“Yeah, sorry about that.” I tossed the towel in the hamper and turned my back to him. I didn’t want to see the disapproving gaze he gave me after that.
“I told you to call me,” he went on. “But from what I understand, you ran away from Milo and Olivia and Violet. You had plenty of back up with you, but you went it alone.”
“It was something that I had to do myself.” I ran my fingers through my tangles of hair and looked back at him. “I had to take care of him.”
“And what?” I asked, surprised by the lack of judgment in his words.
“How did it go?” Ezra asked.
“I killed him.” The words tasted bitter in my mouth, and I gulped them down. I wanted to throw up or cry at the thought of being a murderer, but I couldn’t. I had done the right thing, and I wouldn’t let myself shed a tear of Jonathan.
“I’m aware of that.” Ezra looked away from me and smoothed out his pants. “Olivia called me after she cleaned up the mess. You owe her a debt of gratitude for that.”
“I’ll thank her tomorrow,” I nodded. I did owe her, and I felt bad for leaving her with my mess. But I didn’t have the strength to apologize for it now.
“He had a body in the room with him?” Ezra asked, and I nodded, biting my lip.
“If I’d stopped him when I saw him outside Jane’s…” I shook my head and trailed off.
“You did the right thing in waiting.” Ezra stood up and stepped over to me. He put his hand on my shoulder, and I looked up at him. “You didn’t listen to me, but you handled yourself well. You’ve shown great strength and maturity, more than many other vampire hunters I’ve run into. I’m proud of you, Alice.”
I wanted to thank him, but I knew if I did, I wouldn’t be able to hold back the tears. I could only nod, and Ezra wrapped an arm around me, hugging me to him. I took a deep breath to keep from sobbing, and he held me until he was sure I’d be fine without it.
After he left, I went to bed, and thankfully, sleep came quickly for me. The glowing warmth spread through me, and I buried myself deeper in the pillows. I didn’t want to wake up from the dream, back to the stark reality of the cold bed, but I couldn’t fight it anymore.
I opened my eyes and blinked to be sure I wasn’t still dreaming. Jack sat on the bed next to me, his brow furrowed, but he wasn’t doing anything. Just thinking.
“Good morning,” I said. I had no idea what he was doing, but it definitely made my heart beat faster.
“Hi. Sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you. I just…” He licked his lips and stared at me. “I don’t wanna be broken up anymore.”
“I don’t know what to tell you.” I looked away from him and pushed myself so I was sitting up. “I don’t even understand why you broke up with me.”
“I thought that was the best thing for you.” He leaned back, resting his head against the wall. “I felt like it was what you wanted.”
“How would I want that?” I asked incredulously. “You know how I feel about you, and what I’ve fought to be with you!”
“And what you’ve given up.” He sighed. “You gave up way too much.”
“I didn’t give up anything,” I said. Unless he meant Peter, but I hoped we weren’t going down that road again.
“You gave up being human,” he said. “For me, it never seemed like that big of a deal. But for you, I think giving up death really messed with you.”
“I didn’t give it up. I can still die,” I said, but he did have a point.
“And you’re so young.” He chewed his lip. “Compared to me, you don’t seem that young, but you are. You didn’t know what you wanted to do with your life, and that was okay when you were seventeen and had college to figure it out. But when you got immorality, you had endless time in front of you, and it’s like you had no idea what to do. It’s too much.”
“Yeah,” I agreed. “But there’s nothing I can do about that. I can’t undo this, and it’s not like I want to die. I just… I’ve been trying to find something I’m passionate about, besides you. Something to fill my time with.”
“No, I understand that. I got afraid that I was holding you back.” He looked over at me. “This whole thing with Jane, when you were tracking down her killer, that was the most excited I’ve seen you about anything in a long time.”
“It wasn’t exciting,” I shook my head. A knot in my stomach twisted when I remembered killing Jonathan. “Murder isn’t fun.”
“No, no, I know that.” His brow furrowed. “Are you okay with all of that?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I brushed him off. “I don’t want to talk about that, though.”
“Okay.” He stared at me for a moment, then went on, “I know you’re not into death, and I know you were motivated by revenge. But something about that really appealed to you.”
“Yeah, I guess.” I thought about it, trying to separate my feelings of grief over Jane to the actual act of searching for a killer. “I liked solving it and feeling like I did something that mattered. Jonathan was killing girls, and I stopped him.”
“You did.” Jack reached over and squeezed my hand. “I’m very, very proud of you for that. Do you know that?”
“Not really,” I shook my head.
“You did something you believed in and helped people.” He turned on the bed so he faced me and moved closer to me. “You don’t need to hide that from me, okay? I mean, if this is who you are, what you’re passionate about then… Good. I support you, one hundred percent.”
“I don’t think this is something I want to do,” I said. “It was a onetime fluke thing. But thank you for supporting me, I guess.”
“Anytime.” He smiled and looked at me intently. “I love you, Alice. And if you can forgive me for reacting poorly the other night, do you still wanna spend forever with me?”
I smiled back at him but I didn’t get a chance to answer. Peter knocked on the open bedroom door. Hanging onto the doorframe, he leaned into the bedroom.
“Sorry to interrupt, but Mae is freaking out,” Peter said, but the smirk at the edge of his mouth led me to believe he wasn’t sorry. “She says she can’t find some sheets her mother gave her or something, and since Alice has been taking care of the laundry, Mae really wants to see you.”