'I just want it the way that it was. Not the way that it is, you hear me? I want things back how they used to be. Please, Sam. I love you. Call me when you get this message.'
I sank onto the sofa, my eyes still trained on the phone like it was going to bite. Zack had been calling all evening, and as I had been watching the phone ring, leaving messages. The wording was different but the sentiment was always the same. He was sorry. He loved me. Call him when I got the message.
'The jerk still calling?' Joe asked from the kitchen. He was rifling through the fridge, trying to find something worth eating. By that, I mean something containing sugar. The search wasn't going well, as I knew from experience that Meg preferred healthy food.
I sighed. 'He's not a jerk, really. He's just confused.'
'Yeah, right,' Joe came into the living room, holding a silver soda can. 'Because calling the cops on your girlfriend is totally normal if you're confused.' He popped the tab on the can of soda, took a sip and swore.
'What is it?' I asked, mildly amused.
'I'm not sure but it's disgusting.' He plonked it down on the coffee table and sat on the sofa next to me. I leaned forward and peered at the label.
'It's cream soda,' I told him. 'No caffeine. Meg doesn't have any booze either, I checked.'
Joe swore again, just as the phone rang. He made a movement as to pick it up, but I shook my head. 'No. It'll be him.'
'Can you just tell him you're not interested in kissing and making up?' Joe demanded with a little more anger than was necessary. I think he was taking Meg's aversion to alcohol personally.
I stared at the ceiling. 'It's not that simple.'
'Why? Do you believe him when he says he loves you? Sam, he tried to get you arrested and all you did was help him.'
'He didn't know, Joe. About me or about demons. 'Cause if he did, I bet you anything he wouldn't have gotten involved with me.'
'The guy's a coward. He saw something he couldn't explain and he panicked. He's a human, none of them get it, Sam.'
'Oh yeah? What about you and Jen?'
That blow struck home. I saw the conflicting emotions cross his face for a split-second before he hid them behind his usual impassive mask. 'I can't believe you're raising this now, but let me say this. Did Jen ever try to hurt me? Did she rat me out because she felt scared? Jen was a friggin' hero, Samantha, and don't you try and tell me otherwise.'
The phone was still ringing. I turned away from Joe and picked it up, my heart hammering. 'Hello?'
'Sam?' Zack's voice sounded hopeful. 'That you?'
I glanced at Joe. 'Yeah,' I said. 'It's me. You wanted me to call.'
'Yeah.' For someone who had been begging all day, Zack didn't seem very eloquent. 'Listen… I'm sorry. I was freaked out and I wasn't thinking straight, but I swear I never wanted you to get hurt. I just…'
'Panicked,' I supplied. 'Yeah. I know.'
Zack was silent for a moment. 'So… are we okay?'
'Let's see. You want me to be honest, so I tell the truth. You accuse me of lying, other demons show up and I save your ass. You believe me, so you lose your head and call the cops, forcing me to leave. So now I'm holing up with a couple of my friends downtown, while we have cops and feds on our tail, and you're sorry? Great, Zack, because it makes it all better.'
'Sam, I love you.'
'Do you?' I asked. 'Or do you love the girl you thought I was? Because I don't think you love me really. Humans don't love demons. You're no different.'
Slamming the phone down, I finally forced myself to meet Joe's eyes. 'That was uncalled for,' I muttered. 'Jen… she wouldn't do that.'
Joe gave a small nod. 'Thanks. Why did you say we were downtown? We left New York hours ago.'
A small smile flickered across my lips. 'I give Zack five minutes before he's calling his buddies again. I figure it's for a good cause.'