Fate, p.14
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       Fate, p.14

         Part #2 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
 
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“How could I?” I asked. “You weren’t supposed to know they were vampires. It’d be pretty weird to just say, oh yeah, Peter tried to drink all my blood. ”

  “How could you not tell me all this stuff?” Milo looked hurt and offended. “Jack told me you were going to turn last spring, but you changed your mind because of me. And I appreciate that, I really do, but you almost did! And you wouldn’t have told me about it? You were trying to make the biggest decision of your life, and you didn’t mention anything to me. ”

  “I couldn’t tell you anything,” I sighed. “They told me not to, and I raised the same argument. How would it be better for me to just disappear instead of telling you something. And they said it would be too hard for you to live a normal life while knowing that they exist. ”

  “But you could’ve made up something,” Milo shook his head. “You could’ve just told me about the whole triangle thing with Peter and Jack, and said you were thinking about running away with one of them. That was close to the truth. ”

  “I don’t know. I didn’t think of it, I guess,” I sighed. “Look, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you anything. But at least I can talk to you about it now, right?”

  “On the subject of which,” Milo grinned and titled his head. “What’s this I hear about you kissing Jack last night?”

  “Word travels fast. ” I avoided his eyes and what they insinuated.

  “Come on. There’s like four people in that house. You’re the only word there,” he laughed, shaking his head. “What else would we really talk about?”

  Looking down at my feet made me realize how badly the dark purple nail polish was chipping on my toes. In order to reach it better, I pulled my knee to my chest and started scraping at the nail polish with my fingers.

  “That’s really hygienic. ” Milo nodded to my foot being on the counter, and I stuck my tongue out at him.

  “What do you care? You don’t eat here anymore. ” I smiled, almost sadly. “Hell, you don’t even eat anymore. Or get sick. I don’t think this is really an issue for you. ”

  “You’re avoiding the major issue. ” He pulled out a kitchen chair and sat down, then tapped the empty spot next to him. “Come on. Have a seat, and tell me all the juicy details. ”

  “There isn’t anything juicy to tell!” I groaned and stayed where I was.

  “You kissed Jack! There’s got to be something to tell!”

  “Are you even cool with talking about this?” I looked up at him, studying his face for any jealous aggression that might be brewing underneath.

  “Yeah, I’m so over that. ” He leaned back and rolled his eyes, then shook his head. “Okay, I’m not like completely over him per se, but I’m not crazy jealous anymore. Remember at the club? I didn’t freak out then, and he was all over you most of the night. ”

  “He was not all over me,” I said, but my cheeks burned crimson. “He protected me a lot, and so he had to touch me. But it wasn’t like we were making out or anything. ”

  “No, that was for later. ” Milo winked at me.

  “It wasn’t like that!”

  “Alice, everyone gets it. You and Jack are seriously into each other. What exactly do you think you’re hiding from me? And more importantly, why do you think you need to hide it from me?” Milo asked me directly, and I squirmed a bit.

  “I don’t know. ” I kept my arms wrapped around my leg and rested my head against my knee. “I guess I’m just not used to talking about any of this stuff. And I can’t really explain it, but I feel weird talking about it because of Peter. ”

  “Peter? He’s not even here. What does he have to do with anything?” Milo’s brown eyes were filled with confusion.

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  “Nothing. ” I shook my head. “Everything. Did Mae explain to you what it meant to be bonded?”

  “Yeah. I mean, she did the best she could, but considering I’ve never even had a boyfriend, it’s a little hard for me to get a handle on what you guys feel. ” Looking the way he did, it would be hard to believe that he’d stay single for much longer.

  “It’s not like having a boyfriend. ” I chewed my fingernails and stared down at the faded floor tile, thinking of how to explain it. “In a really abstract way, it’s like having a crush, but it’s far more physical than that. From what I can tell, from when Jack’s really having bloodlust, it’s something similar to that. ”

  “What are you talking about?” Milo squinted at me. “You know what Jack feels when he’s hungry?”

  “Kinda. I can feel what he feels, most of the time. Not exactly, unless it’s really intense, but I usually have a sense of what’s going on with him. I think he always purposely eats before we’re together, just to be safe, but I’ve felt what he feels when he really wants my blood. ”

  A change inside of Jack was completely visceral when he wanted me that way. Raw and intense, there was something frightening about it, but it was completely exhilarating and always made me want him more.

  “Wait, wait, wait!” Milo waved his hands to stop. “You feel what he feels? That’s not normal, is it? You never did that before. ”

  “No. I don’t know if it’s normal. ” With a wry smile, I added, “But then again, I don’t really know what’s normal. ”

  “So, is it him, or is it you that’s behaving unnaturally?” He overlooked my attempt at a joke and kept staring at me severely. That was just like him. He’d discovered something he didn’t understand and he had to figure it out. “Is he pushing his emotions on you, or are you picking up on things?”

  “Both?” I shrugged helplessly. “From what I gather, nothing about the way Jack and I feel is natural. He’s not supposed to be into me, you know? I’m only supposed to want Peter, who doesn’t even want me at all. ”

  “Huh. ” Milo took a deep breath and nodded. “It sounds like a clear case of nature vs. nurture. ”

  He sounded like a doctor giving a diagnosis, and I would’ve mocked him for it if I hadn’t been intrigued. (Something along the lines of “you’re gonna have to face it – you’re addicted to love” would’ve fit there nicely).

  “What?”

  “You understand the concept of nature vs. nurture, right?” He gave me that exasperated look he’d been prone to giving me when he taught me calculus. “It’s the basic argument for what compels people to do anything. Is it because of our biology, our animal instincts, or because of the way we were brought up? Do men cheat because of a biological imperative or because they had an absent father?”

  “I think those are both too blanket of answers for either of them to really be correct,” I said. “Give two men the same biology and the same upbringing, and they could still make two entirely different decisions. ”

  “You’re missing the point,” Milo waved me off. “Peter and you, that’s 100% pure nature. Your biology is what draws you together, but for reasons I don’t fully understand, Peter’s fighting it.

  “At the same time, Jack is falling for you because of who you are and who he is. He nurtured a relationship with you. From a scientific stand point, it’s very fascinating. ”

  “I’m glad my quandary of a love life is fascinating. At least it serves a purpose,” I muttered dryly.

  “I don’t really see a quandary. ” He turned his attention to spinning a bottle top on the table. “You and Jack like each other, and Peter’s out of the picture. Problem solved. ”

  “I’m sure that we’d run into Peter in the next millennia. ”

  “What makes you think you’ll live a millennia?” Milo replied.

  “Immortality, for one thing. ” I dropped my foot from the counter and leaned back, stretching the kink in my shoulders.

  “Immortality isn’t really immortality, you know,” Milo told me evenly. “It’s just very long longevity. ”

  “So you came over to point out that I’m a magnificent specimen in the case for nature vs. nurture, and then tell me that I’m going to die?” I rai
sed my eyebrow at him.

  “No, actually. ” Milo jumped up suddenly, scaring me. He moved quicker than he ever had before, and his movements were losing that clumsy edge they had when he first turned. “I came over to make you supper. ”

  “You can still cook?” That sounded much smarter in my head. Because every single thing about Milo had improved upon from the way he was before, it’d be silly to think his cooking skills magically dissolved.

  “Yes! And I’m making your favorite. ” He went over to the fridge and rummaged through it.

  “Hey, can you eat food?” I asked, and again, it sounded smarter in my head.

  “Well, yeah, I can eat it. I just can’t digest it. ” Milo turned back to face me, his arms overflowing with food. “Jack dared me to try an orange last week, and it tasted terrible. Like eating acidic salt or something. I don’t even know how to explain it to you. But I ate it, and then like five minutes later, I felt terrible and threw up. So that was the end of that. ”

  “Gross. ” I hopped off the counter and took some of the vegetables away from him so I could wash them up.

  “Food isn’t appealing anymore. The only thing that ever sounds good is blood. And you know what else? Blood tastes different!” Milo said this really excitedly, like he was shedding light on something for me.

  “You mean like from how it tasted when you were human?”

  “Yeah, but that’s not what I meant. Different kinds of blood have different flavors. It’s just really weird cause I’ll find myself craving different types. Blood from women tastes different, and Asian blood is different, and then the types, like O or AB positive taste different too,” Milo went on, and he was talking the same way he used to talk about ingredients for a new recipe he’d just learned. “There’s a whole cornucopia of flavors out there!”

  “Good to know,” I replied, unsure of what else to say to that.

  “I bet your blood tastes really good. ” Milo stared at me intently, enough to make me nervous, and I moved away a little bit. “It smells sweet and… rich. ”

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  “Thanks. And I don’t mean to be rude, but you’re kind of freaking me out right now. ”

  “Sorry. ” He shook his head and went back to slicing a tomato. “I just can’t not smell you, you know?”

  “Well, try not to fantasize about eating me at least,” I grimaced.

  Milo managed to not eat me while he made the rest of my meal. He sat down and watched me eat, but it still felt nice, like we were eating together like we used to. Even though he didn’t really look like my brother, and he wasn’t really anymore, we were still family.

  We were just turning into a whole different kind of family.

  - 17 -

  Vampires needed oxygen, just not as much as people. Living on minimal oxygen was an important skill vampires could add to their arsenal, if only they could master it. That’s pretty much a direct quote from Jack, right there. Maybe not all of it, but the word “arsenal” was definitely in there. That’s the explanation he gave for today’s exercise.

  “Exercise” was another word he used, and I hadn’t realized how seriously he took everything with Milo. When he had texted me earlier, he said that I could come over, but he’d be pretty busy with Milo. Ezra had gone somewhere, so Mae could use the company.

  Jack picked me up, giving me the briefest of explanations before he and Milo changed into their swim trunks. That only made it harder for me to understand things because Jack shirtless was captivating.

  Not to mention how distracting Milo was. Obviously, I wasn’t attracted to him in anyway, but I had spent all summer seeing him in swim trunks, and he had looked nothing like he did now. He was all muscle and chiseled abs.

  Milo didn’t need to breathe as much as he did, but his body didn’t realize that yet. The best way to train his lungs would be to put him somewhere he wouldn’t be able to breathe. Jack’s idea was to submerge him underwater, the same way Peter taught Jack not to breathe.

  Apparently, it’s terrifying the first couple of times he did it, since his mind didn’t understand that it wasn’t about to die. So Jack recommended that I stay in the house while he went out with Milo, lest I get freaked out.

  I stood at the French doors, staring out at the black lake behind the house. There wasn’t a moon in the sky, and a rather eerie cloud cover had swept over, blinding all the stars.

  The back deck lights were off, making it easier for me to see the dock and lake, but I couldn’t really see much of anything. The water was like a black abyss, and every now again, I would catch something shimmering off it, but Milo and Jack were completely lost in it.

  Matilda sat next to me, whimpering with anticipation. Jack left her inside because, like me, she had the habit of getting nervous and freaking out. I knew Milo was perfectly safe. Almost nothing in the world could hurt him, and certainly nothing in that lake. But that’s where he had almost died, where his blood still stained the end of the dock, and my heart felt cold and tight in my chest.

  “They’re going to be fine,” Mae reassured me for the seven-hundredth time that night.

  She stood behind me, leaning against the doorway into the dining room, with her arms crossed loosely over her chest. In the other room, I heard Nina Simone playing, and I imagined that Mae was curled up on the couch, reading a book. Or at least that’s what she was doing when she wasn’t busy checking on me.

  “I know. ” I thought I saw something, but it was gone before I could even make it out.

  “You’re just going to stand there all night then?” Her words came out soft and disappointed.

  “I don’t know. ” I wanted to pull myself away, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that if I looked away, something would happen. As if the lake somehow had it in for Milo, and it was just waiting to finish the job when I wasn’t paying attention.

  “You know what? That’s not good enough. ” Before I could protest, Mae looped her arm through mine and pulled me away from the glass. “Come on. That’s more than enough for one night. ”

  “Mae. ” I actually tried to free myself from her. While her grip felt friendly and gentle, it was really a death grip. Any amount of tugging and pulling I did would do little more than bruise me. “I just feel better if I’m watching. ”

  “I know that, love, but it’s not accomplishing anything. Honest. ”

  She led me into the living room. It was dimly lit with several candles and a lamp, but my eyes had been so accustomed with darkness that it almost hurt to look around. Everything smelled of lilacs and lilies, courtesy of the candles, and I breathed in.

  “What are we going to accomplish in here?” I asked.

  “You’re going to relax. ” Mae yanked me down on to the overstuffed couch with her.

  Matilda had followed us in and stood in the middle of the room, looking at me questioningly. Apparently, she felt guilty for abandoning her post too.

  “I relax all the time. I’ve done nothing but relax all summer long. Maybe my entire life, even. ” I pulled my knees up to my chest, and Mae laughed faintly.

  “Alice, if you’re going to live forever, you’ve really got to learn how to live!” Mae teased.

  Her fingers combed through my hair, and she turned me so my back was to her. I heard the clamor of something, and when I looked out of the corner of my eye, I saw her getting a brush and hair clips off the end table beside her.

  Following suit, I patted the couch with my hand, and Matilda hopped up next to me. As Mae played with my hair, I ran my hands through Matilda’s thick, white fur.

  “What does that even mean?” I asked as Mae pulled and teased at my hair.

  “Hmm?” She’d already forgotten what she’d said to me.

  “That I have to learn how to live. What’s wrong with the way I live?”

  “Nothing,” Mae replied, but with a heavy sigh, she changes her mind. “Well, you need to worry less. ”
>
  “Less?” I asked incredulously. “I think if anything, I’m a little over relaxed, given my circumstance. ”

  “But you know you have nothing to worry about. You’re always concerning yourself with how things are going to end, when they’re not going to end for a very long time. It’s much better to live in the here and now. ”

  “Really?” I scratched Matilda’s ear and had to suppress a laugh. “Every time Jack and I get caught living in the here and now, we get a lecture. I don’t think that’s really what you want for me. ”

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  “Living in the present doesn’t mean giving into your every whim,” Mae said sternly.

  “I give into very few of my whims,” I muttered. “Trust me. I have a lot more whims that you don’t even know about. ”

  “Now you’re just being vulgar. ” She made a “tsk” sound.

  “Have you heard from Peter?” I asked quietly.

  It was hard not to think about him and what his return would imply. My heart always sped up at the mention of him, and while it still made me feel ashamed, I didn’t mind as much when Jack wasn’t around.

  I heard her intake of breath at his name, and the way she braided my hair got tighter and more painful. Maybe she spent too much time trying not think about the future.

  “He called Ezra last week,” Mae answered tentatively.

  “And?” I tried to turn my head to look at her, but she pushed it back away from her.

  “Ezra’s with him right now. ” Mae’s voice dropped so low, it was almost inaudible, and my heart stopped. Her hands let go of my hair, allowing me to face her. “They’re working on some business together. Jack doesn’t know. ”

  “How could he not know? Why wouldn’t Ezra tell him?” I wanted to shout, and I felt like I was, but my voice came out surprisingly quiet. Just talking about Peter had a way of taking all the oxygen out of the room.

  “Jack would probably quit and move out and run away and all that. ” Mae lowered her eyes. “He can be so melodramatic sometimes. ”

  “That’s pretty much what Peter did, isn’t it?” I asked.

  “Peter had too. ” She shook her head “You know I don’t agree with how he’s handled things with you. Especially what he did in the end… That’s unforgivable.

  “But you’ve got to understand. Peter and Ezra were together for a hundred years before I was even born. Peter gave Ezra a piece of his humanity back, and without him, I’m not sure Ezra would’ve stayed sane all those years. ”

  “Ezra told me about his past,” I said, and she nodded evenly.

  “It’s more than that, Alice. They are brothers, probably even closer than you are with Milo. ” Her expression softened, and she took my hand in hers. “He can’t just shut him out. But he can’t lose Jack or you either. Family is very important to Ezra. ”

  “I don’t want Peter gone either,” I said carefully, and I was surprised by how true that was.

  My body felt like a livewire that had just been activated. All my veins and cells tingled at the mention of him, and that dull ache I ignored pulsated like a fresh knife wound in my chest. Everything that coursed through me, coursed through me for him, and I knew that.

 
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