“Yeah, me neither,” I agreed and forced a smile at him.

For good or bad, there would be no way I could ever back to my life before. If it meant that I had to die trying to live this one, then so be it.

But who can really go back to studying for history exams and flirting with drunk guys at a party when there are vampires and the ecstasy that goes along with bloodlust?

Could anyone really shut the door on immortality?

When he dropped me in front of my house, he smiled grimly, and promised that he’d talk to me later. As I rode up the elevator to my apartment, I had to believe that everything would work out, one way or another.

Ezra was insanely smart, and he’d been around forever. He had to be able to figure out something that didn’t involve anyone dying. Well, at least not Peter, Jack, or me.

They were vampires, after all. No matter how much they tried to convince me otherwise, I knew that there had to be a rather high mortality rate for the humans in their lives.

It wasn’t until I opened the door to the apartment that it really occurred to me what time it was. Milo was dressed and ready for school, looking relieved to see me. His happiness was short-lived because my mother cleared her throat loudly, and he grimaced.

Sitting in the darkened corner of the living room, she reminded me of some kind of James Bond villain. The dim light from the window hit the cloud of smoke above her head, and a light from the kitchen touched only her slippered feet, leaving the rest of her to hide in the shadows. If she had been stroking a large white cat and spoke in a German accent, she’d be perfect.

“Well, well, nice of you to drop by,” Mom greeted me.

“You’re welcome,” I said unsurely, despite the warning look Milo gave me.

“Where were you all night?” Her tone had gotten even harder, dropping any pretenses of her being even mildly happy to see me.

Milo had to be pretty upset that I wasn’t around, especially since he’d had to deal with Mom first thing in the morning, but even he’d been relieved to see that I was still alive. (And there was becoming a very real threat that I wouldn’t be for much longer.)

“Why didn’t you answer any of my texts?” Milo blurted out. I’m sure he’d been texting me and warning me of Mom’s impending tirade.

“Sorry. My phone was on silent.”

“That doesn’t tell me where you were!” Mom snapped.

The sun had finally peaked over the building next door, and light glinted in through the window, revealing the furious expression on her face. She took a long drag from the cigarette, waiting for an answer good enough to explain where I had been until after seven in the morning on a school night.

“I was at Jack’s.” I crossed my fingers, hoping that she still had an infatuation with him that could buy me at least one more Get Out of Jail Free card.

Unfortunately, her scowl only deepened, so I knew I was completely out of luck.

“So you’re out all night having sex with a boy that’s way, way too old for you, and I’m just supposed to turn a blind eye to that?” As she spoke, her words kept getting louder and louder until she was shouting by the end of the sentence.

“Yeah,” I replied blankly.

There would be no way I could soothe her anger, so I didn’t even bother trying. Milo looked at me questioningly, although I’m not sure if he was questioning my suicidal tendencies or if I’d actually had sex with Jack. Knowing him, it was probably both.

“Alice!” Mom got to her feet, pointing her finger at me. “Go get changed and get ready for school!”

“No!” I protested. “I’m tired! I’m going to bed!”

“Alice, I really think you should listen to her,” Milo whispered plaintively.

“I’m tired, too, but I had to wait up for you! And if you think that you can go gallivanting around just because you finally found a boyfriend, then you are sorely mistaken! When you’re under my roof, you abide by my rules!” Her eyes were so angry they were bulging from her skull, but after what I’d seen in the past few days, she no longer seemed all that scary.

“Fine. Then I just won’t live under your roof,” I shrugged.

It was only a matter of time until I moved in with Jack’s family or died, so I didn’t really need to keep this address anyway. I was hardly ever home anymore. I hadn’t actually consulted Jack or Mae about this, so I wasn’t really sure how the idea would go over, but I plowed ahead with it anyway.

“Alice!” Milo hissed.

“You are still under eighteen, missy!” Mom didn’t even miss a beat. “You are not going anywhere, and if you even think about, I’ll have your little boyfriend turned in for statutory rape.”

“It won’t stick,” I said. “Why do you even want me here? I’m gone all the time, and I just cost you money. I mean, you only saw me for like five minutes all of last week. What exactly do you want me around for?”

“You’ve got it all figured out then, do you?” Mom shrugged at me. “You got a boyfriend with a little bit of money? He’s gonna take care of you now? Is that what you think? Yeah, well maybe you’ve forgotten, but I had a boyfriend like that once. You know what I got? Two ungrateful kids and not a damn cent from him! So don’t try and tell me things you know nothing about!”

“I’m not trying to tell you anything! I’m just saying that I’m a burden to you! You don’t want me here, I don’t wanna be here, so why am I here?” I asked her emphatically.