I’d been helping Jack fix the dining room table that he’d accidentally broken when roughhousing with his dog. He went back out to the garage to return the tools, but Mae had stayed sitting in the living room with me. She was reading a book, but she always managed to keep half an eye on us.

“What are you talking about?” I asked, running my hands over the table to make sure the crack had been smoothed out seamlessly.

“The way he watches you when you’re not looking,” Mae said. “He adores you.”

“We’ve always been close,” I said, feeling uncomfortable with her claims. “Why hasn’t he been talking me lately? He usually tells me everything.”

“It’s complicated.” Mae shook her head and looked back down at her book.

“Mae.” I turned to her and folded my arms over my chest. “If there’s something going on with him, I should know. I can help him.”

“Not this time, Peter,” she sighed.

“What does that mean?” I asked, growing irritated. I couldn’t stand of the idea of something hurting Jack and being unable to help him. “Is it about that human girl he’s after?”

“I suppose you’ll find out anyway.” Mae closed her book and set it on her lap. “But you can’t tell him I said anything to you. He wanted to wait to sort this out on his own, but it won’t hurt if you know.”

“Know what?” I asked.

“The girl, there’s something about her that draws him to her,” Mae said.

“Like he’s bonded to her?” I shook my head. “But she’s human. She can’t have a blood bond with a vampire.”

“No, she’s not supposed to, but we don’t completely understand how these things work,” Mae said. “And I don’t think she’s bonded with him.”

“But you said…” I trailed off, confused. “You think it’s a transference bond, like the one Jack and I have with you because you’re bonded to Ezra?”

“Maybe,” she admitted.

“But Ezra has you,” I said. “And I had Elise.” I swallowed after I said her name. I’d gotten better about it since Jack came around. He asked so many questions, and I’d been forced to really talk about my past for the first time. In the long run, it had made life better.

“I know, but I don’t know what else it can be.” She shrugged. “Jack’s beside himself over it.”

“Why?” I asked. “And why didn’t he tell me about it?”

“Because he likes her, Peter.” Mae gave me that look, the one she used when I didn’t realize I’d hurt Jack’s feelings or been rude. “He’s afraid she’s bonded with you.”

“She can’t be bonded with me,” I said firmly. “I had Elise, and I lost her. That part of my life is over.”

“Mae,” Jack groaned as he came back into the living room with Matilda at his heels. The dog followed him everywhere. “You told him?”

“He knew something was wrong, Jack,” Mae said apologetically. “He only wants to help.”

“She’s right.” I turned to face Jack. “And there’s nothing to worry about.”

“What do you mean?” Jack narrowed his eyes at me.

“I can’t be bonded with this girl,” I said. “It’s not possible.”

“But there is something weird going on,” Jack insisted. “I am drawn to her.”

“You like her,” I shrugged.

“No, I don’t,” he shook his head. “I mean, I do. But… I don’t know. We’re just friends.”

“If you’re really worried about her, bring her around,” I said. “When she meets me, I won’t feel anything, and then you’ll know.”

“That doesn’t explain how I feel about her,” Jack said.

“That’s something you’ll have to figure it out on your own,” I said. “You’re probably just a bit closed off because of what happened with Aisha.”

“Don’t even bring that up,” he shook his head. His cell phone buzzed in his pocket, and he pulled out. “That’s her. Alice. I’m going to go meet up with her.”

“Alice?” I asked.

“Yeah, the girl.” He smirked at me. “The one we were just talking about?”

“Oh, right,” I said. “I don’t think I’ve heard you say her name before.”

“Well, now, I have. I’ll think about what you said, though, and maybe I’ll bring her around sometime,” Jack said as he turned to leave the room. “But not tonight.”

He left in a hurry, so eager to see her, but I thought it was good for him. He needed something to care about, other than me, Mae, and Ezra. There was a life outside of this, and he needed to live it.

“What if it is you?” Mae asked quietly once Jack had gone.

“What?” I asked, looking back at her.

“What if she is bonded to you?” Mae asked.

“She won’t be.”

“But Peter…” Mae chewed her lip thoughtfully. “I think she might be. It’s a feeling I have. And you need to have a plan in case she is bonded with you.”

“Nothing,” I said. “I will do nothing. My heart is buried with Elise.”

I closed the subject and went up to my room. I didn’t want to think about the matter any longer. But I couldn’t shake it off. I thought it would help to write it all down, but it hasn’t. Because what if Mae is right?