“Why did Peter leave?” I asked, and her expression faltered and she lowered her eyes. “Jack told me it was because of me.”

“Jack doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” Mae replied tersely.

“Mae.” I stared at her until she’d look at me and then she sighed.

“This really is a conversation for another day.” She forced a smile at me. “I’ve had a very long day, and I’d really just like to take a hot bath. I’m sure that you and Jack can think of something to amuse yourselves with.”

“Always!” Jack beamed, suddenly bursting into the kitchen wearing a fresh tee shirt and shorts.

“And behave,” Mae warned him as she walked past him. “I mean it.”

“Yeah, yeah,” he muttered. When she had her back to him, he stuck out his tongue at her. Then he waltzed over to me, grinning like a fool. “I am so glad you know. Do you have any idea how hard it is keeping anything from you?”

“Not really, no.” I still didn’t know everything, but it didn’t bother me anymore. Jack was in an incredibly good mood now, and it was taking me over as well. “Do you have any idea how hard it is to have things kept from you?”

“Yes!” Jack insisted, still smiling. “Ezra and Peter keep stuff from me all the time. They think I’m too young for anything. If they had it their way, I probably still wouldn’t know that I was a vampire.”

“You’re forty?” I wrinkled my nose.

“Does that freak you out?” He held his chin up high, checking for my response.

“No. It doesn’t. I know that this all should completely freak me out, but it doesn’t. I feel stupidly safe with you.”

His lips curled mischievously, and I knew that I had accidentally dared him to scare me. He twirled the stool around so my back was to the island, and then he stood in front of me, placing his arms on either side of me, trapping me between him and the island. His face was right in front of me, and his eyes were dancing.

“What about now? Are you scared?”

“Nope. Am I supposed to be?” I smiled back at him.

“You probably should be.” His voice had gone low and husky, and his eyes were almost translucent as he studied mine.

Then I saw his eyes lower, looking at my neck, and my heart, beating of its own accord, sped up. I breathed in deeply, and he smelled so clean, like Ivory soap and mint toothpaste. His expression changed, growing more somber, and his face inched closer to mine.

- 14 -

“You can hear my blood,” I said softly. He didn’t answer but slowly pulled his eyes away from my throat so they met mine again. His hunger rolled off him, filling me with a strange desire. “What does it sound like?”

“It sounds like…” He let out a breath that sounded suspiciously like a moan. “…music.”

“What does it feel like?” I whispered. “When you’re bitten? What would I feel?”

His eyes got that wistful look, almost like the one Ezra had when he thought about Mae, and my heart fluttered. A look of pleasure passed over Jack’s face, and for a moment, I felt flush with the warmth of his hunger and adoration.

“You…” He exhaled deeply, then smiled sourly. “… really need to get going.” Abruptly, he pushed back from me and turned around, walking away from me. The sudden shift, along with the lingering desire, startled me.

“What? Why?” I jumped off the stool and scampered after him. “It’s not that late.”

“No, it’s not,” Jack agreed, continuing out into the garage. I caught the door before it swung shut and ran after him. “But I only have so much will power left.”

“You can bite me if you want,” I offered helpfully. I knew he really wanted to, and it didn’t really seem like that big of a deal if he did. “I want you to.”

He stopped in front of the Jetta, and I stood a few away from him, watching him. He laughed darkly and turned to face me, scratching the back of his head and smiling incredulously.

“You’re killing me here!” Jack shook his head, then pointed his keys at me as he walked towards the car door. “You are far more dangerous than I am!”

“What?” I demanded. He had stopped at driver’s side door, and I looked over the top of the car at him. “Why won’t you do it?” His desperate want made me want him too, and I didn’t understand why he wouldn’t just bite me.

“I just can’t, Alice.” His expression was grave, and he dropped his eyes from mine, looking rather ashamed. “And if you’re not going to stop, then I’ll have Mae give you a ride home.” He shook his head. “I won’t be able to say no.”

“Fine, I’ll drop it.”

Grudgingly, I opened the car door and got inside. A few seconds later, Jack got in and started the car. I could feel how much he wanted me, the deep hunger brewing painfully inside of him, and the shame at feeling that way. I sat in silence, feeling embarrassed tears sting my eyes.

“Are you crying?” His breath caught in his throat. “Why are you crying?”

“Is there something wrong with me?” I wiped at my eyes.

“What are you talking about?”

“There has to be something wrong with me. Peter can’t even be around me, and you can’t do it either. Is my blood like poison or something?”

“Oh my god, Alice.” He rubbed his temple, laughing emptily. “You have no idea what you’re doing to me.” He looked over at me again and shook his head. “I can’t even take you home. I can’t even-” Then he just turned and jumped out of the car.