My blood approves, p.7
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       My Blood Approves, p.7

         Part #1 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
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  He had thrown the car into gear, and we were flying down the street and turning on the highway before I could even really protest, not that I would’ve anyway. Meeting families was usually my least favorite thing in the world, but a family that spawned Jack intrigued me.

  “After what happened last night, I think it’s time,” Jack explained, but I had no idea what his family could possibly have to do with a rabid dog. Unless his family were dog breeders or something.

  Then I remembered what happened and looked over at Jack’s arm, which was bare thanks to his return to his tee shirt uniform. (He wore one today that read “Frankie Says Relax. ”)

  I leaned in closer to inspect both his arms, thinking I must’ve looked at the wrong one. But neither one of them had a scratch or a mark or even a scar.

  He noticed me looking and immediately chastised me. “No. Don’t even think about it. ”

  “What?” I leaned back in my seat, still staring at his arms. “You mean asking how you magically got rid any trace of the dog bite so quickly?”

  “Precisely. Don’t ask any questions about anything like that, not about me, not about anyone else,” Jack warned me.

  “They’re like you, aren’t they?” By now, nothing should come as a shock, but I still looked at him in disbelief. Every time I thought things couldn’t get any weirder, they did.

  “I want you to meet them, but you can’t be like this. You have to act completely oblivious. ” His tone was light, but he was being firm. “I mean it, Alice. My family. My rules. ”

  “Yeah, yeah, I get it. ” I rolled my eyes and turned my attention to the world speeding past us out the window. “Where do you live anyway?”

  “In St. Louis Park, by a lake,” he said. “It’s not that far. ”

  I didn’t know tons about that area, but what I had heard is that there were lots of nice, expensive homes. So it would make sense that Jack lived there, since we were cruising down the highway in a bright red Lamborghini.

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  “Don’t worry,” he attempted to reassure me. “They’ll like you. I think. Well, Ezra isn’t there. So it’s just Mae and Peter. That should make it easier. ”

  “Where’s Ezra?”

  For some reason, knowing one of his brothers would be gone made me more nervous. Maybe Jack knew Ezra wouldn’t like me, and that’s why he was bringing me over when he wasn’t around.

  “Business thing,” Jack shrugged. “He’s gone a lot with stuff. ”

  “Well, the Lamborghini doesn’t pay for itself. ”

  “Yeah, I guess that’s true. ” He looked over at me, and then laughed at my nervous fidgeting. I had started chewing on my nails, which was an awful habit that I kept vowing to quit. “Seriously, you’ll be fine. They’ll like you. I mean, I like you so… they’ll like you. ”

  “Yeah, cause everything in life is really that simple,” I sighed.

  “This one thing might actually be,” he smiled confidently.

  The car started slowing down, and he turned off the road, meaning we were getting closer, and my heart thudded painfully. When he pulled up to his house, I cringed.

  Incredibly, beautiful and massive, it was more of a mansion or a castle than a house. There was a five stall garage at the end of a short, winding driveway. The whole place had been done in some kind of pale sandstone.

  The front door entered right into a rounded tower. There was a large rectangular window above it, covered in rod-iron bars. The tower flowed into what would otherwise be a rather conventional square house, if not for the gorgeous black iron balcony coming out of a second story window underneath a weeping willow.

  “Oh my gosh,” I gasped as we pulled into the garage. “You live here?”

  “Yeah. ” He heard the awed tone in my voice and chuckled. “It’s just a house. ”

  “Nothing is ‘just’ anything with you,” I said under my breath.

  He laughed harder and started getting out of the car, and I followed suit, but much slower. I had never felt so intimidated in my entire life. Everything about me suddenly seemed plain and dreary, and I felt totally ashamed that I had let him see the inside of my disgustingly tiny apartment.

  “You know I didn’t buy this, right?” Jack turned to look back at me as we walked past the four other vehicles in the garage (Mae’s black Jetta, a green Jeep Wrangler with a canvas top, a black Lexus LS, and a shiny silver Audi TT Roadster). Then he gestured to the impressive collection of cars. “I didn’t buy any of this. None of its really mine. ”

  “Then who did buy it?”

  “Ezra, mostly. And Peter. ” We had reached the huge wooden door that presumably led into the house, and he turned back to grin at me. “Mae and I are just eye candy. ”

  Jack threw open the door, shouting hello. I had barely crept in the house behind him when a giant mass of white fur flung itself at him.

  It caused a mild flashback to the night before and I almost yelped, but Jack was scratching the dog and telling her how pretty she was, and I realized that it was just his gigantic Great Pyrenees.

  “Matilda!” A warm voice with a soft, British accent filtered through the house, and then I saw her rushing in to greet us.

  She was beautiful, probably in an unconventional sense, but that almost made her more stunning. Her long, light brown waves of hair had been clipped back to keep it out of her honey colored eyes. Her skin looked like white porcelain, but warmth came off her in comforting waves.

  She went over to the dog, pushing her down off of Jack with ease, and in a slightly scolding tone, she said, “Oh, Matilda, do be a good girl. Please. ”

  “Ah, she’s alright. ” Jack crouched down to continue scratching the dog’s head. Watching him play with her, I realized for the first time how hard it must’ve been for him to kill that dog.

  “I’m so sorry,” she apologized breathlessly, putting her hand over her heart to show how sincere she was. She looked at me for the first time and smiled. “Matilda’s still a puppy. ”

  “Mattie’s always a good girl, aren’t you?” Jack’s voice was verging on baby-talk, and Matilda licked his face appreciatively.

  “Well, look at you!” Her smile grew broader and warmer. “You’re lovely!”

  “Thanks,” I mumbled, feeling my cheeks burn with embarrassment. She was far more beautiful than I could ever hope to be, and I didn’t know really how to respond to her open affection.

  “Oh, sorry. ” Jack gave the dog one final pat before standing up. “Alice, this is Mae. Mae, this is Alice. ”

  “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” I floundered.

  Something about her made me feel safe and oddly loved, but it was so unexpected that I didn’t really have time to collect my thoughts and respond.

  “The pleasure is all mine!” Mae gushed, placing her hand over her heart again. “You really have no idea. ”

  “What have you been saying about me?” I gave Jack a sidelong glance, wondering what he possibly could’ve said to get her so excited over me. He was the one with all the magical powers. I just argued with him and got myself in ridiculous situations.

  “Not that much,” Jack shrugged, but he didn’t seem embarrassed or surprised by Mae at all.

  “Shall I give you the grand tour?” Mae asked, looping her arm through mine. Then she looked over at Jack. “Would that be alright with you?”

  “Yeah, go ahead. ” He had already started playing with the dog again, seemingly contented to let Mae kidnap me and do as she pleased.

  “This is the entryway, obviously,” Mae gestured to the vaulted ceilings and marble floors around us, and the rings on her fingers flashed in the light.

  Then she started to lead me into an adjoining room, which appeared to be some kind of expansive living room. The rest of the house had dark golden oak wood floors and cream colored walls. Somehow, it managed to combine a warm modern motif with touches of a castle. It was beautiful and
perfect and really, so utterly Mae.

  “Here’s the living room. Windows, fireplace, etc. ” Before I could even really take it all in, she started leading me into the kitchen. The tiles were granite in natural neutral colors and the cupboards matched the hardwood floors.

  Off the back of the kitchen, giant windows and glass French doors revealed a beautiful view of the lake. A massive stone patio sat right outside the doors, leading down to the lake.

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  “This is the kitchen, and the view. ”

  “That is truly breathtaking. ” I pulled away from her just enough so I could peer out the window. It was dark out, so I couldn’t fully appreciate it, but several large lights lit the backyard and I got a glimpse of it.

  “That’s why Ezra chose this place. ” Mae put her hand on my arm when she returned to my side, and I noticed that her skin felt the same as Jack’s – silky soft, but completely temperatureless, like touching a doll. “This land, anyway. He built the house. ”

  “He designed it and everything?” I know I sounded surprised, which made me feel embarrassed.

  Of course her husband had built this amazing piece of architecture. They were obviously superior to everyone in every way, and Id better start getting used to it.

  “Well, I helped, a little. ” Mae smiled modestly at me, and I realized that I was already falling in love with her. Not sexually or anything lesbian like that, but they were just so inviting and charismatic, I couldn’t help it.

  That’s when I realized that I was a little bit in love with Jack. He was impossibly wonderful, and I couldn’t stand to be away from him. I had started craning my head to look around for him when Mae pulled onto the next room.

  “This is a really fast tour you’re giving me,” I commented as she went through the grand dining room connected to the kitchen. We had just started down a hall and she laughed.

  “Well, you’ll see the house enough, I’m sure. ” Her eyes sparkled at me, and I knew that she was implying that I’d be hanging out there more, which suited me just fine. “I really just wanted a chance to get acquainted with you, and this seemed like the perfect way. ”

  “Oh. ” I nodded as if I really understood.

  “There’s the lou if you need it,” Mae gestured to a gorgeous bathroom, and then vaguely pointed to two rooms at the end of the hall. “That’s Ezra’s office at the end, and our bedroom next to it. They’re not that exciting, really. ”

  “Somehow, I doubt that,” I said, but I let her pull me onward and up the stairs. She claimed that she wanted to get acquainted with me, but I didn’t understand how she really meant to do that when she as rushing me through the house.

  “Here’s Jack’s room,” Mae pointed to an open door at the top of the stairs, and I took a moment to peek in.

  The walls were dark blue, as he had told me they were, and the bed was massive and laid out in black silk blankets. A giant flat screen television hung on the wall, and tons of gaming gear and videogames filling the built-in entertainment center in the wall. Some clothes were strewn about the room, but really, it was exactly as I expected it would be.

  “There’s a guest room, with another bathroom, at the end of the hall,” Mae explained, then looked a little perplexed. “I don’t know why there’s another bathroom up here. Each bedroom has its own attached bathroom, and its own fireplace. I think someone must’ve suggested it to Ezra that it was a good resale point. ”

  “This house is all bathrooms and fireplaces,” a velvety voice grumbled, and my heart stopped at the sound. It was coming from the bedroom across the hall from Jack’s room, and completely unabashed, I took a step towards it.

  This room had been styled much closer to the rest of the house, with wood floors, and a four-poster bed made with white linens. There was a large white rug in the center of the room, and the French doors leading out to the balcony were open, letting the cool breeze ruffle the thick curtains.

  Books lined the walls, and someone sat in the white chair in the corner. An aged copy of a German book covered his face from me, but just the sound of his voice had already mesmerized me. He wore faded jeans and a close fitting sweater.

  His slender fingers were deeply tanned, but they seemed to be gripping the book unnaturally tight. I wondered if I was irritating him in some way, so I took a step back, trying to sneak out of his room, but I bumped right into Mae.

  “Alice, this is Peter. Peter, this is Alice,” Mae introduced us. Maybe it was just my imagination, but her voice seemed to have filled with a sense of self-satisfaction. He grunted something but didn’t lower the book. “Jack told you that she’d be coming over tonight. ”

  “I remember. ” Peter definitely sounded annoyed, so I tried to edge my way out of the room, but Mae, who either chose to ignore or didn’t notice his growing irritation, blocked my path.

  “You could at least say hi to our guest. ” Mae reprimanded him, but her tone was playful. “It’s the polite thing to do. ”

  “Hello,” Peter sighed and finally lowered his book.

  At first, I could only see his eyes. They were an intoxicating shade of green and captivated me. His thick, chestnut hair landed just above his shoulders, and he tucked it behind his ears. His jaw had tightened, strong on his features.

  He breathed in sharply, and his lips parted. It wasn’t his intention, but there was something so seductive about that. He was stunningly perfect in a way that made him almost painful to look at.

  “Aha!” Mae exclaimed quietly behind me, but I was too preoccupied with Peter to figure out what she meant.

  “Shouldn’t you continue your little tour?” Peter asked icily, and his eyes dropped from mine.

  I suddenly remembered to breathe and tried not to gulp down air the way my lungs requested. My heart pounded wildly, and I felt the blood burning my cheeks.

  “I think we’ve seen all the main points,” Mae looped her arm through mine, and the combination of her soft voice and reassuring touch calmed me down. “Would you care to join us, Peter?”

  “I’ve seen the house. ” He lifted the book again, hiding his exquisite features from me.

  “Peter’s always a grump,” Mae explained, but she sounded a tad disappointed when she started leading me away from Peter’s room. “Come on, love. There’s still more for us to see. ”

  “Well?” Jack appeared at the bottom stairs, looking up expectantly at us. There was something anxious and almost protective about him. Mae and I walked slowly down towards him, and I couldn’t meet his gaze, afraid he would see what a fool I had myself of over his brother.

  “Well what?” I asked, feeling dazed.

  “What do you think?” He waited until I was at the bottom of the stairs, then I felt him inspecting me. The dog came over and licked my hand, and I absently started petting her.

  “The house is amazing. ” I tried to force a smile to prove how spectacular I thought everything was, and I hated that that sudden random confrontation with his brother had distracted me from all my other pleasant feelings about the house and Mae.

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  “Peter’s upstairs being a crab,” Mae told Jack dramatically.

  “Oh,” Jack replied knowingly and exchanged a look with Mae that I couldn’t read. She just bit her lip and shrugged, then hugged me a little tighter. “Peter is such a jackass. ”

  “Oh, he is not. ” Mae had taken to stroking my hair gently, and that alleviated some of my tension and shame.

  “Peter!” Jack shouted up at the stairs at him.

  “I am reading a book!” Peter growled down.

  “Peter!” Jack shouted again, growing more irritated.

  “I am reading, Jack!” Peter responded, and I winced at the anger in his words.

  “Jack. ” Mae shot him a look. “Let him be. ”

  “Whatever. ” He relented, but he didn’t look happy about it. Then he turned his attention to me and smiled. “S
o, Alice, wanna have some fun?”

  “Sure?” I replied hesitantly. His eyes had a mischievous glint, and I hadn’t decided whether or not I should trust it.

  “Hot tub!”

  “I don’t have a suit. ” This was true, but I was sure they would have a solution for it. I had a feeling that Mae and Jack would have a solution for nearly everything.

  “Oh, I have the perfect one for you!” Mae smiled, her earlier excitement returning.

  She ushered me down the hall towards her room. We went into Mae’s room, where Jack proceeded to flop back on the overstuffed bed. She opened the doors to her closet, and it was larger than my entire bedroom. She started searching through her multitudes of bathing suits, making me nervous.

  Once she found one she liked (a pale blue two piece with a ruffled skirt around the bottoms), she insisted that I go into their adjoining bathroom to try it on. It fit, and it was more flattering then I had expected it to be, but it also felt incredibly revealing.

  When I came out, she gushed over how amazing I looked. I might’ve believed her if she hadn’t already changed into her own bikini in the closest, and I looked like nothing compared to her. Jack didn’t say anything, but the approving way he looked at me made me blush.

  Jack was a typical guy and decided that wearing just his black boxers would suffice. I took a moment to admire the perfection of Jack shirtless, but I did it as discreetly as possible.

  We went outside through the French doors, and the cold stung. Mae and Jack didn’t appear to notice it, but that didn’t surprise me.

  I climbed into the hot tub. The way it instantly warmed my entire body reminded me of the way that I had felt when I looked at Peter. Then I remembered the ice in his voice and tried to push thoughts of him out of my mind.

  We spent quite a bit of time in the hot tub, and when I finally let myself relax and enjoy it, I did. Matilda lay sprawled on the patio next to us, and Jack tried to splash her until Mae made him stop.

  I just sunk in the water, trying to forget all the stuff about Jack that didn’t make sense, and the fact that my brother hated me, and Peter’s piercing green eyes.

  “It’s getting late,” Mae announced and looked sadly at me. “I really enjoyed having you over, and I do hope you come again. But you probably should get home before it’s too late. ”

  “It’s never too late,” Jack grumbled, dipping his head back under the water as if that could block out the truth in her statement.

  “No, she’s right. ” Using most of my strength, I pushed myself from the warm, comfort of the tub and felt the frigid air on my skin. “Oh my gosh, it’s freezing!”

  “I brought out towels,” Mae gestured to a pile of plush white towels lying on a nearby chair, and I rushed over to them.

  When I picked up a towel, I happened to glance up, and I saw Peter standing inside the kitchen, staring through the French doors at me. The towel had unrolled in front of me, but I just stood there, holding it, unable to actually start drying myself. The cold was painful, but Peter had captivated me.

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