I still didn’t know what Jack and his family were, but they definitely couldn’t be trusted. Peter wanted to hate me because for some reason, he might kill me. He’d been rude and kept me at a distance because he didn’t want to hurt me. He was trying to protect me.

Despite this, I loved Jack and Mae and even Ezra, and I definitely felt something strong for Peter. And I knew that if being with them meant that I would die, I would still see them again. It would be worse to live without them.

When Milo and I went up to our apartment, I felt dazed. Part of it was coming to terms with my impending death, but most of it was just an after effect of being with Peter. He was like a drug, and I was still coming down from the high.

I flopped down on the couch while Milo buzzed about the kitchen. Being over there had the opposite effect on him, and he was totally energized.

“Aren’t you hungry?” Milo asked from the kitchen. I heard pots banging, but I just buried myself deeper into the couch. “I’m starving. You know what’s weird? We were over them from five o’clock at night until after two in the morning, and I never once saw them eat or drink anything.

“In fact, when I wanted something to drink, Mae had to rummage around the kitchen for a glass and some water,” Milo continued, without pausing for a breath. “You know, I don’t even think they have any food in that house. They must order a lot of take out. Which is weird cause Mae really seems like the Suzie Homemaker type.”

Milo continued to ramble on but I was starting to drift to sleep. But then it all clicked. I understood fully what Jack and Peter were.

But before I could actually manifest the word and put it all together, I fell asleep, and lost it entirely.

- 12 -

Dreamlessly, I’d managed to sleep for thirteen hours on the couch. Whatever happened with Peter, it had been tantamount to overdosing on sleeping pills.

I stretched slowly, trying to work out the kinks and cricks in my back and neck. Milo sat at the computer, and he just smirked at my struggle to wake up.

“Morning, sunshine,” Milo chirped. He still seemed hyper from the night before.

“Shut up,” I grumbled.

Already, Peter filled the tired fog of my brain. Like some kind of hang over, my skin hurt and my head throbbed dully. When I breathed in deeply, I could still remember the way he smelled, like apples and something familiar that I couldn’t quite place.

“What are you doing?” Milo jolted me out of my daydream. He looked at me like I had totally lost it, so I stood up and decided that I had to get myself in gear.

“Nothing,” I told him absently.

Walking to the bathroom, I pulled my phone out of my pocket. It was almost four in the afternoon, so maybe Jack would be awake by now. I shut the bathroom door, but before I could even actually go to the bathroom, I had to text Jack first.

I need to see you today. I text messaged him, and then started the agonizing wait for him to respond.

After I showered, and he still hadn’t responded, I started getting a nervous pit in my stomach. Maybe I had done something wrong, and I wasn’t going to be allowed over there anymore.

Or maybe Jack had just grown bored with me. It was probably irritating him that I fawned over his brother, and I would hate me if I were Jack.

When he’d been talking to Ezra, they had said that I couldn’t be alone with Peter. Maybe that meant that I couldn’t be around him at all anymore. Somehow, I had ruined everything.

I couldn’t take it anymore, so I decided to call Jack, and find out what was going on. When I got his voicemail instead of him, I was near tears.

“Jack, it’s just me. Alice. Um… I just wanted to apologize for last night. I know that I… overreacted to everything, and I’m really sorry. I just… I really want see you today. We need to talk. Okay. So… just call me back, I guess. Bye.”

Going through all the routine of getting ready, I managed to dress myself and apply makeup, but none of it felt real. It felt like some shell of myself going through the motions. My mind was completely locked onto the way Peter smelled and the way he looked through me and how my body felt pulled towards him.

When I had finished getting ready, I just sat on the couch, staring off into nothing, and tried to figure out what I would do if I never talked to Peter or Jack again.

“What’s going on with you?” Milo still sat at the computer, but he couldn’t ignore my zombie stare anymore. I shook my head and swallowed hard, so he got up from what he was doing and came over to sit next to me. “What happened last night over there?”

“Nothing,” I mumbled.

“Alice, come on.” He gave me a hard look, the one that said I-know-you-better-than-anyone-so-there’s-no-point-in-lying. “Did Jack’s brother do something to you?”

“No.” I bit my lip and wondered if he had done something to me. Why couldn’t I get him out of my head? It was as if he had crawled underneath my skin but not in a bad way. “I just really like him. Like more than I’ve ever liked anyone. It’s completely… visceral.”

“Did he blow you off or something?”

I wasn’t sure if Peter sending me out of his room was rejecting me or done to protect me… or maybe both. My phone felt very heavy in my hand, and I looked down at it, willing Jack to call me and fix everything.

“I don’t know,” I answered honestly. “Jack hasn’t texted me back. I think maybe he’s mad at me or something. I think I did something wrong.”