“She’s fine,” Jack said, but he let go of my arm. I didn’t move away, though. I kinda wanted to leave, to spite him, but I didn’t want Leif to think that Jack was actually hurting me.
“I think you should give her some space.” Leif walked out onto the patio, his bare feet leaving footprints in the snow.
“Why are you even here?” Jack asked, apparently growing weary of him.
“Give it a rest, Jack,” I said. “He doesn’t mean anything by it.”
Jack looked back at me, assessing me for something I didn’t understand. After a moment, he sighed and shook his head.
“Fine. I’m going in the house. Have all the space you want.” Jack went back into the house without even glancing back at me.
“Are you okay?” Leif asked, stepping closer to me.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” I forced a smile at him. “Jack wasn’t hurting me.”
“You don’t need to make excuses for him.” Leif put his hands in his pockets and looked intently at me.
“I’m not. He’s… We’re just going through something.” I shook my head. “I’m going through something, so that means he is too. I just wish I knew what it was.”
“Maybe you should talk to him about it. Or Milo,” Leif suggested.
“I can’t talk to Milo.” I wrapped my arms around myself and stared at the black lake behind us.
“He’s your brother and he cares about you, a lot.”
“I know. This is just… complicated,” I sighed. “Forever is a really long time, you know? What do you do with forever?”
“The same thing you do when you don’t have forever.” He smiled wanly. “Live.”
“That’s a bit simplistic.”
“But at least you have Milo. You know you’ll have somebody that will always care about you and always have your back. That’s important.”
I looked past Leif into the house. In the warm glow of the dining room, I could see Milo and Bobby talking. The wind almost drowned out their voices, but I could barely make Bobby out, denying he knew anything that I was up to. Milo’s face was etched with worry, thinking of what kind of trouble Bobby and I could get ourselves into.
“Yeah, I suppose you’re right,” I said.
“Do you regret becoming a vampire?” Leif asked, pulling me from my thoughts.
“I don’t know.” I hadn’t wanted to think about it. “I love Jack. I love a lot of things about my life. But…” I shook my head. “I can’t change it now, anyway.”
“It’s not something I would’ve chosen for you,” Leif said.
“What do you mean by that?” I cocked my head.
“It’s not something I would’ve chosen for anybody,” Leif amended quickly and looked away.
“Why are you here?” I asked, remembering that Leif hadn’t answered that question when Jack asked.
“I was with Milo, helping him with his French homework.” He took a step back, as if wanting to put distance between us. “He’s having problems with the dialect, and I’m fluent.”
“You’re French?” I asked.
“Canadian,” he said. “I lived in Quebec for awhile.” He took another step back. “But the two of you seem busy now. I should be going.”
“Alright?” I asked, feeling a little confused.
“Tell Milo I’ll see him later.”
With that, Leif turned and disappeared into the darkness. I looked back in the house. Bobby had apparently convinced Milo nothing was going on, and they were hugging and kissing. I wasn’t sure where Jack was, but I was positive our reunion wouldn’t be quite so sweet.
“So what did Jack say?” Bobby asked, and I pushed the pedal down harder in the Audi as we whizzed through traffic.
Bobby didn’t look nervous about it all, the same way I hadn’t been nervous when Jack used to drive me around. He lived under the same fallacy as I had – that because we were immortal, we were infallible. But we weren’t.
“I don’t wanna talk about it,” I brushed Bobby off.
The long, long talk Jack and I had after our fight last night was not something I wanted to repeat. We’d hashed out so much stuff, about Jane, Peter, even me being a vampire, and it had been exhausting. The worst part was that in the end, I’m not sure if I felt any better about anything.
“That good, huh?” Bobby raised an eyebrow.
“So… you’re not telling him what we’re doing today, are you?” Bobby asked nervously.
“Of course not. There’s enough going on with us without him finding out that I’m still trying to figure out who killed Jane,” I said.
“Why is he so worried anyway?”
“I have no idea.” I shrugged. “It’s not like I’m super fragile or anything.”
“How do you kill a vampire anyway?” Bobby looked over at me.
“Well, we’re not really immortal, per se,” I said, telling him what Ezra had explained to me. “Whatever makes us vampires, it’s basically just a virus that stops decomposition and promotes healing. Our bones are superior, but not unbreakable. In the end, we still come from a human body, and we can’t function without a brain or a heart.”
“So the old stake the heart thing, that works?” Bobby asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Sure, if you can get a piece of wood to break through our ribs, but I doubt that,” I said. “Stop the heart, sever the head, however you can manage it, and we’re dead.”
“Good to know,” Bobby said.
I pressed on the breaks, and the car skidded to a stop as I pulled over. I stared up at the luxurious apartment complex that towered above us and took a breath. “Well, here we are.”
An overcast sky had left the day dim and gloomy, and the sun had just started to set, making the streetlights blink on as I stepped out of the car. I stared up at the building I hadn’t been to in months and felt an odd sense of nostalgia.
“Where did she live?” Bobby stood next to me.
“Fifth floor.” I pointed to it, even though we couldn’t see anything from this angle and distance.
“What’s the plan?” He shoved his hands in his jacket pockets as an icy wind whipped over us.
“I guess we go inside.” I glanced over at the main door to the apartment building.