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       Wisdom, p.13

         Part #4 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
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“That good, huh?” Bobby raised an eyebrow.

  “Yep. ”

  “So… you’re not telling him what we’re doing today, are you?” Bobby asked nervously.

  “Of course not. There’s enough going on with us without him finding out that I’m still trying to figure out who killed Jane,” I said.

  “Why is he so worried anyway?”

  “I have no idea. ” I shrugged. “It’s not like I’m super fragile or anything. ”

  “How do you kill a vampire anyway?” Bobby looked over at me.

  “Well, we’re not really immortal, per se,” I said, telling him what Ezra had explained to me. “Whatever makes us vampires, it’s basically just a virus that stops decomposition and promotes healing. Our bones are superior, but not unbreakable. In the end, we still come from a human body, and we can’t function without a brain or a heart. ”

  “So the old stake the heart thing, that works?” Bobby asked with a raised eyebrow.

  “Sure, if you can get a piece of wood to break through our ribs, but I doubt that,” I said. “Stop the heart, sever the head, however you can manage it, and we’re dead. ”

  “Good to know,” Bobby said.

  I pressed on the breaks, and the car skidded to a stop as I pulled over. I stared up at the luxurious apartment complex that towered above us and took a breath. “Well, here we are. ”

  An overcast sky had left the day dim and gloomy, and the sun had just started to set, making the streetlights blink on as I stepped out of the car. I stared up at the building I hadn’t been to in months and felt an odd sense of nostalgia.

  “Where did she live?” Bobby stood next to me.

  “Fifth floor. ” I pointed to it, even though we couldn’t see anything from this angle and distance.

  “What’s the plan?” He shoved his hands in his jacket pockets as an icy wind whipped over us.

  “I guess we go inside. ” I glanced over at the main door to the apartment building.

  Page 37

  Bobby followed me over to the door, where the doorman let me in. I didn’t recognize him, but that was because it’d been too long since I’d visited Jane last. It’d been too long since I’d done anything real with Jane.

  “Who should I tell Mr. Kress is calling?” The doorman had gone over to the desk to phone Jane’s dad. He had to check with him before he could buzz us up, and I really wasn’t sure if Mr. Kress would.

  “Um, Alice Bonham. I’m a friend of Jane’s,” I said.

  “I see. ” The doorman gave me an odd look for a moment, then dialed up. “Mr. Kress, an Alice Bonham is here. She says she’s a-” He paused, apparently interrupted. “Very good, sir. ” He hung up the phone and smiled. “Go on up. He’s been expecting you. ”

  “Thank you. ” I smiled thinly at him and walked to the elevator.

  “He’s been expecting you?” Bobby whispered as he hurried to keep up with me.

  “Apparently. ” I stepped inside the elevator and breathed deeply, trying to hide the nauseated feeling this was giving me. Going back to Jane’s apartment. Seeing her father.

  “What does that mean?” Bobby asked, and I shrugged. “Does Jane’s dad like you?”

  “I’m not really sure. Honestly, I don’t even know how much he liked Jane,” I said.

  “Well, then, I’m sure this will go well. ”

  I’d been hoping that Jane’s father wouldn’t be home. That’d been part of the reason why I picked this time. Mr. Kress usually worked long hours at the office, so I figured he’d still be at work. I wanted to sneak out before Jack woke up and Milo came home from school, but avoiding Mr. Kress was part of it too.

  I hadn’t even spoken to him or her stepmother at the funeral, and I kinda liked her stepmom Blythe. Even when we’d been close, I’d hated eating supper at Jane’s house. Dinner conversation felt so forced and stilted. There was something strangely terrifying about her father.

  The housekeeper opened the apartment door before I had a chance to knock. She was new from the last time I’d been here, and I struggled to remember exactly how long it had been since I’d hung out with Jane at her place.

  The apartment looked as grand as ever. It wasn’t very large, but it had an opulence to it. Everything in it looked lux and expensive, and I’d hated playing here as a kid because it was like playing in a museum. If I touched anything, I’m sure it would shatter, and incur the wrath of her father.

  The housekeeper had led us into the entryway, and I heard the click of Blythe’s high heels on the wood floors. Jane had gotten her high fashion sense from her stepmother. Her real mother had died before Jane was even in kindergarten, and Blythe had done her best to raise her.

  “Alice. ” Blythe smiled when saw me, but it didn’t quite reach her eyes. She stopped several feet in front of me and folded her hands over her stomach, almost as if she was afraid to move forward.

  “Hello, Mrs. Kress,” I said, unsure of what other greeting would be appropriate.

  “You look very well. ” She smoothed a golden strand of hair back, and her eyes were red-rimmed underneath her makeup.

  “Thanks. ” My cheeks reddened with shame. I know Blythe was only referring to the changes that being a vampire had brought on, but I hated thinking that I looked good right now. I should be a wreck, not looking better than ever before.

  “It’s been so long since we’ve seen you. ” Her smile grew more pained as she spoke. “I saw you at the … at Jane’s funeral, but you didn’t stay long. ”

  “No, I, uh…” I floundered and trailed off completely. I had no good reason for why I’d skipped out early, so I just let it hang in the air.

  “I’m sure you had other things to do,” Blythe said, and I lowered my eyes.

  “What’s going on out there?” Mr. Kress bellowed from another room, his voice filled with gravel.

  “Nathaniel, why don’t you come out here and talk to Alice yourself?” Blythe turned her head back when she yelled for him, and she fidgeted with one of the gold earrings she wore.

  “I don’t want to disturb you,” I said quickly and held up my hand. “If you’re busy, I don’t need to bother you. I just wanted to see Jane’s room. ”

  “Jane’s room?” Mr. Kress rounded the corner and walked over to his wife. His tie had been loosened around his chubby neck, and he had a lowball glass in his hand filled with Scotch, the same way it had been every other time I’d seen him. “What do you want with that?”

  “I wanted to have a look around. ” I swallowed hard. “I was wondering if I could maybe take some of her pictures of us. ”

  “Take anything you want in there,” Mr. Kress said, gesturing with his glass so the alcohol sloshed around. “I don’t have use for any of it now. ”

  “Nathaniel,” Blythe chastised him quietly and pulled harder at her earring.

  “It’s true. ” He ignored his wife and turned his attention to Bobby, giving him a hard look with his steel gray eyes. “Who is this?”

  “I’m Bobby. I was a friend of Jane’s. ” Bobby held his hand out for Mr. Kress to shake it, but Mr. Kress just stared at him blankly, so Bobby dropped his hand.

  “I didn’t know most of Jane’s friends,” Mr. Kress said, more to himself than us. “I didn’t know very much about what went on in her life. But I did know this is where she’d end up if she wasn’t careful, and Jane was never careful. ”

  “Nathaniel. Please. ” Blythe put her hand in his arm, but he shook it off. She turned back to me, smiling that same sad smile. “Go ahead and have a look at her room, Alice. You can take anything that means something to you. I’m sure it would bring Jane happiness to know that you have it. ”

  “It won’t bring Jane anything, Blythe!” Mr. Kress snapped, and both Bobby and I shrunk back. “She’s dead! She doesn’t feel anything!”

  “You know the way to Jane’s room,” Blythe said to me. She lowered his eyes and stepped to the side of the
hall, so we could walk passed her.

  “Thank you,” I mumbled and slid past her, staying as close to the wall as I could.

  I wanted to run down to Jane’s room, the way we had has children and hid under the bed when her father started yelling. We’d lay under her princess bed with flashlights and tell each other stories about how we’d grow up and be rescued by princes and knights in shining armor. Only Jane’s had never come. Nobody ever rescued her.

  Page 38

  As soon as we made it to Jane’s room, I shut the door behind us, blocking out the sound of her father shouting. Blythe said very little, only quiet words of comfort, but nothing could calm him. Although, for once, I couldn’t really blame him. He had just lost his only child.

  “This is not what I expected from Jane’s room,” Bobby said, looking around at the pale pink walls.

  The bed in the center was the same four-post princess bed she’d always had, and fairy lights ran around the posts. She had a white vanity against one wall, covered in makeup. Her desk in the corner had a laptop and a few framed photos, but the rest of the décor felt very little girl.

  “Her mom decorated the room right before she died, so Jane never really wanted to change it. ” I gestured to the worn down princess lamp on her nightstand. The pink boa that’d been used as fringe had almost come off entirely.

  “I see. ” Bobby went over to the nightstand and picked up a picture. “Is this Jane with Justin Timberlake?”

  “Yeah, she met him after a concert a couple years ago. ” I went over to her desk and touched a picture of the two of us at a dance from our freshman year. My hair looked ridiculous because I’d let her do it.

  “That’s pretty fancy. ” He set the picture down and looked at me. “So… what are we doing here?”

  “I don’t know. ” I looked away from the pictures to survey the room. “I thought I might find something here. ”

  “Was Jane even living here before she died?” Bobby asked. “I mean, when she left rehab?”

  “I think so. ” I chewed the inside of my cheek, trying to remember what I’d read on the internet. I could go ask her parents, but from the sounds of Mr. Kress’s yelling, now wouldn’t be a good time.

  “Why did she even leave rehab?” Bobby asked. “Didn’t she leave early?”

  “Yeah, she did,” I nodded. “But I don’t know why. The last time I talked to her, she said she was working the program and doing good. Maybe she relapsed or something. ”

  “How can you relapse on vampire bites? It’s not like somebody could sneak it in or something. ”

  “I don’t know. She left while I was in Australia. I never should’ve went. ” I shook my head and went over to her closet. She didn’t have one quite as big as mine, but she had shoved twice as many clothes in it. I opened the doors to find shoes and skirts jumping out at me.

  “You think if you’d been here, she wouldn’t have left?” Bobby asked. I glanced back at him and saw him opening her nightstand drawer and rooting around in it.

  “I don’t know. ” I sifted through her clothes, but there were too many for me to really look at. Sighing, I turned around and looked back at Bobby. “The only thing I know is that I don’t know what happened to Jane. ”

  “Good news. ” Bobby reached into her dresser drawer and pulled out a cell phone. “I think I’ve got her phone. ”

  “Holy shit. ” I ran over and grabbed it from him. I clicked and touched it all over, but nothing happened. The screen stayed black. “What’s wrong with it? It won’t turn on. ”

  “Well, it’s been sitting in the drawer for at least two weeks, so the battery is probably dead,” Bobby pointed out.

  I looked around her room and spotted the charger next to the desk. I plugged in the phone and sat down in the chair. By the time I got the damn thing on, my heart felt like it would beat out of my chest. Bobby stood behind me, looking at it over my shoulder.

  She had a few missed calls stored up, most of them from people she used to party with, but three were from an unknown caller. She didn’t have voicemails, so that didn’t help, and I moved on to her text messages. Before the sixteenth of January, she’d received a couple messages, all from people I knew, but she hadn’t sent any out.

  “Why wasn’t she replying to their texts?” Bobby asked, reading over my shoulder.

  “She was in rehab until the sixteenth. She didn’t have her phone with her,” I said. “When she replied, that’s when she got out. ”

  The text messages from people she knew were all about going out or partying, and Jane hadn’t responded to any of them. The only messages she responded to were from an unknown caller, and those messages made my blood run cold.

  Are you out yet? The unknown number had texted.

  Who is this? Jane texted back.

  You know who this is. I want you to meet me.

  Where? Jane replied.

  Outside of the gas station on 8th street.

  I’ll be there soon.   Jane texted.

  I’ll be waiting.

  And that was it. There were no more text messages in her phone.

  “That’s it?” Bobby asked.

  “That’s it. ” I stood up, and he reached for the phone, so I handed it to him. “That gas station is only a few blocks from here. She must’ve been at home. ”

  “So she knew who it was?” Bobby played around on her phone, searching for more hidden messages or some clue that we didn’t see.

  “Yeah. ” I walked over to Jane’s window, realizing she’d willingly left to meet her killer, and she’d probably died a few blocks from her home. “Call it. ”


  “Call the number,” I turned back to Bobby. “Call and see who answers. ”

  “What if I don’t know who answers?” he asked.

  “Then ask who it is. Just call the number and try to sound tough. ”

  “Okay?” He took a deep breath and hit the call button the phone. I watched him, barely able to breathe myself, and waited while he held the phone to his ear. His face fell and he shook his head. “We’re sorry. The number you have reached is no longer in service. ”

  “Dammit,” I groaned and looked back at the window. “She knew who it was. She left with them. And she got killed right down this street! And I have no idea-”

  Then I saw something on the street corner, below her bedroom window. Something moved in the shadows, and I realized that the streetlight was out. All the other lights on the street were lit up fine, but the one outside of Jane’s room was out. It didn’t mean anything really. Vampires made sure the streetlight was always out outside of V, but a light going out didn’t mean anything in and of itself.

  But I had this feeling. I couldn’t explain it exactly, but it was something inside my veins. Something almost tingly but painful too. As soon as I’d caught sight of something moving outside, I’d felt it.

  Page 39

  “Hey, what’s wrong?” Bobby asked.

  “Somebody’s down there. ”

  “Where?” He came up next to me to look outside, and I saw it again. It had moved to the side, so it was almost out of my line of vision, but I knew it was out there.

  “Meet me downstairs,” I told Bobby as I opened the bedroom window. I pulled out the screen, bending it in half to get it out quickly.

  “What? What are you doing?”

  “It’ll take me too long to go through the apartment. Just meet me downstairs. ” I climbed through the window, crouching down on the ledge.

  “What’ll I tell her parents when you’re not with me?”

  “I don’t know. Think of something,” I said, and I leapt off her window.

  I would’ve been fine landing on the ground, but I jumped out towards the street lamp. I wanted some element of surprise, even if it was a small one.   My hands wrapped around the lamppost, and I looked down at the ground. The figure was looking up at me.

  But as soon as our eyes met, I knew who it was, and he knew me. Jonathan began to run, and I pressed my feet to the pole so I could jump off. I landed right behind him. Pain reverberated through my legs, but I was running the instant my feet hit the ground.

  I only gave chase for a second because then I was on him. I grabbed his shoulder and threw him into the wall. His skull cracked back against it. He tried to push at me, but I was stronger than him. I’d barely stood a chance against him the last time we tangled, but now I had the strength and I knew how to use it.

  “What the hell are you doing here?” I growled. Pressing my arm to his chest, I held him against the wall. Jonathan could keep fighting, but he knew he couldn’t win.

  “I could ask you the same thing. ” He glared down at me, his eyes as cold and emotionless as ever.

  “Jane was my best friend! And you killed her!” I shouted, and I kneed him in the groin. He grimaced, but only for a second.

  “I didn’t kill her! She belonged to me, and I want to find out who did kill her!” Jonathan shouted back, and his breath smelled of rotting meat. He’d eaten recently, but smelling it on him was disgusting. Everything about him made me feel gross, and the blood in my veins burned.

  “Liar!” I kneed him again, harder this time, and his face twisted for a moment.

  “I’m not lying! Why would I kill Jane? She tasted delicious. ” Jonathan smiled at me, and it took all my restraint to rip out his throat.

  “You hated her. You used her, and you treated her like meat. Why would you be loitering outside her apartment unless you killed her?”

  “For the same reason you are,” he said. “Somebody stole her from me, and I want to find out who it is. Nobody takes anything from me. You know that. ”

  I eyed him up, deciding whether or not he was telling the truth. He was the sort of bastard that would kill Jane, but return to the scene of the crime to get his jollies on remembering killing her. But even if he got some thrill off it, what good would standing outside her window do?

  Unless he was telling the truth. He didn’t like being stolen from, I knew that much. If he wanted revenge, he had to find out who the killer was, and I’d ended up here because I was running out of places to look.

  “You better not be lying to me,” I warned him, pressing my arm harder to his chest. “I’ll rip out your heart with my bare hands. ” His dark eyes searched mine, and he saw I was telling the truth, so he nodded.

  “I’m not lying. ”

  “So what do you know?” I asked.

  “You don’t need to pin me here. I’m not running, and you could catch me if I did,” he smirked.

  Reluctantly, I dropped my arm and took a step back from him. Whether he killed Jane or not, I still didn’t like him. He straightened out his clothes and cocked his head at me.

  “How did you get so strong?” Jonathan asked.

  “Practice. ” I crossed my arms over my chest.

  “But you shouldn’t be stronger than me, not yet. You’re still a baby. ” He narrowed his eyes, trying to get a read on me, and I didn’t like it. “There’s something… different about you. ”

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