“What?” I scrambled out after him, wondering what I had done to drive him away. He stood just outside the car, trying to shake it off. “What did I do?”

“You’re not poison! You’re the opposite of poison!” Jack exhaled, but it was more like he was gasping for air. “I can’t be in that car with you. You did this thing to me and I need to get back down, but you’re so…” He shook his head, unwilling to say it aloud.

“I don’t understand. If you want me so much, then why can’t you just have me?” I felt what he felt, so I wanted what he wanted. It was raw and pure and so intense it was suffocating.

“Alice…” He had his hands on his hips and he let out a shaky breath. “Peter would kill me. He would literally tear me to shreds. He wouldn’t want to, but he would.”

“What? What does Peter have to do with this?”

I thought of Peter, feeling strangely excited by the fact that he would express jealousy over me, and my heart sped up. Jack’s face contorted miserably, and he shook his head.

“You’re thinking of him. You’re fucking thinking of him.” He clenched his fists.

“I’m sorry!” I cried, trying to slow my heart down. Jack looked as if I was actually killing him, and his agony ripped through me. “Can’t you just bite me and make this stop?”

“Alice!” Jack lamented. “He is my brother! And you are his! You belong to Peter, not me!”

“What are you talking about?” While there was something very thrilling about his words, I felt like I had been slapped in the face. “You picked me out for Peter?”

“No, I had no choice in the matter. None of us did.” He looked away from me, but I could see his face breaking. “It’s the blood. Your blood, his blood. They react to each other. It’s why you get all crazy when you think about him. And it drives me crazy because it’s in my blood too.”

Everything that happened with Peter had felt so physical because it was. There was a chemical reaction between us that I couldn’t explain. But then I had started thinking about it, and it was more than Jack could take, so he rushed past me and into the house.

“Mae!” Jack shouted when he got inside. Stupidly, I kept following him. Part of him wanted me to, because so much of him still wanted me. “Mae!”

“What?” Mae rushed into entryway, wrapping a bathrobe tightly around herself. Then she saw his pained expression, and her face went pale. “Jack, you didn’t.”

“Just get her away from me!” Jack snarled, and I saw there were tears in his eyes.

“Just go upstairs,” Mae nodded. “I’ll take care of her.”

“I’m sorry,” I mumbled through my own tears, but Jack was already gone.

“Did he bite you?” Mae rushed over to me, inspecting my neck much the same way Jack had the day before.

“No,” I shook my head fiercely. There was a loud banging upstairs, and Mae looked apprehensively at the ceiling.

“Come on. We need to get you out of here.” She put her arm around me and started ushering me out to the garage.

“You’re wearing a bathrobe.”

“He can’t take much more, love,” Mae whispered. The Jetta was still running, so we got inside of it and pulled out of the garage.

“I’m sorry,” I repeated.

“Oh, love, it’s really not your fault,” Mae smiled reassuringly at me. “Jack should know better, but he’s still so young.” She reached over and stroked my hair. “It’s really not so bad. Honest.”

“I feel what he feels,” I said quietly. “I know how hard that was for him. I felt how much he wanted me, so … I wanted him to, and I was making it harder.”

“You what?” Mae looked at me with a startled expression on her face. “You feel what he feels?”

“Yeah,” I nodded. “Is that okay?”

“It doesn’t matter if it is or not if that’s the way it is,” Mae replied matter-of-factly and looked straight ahead.

“He told me that I’m meant for Peter.”

“I thought he might,” Mae sighed. Then she smiled at me again. “You would’ve found out eventually. We just didn’t want to surprise you with too much new information, especially with Peter being the way he is.”

“If I’m supposed to be for Peter, then how come Jack is the one that wants me around?” I asked. “And why didn’t Peter just bite me? Why did he run away?”

“Peter is a very complicated man, but he’s a good man.” She swallowed hard, and I could tell there was something she was still keeping from me. “And Jack is very young. And they may not seem like it lately, but they were very close to each other.”

“Would Peter really kill him if he found out Jack bit me?”

“Yes.” She licked her lips and refused to look at me. “And he would know. It’s not something you can hide. He could smell Jack on you.” Then she turned to look at me. “So if something happened, I need to know, so I can try to protect you both.”

“What do you mean? Peter would kill us both?” For the first time since meeting Jack, I felt really scared for my safety. “I don’t understand. If I am meant for Peter…. None of this makes sense, Mae!”

“As soon as I drop you off, I’m going to call Ezra and make him come home to sort this all out.” Her eyes filled with tears and she gripped the steering wheel. “I should’ve never left you alone with Jack. He’s just been alone with you so much, but I knew things were changing.”