My blood approves, p.20
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       My Blood Approves, p.20

         Part #1 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
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Page 57

  “You just might be right. ”

  I bit my lip to keep from smiling, and I realized with the surprise that it didn’t hurt. Running my tongue along my bottom lip, I searched for any bump or scratch from when I had bit it earlier, but there was none. Jack’s saliva must’ve healed it.

  “Come on, Alice,” Milo pleaded when the doors opened. “Be reasonable. ”

  “When have you ever known me to be reasonable?” I shot him a look while stepping out of the elevator, and he just rolled his eyes.

  We walked outside into the cold, and I wrapped my sweater more tightly around me. All I had on me were the clothes on my back and my cell phone in my pocket, and there was a very good chance that my only rides anywhere were a pair of vampires that had just gone to bed.

  “So what?” Milo was walking to the bus stop, and since I had nothing better to do, I walked with him. “This is it? This is like the last time I’ll see you?”

  “No, of course not!”

  “Be serious. ” He had pulled his bag onto into his back, and he readjusted the straps. “You’re going to move in with him and have all these fabulous adventures and completely forget about me. ”

  “You’re my brother, Milo. I can never forget about you. ” And I wouldn’t, but I had a sinking suspicion that he probably wasn’t that far from the truth. “Look, I’m not saying things won’t be different or that I won’t see you less. But that doesn’t mean things will be bad. ”

  “Maybe you can just stay there for a night or something,” Milo suggested hopefully. “Give Mom a chance to cool down, and then you can come home.

  “But she’s not completely off base, Alice. You have school and you stayed out until seven in the morning. I don’t care what you were or weren’t doing with Jack – well, okay, I do, and you’ll totally have to tell me later. But it doesn’t matter. You’re still in high school. You should be coming home before the sun comes up and getting an education. ”

  “I am way too tired for you to lecture me about school, okay?” I groaned.

  “Just think about it, alright?” Milo asked as the bus came towards us. I didn’t want the bus driver to try to make me get on, so I started backing away from him. “And turn your phone on! If you don’t come home tonight, maybe you could at least get some of your things while Mom’s at work. ”

  “Okay!” I waved at him, then turned and walked down the block, away from my apartment, away from my brother, away from my life.

  - 19 -

  For a long time, I just walked around the tree lined streets. Spring edged ever closer, with warm temperatures and longer days. The nights would get shorter, too, and I wondered how Jack contended with that.

  I was definitely cold and tired, but I was way too wired up from everything that had happened. My lips still tingled from kissing him, and I wondered dully if I’d ever be able to kiss him again.

  Moving out of my mother’s had been rash, I’ll admit it, and she was justified in her anger. I just didn’t have the strength to deal with stuff that didn’t matter anymore.

  Maybe I would’ve reacted a little better if I hadn’t had the reminder of Jack’s nearly-forgotten words ringing in my mind. When I asked what it was like to bite a vampire, he’d responded with, “You’ll understand when you’re a vampire. ”

  It would only be natural that I eventually segued into vampirism. Even if I didn’t move in with them today, I would some day. They were welcoming me into their folds for a reason, and as Jack had so ominously pointed out before I understood what they were, they wanted me to be one of them.

  I sat down on a bench and pulled my knees up to my chest. The sun spilled over the buildings, warming my frightfully cold skin, and I wondered how much longer I’d be able to enjoy the sun like this.

  Being with them would mean missing a lot of things, but it didn’t really feel like it. There would be so much more I’d be getting in return.

  Pulling out my phone, I hoped that Jack would still be awake. My exhaustion and temperature were starting to wear me down.

  “Hello?” Jack answered groggily.

  “Sorry. Did I wake you?”

  “Nah, I’m just about to go to bed, though. Why? What do you need?” He still sounded awfully tired, and he yawned into the phone.

  “I was just… wondering if I could stay with you for awhile. ” I grimaced at my own question. Maybe I asked too much from them. Maybe I should go home and try to make amends with my mother before she changed the locks.

  “Yeah, sure. What’s wrong with your place?” Jack replied without even thinking about it.

  “I got in a fight with my mom about coming home so late, and I’m not exactly welcome there anymore. ”

  “Oh, man, I’m sorry,” Jack apologized. “Yeah. Sure. You can stay here as long as you want. Do you need a ride right now?”

  “It would be nice, but it’s not necessary. ” I still didn’t completely understand his deal with sun, and I wasn’t sure if he could drive out in it to come get me.

  “Yeah, yeah, okay. I’ll be there in like five minutes. ” He yawned again and I heard a rustle of movement as he got up, meaning that he’d already been in bed.

  “I’m not at home, though. I’m on a bench a couple blocks away. ” I looked around for a street sign so I could tell him what intersection I was at for sure, but he could always find me.

  “Cool. Hang tight. ” He clicked off the phone, and I shoved my phone back in my pocket.

  I felt better knowing that I wouldn’t be stuck on this bench all day like a homeless person, but it was still hard to know if I was doing the right thing.

  Nothing in my life had prepared me to deal with situations like this. Up until now, my life consisted of sitting at home with Milo, shopping/partying/hating myself with Jane, and that’s about it.

  I’d barely even kissed a boy, I’d never driven a car, or been out of the tri-state area. My father left before I was two, and my mother spent my whole life working continuously so we’d have just enough to survive.

  I knew nothing about life, and here I was, preparing to give it up in exchange for something I didn’t truly understand.

  Jack pulled up in front within six minutes of me making the phone call, and I didn’t understand how he could possibly get around that fast. But here he was, grinning at me tiredly behind gigantic sunglasses. I hopped in the car and decided that I was too tired to question anything. I just wanted to get to his house and take a nice, long sleep.

  Page 58

  When we got to his house, Jack showed me to my room. It was the guest room at the end of the hall upstairs, the bedroom in the turret. I felt like Juliet or Rapunzel.

  The walls were rounded and there was a balcony in the back. It’d been painted a soft lilac that eerily matched the walls of my own room, and the four-post bed had been made at in all white, luxurious comforters. Mae had even left satin pajamas on the bed.

  “Wow, this is really perfect. ” I touched the blankets and admiring the room. “It’s exactly like me. ”

  “It should be. ” Jack stood in the doorway, leaning on the frame to make sure that I had everything, and he yawned. “Mae did it for you. ”

  “Like just now? I called and she painted the room?” I furrowed my brow in confusion and disbelief.

  “No,” he laughed, shaking his head. “Originally, she kind of thought you’d just be staying in Peter’s room, but when that started seeming like less of an option, she did up this room for you. You were gonna end up here eventually, right?”

  “Yeah. ” I nodded, but it felt weird knowing that someone had been preparing for me before I even knew I’d be here.

  “Mae likes to nest. ” Jack noticed my unease and smiled to settle me down. “It’s her thing. This was just her way of nesting. She doesn’t get to decorate for girls very often, you know. ”

  “Yeah, I guess not. ”

  “Alright, well, I’m gonna
get some sleep. But I’ll be right next door if you need me. ” He took a step backwards and grinned mischievously. “But don’t you get any ideas. ”

  “Yeah, I’ll try not to. ” I was being sarcastic, but I knew that I’d really have to try not to.

  Jack laughed and walked into his room, which was just one thin wall away from mine. Peter was gone, and Mae was downstairs. It would be almost too easy to just go next door and start what we’d finished earlier…

  But thankfully, my body decided to remember exactly how tired it was. I shut the bedroom door, put on my borrowed pajamas, and almost as soon as my head hit the pillow, I was asleep.

  Milo hugged me like a hundred times, and his eyes welled with tears when I picked up clothes from him. Jack waited in the kitchen for me while I packed my things. I’d that his presence would somehow cheer Milo up, but it had the opposite effect. It reminded him that not only would he be seeing less of me, he’d be seeing less of Jack as well.

  When I finally convinced Milo that I would see him again, he hugged me tightly once more for good measure, and then I escaped.

  “We could’ve just bought you new clothes,” Jack pointed out on the car ride back to his house. “That probably would’ve been easier and less painful. ”

  “I know, but Milo needed to see me. I needed to prove that I wasn’t just gonna forget about him. ” I looked over at Jack to see if he understood my sentiments, but he just stared ahead and didn’t say anything. “I will see him again. ”

  “I’m not arguing with you. ” He wasn’t, exactly, but his tone wanted to contradict my claim.

  “You don’t think I will. ” Just saying it aloud hurt. “Why would you let me promise Milo anything if you knew it wasn’t true?”

  “I don’t know anything,” Jack said. “But I do think that Ezra will be home when we get back. And it might be good for you to talk to him. ”

  “You always know more then you let on,” I grumbled, crossing my arms over my chest and sinking low in the seat. “You pretend to be dumber than you actually are. ”

  “Have you considered that I really might just be that dumb?” he asked playfully.

  “I have. Many times. ”

  He laughed at that but didn’t say anymore until we got to his place. There would be very little he could say that would comfort me anyway. I was beginning to realize that I might have underestimated the cost of being with him.

  When we went into the house, Jack called for Ezra and Mae, and they appeared in the living room almost instantly. Mae swooped in to hug me as if she hadn’t seen me in ages when reality it had been an hour.

  Ezra smiled warmly at me, and somehow, it still made me blush. He had returned today early from the trip, citing that he couldn’t stand to be away from Mae for that long, but Peter wouldn’t return for a few more days. He could apparently stand to be away from me until the end of time.

  “So I heard that you’re going to be staying with us for awhile,” Ezra said, and I tried to decipher if there was any disapproval in it.

  He sat on the couch and Mae curled up next to him. They had only been apart for a matter of days, but being around him made her giddy.

  I wondered if Peter would react anything like that when he returned, but I’d probably be lucky if he even looked in my direction. Something tugged painfully at my heart, and it amazed me that I still even wanted into this.

  “Yeah. ” I sat on the chair across from them, and Jack sat by my feet, rubbing Matilda’s belly. “Is that okay?”

  “I don’t see why it wouldn’t be. ” Ezra played with a long, wavy strand of Mae’s hair absently, and she buried her head in his chest. I realized that I hated people who were so comfortably in love, especially when my “love” life was bogged down by all sorts of unnecessary stipulations.

  “What’s going to happen?” I asked bluntly.

  “You’ll have to be more specific. There’s a lot of things up in the air for you. ” He didn’t mean anything by it, but it stung just the same.

  Nothing for me was set in stone, which should’ve been a relief, but I didn’t like having everything feel so uncertain and precarious.

  “Exactly. ” I took a deep breath. “Am I just gonna live here forever? What happens when Peter gets back? He doesn’t want me around. Should I even stay here with him? What if he keeps rejecting me? Am I supposed to just go back to my life? Are you planning on me someday being a vampire?”

  “You can stay here as long as you want, regardless of how Peter feels. He has other places he can go if need be. You have made yourself an indispensable part of this family. ” Ezra looked down at Mae, carefully choosing his words.

  “Peter… No matter how any of us feels, there is a bond between you and Peter that is not easily broken. For his sake, as well as our own, it is essential that you remain a part of our lives. ” His russet eyes rested warmly on mine. “As such, yes, it would be in everyone’s best interest if you were to turn. ”

  Page 59

  Looking down at the floor, I exhaled and tried futilely to slow the frantic beating of my heart. I knew they all could hear it, and Jack especially was susceptible to it.

  The thought of being a vampire, which had crossed my mind much more frequently than I had ever imagined it would, both excited and terrified me, but that was par for the course. Nearly everything about them was simultaneously exciting and terrifying, and I could never seem to reconcile the two.

  “Alice, it’s really awesome,” Jack chimed in helpfully. “You’ve seen me. I’m awesome. ”

  “Jack,” Mae scolded him.

  “It’s not a decision you can take lightly,” Ezra went on, and Mae had gotten a particularly solemn expression. I didn’t fully understand it, especially based on how much she loved having me around. “This is something that changes everything about your life, and it’s irreversible. If you decide that this is what you want to do, you cannot go back. But if you decide not to turn, we won’t hold it against you. ”

  “It will make your life harder, though,” Jack interjected.

  “Jack!” Mae snapped. “You can’t make this choice for her!”

  “I’m not trying to!” Jack sighed dramatically and shook his head.

  “If you do turn, the thirst is a bit overwhelming, as Jack can attest to,” Ezra gestured to Jack, who nodded heavily in agreement. “All your senses become much more heightened, and all your movements feel exaggerated. Your emotions are stronger, too. They’re all right at the surface, and you’re volatile. You’re libido increases, as does your general lust for anything. ”

  “It’s almost like being a child again,” Jack elaborated. “Everything feels so new, and you’re clumsy. ”

  “Your body has to acclimate to a whole new way of being. It’s not a simple process,” Ezra continued. “The hardest thing to deal with at first is the bloodlust. The hunger you feel now can’t even compare to what you’ll feel then. It’s a hard thing to learn to control, but it is very manageable once you do. ”

  “So, you guys are always hungry?” I asked nervously.

  “In a way,” Ezra admitted. “But it’s not that intense. If it was, you wouldn’t have survived this long. ”

  “Thanks. ” I wondered how I could feel so safe in the house with them.

  “It’s not meant to be a threat,” Ezra laughed. “It’s just the way things are. For the most part, being a vampire is a wonderful, amazing gift. But there are two things that are double-edged swords.

  “The first is the blood,” Ezra went on. “Its life giving, and there aren’t words to describe how wonderful it makes you feel. But when you can’t feed for any prolonged length of time, say several weeks, it is the most excruciatingly pain imaginable. Before you get your bloodlust under control, the frenzy of feeding can have horrendous ramifications. It is an immeasurable pleasure, but unless it’s properly controlled, it is devastatingly dangerous. ”

  “That’s good to
know,” I swallowed hard.

  “I’ve got it under control for the most part, and I have horrible impulse control,” Jack offered.

  “The second thing is immortality. ” Ezra breathed deeply and looked down at Mae. She had a faraway, sad look, and I hoped that someone would explain it to me. “We’re not truly immortal. If you damage our brain or our heart, or we go long enough without feeding, we will die. But barring another vampire attacking us, there really is very little that stops us. We are slow to turn other vampires as a result of it. So, please, don’t think this is a casual invitation we are giving you. ”

  I felt humbled. It actually hadn’t occurred to me that there would be a limit on vampire membership, but it was incredibly flattering knowing that I was even being considered.

  “But there is a very heavy price with that,” Ezra continued gravely. “Everything around you will die. Even this town, it will change, and things you loved and held dear will be destroyed. You will outlast everything. There is more of a burden in that than you can possibly imagine. ”

  “Does that mean that I can’t see my brother? Or just that it will be painful watching him grow old?” My voice felt small and shaky, and my hands trembled.

  Ezra shared a look with Mae, who nodded, and then she stood up, saying, “I have to show you something. ”

  “You’re gonna take her?” Jack groaned and got up. “She doesn’t need to see it. ”

  “You’re just saying that because you think she’ll change her mind,” Mae told Jack.

  “Uh, yeah!”

  “If it would change her mind, then it should!” Mae snapped. “If she doesn’t have all the facts because you kept them from her, and she makes a decision that she later regrets, then she’ll spend the rest of eternity resenting you. Is that really what you want?”

  “No,” Jack muttered and rubbed the back of his neck.

  “What’s going on?” I asked nervously, standing up.

  “I’m going to take you to see something,” Mae forced a smile at me. Then she turned back to Ezra and kissed him. “We won’t be gone too long. ”

  “Okay. Be safe. ” Ezra looked sad to so her go, but he smiled reassuringly at me. “It’ll be alright. ”

  “What’s going on?” I asked Jack, feeling strangely frightened as I followed Mae out of the living room.

  “I guess you gotta go,” Jack sighed and sat back down. “I’ll see you in a bit. ”

  “Where are we going?” I was right behind Mae, but I could see the drawn look on her face, and I was afraid of where we were going that would cause her to look so pained.

  “I’ll explain in the car. ”

  - 20 -

  By the time I got into her Jetta, nervous anticipation filled me. Whatever she wanted to show me could scare me off becoming a vampire. I half-expected some horrifying monster or a stash of human corpses or something equally disturbing. What else could there be that would completely change mind about turning?

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