“I’m sorry,” he mumbled when he got himself under control a bit.
“Don’t be sorry.” I pushed the hair back from his face, and he sat up more but still remained close to me.
When he looked at me, his green eyes meeting mine, I’d never seen him look more wounded. With my hand still on his face, I leaned in kissed his cheek, meaning to kiss his tears away. His skin warmed under my lips, sending a familiar thrill racing through me, and I leaned back.
I wiped my thumb along the spot I’d kissed him, erasing it, and his eyes held me the way the once had. Captivating and entrancing, for a moment, I didn’t breathe. I didn’t want to. I just wanted to lose myself in Peter, and forget about everything else that hurt so much lately.
But I did remember, and I exhaled deeply, knowing this moment had to end.
“You’ll be okay, won’t you?” I asked, dropping my hand back to my lap.
“I always am.” Peter attempted a small smile, and his effort made me smile.
“I do love you, you know?” I asked him, and he nodded.
“You just love him more.”
“But that doesn’t change the way I feel about you.” I reached over and took his hand in mine. “Nothing can. And I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.”
“You’re worried I’m going to do something stupid?” Peter arched his eyebrow, and his smile widened.
“You tend to do that when you’re hurting,” I said.
“Don’t worry, Alice. I know that you’ll always come chasing me down, and I won’t do anything to risk your safety again.”
“So…” Jack interrupted, and I looked up to see him standing at the top of the steps, staring down at me sidled up next to Peter, holding his hand. “I just thought I’d let you know that Milo was doing good.”
“Thanks, Jack.” I let go of Peter’s hand and stood up, but I didn’t rush. I hadn’t done anything wrong, and I had nothing to hide. “I should go get cleaned up.”
“Yeah. Do what you want.” Jack walked down the stairs, brushing past me and Peter.
“Where are you going?” I asked.
“Out,” he said without looking back. “And I’m leaving on a business trip tonight, so don’t wait up.”
“Jack!” I called after him, but he didn’t answer.
Ezra buried Daisy in the backyard, under the willow tree. After that, he decided that we’d had enough of it here and put the house up for sale.
The next few days, Mae was inconsolable. She moved like a zombie, and Ezra had to physically prompt to her do anything. She was pale and listless, and I’m not sure that even Ezra was convinced that she would ever get better. But no matter, he would stand by her through this.
Milo decided that we needed to visit our mom and that Leif needed to come with us. I was against it, but Milo eventually wore me down. She was our mother, and she had loved us the best she could. She didn’t deserve to be alone, abandoned by everyone she loved, without knowing why.
More than that, maybe she didn’t need to be abandoned anymore. Milo wanted to come clean with her in hopes that we wouldn’t have to hide from her.
Before Leif came in, Milo and I sat with her alone in our old apartment, and Milo told her the whole truth. About where we’d been and that we were vampires.
At first, Mom got angry, asking why we were being so cruel to her. Then Leif came in, and all her defenses melted. He told her she looked as beautiful as she ever did, and by the look in his eyes, I think he meant it. They both cried and kissed, and after that we talked. We talked for hours, having the first real open conversation we’d ever had.
She cried a lot, and I’d never really seen her cry before. She apologized for always running away from us, and said she was a coward. Milo and I reminded her too much of Leif, and she’d been trying to out run the pain from that, but she never could.
When Milo and I left, Leif was still there. By the way they were interacting, I doubted he’d leave any time soon. They had a lot of years to catch up on.
That reunion made me feel a tad bit better about everything else going on. Jack still hadn’t talked to me much since he’d been on his business trip. He responded to a couple text messages, but never initiated them.
Although, in that defense, he said the trip was really busy since he was doing it all by himself, and Ezra was supposed to be the one to handle it. But Ezra was busy taking care of Mae, and Peter was mourning in his own Peter way.
I tried not to think about anything and went about putting the house in order. I wasn’t sure how long it would take to sell, or where we would go once it was sold, but I wanted to be prepared.
As I was going through my clothes, sorting them out to pack and to get rid of, I opened my underwear drawer in the closet. I decided I had way too many, and I picked up a handful to throw away. I lifted them up, and something caught on the drawer.
A diamond encrusted heart-shaped locket, Peter’s gift to me for my eighteenth birthday. I detangled it from the panties and my drawer, and I held it up, watching as it spun and light shone off the diamonds.
It was very beautiful, and I loved it, even though I had no idea where I’d ever wear something that extravagant. I clasped it behind my neck and went over to the mirror to admire how the necklace looked on me. I’d never tried it on before, and it did look stunning, resting right above my cleavage.
But I would never wear it. No matter how lovely it might be, it wasn’t for me. I unhooked the locket, and I set it with the stuff to get rid of.
Peter hadn’t been taking Daisy’s death much better than Mae. He’d spent the whole time locked inside Ezra’s den with the lights off, listening to classical music.
Bobby had a big art show opening at the college, and I made Peter go with me to get out of the house for a while. Bobby had done some really amazing charcoal sketches, and even Peter commented on his talent.
But it wasn’t long before the crowd started getting to him. Not the blood, but all the chatter. Too many people talking too much. We stayed long enough to see Bobby’s work and tell him it was fantastic, then we left to let him and Milo deal with the crowds all night long.
“It’s good to get out of the house sometimes,” I told Peter as we walked out of the college.
“I guess,” he shrugged. “I prefer sitting in the den listen to Joseph Hadyn.”
“You and Ezra are so much alike sometimes, it’s not even funny,” I rolled my eyes.