“Peter lost Elise, and it devastated him completely,” Ezra continued. “He vowed never to feel that way again. To be perfectly honest, I doubt that he could survive it.” Ezra exhaled, looking rather sad. “He doesn’t want to want you. It doesn’t change the way he feels, because nothing can.

“On top of everything, you’re so fragile.” He eyed me up seriously. “When you’re with someone, the way we are, we frequently drink each other’s blood. But for you, it is dangerous, especially with Peter feeling the way he feels. It would be very easy for him to get caught up in the moment and take things too far.

“He ran the other night because he didn’t want to hurt you,” Ezra continued. “It’s not supposed to be this hard, Alice. It’s usually a very simple, clean process. But this is much, much more complicated.”

“Because of Elise?”

“Yes, and because you’re human.” He had a drawn expression and he sighed. “And because of Jack.”

“Because Jack wanted to bite me last night?”

“It’s more than that.” Ezra looked at me knowingly. “Alice, Jack’s fallen in love with you.”

“What?” Startled, I blushed randomly. I had considered the possibility that I was falling for him, but as Ezra had just explained, vampires didn’t fall in love with humans. “I-I didn’t think that was possible.”

“Neither did I,” Ezra admitted soberly. “He shouldn’t feel anything for you. You’re human, you’re meant for Peter, and you’re not his. Maybe it was because he spent so much time with you before you met Peter and fully melded with him.”

“So… what does this mean? Does it transfer? Can I just be with Jack instead of Peter?” I asked, and Ezra looked very shocked by my questions.

“You would want that?” He looked at me evenly. “You want to be with Jack instead of Peter?”

“I don’t know,” I confessed uneasily. “I mean, if Peter doesn’t even want me, it just seems stupid to force something.”

“Peter still wants you,” Ezra was quick to clarify.

“Then why isn’t he with me?” I demanded. “Why was Jack the one I wanted last night?”

“I don’t know,” Ezra said at length. “Peter will be home soon, and hopefully, we can get some of this straightened out then.”

The car had started gliding into familiar territory, and I knew we weren’t far from their home.

“What about Jack?” I asked softly.

“Peter can’t know how he feels or how close he came to biting you last night,” Ezra warned me. “And he can never bite you. Peter will be able to smell him on you, and that won’t be good for either of you.”

“Am I still allowed to be around Jack?” My heart broke at the thought of a life without him, even if I had Peter.

“Yes, of course. You both must be very in control of yourselves.”

“Are you sure that I am meant for Peter?” I asked him carefully as we pulled into the driveway.

“Yes.” Ezra answered definitively. The garage door closed behind us, but we stayed in the car. “Something’s off this time, but there’s no other explanation.”

“Oh.” It was strange how one sentence could exhilarate and devastate me.

“Are you in love with Jack?” Ezra’s voice was barely above a whisper, as if he was afraid of someone hearing.

“I don’t know,” I admitted honestly. Tears welled in my eyes, and I bit my lip.

“Alice, listen to me very carefully. If you care anything for Jack, you mustn’t act on it.” His deep brown eyes settled on me, conveying the severity of his words. “I’m not trying to frighten you, but… it’s just the way things are, and I am very sorry.”

“It’s alright.” I wiped my palms across my eyes, trying to smear away the tears.

“Are you okay to go in?” Ezra asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” I said. He waited for me to open the car door and start getting out before he got out. “So, does Mae like me so much cause of the whole blood thing and her being yours and all that?”

“No. Mae loves you because she’s Mae, and that’s what she does.” Ezra smiled brightly me, relieved to talking about a subject he was quite fond of. Putting his hand on the small of my back, we walked into the house. “Honestly, are we what you envisioned when you thought of vampires?”

“Hardly,” I scoffed, and he laughed warmly.

“You’re home!” Mae shouted, running into the entrance and throwing her arms around me. For the first time, Matilda didn’t run and greet us, but I realized that’s because Jack wasn’t with me. “I was a little afraid we’d scared you off last night.”

“You can never scare me off,” I said into her shoulder. She finally released me and cupped my face in her hands, staring at me as if to make sure I was real.

“Oh you look so tired! Did you sleep at all?” Her eyes were anxious, so I nodded and forced a smile. “You know what you need, love? A nice warm bath. We have a fabulous Jacuzzi tub in our room, and I’ll get some bubbles going and you’ll be as right as rain.”

“How right is rain really?” Jack wondered dryly, and I pulled my head away from hers to look over at him.

He leaned against the doorway, smiling crookedly at me. My heart swelled just at the sight of him. Last night, I had been so afraid that he would be gone forever, and I couldn’t contain myself. I rushed over to him and threw my arms tightly around his waist.