“You’ve been busy figuring out a lot of things lately,” Jack said, and I lifted my head to look up at him. His voice stayed even, but he had to fight to keep it that way.
“Jack, I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you any-”
“Really? You’re sorry?” Jack asked. “Were you sorry last week when I asked you what was going on when you said nothing? Were you sorry a few hours ago when I asked you directly what you were doing and you lied to my face? Were you sorry when I was beating myself about this distance between us because you’ve been sneaking around and lying to me? Is that when you were sorry?”
“Jack, I had to do this! I had to help her!” I leaned forward, pleading with him.
“She is dead, Alice! You can’t help her!” Jack shouted. “You lied to me! You lied to Milo and put yourself in danger! You put Bobby in danger! What the hell were you thinking? He’s human! He nearly died tonight! Because of you!”
“I know that.” Bitter tears stung my eyes and I looked toward the floor. “Believe me, I know that. But I don’t know what else I was supposed to do.”
“After you kissed Peter last year, I begged you, I fucking begged you not to do that again!”
“I didn’t kiss him again!” I shouted, looking up sharply.
“No, Alice.” He smiled sadly and shook his head. “That’s not what I meant. I asked you never to break my trust again.”
“I’m sorry.” My voice quavered, and a tear slid down my cheek. “I’m really sorry, Jack. I didn’t think I had a choice.”
“That’s the thing with you. You never think you have a choice, but you always do.” He bit his lip and shook his head. “But you wish you didn’t.” He looked away from me. “Sometimes, I think you wish you’d never met me, there had never been a choice between me and Peter.”
“No, Jack, that’s not true!” I stood up. “That’s not true at all! I love you!”
“Oh, yeah, I know you do.” He nodded, and his mouth twitched in a way that I knew he was holding back tears. “You love me so much, and that just really sucks for you. Cause if you didn’t have that, you could just do whatever you wanted. You could be human or a little vampire Nancy Drew or hook up with any of my brothers. If only you didn’t have to worry about me.”
“Jack, no.” I shook my head. “This is one stupid thing. This is a mistake. I did something stupid, but it was just something stupid. I know that you’re mad because I lied, but I lied about something little. I didn’t cheat on you. I didn’t hurt anybody.”
“You repeatedly lied to my face and snuck around behind my back, and I believed you. You’re missing the point, Alice. I can’t trust you anymore.”
“No,” I insisted. “I won’t lie to you ever again. When you asked me not to break your trust, you told me it didn’t matter. You told me you would forgive me of anything, and I’m not asking you to. I’m asking you to forgive me of this one thing. This one last thing.”
“I did say that.” His voice was so quiet, I barely heard it, and his blue eyes swam with tears. “But you know what? I lied too.”
All the strength drained me from me, and I fell to the ground on my knees. Too much had happened, and hearing him say that felt like something had ripped open inside me. I couldn’t even cry, it hurt too much.
“Alice.” Ezra came to my side, putting his arm around me. “It’s alright.”
“What’s going on?” Leif asked.
I heard him, but I couldn’t see him. I couldn’t lift my head. I wrapped my arms around my stomach, trying to hold in the pain. I had to physically hold myself, or I knew I would fall apart. I gulped down air, desperate to keep back the vomit that threatened to come up.
“What the hell did you do to her?” Leif got in Jack’s face. “Did you hit her?”
“I would never hit her! And she’s the one-” Jack pointed at me, then shook his head. “Never mind. It doesn’t matter. You should just be happy, because now she’s free to do whatever she wants!”
“Whatever you did to her, fix it! Apologize to her!” Leif shouted.
“I didn’t do anything wrong!” Jack yelled back. “And what the hell is your deal? Why do you even care? If I break up with my girlfriend, why is it any of your damn business?”
“Because I’m her father!” Leif shouted.
I will say this for Leif – he managed to shock me out of my pain. I stared up at him, momentarily forgetting the horrible rift inside me at the thought of life without Jack. Leif sheepishly looked back at me, his dark eyes meeting mine.
“Sorry. I didn’t want to tell you that way,” Leif said, shoving his hands in his dirty pants pockets.
“Is this some kind of sick joke?” Jack asked, but all the anger had left his voice.
Somewhere inside me, I knew it was true. Maybe I had before he said it. Something had been there, a connection I had always felt with him but couldn’t explain.
“You have Milo’s eyes,” I whispered. They were the same deep brown and reminded me of a puppy, the way Milo’s always had.
“Actually, he has my eyes,” Leif smiled and shifted uneasily.
“Wait.” Jack looked between the two of us. “You guys aren’t serious? Are you?” He turned to Ezra. “He can’t be serious. It’s not possible. Is it?”
“It is.” Ezra still had his hand on my back, and he sounded reluctant to answer. “It’s rare, but it’s possible.”
I tried to stand up, but my legs felt rubbery underneath me. Leif moved to help me, but Ezra was already at my side, beating him to it. I walked closer to Leif, and nothing had ever felt so surreal. I reached out to touch him. I expected my hand to go through him like he was a mirage, but it didn’t.
My fingertips brushed against his cheek, and his skin felt smooth and cool, like my own. I gaped at him, and let my hand fall, unable to do anything except try to process this.
“You’re my father,” I breathed, and he nodded. “How old are you?”
“I was born 54 years ago, but I was only 22 when I turned,” Leif said.
That made it all the more unreal. I was eighteen, and my father looked like he was only four years older than me. It was strange that I hadn’t noticed how much he looked like Milo before. People meeting them together would think they were brothers.