My blood approves, p.5
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       My Blood Approves, p.5

         Part #1 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
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“So you live with your parents?” Mom took a drag on her cigarette, keeping her eyes locked on him.

  “No, they’re dead. ” He said it with the same flat tone that he had before, and there was something off with it. “I live with my brothers and, uh, my sister-in-law. ”

  “Oh?” Mom raised an eyebrow, and she was probably excited of the prospect of their being even more guys like him. “How old are they?”

  “Ezra’s twenty… six, and Mae is like twenty-eight or something, and Peter is nineteen,” Jack answered.

  “Hmm,” Mom purred. This was so gross and so disturbing, and I was so glad that I had never seen my mom date anyone ever. “So, um, what about college?”

  “I went for awhile, but I dropped out. ” Jack shrugged again. “It just wasn’t my thing. ”

  “What is your thing exactly?” I asked.

  As far as I could tell, working, school, having a relationship, doing anything that required any amount of responsibility just wasn’t his thing. What was my attraction to him?

  Then he laughed, looking over at me with an expression that was almost proud of me, and I remembered exactly what it was.

  “I’m still figuring it out. ”

  “You’re still young,” Mom added quickly, trying to pull his attention back to her. “You have plenty of time to figure things out. ”

  “That’s what I think,” Jack agreed, and when he looked back at her, she let out a moan of some kind, and that was it for me. I’d let her stare at him enough.

  Page 13

  “Well, we really should get going,” I announced abruptly.

  “What?” Mom looked sharply at me, her face getting this stricken expression. “Aren’t you staying for dinner?”

  “I misunderstood what Alice meant,” Jack explained, his voice getting overly soothing, but I decided that whatever would get us out of here without a fight was fine by me. “I already ate, and then I made plans for us. We really do have to be going. ”

  My mother tried to think of things to keep him trapped in the apartment with her, but I stuck to my guns. I escaped into the hall while they finished saying their good-byes, but I could still hear the unusually sweet tone to my mother’s voice as she cooed all sorts of things to him.

  Once Jack finally made it out to the hall and shut the door behind him, I shivered visibly, trying to shake off what I had just witnessed.

  “What?” Jack laughed, looking at me as I pushed the button for the elevator.

  “Oh my god, that was so disgusting!”

  “I thought that went very well, actually,” Jack smirked. “Your mom seemed to like me. ”

  “Ugh, she wanted to jump your bones,” I groaned. The elevator doors dinged open and we stepped in. Leaning back against the wall, I shook my head. “It was so disturbing. ”

  “It’s not my fault everybody wants me. ” Jack laughed again and pushed the button for the lobby, and I knew he was only half-teasing.

  “I don’t want you,” I crossed my arms over my chest.

  “Yeah, I know. ” Jack got quiet and thoughtful for the rest of the elevator ride, but I wasn’t sure if was because he was disappointed that I didn’t want him or he just didn’t understand it. He tried to change the subject as the elevator doors opened into the lobby. “So, your brother’s gay?”

  “He is not gay. ” I bristled and stepped out of the elevator.

  It wouldn’t really bother me if Milo was gay, but he wasn’t. I mean, I would know if he was.

  “Oh, so he hasn’t told you yet. ” Jack shoved his hands in his pockets, following me as I hurried out into the cold night air.

  Once we got outside, I realized that I didn’t know where he’d parked or even what car he’d driven, so I stopped and waited for him.

  “There’s nothing to tell,” I insisted. He turned to the left, walking a little ways down the block, when I saw his Jetta.

  “Oh, come on,” Jack scoffed. “You had to have noticed the way he looked at me. ”

  “Everyone looks at you that way. ” I tried to think back and I couldn’t remember if the guys had been doing it too.

  Everyone reacted to him in a very friendly fashion, but I was pretty sure that guys hadn’t given him that particular look, not the ones like my mom or Jane.

  “No, everyone does not. ” Jack played with the keyless entry, and the Jetta beeped loudly, announcing that it was unlocked.

  “So how does that work?” I asked, opening the car door. “Your pheromones only react to people that would be sexually attracted to you anyway? How can they possibly know that?”

  Jack stood outside until I could finish my question, then he just got in the car, and I knew that was his official answer to that.

  “You probably shouldn’t say anything to you brother,” Jack said once I’d gotten in the car. He started it, revving the engine for a second, and then pulled away from the curb. “If he hasn’t told you yet, then he’s probably not ready for you to know. ”

  “He isn’t gay,” I repeated firmly. “He’s only fifteen. ”

  “Oh, right, cause when you were fifteen you didn’t know you were straight. ” Jack rolled his eyes.

  “How do you know I’m straight?” I countered. I mean, I am straight, but he didn’t know that. “That would explain why I’m not attracted to you. ”

  “You are attracted to me. ” He kept his eyes straight ahead, and adjusted the stereo, so Joy Division played softly out of the speakers. “Otherwise you wouldn’t be in the car with me. It’s just not the same as it is with them. ”

  “Whatever. ” I crossed my arms again. Then I softened a little as I thought about Milo, and all the weird little things he did that I had always just chocked up to him being younger than me and more responsible. “So… you really think Milo’s gay?”

  “Yeah, he’s gay,” Jack replied definitively. “And before you ask, yeah, it’s something I know. I can’t explain it, but I just know. Like the way a lion always knows the weakest zebra in the pack. ”

  “Are you comparing being gay to being weak?”

  So, I was just coming to terms with the probability of my brother’s homosexuality, but already I felt defensive about it. Milo was my little brother and probably the only person in the whole world that really cared about me.

  “No, I’m comparing my uncanny ability to detect things to that of a lion,” Jack clarified.

  I was still kind of sulking, reeling from the fact that both my mother and my newly discovered gay brother wanted to do bad, bad things to Jack, but he wouldn’t hear of it.

  “Hey, you know what would cheer you up?”

  “I can only imagine,” I said dryly.

  “Playing Dance Dance Revolution at the arcade. ” Without warning, he flipped the car into a u-turn across three lanes of traffic.

  “That doesn’t sound that great. ” It didn’t really, but Jack thought it was the greatest idea ever, and that managed to convince me somehow.

  I was starting to realize that my feelings seemed to be mimicking his, and that should alarm me, but he wasn’t alarmed, so I was incapable of it.

  I got home very late from hanging out with Jack, as per usual. After the arcade had closed, we had loitered at a Blockbuster, before deciding that neither of us wanted to rent anything, and then drove around for awhile before finally dropping me at home.

  Mom was gone at work, and Milo had gone to bed, so there was nothing said about Jack’s visit.

  When I finally roused the next day, I immediately went to talk to Milo about Jack. I hadn’t expected him to expound very much, but his very clipped, “He seems nice” did not do the night justice.

  The fact that Milo was apparently hiding something so important from me made me feel uncomfortable. A part of me wanted to just bring it out in the open and demand that he tell me, but it was his thing and he had to come to terms with it on his own time.

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ecause of my unease, I decided to camp out in bed all day, reading and listening to Death Cab for Cutie. When Mom got up, I went out to get a soda and find out her thoughts on Jack, but disappointingly, they just mirrored Milo’s sentiments.

  It wasn’t that I wanted her to gush about Jack until I threw up, but their hesitance to say anything real about him disturbed me. I knew that they’d probably been embarrassed about the way they had acted but still.

  Once Mom confirmed that it was acceptable for me to continue seeing Jack, I gave up on it. At least she liked him, and I could do what I wanted.

  I went back into my room to figure out why it was so important to me that I kept seeing him. I hadn’t fallen under his spell the same way most people did, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t under one. As he had pointed out, I was attracted to him, otherwise I wouldn’t be there.

  I sprawled out in bed and wondered if it was something like that bad Love Potion No. 9 movie with Sandra Bullock. They drank this potion, and suddenly, everybody wanted them. Maybe Jack had done that too. In some kind of weird government experiment.

  But we lived in Minnesota. Why would the government experiment here? Were there even like CIA or FBI headquarters here?

  That would be a really stupid test anyway. What would the practical applications of such a potion be? And does anyone really make potions anymore?

  Milo sat on the computer the entire day and barely said a word to me. I couldn’t tell if he was mad at me for ditching him last night, or just going through his own conflicted deal about his sexuality.

  Either way, I didn’t push him on it, so I ate quickly, and then spent the rest of the night in my room. I went to bed that night, feeling a little surprised that Jack hadn’t talked to me at all.

  Since it was my last day of Spring Break, I decided to make the most of it by sleeping the entire day away. I knew that it would only make it harder when I tried to go to bed at a decent time or get up for school the next morning, but I didn’t care.

  When I finally rolled out of bed, I showered and got ready for the day. I still felt like avoiding Milo, so I text messaged Jack.

  What are you up to today? I sat on my bedroom floor, painting my toenails dark blue.

  Just woke up. He texted me back promptly.

  Sorry. Did I wake you? It was after six o’clock, but from what little time I’d spent with Jack, I had a feeling he never went to bed before dawn.

  Kinda. But it’s ok. I needed to get up anyway.

  So, did you want to do something today? Fanning my freshly painted nails so they’d dry, I stared at my phone expectantly.

  Yeah. When?

  Probably sooner rather than later. I have school tomorrow.

  Ridiculous! :( Ok. Let me shower and I’ll pick you up in an hour. Cool? Jack responded, making me laugh. The fact that I was going to school would impede his life in some way, and it made me feel a little special.

  Cool. See you soon.

  Once my toenails dried, I finished getting ready. I slipped on a pair of skimmer shoes, which completely covered up the polishing I had just done, but it was still too cold for anything open-toed.

  Milo was staked out on the computer when I went out into the living room. I’d just put on a tee shirt and jeans, so I slipped on my white zippered Famous Stars and Straps hoodie over it. Even with that, I’d still probably freeze my butt off outside, but I thought my jackets were gross, so this was the better option.

  “Going out?” Milo didn’t look away from the computer screen, and his voice was too flat for me to decipher.

  “Yep. ” I nodded. I really didn’t appreciate the lack of communication between us, but I didn’t know how to fix it. “With Jack. I won’t be out too late. Cause of school in the morning. ”

  “Whatever,” Milo said noncommittally. There was no lecture or disapproval, and I sighed.

  “Okay. I guess I’ll see you later. ” I started walking towards the door, but he didn’t say anything, so I waited to leave until he responded. He grunted something that sounded vaguely like “bye,” but I figured that was the best I would get, and I headed outside.

  Jack had driven the Jetta again, and I wondered how he decided which car to take. He was singing along very merrily with Kanye West to “Stronger,” and he barely seemed to notice me when I hopped into the car. We sat outside the apartment building until the song finished, and then he turned down the radio and grinned at me.

  “So, I was thinking we would take a walk tonight,” Jack said brightly.

  “Okay. Where?” The night was a bit chilly, but it wouldn’t be unbearable. He wore a hoodie and pants today, forgoing his normal tee shirt and shorts combo that seemed highly inappropriate for March.

  “Loring Park. ” He had started pulling away as soon as he said it.

  The park was only about half a mile from where I lived, but because it was on the other side of the highway, it made it almost a necessity to drive to it. I-94 had split it in half, but it used to be connected to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, where they had that giant spoon with the cherry (Spoonbridge and Cherry) along with lots of other fancy little sculptures.

  We ended up going to the actual Loring Park, without all the sculptures but with lots of paths and trees.

  After he parked, I got out of the car and admired the stars shining brightly above us. They were usually hard to see, thanks to the city lights, but the cold, spring air made them stand out sharply.

  I looked around for Orion, the only constellation I really know, but Jack started walking down a trail, so I followed him, vowing to search the skies later on.

  “So you really have school tomorrow?” Jack asked grumpily once I caught up with him. He shoved his hands in his pockets and stared down at his Converse as he walked, while I tended to admire the scenery and the stars.

  “Yeah,” I grimaced.

  I had a whole paper due on the War of 1812, and I hadn’t done anything. In fact, the only thing I knew about the war was that it had happened in 1812. If Milo and I had been on better speaking terms, I’d probably go home and bug him about it until he just gave in and did it for me.

  “So what time do you have to be home?” He kicked a stone with his foot, reminding me very much of a little boy who had just been told he’d have to go to bed early because he’d been bad.

  “I don’t know. Before midnight, I guess. ” That really wasn’t that much earlier than when I normally went home, but Jack sighed and grumbled something unintelligible. “What?”

  “Nothing,” he mumbled, still looking at the ground.

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  “Did you have some big plans for tonight?” I asked, trying to figure out what had him so depressed. I was the one that had to get up at seven in the morning, not him.

  “No. I just don’t like it when things are finite. ” He sighed again, and then looked up at the sky.

  “That’s kind of weird,” I said. Milo had a phobia of wet sand, and Jane hated the word kumquat (it sounded too perverse, even for her), but it was pretty strange to dislike anything that had a definite ending. “Everything ends. ”

  “I know. I mean, we don’t hang out forever anyway. It’s just…” He shook his head, and then stared off at the Basilica of St. Mary. It was this huge, beautiful cathedral, and we could just see the top of it, arched out into the sky above the trees. “Mae wanted to get married there. ”

  “What?” I asked, confused by his sudden topic change.

  “My brother’s wife. ” He nodded at the church. “But Ezra didn’t want to. ”

  “Why not?” It was a stunning piece of architecture, so I understood the urge to marry there. I personally wouldn’t want to, but most of the time, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to get married.

  “They’re not Catholic, for one thing. ” There was more to the story, but Jack seemed hesitant to tell me about it. Finally, he continued, “It just didn’t seem right. It was Mae’s second
marriage. So they found something else, and it worked out better anyway. ”

  “How long have they been married?”

  “I’m not really sure,” he shrugged.

  Pulling my hoodie tighter around me, I shivered. Jack glanced over at me, and he didn’t seem even slightly bothered by the cold. Nothing really seemed to bother him, except my bedtime.

  “Do you want my sweatshirt?” He started pulling on his sleeve, like he was going to take it off, but I held up my hand to stop him.

  “No, I’m okay. ” Since he had actually bothered to put on something warmer today, I wasn’t about to take it from him because I thought my jacket was ugly.

  “Are you sure?”

  “Yeah, I’m fine,” I insisted. Flipping up the hood over my head, I smiled up at him. “See? Fine. ”

  “If you say so. ” Jack pulled on his sleeve, adjusting it back to normal. “Let me know if you change your mind. ”

  “I won’t. ”

  “I know,” Jack said, sounding a little exasperated. “You never change your mind about anything. ”

  “You haven’t known me for that long,” I scoffed. “How can you be so sure?”

  “I’m just very certain of things,” he replied simply.

  That was true enough. He didn’t always have an answer for everything, but the things he knew, he really knew. I was about to ask him what the deal was with his sixth sense about everything, but then his head shot up sharply.

  “Watch out. ”

  “Watch out for what?” I tried to keep my voice even, but the instant he got nervous, I was terrified.

  He stepped in front of me to shield from me something, but I peered around him, looking into the dark for some lurking danger.

  - 6 -

  At first, I thought it was a giant grizzly bear barreling towards us. Then it ran underneath a lamp on the path, and I saw it was just a massive brown dog. There was a dog park on the other side of the park, so I wouldn’t have thought anything of it if Jack hadn’t been on such high alert.

  “It’s just a dog,” I told him, hoping that would somehow relax him.

  “I know what it is. ” He seemed to be debating something, probably whether he should run or stay put, but the dog was approaching quickly, making his decision for him. “Ah, hell. ”

  The dog snarled at us, but it never even slowed down. Drool and slobber spewed from its mouth, and its eyes had a crazed, intense look I had never seen on an animal before.

  Without any provocation, it suddenly lunged at Jack. He held one arm behind him, trying to protect me more from the dog, and he held his other arm in front of him, using his forearm to block the attack.

  The dog latched on it with a loud crunching sound that made my blood curdle, and I screamed. With one swift movement, Jack whipped his hand around, grabbing the dog by the back of the neck.

  “Go back to the car!” Jack shouted.

  He had pinned the dog to the ground by kneeling on its back and wrapping his hands around its neck. There was blood streaming down his arm, and all the while, the dog was snapping and growling viciously.

  But I stayed frozen, gaping at Jack and the dog.

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