Fate, p.6
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       Fate, p.6

         Part #2 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
 
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“Why?”

  “Just do it,” Jack said firmly

  “But that’s stupid!” I protested. “Just because Milo’s a vampire, he gets shotgun? That’s not fair. It doesn’t even make sense. ”

  “Just get in the back!” Milo snapped. I looked at him, and violence brewed in his eyes.

  “This is bogus,” I grumbled but got in the backseat.

  “This would be so much easier if you didn’t fight everything,” Jack said as he started the car.

  “You really didn’t realize what you were getting into with her, did you?” Milo said.

  I bit my tongue, but it wasn’t an easy feat. Who the hell did Milo think he was? I wanted to shout at him, but I couldn’t, because he would literally bite my head off if I did.

  That was so unfair, too. He got away with being a random dick because he could kill me. Milo never would’ve talked to me like that before.

  On the positive side, I didn’t feel so bad that I wouldn’t get to be around them as much anymore. In fact, I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t even miss Milo at all. He’d probably growl at me if I touched the television remote or something.

  I sulked through the car ride home. Jack had Dinosaur Jr. in the CD player, and that filled up the silence. Milo said a couple things that I couldn’t hear from the backseat, making me hate them all the more.

  When we pulled up in front of the apartment building, I leapt out of the car. Jack grabbed my bags from the trunk, and he and Milo followed me inside.

  We rode up the elevator in silence, and Milo tensed up. His jaw set, and he kept clenching and unclenching his fists. I looked over at Jack to see if he noticed, but he kept his expression blank.

  “Are you okay?” I asked Milo quietly outside our apartment door.

  “Yeah,” he nodded, but he definitely looked pale.

  “Maybe we should do this another time,” I suggested. I really wanted to get this over with, but not that the expense of my mother or my brother, even if he really pissed me off.

  Page 16

  “No. Let’s do this. ” Milo pulled the keys out of his pocket and unlocked the door.

  A light was on over the kitchen sink, but the rest of the apartment was dark. Milo still looked like Milo, but his drastic changes would be less noticeable in dim lighting.

  A scratched Led Zeppelin record played softly in the living room, with Robert Plant crooning about when the levees break.

  “Mom?” I said cautiously, following Milo inside.

  “Oh, good, you’re finally here. ” Mom burst out from her bedroom, a cigarette glowing in her hand, and her hair looked less frizzy than it usually did. Too-red lipstick stained her lips. “I don’t have much longer to wait. ”

  “You’re going somewhere?” I asked.

  Milo deliberately moved into the shadows of the apartment, but I lingered in the light of the kitchen. Jack set my bag on the floor and hovered next to me, hoping to catch my mother’s attention.

  She flitted about the living room, searching for something, so she hadn’t noticed him. The last time they met, Mom had swooned over him.

  “Yes, yes, in a bit,” Mom waved me away and found what she’d been looking for – a tumbler of brandy. Taking a long drink, she turned back to look at us. She finally saw Jack and inhaled deeply. “Oh, I didn’t realize you had guests. ”

  “It’s good to see you, Miss Bonham,” Jack gave her a little half wave, and she placed her hand over her chest.

  “You were at a vacation house, weren’t you?” Mom asked and sat down in a chair in the living room. Apparently, he made her too weak in the knees to stand anymore.

  “Um, yeah,” Jack nodded, going along with the lie I had told her earlier.

  “Did you do a lot of swimming?” Mom was undoubtedly picturing him in swim trunks, and I wanted to gag.

  Milo made a strange sound, and Jack suddenly stepped forward, closer to him.

  “We did tons of swimming. It was fantastic,” I blurted out. “But Mom, Milo really needs to talk to you. He, uh, has something major to tell you. ”

  “Oh?” Mom struggled to pull her gaze from Jack to Milo, but her eyes didn’t have to travel far. Jack moved even closer to Milo, and things were not going as well as everyone had promised they would.

  “Yeah, it’s really great news,” Jack added in an attempt to sway her.

  “Here. ” Milo thrust his hand forward, holding out a crumpled letter. His voice had taken on an icy tone, and if Jack hadn’t been here to distract Mom, she wouldn’t have bought any of this.

  “What are you shoving at me?” Mom made no attempt to get up and retrieve the letter from him.

  “It’s a letter,” Jack said and pried the paper from Milo’s fingers. When he handed it to her, their fingers briefly touched, and Milo made that sound again.

  “A letter?” Mom peered down at the paper once she had recovered from touching Jack. She tried to smooth it out, but the dim light and her poor eyesight made it almost impossible for her to read. “Well, what’s this about?” She looked back up at Milo. “Just spit it out. ”

  “I’ve been accepted to a boarding school in New York,” Milo answered stiffly. “Thanks to my grades, I’ve received a full scholarship. The semester starts in a week, and they want me to get there early. So I’m going to leave tomorrow. ”

  “What?” Mom looked confused. Milo was the good one, and she wasn’t used to him not making any sense. “Why didn’t you tell me about this sooner?”

  “I was waiting for the right time to tell you,” Milo said.

  “That’s why we want to the vacation house,” Jack smiled too broadly. “As one last hoorah before he goes. ”

  “What?” Mom repeated. “I don’t understand why you wouldn’t tell me about this. ”

  “I was afraid you’d be angry about me leaving. ” Milo didn’t sound afraid or apologetic, though. He sounded like a robot.

  “Why would I be angry? All I’ve ever done is stress how important a good education is for you kids, so you don’t end up like me. ” Mom softened and looked down at the letter, trying to read it in the darkness. “So you’re leaving tomorrow?”

  “Yeah. ”

  “How are you getting there?” Mom asked.

  “Plane. Jack bought the ticket for me. ” Milo gestured towards him, and Jack smiled at her.

  “Oh. ” Mom swallowed and looked at me for the first time. “You knew about this?”

  “Um, yeah,” I shrugged.

  “And you didn’t tell me?” Mom snapped.

  “No. I didn’t. Neither did Milo. But thanks for getting angry with me,” I said.

  “Oh, never mind. ” She glanced at the clock and downed the rest of her brandy. “I don’t really have time for this. ” She stood up, brushing hair back from her forehead. “But you’re leaving tomorrow, right? So I’ll have a chance to say a proper goodbye to you then?”

  “Yeah,” Milo lied. He was leaving tonight, and she wouldn’t realize it until it was too late. He’d leave a note explaining that the plane left before she woke up.

  “Alright then. ” Mom nodded once and put out her cigarette in the ashtray. She grabbed her oversized purse from the table and headed over to the shadows where Milo hid by the door.

  “Have a good time tonight,” Jack interjected, putting himself between her and Milo. It was still too soon for Milo to handle her going in for a hug.

  “Oh, I will. ” Mom touched her hair, taken back by Jack’s interruption, and unable to figure out how to rectify it. She smiled at him, and then turned to me with her usual scowl. “You. We’ll talk later. ”

  After she walked out of the apartment, I tried not to think about how tremendously sad that was. That was the last time Milo was ever going to see his mother, and he couldn’t even hug her goodbye.

  She hadn’t always been the greatest mom and spent most of her time anywhere but home, but she was still our mother. She
deserved a better goodbye than that.

  “Oh, hell,” Jack exhaled shakily once she had left, and I saw his whole body relax. “You’ve gotta get that under control. ”

  “I’m trying!” Milo insisted. “But it wasn’t my fault! You saw the way she was fawning all over you-” His voice turned into a low snarl, and Jack held up a hand to stop him.

  “Yeah, I was there, but seriously. ” Jack shook his head. “You can’t be like that!”

  Page 17

  “Be like what?” I asked, confused. Milo was having issues with bloodlust, but I didn’t understand why it was solely directed at our mother.

  “Nothing,” Milo said sheepishly.

  “Go pack up the rest of your stuff. ” Jack gestured to his room. “Let’s get out of here before you do something really stupid. ”

  “Sorry. ” Milo slunk off to his room.

  Once he was gone, I whirled on Jack, and whispered fiercely, “What was that about? What’s going on?”

  “Remember how things were complicated before?” Jack asked, shooting a glance over his shoulder to make sure that Milo was out of earshot. “Well, they just got a whole lot worse. ”

  “What are you talking about?” I narrowed my eyes at him.

  “Milo is jealous. ”

  “Of what?”

  “Well…” He scratched the back of his head and sighed. “Everyone who interacts with me. ”

  “What?”

  “Okay see… the thing is, vampires bond with whoever turns them,” Jack elaborated. “I told you about how close I was to Peter and Ezra because we shared the same blood. Well… since Milo drank my blood, we’re really bonded. And it’s different than it was with Peter because apparently, Milo had a crush on me before he turned. And with the bonding, that’s intensified. ”

  “You’ve got to be kidding me. ” My arms had been crossed over my chest, but they fell to my side. “Holy hell. First your brother, now my brother. It’s like this whole thing is completely impossible. ”

  “No, it’s not like with Peter,” Jack shook his head. “Milo’s like a brother to me, and that’s all. And this is just new. My blood is still fresh, and he doesn’t have a handle on any of his emotions. This’ll fade. With time. ”

  “How much time?” I demanded.

  “The thing is… there’s so much uncharted territory with you,” he tried to explain, but I laughed hollowly and shook my head.

  “You don’t know. You don’t even know if it will fade. This is all assumptions!”

  “Shh!” Jack looked nervously back at Milo’s room, but when he didn’t come out, he turned back to me. “No, the bond does fade. Okay? When I first turned, it was like hero worship with me and Peter. ”

  “That was sixteen years ago,” I said incredulously. “Do you really plan on waiting sixteen years for this?”

  “It’ll stop sooner. I just can’t say the time frame, but I really don’t think it was that long with Peter and me. ”

  “Whatever. ” I rolled my eyes. “Milo will stop. Peter will stop. Everything will stop. And one day, it’ll be happily ever after. But instead of things getting better, more stuff just keeps piling up on top of it. ”

  “You know what the problem is? You’re looking at this all with mortal eyes,” Jack decided. “You see time finitely, and that’s not the case. This will take time, but we have time. ”

  “No. You have time. Because the last time I checked-” I stopped and held my fingers to my throat. “Yep. That’s a pulse. That’s mortal blood in these veins, Jack. I’m not a damn vampire. ”

  “Yeah, now. But this is just temporary. ”

  “Maybe,” I said. “But right now, you’re whispering and standing like three feet away from me. Because if you weren’t, my brother might kill me, or your brother might kill you. And until that stops, you can’t really get any closer than you are now. ”

  Jack sighed and looked sadly at me. Milo came out of his room, and Jack dropped his eyes and took a step away from me.

  Yeah, this was all going to work out perfectly. Jack was now afraid of my little brother. Everything was right on track.

  “I’m all packed. ” Milo had two duffle bags and a garbage bag of stuff in his hands.

  “We should probably get going,” Jack said, taking a step towards the door. “You’ve had enough excitement for today. ”

  “Alice, I’m sorry about all of this,” Milo said sincerely, and softness returned to his face. I hated him for it, because just then, I really wanted to be mad, and I couldn’t. “I know how much trouble this is for you, and I never meant for that. ”

  “Don’t be silly,” I shook my head. “None of this is your fault. You are a victim of circumstance. ”

  “I’ll see you soon, okay?” Milo promised.

  “Yeah, I know,” I lied. He looked at me expectantly for a moment. “I would hug you if, y’know, I could. But you’ll get it under control soon. Okay?”

  “Yeah,” Milo smiled wanly.

  Jack held the door open for him, and gave me one last apologetic look as Milo escaped out into the hall. “I’ll talk to you soon. Have fun. ”

  Once the door shut, it hit me. I was alone in the apartment. Thanks to Milo’s complete lack of a social life, I could count the times I’d been home alone on two hands. The only time was when I skipped school, and Milo still went. Otherwise, he was always here.

  And he was never going to be here again.

  A few minutes ago, I mustered some pretty wicked anger at him, but it was all gone. The reality of everything sunk in.

  No one would be here to lecture me about bedtimes or homework, or scoff at me when I watched reality TV, or make me supper.

  For the first time in over sixteen years, I was alone. My little brother was really gone.

  -  9 -

  After becoming accustomed to the subzero temperatures at Jack’s, I was dying in my own apartment. To beat the heat, I drenched my tank top and underwear in cold water and put them on. It was the closest thing I had to a lake in my backyard.

  To pass the time, I buried myself in Peter’s biography, although I wasn’t convinced that he had actually written it. Jack seemed sure of it, and he had been offended by me reading A Brief History of Vampyres.

  Still, it was hard to think of Peter wanting to write anything down. Whenever I was around him, he wanted nothing to do with expressing himself, but Ezra had said he had been a different man before the love of his life died.

  I felt strangely betrayed at the thought of Elise, Peter’s girlfriend that’d been murdered a long time ago. She was his one true love, or something ridiculous like that.

  Every part of my being claimed that I was meant for him, and because of her, because of a vampire that had died before I was even born, he refused me. I will never be with him, and the way things are going now, I’ll never be anything except a lone corpse in the ground.

  Page 18

  So far in the book, Peter has yet to mention Elise, and I hope he doesn’t. Jack said he was very young when he wrote it, so he probably hadn’t even met her yet.

  He explained how he turned, what he could remember of it. Apparently, the transformation was something hard to articulate.

  “My mind was an excited fog. It felt like I was waking up and falling asleep at the same time. My body was shifting and dying. There were times where I could literally feel my organs sliding about, as if my gut had been cut open and filled with eels.

  “I couldn’t decipher dreams from reality, and I recall singing ‘Ava Maria’ repeatedly so I could hear my own voice. The sound of it meant that I was still there, that there was still some part of me on this earth. ”

  Imagine, Peter writhing in a bed as his body died. His beautiful face contorting and twisting with pain, and through it all, he’s singing. I’m sure that he had an amazing voice, but it seemed strange to think he would sing.

  I often tried to figure out wh
y Peter had turned Jack. They were opposites in nearly every way, and Peter was always running off on his own. He didn’t seem to have the inclination for companionship, not like Jack did. It didn’t make sense that he would turn someone knowing the attachment that would create with him.

  In the book, Peter says almost nothing of his mortal life. Only going as far as to say that he was riding a horse that bucked him. The horse took off, and he was left dying on the side of the road. A stranger came upon him, and seeing the shape Peter was in, decided that turning him was the only way to save his life.

  After that, Peter describes an intense feeling of loyalty and affection for the vampire.

  “It wasn’t like anything I had ever felt before. In my previous life, I had a father, a brother, friends. But no other bond had ever felt this strong. I could sense everything that he felt, as if I was feeling it for myself. When he went too far away from me, there would be an awful panic inside, as if I wouldn’t be able to survive without him.

  “There was nothing carnal about it, however. It was as if I was an extension of him. Being away from him would be as painful as being severed from my own limbs.

  “Fortunately, he treated me with respect and dignity, like an equal or a brother. Many other fledgling vampyres did not acquire such a happy fate. ”

  That explained a bit more about what was going on with Milo and Jack, but it didn’t make me feel any better about it. I knew eventually that it would fade, as it had with Peter and Ezra, but even in the book, Peter did nothing to illuminate a time frame.

  He moved onto the first time he saw a young man turn into a vampire. He described a disturbing scene that I wasn’t excited to repeat for myself.

  I lay in bed, reading the book and listening to Elliott Smith. As the sun set on the third day, I still hadn’t heard from either Milo or Jack. I made it halfway through Peter’s book, and I was trying to read slowly.

  Night settled on my room, making it too dark for me to read, and I stared at my phone, willing it to ring.

  Milo needed time to get the hang of being a vampire, and his new jealous streak made it more dangerous for me to hang around Jack, but this was ridiculous. They both promised to talk to me soon, and it had been three days.

  One entire day was spent consoling my mother when she learned that Milo left without really saying goodbye. After crying a lot, she started drinking even more, and ended up yelling profanities at me and throwing things.

  On top of everything, school was less than two weeks away. Once summer vacation drew to a close, I’d have to deal with curfews and school that’d keep me away from Jack and Milo even more.

  I was going to spend the rest of my life cooped up inside this apartment by myself, and they didn’t even have the decency to call and give me one last blowout before deserting me for the rest of time.

  In some form of misplaced pride, I’d been waiting for one of them to call or text me. But I was tired of waiting. I couldn’t stand the thought of spending another night suffocating in my tiny room.

  Hi. What are you doing? I text messaged Jack.

  Not much. What about you? Jack responded. It took him three minutes to answer, which was an unusually long time for him, especially since it was after ten o’clock at night. Even he never slept in this late.

 
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