My blood approves, p.12
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       My Blood Approves, p.12

         Part #1 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
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“I am a lucky man. ” He looked wistful for a moment, thinking of Mae, and I longed to have something like that. It was pure, unadulterated love. Then, his expression changed as he thought of something. “Peter’s upstairs, if you wanted to talk to him. ”

  “Oh. ” I hadn’t really planned to talk to Peter, since he had this horrible way of simultaneously making me want to run to him and run away crying. But Ezra had said it in a way where I felt obligated to do it, and part of me really enjoyed the way Peter made me feel, even if it came wrapped in pain and confusion. “I’ll go see him then. ”

  “I’m just going to wait down here for Mae. ” Ezra stood by the door, watching me as I went, looking a bit like a lost puppy.

  I passed through the living room, but Jack and Milo were too entranced by some war video game to notice me. As I made my way up the stairs, I remembered the first time I met Peter, and the way he glared at me from over his book. I hoped that this wouldn’t be a repeat of that, but since Ezra had sent me up here, I had to believe that it wasn’t.

  Peter’s bedroom door was open, and I leaned in the doorway, peering around for him. When I found him, my breath stopped and a burning flush went over me.

  Wearing only a pair of jeans, he was drying his hair with a white towel. He wasn’t overly muscular, but his chest was defined and hard. A thin trail of dark hair started just below his belly button and traveled downwards, and my eyes had never been so tantalized by the prospect of what fell below the waist of his jeans.

  When he noticed me staring at him, he tossed his towel on his bed and just looked back at me, his green eyes shooting through me. I ached for him in ways I had never imagined.

  “I just took a shower,” Peter said.

  His lyrical voice somehow managed to dampen the trance I had been under, but nothing could fully break it. He looked away and grabbed a white shirt off his chair, and much to my dismay, he pulled it on.

  “I didn’t mean to disturb you,” I mumbled, finding it hard to speak clearly.

  “No, you’re okay. ” He sat back down on his bed and tousled his damp hair.

  I waited in the doorway for him to say more, but that was a struggle. It felt like there was something inside pulling me towards him. Like a rope was attached to my heart and someone physically yanked on it. He looked at me with an expression I couldn’t read, but his eyes definitely looked pained.

  “You can come in, if you want,” he said finally

  It didn’t feel so much like I walked to his bed as I just gave in and let myself be pulled over to him. Then I was on the bed, sitting dangerously close to him.

  I breathed in, and he smelled sweetly of apples. That was probably his soap, but there was something tangy and wonderful underneath that was all him.

  Like a complete idiot, I told him, “You smell good. ”

  He smiled the first genuine smile I’d seen him have, and it struck me with its utter perfection. Then softly, he laughed, sending astounding tingles radiating throughout my whole body. I almost shivered with pleasure.

  “What do I smell like?” Peter leaned in closer to me, as if he was sharing a secret.

  He was so close that when he exhaled, a damp tendril of his hair blew back and brushed against my cheek. My skin trembled expectantly, demanding more touch from him.

  “Apples?” I wondered how I managed to find the strength to speak.

  I knew the conversation was utterly pointless and dull, but most of my brain had become occupied by him. And I don’t mean by thoughts of him, I mean him. It was as if he’d seeped in and somehow become a part of me, but it wasn’t enough. I was desperate for all of him.

  “Yeah. ” He smiled crookedly, and then leaned back a little, away from me.

  Without any thought on my part, my body moved to correct the distance between us. I would’ve preferred that I stayed where I was, but my body insisted that I tilt closer to him.

  “Why do you hate me?” The words came out of my mouth, but I couldn’t believe that I’d asked them.

  Inside my mind, I screamed Shut up! Shut up! You can’t say that to him! But he’d managed to cut off the blood flow to the part of my brain that controlled my inhibitions. If I weren’t careful, I’d very quickly be confessing my innermost secrets to him.

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  “I don’t hate you. ” He looked embarrassed and lowered his eyes.

  I had an awful pain at not being able to see into his eyes, but it came with some relief, as I’d be able to think a bit more clearly.

  “Then why do you act like you do?” I pressed.

  What the hell was I doing? I was normally an absolute coward, and now at the worst possible moment, I suddenly decided to be brave and corner this amazingly stunning man into hating me. He had said he didn’t, but after I shamed and irritated him like this, I’m sure he would.

  “I don’t know. ” He looked up, staring straight ahead, but he wasn’t really looking at anything. His beautiful features stiffened to a painful mask.

  “You want to hate me, though. ” My voice was almost inaudible, but he’d heard me. I’d thought I hadn’t had the strength to speak, but the words kept relentlessly tumbling out.

  “That’s not exactly true. ” His face softened again, and he turned to look at me.

  His eyes were smoldering through me, and I felt my heart pound loudly in my chest. Very gently, he placed his hand on top of mine, and I felt that same electrical surge that I had the day before, but more intense this time. Pleasure rippled through me and I closed my eyes.

  Then suddenly, he pulled his hand back, and my eyes flew open. His face was a few inches from mine, and something in him looked completely ravenous. He never wavered or moved, but when he spoke, his voice had gone into a very low snarl.

  “Go before I do something very bad to you. ”

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  “You can do whatever you want to me,” I whispered, and he flinched at that.

  “Go!” Peter growled.

  His voice stung, but it managed to get me moving. Using all my strength, I looked away and stood up. He still hadn’t moved, but I could see the tendons in his neck and his arms standing out sharply.

  It wasn’t until I had started down the stairs, and I had begun to breathe, that I understood why he’d gotten so tense. He was using all his might not to move.

  When I got downstairs, I felt dazed and I was panting. There was a very real chance that I had just barely averted danger. And the worst part was part of me still wanted to rush back upstairs and let him do whatever he wanted with me as long as I could still be with him.

  “Alice?” Milo asked. He and Jack were standing in the middle of the living room, holding plastic guitars, but I could barely even see them. The whole world felt hazy and I couldn’t tell if I was dreaming or not. “Are you okay?”

  “You were with Peter?” Jack had stopped playing the game and turned to look at me. He eyed me over, and he saw something that made his face harden. “Come here. ” I felt frozen in place, so he commanded more harshly, “Come here. ”

  This time I listened and walked over to him, moving like a zombie.

  “Did something happen to her?” Milo’s voice got higher the more scared he got.

  Jack didn’t answer him. Instead, he looked me over with this odd expression on his face, a cross between disturbed and jealous. He put two fingers underneath my chin and lifted it up, revealing my neck. He turned my head this way and that, inspecting me carefully.

  When he was done, his expression had softened, and he looked satisfied.

  “Come here,” he repeated, but this time, he looped an arm around my shoulders and pulled me closer to him. “You’re okay. ”

  I threw my arms around him, hugging him tightly and relishing the safety of his arms. I sobbed into his chest, unable to hold it back anymore, and he kissed the top of my head.

  “What happened?” I heard Ezra’s melodic voice boom behind
me, but I hadn’t seen him when I came in. He seemed to have materialized at the sound of my crying.

  “I don’t know! She just came downstairs crying!” Milo explained plaintively. He was upset, and I wished somebody would just tell him that everything would be okay. Why wasn’t Mae here when I needed her?

  “Did something happen?” Ezra demanded, and there was an edge to his voice.

  “No,” Jack said softly, stroking my hair.

  “Are you sure?” Ezra persisted.

  “Yes, I’m sure,” Jack replied, growing irritated.

  “I’m going to talk to Peter. ” I didn’t hear Ezra leaving, but I knew he had anyway.

  “What’s wrong with her?” Milo sounded panicked.

  “Nothing. ” I pulled away from Jack a little but made sure to keep his arm around me. I wouldn’t feel as safe or sturdy without it. Wiping at my tear stained cheeks, I forced a smile at Milo. “I’m fine. ”

  “You’re not fine!” Milo insisted with wide, worried eyes.

  “It’s just… girl stuff. ” I tried to shrug it off, and I couldn’t tell if he saw through it or not.

  It was a perfectly reasonable explanation that while I was upstairs, alone with a very attractive guy, he had said or done something to offend me, and that’s what had upset me.

  In fact, that would be much more plausible than what had actually happened, which was that I had become so entranced with somebody that I almost let him slaughter me.

  And I was pretty sure that this attempted-murder had happened not because he hated me, but because he was attracted to me.

  “Like what?” Milo narrowed his eyes.

  “I don’t wanna talk about it. ” I just shook my head and looked away.

  “What’s going on?” Mae shouted suddenly, and my heart soared at the sight of her standing in the doorway. She rushed over to me, placing her hands her firmly on my shoulders to look in my eyes.

  “She was upstairs with Peter,” Jack explained. Mae’s expression changed from one of worry to shock, and she turned to look at Jack sharply. “Nothing happened. ”

  She softened, looking sympathetically at me. Before she pulled me into a hug, it finally dawned on me.

  Whatever had happened or almost happened with Peter, they knew it. Ezra had sent me upstairs, knowing exactly what would happen. Meaning, he had sent me to my probable death.

  What the hell was going on here? And why didn’t I feel as terrified as I should? In fact, as Mae stroked my hair and murmured words of comfort in her soft British accent, I felt nothing but safe. What was wrong with me?

  “I’m okay, really,” I insisted, and she finally released me.

  “I hope you mean that. ” She smiled sadly and pushed strands of hair back from my face, and then straightened up.

  “I do. ” I nodded firmly, and Jack playfully ruffled my hair, as if to reaffirm that everything was okay.

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  “And who is this?” Mae turned her attention to Milo. Just looking at her made his anxiety disappear, and he returned her open smile.

  “I’m Milo, Alice’s brother. ” He looked a little embarrassed by the look she was giving him, and I knew the feeling. She reached out and touched his face gently (his chubby cheeks were hard to resist) and grinned warmly.

  “I’m Mae, Ezra’s wife. You’re so much cuter than I’d thought you’d be. ”

  “Thanks?” Milo replied unsurely.

  “Have you had a tour of the house yet?” Mae had already started looping her arm through his, and she’d missed her calling as a real estate agent. Milo shook his head no, and she laughed a little. With that, she led him away on a tour.

  As soon as they were out of earshot, I turned to Jack and hissed, “What the hell happened?”

  “You tell me,” Jack countered evenly, and I might have overestimated how much he knew.

  “You have an idea of what happened, don’t you?” I asked. He didn’t answer me, so I continued, “You have suspicions. There was something that you were afraid happened. ”

  “I wasn’t afraid,” he answered quietly, but the fog of Peter was wearing off and I could feel how unnerved he really was.

  “Jack, I trust you,” I whispered fiercely. “Don’t betray that trust. ” An amused but pained expression flitted across his face, and he shook his head.

  “He’s not gonna hurt you, Alice. ” Then he turned to look at me. “None of us are. ”

  “Then…” I trailed off, trying to understand what was happening. “But Peter told me to go before he did something very bad to me. ” Jack let out a long breath through his teeth and stared off at some point above my head.

  “Well… I guess we all just have different definitions of what hurting you means. ”

  “Was that meant to be comforting? Cause it wasn’t,” I snapped, crossing my arms on my chest.

  “Let me put it this way: You are a top priority for my family. ” Jack said, but he’d finished the conversation.

  He still had the plastic guitar hanging over his shoulder, and he unpaused the game and clicked out of the two-player level he’d been playing with Milo. He started playing a song, and when I asked him what that meant, he ignored me.

  I flopped back on the couch next to Matilda and stroked her long, white fur. Everything with Peter had exhausted me. My skin flushed with embarrassment at the thought of running into him. I had made a fool of myself, and he was in trouble with Ezra.

  But even with that, I still really wanted to see him. My very being wanted to be near him again, and it would be worth anything.

  As predicted, Mae completely enchanted Milo. They seemed made for each other. She was all motherly love, and he was all motherless child.

  When they made their way into the living room, Milo went back to playing video games with Jack. I curled up on the couch with Mae, resting my head on her lap, and let her play with my hair.

  “I know you’re hurting now, but things will make sense, love,” Mae murmured, pushing my hair from my eyes. “Everything happens for a reason. ”

  The nights of barely sleeping had caught up with me, and the soothing comfort of Mae was too much. I drifted off to a sleep filled with dreams of Peter. They were probably the best dreams I’d ever had.

  When I woke up, I felt good, but incredibly disoriented. The living room was dark, and I was alone, except for Matilda, who snored loudly on the floor next to me.

  I moved a little on the couch, preparing to start calling for Jack or Milo, but then I heard voices talking softly nearby. And then I heard my name, so I stopped moving and strained to hear.

  “Well, we obviously can’t leave Alice alone with him anymore. ” That was Jack, trying to protect me from Peter.

  “No, I agree. ” Ezra’s deep voice sounded like a lullaby when he kept it low. I imagined that it would be tranquil to have him sing me to sleep. “But they’ll have to eventually. ”

  “But she’s not ready for it,” Jack said. “He’s not ready for it. ”

  “You’re not ready for it,” Ezra countered.

  “Maybe not,” Jack relented. “But he feels too conflicted for anything to work. He’s just making everything harder on her than it needs to be. I mean, you saw her today. ”

  “It’s incredibly painful, rejecting it,” Ezra calmly said. “Peter’s showing a tremendous will just going against it, but eventually, he’ll give in. It’s impossible. Whatever pain he thinks he’s avoiding, this is far worse. ”

  “How do you know?” Jack asked him suspiciously. “You never rejected it. ”

  “I did at first,” Ezra said, then backtracked. “I tried to ignore it, and that was brutal. But I saw Peter after what happened with Alice. ”

  “And?” Jack pressed Ezra when he didn’t say anything.

  “He’s not taking it well,” Ezra said simply.

  “How much longer will this go on?” Jack asked, and I couldn’t help bu
t notice a hint of sadness in his voice.

  “Not much longer. ” Ezra breathed deeply. “We’ll just have to keep an eye on both of them. ”

  “Ezra!” Mae called from another room, sounding farther away than them. “Come here! Milo’s beat me at chess twice already! You’ve got to try against him! He’s amazing!”

  “I’ll be right there!” Ezra shouted back to her, then spoke quieter to Jack. “You understand?”

  “Yeah,” Jack said reluctantly.

  I didn’t hear Ezra’s footfalls when he walked away, but that didn’t surprise me. Jack’s silhouette appeared in the doorway, and I quickly closed my eyes, pretending I was sleeping.

  Matilda whimpered as he walked past her, and he patted her head before sitting on the couch next to me. As soon as I felt the couch moved, I stirred as if I was just waking up.

  “Did you sleep okay?”

  “Yeah,” I nodded and moved so I was sitting on my knees facing him. My voice sounded thick from tears, but I hoped he would think it was from sleep.

  “Hey are you okay?” Jack sounded sad and worried. My eyes adjusted to the dark, and I could map out the concerned expression on his face.

  “Yeah, just tired. ”

  “I gathered that when you passed out. ” He tried to keep his tone light, but he struggled.

  What Ezra had said had gotten to him too, and when he felt anxious, I felt it even worse. It wouldn’t be much longer before I started to cry.

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  “You sound upset,” I said.

  “Nah, I’m fine,” Jack insisted, shaking his head in the darkness.

  “Jack, promise me that I’ll be okay. You know I’ll believe anything you say, so just promise me that everything will be okay. ” My voice sounded more nervous than I would’ve liked.

  “I know you can’t understand right now, but you’ve got nothing to worry about. ” Then he put his arm around me and pulled me close to him, resting his chin on the top of my head. “I’m upset because I care about you too much. The problem’s me, not you. You are gonna be better than fine. I promise. ”

  “You’re right. I don’t understand,” I said. He stroked my hair, and I moved my head on his chest. Then I realized something odd. “I can’t hear your heart beat. ”

  “Just listen harder. ”

  Pressing my ear closer to his chest, I listened hard, and, there it was, very faint and incredibly slow. I wasn’t timing it, but it couldn’t have been beating more than ten or twenty times a minute.

  “It’s so slow!” I jerked my head back so I could look at him. “Are you okay? You’re not having a heart attack, are you?”

  “No,” Jack laughed, this time sounding more like himself. “That’s just the way my heart beats. ”

  “But that’s not the way it’s supposed to be. ” I furrowed my brow, trying to understand. “That’s not how my heart beats. ”

  “I know. ” He was mildly amused, but my confusion always seemed to entertain him. “I can hear your heartbeat. ”

  “How? You’re way over there. ” He was actually sitting right next to me, but he was still too far away to hear. “You’re hearing isn’t that good. ”

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