“How does Jack feel about leaving his mother and family behind?” I asked. He had never mentioned his family at all, but then again, neither had Mae, and they were incredibly important to her.
“He severed all contact with her after he turned,” Mae said. “He’d never been that close to her anyway. She left when he was young, taking only his sister with her, and his father raised him. From what I understand, his father wasn’t a very nice man either. When his father got cancer, and his mother was forced to take him back in. Truthfully, I think he was rather happy that he has an excuse not to see her.”
“So why did you all stay here for so long?” I asked, even though I thought I knew the answer.
“I refused to go,” Mae said simply. “But the boys are getting restless. Jack has never lived anywhere else. Peter will go stay other places, but he’s always been more of a drifter. In a few years, I’ll have no choice but to move, and I suppose it will be better for me to remember my daughter this way, while she’s still vibrant.”
“Where will you move?” I asked.
“I’m not sure yet. Jack has a list of places he’d love to go, but there has been some talk of England since that’s where both Ezra and I were born, and I haven’t been back since I was sixteen.” She turned her serious gaze on me. “In two or three years, at the latest, we will be moving, and we won’t come back for another fifty years or more. We may not even come back to America for many years.”
“I don’t understand why that’s a bad thing,” I said. Moving to another country sounded ridiculously exciting. I didn’t know why she made it sound like a threat.
“You will not be able to see your brother again,” Mae explained softly. “Even if we stayed around here, the best you could hope for is watching him grow old from afar. Even as much as I’ve watched my own family, I never interacted with them. After you turn, you’ll be unable to talk to Milo ever again.”
“But…” I trailed off, trying to think of an argument that would win her over. “But he’s met you all! And why can’t I just tell him what you are? What I’ll be? He’d understand. And he wouldn’t tell anyone.”
“Telling humans just makes their lives worse,” Mae told me gravely. “If you decided not to turn, or if we’d never even offered it to you, can you imagine how you would feel? In a year or two, we just up and leave you behind. Knowing what we are, knowing that we exist.
“Every time you’re enamored with a boy, you’ll wonder if it’s just because he’s a vampire. You’ll age, and you’ll wonder what it would’ve been like to stay young forever. And you’ll wonder if you just made it all up, if you’re insane.”
“But you think it would be better for Milo to think that I had been murdered or kidnapped or something?” I asked her incredulously. “That’s the better alternative?”
“You don’t want to watch him die, Alice!” Mae insisted with tears in her eyes. “I know that you don’t love him quite the same way that I love my daughter, but even knowing that Philip died was devastating. Leaving them behind is hard, it is so very hard, and you’ll question it forever. But there is no other option. Immortality requires you to leave everything behind.”
“So you expect me to turn my back on all of this, all that you have to offer, because Milo will die? He’s going to die anyway! Me staying human doesn’t make him live forever!” I countered. “But you and Jack and Peter won’t die. I don’t know how I could possibly go back to living my life knowing that you’re out there and I’m not with you.”
“You just needed to know,” Mae looked at me earnestly. “You needed to know exactly what you’d be giving up. It’s not fair to ask you something that you don’t understand. I wanted to give you a chance, so you wouldn’t make the same mistake that I did.”
“Are you saying that you don’t want me to turn?” I asked thickly.
“No, no, of course not, love.” She reached out and gently stroked me cheek. “I would want nothing more than to spend forever watching you turn into the amazing woman I know you’ll be. But I know the price of turning better than anyone, and if I can spare you from any pain, I will.”
“But as a human, people will still die around me,” I argued. She dropped her hand from my face but kept her sad eyes on mine. “I’ll be touched by even more death as a human than I would be as a vampire. At least you guys won’t die.”
“That is true. But that doesn’t make leaving your brother any easier.” She forced a smile at me, then turned the car back on and drove away from her daughter’s house. “It’s just something that I thought you should think about it.”
“Thank you.” I sunk low into the seat.
I stared out into the darkness, watching the houses and trees roll past us. Mae sang softly along with the stereo in attempt to alleviate her own sadness by the time we got back home. She had left me with an impossible choice. Leave behind my brother, or leave behind them.
- 21 -
The covers were pulled completely over my head in attempt to keep the daylight out, but when I finally poked my head up, there was no light spilling in. Part of it was because of the thick curtains that blanketed every window of the house, but the main reason, according to the clock on my nightstand, was probably because it was after six, and the sun had already set.