“A dog groomer? Really? You think I look like a dog groomer?”
“No. I just haven’t the faintest idea about what you aspire to be.” Bobby cocked his head at me. “Do you even aspire to be anything? Or is this the zenith of your existence that I’m looking at?”
“I don’t know. I have forever to figure it out,” I hedged his question. Lately, the exact same thing had been bothering me.
In high school, I hadn’t really been worrying about grades or school because I didn’t care. Milo had always buckled down, insisting that an education and a career were important.
Even though Milo was only sixteen and a vampire, he still hadn’t changed his mind. He wanted to finish out his high school career at a nice school, go onto college, and get a job. He still planned on having a normal life and doing normal things.
When I first became a vampire, I thought I had it made. But now that I had nothing but time on my hands, I was starting to think that I had misjudged this whole eternity thing.
“Did I just Debbie Downer the whole moment?” Bobby looked apologetically at me. “You’re being all quiet and sad now.”
“Nah, I’m okay. I was just thinking,” I brushed it off and smiled at him.
“You’re not supposed to think. We’re on vacation!” Bobby said with false bravado. He leaned forward suddenly, looking excited. “We should do something really fun. We could chase down kangaroos or something.” His smile widened and his eyes sparkled. “Or we could see if we could get a dingo to take our baby.” He said the last part with an exaggerated Australian accent, trying to channel Meryl Streep.
To bone up for the trip, Bobby had rented A Cry in the Dark and watched it like ten times. I’m sure there were better movies about Australia, but this one was his favorite. It was the true story of a woman who was accused of killing her own baby, but she insisted that a dingo took it.
So, throughout the last month, I had heard Bobby spout “a dingo took my baby” about a thousand times.
“You’re such an idiot,” I rolled my eyes, and he laughed.
My phone jingled the first three seconds of “Purple Rain,” and I leapt out of bed. For the majority of the trip, my phone had sat discarded on my dresser because I could never get any service.
The “Purple Rain” ringtone just meant that I had a voicemail, but that meant that it had connected with something long enough to register that. I rushed to grab it before the signal dropped.
“Who is it?” Bobby asked, jumping out of bed after me. We had been stranded without technology for so long that he was excited vicariously.
“I don’t know.” I tried to call my voicemail, but the call immediately dropped. “Damn!”
“Go over to the window!”
When I walked over to the window, a bar flashed on. The closer to the window, the brighter the signal. I was a little fanatical about having a chance to hear someone’s voice (in particular Jack’s), so I pushed the screen out of the window.
“What are you doing?” Bobby asked.
“Getting a signal!” I leaned out the window, and I finally managed to connect to my voicemail.
I had barely talked to Jack since I’d been here, and I hadn’t heard from anyone else at all. Leif didn’t have a phone. Olivia had tried to reach me, but we had never been able to get each other on the phone. Jane was supposed to get out of rehab sometime soon, so I expected to hear from her.
“You have one new voicemail,” the automated voice told me, and my heart raced.
“Hey, Alice, this is Jack.” My heart soared, but even with my happiness, I noticed something wrong with his voice. It sounded sad and faraway. “I’ve been trying to get you on the phone. I even tried Milo and Bobby, but…” He sighed, and my heart clenched. Something was very wrong.
“I didn’t want to do this over the phone. I mean, I knew I’d have to, but I didn’t want to leave it on a voicemail…” He trailed off, and Bobby asked something behind me, but I just waved my hand at him.
“I don’t know how to tell you this, but… Jane’s dead. I am so sorry, Alice. Jane was murdered last night.”
The last time I saw Jane, she promised she would get out of this life.
Back in November, she had been seriously injured in the fight with the lycans and spent a month in the hospital recuperating. I hadn’t really talked to her much after that because I thought it would be better for her if we severed all ties. Besides that, there hadn’t really been that much keeping us together anymore.
We had been friends since we were seven, but the older we got, the clearer it became that our priorities were vastly different. Jane was addicted to partying, drinking, sex, and eventually, vampire bites. I didn’t want any part of that life, and she didn’t know how to stop.
I hadn’t heard from her for a long time, until a few nights before Christmas. Bobby had been working his ass off on some school project, and he aced it. To celebrate that, he wanted to go out. Milo, Bobby, Jack, and I headed out to V – the vampire club in downtown Minneapolis. I had been hanging out there more since I started training with Olivia, and despite myself, I kinda liked it.
After hearing a dance remix of “Jingle Bell Rock” far too many times, we decided to leave. It was snowing out, but in that nice way, like it does in movies, all magical and soft. With fresh snow, everything seems to look cleaner and brighter, and since it was after four in the morning, there weren’t many cars driving around to muck it up.
I was staring up at the sky, watching the snow fall down. The clouds seemed to glow from the city lights, and the skyscrapers towered above us. For one brief moment, the whole world fell silent, and I felt like I was living inside a snow globe.
The silence was broken by the sound of an erratic heartbeat, reminding me of a scared rabbit. My throat felt parched, a dull reminder that it had been almost a week since I’d eaten. But I didn’t go to the clubs looking for food. I didn’t even feed off humans. Bobby had been the only person I’d bitten, and I had no choice when I did that.
“Oh my god,” Milo said. He stood a few feet in front of me, holding Bobby’s hand, and he leaned forward to get a closer look. “Is that Jane?”
“What are you talking about?” I brushed past him to see what he was talking about. Jack followed behind me, in case trouble should arise, the way it always seemed to when Jane was around.