“Would that be okay?” I asked, looking up at him.

“Why wouldn’t it be?” He shrugged, and he had calmed enough where he could grin at the idea. “It’s just a couple years. It means nothing to us.”

“You don’t care what I say as long as I agree to be with you,” I smiled.

“That’s probably true.”

“What if I decided not change? And I got all and old wrinkly? Would you still want to be around me then?”

“How wrinkly are we talking about?” Jack teased.

I tried to swat him playfully, but he grabbed my arm and pulled me to him. His arms were strong and reassuring around me, and he rested his hand on my cheek, gently forcing me to look into his eyes. His skin was warming up, but he tried not to notice.

“This will work out. Somehow,” he promised.

After talking it all over with Mae and Ezra, they agreed with my decision. Time was inconsequential to them, and Mae wanted me to have more time to consider everything.

They also agreed that for both Jack's sake and mine, it would be better if I stayed at home until we got things straightened out in the whole Peter arena. Mae had filled Ezra in on the kiss, and he chastised us for such risky behavior. Peter was a much stronger vampire than Jack, and a rather large threat to both of us.

When I walked in the door with the massive duffle bag slung over my shoulder, Milo was sitting at the computer. As soon as he saw me, his entire face lit up and he rushed over to me, throwing his arms tightly around me and almost knocking me over.

“You’re back!” he squealed.

“Sure am.” I pried him off, smiling at his exuberance. “Do you think Mom’ll mind?”

“I don’t know why she would!” Milo looked like he was going to explode. He had truly believed that I wasn’t coming back, and for awhile, so had I. “She’s at work right now, but I’m sure she won’t care.”

“I hope not.” I knew I had some penance to do with her, and I wasn’t looking forward to that. Or getting up for school the next morning, especially since I had spent the last few nights on a vampire sleeping schedule.

“Why did you come back?”

“I figured that somebody had to be here to help take care of you.” I reached out and ruffled his hair, and he pulled away, just like I thought he would.

“I’m not a little kid.” He smoothed out his hair, but I hadn’t even really messed it up. “And besides that, I spend more time taking care of you than you do me.”

“That is true,” I smiled.

Milo had never really needed anyone to do anything for him. He just kinda wanted somebody to be there, and I could at least manage that.

“On the subject of which, I should probably whip us up some supper.” He went over to the fridge, talking amicably about the extravagant meal he had planned for us tonight. Leaning against the kitchen counter, watching him as he worked, I knew that I made the right choice to stay with him.

When I went to school the next day, Jane looked pleased to see me. I’d been standing at my locker, juggling my books, when she walked past me, smiling in her overly seductive way, and murmured, “Good to have you back, Alice.”

Admittedly, it’d only been three days since I’d last been to school, but it had much longer than that since I hung out with her, and I’d barely been active in my own life. At school and at home, I’d been a zombie.

There was no separation in the two lives, though. They were all part of me and what I was doing. I went to high school, hung out my brother, gossiped with Jane, and in my free time, I hung out with vampires.

Nothing about me had really changed, and even as mind boggling as the events of the last month had been, I was still just plain old Alice Bonham, and that’s the way it was going to stay. For a few more years at least.

So when Jane walked past me, I got my books together and bolted after her. She must’ve really missed me, because she actually stopped to wait for me when I called her name. After a few friendly jabs about being missing in action lately, I filled her in as best I could about what had been happening my life lately, conveniently leaving out the stuff about vampires.

At home, I let Milo help me with the Calculus homework, which really seemed unnecessary. I would make it my life’s mission to never, ever find a use for that particular information. Milo made something delicious with salmon for supper and enlightened me on his progress (or the lack thereof) with his new crush, Troy.

All in all, my life felt like it had hit some kind of stride, and maybe I really could get comfortable with all of this.

Jack text messaged me, saying he’d be over in twenty minutes to pick me up. I got ready, and Milo warned me that I had to be up early for school, and I promised I’d be back before one. That still seemed too late for him, and six hours of sleep did not sound like enough to me, but I had to find a balance.

While outside waiting for Jack to pick me up, something startled me. I was waiting outside for Jack. No matter how fast I rushed through getting ready, he was invariably waiting for me. But I had been waiting for so long, that I’d actually gotten a little chill and had to pull my sweater around me.

I dug out my phone to text him just as a silver Audi slid up in front of me, and my heart twirled nervously.

Even through the dark glass of the car window, I saw Peter’s green eyes burning at me. That incessant pull that had slowly faded the last few days returned with a vengeance.

My body started to shake, but not because I was cold. My heart started beating in the way that drove Jack mad, and I wondered if Peter felt the same way. I opened the car door and got inside, preparing myself to find out.