My Blood ApprovesAmanda Hocking
My Blood Approves
Copyright © 2010 by Amanda Hocking
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The goose bumps stood all over Jane’s shoulder and she stomped her foot, at least partially because of the cold. She’d claim it was only because of her frustration over the line and insist that chain smoking cigarettes kept her warm.
“This is truly infuriating,” Jane said, flicking her cigarette to the dampened sidewalk and smashing it with her stilettoed boot.
“Maybe we should just call it a night,” I suggested.
Our fake IDs had not been as impressive as Jane’s connection had promised, and this would be the third club we’d be turned away from, if we ever managed to make it to the door.
Since we were going out, I had allowed Jane to dress me, so everything was ill-fitting and far too revealing for the Minnesota night. A heavy mist settled over us, but she refused to shiver or admit that any of this fazed her. Her plan was to get crazy drunk and hook up with somebody completely random, and I couldn’t reason with her.
“No!” Jane shook her head. “I have a good feeling about this place.”
“It’s after midnight, Jane.” The pair of heels I borrowed from her caused permanent damage to my feet, and I shifted my weight to ease the pain.
“I just want to dance and be stupid!” She started whining, making her seem much younger than seventeen so we’d be even less likely to get into the club. “Come on, Alice! This is what being young is all about!”
“I really hope not,” I muttered. Waiting in line for hours and getting declined from clubs did not sound like a good time. “We can try again next weekend. I promise. It’ll give us more time to find better ID’s.”
“I don’t even have any alcohol.” Her expression had gone all pouty, but I knew that she was starting to cave.
“I’m sure we can find some somewhere,” I said
Jane could find alcohol the way I found water. She had nothing to complain about. Wherever Jane went, a party was sure to follow.
“Fine.” Sighing, she stepped out of line and headed in the direction towards my apartment, away from the bright lights of the clubs and drunken people smoking cigarettes. “But you owe me.”
“Why do I owe you?” I demanded.
“For making me leave early.”
We’d made it a few feet from the line when I couldn’t take it any longer. I stopped and ripped off the borrowed shoes, preferring to walk barefoot on the dirty cement than risk any more blisters. Most likely, I’d get gum or something in a fresh wound and end up with typhoid or rabies, but it still seemed like a better option.
We walked far enough away from the clubs where it started to feel deserted, and two teenage girls walking around in downtown Minneapolis wasn’t the safest thing in the world.
“We should get a cab soon,” I suggested.
Jane shook her head, negating cab ideas. We didn’t have very much money, so the farther we walked, the shorter the cab ride would be. I lived by Loring Park, which really wasn’t that far from where we were, but it still wasn’t within walking distance.
A green and white taxi sailed past us, and I gazed longingly after it.
“We need the exercise anyway,” Jane said, noticing my expression.
I don’t know why I ever agreed to her shenanigans. They were always much more fun for her then they were for me. Being the less sexy sidekick wasn’t a very glamorous life.
“But my feet hurt,” I said.
“-pain, yeah, yeah, I get it,” I grumbled, cutting her off.
Jane lit another cigarette, and we walked in silence. I knew she was sulking about the club and trying to plot some exciting adventure to drag me into, but I wouldn’t fall for it this time.
The sound of the traffic from Hennepin Avenue had faded enough where I could hear the footfalls echo behind us. Jane seemed oblivious, but I couldn’t shake the feeling we were being followed.
Then the footsteps behind us started to hurry up, becoming heavier and louder, combined with the sound of ragged breathing and hushed male voices.
Jane looked over at me, and the panic in her eyes meant that she heard them too. Out of the two of us, she was braver and stole a look back over her shoulder at them.
I was about to ask her what she saw when she started sprinting forward, and that was answer enough for me. I tried to catch up to her, but she wasn’t about to slow down for me, remaining a few steps ahead.
The street ended with a parking garage, and Jane ran into it, and rather dumbly, I followed her. There had to be other places with crowds, but her first choice had been a dimly lit underground parking garage.
I allowed myself a look back for the first time. In the darkness, I could see little more than the silhouettes of four large men. When they saw me looking at them, one of them started to cat call.
I ran forward, only to realize Jane wasn’t in front of me. I didn’t have a very good fight or flight reflex, so I just froze when I didn’t see her.
“Over here!” Jane hissed, but the acoustics in the garage were awful. I couldn’t tell where her voice was coming from, so I just stood frozen underneath a flickering yellow light and hoped that my death would be quick and painless.
“Hey little girl,” one of the guys purred in a voice that sounded anything but friendly.
I turned to face them. Since I had stopped running, so had they, and they strolled over to me.
“Do you always run from a good time?” another one asked. For some reason, the rest of them thought that was hilarious, and their laughter filled the garage.
The hair on the back of my neck stood up, and I opened my mouth to say something, maybe even scream, but nothing came out. I stood in a pool of cold water and oil, and the light above me decided to go out for good.
Closing my eyes against the dark, I didn’t want to risk seeing anything they did to me. They talked amongst themselves, laughing and making perverted jokes, and I knew I was going to die.
Somewhere behind me, I heard the screech of tires, but I just squeezed my eyes shut tighter.
“Hey! What are you doing?” a voice shouted to the side of me. As soon as I heard him speak, I knew that it didn’t belong to the group of guys closing in on me, and I opened my eyes.
“What’s it to you?” a large tattooed guy growled, but he started taking a step back. A car had pulled in the parking space to my right, shining the bright headlights past me.
“I think you should just back off,” the new voice said.
I peeked over to the side at him, but the shadows from the headlights hid him. It was too dark for me to make anything out, except his pink tee shirt.
He took another step forward, and my would-be-attackers continued taking steps back. They weren’t moving very fast enough, and then suddenly, the blur of the pink shirt rushed towards them.
The darkness and my fear couldn’t let me trust my eyesight anymore. It looked as if the pink shirt was moving faster than humanly possible, and the guys yelled as he pushed them, sending them flying out of the garage.
I blinked my eyes to adjust them
better, and then everyone was gone.
Not everyone, exactly. The light above me flickered on again, and the guy in the pink shirt stood next to me. In big black letters across his chest, his shirt read, “Real men wear pink.”
He looked older than me, probably in his early twenties, and he wasn’t particularly well-built or tall. In fact, he leaned more towards wiry than he did muscular, and I couldn’t imagine what had frightened off the other guys.
His face was open and friendly, and he had an easy smile that I couldn’t help but respond to, even though I had just been a few moments away from death.
“Are you okay?” he asked, appraising me.
“Yeah,” I said in a voice that barely sounded like my own. “You saved my life.”
“You shouldn’t be out here alone,” he replied, completely ignoring the fact that he’d done anything heroic.
“My friend Jane is around here somewhere.”
I remembered Jane and looked around for her. Part of me was angry that she had done nothing to save me, but then again, neither had I, and I didn’t think that I should hold her to a higher standard than I did myself.
“Two girls?” He raised an eyebrow.
“I think Jane has mace,” I added lamely.
“Where is this alleged friend?” He took his turn scanning the parking lot, and then pointed to something by a van parked on the other side. “I think I see her over there.”
“Where?” I squinted at where he pointed but couldn’t see anything.
“Over there,” he repeated, taking a step towards the black Jetta parked next to me. “Come on. We’ll go over and pick her up, and then I’ll give you guys a ride.”
I walked around to the passenger side of the car, and it never occurred to me to say no. Something about him made me trust him.
His car stereo played Weezer, and in the glow of the blue dashboard lights, I got my first real good look at him. His skin looked flawless, but his hair was perfectly disheveled.
He sped off across the parking lot, and I pulled my eyes away from him to look out the window. Jane cowered down behind a white van, and I wondered if she’d bothered to call the police or anything. He stopped the car next to her and rolled down the window so he could lean out.
“Jane?” he said, and she turned to look at him.
I expected her to be afraid, maybe even bolt and run after what had just happened. Instead, she gave him the strangest look. It was almost as if she was in awe.
“Hi,” Jane said. It wasn’t her normal flirty voice, even though I’m sure that’s what she was trying for.
“Jane, he’s giving us a ride,” I said when it appeared she would just stand there staring at him. “Get in the car.”
“Sure.” She smiled at him before sliding into the backseat.
“Are you okay?” I looked back at her.
“I’m great,” Jane said, still gaping at him. “Who’s your friend here?”
“I don’t actually know,” I admitted, looking over at him.
“I’m Jack,” he said, filling in the blank. “And you’re Jane.” Then he looked over at me. “And you are?”
“Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I could really go for a cup of coffee right about now.” Jack dropped the car into gear and sped off without waiting for either of us to respond. It wasn’t really a question anyway, and neither one of us would’ve protested.
“This is a really nice car,” Jane said, and her voice had fully regained that sickeningly sweet tone. Jack didn’t say anything, and the silence started to feel awkward.
“Is this Weezer?” I asked, just to say something.
“Yeah,” Jack nodded.
“I like that song ‘Pork ‘n Beans.’” As soon as I mentioned the song, Jack quickly flipped it to the track.
“I saw them when they were on tour with Motion City Soundtrack,” he said.
“Really?” I ignored the annoyed glare Jane gave me and continued. “I really like them. How are they live?”
“Pretty good,” Jack shrugged, and turned sharply into the parking lot outside an all night diner.
When we got out of the car, Jane scampered over to him, looping her arm through his. He didn’t look pleased by it, but he didn’t pull away either.
Outside in the bright glow of the streetlights, I looked him over again. He had on pair of Dickies shorts, skater socks, and light blue Converse, along with the pink tee shirt. He more closely resembled cotton candy than he did a love interest for Jane.
“Oh crap,” I said after I’d gotten out of the car, and looked down at my dirty, bare feet. Blisters and oil covered them, and I couldn’t imagine cramming my swollen feet back into Jane’s shoes.
“What?” Jack asked, and then followed my gaze down. “Oh. Just don’t wear shoes.”
“I can’t not wear shoes.” I didn’t see much of another option, but I couldn’t go into a restaurant without shoes.
“You can wait in the car,” Jane offered up with a smug smile and leaned in closer to Jack, so he pulled his arm free from her and took a step away. She looked a little defeated, but I knew she wouldn’t give up that easy.
“No, you’ll be fine,” Jack insisted. “If they hassle you, I’ll take care of them.”
“What does that even mean?” I asked, but he’d already convinced me. After all, I’d seen the way he chased a gang of unruly guys. The graveyard shift at a Denny’s rip-off wouldn’t stand a chance.
As predicted, nobody noticed my lack of footwear. In fact, nobody noticed me, or even Jane. The waitress kept her eyes completely focused on Jack.
He sat down first, and Jane squished up next to him, so he kept moving over until he was plastered up against the window. I sat down across from them, and Jack rested his arms on the table, leaning towards me.
“What can I get you?” the waitress asked.
“Just coffee,” Jack answered. “Or did you guys want something else?”
“Coffee’s fine,” I said. I was a little hungry, but I felt uncomfortable eating in front of him and Jane.
“Are you sure you’re not hungry?” Jane asked, running her fingers on his arm, but this time, he actually recoiled from her touch.
“Nope,” Jack sighed, then muttered under his breath, “but I wish I was.”
“What?” the waitress asked, leaning in closer to hear him.
“Nothing.” Jack smiled at her. “Just the coffee.”
“Thanks,” I told the waitress when she lingered at our table, and she left to get our order.
“Thanks again for saving us.” Jane pressed herself against him. “If there’s anything I can do to repay you, just let me know.” There was definitely something strange going on, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
His skin was beach bum tanned, unnatural for people in Minnesota in March. His eyes were a weird blue-gray color, and there was something tremendously boyish about them, about him really, but otherwise, nothing seemed to stand out as overly attractive.
“Are you famous or something?” I blurted out, and Jane looked embarrassed enough for both of us so I didn’t bother blushing.
“What do you mean?” He sounded confused.
“Everyone’s staring at us. At you,” I corrected myself.
Jack just shrugged and looked down at the table but didn’t bother checking to see if I was right.
“I’m not famous,” Jack said. He looked like he wanted to explain things more, but then the waitress appeared with three mugs and a pitcher of coffee.
“Is there anything else I can get you?” the waitress asked.
“We’re fine, thanks,” Jane snapped, putting her hand possessively on Jack’s thigh until the waitress left.
“Come on. What’s going on?” I rested my arms on the table and leaned in closer to him because I’d lowered my voice.
“I don’t have an answer for it.” Jack picked up the pitcher of coffee and poured a cup for himself and me, and then filled Jane’s too. �
��Do you take cream or sugar in yours?”
I was perfectly capable of doing it myself, but I think he wanted to occupy himself so I would be less likely to notice him hedging the question. He dumped a creamer and two packets of sugar in my coffee, and stirred a creamer in his, then settled back in the booth.
“I take cream and sugar too,” Jane added, and Jack pushed the bowl of creamers and sugar towards her.
“So you’re not famous?” I refused to let it go without a direct answer.
“I can assure you that I’m not famous,” Jack smiled. This one thing I would say about him; he had to have one of the greatest smiles of all time.
“You just look so familiar to me,” I said.
“I know, right?” He gave me a perplexed look that mirrored my own.
“So do I know you from somewhere?” As soon as I said that, I knew that wasn’t exactly it either. I could almost guarantee that I’d never seen him before, but there was something undeniably familiar about him.
“That’s not possible,” he shook his head.
“How is it not possible?” I asked. “Did you just move here or something?”
“It’s complicated.” He touched his coffee cup and made like he was going to drink it, but he never even lifted it off the table.
Jane resigned herself to drinking her coffee and watching us talk. She finished one cup and poured herself another.
“How is it complicated?”
“It just is.” Jack flashed me another one of his amazing smiles.
Somehow, he managed to look very young, like he was fifteen, while simultaneously looking older than me. It was something about his eyes. They were very young and very old, at the same time.
“How old are you?” I asked pointedly.
To my surprise, Jack laughed, and I found something even more incredible than his smile. Easily, he had the greatest laugh in the universe. It sounded so clear and perfect.
“How old are you?” Jack countered, grinning at me.
“I asked you first.” I leaned back in my seat, crossing my arms over my chest, and that made him laugh again.