“I’ve read some of it.” I flopped down on the couch behind Milo. “I haven’t yet today, but today’s been busy.” I reached over him and grabbed the book from him.
“How did training go?” Milo asked, looking back at me.
Bobby sat down on the floor next to him, snuggling up to him already, which was good. If Bobby distracted him with affection, Milo would be less likely to lecture me about my schoolwork or pry too much about what happened tonight.
“Great,” I shrugged and flipped through the book.
“Did you kick Bobby’s ass?” Jack asked, keeping his focus on the video game on the screen.
“Nah, Bobby didn’t do a lot,” I said. “He was too busy pretending to be Batman.”
“If Batman were real, that’s exactly where he’d hang out!” Bobby turned back to glare at me. “That building is like Wayne Industries!”
“You’re just deflecting because you can’t fight.” Jack glanced away from the game to laugh at him.
“You’re one to talk,” Milo scoffed. “It’s not like you can fight either.”
“I can fight.” Jack paused the game when Milo and Bobby laughed at him, and he looked back at us. “You guys really think I can’t fight?”
“We’ve seen you fight, Jack,” Milo said with a smirk. “We know you can’t.”
“Oh, it’s on.” Jack shut off the X-box and tossed the controller in the chair and stood up. “You wanna fight, little man?”
“Really?” Milo arched an eyebrow.
“Yeah. It’s go time!” Jack pointed to his chest in some kind of weird dominant gesture, trying to stifle his own smile.
“Jack, you’re really no good at trash talk,” I said.
“Come on.” Jack grinned at Milo. “Let’s do this.”
“Alright.” Milo shrugged and got up, and I rolled my eyes.
Jack bounced around on one side of the room, rolling his neck, like he thought he was Muhammad Ali. Milo smiled and went about pushing all the furniture to the side of the room so they’d been less likely to damage things if they tussled.
“Bobby, you should probably move,” I said, flipping a page in the law book that I was only half-reading.
Bobby did what he was told, climbing up on the couch next to me. I’m not sure exactly why Milo and Jack were fighting, since they’d never been the kind of boys that even play fought. It probably had something to do with the fact that Jack was all riled up from video games, and both of them were bored.
They both eyed each other up, grinning like idiots, and neither of them really knew how to start a fight. Any time they fought, somebody else had started it.
“You ready?” Milo asked, suppressing laughter.
“I was born ready!” Jack declared.
Milo rushed Jack half-heartedly, but Jack responded with as much intensity as he could muster. He sidestepped Milo and tripped him, but Milo caught his balance before he even stumbled. He turned on Jack, swinging his leg around, so he knocked Jack’s feet out from under him.
Jack fell to the floor with a bit of a bang, smiling up at Milo and looking surprised. Matilda barked and wagged her tail. I didn’t want her getting hurt in the fray, so I got up and let her out the back patio.
On my way back, I heard a horrible crashing sound, and I ran to the living room. Jack lay sprawled out in a pile of a broken chair, with a broken picture shattered on the floor behind him. Milo stood on the other side of the room, looking rather proud of himself.
“You guys! Mae’s gonna be-” I stopped myself before I finished the sentence. Mae didn’t live here. She wouldn’t be mad about anything we destroyed because she would never know about it.
“Are you okay?” Bobby asked, his eyes wide. He got up off the couch to help Jack.
“Yeah. I’m fine.” Jack shook his head to clear it, and a few bits of broken glass fell from it.
I went past Jack to pick up the picture. It looked like all squiggles and lines to me, but it was probably some kind of priceless work of art, so I worked to rescue it. Brushing glass and splintered wood from it, I scowled at the mess.
Bobby gave Jack a hand, and even though he didn’t need it, Jack let him help him to his feet. Jack shook his head again, dismayed by what had happened.
“When did you get so strong?” Jack asked Milo, brushing debris from his tee shirt. “I used to be able to take you.”
“We never really fought. You never really took me,” Milo shrugged.
“Well, I could at least hold you back.” Jack cocked his head, looking over Milo in a different light. “Now I don’t think I could even do that. And you should still be pretty weak. You’re only a baby.”
“What does that mean?” I asked. Jonathan had said almost the exact same thing to me the other day, and I didn’t fully understand it.
“He’s only been a vampire for six months,” Jack gestured to Milo. “He should be still getting his sea legs. Usually, the older you are, the stronger you are, but Milo slammed me like that.” He snapped his fingers to demonstrate.
“You always said you’re a lover, not a fighter,” I said.
I stood up and held the painting out in front of me. It had a tear down the center, but maybe I could salvage it with some creativity and glue.
“What are you doing?” Jack asked, standing behind me.
“I’m trying to see if I can fix this.”
“Why?” Jack asked.
“Cause you destroyed an expensive painting,” I shot him a look.
“It’s not expensive,” he shook his head. “That’s a reprint from Target. It cost like twenty bucks.”
“Well…” I floundered for a minute. “You still shouldn’t destroy stuff.”
“What happened in here?” Ezra asked. His voice always boomed, so it made me nervous, even though he sounded more perplexed than he did angry.
“They were screwing around,” Bobby answered quickly and pointed at Milo and Jack.
“Way to throw us under the bus,” Jack said.
“Sorry.” Bobby lowered his head as he cheeks reddened. “Ezra scares me.”
“We were just playing around,” Milo told Ezra. “We’ll clean up the mess.”
“I see.” Ezra surveyed the damage and nodded once, then his russet eyes landed on me. “Alice, may I speak to you for a moment?”
“What?” I exchanged a look with Jack, who just shrugged. “Uh, yeah. Sure. Of course.”