My blood approves, p.8
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       My Blood Approves, p.8

         Part #1 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
One of his arms folded across his chest, while his hand rested on his chin. His brilliant green eyes were giving me a look that could kill, and my heart felt eager to please, so it completely stopped beating. It might have stopped forever if Mae hadn’t interrupted and pulled me from the trance he’d put me in.

  “Peter! Would you care to join us?” Mae called at him. Still glaring at me, he shook his head, then turned on his heels and stalked off. “Don’t mind him, Alice. He’s really not so bad. ”

  “It’s okay,” I lied, then suddenly started feeling the cold again and wrapped the towel around myself.

  “You make him nervous,” Jack whispered, suddenly standing directly behind me.

  “Why?” I asked numbly.

  It didn’t make any sense that I could make someone as composed and perfect as Peter nervous. I was inconsequential in every way. Naturally, Jack didn’t answer me. He just shrugged and walked into the house.

  “Hurry up before you freeze to death!” Jack yelled, and I rushed in after him.

  By the time I had gotten dressed, Jack was waiting by the door for me. He twirled the car keys on his hands and whistled a song that sounded suspiciously like “Walking on Sunshine. ”

  At the door, Mae hugged me tightly and reminded me that I had to come visit her soon. Looking rather pained, she apologized for Peter’s behavior, and I wondered what he had done that had offended them so much.

  “Which car are we taking?” I had followed Jack out into the garage, but he looked like he was walking all the way down to the other end, so I already knew what it was.

  “The Lamborghini, of course. ”

  “How do you decide which car you’re going to take?” Now, with a million other questions burning in my mind, this was the only question I wasn’t afraid to ask.

  “I only take this when Ezra’s gone,” he explained sheepishly as he hopped in the driver’s seat. When I got on, he started it and adjusted the stereo. “He thinks it’s too flashy. And my Jeep is fun but it’s not as fast, so I usually just take Mae’s Jetta. The Lexus is Ezra’s ‘every day’ car and the Audi is Peter’s. ”

  “If you like the car so much, why didn’t you just get one?” I asked as Jack backed out of the garage.

  “Ezra says we don’t need to stand out that much. ”

  “Well, then why did he even bother buying this car? And you live in a house shaped like a castle and he drives a Lexus. How is any of that inconspicuous?” I looked at him skeptically, and he grinned at me.

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  “Exactly!” He pulled out of the driveway and sped down the road. I leaned back in the seat and closed my eyes, trying to take in everything that had happened. When Jack spoke again, his tone had gotten somber. “So, what did you think of my family?”

  “I liked them. Mae is very nice, and your house is stunning. ” I kept my eyes closed and listened to the Joy Division cover playing on the radio. It reminded me of Gary Jules, but I knew that wasn’t it. “Who is this?”

  “Honeyroot doing ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart,’” Jack answered, and without missing a beat, returned to the topic. “So you had a good time then?”

  “I did. ” Mostly. Except for the parts when Peter sucked all the air my from lungs and I wanted to die.

  “You’re awfully quiet. I’d been expecting a million questions from you. ”

  “Oh, I have them,” I reassured him. “Is Mae from England?” Jack laughed, and I turned to look at him. “What? Was I way off?”

  “No, it’s just… that’s the question you ask?” He shook his head, smiling. “That’s like the most normal thing you could possibly ask. I just wasn’t expecting it. ”

  “What were you expecting me to ask?” I raised an eyebrow, trying to figure out what part of the night he thought I’d find the most odd.

  “Yeah, she’s from England. ” He once again hedged my question.

  “They’re like you, aren’t they?” I asked, watching him carefully.

  “Nobody’s like me,” Jack replied flippantly. “I’m a one in a million, baby!”

  “Jack, you know what I mean. ”

  “I do,” he sighed. His expression got pained, and he was almost pleading with me. “You liked them and you had a good time. Can’t we just leave it at that?”

  “Why did you want me to meet them?”

  Meeting them had made him more vulnerable and more susceptible to my questions. I don’t know how it benefited him. Mae had wanted to meet me, I’m sure, but he could’ve put that off.

  “That is way too complicated for me to answer right now,” Jack said simply.

  “When will things stop being so complicated?” I had started whining a little, but I’d had a long day, so I thought I had earned the right to whine just a bit.

  “That’s probably the best question you’ve ever asked me. ” Jack sounded very far away and rather sad, so I knew the answer wouldn’t be anything I’d want to hear anyway. For once, I was grateful for his silence. After a very pregnant pause, he exhaled deeply. “I feel drawn to you. ”

  “That’s why things are complicated?” I sat up straighter in my seat, eager to hear what sounded like a legitimate answer.

  “No. Well, kinda, but that’s not what I meant. ” He glanced over at me, and then returned his gaze to the road. “That’s why I wanted you to meet my family. ”

  “So was that like me meeting your parents?” I crinkled my nose. “Like we’re dating?”

  “No, it’s not like that. You know what I mean. You feel it too, right?” His eyes flitted back over to me, then quickly away again. “Like you feel drawn to me. You enjoy me and everything, but you feel kind of compelled to be around me. ”

  “I guess,” I said noncommittally. He’d actually hit the nail on the head, but I didn’t want to admit to that.

  “Well, that’s how I feel. ” He had put himself out there for a minute, and he shifted uncomfortably. I felt bad for not being more honest with him.

  “But… what does that have to do with your family?”

  “That’s the complicated part,” he smirked.

  “You can’t tell me anything?” I asked. I knew that if I were smarter, I’d probably have everything pieced together already. Jack was probably growing frustrated with me failing to follow his little half clues.

  “They like you,” he offered helpfully.

  “Yeah, I could tell that Peter’s a real big fan,” I scoffed, and he just pursed his lips grimly.

  “It’s really, really complicated, Alice. But…” He sighed again. “Okay. That’s all I can say. ”

  “Why?” I demanded. We had already pulled up in front of my house, making the trek home in record time. He looked over at me, his expression grave but affectionate. “Why can’t you tell me more?”

  “Honestly?” Jack bit his lip, and I could see the internal debate raging. “I like you too much. ”

  “That doesn’t make any sense! If you like me, you should just be open and honest with me. That’s what people do. That’s how it works,” I said. His eyes looked conflicted and pained, and I thought almost had him, but then he looked down at his hands and shook his head.

  “I saw your face yesterday. ” His voice clogged painfully. “I don’t want you to ever look at me that way again. ”

  “I won’t!” I insisted, but we both know that I couldn’t be sure of that. I had no idea what he wasn’t telling me, so I couldn’t promise my reaction to it.

  “It’s late. ”

  “Fine, be that way. ” I threw open the car door. “I had a really lovely time tonight and I hope we can do it again real soon. ”

  “Sweet dreams,” Jack smiled at me, and I smiled back, despite my frustration.

  “Yeah, you too. ”

  By the time I made it up to my apartment, I was struggling not to cry. All Peter had really done was look at me, and it was somehow devastating. An unfailing insistence inside me wanted him, but I re
fused to listen to it.

  Jack and Mae liked me, probably more than they should, and I really liked them, definitely more than I should, and that was enough. That was more than enough! Why did I have to be so greedy?

  “Alice?” Milo said timidly, startling me from my thoughts. The apartment was mostly dark, and I hadn’t seen him sitting on the couch, waiting up for me. I had just been leaning against the front door. “Are you okay?”

  “Yeah, I’m just peachy. ” I swallowed hard and walked over to the couch.

  Milo was talking to me, and that was pretty damn exciting. I pushed Peter and Jack from my thoughts and sat down next to him.

  “Did you have a nice time tonight?” Milo asked, and I nodded quickly.

  “Yeah. I did. What about you?”

  “It was okay,” he shrugged.

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  “I’m sorry. For the things I said today. ” I wasn’t sure if that was the right thing to say, or if it made me sound like I was sorry he was gay or something. But it was too late, and I would just deal with how he reacted.

  “No, don’t be. ” He ran a hand through his brown hair and looked away from me. “When I asked if you were gonna be home tonight, I was upset. But it was because you’ve been gone so much lately, and the other night, when I thought you were going to stay home and eat with me, you left. I just haven’t seen you very much. I kind of missed you. ”

  “Oh, Milo, I am sorry!” My eyes filled with tears.

  He had just missed me, and then I had been so horrible to him. I had been gone a lot lately, thanks to Jack, and I hadn’t even really considered how Milo felt about it. No, scratch that. I did consider it; I just didn’t care. I had to be the worst sister in the world. Really.

  “Let me finish,” Milo interjected quietly. “But… you were right. I am attracted to Jack. And guys in general. I just didn’t know how to tell you, or even how to tell myself, I guess. So that’s why I’ve been so distant lately. ”

  “You know I love you no matter what, right?” I threw my arms around him. He squirmed a little but let me hug him. “I am so sorry I haven’t been around! I promise I’ll spend more time with you!”

  “You don’t have to. ” He pulled back from my grip but stayed close to me.

  “I know that! I want to! I’ve missed you too. And I’m just so sorry for everything. ”

  “You can quit apologizing,” Milo said, not unkindly. “You didn’t really do that much wrong. ”

  “I still feel horrible. ”

  “Yeah, I get that. ” He smiled, and I laughed a little.

  “We’ll hang out tomorrow. I promise. ”

  “Okay,” Milo yawned. “I really need to get to bed, though. It’s way past my bedtime. ” He got up and started walking to his bedroom.

  “Okay,” I nodded, feeling genuinely sad to see him go. “Hey, Milo? I love you. ”

  “I know. ” Then he disappeared into the darkness of his room. I went into my room and changed into my pajamas.

  I curled up underneath my covers, and for the first time in a long time, I cried myself to sleep.

  - 8 -

  At school, Jane poked and prodded me, then repeatedly told me that I looked like hell. I’m sure it had to do with how terrible I slept, and all the strange dreams I couldn’t quite remember. They were mostly a blur of images that I couldn’t decipher, except for one clear image: Peter’s eyes burning through me.

  Of course, I couldn’t explain any of this to Jane. It still was a struggle for her not to mention Jack, so I couldn’t either.

  Milo had seemed to return to his normal self, much to my relief. When we got home, he started talking rapidly about a new recipe he wanted to try out.

  Last night, I’d managed to forget to eat anything, and at lunch, I had still felt too tired and out-of-it to eat. But once I was in the safety of my apartment listening to Milo rattle of a list of tasty ingredients, my appetite came back full swing.

  We went to the grocery store to get his recommended supplies, but I was too hungry to wait, so I ate a pear in the store. Milo looked embarrassed, even though I insisted that I’d pay for it (and I did).

  Taking the groceries home was always a project because we had to take the bus with arm loads of bags. I wished Mom would spring and buy a car, but it didn’t seem like it was in the cards.

  Jack hadn’t text messaged me yet, and I tried to pretend like that didn’t bother me. All through supper, while I attempted to help Milo cook, I had to constantly fight the urge to check my cell phone in my pocket to make sure it was on or I hadn’t missed a message.

  After my incident cutting my finger (which apparently hadn’t been that minor since I still required a Boba Fett Band-Aid), Milo left me with all the easy jobs, like washing vegetables, measuring ingredients, and buttering bread.

  His supper was ridiculously good. We sat at the table, where I promptly devoured everything.

  Mom woke up, and we offered her a plate, but she just shook her head and hurried out the door. We’d seen her for a total of ten minutes that day, but I imagined that if we were to add it up, we saw her an average of an hour a week.

  “You should really go to culinary school,” I told Milo. “You’re amazing. This is definitely something you should do for a living. ”

  We were still sitting at the table, and I had one knee pulled up to my chest, which was getting more uncomfortable the more I ate. I had already cleaned one plate and had started on a second, but my eyes were larger than my stomach.

  “I’ve kind of looked into it. ” He shrugged modestly, and he didn’t have a clue what an amazing cook he was. Milo never believed he was good at anything, no matter what I told him. “I don’t know. ”

  “Well, you still have a few years to think about it, but you’re too good to keep this hidden from the world. ” I took another bite, but my stomach screamed in protest. I forced myself to push my plate away, knowing that I would explode if I continued eating.

  “What about you? You’re graduating before I am. What did you have in mind?” Milo turned the tables on me, and I squirmed a little. He knew my grades at school, and he was constantly trying to talk to me about my future, but I avoided it as much as possible.

  “I don’t know. ” Lately, with everything that had been going on with Jack, I had a new found appreciation for paranormal studies and biology. “Maybe I’ll go to med school. ” I had meant it as a joke, but Milo just nodded, like it would make sense.

  “I could see you as a psychiatrist,” Milo said. “I mean, not anything that had to do with blood or surgery. ”

  “No, that would definitely be out,” I agreed readily. When I saw all the blood on Jack’s nonexistent wound, I had to fight the urge to vomit. “But I can’t imagine me being a psychiatrist. ”

  “Really?” He raised an eyebrow, as if it seemed like an obvious choice to him. “You’re a pretty good listener, and you love figuring people out. Everyone is like a puzzle to you, and you’re trying to put all the pieces together. ”

  “I guess that is true. ” Essentially, that’s all I’d been doing for the last few weeks, but until Milo had said it like that, I didn’t realize that’s what I did.

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  “I mean, you figured out that I was gay. ” Milo spoke quietly and kept his eyes down, so I knew it was still something that was uncomfortable for him to talk about.

  “When did you know?” I pulled my plate back over to me, but I just pushed the food around. I was too full to eat, but when I felt awkward, I wanted to keep my hands busy with something, and this was better than biting my nails.

  “I don’t know. ” He sighed a little, and I wondered if I should change the subject, but then he went on. “I suspected for… ever, I guess. I mean, as soon as I learned what gay was, I thought, ‘maybe. ’ But really, it was when I met Jack. ” He blushed deeply, keeping his eyes fixed on the floor. “I’d just never been so attracted to anyone
like that before. ”

  “Yeah, Jack does that. ” I had meant to comfort him with that statement, but I ended up sounding exasperated.

  “But you’re not attracted to him. ” Milo looked up at me, looking both confused and disbelieving. “How is that even possible?”

  “I’m attracted to him, definitely,” I explained the best I could. “I just don’t want to have sex with him. ” Then I remembered what he looked like last night, sliding shirtless into the hot tub.

  “But…” Milo shifted uncomfortably, and he sounded unsure of himself. “I don’t mean to sound gross, but that was all I could think about. ”

  “That’s not gross,” I replied quickly, but then recanted. “Okay. It’s a little gross, but only cause you’re my little brother. Not cause of the whole gay thing. ”

  “Even Jane went crazy about him, and she’s never crazy about anyone, except for herself. ” He was waiting for an explanation, but I didn’t have one.

  “I don’t get it either,” I told him finally. “I don’t see what you guys see in him, even. I mean, he’s attractive and funny and everything…” I trailed off, realizing that maybe I did feel the way they did about Jack, then suddenly, I remembered Peter. “I met his brother last night. ”

  “And?” Milo leaned in closer to me, his eyes shining brightly.

  “And nothing. He’s gorgeous, like unbelievably so, but he hates me. ” I shrugged, trying to make it look like it didn’t bother me as much as it did, and went back to picking at my plate of food.

  “He hates you? Why?” At least he was incredulous at the idea of anyone hating me. Maybe I was more likable than I gave myself credit for.

  “I honestly couldn’t tell you. ” It physically hurt just thinking about the way that Peter had glared at me when I was by the hot tub. I would gladly throw myself under a bus than endure another look like that. “I don’t think I even spoke to him. ”

  “Then how do you know he hates you?”

  “If you had seen the way he looked at me…” I shuddered at the thought of it and decided that that was enough of talking about Peter and Jack. I stood up and started to clear off the table.

  “I don’t get you, Alice,” Milo muttered when I took his plate.

  “There’s nothing to get,” I replied glibly.

  Since he had cooked, that usually meant that I would do the dishes, but he helped me out tonight. He had just started doing his homework when I decided that a nice long, hot shower was in order. But when I went into the bathroom, the hamper was overflowing, and we were completely out of clean towels.

  Milo had tons of homework, and he actually planned to do it, so I offered to go to the laundromat. I loaded up as much clothes as I could into three massive laundry bags, and then made the excruciating trek the block and a half down to the laundromat. The superintendent kept promising he’d put one in the basement of the building, but he’d yet to follow through.

  I filled four washers with clothes (the maximum amount allotted to one person), then settled back in the hard plastic chairs to watch clothes spin around for an hour. I had just started doing a quiz in Cosmo (“Are You Pleasing Your Man in Bed?” – the perfect quiz for a single virgin) when my pocket started to ring.

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