Fate, p.5
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       Fate, p.5

         Part #2 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
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I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, but I’d better hurry and get used to it because there’d be nothing I could do about. The one thing I knew for sure about vampirism is that it was permanent.

  “Are you okay?” Jack walked closer to the bed and looked me over.

  “If I said no, would you stay here with me longer?”

  Knowing Milo was alright had taken a giant weight off my shoulders, and it made me aware of how little time I’d really spent with Jack lately. I missed him terribly.

  “I shouldn’t…” Jack trailed off, but I’d won.

  Lifting up the covers, he crawled into bed with me. I snuggled up next to him and relished the feel of his strong arms around me. Despite Milo’s earlier proclamation, I knew there was nowhere in the world I was safer than in Jack’s arms.

  “Everything’s gonna be okay. ” He stroked my hair gently, and I rested my head on his chest, letting his heart thud slowly in my ear. “Milo’s going to be just fine. He just has to adjust to everything. ”

  “I don’t want to talk about adjusting or how everything is going be fine or okay or great in the future,” I said tiredly. “I just want to lay here with you. ”

  Jack settled into bed and I felt him relax with me. We rarely got to fall asleep together, let alone curled up in bed. The moments were few and far between, and I wanted to hang onto this one as long as I could.

  We were woken up much too soon. I had been in the middle of a dream, and then I heard someone clearing their throat loudly in the hallway.

  As I started coming to, I felt Jack’s arms pull away from me, and I clung onto them. He laughed quietly into my hair, but that only annoyed the interloper in the hall.

  Page 13

  “Ahem!” Mae coughed loudly.

  “What?” Jack groaned.

  “It’s time to get up,” Mae said.

  “But I’m still sleeping,” he yawned.

  “Too bad. ” To enunciate her point, she clapped her hands loudly. “Get up!”

  “I’m up!” Jack insisted and freed himself from me so he could sit up.

  When Jack sat up, he cleared my view so I could see Mae standing in the hallway. Wearing an elegant housecoat, she had her hands on her hips. Just the way she looked at Jack made me feel guilty.

  “What do you think you’re doing?” Mae asked wearily.

  “Getting up, like you asked. ” Jack leaned back and stretched, and I watched the wonderful muscles of his back ripple underneath his tee shirt.

  “I meant, what do you do you think you’re doing in that bed, with her?” She nodded at me, but she never took her eyes of him. “Did you think that since you left the bedside lamp on it would make it okay?”

  “Kinda. ” He smiled at her, but she was in no mood for it.

  “Get up. We all need to talk downstairs. ” Mae took a step away, but Jack stopped her.

  “Hey, hey. Did Milo tell you about his little excursion last night?” Jack asked, and his voice took a more accusing tone. “When he was on your watch?”

  “We’ll talk about all that when you get downstairs. ” She turned sharply, her housecoat billowing behind her, and disappeared down the hall.

  “Its way too early for a lecture,” I muttered into the pillow.

  “You’re telling me. ”

  He looked back at me, and his smile deepened, growing more genuine. He reached over and brushed a hair back from my eyes. His hand rested on my cheek for a moment, and it grew warmer, but he let it linger.

  “You’re really beautiful when you sleep,” he murmured.

  “I am not. ” My cheeks reddened and I buried my face deeper in the pillow. He laughed, and reluctantly dropped his hand.

  “Dibs on the shower. ” The bed moved as he got up, and I turned my head so I could get a better view of him as he went over to the closet.

  “There’s like twenty-seven showers in the house. Are you calling dibs on all of them?”

  “Maybe,” Jack laughed and went into his closet.

  I didn’t really mind him showering first. It gave me more time to lie in bed, burying myself deep in the covers.

  I knew that many a love story had been written full of longing glances from across the room that could sustain a smoldering romance, but I couldn’t see how. I had spent the night curled up in Jack’s arms, and that wasn’t enough anymore.

  - 7 -

  It was worse than a lecture.

  Ezra sat on the couch, and Mae sat on the floor next to him, resting her head on his knee. Her long honey waves of hair cascaded around her, and he absently ran his fingers through it.

  Jack stretched out on the chaise lounge with Matilda sprawled out by his feet.

  Milo stood off to the side, fiddling with the floor length curtains next to him. Under the bright lights of the living room, he was even more brilliant. He was still clearly my brother, but what he would’ve looked like in a few years if he worked out more and had a stylist.

  It was hard not to stare at him when I walked in the room, but something distracted me.

  They were all poised around me like it was an intervention. Jack sat up straighter when I came in. I sat in a chair and waited for whatever they were going to dump on me.

  “So,” I said when it appeared nobody else would speak. “What’s going on?”

  “I heard you had a visitor last night,” Ezra said, his accent lilting with a hint of dissatisfaction.

  Milo’s cheeks colored with shame. Absently, he fiddled with the curtain and almost yanked it down. He reddened deeper and spouted apologizes that Mae just brushed away.

  His movements were clumsily graceful. The way his slender fingers picked at everything was oddly elegant, but he didn’t understand how to control it or have any mastery of his strength.

  He took a step away from the curtains and almost stumbled into the chair but caught himself with amazing ease. Milo gave up on movement and collapsed into the chair.

  “The good news is that this is all perfectly normal. ” Ezra watched Milo with a bemused smile.

  “You’re just getting your bearings, love,” Mae said reassuringly. “We’ve all been through it. ”

  “Not all of us,” I whispered under my breath, and Jack shot a disappointed look my way.

  “This is just so weird!” Milo lamented.

  He meant to lean back in the chair, and he nearly tipped it over. He scoffed at himself, and underneath his perfect new features, I saw the frustrated little boy he had always been.

  Whenever he uncovered a problem he couldn’t solve, he furrowed his brow and his eyes got faraway. Seeing him look that way again was reassuring.

  “As you can see, Milo turned quite smoothly,” Ezra said to me. “He’s had very little problems, and he seems to have a rather large amount of self-control. ”

  “This is the least amount of control I’ve ever had in my life!” Milo scoffed.

  “You’ll get it all back, plus so much more,” Mae told him. “You should’ve seen Jack after he first turned. He was a horrible mess. ”

  “Everyone is a little out of control in the beginning,” Ezra said. “Which is exactly why you never should’ve gone into Alice’s room last night. ”

  “I’m sorry!” The way Milo said it, I knew he’d already apologized a hundred times.

  “Everything turned out fine. ” I waved off Ezra’s concern. “It really wasn’t that big of a deal. ”

  “Yeah, it kinda was,” Jack said seriously, looking over at me. “If I hadn’t woken up…”

  “If he hadn’t eaten before he saw you, there wouldn’t have been enough time for anyone to intercede,” Ezra agreed.

  I hated the idea that Milo could kill me. They could all kill me, and according to Milo, they all wanted to. It didn’t seem fair that he was the only one guilt ridden and required a chaperone.

  “Well, it’ll never happen again, and I’m still alive,” I said.

>   “You have no sense of self preservation. ” Jack gave me a skeptical look.

  “Obviously not,” I met his gaze evenly. If I cared anything for my life, I wouldn’t spend all my free time with a pack of vampires.

  “That leads us to now,” Ezra said, but I didn’t follow. “Milo can’t go home, for many reasons. He’s got to stay on with us. ”

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  “Sure,” I nodded.

  Milo couldn’t go back to his normal life at school, and with everything going well for him, I would just turn, and nothing tied us back to our old lives.

  “You, on the other hand, will not. ” Ezra spoke slowly, letting the weight of his words sink in.

  “What?” I shook my head. “What are you talking about? Why wouldn’t I stay? Milo was the only reason I even wanted to go back to my life, and he’s here now!”

  “Alice. ” Ezra held a hand up to calm me, and I could feel Jack struggle to reign in his own emotions to soothe me.

  “You’ll be out here all the time anyway,” Jack offered.

  “I don’t understand. If… if I can be here all the time, then why do I need to go?” A lump wedged itself in my throat.

  “It’s not safe for you,” Ezra tried to reason with me. “Milo’s very dangerous to humans right now, and he wouldn’t be able to live with himself if something happened to you. ”

  “Why…” I trailed off, unable to form the words I desperately wanted to ask. Why couldn’t I just turn? Was this their way of saying they no longer wanted me?

  “And there’s your mother,” Ezra continued, ignoring my open ended question. “You left a letter indicating that you and Milo were going away with us for awhile. If both of you were to disappear, she would find that suspicious and send the police. ”

  “But if Milo just vanishes, you think she’d be fine with that?” I asked dubiously.

  “No, we’ll have an explanation for that,” Ezra shook his head. “We’ll have that all figured out by tomorrow. ”

  “Tomorrow?” I asked breathlessly.

  “Yes. You’ll go home tomorrow,” Ezra said.

  “Milo will have enough time to ready himself to visit your mother, one last time, and we’ll have enough time to get things in order,” Mae elaborated, smiling at me.

  They were kicking me out, pushing me away from everything that I cared about, and they were doing it with a smile.

  Before Milo got hurt, I hadn’t planned to turn so soon. It shouldn’t matter if I left, because nothing had really changed from a few days ago.

  But somehow, everything had changed. I was being left behind.

  “I know this is hard for you, but it’s for the best,” Ezra said, and the finality in his voice let me know this wasn’t open for discussion.

  “No, it’s no problem,” I shrugged and blinked hard to fight back tears. I stood up before I decided where I wanted to go, so I mumbled a lame excuse.

  Mae called after me, and Milo watched me. I just walked past them, through the kitchen, and out the French doors onto the patio bathed in moonlight.

  After spending the past three days inside frigid air conditioning, the warm humidity of the night hit me like a sauna. Fireflies danced through the branches of the weeping willow by the lake, and I walked out on the dock, wiping at my eyes.

  I looked at the planks of wood stretching about before me, at the source of all my problems. If Milo had never slipped, if he’d never hit his head, then everything could just go back to normal.

  My grasp on normal was getting very tenuous.

  I didn’t like this hurt and confusion welling up inside me. It had the definite sting of loneliness, and that was one thing that I had become unprepared for. With everyone I loved immortal, it never occurred to me that I would be left alone.

  Heavy footfalls echoed on the boards behind me, and I wiped at my eyes. I didn’t want to cry, let alone have an audience. I kept my arms wrapped around me, and I refused to turn back to see Jack as he came up behind me.

  “Alice. It’s really not so bad. ”

  “No, I know,” I nodded in agreement. My tears stopped enough where I could look at him. “I just wasn’t thinking. If I had been thinking, I would’ve realized that I’d have to go soon. ”

  “Alice,” he groaned, seeing through me. “It’s for your safety, and ours. ”

  “No, I know,” I insisted. “I get it. Completely. You don’t have to worry about me. ”

  “Nobody blames you for being hurt. ”

  “I’m not hurt!” I snapped, and he rolled his eyes.

  “Why do you always have to be so damn obstinate?” Jack asked, growing frustrated with me.

  “I’m not. I have no idea what you’re talking about. ” I shook my head.

  He exhaled and tried a different approach. He reached out for me, but I pulled back, and he let his arm fall to his side.

  “I don’t know why you’re mad at me. I had nothing to do with this. ”

  “It’s your fault Milo’s a vampire,” I pointed out, and then instantly regretted it. He looked so wounded, and I wanted to say something to take it back.

  “You’re right,” Jack replied thickly. “You’re absolutely right. This is my fault. ” He lowered his eyes. “You take as much time as you need. I’ll be in the house. ”

  “Jack,” I said, but he just shook his head.

  “Take all the time you need, Alice. ” He turned and walked back to the house, his footsteps heavier and slower this time.

  I stared out at the black water surrounding me. Jack almost never did anything wrong, but he and Milo got the brunt of my anger or frustration because they took it so willingly.

  It wasn’t fair to them and led me to believe that I was most likely a terrible person. No wonder they didn’t want me around anymore.

  It would all just be so much simpler if I had been the one that had slipped on the dock and hit my head instead of Milo. I was jealous of the fact that he had almost died.

  - 8 -

  Since Milo managed honor roll grades, it wasn’t a stretch to think he’d been offered a scholarship to a fancy boarding school. It wouldn’t even seem that strange that he hadn’t mentioned it to our mother. With her work schedule, they barely saw each other.

  Ezra printed off documents to certify Milo would be attending Chester Arthur Preparatory School outside of Albany, New York. The semester was slated to start one week from today, and it was recommended that students get out there a week early to acclimate themselves with the school.

  Or at least that’s what the letter claimed.

  They had an extensive story to go with it. Milo went over it with Ezra and Mae all evening.

  Jack had done his best to try to cheer me up, but there was little he could do. As time dragged on, I only got more nervous and upset as I thought about the life I’d return to.

  Page 15

  Milo called our mother and arranged a time for them to talk. Mae helped me pack up my things, talking the entire time about how things were going to be so much more fun this way. Her reasons almost entirely depended on the phrase “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” but I nodded as if I believed everything she said.

  Once Mae’s Jetta was loaded with my things, I stood in the entryway, waiting by the garage door. Jack was next to me, twirling the car keys around his fingers. We waited for Milo, but he didn’t have to pack, so I didn’t understand what could be taking him so long.

  “What is he doing?” I asked, pulling at the hem of my shirt. If we were going to leave then I wanted to hurry and get it over with.

  “He’ll be down in a minute. ” Jack scratched the back of his neck and looked away from me, a clear sign that he didn’t want to tell me something.

  “What?” I asked. “What’s he doing?”

  “He’s eating. ” He looked at me and shrugged. “He’s going to be out in the world with people for the first time. It’s bett
er if he’s not hungry. ”

  “Do you need to eat?”

  “No. I’m good. Thanks for asking, though. ” His eyes inspected me, looking for revulsion or fear, but when he didn’t find any, he eventually looked away.

  “Is he gonna eat my mom?” I had a serious risk of vomiting every time I thought about Milo drinking blood, but apparently, I did a good job masking it.

  “That’s why he’s eating,” Jack said. “We’re hoping to avoid that entire situation. ”

  “Excellent,” I sighed.

  “I’ll be there to bodyguard. ” He flexed his muscles to prove that he was up for the job and grinned at me. “It’s gonna be fine. ”

  “I know,” I said grimly. “Everything’s always going to be fine. Great. Good. Okay. ”

  “He’s just about ready!” Mae declared, interrupting the worried look Jack gave me. When she saw me, her face fell. “Oh, Alice, love, you just look so pitiful. ”

  “Sorry. ” I tried to force a smile as she placed her hands on my arms.

  “You will be back, you know?” Her eyes glistened with wet tears, and it made me feel a little better she was sad to see me go. At least someone would miss me. “We’re not banishing you. ”

  “I know,” I nodded, smiling a bit more genuinely.

  “You’re part of the family now. ” She tucked a stray strand of hair behind my ear. “This is just how things have to be. For now. ”

  “I know,” I repeated. And I did know. It didn’t change the fact that this still hurt.

  Mae threw her arms around me and pulled me close to her, hugging me so tight I could hardly breathe. She whispered in my hair, “Oh, love, you have no idea how marvelous everything will be when it’s all said and done. ”

  “Mae, honey, I think you’re smothering her. ” Jack tapped her on the shoulder.

  “Oh, sorry!” Mae let go of me and took a step back, and I tried not to gasp for breath. “I keep forgetting how fragile you still are. ”

  Down the hall, I heard Milo’s clumsy footsteps, and Ezra reassured Milo that everything would be alright. When they walked into the entryway, Ezra had his arm on Milo’s back, and Milo looked pale.

  “We can follow behind you if you want,” Ezra said. Jack was going with us, but Ezra and Mae had planned to stay at the house.

  “No, I’ll be fine. ” Milo sounded better than he looked, and I wondered if I should take them up on the offer.

  “Are you sure?” Mae reached out and stroked his face, a gesture that I couldn’t do anymore. If I did, he’d be too tempted to rip open an artery.

  “Come on. Everybody’s great. Let’s get this show on the road. ” Jack sensed my discomfort, and he wanted to get this over with.

  Reluctantly, Mae let us leave. I didn’t like how nervous she was about this, but there wasn’t very much about any of it that I did like.

  When we went into the garage, I walked ahead of Milo and reached the Jetta first. I grabbed for the passenger side door, planning to sit shotgun as I always did, and Milo growled at me.

  “Did you just growl at me?” I asked dubiously.

  “I might have,” Milo admitted with anger in his eyes.

  “Why would you growl at me?”

  “Alice,” Jack said sharply. He stood on the other side of the car beside the driver’s side door, and he looked at me from over the top of it. “Get in the backseat. ”

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