“Are you like banned from ever picking me up again?” I had never thought that I would really miss his speedy trips around the city, especially after he almost killed me last time, but it saddened me to think that it might never happen again.

“No,” Jack scoffed, as if anybody could ever ban him from anything. “I just think it’d be better if I didn’t for awhile. He needs to figure out what he’s doing, and so do you.”

“I didn’t think I really had a choice in the matter,” I admitted honestly.

My understanding of things was that I was completely at the whim of Peter and Jack. I would be whatever they would let me be as long as it was in their lives.

“Everyone has free will.” He leaned in a little closer to me, looking at me earnestly. “Even you.”

“You really think so?”

“I have to.” His hopeful smile faltered, and he turned to Ezra. “Alice is ready to go home.”

“Sure.” Ezra jumped up from the couch, smiling at me. “Sometimes I forget that you don’t live here.”

Putting his hand on the small of my back, Ezra ushered me away from him. Looking back over my shoulder at Jack, I wished that things could just go back to the way they were. I wished I didn’t know about vampires or Peter or that my blood had ever been meant for anybody.

- 17 -

On the bus on the way to school, I decided to broach the subject. The ride had a finite amount of time, followed by a full day of school to keep his thoughts from settling too long.

Milo had his textbook open on his lap, doing some last minute cramming for a test. I wanted to make everything seem normal, so I had in my ear buds and the iPod played the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but it was quiet enough where I could talk.

“Hey, Milo?” I tried to keep my voice as casual as possible.

“Huh?” Milo grunted, his attention unwavering from the textbook.

“What do you think of… vampires?” I hesitated before the word, as if by saying it aloud to someone other than them, it would make it real.

“I don’t,” Milo answered flatly.

He didn’t express the vaguest interest in this conversation, but I pressed on anyway. I hated not telling him things, and it was nearly impossible for me to carry around a secret this life changing.

“You don’t think maybe they’re real?” I pulled at the straps of my backpack and bit my lip, waiting for his response.

“No.” He looked at me like I was a total idiot, which is what I kinda expected. “Do you think werewolves are real?”

“There’s no such thing as werewolves,” I replied.

“Yeah, and there’s no such thing as vampires.” Milo shook his head and went back to studying.

“But you don’t think that, like, there’s even the possibility that they might exist?” I asked. He lifted his head, looking confused about why I would be talking about nonsense.

“Creatures that live on only blood and never age?” He shook his head again. “That’s not even biologically possible. And then they sleep in coffins? That just seems unnecessary.”

“Well, maybe they don’t sleep in coffins,” I suggested, picking at a chipped piece of nail polish on my finger.

“That doesn’t make it any more plausible.” He looked over at me with narrowed eyes. “Okay. What’s this about? Did you stay up late watching The Lost Boys again?”

“No.” I ran a hand through my hair, trying to think of how I could explain this away. “I just had a bad dream last night. That’s all.”

“You know, maybe if you didn’t stay out all hours of the night running around with Jack, you would be able to sleep like a normal person without any ridiculous dreams.”

“Right.” I decided that maybe hinting would be my best bet. “All hours of the night.”

“Yeah, that’s what I said,” Milo went back to looking at his book, growing irritated.

“Yep. I had vampire dreams cause I was out all night with a really attractive guy!” I tried emphasizing everything so he would get the point, and when he lifted his head again, I thought I’d finally gotten through to him.

“Wait. I thought you said you didn’t think Jack was attractive?” Milo asked, and I sighed.

“Just forget it.” I shook my head.

He started to ask me about Mae’s cooking last night, but I turned up my iPod. I guess I didn’t really feel like talking about vampires.

Over lunch, Jane made a point of telling me that I looked like hell and I hadn’t been acting like myself. She brought up Jack for the first time in days, but I didn’t feel like talking about him, so I said that I wasn’t feeling well and went to the bathroom.

When I looked at my reflection in the mirror, it didn’t really seem to look like me. My skin was pale with dark circles under my eyes, and I had visibly lost weight.

Since I spent most nights over to Jack’s and they never ate, it never really occurred to me to eat. Maybe it would if I didn’t spend so much of the time with my stomach twisted in knots.

I didn’t know how much longer I could go on this way. My normal human life felt like a total sham, and the vampire parts that had once felt fun and exciting were growing painful.

Everyone had been so nice to me and they all claimed that they cared about me, but why were they hurting me so much?

Again, I was reminded of the story of the ugly girl in the beautiful people village. Only this time, I related much more to how dried up and used she must’ve felt by the time they were done loving her.