“Alice, listen to me. You have to stop. You can’t pull me up, and if you try, you’ll just lose your hand and end up falling down with me.”
“I can save you,” I told him. “You have to trust me.”
“No, you need to free your wrist and swing back on the cliff,” Jack said. “We both don’t need to die for this.”
“No! If you die, I die! You asked me to spend forever with you, and I’m going to! “
I strained harder, pulling the chain farther up. I only had to get it up far enough where Jack could swing over, and put his feet on the cliff, and that was only a few more feet. Peter was too busy fighting off Thomas to help, so I was left struggling with Jack on my own.
I almost had him. His head was over the top of the cliff, but the chain slipped again. This time it was too much. The chain crushed my wrist. I heard the bones snap when it hit the pulley, and the chain pulled at my skin.
I was losing blood, which only made me weaker, and the blood left the chain impossibly slippery. I couldn’t get a grip on it again. It didn’t matter how strong I was. The blood made it too slick, and the chain was going to slip off.
“Alice,” Jack said, but I kept pulling at the chain. I couldn’t get any traction, and my hand kept slipping. I wasn’t moving him at all, but I kept trying to pull and pull as tears stung my eyes.
“Jack, I love you, and I’m not giving up on you!” I hung upside right above him, my feet pressed to the ceiling and my wrist wedged in the chain against the pulley. He was looking right in my eyes, and he knew.
“I’m sorry for everything I said to you the other night. I didn’t mean any of it. I was just trying to protect you,” Jack said, his voice thick. “I wasn’t even mad, and I can forgive you of anything. I always would. I love you. More than anything else in this world or the next.”
The only thing I could see were his blue eyes. They were the only thing I wanted to see. They never wavered, not even when the chain slid off my wrist.
I hit the concrete hard. I had wanted to fall over the edge of the cliff, following Jack down, but I’d been angled just the right way so I landed on my back on the ground. I stared up at the bricks on the ceiling, and for a minute, I couldn’t feel anything.
I heard Peter grunting. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew I should help him, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
With some effort, I turned my head to see Peter crouched over the edge of the cliff next to me, the chain in his hands. It took me a second to realize what I was seeing. Hand over hand, he pulled the chain up, and within a few seconds, he heaved Jack up over the edge.
“Jack!” I screamed and crawled over to him.
With his hands still bound and his chest and stomach covered in wounds, I dove at him. I pressed my lips to his, kissing him. I brushed back the hair from his forehead and sobbed.
“I love you, I love you, oh my god, I love you,” I repeated over and over between kisses.
I had thought that I had truly lost him, and there was a desperation to the kiss that he matched with equal fervor. I wrapped my arms around his neck and held him to me, breathing him in, tasting his lips, relishing his heart pounding against mine.
“I’m okay, Alice,” he smiled, looking me in the eye.
“I’m sorry for everything I’ve put you through,” I said. Tears of relief streamed down my face, and Jack just smiled at me. “I’ve never stopped loving you. Never. And I was wrong. You’re all I need to be happy. You’re all I’ll ever need.”
“I’m not all you need, and I don’t even want to be. I just want to love you, for the rest of my life, and as long as you let me do that, we’ll be okay.”
I leaned to kiss him again, but he stopped me.
“I hate to do this, but would it be okay if we popped my arms back in their socket before we made out?” Jack asked, and when I apologized, he laughed, sending the same dazzling tingles through me that he always did.
“Need help?” Peter asked, crouching down next to us.
I got over the shock of seeing Jack alive and looked over Peter for the first time. He’d sustained a few blows himself, but Thomas was the one with a metal poker through his heart in the corner.
Jack grimaced as Peter shoved both his arms back in place. Peter got to work getting the chain from around Jack’s wrists. He might’ve dislocated Jack’s thumb in the process, but he got the chain off.
He sat up, rubbing his battered wrists, although they didn’t look as bad as my completely wrecked hand. Peter tossed the chain off the cliff, still crouched down in front of us, and Jack looked at him.
“Hey, Peter?” Jack said, popping his thumb back into place.
“Yeah?” Peter turned to him.
“Thank you.” Jack met his eyes, and they looked at each other for a moment. Peter swallowed and nodded.
“We should probably get you guys out of here,” Peter said, standing up. “Your girlfriend needs to get that hand fixed.”
“Holy hell.” Jack noticed my hand for the first time.
It looked like a bloody piece of meat. The tingling heat had taken over, scrambling to heal. I’d actually lost a lot of skin, and I wasn’t really sure how it would grow back.
Peter grabbed a towel, and I wrapped my hand in it. He helped both Jack and I out to the car, and Jack explained how he’d ended up there in the first place. He’d gotten home to find the vampire hunters demolishing the house, and Matilda in the process.
Apparently, they were obsessed with finding Daisy. They were certain she was part of the movement and sent to expose vampires. The hunters would do anything to stop that, and nothing Jack could say would convince them she was dead. If he’d been there when she’d been buried, that might’ve helped.
Samantha had seen the Lamborghini parked outside the tunnels before when they were following me, and she insisted that Jack take them down there. When they still didn’t find Daisy, they resorted to torturing Jack for information, and that’s when I had walked in.
On the car ride back to the house, I called Milo to tell him to come home. Ezra and Mae were already waiting, and something about the crisis had set Mae back into motion. She wrapped my hand in gauze.
The skin would grow back in a few hours, but I didn’t want a bloody hand until then. Ezra took care of Jack, checking his wounds and forcing him to compensate for his blood loss.
As soon as Milo and Bobby arrived, Jack sent them back out to take Matilda to the emergency vet clinic. Ezra thought she had a few broken bones, but he figured that she would be alright, once she had proper medical care.