiting until July.
Peter bought a huge farmhouse about an hour away from Alice Springs in Australia. From what I’m told, it’s a nice town, and Sydney’s supposed to be divine, not that I’ve seen much of either of them. Sydney’s a four-hour flight away, but that’s not what stopped us from going. Daisy can’t go out in public. She’s only five and has almost no control over her bloodlust.
Milo’d tried to spin this as a trip in celebration of my eighteenth birthday last week, and in a way, it kinda was. Mae threw a little party for me, with a cake that only Bobby could eat. She gave me a lovely dress, and Daisy made me a card.
I got in the shower, and the cold water did wonders for me, but I couldn’t shake the trepidation. Something was off, and I couldn’t put my finger on it.
I thought about calling Jack back in the States, but I hardly ever got any reception. Besides, I didn’t want to alarm him. He’d been convinced that this trip was a horrible idea, but it hadn’t been that bad. A little dull, maybe. Jack’s real fear, of course, was Peter.
When I got out of the shower, I went over to the dresser and pulled open the top drawer. Amongst my bras and underwear, I’d hidden Peter’s present to me. A beautiful diamond encrusted heart-shaped locket. I loved it, but I had no idea how to explain it to Jack.