My blood approves, p.18
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       My Blood Approves, p.18

         Part #1 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
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“What do you think of… vampires?” I hesitated before the word, as if by saying it aloud to someone other than them, it would make it real.

  “I don’t,” Milo answered flatly.

  He didn’t express the vaguest interest in this conversation, but I pressed on anyway. I hated not telling him things, and it was nearly impossible for me to carry around a secret this life changing.

  “You don’t think maybe they’re real?” I pulled at the straps of my backpack and bit my lip, waiting for his response.

  “No. ” He looked at me like I was a total idiot, which is what I kinda expected. “Do you think werewolves are real?”

  “There’s no such thing as werewolves,” I replied.

  “Yeah, and there’s no such thing as vampires. ” Milo shook his head and went back to studying.

  “But you don’t think that, like, there’s even the possibility that they might exist?” I asked. He lifted his head, looking confused about why I would be talking about nonsense.

  “Creatures that live on only blood and never age?” He shook his head again. “That’s not even biologically possible. And then they sleep in coffins? That just seems unnecessary. ”

  “Well, maybe they don’t sleep in coffins,” I suggested, picking at a chipped piece of nail polish on my finger.

  “That doesn’t make it any more plausible. ” He looked over at me with narrowed eyes. “Okay. What’s this about? Did you stay up late watching The Lost Boys again?”

  “No. ” I ran a hand through my hair, trying to think of how I could explain this away. “I just had a bad dream last night. That’s all. ”

  “You know, maybe if you didn’t stay out all hours of the night running around with Jack, you would be able to sleep like a normal person without any ridiculous dreams. ”

  “Right. ” I decided that maybe hinting would be my best bet. “All hours of the night. ”

  “Yeah, that’s what I said,” Milo went back to looking at his book, growing irritated.

  “Yep. I had vampire dreams cause I was out all night with a really attractive guy!” I tried emphasizing everything so he would get the point, and when he lifted his head again, I thought I’d finally gotten through to him.

  “Wait. I thought you said you didn’t think Jack was attractive?” Milo asked, and I sighed.

  “Just forget it. ” I shook my head.

  He started to ask me about Mae’s cooking last night, but I turned up my iPod. I guess I didn’t really feel like talking about vampires.

  Over lunch, Jane made a point of telling me that I looked like hell and I hadn’t been acting like myself. She brought up Jack for the first time in days, but I didn’t feel like talking about him, so I said that I wasn’t feeling well and went to the bathroom.

  When I looked at my reflection in the mirror, it didn’t really seem to look like me. My skin was pale with dark circles under my eyes, and I had visibly lost weight.

  Since I spent most nights over to Jack’s and they never ate, it never really occurred to me to eat. Maybe it would if I didn’t spend so much of the time with my stomach twisted in knots.

  I didn’t know how much longer I could go on this way. My normal human life felt like a total sham, and the vampire parts that had once felt fun and exciting were growing painful.

  Everyone had been so nice to me and they all claimed that they cared about me, but why were they hurting me so much?

  Again, I was reminded of the story of the ugly girl in the beautiful people village. Only this time, I related much more to how dried up and used she must’ve felt by the time they were done loving her.

  After school, Milo proceeded to launch into a speech about how I’m never home anymore and how Mom’s even starting to notice. At least he seemed to have forgotten entirely about the vampire conversation on the bus, which made me feel a little better.

  I didn’t think that anybody would really care if I told Milo. I just figured that he’d probably have me locked away in a psych ward, and I’d never be able to see them again.

  Good news. Peter and Ezra are on a business trip. Jack text messaged me, and Milo rolled his eyes.

  “You know I really like Jack, but have you considered what this is doing to your school work?” Milo asked.

  He sat at the kitchen table, working on some piece of homework, but I lay sprawled out on the couch half-asleep. My lack of nightly sleep was starting to result in afternoon naps.

  “Nope!” I said.

  Schoolwork didn’t really seem to matter anymore. It was starting to look like I’d probably marry into money, or maybe I’d just die. Either way, education didn’t seem that important.

  Why is that good news? I messaged him back. Knowing that I wouldn’t see Peter hurt, but it was also a relief. I could only tolerate so many rebuffs.

  We can hang out and I can take the Lamborghini. Are you game?

  Definitely! I’ll meet you outside! Hurry! I responded and jumped up from the couch.

  Milo started in with a lecture about school and sleep, but I didn’t even pretend to listen. After the stress of the past weekend, I could really just go for a night of silly Jack fun.

  I burst outside just as the red car pulled up in front. Throwing open the car door, I leapt inside and smiled broadly at him. Jack laughed at my exuberance, and my heart swelled at the sound of it.

  “You’re in a good mood today,” Jack grinned. We didn’t drive right away, and he just sat there for a minute looking at me. “What do you wanna do?”

  “I don’t care! Just as long as we get there fast!” I said, and his eyes glimmered.

  “You don’t have to tell me twice. ” He threw the car into gear and we sped off so quickly, I pressed back against the seat.

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  Even though we’d just been in a car wreck, I still felt safe with him. After all, he had saved me from the crash, even if he had also been the cause of it.

  “This weekend felt so long,” I said drearily.

  “Tell me about it. ” Jack was just as tired and frustrated as I was, and that was easy to forget.

  Generally, I considered him to be a culprit in all of this, but he was just as much a pawn as I was. We were trapped in an unyielding battle with biology.

  “I just want everything to go back to normal. ” I had expected him to agree with me, but he just laughed.

  “I’m assuming you mean normal in that you were running around with your new vampire best friend,” he smiled. “Yeah. Cause that’s the baseline for normal. ”

  “Well, it feels more normal than all this business about my blood being meant for Peter,” I muttered. “How is any part of me meant for anything? Who decided that?”

  “I wish I knew. ” His expression slacked for a second, but then he shook his head. “Look, let’s just not think about any of that. You look exhausted. Why don’t we just do something nice and relaxing this evening?”

  “Like what?” I turned to face him and leaned my head against the seat

  “How about we just go back to my house and watch a movie? I have like a million. I’m sure there’s a couple in there you’d be up to watching. ”

  “That sounds fantastic,” I admitted. The thought of spending the evening just curled up somewhere with Jack sounded positively wonderful. “How long are Ezra and Peter gone for?”

  “I don’t know,” Jack shrugged. “Probably a week, I guess. Why?”

  “What do they do? For business, I mean. How did they make all your money?” I had spent so much time talking about the preternatural that I never really had a chance to ask about the practical things, like how they supported themselves.

  “Ezra’s been working for, you know, hundreds of years doing various things, so he managed to build up quite the nest egg before I was even born. Right now, they’re doing a lot of stocks and trading, and I just never bothered to follow.

  “They own a couple companies overseas,” Ja
ck explained. “Everything they do gets shifted and moved around all the time. They can’t stay with the same people for too long, or people’ll catch on that they haven’t aged. ”

  “Why don’t you have a job?” I asked.

  “Cause I don’t really need to work. Whenever I find something that interests me, I do it, but we have plenty of money. Ezra and Peter don’t even have to work. But Ezra thinks that since we’re going to live forever, we might as well be prepared for it,” he shrugged, then looked over at me. “Why? Does it bother you that I don’t work?”

  “No, I’m just curious about all the machinations of your life,” I said.

  We reached his house, and he drove up into the driveway. Turning off the car, he grinned wickedly.

  “Well, you know pretty much everything about my life. ” He got out of the car, preparing to escape with that total fabrication of an answer.

  “I know hardly anything about your life!” I scoffed, hurrying out after him.

  “I’m a vampire and I drive too fast and I’m awesome on the Xbox. ” He spread his arms expansively, as if that explained it all. “That’s all you really need to know about me. ”

  “I hardly think that’s true. ” I raised an eyebrow at him, causing him to laugh, but he just shook his head and went into the house.

  Matilda was already waiting at the door for him. He just gave her a quick scratch and kept on walking, so she followed at his heels.

  “Mae, I’m back!” Jack announced, going into the kitchen.

  “I’m just doing some laundry!” Mae shouted from down the hall by her bedroom.

  “I hate it when you guys are mundane. ” I wrinkled my nose. “Vampires are supposed to be big and powerful and sexy and dangerous. ”

  “And buy a new outfit everyday?” Jack crouched down so he could give Matilda the attention she was dying for, and I leaned back against the counter. “That doesn’t really seem practical. ”

  “Exactly! Vampires aren’t supposed to be practical! You’re supernatural beings with magical powers! You don’t do laundry or play video games! You jump off cliffs and have sex with really attractive women!”

  “I get it,” Jack laughed. “I had this notion about what a vampire should be, but it was all based on glamorized Hollywood ideals. Nothing could be sexy and cool all the time, especially not something that’s immortal. Do you know how exhausting and expensive it would be to wear designer gowns and crowned jewels everyday for six hundred years?

  “And what would be the point? Who would I be trying to impress? I’m a damn vampire! I’m not gonna put on black eyeliner and grow my hair long just so some stupid humans think I’m sexy. They think I am anyway. ” He winked exaggeratedly at me, so I laughed and started walking away.

  “Where are these alleged millions of movies anyway?” I headed towards the living room, even though I hadn’t seen a single movie in there.

  “Most of them are in my room. ” He stopped me at the stairs and nodded up to his room. “This might surprise you, but I’m the movie buff in the family. Well, Mae is a little bit, but she only likes things with Ginger Rogers and Cary Grant. ” He rolled his eyes. “Sometimes, she really does act like she’s eighty-years-old. ”

  “I heard that!” Mae was walking towards us with a laundry basket overflowing with clothes, and she thrust them at Jack. “These are yours, by the way. You had a pair of tan Dickies that were covered in blood and I couldn’t get it out. ”

  “That must be from when I went to the club. ” He sifted through the basket of clothes absently, but my eyes widened.

  It was one thing to know that he drank blood. It was a different thing entirely to know that he’d ruined clothes by drinking blood from a human being.

  “Sometimes Jack goes down to the vampire club on Hennepin Ave. ” Mae had noticed the shocked look on my face, so she tried to explain. “A lot of the girls down there are donors, and the ones that aren’t don’t mind. But sometimes when you hit an artery, things can get a little messy. ”

  “But if you hit an artery, don’t they die?” I must’ve continued looking freaked out, because Jack started getting frustrated. He shifted the basket to his other arm and shook his head.

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  “Our saliva has chemicals in it. Like mosquitoes and vampire bats have anesthetic in theirs. We have that, plus more to make the wound heal fast. The marks are usually completely gone within an hour or two of the bite. ” He grew bored with the conversation, so he turned and jogged up the stairs. “Come on, Alice, if you want a say in what we watch. ”

  “I’d go with him, or he’s liable to make you watch The Lost Boys,” Mae warned me.

  “Hey, it’s a good movie!” Jack shouted, and I was inclined to agree.

  Just the same, I’d rather watch something a little less blood sucking. The whole point of the night was to not think about all the weird stuff going on.

  I hurried up the stairs after him and fought the urge to go into Peter’s room. Even standing in the hall, I could smell that tangy, sweet aroma that Peter left behind, but I quickly pushed it out of mind before my heart would beat all funny.

  “I’m just gonna put these away real quick,” Jack informed me when I came into his room. “I wouldn’t want my vampire image to be spoiled by wrinkled clothes. ”

  The door was open to his massive walk-in closet, and he had started hanging up some of his shirts. I walked over to peer inside, and I wasn’t surprised to find that his wardrobe consisted almost entirely of tee shirts, Dickies, and various shades of Converse.

  “You have a billion dollars, and you have the wardrobe of a twelve-year-old. ”

  “Yeah, well, I have the emotional maturity of a twelve-year-old too, so-” He stuck his tongue out at me and then went back to hanging up his clothes.

  “You showed me. ” I rolled my eyes and went over to flop down on his over-stuffed bed.

  It was completely unmade, but it had to be the most comfortable thing I had ever laid on. The sheets were probably Egyptian with a ten million thread count. Not that I knew what any of that meant, but I know it made things more comfortable for some reason. My sheets came from Target, though, and I slept just fine on them.

  “I’m glad you like my bed. ” He had finished hanging his things up and walked out into his room. “I would’ve made it if I’d known you’d be rolling around in it. ”

  “I’m not rolling around,” I muttered, but I sat up so I wouldn’t be tempted to.

  I looked around his room. There were a few posters on his dark blue walls (one of which was a tour poster from the Cure playing at First Ave on July 12, 1984, and I wondered if he had actually been there). Underneath his massive flat screen TV, there was lots of gaming equipment strewn about a slick black entertainment center, but I didn’t see any movies.

  “So did you just make up the stuff about the movies?”

  “Oh, no, check this out. ” Jack picked up a remote control off the entertainment center and hit a button. The entire wall to the left of the TV slid back, like a pocket door, and revealed a gigantic shelving unit overflowing with DVD’s. “That’s cool, right? This was Mae’s idea, because she said having all the movies out in the open was ‘tacky. ’”

  “But Peter has tons of books out in his room,” I said.

  “Right?” Jack shook his head and walked over to inspect his movie collection. “Books are ‘sophisticated. ’ It’s what I get for living with people who were born before television. They just don’t understand this modern age. ”

  “Yeah, you have a rough life,” I mocked.

  “Hey, my favorite pair of shorts just got thrown away!” He looked back at me, pretending to be heartbroken. “It’s been a pretty sad day all around. ”

  “About that…” I wanted to segue into asking him more questions about the club, even though I wasn’t sure if I should.

  “I didn’t kill her, if that’s what you’re thinking,” Jack
explained quickly. “Most vampires don’t kill people. It would make eating impossible. If we killed every time we ate, the vampire population in Minneapolis alone would kill at least a thousand people a week. We’d eat ourselves into starvation in less than a decade. ”

  “I didn’t think you’d killed her, but that’s good to know. ” A shiver ran down my spine anyway.

  In order for a thousand vampires to eat, a thousand people had to be bitten each week. Even if some of them lived on blood banks, the way Jack and Mae mostly did, that was still impossible to fathom.

  “How could all those people be bitten? Why aren’t they talking about it?” I asked.

  “Very few know they’re bitten. ” He wouldn’t looked at me, and he shifted his weight uncomfortably. “We don’t go around blood raping them or anything. They just think they’re on dates. Lots of vampires – not me – but lots have ‘girlfriends’ or ‘boyfriends,’ but really, it’s like… having a cow, so you don’t have to buy milk. ”

  I gasped and instantly thought of Jane. She went home with all sorts of guys, and most of them were attractive and kinda creepy. She could easily have been a vampire’s cow, more than once.

  “But how do they not know?”

  “Well, they just think…” He rubbed his forehead and sighed. “They just think that they’re with really good lovers. It feels really good. So if you incorporate it with sex, especially with drunk or high people, they have no clue. And it doesn’t really hurt them. You’re a little weak and woozy, but otherwise okay. ”

  “So that girl that you bit…” I felt strangely jealous. Knowing that Jack was with a girl, that he’d fed on someone made my stomach twist. “Did you have sex with her?”

  “No,” Jack said, but he turned away from me and looked ashamed. My heart sped up, and he tilted his head, so I knew he heard it. “But we did… stuff. The stuff doesn’t matter, though. I know guys say that, but for us it’s really true. It was just a way to get what I wanted. ”

  “Because for you, it’s not the sex. It’s the blood that’s intimate and… erotic. ” When I said that, he realized he’d actually made things worse and grimaced. “So what’s it like?”

  “It’s like drinking blood,” he sighed.

  He rubbed his eyes, and I could feel how nervous this made him. The topic upset me, and he knew it. Just thinking about drinking her blood made him thirsty. On top of that, he could hear the quickening of my pulse.

  “It’s hard to explain. You’ll understand when you’re a vampire,” he said finally.

  Page 54

  “What is it like for her then? What’s it like for a human to be bitten?” I moved so I was sitting on my knees, leaning more towards him. His hunger filled the room like a fog, permeating through me.

  “I don’t know. ” Swallowing hard, he glanced over at me and almost instantly looked away.

  “Did she enjoy it?”

  The thought of her, some faceless girl, being with Jack in a way that I never had made me ill. Maybe that’s why I did what I was doing. I wanted to know, in some twisted way, but I also didn’t think it was fair that she go to feel something with him that I couldn’t.

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