My blood approves, p.2
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       My Blood Approves, p.2

         Part #1 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
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Even with the coffee and the adrenaline rush from earlier, I felt very tired. I wanted to continue hanging out with Jack, but my whole body had started to ache, especially my legs and ankles.

  “I’m starting to drag. ” To punctuate the statement, I yawned loudly.

  Jack paid for the check, even though I tried to make a play for it. It was only a couple bucks, and I was tired, so I didn’t fight that hard.

  When I stood up, my legs fought to give out underneath me, but I managed to stay up on my feet. For a second, though, I thought Jack was going to pick me up and carry me out to the car. Jane must’ve gotten the same idea, because she inserted herself between us.

  Page 4

  Almost the instant I sat in his car, I fell asleep. I remember a brief discussion about who he would take home first. I woke up just as Jack pulled up in front of my apartment building. Jane was already gone, so I guess he’d dropped her off. I’m not sure how he knew where I lived, but it didn’t seem important then.

  I left Jack outside my brownstone and went up to my apartment. Fortunately, my mom wouldn’t be home from her shift until after seven a. m. , and my younger brother Milo was already asleep in his room.

  Painfully, I stripped off the ridiculous get up that Jane had dressed me in and pulled on an oversized tee shirt. I grabbed my cell phone with the full intention of plugging it in, but I collapsed onto my bed with my phone in my hand before I had the chance.

  Just as I started passing out, I felt the phone vibrate in my hand, startling me awake.

  Sweet dreams :) – Jack

  The text message was from Jack, and I felt my heart beat faster. Somehow, when I had been sleeping, Jack had gotten my phone number from my cell and programmed his number into mine.

  Under other circumstances, that might have been a little creepy, but in this case, it just made me feel happy and relieved. Clicking off my phone, I set it on my bedside table and promptly fell asleep.

  - 3 -

  When I woke up, the first thing I noticed, after the painful damage to my feet, were the ten million text messages from Jane. All of them were about Jack, and I felt no urge to reply.

  I pulled on sweats, and then stumbled into the bathroom to overdose on painkillers and cover my feet in Neosporin and Band-Aids.

  Miraculously, I’d woken up before two o’clock in the afternoon, and that meant that my mom was still asleep. She did a graveyard shift as a dispatcher in St. Paul, so she usually made it home at an ungodly hour and then slept all day.

  My brother Milo was a studious little bastard though, and he’d probably been in bed before midnight and up before nine.

  When I made it out to the living room, I found him sitting at the computer, probably researching a paper for school even though we were on Spring Break. He was a sophomore in high school and had the social life of a toddler.

  It was a sad, sad thing that I was the cool one in the family.

  “What’s wrong with you?” Milo asked, glancing up at me.

  “What’s wrong with you?” I countered, utilizing my quick wit.

  I had gone into the small adjoined kitchen and poured myself a bowl of Fruity Pebbles. (Scientists haven’t tested this, but I’ve come to find that a Gatorade, a bowl of Fruity Pebbles, and an Excedrin will cure any hangover. )

  “Hung over?” Milo noticed me creating my antidote, and I definitely felt that way.

  “Something like that,” I said.

  With my bowl of cereal and lemon-lime sports drink in hand, I flopped on the couch, determined to find either Looney Tunes or a trashy Lifetime movie (the second part of my hang over cure-all).

  “What time did you get in last night?” Milo asked with a hint of disapproval in his voice.

  He’s a year and half years younger than me, but he’s definitely the parental figure in our relationship. Since Mom’s always working, and Dad’s been out of the picture since the beginning of time, I guess one of us had to step up and do it.

  “I don’t know. ” I tried to think, but I couldn’t actually remember.

  After we left the diner, I had pretty much been unconscious the entire time. I only vaguely remembered getting the text from Jack, and I guessed it was somewhere around two or three.

  “So what did you end up doing last night?” Milo had given up on even the pretense of doing something on the computer and tilted his chair towards me.

  His dark brown eyes settled on me with their usual mix of curiosity and concern, as if he always half-expected me to admit to shooting up black tar heroin and having sex for money.

  “Nothing,” I shrugged.

  “Nothing?” He raised an eyebrow, his suspicion making him look older than he really was. Aside from the baby fat that clung to his cheeks, he could actually pass for being older than me.

  “We couldn’t get in anywhere,” I explained through a mouthful of cereal. “So we just wandered around looking for a club until my feet were completely destroyed, and then we came home. ”

  “Jane didn’t drag you off to some party?”

  “Nope. ”

  “That’s very unlike her to end a night without vodka or sex,” he commented.

  “Life is full of surprises. ” I had eaten all my cereal, so I drank the rainbowed milk from the bowl and hoped that Milo would let the subject drop. “What are you up to today?”

  “This,” he shrugged. “You?”

  “Same. ” I set my bowl down on the coffee table and settled back on the couch. “There’s a movie about a sex addict on Lifetime. Care to watch?”

  “Sure. ” He got up from the kitchen chair that sat in front of the computer desk and planted himself at the end of the couch.

  I stretched out, resting my battered feet on his lap. He started to say something about the state of them, but then answered his own question by simply saying Jane. We both agreed that she was the source of all my life’s problems.

  We spent the rest of the afternoon camped out on the couch watching a Lifetime movie marathon. Mom got up, showered, and left for work early, citing overtime, but I was never sure if I believed that or not.

  Sometimes, I think she just didn’t like being in the apartment. At this point, it had become more like Milo and I lived on our own. We even did all the grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. (By “we,” I mostly mean him. But I did help. Sometimes. )

  Around nine, I finally decided that I ought to shower. When I went into my room to gather my clothes, I noticed my cell phone flashing on the table. I had ignored it all day because I had wanted to ignore Jane, but I knew that eventually I’d have to deal with her.

  Much to my surprise, buried underneath the mass of texts from her, I found a text message from Jack.

  Motion City Soundtrack tomorrow. First Ave. Seven o’clock. I’m buying. You in?

  He’d been paying attention last night when I just casually mentioned liking the band Motion City Soundtrack, and he’d invited me to a concert. First Ave. was a rather historic little venue downtown, not far off from where he found us.

  I knew that if Milo heard about it, his paranoia would kick in, and hed do everything but forbid me from going. Despite that, I couldn’t feel that way. Sure, Jack was too old for me, but we weren’t dating, and I didn’t really feel like that would become an issue.

  Page 5

  I sighed, then quickly responded with, That’s too much $. I already owe you too much.

  Oh be quiet. Money doesn’t matter. Are you in or not? Jack replied within seconds.

  Yeah. But don’t get in the habit of buying me things. I messaged him back.

  Don’t get in the habit of protesting when I buy you things. ;)

  Funny. I replied, hoping it sounded as droll as I wanted it to.

  I’ll pick you up at six-thirty. Sound good? That was cutting it awfully close to the time the show started, but he was inviting me, so I’d play by his rules.

  Yeah. See yo
u then. :)

  I decided instantly that I couldn’t tell Jane about this. If hanging out with Jack became a regular thing, I knew I’d have to tell her. And Milo.

  But for now, I thought it’d be best if I kept it to myself. I couldn’t keep anyone’s secrets, not even my own, so I couldn’t really explain what compelled me to keep this to myself.

  I spent the next twenty-four hours avoiding Jane and hedging Milo’s questions. He had a sixth sense when something was up with me, and it was nearly impossible to keep anything hidden from him.

  When I was getting ready to go out, he knew there was a guy involved. I don’t know how. All I had put on was a slim-fitting hoodie and a pair of jeans, so I don’t understand what that would give away.

  Every time I left Milo home alone at night, I felt terrible. Sure, he was fifteen, and we’d spent most of our lives alone, but it still never felt right to me.

  He didn’t really want me to go because he didn’t know what I was up to, but he assured me that he’d be fine playing World of Warcraft on the computer and he’d barely even notice I was gone.

  Jack arrived promptly at six-thirty, washing away any feelings of guilt or trepidation. As soon as I saw him, I just felt at ease and vaguely contented.

  “Hey,” Jack smiled broadly when I hopped into his car.

  “Thanks,” I said. “For all this. ”

  “All what?” Jack looked confused as we pulled away from my building, speeding towards First Ave.

  “The ride, the tickets, saving my life,” I elaborated.

  “Oh, that,” he laughed. “It’s really not a problem. Trust me. ”

  “Just because it wasn’t a problem for you doesn’t me that I’m not grateful,” I pointed out.

  “Fair enough,” he allowed. “Well, you’re welcome then. ”

  Parking downtown should’ve been impossible, but he managed to find a spot half a block away. It was obvious that he could walk much faster than I could, but he kept his pace to match mine, making me feel guilty for holding him up.

  It was almost seven when we reached the door, and I knew part of the problem was because I slowed us down. I started to apologize, but he wouldn’t hear of it.

  By the time I saw all the kids inside, I had already resigned myself to standing in the back, unable to catch sight of the band onstage. Jack took my hand to weave us through the crowd, and there was something very odd about his touch.

  His skin was neither hot nor cold. It just felt… temperature-less. Although his skin was tremendously soft, it reminded me of a lizard. The way they can’t regulate their temperature at all, so they’re always whatever temperature the room is or whatever’s touching them.

  We made our way up close to the stage, but thanks to my height, it did me little good. When the band came out and the crowd rushed forward, I ended up with my head smooshed into the back of the guy in front of me.

  Jack managed to stand his ground, creating a little pocket of unmashedness. He noticed my predicament, and rather deftly, he scooped me up and dropped me on his shoulders, so my legs were straddling his neck.

  I became very conscious of the fact that I weighed something over a hundred pounds (the exact amount is irrelevant) and that had to be heavy. Hell, fifty pounds sounded heavy when it’s sitting on your shoulders.

  “Let me know if I get too heavy,” I shouted over the music.

  “You won’t!” Jack yelled back, and I knew that was true.

  Throughout the entire show (which was spectacular), he never faltered or even hinted at putting me down. When the crowd started to disperse, I was still on his shoulders, and I thought he might carry me out. Instead, he lifted me up off his shoulders and set me on the ground.

  “Holy cow!” I said after he’d put me down. “You must eat like a double dose of Wheaties every day!”

  “What are you talking about?” Jack asked, looking at me like I was insane.

  “You’re super strong!” Without thinking, I reached out and grabbed his bicep, trying to feel some massive amounts of hidden muscle, but honestly, it felt pretty ordinary.

  “You’re just really light. ” Jack started walking away, attempting to end that line of conversation, but I hurried after him.

  “What’s your angle?” I asked, trying to sound more playful than demanding.

  “Isosceles,” Jack quipped.

  “What?” If Milo had been there, he probably would’ve understood the reference, but geometry wasn’t my thing.

  “You asked me what my angle was, so I said isosceles,” Jack explained, looking down at me to make sure that he wasn’t losing me in the crowd. “It’s a type of a triangle with two equal sides. I suppose that’s not really an angle, and I would’ve said something like acute or obtuse, but I thought that would either sound like I was hitting on you or calling you stupid. I should’ve said oblique. That would’ve been good. Damn! I’m gonna remember that for next time. ”

  “You’re the most cryptic person I’ve ever met,” I sighed.

  We stepped outside into the night air, and I pulled my sweatshirt tighter to me, flipping the hood up over my head. Normally, the night air felt refreshing after being all sweaty and crammed with other people on the floor, but since I’d been on Jack’s shoulders, I hadn’t gotten hot at all.

  He didn’t look sweaty from fighting off the mosh pit, and the cold didn’t seem to affect him either. I was tempted to reach out and take his hand to see what the temperature felt like, but it felt too awkward.

  “So, did you have fun?” Jack asked me as we strolled to his car.

  “I did,” I smiled at him. “Did you?”

  “Of course. ”

  There was always this wonderful rush after a good concert, like adrenaline but less panicky. So when they let out, I usually talked a mile a minute about the show, the people, just anything, and everything.

  Page 6

  Tonight, though, I fell silent. There were millions of things running through my mind that I wanted to talk about, but very little had to do with the performance I had seen, so I kept my mouth shut.

  “I don’t mean to be cryptic,” Jack said at length.

  We were almost to his car, but he stopped walking and kept his gaze focused on some point straight ahead. His hands were shoved deep in the pocket of his Dickies shorts, and he sighed.

  “I don’t have an angle. Just…” He looked over at me, as if to make sure that I was still listening. I peered up at him from underneath my hood, and he smirked a little. “You’re cold. We should get in the car. ”

  “No! Tell me what you were going to say first!” I demanded, sounding more forceful than I meant to, but Jack only laughed. Then he went back to staring straight ahead, and his expression went somber.

  “I don’t want you to think that I’m completely egotistical, cause I’m not. I’m just realistic. ”

  “You’re talking about the way all the girls look at you?”

  “Yeah,” Jack said sheepishly. “Everyone kind of… reacts to me a certain way. And you don’t. It’s refreshing. So that’s what I’m doing here. With you. ”

  “Wait, wait, wait. ” I waved my hands at him, feeling a wave of disappointment. “What about the way other people react to you? Why do they do that?”

  “I don’t know. ” Jack shifted slightly, and I knew he was lying. He knew exactly what was going on, but he wasn’t going to tell me.

  “That’s not fair!”

  “See?” Jack smiled. “This is refreshing. Do you know how many other people argue with me, about anything?”

  “If you think this is refreshing, just wait. ” I tried to glower at him, but his smile was just too damn infectious.

  “Come on,” Jack started walking towards the car again. “You’re gonna freeze to death. ”

  “Jack!” I protested but hurried after him. “What is it? Is it something in the way you smell that I’m just not getting?” He go
t a look of total surprise and made a clicking sound with his tongue. “What?”

  “Well, yeah, that’s actually pretty much it,” Jack admitted. He unlocked his car and then walked around to the other side, still looking a little stunned. I hopped into the car and he continued, “It’s a pheromone or something like that. ”

  “So, wait. Is that a medical condition or something?”

  “Yeah, I guess. ” Jack nodded, as if that answer was sufficient.

  “What kind of medical condition?” I pressed, oblivious to the fact that that kind of information was really personal. Something about Jack made me lose any sense of formality.

  “A rare one,” Jack replied flippantly and started the car.

  “Well, why don’t I react to it?”

  I started to wonder if maybe there was something very wrong with me. Everyone reacted to him, except for me. Maybe I had a seriously botched sense of smell or a brain tumor or something equally horrible.

  “That is a very good question. ” Jack pulled out of the parking lot, slipping easily into an opening in the traffic.

  “You don’t actually know why, do you?” I asked. “You don’t know why I’m different then everyone else. ”

  “I do not,” Jack admitted, then looked over at me. “But look, Alice, I don’t want you to get hung up on this thing. It’s too hard to explain and… for our purposes, it doesn’t even matter at all. ”

  “What purposes?” I narrowed my eyes at him.

  “In order for this friendship to work, you’re just going to have to accept that there are certain things that I’m not gonna tell you,” Jack said firmly. “I’m not trying to be a dick about this but that’s just the way it is. ”

  “And what if I can’t accept that?”

  “Then we can’t hang out anymore. ” He tried to sound matter-of-fact about it, but I could hear the sadness in his voice.

  “This doesn’t make any sense,” I said, but I was already relenting. “Why can’t you just tell me things?”

  “I can’t tell you why I can’t tell!” He said it like it meant something, like I would go, oh yeah, I get it now.

  “This is gonna frustrate me to no end. ” I was sulking, but that only made him smile.

  “I know. ” He was still smiling, but he sounded regretful. “I’ll drop you off and then you can take some time to think about things and decide if hanging out with me seems worth it. And then, if you still wanna hang out, you can text me. Okay?”

  “Okay. ” I tried to sound as dejected and pouty as possible, hoping that would change his mind somehow and he would divulge all his classified information to me.

  He only laughed again, and I got out of his car and went into my apartment.

  After a brief interrogation from Milo, I laid awake in my bed for hours, running a million different theories about Jack. Weird government experiment? CIA? Werewolf? Nothing really seemed to fit.

  My most promising one was that he was a celebrity of some kind pulling some ridiculous Hannah Montana lifestyle. That would explain why everyone noticed him. And if he was going for some kind of secret hidden identity, then he couldn’t tell me.

  That still didn’t explain why everyone else would recognize him but me, or why he’d want to live incognito. But at least it was a theory.

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