My blood approves, p.10
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       My Blood Approves, p.10

         Part #1 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
 
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I didn’t know what the hell that meant, and I wanted terribly to ask, but I knew it would have to wait until we left and I was safely in the car with Jack.

  “She’s just a girl,” Peter scoffed, making me crumble inside.

  My body slouched automatically, but I fought to keep my facial expression even. Ezra turned to shoot a glance at Peter, who just looked away and shifted his weight.

  “Peter. ” Ezra wasn’t disapproving this time. He just sounded like he didn’t understand him at all.

  “Well, you don’t need to put her on display,” Peter muttered. He refused to look at me, but he snuck glances at Ezra. “She’s here. I get it. ”

  “I was just introducing her to Ezra,” Mae told him, but there was a protective edge to her voice.

  “I’m sorry about Peter,” Ezra turned back to me, smiling apologetically. “He seems to have completely lost his mind. ”

  Peter rolled his eyes at that, and I wondered what it was about me that bothered him so much. I’d barely said anything around him. In fact, I’d mostly just stood there and stared dumbly. How could that be so offensive to anyone?

  “You know what would be fun?” Jack asked. He’d been standing off to the side of me, crouched down on the floor so he could pet Matilda, who had rolled over on her back so he could rub her belly.

  “Nobody wants to play Guitar Hero. ” Mae sounded exasperated when she turned to give him a look.

  “But you can play the Beatles! You loved the Beatles!”

  “He’s back on that again?” Ezra asked, looking a little disappointed.

  “He bought a new system or something,” Mae said wearily. “I don’t know. It’s just been the past couple days. ”

  “Well, maybe we should let the kids play, and you can fill me in on what else I’ve missed while I was gone,” Ezra suggested.

  Mae took a step away from me, and he slid his arm around her slender waist. They really looked perfect together, and something about them made me incredibly jealous. Not because I really wanted to be with Ezra (although, there were much worse things I could do) but because of how obviously they were made for each other. I wanted to be made for somebody like that.

  “Have you played Guitar Hero?” Jack asked suddenly. I’m assuming he was asking me, but he was already hurrying over to the giant plasma television hanging on the wall and hooking up the gaming system.

  “Let me know if you need anything,” Mae gently touched my arm. “And don’t be afraid to tell him when you’ve had enough. He can play that game for hours, so you’re gonna have to be the one to stop him. ”

  When they walked out of the room, Mae rested her head on Ezra’s shoulder, and I couldn’t help but feel sad to see them go. Peter, strangely enough, didn’t take this as his cue to exit, and stood where he was, glowering at everyone and everything.

  “So have you?” Jack looked back over his shoulder at me.

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  Matilda had followed him over to where he sat crouched on the floor, putting the game in the player and hooking up the wireless guitar controllers. She shoved her nose right in his hair, drooling over it, but he didn’t seem to really mind or notice.

  “Like once, at a friend’s house,” I said. Jane had been making out with a guy the entire time, while I sat downstairs in the living room and played Guitar Hero with his nine-year-old brother. It had been a hoot.

  “It’s really awesome,” Jack said.

  “I don’t know why you’re making the poor girl play with you,” Peter said. For once, he didn’t sound angry or irritated, and I think he was almost coming to my defense. “You’re going to completely slaughter her. ”

  “I am the greatest Guitar Hero player of all time. ” Jack was insanely proud of this accomplishment, and why wouldn’t he be? He had amazing talents that he downplayed constantly, but he was really, really good at a video game. He had his priorities in order.

  “Of course you are. ” I took the plastic guitar from him and dropped the strap over my shoulders.

  “What song do you want?” He started scrolling through the song list so fast I could hardly even read it, but I caught a few that I liked.

  “Um… how about Interpol?”

  “Good choice,” Jack commended me.

  I was acutely aware of the fact that Peter was staring at me, and it made me extremely self-conscious. His gaze didn’t feel quite as hateful as it had before, but that didn’t change the effect he had on me. Ezra had been able to calm him down somewhat, and for that, I would be forever grateful. I couldn’t bare him hating me.

  A few strums on the guitar switch later, and the game started rolling. The object was to hit the colored buttons on the arm of the guitar in time with the same colored buttons flashing on the screen, but it was much harder than it sounded.

  Jack had put me on the easy skill level, but he was on expert and flying through it. Peter had been right. There was no contest between the two of us. I could barely even finish the song.

  “Oh, that was brutal,” Peter said when we had finished playing.

  He left his place on the wall and walked over to me, making my heart pound so loudly I could barely hear myself think. He was careful not to look me in the eyes, and I could tell that was a very deliberate decision. Then he held his hand out towards me, and at first, I didn’t understand.

  “Give me the guitar. Jack needs a good ass kicking. ”

  “You need it more than I do,” Jack scoffed.

  I started to pull the strap off over my head, but it tangled in the length of my hair. Peter reached out to help me, and for a second, his hand was over mine.

  His skin felt much different from everyone else’s. It was just as baby soft, but it was burning hot. It reminded me of when I accidentally touched an electric fence when I was a kid, except this was pleasurable. It actually sent a jolt through me, and I saw his eyes flash up, meeting mine for just a second, so I knew he felt it too.

  Then he quickly untangled the guitar and took it from me, without saying a word or looking at me again.

  “What song?” Jack asked Peter, with a strange edge to his voice.

  “Your choice,” Peter said. He sounded perfectly even, but when he looked at me out of the corner of his eye, I could tell that he was a little startled by our moment.

  Feeling weak and shaky, I walked back and collapsed on the overstuffed plush couch. Matilda decided that I needed company and climbed next to me, resting her enormous head on my lap.

  I stroked her ears and watched Peter and Jack play the game. They were playing so fast it didn’t seem humanly possible, but then I remembered that they probably weren’t humanly possible.

  My whole body still felt electrified from the touch, and I tried to decide whether or not I should ask Jack about it. It still felt weird to me to talk to him about his brother, even though it wasn’t as if Jack and I were dating or anything.

  Peter beat Jack the first round, so Jack demanded a rematch. They played on for awhile, and Jack kept looking back at me, to make sure I was still there.

  Peter did too but always quickly looked away. Every time he glanced back, my heart would flutter, and I swear every time that my heart beat sped up, Peter and Jack would tense up.

  “You’re not even letting her play?” Mae appeared in the door with her hands on her hips, sounding appalled. Ezra stood behind her, but he just chuckled at the boys, as if he hadn’t expected any different from them.

  “She played,” Jack said defensively. “She just, you know, wasn’t very good. ”

  “I had to put Jack in his place,” Peter said.

  “Well, that’s enough of that,” Mae informed them. She walked over to the couch, pushing Matilda onto the floor and sitting next to me. “She’s probably bored out of her mind. ”

  “I’m okay,” I smiled at her. Truthfully, I hadn’t had a chance to be bored. Watching Peter do anything was intoxicating.

  “Tu
rn that off anyway,” Mae gestured to the game.

  Jack grumbled, but he complied. Peter took off his guitar and set it down in front of the entertainment center, and then he sat in the chair on the exact opposite side of the room from where I was sitting.

  “It’s a fun game,” Jack complained to no one in particular, then sat down on the floor in front of me. Matilda grabbed a thick rope chew toy and brought it over to him. He started yanking on the rope, and she growled happily and wagged her tail.

  “So, Alice, are you still in high school?” Ezra asked. He’d been standing in the doorway, but somehow, he’d moved into the chair closest to me without me noticing.

  Mae was running her fingers through my long hair, and I thought about how weird it was. If any other person had been doing that, I would’ve pushed them off and thought they were insane. But with her, it felt perfectly natural and comforting.

  “Uh, yeah, eleventh grade,” I answered.

  Ezra looked at me as if I was fascinating, but I couldn’t imagine anything about me would interest a person like him. It reminded me of what Peter had said, about them putting me on display, and it did kind of feel like that. Not that that made any sense.

  “Are you doing well in school?” Ezra asked.

  “Not really,” I admitted. I knew that I could lie to him, and part of me wanted to in a desperate attempt to impress him, but I also knew that I wouldn’t lie to them. It just didn’t feel right.

  “Are you planning on continuing your education?” Ezra leaned back in his chair, but there was nothing disapproving about him at all. He was merely taking it all in and trying to find out more about me. No matter what I had to say, it wouldn’t upset him, because it was part of me, and for whatever reason, he approved of me.

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  “Maybe. ” I felt sheepish, but decided to continue anyway. “I was thinking about being a doctor. ”

  Peter chuckled, and then shook his head. “Of course she is. ”

  “I was thinking of psychiatry, actually. ” I started blushing when Peter laughed. I hurried to explain myself, so they wouldn’t all think I was a total fool.

  “I can see that,” Ezra nodded, looking intently at me. “You have insight. ”

  “How can you even say that with a straight face?” Peter asked Ezra incredulously, who just turned and looked at him sharply.

  “She’s only seventeen,” Ezra reasoned. “You don’t think she has insight for being that age? And she must have an incredibly high tolerance since she hasn’t yet killed either you or Jack. That’s patience and wisdom brewing. ”

  I blushed even more deeply at his compliments and dropped my eyes to the floor. Nobody had ever talked about me like that.

  “Don’t. ” Peter’s voice had gone hard again, and he gave Ezra a look, which he returned evenly. Then Peter shook his head. “She’s too young! And she’s too…” He decided against finishing his sentence, and then got up suddenly and stormed out.

  “Peter!” Jack groaned, then got up and went after him.

  “Jack, leave him,” Ezra called after him, but Jack just shook his head and kept going.

  “He can’t keep getting away with this,” Jack said and disappeared out of the room after him.

  “You just have to ignore him,” Mae purred warmly in my ear. She began braiding my hair, something my own mother had never done, and tried to comfort me. “He’s just that way. ”

  “I just don’t understand. ” Confused, hurt tears were stinging my eyes, and I wished they would go away. I thought about wiping at them, but Ezra was staring at me, and it would only make my crying more obvious.

  “What, love?” Mae asked softly, pushing stray strands of hair out of my face.

  “Why he hates me so much,” I mumbled.

  “He doesn’t hate you,” Ezra said. “He just wishes he did. ”

  I know that was meant to comfort me, but I don’t really know how that made things better. Wanting to hate me felt almost worse. It was a choice he was trying to make.

  “I need to use the restroom,” I announced. I wouldn’t be able to fight the tears much longer, and if I cried, I’d rather do it in the privacy of the bathroom. I stood up, and Mae’s hands reluctantly fell away.

  “Do you remember where it’s at?” Mae started rising to show me where it was at, but I nodded first.

  “I’ll be right back. ” I dashed out of the room as fast as I could without making it obvious that I was running away to cry.

  On my way to the bathroom, I had to go past the stairs, but that was as far as I made it. Peter’s smooth voice stopped me sharply. Hidden at the bottom of the steps, I could hear them upstairs in Peter’s room. He was talking to Jack, and he didn’t sound angry like he did in the living room. In fact, he sounded more sad than anything else.

  “I’m not trying to be mean to her,” Peter was saying, sounding small and apologetic.

  “But you are! You should’ve seen how terrified she was to come over here, because of you!” Jack, on the other hand, definitely was angry.

  I winced at the sound of him confessing my embarrassing secrets, but I stayed longer to listen to their argument.

  “Maybe she shouldn’t come back then. ” Peter was saying it reasonably, as if he was only thinking of what was best for me, not because he didn’t want me around.

  “You’re such an ass,” Jack said. “I like her, Ezra likes her, Mae’s practically in love with her. She’s going to be around. I don’t know why you’re fighting everything so much. ”

  “None of you understand, okay?” Peter’s voice had gotten sharper. “Ezra has Mae, and you’re too young. And this is like a holiday for Mae! She’s always wanted a daughter. ”

  “Look, it doesn’t matter!” Jack had grown exasperated. “She’s going to be around, and you’re just gonna have to find a way to deal with it. Without hurting her. ”

  “You know I don’t want to hurt her. ” Peter had gotten so quiet, I could barely hear him, but his voice was unmistakably sincere. He truly didn’t want to hurt me, or even hate me. So why did he?

  “Yeah, I do!” Jack snapped. “So knock it off!”

  “Okay!” Peter relented.

  The conversation appeared to be winding to a close and I could hear footsteps getting closer to the stairs. I couldn’t have them catching me eavesdropping, so I ran to the bathroom. At least I felt less like crying now, even though I felt even more confused about what was going on.

  When I came out of the bathroom, both Peter and Jack had returned to the living room. Peter remained cordial but distant. Jack played with the dog and tried to get everyone involved in some other video game. Ezra continued to ask me questions about myself, ranging from what my mother did to what television shows I liked the best, and Mae seemed contented to play with my hair for the rest of her life.

  It was after eleven o’clock when Jack declared that we should get going. Even with the anxiety, the night had passed amazingly fast.

  They all walked us to the garage door, even Matilda, making me once again feel self-conscious. They were constantly putting me in the center of the attention, when they were all far more beautiful and fascinating than I could ever dream of being.

  Mae hugged me tightly to her, and she looked almost like she was going to cry because I was leaving.

  “You will come back, won’t you?” Her hands were still on my arms, squeezing them a little too tightly, and Ezra put his arm around her waist, gently pulling her back from me.

  “We really enjoy having you over,” Ezra said, managing a much less frantic invite than his wife.

  “Oh, she’ll be back,” Jack answered for me, grinning broadly.

  Peter, who had been standing off to the side, took a step closer to me, and his piercing green eyes met mine. For one irrational, euphoric second, I thought he might kiss me, but he stayed frozen several feet from me.

  Then, very softly, but so st
rong that it was definitely a command, he said, “Come back. ”

  “Okay,” I nodded. He must’ve established his human interaction quota with that, because then he turned and walked out of the room. I regained some sense of composure and forced a smile at Mae and Ezra. “I’ll be back. I promise. ”

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  “We’ll see you soon then,” Ezra smiled at me. Mae looked as if she was going to explode with glee, and Ezra kept his arm firmly placed around her to stop that from happening.

  “I told you Ezra would like you,” Jack said when we were in the garage. We were heading down to his Jeep, and I had a long tirade of questions to ask him, so I kept my mouth shut until we were safely inside. I didn’t want my thoughts interrupted at all. “Do you disagree?”

  “I do not,” I replied, then hopped into the Jeep and waited for him. He had barely gotten in when I turned full on to face him. “Okay. What the hell does your family want with me?”

  “What do you mean?” Jack asked carefully. He didn’t want to accidentally give away too much.

  “You’re all fawning all over me, like I’m a shiny gem or something. ” That wasn’t the right way to say it exactly, because I felt like they genuinely liked me.

  “I don’t know how to answer that. ” He started the Jeep and backed out of the garage.

  “Jack! I have a right to know what exactly you’re doing with me!” My voice sounded shriller than I had meant it to, but some small part of me was actually afraid. They were powerful and beautiful and they wanted me. It was flattering but terrifying.

  “No, I know. I’ll answer you. Just give me a minute to think about it. ” The radio still played Smashing Pumpkins, and he turned it down as we started the drive home.

  “You guys aren’t really brothers are you? I mean, not in the blood relative sense. ” It was more of a statement, but Jack laughed and shook his head. “You’re trying to tell me that you all have the same parents?”

  “No, we don’t,” Jack said, still chuckling over my question.

  “You’re more like a fraternity or something?” I asked.

  “Kinda, but more than that. ” He was vague, as usual, and I sighed.

  “Jack, what’s going on?” I asked him earnestly. “What is all of this? Why are you guys so different? And why do you think I’m special?”

  “Do you trust me?” He looked gravely at me.

  “Yeah, you know I do. ” My heart raced. He was finally going to tell me something.

  “Okay. Then… I will tell you, very soon. But you just have to wait a little bit longer. ”

  “Why? What’s going to happen in a little bit longer?” I demanded to know. “I’ve met your family, I hang out with you all the time, and I know that you’re not exactly human. What’s left?”

  “It’s complicated,” Jack sighed. “And I… I don’t want to scare you off. ”

  “What could possibly scare me off after all I’ve seen with you?” I insisted incredulously.

  “There are still parts of me you don’t know. ” He kept his voice even, but it sounded more like an ominous warning. He gave me a sidelong glance to see how I’d responded, so I tried to look brave, but he could tell that he’d rattled me. “It’s about more than just trusting me, or even trusting my family. It’s about who you are. ”

 
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