“Thank you,” Leif said gratefully as he walked past us, down the hall.
“I see how it is,” Jack smiled after Leif had disappeared down the hall.
“What?” I asked.
“You do too think this is our house. If this really felt like my house, and not yours too, you wouldn’t have invited him in,” Jack said, looking a bit too smug.
“Oh, come off it! It’s supposed to snow like 12 inches by tomorrow. He doesn’t need to sleep outside in this,” I said.
“I wouldn’t make him sleep outside, but I’m not gonna pretend that we’re not in the middle of fighting just because he showed up.”
“You’re being rude,” I lowered my voice, even though Leif could probably hear everything I said anyway.
“You’re being rude,” Jack countered.
“How am I being rude?”
“Your brother had no problem changing his name. He’s more connected to me than you are.”
“That’s not rude! That’s just… Ugh!” I groaned, completely irritated by this whole thing. “My name is Alice Bonham because I am Alice Bonham! Why is that so hard for you to understand?”
“Didn’t you read Romeo & Juliet?” Jack asked. “A rose would still smell sweet and all that? You won’t stop being you if you change your name.”
“And I won’t turn into something else if I do change it, so what does it matter? Why can’t I just stay the same?” I asked.
“Your name is Alice Bonham,” Leif said. I looked away from Jack to see Leif standing at the edge of the room, holding blankets and pillows. His skin looked pale, and his expression had hardened.
“Yeah, sorry. You didn’t need to hear all that,” I said, my cheeks reddening.
“You’re from here?” Leif asked.
“That’s another reason you should change your name,” Jack interjected. “So people don’t associate you with the old, human you.”
“I’m not actually from here, so-” I stuck my tongue out at Jack, displaying the full magnitude of my maturity. “I was born in Idaho. We didn’t move here until I was like five because my gramma lived here, but she passed away, so I don’t have any other family to come looking for me.”
“Milo is your real brother?” Leif asked, and even though he was looking at me, I had the impression that he was staring off at something else entirely. “Not like… not like vampires.”
“No, he’s my actual brother. We have the same Mom. But listen, are you alright?” I asked. Something about him suddenly looked off.
“Yes, I’m fine. I think I’m… I’m just tired.” He forced a smile, but it only drew attention to how ill he looked.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Jack asked, and even he sounded concerned, so it had to be bad.
“I’m quite alright.” Leif swallowed and went into the living room.
“Do you think he’s alright?” I whispered to Jack after Leif’d gone. “I mean, can vampires get sick?”
“I don’t know.” Jack shook his head and looked as dumbfounded as I felt. When he met my eyes, he’d softened.
“I don’t wanna fight about this anymore,” I said. “I love you. Can we just leave it at that for now?”
“Yeah. I’m sorry.” He stepped closer to me and looped his arm around my shoulders. “I don’t understand this, but… I said I’d always do whatever I could to make you happy, so if this makes you happy…”
“It does.” I leaned into him.
Leif had left by the time I got up the next day, but that was nothing new. He usually came and went without much notice.
The snow continued falling, blanketing the world. Jack went outside to clear it up, and even though we had a snow blower, it didn’t really work on the stone patio. He spent the majority of the afternoon shoveling it up, but Matilda was outside “helping” him, so I suspected a lot more time was spent roughhousing than actual shoveling.
Since Jack had the manual labor covered, I went to straighten up the living room. I found Bobby sitting on the couch, his laptop open on his lap.
“Where’s Milo?” I picked up the blanket balled up next to Bobby and began folding it.
“Um, school.” Bobby scrambled to click things on the computer, and when I peeked over to see what he was looking at, he slammed the screen shut. “Milo joined the debate team or something. You can call him if you wanna know for sure.”
“What were you just looking at?” I narrowed my eyes at him.
“Um, me? Nothing.” He flicked his black bangs from his eyes and refused to look at me. “Just browsing. You know, surfing the interweb.”
“You’re being a spaz,” I said. “What are you up to? Downloading porn?”
“Yeah, like I’d look at porn in the living room,” he scoffed. I kept staring at him, so he sighed and opened the laptop. “I just didn’t think you needed to see this.”
“What?” I reached for his computer, tilting the screen towards me, and then I saw it.
The giant photo on the screen was color, but the overcast day, gray concrete, and dirty snow almost made it look black and white. I would’ve thought it was, if it wasn’t for the dark reddish stains that spilled out in the center of the photo, and the black policeman’s shoes standing next to it.
The headline over it read, “Minneapolis Officials Deny Serial Killer,” and in smaller print below it, “After the third death in a string of similar murders, residents fear for their safety.”
But I barely even read the words. My eyes were focused on the blood splashed over the sidewalk. I could see just enough of the buildings to make out that it was Hennepin Avenue, where Jane had been found. This was her crime scene.
“That’s… this’s Jane’s blood?” I asked numbly and sat down on the couch next to Bobby.
“Sorry.” Bobby moved to close the box, but I stopped him and took the laptop from him. “Are you sure wanna look at that?”
“No,” I said but clicked on the link to read the full story.
The article didn’t say much more than Jack had already told me. Three girls, aged eighteen and nineteen, had been left discarded around downtown Minneapolis in the early morning hours. Since the crime scenes yielded no evidence, they assumed the girls had been killed elsewhere and were posed to be found.