“What?” I stopped kissing him.
“Are we okay?” Jack asked.
“Why wouldn’t we be?”
“I don’t know.” His forehead crinkled with confusion. “I feel like we’ve been fighting a lot lately, and I don’t know where you go.” He swallowed. “I feel like… something’s wrong.”
“Nothing’s wrong,” I reassured him. “I love you, remember? I chose this life to spend eternity with you, and it’s only just begun. You can’t start questioning it already.”
“No, I’m not questioning it.” His smile came more easily now. “And yeah. I know you love me. I just… you’d tell me if something was going on, wouldn’t you?”
“I tell you everything, Jack,” I lied, and it hurt a little to say that. It used to be true, and it would be again, but right now, I just couldn’t tell him everything.
He reached up, burying his fingers in my hair, then pulled himself up to kiss me. This time, his kisses felt like they always did. I loved the desperate way he kissed me, like he was afraid to stop. Hot tingles spread over my skin, and my stomach fluttered.
When he sat up, he kept his hand on the small of my back, holding me to him. Barely taking his lips from mine, he slipped off my shirt, pulling it over my head. With surprising dexterity, he unhooked my bra, and pressed my bare skin against his. My flesh seared against him.
His heart pounded hard and fast, echoing over my own. He flipped me on the bed, so I lay on my back, and somehow, he slipped my pants and panties off in the process. He struggled to undo his own, and my fingers worked quickly to unfasten the button.
He laughed, sending fresh tingles through me, and then his lips were all over me. Kissing my belly, my chest, my shoulders, my neck. I raised my chin, allowing him to bite me if he wanted, but he didn’t. He hovered over me, his faded blue eyes meeting mine.
“Not this time.” Something in his smile looked sad, and his regret came off faintly, buried underneath his excitement. “For once, I want to love you the way you were meant to be loved. Without all the… vampire stuff.”
“I don’t understand.” I reached up, running my fingers through his hair and my thumb on his temple.
“I know.” He laughed, but it had a strange hollow sound to it that broke my heart. He looked at a spot above me instead of at me. “I turned you into a vampire without giving you a chance to learn what it really meant. And I said I did it to protect you, and I did, but maybe…”
“I know you did it because you loved me and you wanted me with you always.”
“Yeah.” He lowered his eyes and swallowed hard. “You regret it. I know you do, and… I did this to you.”
“Jack, no,” I shook my head. He had has arms on either of side of me, holding himself up, and I ran my hand over his arms, trying to comfort him.
“You rushed into something you didn’t understand because it was what I wanted, and you can’t take it back.”
“I don’t want to take it back,” I insisted, but I wasn’t sure of that anymore.
“Come on, Alice.” He shook his head. “That’s why we’ve been fighting so much. Everything we’ve been arguing about, it all boils down to the fact that you don’t want to change. You don’t want to be this thing that drinks blood. I made you into a monster.”
“No, Jack! You did not! I’m not-” I stumbled, trying to think of what I meant. “We’re not monsters. Okay? You just gave me forever with you. I want to be with you. I love you.”
“I know you do. That’s what makes this so much worse.” When he looked at me, he had tears swimming in his eyes, and I gaped at him.
“I’ll never regret being with you,” I told him honestly.
“And I’ll never stop regretting doing this to you.”
Lying there naked, as close as two people could be, I had never felt such distance between us. The problem was that Jack was right. While I loved him and I did want to be with him for as long as I was alive, I didn’t want to be a vampire. I didn’t want to be a monster that hunted and hurt people, that lived an endless life without purpose, wandering the earth without ever contributing anything.
But I didn’t blame him for that. I had made a choice, and even if I’d rushed into it, that had been my fault, not his.
I couldn’t say anything to ease his guilt, so I leaned into him and kissed him again, this time hungrier and more intense. I wanted to make his pain go away, I wanted him to feel how much I loved him, how desperately I needed him, and how I never, ever wanted to live without him.
He slid inside of me, and I buried my fingers in his back, pressing him close to me. His love surged through me, but it was tinged with something else. His own regret held it back, and even when he kissed me, the closeness I desired escaped us.
Afterwards, Jack held me in his arms, but he pretended to be asleep, even though I knew he wasn’t.
I couldn’t sleep, and I felt too restless to even pretend. I got up, took a shower, and got dressed. In the bedroom next door to mine, both Milo and Bobby were sound asleep, and I hated them for it. Milo’d been going to bed earlier because he had to get up for school, and Bobby had apparently beaten his insomnia for once.
Since I had nothing to do, I thought I would eat. Drinking blood didn’t knock me out the way it did before. In fact, other than when I drank fresh blood, like when I bit Jack, the blood had been energizing me lately. I’m not sure if that’s exactly what I wanted right now, but my veins felt a little dry and my stomach grumbled.
It wasn’t until I opened the fridge that I realized it had been over a week and a half since I ate last. And I was barely even hungry.
Feeling rather stunned by this realization, I thought about ignoring my phone when it rang in my pocket. But it could be important, so I shut the fridge door without getting a bag of blood and got the phone.
“Hello?” I answered.
“Alice?” Mae said. Or at least I think that’s what Mae said. Her end of the phone crackled with static. “Al-” The phone cut out for a second. “-glad I finally-” A loud blast of static cut her off.
“Mae? What’s going on? Where are you? I can barely understand you.”
“-damn tunnel! I’ve been trying but the call-” She cut out again, and I sighed.
“Mae! I can’t hear you! What do you need?” I asked.