“Mattie’s always a good girl, aren’t you?” Jack’s voice was verging on baby-talk, and Matilda licked his face appreciatively.

“Well, look at you!” Her smile grew broader and warmer. “You’re lovely!”

“Thanks,” I mumbled, feeling my cheeks burn with embarrassment. She was far more beautiful than I could ever hope to be, and I didn’t know really how to respond to her open affection.

“Oh, sorry.” Jack gave the dog one final pat before standing up. “Alice, this is Mae. Mae, this is Alice.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” I floundered.

Something about her made me feel safe and oddly loved, but it was so unexpected that I didn’t really have time to collect my thoughts and respond.

“The pleasure is all mine!” Mae gushed, placing her hand over her heart again. “You really have no idea.”

“What have you been saying about me?” I gave Jack a sidelong glance, wondering what he possibly could’ve said to get her so excited over me. He was the one with all the magical powers. I just argued with him and got myself in ridiculous situations.

“Not that much,” Jack shrugged, but he didn’t seem embarrassed or surprised by Mae at all.

“Shall I give you the grand tour?” Mae asked, looping her arm through mine. Then she looked over at Jack. “Would that be alright with you?”

“Yeah, go ahead.” He had already started playing with the dog again, seemingly contented to let Mae kidnap me and do as she pleased.

“This is the entryway, obviously,” Mae gestured to the vaulted ceilings and marble floors around us, and the rings on her fingers flashed in the light.

Then she started to lead me into an adjoining room, which appeared to be some kind of expansive living room. The rest of the house had dark golden oak wood floors and cream colored walls. Somehow, it managed to combine a warm modern motif with touches of a castle. It was beautiful and perfect and really, so utterly Mae.

“Here’s the living room. Windows, fireplace, etc.” Before I could even really take it all in, she started leading me into the kitchen. The tiles were granite in natural neutral colors and the cupboards matched the hardwood floors.

Off the back of the kitchen, giant windows and glass French doors revealed a beautiful view of the lake. A massive stone patio sat right outside the doors, leading down to the lake.

“This is the kitchen, and the view.”

“That is truly breathtaking.” I pulled away from her just enough so I could peer out the window. It was dark out, so I couldn’t fully appreciate it, but several large lights lit the backyard and I got a glimpse of it.

“That’s why Ezra chose this place.” Mae put her hand on my arm when she returned to my side, and I noticed that her skin felt the same as Jack’s – silky soft, but completely temperatureless, like touching a doll. “This land, anyway. He built the house.”

“He designed it and everything?” I know I sounded surprised, which made me feel embarrassed.

Of course her husband had built this amazing piece of architecture. They were obviously superior to everyone in every way, and I'd better start getting used to it.

“Well, I helped, a little.” Mae smiled modestly at me, and I realized that I was already falling in love with her. Not sexually or anything lesbian like that, but they were just so inviting and charismatic, I couldn’t help it.

That’s when I realized that I was a little bit in love with Jack. He was impossibly wonderful, and I couldn’t stand to be away from him. I had started craning my head to look around for him when Mae pulled onto the next room.

“This is a really fast tour you’re giving me,” I commented as she went through the grand dining room connected to the kitchen. We had just started down a hall and she laughed.

“Well, you’ll see the house enough, I’m sure.” Her eyes sparkled at me, and I knew that she was implying that I’d be hanging out there more, which suited me just fine. “I really just wanted a chance to get acquainted with you, and this seemed like the perfect way.”

“Oh.” I nodded as if I really understood.

“There’s the lou if you need it,” Mae gestured to a gorgeous bathroom, and then vaguely pointed to two rooms at the end of the hall. “That’s Ezra’s office at the end, and our bedroom next to it. They’re not that exciting, really.”

“Somehow, I doubt that,” I said, but I let her pull me onward and up the stairs. She claimed that she wanted to get acquainted with me, but I didn’t understand how she really meant to do that when she as rushing me through the house.

“Here’s Jack’s room,” Mae pointed to an open door at the top of the stairs, and I took a moment to peek in.

The walls were dark blue, as he had told me they were, and the bed was massive and laid out in black silk blankets. A giant flat screen television hung on the wall, and tons of gaming gear and videogames filling the built-in entertainment center in the wall. Some clothes were strewn about the room, but really, it was exactly as I expected it would be.

“There’s a guest room, with another bathroom, at the end of the hall,” Mae explained, then looked a little perplexed. “I don’t know why there’s another bathroom up here. Each bedroom has its own attached bathroom, and its own fireplace. I think someone must’ve suggested it to Ezra that it was a good resale point.”