My blood approves, p.22
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       My Blood Approves, p.22

         Part #1 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
 
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Are you done going to school now?

  Mom asked about you. She’s worried. Maybe you should apologize to her now.

  I’m worried too. When are you coming home?

  I groaned and pulled the covers back up over my head. How would I answer that? I was probably never coming home, and I’d probably never talk to him again.

  But I couldn’t exactly say that. I didn’t want to. Just yesterday, I’d promised he’d be in my life forever, and apparently, that was a total lie.

  “Are you up yet?” Jack asked sunnily, and I assumed he was standing in my doorway.

  “Define ‘up. ’”

  “I’ll take that as a yes. ” The bed heaved as Jack jumped into it, and I lowered the covers enough so I could peek out at him. My room was completely dark except for a light from the hall, and I could barely make out the cocky grin on his face. “Morning, sunshine. ”

  “If you’re gonna be this cheery, you can just go away,” I grumbled, and he laughed.

  I hated how wonderful his laughter sounded and the way it filled me with pleasant tingles. I didn’t want to be pleasant. I wanted to be grumpy and stay in bed all day, avoiding the world until somebody else made a decision for me.

  Having a choice in something as major as the rest of my life was far too much of a responsibility for me.

  “Didn’t sleep well, I take it?” He propped himself up on his elbow so he could smirk down at me.

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  “I slept great, actually. ” My phone was still in my hand, so I reached my arm out and extended it towards him. “Milo texted me. ”

  “I see. ” He took the phone from me and scrolled through the messages. “Jane still talks to you? I thought you were over her. ”

  “I was never under her. We just eat lunch together at school and stuff,” I brushed off his disapproving tone. “Never mind her. That’s not what has me all depressed. ”

  “You didn’t reply to him. ”

  “What could I possibly say to him?” I asked honestly

  “Whatever you want. ” He shrugged and handed me back my phone. “He’s your brother. ”

  “Ugh, you’re no help!”

  “Are you going back home?” Jack asked quietly.

  “No. I don’t know. ” I looked away from him. “I have no idea what I’m doing!”

  “Why don’t you just get up and take a shower? You’ll probably feel better then. Besides, you don’t have to decide anything right now. ” He rolled out of my bed and looked at me expectantly. “Come on. Get up. ”

  “Yeah, you’re probably right,” I admitted and slowly pulled myself out from underneath the covers.

  “You know, I really wish you’d catch onto the fact that I’m always right. ” To encourage me to move faster, he flicked on the lights, and I squinted at the sudden brightness.

  “Get out of here so I can shower. ”

  My bedroom had an attached bathroom, so I shooed Jack out when I started getting my clothes together. Like the other rooms, I had a massive closet, and my paltry wardrobe looked pathetic in there. Mae had offered to take me shopping, but their generosity was overwhelming, so I declined.

  After I finished getting ready, I lay down on the bed and tried to think of a way to respond to Milo. Even if someday I would have to faze him out of my life, I wasn’t quite ready for that day to be today.

  But that didn’t mean I was ready to move back home and pretend like nothing was happening. Life as I knew it had changed, and I couldn’t go back and act like things mattered when they didn’t. Milo still mattered, but school and curfews didn’t.

  “Are you done?” Jack knocked on the door and pushed it open without waiting for an answer. He leaned on the open door and grinned at me. “You’re already back in bed? You just woke up. ”

  “I’m not sleeping. I’m just thinking. ” I had my phone in my hands, and I was just staring at it, as if it could magically come up with an answer to all my life’s problems.

  “Well, I hope you don’t mind, but I’m here to interrupt your thoughts. ” He opened the door wider and stepped inside a little bit, so I could see past him. Looking rather sheepish, Milo stood in the doorway and gave me a half-wave. “I thought you could use the company. ”

  “Milo!” I sat up and smiled at him. “What are you doing here?”

  “Jack called and asked if I wanted to come hang out with you for awhile,” Milo shrugged and came into my room. “I hope that’s alright. ”

  “No! It’s great!” It wasn’t until I saw him, his nervous brown eyes and his chubby cheeks, that I realized how much I’d missed him. I’d only been gone for two days, but since I’d barely even seen him when I was at home, it felt much longer.

  “I think I’ll give you guys some time. ” Jack started backing out of the room, and I smiled gratefully at him, but he just nodded and shut the door behind him.

  “Nice digs. ” Milo admired my new bedroom, and I knew he was thinking the same thing that I had; it was surprisingly me. “Did they do this for you?”

  “I think Mae did some redecorating or something,” I shrugged.

  “So, how are they treating you?” He sat tentatively at the edge of the bed, afraid that I might kick him out at any minute for invading my privacy or something.

  “Really good. They seem happy to have me around. ” I twirled my phone in my hands, watching Milo carefully. “How’s Mom?”

  “Good. She misses you, I think. I mean, she won’t say it. But she wants you back at home. ” When he looked at me, his worried eyes looked sad. “Are you gonna come home?” Then he cast a derisive look around my room. “Nah, I guess not. This is probably all too much to pass up for our little apartment. There it’s just me. Here, you have Jack. ”

  “It’s not like that. ” Guilt rushed over me. I pictured Milo sitting sadly in that apartment, making exotic meals just for one, and I wanted to cry.

  “Then what is it like?” Milo demanded. He wasn’t angry; he just wanted to know what was going on with me. “To be honest, I was a little surprised that you and Jack had separate bedrooms. Or is that just for show?”

  “There’s nobody to show,” I grumbled, avoiding his insistent stare.

  “Alice, why are you here?” he asked wearily.

  That was the question at the heart of it all, the one that I couldn’t precisely answer. As much as they’d given me the run around of being “meant” for Peter and “bonded” with Jack, and to a lesser extent, Ezra, none of it was really a suitable answer for Milo. It was just like I was supposed to be here, with them, but an answer like that would only lead to more questions.

  “It’s just where I want to be for now,” I finally said. It didn’t sound good enough, and I could tell by his expression that it wasn’t. “They’re really nice to me. ”

  “And I wasn’t?” Milo retorted, sounding a combination of hurt and incredulous. “I mean, if you’re not with Jack, and you’re not just about the money, then… What do you do here all night long? Are you drinking? Is it drugs?”

  “No, no, it’s nothing like that. ” I shook my head and had to fight the smile that wanted to creep up at the word “drinking. ”

  “I’m just trying to understand why you won’t come home. ” By then, he was nearly pleading with me, and it broke my heart. “I can get Mom off your back, if you could just try to get home before she does. And you don’t have to hang out with me all the time, but I’ll help you with your homework and I can make you supper. Then you could just come out here and hang out with them. You don’t have to live here. ”

  “I’m not living here. ” Swallowing hard, I tried not to look at him. When he was sad, he looked so young. He had big innocent brown eyes, and they were so forlorn. “I just need some time here to figure things out, okay? But don’t think for a second that I’m going to leave you behind. You mean too much for me to walk away from you, not even for a foxy guy and a lot of money. ”

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  “What do you need to figure out?” Milo furrowed his brow, but I could tell that he’d relaxed a little.

  I decided to tell him the truth on this one. “What I’m going to do with the rest of my life. ”

  “You’re thinking about college?” He brightened at that, and I knew that I’d inadvertently opened the door for all sorts of college talk that I really didn’t want to listen to.

  “Among other things. ” College had vaguely crossed my mind, as in, hey since I’ll be a rich vampire I won’t have to go to college anymore.

  “I know you were mostly being sarcastic, but I started doing some research on med school and psychiatry for you, and there are lots of fabulous opportunities because we’re so close to the Mayo Clinic. ” The tangent had started, and he was moving his hands and talking excitedly.

  “Milo, you’ve seen my grades,” I tried to nip his enthusiasm in the bud. “There’s no way I could get into med school. ”

  “You’ve got time to turn it around,” he brushed me off. “The U of M has a lot of great programs too, and if you really worked hard your first couple of years, it would be so fantastic for you. ”

  “I’m sure it would,” I mumbled.

  I decided to let him just go on, nodding and agreeing when the conversation required. He was happy to be talking about something he was an expert on, and something that still included me in his future.

  After awhile, he finally managed to run out of steam and informed me that he’d brought over some leftovers to eat. Mae had gone grocery shopping yesterday, so there was some food in the house for me, but it didn’t compare to anything that Milo made, particularly since nobody here could cook.

  When we went downstairs to eat, Jack joined us, claiming that he had already eaten, of course. He sat with us at the table, scratching Matilda’s head and chattering along with Milo.

  It had been days since Milo’d been able to have a real conversation, so he had plenty to fill us in on. Like the impossibility of a level in World of Warcraft (something about orcs and letter abbreviations that seemed completely random to both Jack and me, but sounded very grave when Milo said them), and how bitchy Jane has been at school since I’ve been gone.

  There was also some rather juicy gossip about this boy, Troy, at school, who Milo deemed “utterly foxy” and then blushed so red, it looked like he’d been burned.

  Apparently, the young man in question had made some rather flirtatious advances towards Milo in gym class, and he didn’t know how to reciprocate. Jack advised him not to make any moves at school, in case things are being misinterpreted, he wouldn’t want an audience. Milo agreed that he should do some fact checking on Twitter and Facebook, and then maybe he’d escalate to text messaging from there.

  It was getting late, and Milo started mentioning an Intro to Business test he had to study for, so Jack took him home. I rode with, just for the fun of it, and Milo was still an endless stream of conversation. He explained the finer points of running a small business, and Jack somehow managed to sound interested in all of it.

  “That was fun,” Jack grinned at me once Milo had gotten out of the car.

  “I don’t know if you’re being sarcastic or not, but it really was. ” Then I smiled gratefully at him. “Thank you. For bringing him over. I really missed him. ”

  “It sounds like he missed you, too. ” Sadly, he sighed, and at first, I didn’t understand why. We had all had fun, so I didn’t see what could be so depressing about that. “This isn’t going to be quite so clean cut for you, not like it was for me. ”

  “You mean leaving your family?” I asked. Up until Mae mentioned his family the other day, I hadn’t heard anything about them. The only thing Jack had ever told me was that he was from Stillwater.

  “Yeah. My dad was a bastard, but he was dead anyway. My mom hated me because she hated all men, and my sister barely knew me. There was nothing to miss, nothing to leave behind. ” Pursing his lips, he turned to me. “Not like you. He’ll be devastated when you go. ”

  “I know. ” Tears were brimming at my eyes, and I blinked them back.

  “Don’t think that I’m saying this because I don’t want you to turn. You know how badly I want you to. ” The way he said it made him sound desperate for me to turn, but I understood. “But I know this isn’t going to be easy for you. And I don’t want you to make your decisions based on me or anyone else. ”

  “I won’t. ”

  My heart pulled me into separate directions, and the only solution seemed to be to tear it in two.

  Peter still hadn’t returned from the business trip, and I still hadn’t made a decision. My entire life felt like it was at an impasse.

  To keep me busy, Jack had taken me to a play and the zoo, but neither of those things really alleviated anything that was going on. Everything felt so up in the air, and I knew that I had to deal with things before the uncertainty killed me.

  As soon as I woke up, I went downstairs, in my jammies with my hair all messed up and my eyes full of sleep. Ezra sat on the chaise lounge, reading a book, and Mae sat near his feet, doing a large puzzle on the hardwood floor.

  When I had gotten up, I heard the shower running in Jack’s room, so I assumed that’s where he was. He’d be otherwise occupied, making the conversation easier.

  “Is something the matter?” Ezra looked me over.

  “Are you alright, love?” Mae chimed in, looking equally worried.

  “When is Peter coming home?” I asked.

  “I don’t know for sure. ” Ezra adjusted himself so he was sitting up fully. “Would you like me to call him and find out?”

  “What’s going to happen when he comes home?” I crossed my arms on my chest, trying to look tough, even though I knew it was as ridiculous as it sounded. “Well?”

  “We don’t know exactly,” Ezra answered carefully.

  “He hates me. ” Just saying it aloud it hurt, but it didn’t change any of the facts. “Or if you prefer, he hates the way he feels about me. That’s not gonna change when he comes home, is it?”

  “We don’t really understand what’s happening with the two of you. I can’t answer that,” Ezra said evasively.

  “What are you trying to find out?” Mae asked.

  “If Peter doesn’t want me, then what’s the point of me turning?” I asked. They exchanged looks but didn’t immediately answer me. “Are you expecting that he’ll magically change his mind when he gets back?”

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  “Not really, no,” Ezra admitted honestly.

  “Then what is the point of all of this?” I gestured to everything around me, wondering what they were getting out of putting me up and hanging around me like this.

  “All of what?” Jack bounded down the stairs and into the living room, running a hand through his damp hair, and I grimaced inwardly. I had decided to have this talk now was because I knew he wouldn’t be around.

  “She wants to know what’s going to happen once Peter comes back,” Ezra explained when it appeared that I wouldn’t.

  I shifted uneasily and looked over Jack, who had suddenly become very nervous. His blue eyes flitted over me, then he turned to Ezra and Mae for help.

  Ezra had discarded his book on the chaise, and Mae smiled helplessly towards us. I knew they didn’t have a good answer. Things had been set in motion, and while they didn’t really have any plans to change them, there was no real reason for them to move forward anymore.

  “He’s not gonna want me, Jack,” I said miserably. “What’s the point of me turning?”

  “What’s the point of anyone turning?” Jack scoffed and looked away from me. “Come on, Alice. There isn’t a point to any of this!”

  “There has to be a point!” I shouted, surprised by the quavering in my voice. It was just starting to hit me what I was saying, what I was rejecting, and I could tell by the stunned, hurt expression on his face that it was sinkin
g in too. “If I’m going to destroy my brother’s life, it has to be for a reason!”

  “You’re not going to destroy his life!” Jack rubbed his forehead and closed his eyes. “So what if Peter doesn’t ever change his mind? Good! I hope he doesn’t! They want you here! I want you here!”

  “Doesn’t that give me even more of a reason not to turn?” I gave him a hard look. The kiss wanted to replay itself in my mind, but I couldn’t let it, or Jack might react to my heartbeat.

  “That doesn’t even make sense. ”

  He tried to pretend like he didn’t understand, but the quick movement of his eyes led me to believe he did. That kiss had been incredible, and the risk of us doing it again was too great. He would’ve bit me if Mae hadn’t walked in, and we couldn’t count on her to walk in at just the right moment every time we were alone.

  “Jack, it’s not good for either of us for me to stay around,” I told him with tears in my eyes.

  “No!” Jack insisted fiercely. “That’s just stupid! I don’t know what went wrong. I don’t know why your blood is for him, but it’s a mistake! Okay? You’re not supposed to be for him! And there’s gotta be a way around it! It may take time, but we have all of eternity to figure it out! You really wanna throw that away just because I don’t have the answer right now?”

  “Why did you even introduce me to him?” I blurted out. “If I had never met him, this wouldn’t have happened! This wouldn’t have mattered! Why did you push me on him?”

  “I never pushed you on him, never!” He took a step towards me, then changed his mind, and took a step back. Shaking his head, he breathed deeply. “I didn’t know any of this. I wasn’t reacting right to you, and they thought that you were for Peter. And I didn’t realize what I…” He trailed off, looking at the floor.

  “You two had connected in a way that none of had realized,” Ezra elaborated. “It wasn’t until he started feeling threatened by Peter that we appreciated what was happening, and by then it was too late. ”

  Slowly, he got up and walked over to us, attempting to relieve some of the tension.

  “None of us are trying to pressure you into a decision, but Jack has made valid points,” Ezra continued. “You turning isn’t about Peter, and it shouldn’t be. You have a future with us, if you choose it. ”

  He nodded once at me, and then made an imperceptible motion towards Mae. She rose quickly and they left the room, leaving Jack and I alone.

  We were supposed to hash things out and come up with some kind of resolution, but I didn’t know how. It wasn’t until I was yelling at Jack that I even knew it hurt me that he’d ever wanted me to be with Peter.

  I’d doubted everything since Ezra had claimed that Jack had fallen in love with me. Because if he truly loved me, then why would he ever want me to be with his brother?

  “I’ve made a lot of mistakes with you,” Jack admitted quietly. “But I need a chance to rectify them. If you give me time, I swear I can make it up to you. ” He looked at me, his wounded blue eyes pleading with me to stay.

 
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