Jack woke on top of the covers in Lacey’s room.
Lacey was underneath them, swathed in a fluffy robe and snuggled up with a worn stuffed cheetah that she had called Chiku. Her room was swathed in warm browns and beiges, and animals statues and photographs were mounted around on the walls. Jack found ivory tusk with tribal symbols carved into it particularly interesting.
He wondered if she got her love of animals from being a shapeshifter.
Lacey stirred beside him, mumbling in the inaudible speech of someone in the midst of a dream.
After he’d brought her upstairs and helped her take a cold shower—which mostly involved her sitting on the floor of the tub and Jack asking if she was okay every few minutes—he’d tucked her into bed. He didn’t want to leave her alone, but the burgundy reading chair in the corner didn’t look very comfortable.
Then she’d grabbed his hand and dragged him down beside her. She pressed the soft fur of Chiku against her face and began to hum “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, not thinking anything of Jack being in her bed. It seemed many things didn’t phase her the way they would have other people.
Jack slowly eased out of the bed. The floorboards creaked under his feet.
Lacey’s eyes flashed open and she sprung up. She toppled to the floor, and Jack lunged for her. She landed on top of his back with a thud and a shriek.
She lay diagonal across him, and he started to think that he was going to have to ask her to move when she rolled off and leaned her head against the floor to stare at him.
“Sorry,” she said. “You scared me.”
Jack stood and extended his hand down to help her to her feet. She jumped up, and then stumbled. She winced and a childish pout took over her face as she touched a hand to her forehead.
“Does your head hurt?”
Lacey nodded miserably.
“Do you want some Aleve?”
She nodded again.
“Alright. Why don’t you lay back down and I’ll go get some?”
She crawled back under the covers, and Jack propped the pillow up so she was on a bit of an angle. She draped her arm across her face and moaned.
There wasn’t too much medicine in the house because Sienna was specialized in healing, but for the girls who weren’t witches, there was a medicine cabinet in the downstairs kitchen.
Vivienne, Sienna, and Chalice were gathered around the kitchen table when he came down. He dumped one of the blue pills out of the medicine cabinet into his palm and grabbed a cup to fill with water.
As he waited for the cup to fill all the way, Vivienne asked, “For Lacey?”
“Yeah. She’s got a headache.”
“You know,” Vivienne said, “Shay was pretty messed up last night, too.”
Jack wasn’t sure what the proper response to that was and he’d learned a long time ago that when you got into that type of situation with a girl, it was better to say nothing at all. Chalice wasn’t paying attention, and Sienna was trying hard to pretend like she wasn’t paying attention.
“Not that you care,” she continued. “And weren’t you the one who was begging her just yesterday to try with your relationship? Now you’re running around with Lacey, of all people. Maybe that’s your thing. Naïve girls. Messing around with them, seeing how long it’ll take to break them—”
“The last thing I want to do is hurt either of them.”
Vivienne narrowed her eyes at him, and he thought her fingers were going to squeeze the cup she was holding until it burst. Then she just shook her head and said, “I hope you know what you’re doing.”
Low enough for only her to hear, Jack muttered, “I hope so, too.”
He went back upstairs, where he found Lacey still in bed. She pulled her arm away from her eyes and sat up to take the pill and glass he handed her. She tossed the pill in her mouth and took a giant swig of water.
Jack took the cup and set it on her nightstand as she snuggled back against her pillow. He sat on the edge of her bed beside her.
“I think we should wait a little while longer before we go to the pet store,” Lacey said.
“I think so, too.”
“I’ve been thinking of names,” she told him proudly.
“Oh, yeah? What have you come up with?”
“I thought you didn’t like peaches.”
“I don’t but if it wasn’t for the peach Schnapps, I wouldn’t be getting a goldfish,” Lacey said. “I’m sorry for making you uncomfortable with my boobs. They weren’t really the size of cantaloupes.”
“It’s alright,” Jack said because he wasn’t sure what else to say.
“Are you and Shay okay now?”
“I don’t know,” Jack told her truthfully.
“Are you going to get in trouble for seeing me in my bra and letting me borrow your sweatshirt?”
Jack shook his head. He didn’t want her to worry. “No.”
“What about for buying me a goldfish?”
“What about this?”
And then Lacey leaned over and kissed him.
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Author’s Note: Don’t flip on Lacey just yet. She’s not being a bad friend. Her actions are explained in the next chapter.