My head didn't turn now. Alice and I were good at these private conversations. It was rare that anyone caught us. I kept my eyes on the lines in the plaster.
How is he holding up? she asked me.
I frowned, just a small change in the set of my mouth. Nothing that would tip the others off. I could easily be frowning out of boredom.
Alice's mental tone was alarmed now, and I saw in her mind that she was watching Jasper in her peripheral vision. Is there any danger? She searched ahead, into the immediate future, skimming through visions of monotony for the source behind my frown.
I turned my head slowly to the left, as if looking at the bricks of the wall, sighed, and then to the right, back to the cracks in the ceiling. Only Alice knew I was shaking my head.
She relaxed. Let me know if it gets too bad.
I moved only my eyes, up to the ceiling above, and back down.
Thanks for doing this.
I was glad I couldn't answer her aloud. What would I say? 'My pleasure'? It was hardly that. I didn't enjoy listening to Jasper's struggles. Was it really necessary to experiment like this? Wouldn't the safer path be to just admit that he might never be able to handle the thirst the way the rest of us could, and not push his limits? Why flirt with disaster?
It had been 2 weeks since our last hunting trip. That was not an immensely difficult time for the rest of us. A little uncomfortable occasionally - if a human walked too close, if the wind blew the wrong way. But humans rarely walked too close. Their instincts told them what their conscious minds would never understand: we were dangerous.
Jasper was very dangerous right now.
At that moment, a small girl paused at the end of the closest table to ours, stopping to talk to her friend. She tossed her short sandy hair, running her fingers through it. The heaters blew her scent in our direction. I was used to the way that scent made me feel - the dry ache in my throat, the hollow yearn in my stomach, the automatic tightening of my muscles, the excess flow of venom in my mouth.......
This was all quite normal, usually easy to ignore. It was harder just now, with the feelings stronger, doubled, as I monitored Jasper's reaction. Twin thirsts, rather than just mine.
Jasper was letting his imagination get away from him. He was picturing it - picturing himself getting up from his seat next to Alice and going to stand beside the little girl. Thinking of leaning down and in, as if he were going to whisper in her ear, and letting his lips touch the arch of her throat. Imagining how the hot flow of her pulse beneath the fine skin would feel under his mouth............
I kicked his chair.
He met my gaze for a minute, and then looked down. I could hear shame and rebellion war in his head.
"Sorry", Jasper muttered.
"You weren't going to do anything," Alice murmured to him, soothing his chagrin.
"I could see that."
I fought back the grimace that would give her lie away. We had to stick together, Alice and I. It wasn't easy, hearing voices or seeing visions of the future. Both freaks among those who were already freaks. We protected each others secrets.