My blood approves, p.17
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       My Blood Approves, p.17

         Part #1 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
 
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I nodded, and Mae whipped her phone out of her pocket, and I gave her his number.

  “Oh, Milo!” Mae smiled so wide, it looked almost painful. “I’m so glad you answered! Oh, I didn’t wake you, did I? I’m sorry, love. I don’t want to disturb you. ” He must’ve answered with something positive, because she laughed lightly, and continued about making me the perfect meal to make me feel better.

  “I’m really not very hungry. ” I lowered my voice considerably, just in case Mae might hear, but she was talking to Milo and swooping around the kitchen, gathering pots and pans and whatever she thought she’d needed. “Why do you guys have pots and pans anyway?”

  “It makes us look more normal. ” Jack rolled his shoulders. “I mean, we don’t really need kitchens, and in a household of four people, we have seven bathrooms. ”

  “Bathrooms add resale value!” Ezra said. From his tone, I gathered that this wasn’t the first time they’d had this argument. “We’re not going to live here for that long, so its best if we get our money’s worth. ”

  “What do you mean you’re not gonna live here long?” I had been leaning on the counter, but I snapped my head sharply and looked over at him.

  “I can only be twenty-six for so long before the neighbors start to notice,” Ezra elaborated, but it still took a minute for it to sink it. They were never going to age, but everyone around them would. “We move every five years so, but we’ve been staying around Minneapolis for quite awhile. ”

  “I’ve never lived anywhere else,” Jack added.

  “You were born here?” I gave him an odd look. For no real reason, I had just always kinda imagined that he was a transplant from California or Vegas or something like that.

  “Stillwater, actually, but it still makes it tricky living that close to my family. ” He had said it casually, like it was no big thing, but something had just dawned on me, and he noticed the shift in my expression. “We can’t see our families. We change, at first, to look better, and then we don’t change at all. ”

  “And it’s too hard watching them grow old. ” Ezra had somehow managed to take something that was really terrible sound at least vaguely soothing, but my heart still clenched.

  I looked over at Mae, standing at the stove and chatting amicably with my brother, and felt the full ramification of what he was saying.

  “It’s not as bad as it sounds,” Jack said gently.

  There were things that I hadn’t thought about when I got involved with them, and I’m sure there would be even more things that would come up later. Nothing about this was going to be easy.

  As if to solidify my point, Peter suddenly walked into the kitchen. His jeans and shirt were slim fit, revealing the slender lines of his gorgeous body. His blazing emerald eyes landed on mine, for just a second, then flitted away, as if he couldn’t stand to look at me.

  Just being this close to him made my skin tremble and my blood pound heavily in my ears. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Jack flinch, but for once, I didn’t feel it. When Peter was around, he eclipsed everything else, including the feelings that I sometimes borrowed from Jack.

  “What’s all this?” Peter gestured to Mae’s attempts at cooking. She’d been too distracted with her food preparation to notice him walk in, but when he spoke, she shot him a nervous, startled look.

  “I’ll call you back,” Mae muttered into the phone, then quickly hung up and dropped it in her pocket. “Peter, you’re home!”

  “I am. ” Peter chewed the inside of his cheek, and he deliberately had to keep from looking at me. I wondered how he could even fight the urge. For me, it was so overpowering that I could barely breathe. “Am I to assume this is a feast for my return?”

  “Peter, she knows,” Ezra told him quietly.

  His eyes turned on me sharply, sending a rush through me so rapidly that I felt dizzy. Behind me, I heard a stool clatter to the floor, but I didn’t look back to see Jack storming out of the room. Peter didn’t really seem to notice either but walked slowly over to me, his eyes never leaving mine.

  “So, you’re feeding her now?” Peter was looking at me, but he was asking someone else, not that anyone bothered to answer. He reached out and touched a wet strand of my hair and breathed in deeply. “And she’s showering here too. Is she living here now?”

  “No. ” Ezra let the word hang in the air.

  Peter just kept staring at me. In the back of my mind, I was aware that there were other people in the room, and it should be embarrassing that Peter was looking at me so intently in front of an audience, but somehow, it wasn’t.

  “So you know we’re vampires?” Even though Peter smiled at me, there was an underlying edge to his voice. “You know that we kill? You could’ve just as easily been food for us, but with a bit of luck and chance, you’re standing here instead. ”

  He narrowed his eyes at me. I could feel heat radiate from his body in a way that the others seemed incapable of. My skin tingled and that tugging feeling encircled my heart. Every single part of my body screamed out for him, and painfully, I was starting to believe that he didn’t feel the same way.

  Page 49

  “Why are you here?” Peter asked huskily.

  “I-I-I want to be,” I stumbled.

  He occupied my brain, and it was all but impossible for me to form a competent answer. His scent, tangy and tantalizing, washed over me, blinding almost all my other senses.

  “You want to be,” Peter repeated flatly. “You want this?”

  I opened my mouth to answer, but then I felt his hand around my throat. There was a rush of air and then I felt something hard slam into my back.

  He’d picked me up by my neck and pressed me against a wall. His eyes burned with conflicting passions, but all I could really feel were his fingers on my throat, and the way my pulse felt pumping underneath them.

  “This is really what you want?” he snarled.

  This time I couldn’t answer because his hand was so tight on my throat. I couldn’t even breathe, but I barely noticed. He pressed up against me and I could feel the hard contours of his body against mine, and his intoxicating smell suffocated me. If I stayed like that for too long, I would probably die, but it seemed completely worth it.

  - 16 -

  Without warning, Jack slammed into Peter, sending him flying across the room. My lungs burned as they filled with air, and I leaned back against the wall, gasping.

  Peter stumbled back into the fridge, but he quickly regained his footing and flew at Jack. Jack was ready for it and lunged back towards Peter, pushing him back away from me once again.

  “Jack!” Mae wailed, sounding utterly panicked.

  Ezra stepped forward to intervene, so Peter backed down slightly. Jack stood between Peter and me, his body unbearably shielding me from Peter.

  For his part, Peter had a look of barely controlled rage contorting his beautiful features. His fists clenched at his sides, and he glared past Jack at me.

  “He’s not going to hurt her!” Ezra told Jack, and both of them stepped back, but neither was willing to relinquish his stand entirely.

  “He had his hand around her throat! She couldn’t breathe!” Jack yelled.

  “I would never let her die!” Peter shouted. “I could feel her heartbeat and it never waned!” Something occurred to him, and he took a step closer to Jack. “What do you even care? How did you even know she wasn’t breathing? What did you do?”

  “Stop!” Mae ran in between the two of them, putting one of her hands on each of their chests, while Ezra stood off to the side. “Nothing happened, okay? Nothing!”

  “What the hell is going on?” Peter looked to Ezra for an explanation. “Why does he care about her?”

  “We don’t really know what’s going on,” Ezra admitted quietly, casting a look back at me. “This is unlike anything I’ve encountered. ”

  Peter studied me curiously, and my heart started to speed up. I
saw his eyes register it, and then I heard Jack moan. Instantly, Peter’s eye flicked over to him.

  “You’re reacting to her!” Peter didn’t sound angry so much as bewildered. He leaned in closer to Jack, eyeing him up. “You didn’t bite her?”

  “No!” Jack groaned, exasperated.

  “How is this even possible?” Peter was totally amazed.

  When he looked back at me, his eyes softened and grew even more confused. That didn’t help slow my already quickened pulse.

  “Alice!” Jack snapped.

  “I can’t help it!” I lamented.

  “Jack, go over there,” Mae commanded, pointing to the far side of the dining room. He grumbled something in protest but did as he was told. She walked over to me and hugged me to her.

  “She might have… somehow become attached to Jack,” Ezra explained slowly. Pain and confusion spread over Peter’s face when he looked back and forth from me to Ezra. “She reacts the strongest with you still, but it seems that some of it may have transferred. ”

  “How is that even possible?” Peter repeated, and Jack scoffed.

  “Why do you even care?” Jack growled. “You don’t even want her!”

  His words sliced through me like a knife, and I flinched, so Mae tightened her arms around me. What hurt the most is that I knew Jack was right. Peter only felt things for me because his body made him.

  Peter snarled, and Ezra took a step closer to him, just to make sure he wouldn’t lunge at Jack.

  “Enough!” I shouted. “I’m not going to let you kill each other over something as stupid as me. If one of you could please just take me home, I’ll be happy to leave you all in peace. ”

  “Alice, none of us wants that. ” Mae stroked my hair and held as me close to her as I would allow. “We don’t want you to go. ”

  “We’re trying to sort this all out,” Ezra agreed.

  “I’m going for a drive,” Jack announced suddenly and strode across the kitchen. “I’m taking the Lamborghini. ”

  “Be careful!” Ezra called after him. The garage door slammed in response, and he stared after it indecisively. “Maybe I should go with him. ” He looked over at Mae, who nodded in approval, and he started hurrying after Jack.

  Mae still had her arm around me, and I knew that she would be one of those moms that would never let go.

  One of the benefits to being a vampire was that she’d never really have an empty nest, although she’d never exactly have a full one either. She played mother and nursemaid to the boys, but in reality, they were grown men and needed very little of her.

  The great appeal of me was that I was very fragile and dependant, and on top of that, a girl. For her, I was some kind of enchanted doll, and that explained the great deal of time she spent playing with my hair.

  “I still need to make you supper!” Mae burst into life and rushed over to the stove. Fortunately, she had yet to turn it on, or whatever she would’ve been cooking would’ve been completely burnt.

  “I’m really not that hungry,” I repeated for the tenth time.

  “Nonsense!” Mae had her back to me and was already flitting about with ingredients. “Why don’t you go in the other room and relax, and I’ll call you when the food is done. ”

  “It’s easier to just go along with what she wants,” Peter told me. He took a step towards the living room and paused, waiting for me. “Come on. We need to talk. ”

  I walked with him into the living room, breathing in how wonderful he smelled. My body felt relieved just to be so close to him. It was exhausting staying away from him. Every part of me felt pulled to him, and I had to use all my strength to keep me any distance.

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  “How is your throat?” Peter asked sadly, admiring my neck.

  “It’s okay,” I lied. It felt like I had terrible whiplash, but I didn’t want him to feel bad about hurting me. I sat down on the couch, so very purposefully, he sat in the chair on the far side from me.

  “I’m sorry. ” He looked at me sadly, then dropped his eyes. “I shouldn’t have done that. But you should know that’s what I’m like. ” When he spoke again, his voice was barely audible. “I’m not very nice. ”

  “I don’t believe you. ”

  “You should. ” He met my eyes evenly. “You’d be so much better off with Jack. I’m…” He shook his head, unable or unwilling to say exactly what he was.

  He knew how I felt about him, that I had no control over it, and yet he still tried to convince me that he was a bad. The choice had already been made, and whether he was good for me or not didn’t matter.

  “But I want to be with you,” I insisted, and something about my voice startled him into softening a bit. But he quickly recovered, and his face hardened again.

  “You don’t know who I am. I’m not like them. I’m not good. ”

  “How are you different?” I asked.

  I hated that he was so far away from me, and it had finally gotten to be too much. I got up and walked over, kneeling directly in front of him.

  He smiled at me, a rather sweet, sincere one, then reached out and touched my cheek gently, brushing back my hair. It sent shivers of pleasure through me, but I fought to keep my eyes open, to keep them locked on his.

  “You should be so afraid of me, but you’re not,” he murmured, bemused. He studied my face, his hand resting wonderfully on cheek. “If you weren’t…” He licked his lip and sighed. “If I didn’t feel this way about you, I wouldn’t hesitate to kill you. Do you fully understand?”

  I’m not sure if I would’ve told him that I did or not, but I had started trembling too much to speak. He leaned in closer to me, and his hand moved back, so he was burying his finger in the thickness of my hair.

  “I am a real vampire. I’ve killed people. ”

  “You… you have?” I whispered. My heart, which still pounded desperately for him, twisted with fear and revulsion.

  “Mmm. ” He sighed again, this time more resignedly. “They didn’t tell you. I’m surprised Jack didn’t, but Ezra always tries to protect me. After…” Raw pain flashed over his eyes. “Elise died, I went on a rampage of sorts. Eventually, I got myself under control, but there’s still that thirst. ”

  “But that was a very long time ago,” I said softly.

  “I don’t want to hurt you. ”

  “You won’t,” I promised him.

  All of his resistance shattered, and his vulnerability made him look impossibly young. He stared at me for a minute, and unexpectedly, he kissed me.

  His mouth pressed forcefully to mine, and his hand knotted in my hair. My body exploded with pleasure. I loved the insistent way he held me to him.

  Just as abruptly as he started kissing me, he stopped. Peter moaned and jumped away from me. Before I could say anything, he left the room.

  Every part of me wanted to follow him, but I just lay back on the hard wood floor and stared up at the ceiling. Even as my head reeled from the ecstasy of his kiss, I didn’t want to feel this way about him. Peter would just keep hurting me and pushing me away until there was nothing left.

  Something in me had been chosen for him, but I started to wonder if it had been a mistake.

  Mae came in a few minutes later to tell me supper was ready, looking distressed but not surprised that I was alone. She had made some kind of pasta that I recognized as Milo’s recipe, but hers didn’t do it justice.

  After I ate, Mae cleaned up the kitchen, and I helped her as much as she would allow. Every now and again, I’d hear Peter upstairs, and I’d feel a sharp pain in my side. The fact that he was so close but refused to be with me was devastating.

  In the living room, Mae put on the Beatles, claiming that they could heal any mood, and sat on the couch. I sat on the floor in front of her and let her play with my hair. Theoretically, it was meant to comfort me, but like the meal she had just made, it was done more as a way to get her
mothering out.

  When Ezra appeared in the living room sometime later, I was relieved. He kissed Mae warmly, and I found my chance to escape.

  I slipped out from her and went to find Jack. He had crouched down on the dining room floor to rub Matilda’s belly, and I stood in front of him, wrapping my arms around myself.

  “Did you have a nice drive?” I asked Jack.

  He looked up at me, then glanced over at Mae and Ezra, who were busy in their world, murmuring things to one another. At that moment, I hated them for being so easily in love.

  “Yeah. Did you have a nice time with Peter?” Jack raised an eyebrow at me, trying to seem playful, but I saw the hurt behind it. More than that, I felt it, like a burning regret in the back of my throat.

  “I’ve had better,” I said.

  His smile came more naturally after that, and I felt some of the tension ease up between us. Giving Matilda one last pat, he stood up and looked down at me.

  “Do you want to give me a ride home?” I asked.

  “I do…” Jack trailed off, and nodded up at the ceiling, towards Peter’s room, and then he shook his head. “I don’t think I should. At least not right now. ”

  “Are you like banned from ever picking me up again?” I had never thought that I would really miss his speedy trips around the city, especially after he almost killed me last time, but it saddened me to think that it might never happen again.

  “No,” Jack scoffed, as if anybody could ever ban him from anything. “I just think it’d be better if I didn’t for awhile. He needs to figure out what he’s doing, and so do you. ”

  “I didn’t think I really had a choice in the matter,” I admitted honestly.

  My understanding of things was that I was completely at the whim of Peter and Jack. I would be whatever they would let me be as long as it was in their lives.

  “Everyone has free will. ” He leaned in a little closer to me, looking at me earnestly. “Even you. ”

  “You really think so?”

  “I have to. ” His hopeful smile faltered, and he turned to Ezra. “Alice is ready to go home. ”

  “Sure. ” Ezra jumped up from the couch, smiling at me. “Sometimes I forget that you don’t live here. ”

  Page 51

  Putting his hand on the small of my back, Ezra ushered me away from him. Looking back over my shoulder at Jack, I wished that things could just go back to the way they were. I wished I didn’t know about vampires or Peter or that my blood had ever been meant for anybody.

  - 17 -

  On the bus on the way to school, I decided to broach the subject. The ride had a finite amount of time, followed by a full day of school to keep his thoughts from settling too long.

  Milo had his textbook open on his lap, doing some last minute cramming for a test. I wanted to make everything seem normal, so I had in my ear buds and the iPod played the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but it was quiet enough where I could talk.

  “Hey, Milo?” I tried to keep my voice as casual as possible.

  “Huh?” Milo grunted, his attention unwavering from the textbook.

 
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