Fate, p.15
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       Fate, p.15

         Part #2 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
 
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“You still feel it for him, then?” Mae had gone pale and her eyes had widened with worry.

  “I can’t stop feeling it,” I said wearily. “I want to, sometimes, but I can’t. And I don’t think I can stop feeling anything for Jack either. But… I still miss Peter, and I’d miss Jack. I don’t know how I’m supposed to make sense of that. ”

  “You’re not. You’re not supposed to feel that way. ” Mae smiled sadly at me and tucked a stray hair back. “But you already knew that. ”

  “Where is Peter?”

  “He’s away, Alice,” Mae told me firmly. “And that’s the way it needs to stay. He’s not good for you. At least not right now, not with the way you both feel. ”

  “I didn’t want to see him. ” I shook my head forcefully, maybe too forcefully. “I have no reason to see him. I was just wondering. So I would know. ”

  “Ezra is working on some things,” Mae went on, ignoring the fact that I protested a little too much. “Things will be settled soon. It may seem like a long time to you, but that’s just your age talking. Things will be better, though. ”

  I settled back in the couch, trying to slow the explosion of nerves inside of me, and Matilda rested her gigantic head on my lap. Mae went back to stroking my hair and trying to convince me that even fairy tales had their share of problems to work through.

  I didn’t appreciate the way I still felt about Peter. By now, my feelings for him should’ve faded, especially after what he did to me. They should’ve been gone. But they weren’t.

  It didn’t help that Jack wasn’t around to remind me what truly mattered. He stayed out all night with Milo, practicing in the lake. It was much longer than I was comfortable with, so eventually Mae went to check on them.

  Once she confirmed that they were alright, she put in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and curled up next to me on the couch. I lay with her, but I couldn’t concentrate on the movie. I couldn’t concentrate on anything.

  Somewhere during the night, I fell asleep. I didn’t even realize it until Jack was lifting me up and carrying me out to the car. When I woke up, I put my arms around his neck and snuggled closer to him, relishing the way he smelled and how safe his arms felt.

  “I’m glad to see you too,” Jack laughed quietly when I moved in close to him. “I didn’t mean to wake you. ”

  “No, its okay,” I said. When he set me down in the car, I was sad to let him go. “Why are you taking me home?”

  “Mae thought it would be better, after what happened last time. ” He shrugged and walked around to the other side of the car so he could get in.

  “How did things go with Milo?” I yawned, and he just grinned at me.

  “Good. Real good. ”

  “I really wish I could’ve seen you more tonight. ” I let myself slide down in the seat so I was more comfortable. My body felt unnecessarily tired, already readjusting itself for the upcoming school schedule. “I think I needed to. ”

  “Yeah, me too. ” Jack watched me struggle to stay awake. “Why don’t you just sleep? We can talk tomorrow. ”

  Despite my best efforts, I fell asleep again, and I really wondered what my problem was. Thinking about Peter too much had exhausted me, apparently.

  When I got home, I didn’t even wake up at all. The next thing I knew after being in the car with Jack was waking up in my own bed.

  It was reassuring knowing he’d taken me up, but something felt tragic about how little I’d see him. For some reason, I cried myself back to sleep.

  This was the last night I could stay out as late as I wanted. Tomorrow would be my last full day before the start of my senior year, and my stomach cringed at the thought of it.

  Page 43

  I didn’t even want to get out of bed. Part of me knew that my response should be to be party it up until the break of dawn, but I felt too depressed to even get out of bed.

  Burying myself deeper in the bed, I ignored text messages from Jane. When broken down, they all said the same basic thing. “Hey girl! Let’s get drunk!” That was one of them verbatim, the “hey girl” and everything. I can’t imagine when she picked that up, but I hoped she dropped it pretty quickly.

  Even Milo had texted me, but I didn’t reply to him either. He mostly just informed me that he was bored since Jack was gone, off meeting Ezra somewhere for some stupid business transaction.

  I closed my eyes to the night outside my window, and I wondered how Jack wore his hair when he went on this business adventures with Ezra. Did he lay it flat, or gel it into the mess he normally has it? Did he wear a suit and tie? I could only picture him in the corner of some business meeting, playing Pac-Man on his cell phone, with his hair much too cockeyed for what could be considered appropriate.

  This was the last night I could stay up all night, and he was gone. That’s what had really gotten to me, and part of it was my fault. If I hadn’t mocked him about his lack of interest in a career or fiscal responsibility, he might not have felt it necessary to learn the family trade.

  “Alice!”

  I heard Milo yelling from another room, and I didn’t even hear the front door to the apartment open. He was calling my name, and I just pulled the covers over my head. It was really too hot for them, but I just wanted to bury myself and sink into oblivion.

  “Alice,” Milo said disapprovingly, after I heard the creek of my bedroom door opening. “What are you doing? Trying to give yourself heat stroke?”

  “Maybe. ”

  “What’s going on with you? I texted you like ten times. ” He peeled back the blankets when I didn’t answer, and I tried to hide how refreshing it felt for my head to be out in the open. “Is this about school starting? It’s just school. It’s not the end of the world. ”

  “What do you think people will say when it really is the end of the world?” I wondered dryly. “It’s the end of the world, but at least it’s not school. Or prison. Or shots. Or whatever else isn’t the end of the world. ”

  “You’re not very good at being contemplative,” Milo said. “You always sound like some bad caricature of a philosopher, like those fortune cookies with ‘Confucius say’ or the Nietzsche guy from Mystery Men that’s always saying ‘when you walk on the ground, the ground walks on you. ’”

  “This is you cheering me up?”

  I turned to look at him, trying to cast him a dubious glare in the light streaming in from the streetlamp outside my window, but he wasn’t even looking in my direction. He sat on my bed with his back to me, and he appeared to be filing his nails, or something equally gay.

  “Hardly. This is me entertaining myself. ” He tossed aside the emery board, and finally looked back at me. “Jack’s gone and I am bored with a capital ‘O. ’”

  “Why a capital ‘O?’ It starts with a B. That doesn’t even make sense. ”

  “Why does the first letter always have to be capitalized? Vowels are more dramatic. ”

  “It’s not grammatically correct to capitalize the second letter. It’s just the way the English language is,” I said.

  “Well, maybe I’ll change grammar. I’m a vampire now. I can do anything I want. ” He flashed a 100 watt smile at me and threw himself down on the bed, sprawling out over my legs. Propping his head up on his elbow, he patted my stomach. “You’ve gotta get out of this bed. We’re gonna do something. ”

  “There’s nothing to do,” I groaned.

  There were plenty of things to do in the Cities on a Saturday night. I just didn’t want to do any of them. Lying in bed was the most excitement I could handle.

  I hadn’t even read any of Peter’s book today because it just seemed like too much work. That, and I thought it would be better if I worked at trying to just forget him. I didn’t know how or even if that would be possible, but it couldn’t hurt to try.

  “Oh, Alice,” Milo sighed, tilting his head at me. “What am I going to do with you?”

  “Nothing. I’m going to stay here. An
d do nothing. ”

  No sooner had the words left my mouth then my phone started ringing. Before I could even think to reach for it, Milo jumped and grabbed it off the night stand. His reflexes were lightening fast, so at least Jack’s training appeared to be working. Not that I fully understood what Milo needed to train for. It wasn’t as if he was a soldier, after all.

  “It’s Jane!” Milo scrolled through my phone and read the text message. “And she has a marvelous idea!”

  “I don’t even wanna know what it is. ” I tried pulling the covers back over my head, but Milo grabbed them and stopped me.

  “You need to hurry up and get ready. ” He finished texting her a reply and flipped my phone shut again. “She’s going to be here in twenty minutes. ”

  “What the hell for?” I growled.

  “We’re going out. Clubs. ” He quickly added, “No vampire ones. We all know how those sit with you. ”

  “We can’t get into clubs. ” I shook my head. “We’re too young, and we always get turned away. ”

  “You never went with me before. ” Milo winked at me. “I’m like a good luck charm. ”

  “I’ve had nothing but bad luck since you got here. ” I tried to roll over, but he gently placed a hand on my arm.

  “Alice, come on. It’ll be fun. I promise. And it’s not like you have anything better to do. ”

  “What’s in it for me?” I rolled back over to face him, eyeing him up.

  “A good time!” Milo grabbed my hand, yanking me out from bed. “You’ve got to hurry. You can’t go to clubs looking all sweaty and hot!”

  “Wait, wait, wait!” I protested when he pulled me to my feet. “You’re a vampire now. Don’t you think Jane will notice?”

  “She never sees me or pays attention when she does. Just tell her I had a growth spurt,” Milo decided.

  “A growth spurt?” I scoffed.

  “This is Jane! She doesn’t put a lot of thought into anything, except how she looks. We’ll be fine. ”

  Page 44

  I let him rush around my room and play dress up with me. Ordinarily, when I got ready, I would at least express an interest picking things out, but I was basically being forced out against my will. If it wasn’t comfy pajama type clothes, I didn’t really want any of it.

  When Milo decided I looked good enough to present in public, I stood in front of the mirror in my bedroom, inspecting myself. He picked out a light weight dress that felt good in the heat, and I smoothed it down.

  “Oh, you look good,” Milo said. “And I don’t know why you care so much if you don’t even wanna go out. ”

  “If I’m going out – with you and Jane – I need all the help I can get. ” At the mention of Jane, I glanced over at the clock. “She’s like ten minutes late. Are you sure she’s coming?”

  “Alice, it’s Jane. She’s always late. ”

  Besides being vaguely depressed, I was a bit jumpy. I really needed to get out and enjoy myself while I still could and shake this ridiculous sense of foreboding.

  “Is this the book?” Milo asked. Peter’s book had been sitting on my nightstand, and he flipped through it. “Oh, yeah. It sure is. Huh. ”

  “What?” I turned to face him, wondering what that little “huh” was about it. “What book?”

  “This book. ” He held it up for me to see.

  “I know what book you’re talking about, but what did you mean by ‘this’ book? How did you even know about it?” I wanted to walk over and snatch it from his hands, but that felt inappropriate, so I fiddled with the hem of my dress.

  “It’s Peter’s book. Jack told me. ” He skimmed a page, losing interest in the conversation. When I asked what Jack had told him, he just kept on reading.

  “Milo?” I repeated louder, and when he still didn’t look up, I went over and grabbed the book from him.

  “What’d you do that for?” Milo demanded.

  “You were ignoring me. ” I took a step back from him, finding a peculiar comfort in putting distance between him and the book. I tried to seem nonchalant and tucked my hair behind my ears. “I asked what Jack said about it. ”

  “He said you had a book that Peter wrote about vampires,” Milo shrugged.

  “That’s all?”

  My heart had sped up, and I saw a flicker in Milo’s eyes as he registered it. I felt protective of the book because it was the only thing I really had of Peter, and I don’t know why it was important that I still feel a connection with him.

  Thinking about it only made my body scramble, and my best answer was to turn and quickly put the book in my top dresser drawer.

  “What was that about?” Milo’s voice had tightened. “What’s going on?”

  “Nothing. ” I slammed the drawer shut. Taking a deep breath, I gave myself a moment to recover before I turned around to face Milo again. “It’s just Peter. ”

  “I wish I had met Peter. ” His defenses had softened. “I’d love to see what all the fuss is about. ”

  “There’s not a fuss. Is there?” I didn’t feel like I was making one, or at least I was trying not to.

  “Oh, there’s a fuss,” Milo nodded with raised eyebrows. “That’s a big part of what Jack’s ‘training’ is all about. ” He did air quotes for training, which would’ve made me smile, if I hadn’t been too distracted by the implications of what he was saying.

  Jack’s use of words yesterday threw me off, but I hadn’t really put things together. “Arsenal” and “exercise” and “training. ” Things that Milo needed to “master,” and in my head I had questioned, “Master for what?”

  But I hadn’t said anything aloud, and now I really wish I had. Because Jack was training Milo to battle Peter, and it made my stomach twist in knots.

  “Jack’s training you to fight Peter?”

  “No, no,” he quickly backtracked. “Not to fight Peter. Not like I’m going to seek him out and ask him to duel or anything. He’s worried because he doesn’t know how Peter will treat me if he comes back.

  “And in case Peter tries to do something… you know, to you. ” He floundered for a minute, showing me a glimpse of the self-conscious boy he had been. “Jack wants to make sure we’re both protected. It’s not a bad thing. ”

  “Maybe not,” I said, but my stomach kept knotting up. “But I don’t like it. ”

  “You don’t like anything. ” Milo rolled over and hopped off my bed. “Jane is taking too long. Let’s go down to the clubs and tell her to meet us there. ”

  “It’s too far to walk. ”

  “How do you think I got here? Magic?” He snapped his fingers, insinuating he’d appeared out of thin air. “No. I took Mae’s car. ”

  “You can’t drive!” I said. “You’ve had like one driving lesson and you don’t have your driver’s license!”

  “Easy, girl!” Milo held up his hands. “Jack’s been teaching me how to drive, and I’m a different kind of sixteen now. And soon I’ll have a license, claiming I’m eighteen. So… get over it. ”

  “But you don’t have that license today!”

  “Alice! You’re supposed to be the fun one!”

  “I was never the fun one. ”

  “Well, you’re supposed to be irresponsible at least. ” He gestured to the kitchen. “I mean, when was the last time you did the dishes? You don’t go to bed until the sun comes up. You’re a rebel without a cause. You can drive a few blocks in a Volkswagen. Live a little!”

  “Okay! Fine!” I threw my hands up in the air and gave in. Grabbing my phone, I followed him out of my room and shook my head. “I’ll text Jane on the way there. Let’s go. ”

  - 18 -

  Milo had new sex appeal and wanted to flaunt it. He’d been sexually repressed and awkward his whole life, so he had a few things he needed to work out. The most logical place would be a gay club off Hennepin.

  I wasn’t thrilled by the prospect of returning downtown
to a place a few blocks from the vampire club, but it was a human club, so I figured it would be mostly safe. Plus, I had Milo with me, and he’d act as my bodyguard, if I needed it.

  Jane wasn’t happy about gay clubs. She went to them sometimes, because they had drinking and dancing and the gays thought she was fabulous. But Jane liked being hit on more than anything else.

  Page 45

  Despite her reluctance, she agreed to meet us there. We waited outside the club for her, since she probably couldn’t get in without Milo. I didn’t have a fake ID, but I doubted that any doorman could withstand Milo. What I’ve found out from my time with Jack is that when someone’s really attractive, they can get away with anything.

  We stood in the parking lot off to the side the club. It cost $25 to park but he had an expense account now, so what did Milo care?

  Several very attractive young men (and lots of not-so-attractive men) smiled at Milo appreciatively when they walked past on the way to the Saloon. He noticed and blushed.

  Jack’s obliviousness irritated me. In some way, it should be sweet and romantic that he didn’t notice anybody but me, but it wasn’t. Because I always noticed everyone else, and I wished he’d tell them all to back off because he’s with me.

  Jane showed up fifteen minutes late. I sat on the metal guardrail, playing my part as Milo’s invisible sidekick. I chewed gum to see how big of a bubble I could blow, and I wouldn’t have noticed Jane if it wasn’t for the clack of her heels.

  “Milo!” Jane exclaimed breathlessly.

  I popped the bubble so I could see her. She’d literally stopped in the middle of the road to gape at my brother. She shook her head and blinked, and Milo laughed in embarrassment.

  “Jane, maybe you ought to get out of the road,” I said as a taxi whizzed around the corner towards her. She didn’t move until it honked its horn, and then she flicked it off and sauntered over to us.

  “Milo Bonham, as I live and breathe,” Jane smiled at him, and I wondered who talks like that? “My, you’ve grown up. ”

  “Are you channeling a 50’s starlet or something?” I asked, in reference to her new way of flirting.

  “Hardly. ” Jane did this horrible flirty laugh, and I rolled my eyes. “I just can’t believe it’s really you. ”

  “I had a growth spurt,” Milo said sheepishly.

  He grew four inches in a matter of weeks, his skin changed into porcelain, and he aged from a little boy with baby fat to a Calvin Klein model. But yeah, a growth spurt would sum that all up.

  “Yeah, a growth spurt,” I chimed in when Jane just kept staring at him.

  “Mmm,” Jane purred in some kind of agreement. “I just wish somebody had told me. ”

  “He’s still sixteen, Jane,” I said.

  As Milo said, he was a whole different kind of sixteen now, but despite all his fancy new trappings, he’s still my little brother. My naive innocent little brother, who didn’t need Jane slut eyeing him up like that. It wasn’t her fault she felt so attracted to him, but it still creeped me out. A lot.

 
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