My blood approves, p.16
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       My Blood Approves, p.16

         Part #1 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
 
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“Alice, I don’t think you should go over there anymore. ” Milo stood next to the couch, frowning at me. I had curled up in a ball and stared blankly at the TV with my phone gripped in my hand. “You keep coming home looking completely drained. I don’t know what they’re doing to you, but it can’t be good. ”

  “You should see what I do to them,” I mumbled.

  “What?” His brown eyes were filled with concern, so I just looked away from him.

  “Nothing. ”

  “Alice, I’m serious. ” Milo had that parental vibe going on, and normally, I’d cave under it, but I was too numb to react to anything. I just pulled the blanket up over my head so I wouldn’t have to look at him.

  Eventually, he walked away, and I stayed buried underneath the covers. The horrible truth was that I didn’t really want to be alive anymore. Last night had devastated me too succinctly.

  Everything was confusing and it hurt, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was all some kind of bad dream.

  Then, my phone played “Time Warp” and my eyes snapped open.

  Ezra’s back. He’ll be there to pick you up in fifteen minutes.

  Why not you? Are you okay? Is everything alright? I demanded, feeling my heart race painfully.

  I’m fine. Ezra will explain more. I’ll see you soon. Jack messaged me back, but I still felt relieved.

  “You’re not going over there!” Milo watched me as I pulled on my Famous Stars and Straps zippered hoodie, the one I had worn the night Jack had been attacked by that dog.

  “Yeah, I am,” I replied flatly, searching around for my shoes.

  “Dressed like that?” Milo asked in disbelief.

  “Yeah. ” Finally, I found my shoes and slipped them on. “Things have changed. I don’t need to impress them anymore. ”

  “Are you like breaking up with them or something?”

  “I don’t know. ” I hadn’t really thought about me not choosing to see them, but as soon as I did, I dismissed it. It would be impossible for me to ever end things with them. I was inexorably tied to Peter, and I’d probably fallen in love with Jack.

  “We have school tomorrow!” Milo called as I opened the door.

  “I don’t care,” I said and then left.

  - 15 -

  Ezra didn’t drive quite as fast as Jack, or maybe he felt it was more polite to actually give me time to get ready. Either way, I beat him outside.

  I sat on the curb, shivering in the cold and trying not to envision the worst, when he finally pulled up in the Lexus. I had never been in the car, but I recognized it instantly from the garage.

  “I hope I didn’t keep you waiting long,” Ezra smiled warmly at me when I got inside. He saw me shiver, so he turned up the heat. “Let me know when it gets warm enough for you. We don’t really feel the cold the way you do. ”

  “Okay. ” The seat felt warm and comfortable, especially after freezing on the curb, and I sunk deeper into it.

  “How are you doing?” Ezra asked sincerely, and I tried to answer him as honestly as I could.

  “I’m… absorbing a lot of things. Is Jack okay?”

  “Yeah, he’s fine,” he nodded. “He just needed some time to get himself together. ”

  “Is he going to be okay being around me again?”

  “Yes. Last night, there were a lot of emotions going for you both. It’s very new territory, for all of us, and there’s going to be some missteps. ” He spoke evenly, and his deep voice managed to soothe me in a way that had been lacking since I came home last night. “But you both will have to be more careful around each other. It should be easier now that you’re both aware of the limitations. ”

  “I hope so. ” I pulled my sweatshirt tighter to me, even though I wasn’t cold anymore. “Is Peter back?”

  “Not yet. But he will be soon. ”

  “Jack said that I’m meant for Peter. What does that mean?” I looked over at Ezra, and half-expected him to give me the same run around as everyone else.

  “Mythology has set us up to be extreme loners, but at our core, emotionally, we’re very human. We desire companionship, but ours has to be more selective. ” As he spoke, he kept one hand on the wheel, while the other one bobbed a silver ring over his fingers. “Our blood is almost magnetized to our – for a lack of a better word – soul mates. We feel it intrinsically when we find each other. ”

  “Is Mae your soul mate?” I asked quietly.

  “She is. ” His eyes had that faraway look again, and the corners of his mouth curled up ever so slightly. “I lived 255 years before her, but now, I couldn’t imagine existing a single day without her. I even ‘dated’ before I met her, but it was impossible to make lasting relationships. That was part of the reason that I turned Peter. I was desperately lonely, and he traveled around with me for awhile. But then he met his mate. ”

  “Wait,” I interrupted. “I thought I was Peter’s ‘mate. ’”

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  “I told you this was new for all of us,” Ezra looked over at me. “Peter met a vampire named Elise, and they were together for only a brief time. Maybe ten or twenty years. He knows it to the exact day, but he never speaks of it. ”

  “What happened?” I glanced out the window, and I realized we weren’t taking the normal route to his house. In fact, if my guess was right, he wasn’t taking me anywhere near their place. “Where are we going?”

  “I thought it would be better if the two of us had some time to talk before we went back. ” Ezra must have read the confusion on my face because he continued. “Some of this would be better if Jack didn’t hear. ”

  “Oh,” I said. Jack had mentioned that they didn’t like to tell him anything, and he wasn’t kidding. “So what happened with Peter?”

  “Elise was killed. ” Ezra heard my sharp intake of breath and smiled humorlessly. “Fighting broke out amongst vampires, arguing over who had control over a certain area. Vampires are notoriously territorial and possessive, but then again, so are humans, and in most ways, we are just heightened versions of yourselves. ”

  “So you’re saying that another vampire killed Elise?” My eyes were wide, and he nodded.

  “It nearly destroyed Peter. He went into a very dark period for awhile. ” A troubled expression went on Ezra’s face, and I didn’t want to know what Peter had been through or what he had done.

  “He’s fought in every major war since WWI, up until this last excursion in the Middle East,” Ezra continued. “He had blood lust or a death wish, or some combination of that, for a very long time, but he’s mostly come out of it now. He’s not the same man he once was, though. ”

  “It must’ve been terrible for him,” I said. I had spent hardly any time with him, but it would be agony for me if anything happened to him.

  “It was,” Ezra agreed solemnly. “But he had moved on, as best he could. After Elise died, he assumed that that part of his life was over. We all had. But then you came along. ”

  “How did you know I was meant for Peter?” I asked. “Jack stumbled upon me long before I met Peter. ”

  “We didn’t, not at first, although Mae suspected immediately. ” With that, Ezra gave a small shrug. “None of it really made sense. ”

  “What do you mean?” I crinkled my forehead, trying to understand.

  “For starters, you’re human. ” Ezra gave me an even look, and I shook my head. “We’re never intended for humans. Both Peter and Elise were vampires when they met, and so was Mae when I met her. We’re not callous, exactly, but we just don’t feel attachments to humans the way we do to other vampires.

  “When Jack came home and said he’d met you, we couldn’t figure it out,” Ezra went on. “He connected with you instantly, but he didn’t feel that… physical need, the way we do. ”

  I nodded, knowing exactly what he’d meant. I felt it the instant I saw Peter, and it only got more intense with time.

  “But the c
onnection was something we all understood,” Ezra explained. “Because Peter is of my blood, I felt connected with Elise, and both Peter and Jack feel connected with Mae. ”

  “Do you feel connected with me?” I thought that I felt connected with him, but it was hard to tell what was a real connection and not just falling under the spell of his perfection.

  “Yes. ” Ezra smiled warmly at me, and I flushed. “I feel more connected to you than I have with any human since I’ve been a vampire. ”

  “Jack said my safety was top priority for you,” I mumbled dazedly. It was insanely flattering and intimidating knowing that I had fallen into Ezra’s favor.

  “He wasn’t exaggerating,” Ezra grinned wider. “You are in a very unique position. ”

  “Is that what the issue is about biting me?” I asked.

  “Yes and no. ” Ezra tilted his head. “Remember when I said that we were possessive and territorial? As soon as Peter met you, you were his. He felt it inside him, the way you do.

  “Peter lost Elise, and it devastated him completely,” Ezra continued. “He vowed never to feel that way again. To be perfectly honest, I doubt that he could survive it. ” Ezra exhaled, looking rather sad. “He doesn’t want to want you. It doesn’t change the way he feels, because nothing can.

  “On top of everything, you’re so fragile. ” He eyed me up seriously. “When you’re with someone, the way we are, we frequently drink each other’s blood. But for you, it is dangerous, especially with Peter feeling the way he feels. It would be very easy for him to get caught up in the moment and take things too far.

  “He ran the other night because he didn’t want to hurt you,” Ezra continued. “It’s not supposed to be this hard, Alice. It’s usually a very simple, clean process. But this is much, much more complicated. ”

  “Because of Elise?”

  “Yes, and because you’re human. ” He had a drawn expression and he sighed. “And because of Jack. ”

  “Because Jack wanted to bite me last night?”

  “It’s more than that. ” Ezra looked at me knowingly. “Alice, Jack’s fallen in love with you. ”

  “What?” Startled, I blushed randomly. I had considered the possibility that I was falling for him, but as Ezra had just explained, vampires didn’t fall in love with humans. “I-I didn’t think that was possible. ”

  “Neither did I,” Ezra admitted soberly. “He shouldn’t feel anything for you. You’re human, you’re meant for Peter, and you’re not his. Maybe it was because he spent so much time with you before you met Peter and fully melded with him. ”

  “So… what does this mean? Does it transfer? Can I just be with Jack instead of Peter?” I asked, and Ezra looked very shocked by my questions.

  “You would want that?” He looked at me evenly. “You want to be with Jack instead of Peter?”

  “I don’t know,” I confessed uneasily. “I mean, if Peter doesn’t even want me, it just seems stupid to force something. ”

  “Peter still wants you,” Ezra was quick to clarify.

  “Then why isn’t he with me?” I demanded. “Why was Jack the one I wanted last night?”

  “I don’t know,” Ezra said at length. “Peter will be home soon, and hopefully, we can get some of this straightened out then. ”

  Page 47

  The car had started gliding into familiar territory, and I knew we weren’t far from their home.

  “What about Jack?” I asked softly.

  “Peter can’t know how he feels or how close he came to biting you last night,” Ezra warned me. “And he can never bite you. Peter will be able to smell him on you, and that won’t be good for either of you. ”

  “Am I still allowed to be around Jack?” My heart broke at the thought of a life without him, even if I had Peter.

  “Yes, of course. You both must be very in control of yourselves. ”

  “Are you sure that I am meant for Peter?” I asked him carefully as we pulled into the driveway.

  “Yes. ” Ezra answered definitively. The garage door closed behind us, but we stayed in the car. “Something’s off this time, but there’s no other explanation. ”

  “Oh. ” It was strange how one sentence could exhilarate and devastate me.

  “Are you in love with Jack?” Ezra’s voice was barely above a whisper, as if he was afraid of someone hearing.

  “I don’t know,” I admitted honestly. Tears welled in my eyes, and I bit my lip.

  “Alice, listen to me very carefully. If you care anything for Jack, you mustn’t act on it. ” His deep brown eyes settled on me, conveying the severity of his words. “I’m not trying to frighten you, but… it’s just the way things are, and I am very sorry. ”

  “It’s alright. ” I wiped my palms across my eyes, trying to smear away the tears.

  “Are you okay to go in?” Ezra asked.

  “Yeah, I’m fine,” I said. He waited for me to open the car door and start getting out before he got out. “So, does Mae like me so much cause of the whole blood thing and her being yours and all that?”

  “No. Mae loves you because she’s Mae, and that’s what she does. ” Ezra smiled brightly me, relieved to talking about a subject he was quite fond of. Putting his hand on the small of my back, we walked into the house. “Honestly, are we what you envisioned when you thought of vampires?”

  “Hardly,” I scoffed, and he laughed warmly.

  “You’re home!” Mae shouted, running into the entrance and throwing her arms around me. For the first time, Matilda didn’t run and greet us, but I realized that’s because Jack wasn’t with me. “I was a little afraid we’d scared you off last night. ”

  “You can never scare me off,” I said into her shoulder. She finally released me and cupped my face in her hands, staring at me as if to make sure I was real.

  “Oh you look so tired! Did you sleep at all?” Her eyes were anxious, so I nodded and forced a smile. “You know what you need, love? A nice warm bath. We have a fabulous Jacuzzi tub in our room, and I’ll get some bubbles going and you’ll be as right as rain. ”

  “How right is rain really?” Jack wondered dryly, and I pulled my head away from hers to look over at him.

  He leaned against the doorway, smiling crookedly at me. My heart swelled just at the sight of him. Last night, I had been so afraid that he would be gone forever, and I couldn’t contain myself. I rushed over to him and threw my arms tightly around his waist.

  “Hey, I’m okay, I’m okay. ” He gently pushed me off, holding his hands on my shoulder until I was a foot away from him. “Okay? I’m okay. ”

  “I was just worried. ” I blinked rapidly, fighting back tears, and swallowed hard.

  “Yeah, you look like it,” Jack said quietly, and his concern washed over me.

  “She just needs a nice warm bubble bath!” Mae wrapped an arm tightly around my waist so she could pull me away from Jack, and it did require some effort on her part. “We have some wonderful lilac bath salts that just melt the tension away. ”

  Mae continued telling me all the amazing features of her tub as she led me away, but I glanced back over my shoulder at Jack.

  “You’ve really got to be more careful,” Ezra warned him.

  “I didn’t even do anything!” Jack protested, and I wondered dully how this all could possibly work out in the end.

  The hot Jacuzzi wasn’t quite as magic as Mae had professed it would be, but it really did help relax me at least. All of this seemed so bizarre. In a time not so long ago, I hadn’t even known these people, and now it would be impossible to imagine the rest of my life without them, however long that life might end up being.

  When I finally pulled myself out of the relaxing waters of the tub, I wrapped myself in one of their gigantic plush towels. Mae had filled her bedroom with lilac scented candles, and it was all aglow with candle light.

  Laid out on the white bedspread, she had left satin p
ajama pants and a matching blue camisole for me. Since their house generally ran cold, I put my hoodie on over it, but it almost felt like sacrilege to put something so ordinary over her extravagance. They lived on a whole other plane from me, in every way possible.

  “I merely stated that you rolled the Jeep. ” Ezra’s words wafted down the hall towards me when I opened their bedroom door. “It’s not asking that much that you pay for it. ”

  “You just want me out of the house more,” Jack grumbled.

  “That wouldn’t hurt you either,” Ezra said.

  I made my way down the hall to the kitchen, and they all stopped talking when I came ins. Mae stood amongst a mass of dishes and food splayed out all over the counter tops. She had white powder on her cheeks and some kind of red sauce dripped all over an elegant white apron.

  Jack sat on a stool pulled up to the counter, and I’m sure he fancied himself helping, but I’d imagine that he spent more time playing with the ingredients. As it was, he was juggling a tomato and a lemon when I walked in.

  “Oh, you look so much better!” Mae beamed at me. Jack dropped the tomato on the counter and deliberately looked away from me. “Wasn’t that bath fabulous?”

  “Yeah, it was pretty great. ” I ran my fingers through my tangles of wet hair, and I could almost see Mae longing to play with it. Walking over to the mess she was making, I was careful to keep a distance from Jack. “What are you doing?”

  “Trying to make you some kind of comfort food,” Mae smiled grimly at me. “I used to be an amazing cook, I swear! Everyone in my neighborhood loved my cooking!” Jack scoffed, and she reached across the counter to slap him on the arm. “I was! You would’ve been thrilled to eat anything I made!”

  Page 48

  “Whatever you say. ” Jack leaned back in the stool, moving farther out of arm’s length, in case Mae decided to swat him again.

  “It’s just been so long since I’ve cooked anything. ” Mae looked sourly at the mess around her, which consisted of everything from cucumbers to pears to pie crusts. “I’ve just forgotten what everything tastes like. ” A spoon was in a bowl of something red, and she gave it one superficial swirl, then looked apologetically at me. “I don’t think that I’ve made anything that you can actually eat. ”

  “What about this?” Jack held up the tomato towards me, but I just shook my head.

  “I’m okay. I’m not even hungry. ”

  “Oh!” Mae shouted, her eyes glittering. “Your brother is a cook, isn’t he?”

  “Not professionally, but yeah, he’s really good,” I told her hesitatingly. I liked Milo and all, but there was too much going on over here, and I didn’t really want him to come over. At least not tonight.

  “Oh fantastic! And I’m sure he knows all of your favorite recipes!” She overflowed with her own genius. “Here. Why don’t you just give me his phone number and I’ll give him a call. Oh, what time is it? It’s not too late is it?” She glanced around for a clock, and it was only a quarter to nine. “He’s still awake, isn’t he?”

 
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