Fate, p.17
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       Fate, p.17

         Part #2 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
 
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You need to come home. Now. I think we’re in trouble. I text messaged Jack. Then, all I had left to do was wait.

  Eventually, Milo stopped to get gas, and Jane woke up from the lack of movement. Before getting out, Milo instructed us to stay in the car and keep the doors locked, no matter what happened.

  He went around to the back of the car and opened the trunk, pulling out a tee shirt that had been stowed back there. It was a little big and had a picture of poorly drawn cartoon dinosaurs on it, so I assumed it was Jack’s.

  After I had seen my little brother take on a vampire, throwing him so hard into the car next to us that it had left a huge body-sized dent, I didn’t feel as nervous for him as I had before. He was strong, and smart enough to know that that wasn’t enough.

  The bright white lights of the gas station made it hard to tell if the sky had lightened, and I’d been half asleep when we pulled in. The streets were deserted, and the gas station was still closed, so Milo paid at the pump.

  A semi-truck sat idling in the parking lot, and an SUV with one headlight drove by. A kid wearing a gigantic hoodie even though it was seventy-degrees walked past. Otherwise, we were alone.

  I let go of Jane’s hand and moved so I could look all the way around the car. It would be impossible for someone to still be following us, even if that someone was a vampire. We’d been speeding all over the metro area, so they couldn’t follow by foot, and I’d be able to see a car.

  Milo knocked on the window so we would unlock the doors and let him back in, and Jane jumped. Under the harsh light, I saw how pale he looked. His hands shook as he opened the car door, and in the rearview mirror, I noticed his eyes had a frantic quality to them. Perspiration stood on his neck, and he had the air conditioning on in the car so high, I was freezing.

  “I think we’re in the clear,” I told him.

  He didn’t say anything, but his jaw tensed as he clenched his teeth. I watched the nervous way his eyes flitted about, and the shallow way he breathed. He started the car hard, and the engine brayed in protest.

  The vein stood out in his neck as his body tensed up, and he reminded me of a junkie in need of a fix.

  “Milo, are you okay?” I asked as he struggled to get a hold of himself.

  I don’t know how he had even held on this long. Maybe getting out of the car and realizing that everything was alright let his other senses kick back in, and he noticed how hungry he truly was.

  “I lost blood, Alice, and the adrenaline did something to me,” he said through gritted teeth. “If I hold off much longer, it’s going to be dangerous. ”

  “What is he talking about?” Jane asked and met his eyes in the rearview mirror. “Are you okay?” He locked on her eyes, and I saw her breathing change, getting deeper and more sensual.

  “No, Milo, let’s go back to the house,” I said. I gripped the headrest of the passenger seat so tightly, my fingers hurt.

  Ignoring me, Milo put the car in drive. Instead of turning out onto the road, he drove behind the gas station, where everything was hidden in darkness. He went somewhere private, and the hair on the back of my neck stood up when he parked the car.

  “Milo, come on. There’s other things,” I begged him, but his mind had been made up. His hunger was too strong to ignore.

  “Alice, shut up,” Milo told me quietly. His eyes rested briefly on me, and they were all primal thirst, and nothing else. “Close your eyes. Or get out if you need to. This will only take a minute. ” Then he fixed his eyes on Jane, who stared at him with stupid adoration. “Jane, do you trust me?”

  “Yes,” she nodded, sounding like a brainwashed zombie.

  He turned to face her and placed a hand on her neck, rubbing her veins with his thumb for a second. Abruptly, he yanked her to him. He was half leaning in between the seats, and with extraordinary swiftness, he sunk his teeth into her neck.

  She inhaled sharply, and I heard the subtle sound of tearing flesh. Closing my eyes, I pressed my back up against the door as far as it would go. Jane moaned softly, and I wanted to throw up or cry or scream or laugh.

  It started feeling like forever, but I’m sure it couldn’t have been that long. I stayed in the car because I wanted to be sure that he didn’t go too far. I opened my eyes, and somehow, in my reflexive urge to escape, I ended up standing on the backseat. I was all crouched down, with my knees bent and my back against the window with my head pressing against the ceiling.

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  Jane’s eyes had rolled in the back of her head, but I could hear breathy moans, so I knew she was still alive.

  Milo’s fingers were knotted in her hair, pushing her neck hard against his mouth. He was turned away from me, so I couldn’t see his face, but I saw the way his mouth was on her, the way the blood leaked around it.

  All I could think of was the time I saw a starving dog eating a dead raccoon on the side of the road. The way the dog held the leg in his mouth was the exact same way Milo held her neck.

  “Okay, Milo, that’s enough. ” My words came out small, sounding nothing like myself.

  I had been bitten before, but it was an entirely different thing to watch a vampire bite someone else. It was terrifying and nauseating.

  When he ate, it became obvious to me for the first time that vampires weren’t human. They may have possessed the appearance and some semblance of humanity, but that – my brother – feeding on Jane, that was pure animal.

  “Milo! Stop!” I repeated. Jane’s eyelids fluttered, and her breath got shallower. She was passing out, and death wouldn’t be that much farther behind it. “Milo! You’re killing her! Stop!”

  When he still didn’t stop, I knew I had to take action, but it scared the hell out of me. Tentatively, and almost gently, I slapped him on the shoulder. I figured that like a wolf, Milo would turn to snap at me and take my entire hand off.

  He didn’t seem to notice though, so I slapped him again, harder this time. And again and again, until finally, he dropped Jane and collapsed back into the front seat.

  Jane fell heavily onto the seat, hitting her head against the door, and she moaned softly. Milo had his eyes closed and looked like somebody that was incredibly, wonderfully high.

  Absently, he wiped at the blood on his chin with back of his hand, and he mumbled something incoherent. All his features had softened, and he looked younger than he had in years. Resting his head on the driver’s seat, he faced my direction, but he was barely conscious.

  “Jane?” I leaned over her and lightly slapped her cheek, trying to wake her. The bite on her neck was already pink and raised, beginning the first steps in healing. I slapped her face again, but she just turned her head away from me.

  “Jane? Are you okay? Can you hear me? Jane?” Weakly, she slapped at my hand, trying to push it away.

  I collapsed back on the seat, pressing my back against the cold window, and that’s when I finally cried. A pair of vampires had very nearly killed me. Jane and I had the scratches to prove how close Violet had come to hauling us off into the night.

  I survived all that to have my brother consider killing both of us, but he just ended up feeding on her. They both promptly passed out, leaving me the only one awake in a locked car sitting in the dark behind a gas station in the middle of the night.

  Meanwhile, we had no idea what happened to the vampires chasing us.

  “Alice, Alice,” Milo mumbled without opening his eyes. “Don’t cry. We’re…” He trailed off and reached out for me, but before his hand got anywhere near me, he let it drop.

  - 20 -

  When my phone vibrated, I was sobbing. Both Milo and Jane were too out to even notice. The car was still running, blasting me with freezing cold air. I had lost some blood, and I was terribly thirsty, so I had a feeling that I was going into shock.

  I barely even noticed the phone vibration over my own shaking, but when I did, I answered it quickly.

  “Hello?” I s
aid, doing my best not to sound borderline hysterical.

  “Alice?” Jack said, sounding rather frantic himself. A lot of background noise was behind him, people talking and what sounded like a radio announcer. “Are you okay? What’s going on? What happened? I’ve been calling. Why didn’t you answer the phone?”

  “I’m okay. ” I sniffled. “I didn’t hear my phone. Are you coming home?”

  “Yeah, yeah, I’m at the airport now,” Jack said. That explained all the sounds around him, and I heard Ezra asking him something. “What happened? Is everyone okay? When I couldn’t get a hold of you, Ezra tried Mae, and she said Milo was at your house. Is he okay? Did he do something?”

  “No, he’s okay. ” I swallowed hard to keep from crying again. “Milo came over, and he said I had to get out of the house, and then Jane texted me-”

  “Jane?” Jack scoffed. “I should’ve known she’d have something to do with this. ”

  “She saved my life tonight, Jack!” I insisted defensively.

  In all honesty, I had never felt closer to her than I did now. Looking at her passed out on the seat with faded red marks on her neck, I knew that she actually cared about me. She risked her life for me.

  “She did what?” His voice dropped to a panicked growl. “What the hell happened tonight, Alice?”

  “We went to a club, just a regular gay club,” I said quickly. “And we were dancing and it was fine, but then the vampires from the other club – Violet and Lucian – they were there. They chased us, and Milo fought them, and then we all got in the car and we’d been driving around all night. ”

  “Wait. They chased you?”

  “Yeah. I don’t know when they stopped, though. Maybe after Milo fought with them. ” I looked around, suddenly afraid that they were lurking around in the darkness, but the sky was definitely starting to lighten now. “Milo got hurt, though. And lost some blood. ”

  “He didn’t bite you, did he?” Jack sounded sick and afraid, and I heard Ezra booming in the background, “What is going on there?” But Jack didn’t answer him. He was too worried to stop talking to me, even for a second.

  “No, he didn’t. ” Fresh tears sprung in my eyes, and I tried to erase the image of my brother gnawing on Jane like a wild dog. “He bit Jane, though. ”

  “Oh. ” He exhaled. “Is she… okay?”

  “Yeah. They’re both fine. They’re just passed out in the car. ” I wiped at my tears with the palms of my hand and wished this didn’t bother me so much. I had spent all this time with vampires and I wanted to be one, so it shouldn’t bother me.

  “You’re still in the car?” Jack asked. “It’s almost…. It is after five there. You need to wake Milo up and get him home before the sun comes up. He’ll be too tired to do anything then. ”

  “They won’t wake up!” I cried. Jane stirred a little bit, but she was still out.

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  “Wake them up. Hit Milo if you have to. You guys need to get home,” Jack sighed. “If there are people out there after you, you can’t just sit in a car waiting for them to find you. Get Milo up and get home!”

  “Okay,” I said. Looking at Milo’s sleeping face, and the trail of red-tinted drool coming out of his mouth, I figured that was easier said than done.

  “The plane is about to start boarding. I’ll be home as soon as I can. You just get home, and stay put. Mae can take care of everything until I get there,” Jack said firmly. “And take Jane home. ”

  “What about all this stuff?” I asked. “The vampires and… and her being bit. ”

  “She’ll be tired when she wakes up but fine. And they’re not after her, okay? She’s safer without you. So just take her home, and you can call her tomorrow and tell her whatever the hell you want to tell her. Okay?”

  “Okay,” I said “I’m gonna try and wake up Milo now. ”

  “Alright. Call me or Mae if you need anything. Or even 911. They’re better than nothing. ” He sounded reluctant to get off the phone. “Alice? Just… take care of yourself, okay? Just run. Okay? Always run. ”

  I hung up the phone and went about trying to wake Milo up. I don’t think I’d ever seen him so deeply asleep before, not even when he was little. I reached over and shook him, but he swatted at me, like Jane did, but with more force.

  “Milo?” I said loudly, and Jane moaned next to me. “Milo?”

  “Wha…” Milo moved his head but didn’t open his eyes.

  “Milo, you’ve got to get up!” I reached over and slapped his face.

  “What?” Milo snapped his head up, glaring at me with startled, bloodshot eyes.

  “You have to wake up and take us home. The sun’s gonna start coming up. ” The tears on my cheeks were drying, but the more alert he got, the more he was able to register how distressed I was.

  “Are you okay?” he asked me.

  “Yes. We just have to go. And we have to take Jane home first,” I said.

  He looked back at her, watching her breathe for a minute, then turned to me. He was fully awake now, his eyes bright with their usual Milo-ness, and they weren’t even bloodshot anymore. He was studying me to see my response to him.

  “I freaked you out,” Milo said evenly, without letting on how that fact made him feel.

  “Can we talk about it later? I just want to go home,” I said, and he nodded.

  He sped out of the parking lot, and he raced across town to Jane’s apartment. She left her car downtown, but we thought it would be better to take her home.

  When we got to her place, she was still completely passed out, but this wasn’t an unusual way for her to come home. Milo got up and helped her to the lobby, pretending like it was harder carrying around her deadweight than it actually was, and the doorman took her the rest of the way up.

  Neither of us said anything the car ride home. I rested my head against the cold glass, noticing how cloud-covered the sky was as the sun started to rise. I thought about telling Milo about my phone call to Jack, but I didn’t want to talk about anything that happened.

  We walked inside Jack’s house, and the instant Mae saw me, her eyes filled with worried tears. She rushed towards me, throwing her arms around me.

  “Oh, love, it’s okay. ” She stroked my hair as I sobbed into her shoulder. “Everything’s going to be okay. You’re safe, love. ” She turned away from me just enough to address Milo, who followed me sheepishly into the house. “Are you alright?”

  “I’ve been better,” he said.

  “You’ll be okay, too, love. ” She reached out to touch him gently.

  “I need to go take a shower. ” He pulled away from her touch and walked off.

  “Let me have a look at you. ” Mae held me out at arm’s length so she could look me over. She slowly turned me around, taking inventory of all my wounds. “We better get you cleaned up before Jack sees this, or he’s going to kill your brother. ”

  “It wasn’t Milo’s fault,” I said through my tears.

  “No, I know that, love. ” She wiped the tears from my face. “You’ll feel better when you get cleaned up. ”

  I nodded in agreement, since I was crying too hard to talk. She filled her Jacuzzi tub with lilac bubble bath, and I soaked inside for so long I almost fell asleep.

  She stayed in with me for awhile and explained that Ezra had called her and told her everything. He and Jack should be back in a couple hours, but until then, I was perfectly safe and I should take the time to recuperate.

  When I got out of the tub, I took a moment to admire the scratches I had sustained. Several nasty claw marks were on my back and my ankles. I had a large purplish bruise forming from when Milo grabbed my arm, but I couldn’t fault him for that. My whole body ached, though.

  I pulled on clean panties and a plush robe. I dried my hair until it was damp, and I left the warmth of the bathroom for the cold of the rest of the house.

  Mae was in the kitchen makin
g me hot soup and tea, which she claimed could cure anything. She eventually confided in me that Milo had made the soup, but he retreated upstairs because he was too embarrassed to see me.

  I sat at the kitchen island, dutifully eating the soup and drinking the tea. She watched me with a disturbing level of fascination, but I ignored it. Even though I wasn’t hungry, the heat of the food warmed me. The night felt agonizingly long and I looked forward to curling up and falling asleep.

  I stood up to do that when Jack burst through the door. His hair was messy and not in a purposeful way. He wore brown drawstring sweats, a tan tee shirt, and a pin-striped blazer, an outfit that I didn’t entirely understand.

  Just seeing him, the fear and relief in his soft blue eyes and the wonderful warmth that came off him, stopped everything else around me. He reached me within seconds, wrapping his arms around me and lifting me off the ground.

  “Thank god you’re okay,” he murmured into my damp hair.

  Almost reluctantly, he set me back on the ground. Holding my face in his hands, he searched my eyes, looking for any signs of trauma, and then looked me over as best as the robe would allow. He saw the cuts on my legs and the scrape on my knee, and his eyes hardened briefly, but he looked softly back at me.

  “Are you okay?” he asked, pushing a wet strand of hair from my forehead.

  “Yes,” I nodded. “I am. I’m just really glad you’re home. ”

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  “That damn plane couldn’t fly fast enough,” Jack smiled and ran a hand through his hair.

  “I thought he was going to overtake the pilot and fly himself,” Ezra added, trying to lighten the mood. When I looked over at him, he smiled at me and I could see the relief in his eyes too. “I’m glad to see you’re alright, Alice. ”

  “Thank you. ”

  “I should go check on Milo, though. Where is he?” Ezra looked to Mae for help.

  “He’s been in his room since they got home. ” She exchanged a look with Ezra, letting him know that Milo hadn’t taken the night so well either.

  Jack didn’t take his eyes off me. It was as if he expected me to disappear if he did. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Ezra walk out of the room, and Mae busied herself with cleaning up the dishes so she wasn’t staring at us.

  “Why are you wearing sweatpants with a blazer?” I asked when it seemed that Jack would go on staring at me forever. I touched the pocket of his blazer, and he laughed.

  “Um, we were sleeping when you texted me,” he said with a cautious grin. “We had early meetings today, and then I got your text message. We were calling and canceling things and rearranging flights, and I just never changed out of the pajamas. I put on the blazer because it was cold and raining. It’s my business suit. Do you like it?”

  “Yeah. ” I rubbed one of his platinum buttons, and there was something dashing about it. “I was wondering what you wore to work. ”

 
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