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       Wisdom, p.15

         Part #4 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
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“What do you mean?” I asked.

  “There’s something… different about you. ” Mae furrowed her brow. “I’ve never known what it was, but I’ve always felt it. The boys had a harder time recognizing it because they already had a connection with you. Your blood bond makes it’s harder for them to see that it’s different, even though it should be obvious. ”

  “I don’t understand,” I shook my head.

  “Vampires in general seem drawn to you. ” She looked over at me. “And you’re stronger. You adapted faster to being a vampire than anyone should. ”

  “Milo adapted faster than I did,” I said.

  “Which only proves my point. There’s something very different about you both. ” Mae eyed me, almost as if she was looking at me for the first time.

  “I didn’t adapt that fast,” I shook my head. “And I had to fight to keep my bloodlust in check. ”

  “Not as much as us. Ezra’s told you the stories of when he first turned, of how other vampires had to be chained to keep from killing each other?” Mae asked, and I nodded. “We’re all like that in the beginning. You know how Daisy… gets out of hand?”

  “Yeah?” I nodded, surprised she was bringing it up.

  “The only difference between Daisy and any other new vampire is that she gets hungry more often. That’s what a new vampire is supposed to be like,” Mae said. “And that’s not what you were like or Milo. But Jack…” She shook her head. “Ezra had to hold him down once to keep him from killing the mailman. ”

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  “Seriously?” I raised an eyebrow.

  “Seriously. You’ve adapted to this much better than anyone I’ve seen before. ”

  “But why? Why are we different?” I asked.

  “I don’t know,” Mae admitted wearily. “And in a fit of anger, I threw it Ezra’s face. I wanted to get him to side with me, but I understand now that he can’t and he never will. But I don’t hold it against you. You’re special, love. ” She smiled and put her hand to my cheek. “That’s something good, not something to fear. ”

  “Thank you. I think. ”

  “How is Daisy doing?” Mae dropped her hand and stood up.

  “Uh, good. I guess. She’s lying down, with Peter. ”

  “Good. She needed a nap after that flight. ” Mae went over to her luggage and flipped it open. “And I need a shower. That flight from Australia is unbearable. ”

  “Oh, right. ” I stood up. “I’ll let you… get to it. ”

  “Sorry. ” She smiled sheepishly at me. “I should just shower while Daisy is calm and asleep. ”

  “Yeah, that’s a good idea,” I nodded.

  “It was nice visiting with you, though,” Mae said as she pulled out clean clothes.

  “Yeah,” I nodded again and backed towards the door. “Do you guys know when you’re leaving?”

  “Not yet, but soon. Probably in a day or two. ” She looked sadly at me. “But you’ll always be welcome, anywhere we end up. ”

  “Thanks. ” I smiled and slid out of her room.

  I missed Mae, but I didn’t like having her here. It made everything feel tense and precarious, like at any minute it could all fall apart.


  I started up the steps to my own room, thinking about how a shower would feel good myself, but I stopped when I heard something strange coming from the bedroom. Not strange strange, just completely unexpected. It sounded like Peter and Jack were being nice to each other.

  “I’m just saying Apocalypse Now isn’t the best war movie,” Peter said.

  “You can’t say All Quiet on the Western Front! That movie is so boring!” Jack groaned.

  “Just because something is in black and white doesn’t make it boring,” Peter said.

  “Well, it doesn’t matter. I don’t own it so you can’t borrow it. Apocalypse Now is the best war movie I own. ”

  I climbed up the stairs and stopped outside the doorway, spying on them before they noticed me. Jack had opened the pocket door that hid his thousands of DVD’s, and he stood in front of it, inspecting his collection. Peter sat at the end of Jack’s bed while Daisy lay curled up in the bed, sound asleep next to Matilda.

  “Don’t you have Saving Private Ryan?” Peter asked, looking up at Jack.

  “No. I’m not obsessed with war movies like you. ” Jack reached up and pulled one off the shelf. “I have lots of ninja movies, though. Or movies with robots. Those are good. ”

  “I should be happy you’re not pulling out something with ninja robots,” Peter rolled his eyes.  

  “What are you guys doing?” I asked, tentatively stepping into the room.

  “Just trying to find something for Peter to watch, but he’s picky as all hell,” Jack said.

  “I’m not picky. I just don’t love something just because it has explosions,” Peter said.

  “What’s not to love about explosions?” Jack scoffed. “And besides that, I love lots of movies without explosions. Here. ” He grabbed a DVD from a shelf and held it out to him. “Edward Scissorhands. Nothing blows up the whole movie. ”

  “But you have a crush on Johnny Depp, so that doesn’t count,” Peter shook his head.

  “I do not have a crush on Johnny Depp. ” Jack rolled his eyes. “And whatever. Do you want a movie or not? You only have like a day to watch this thing. Do you want to spend all the time arguing about what movie it is you want?”

  “Hey, don’t rush me. ” Peter got up and went over to the rows of DVD’s, brushing past Jack without comment from either of them. “I need to enjoy technology while I have the chance. Who knows where we’re gonna end up after this. ”

  “Where are you going?” Jack asked, taking a couple steps back so Peter could peruse his DVD’s more easily.

  “I honestly don’t know. I’m hoping Ezra can figure something out. ” Peter grabbed a movie and flipped it over, reading the back. “I don’t really want to think about it. My plan is to shower, relax, and sleep, because I’m not sure how much I’ll get once we go. ”

  “I see. ” Jack crossed his arms over his chest, and his face tightened a bit. He was worried about Peter, concerned about where the three of them might end up, but he didn’t want to show it.

  “Anyway, I think this one will do. ” Peter held up Blade Runner.

  “That’s what you picked?” Jack raised an eyebrow. “You were just mocking me about my robot movies. And I thought you wanted something about war. ”

  “I like this movie. ” Peter shrugged. “I’m going to go downstairs and watch it, since that’s where I’ll be crashing tonight because my room is dismantled. ”

  “I have some extra blankets if you want to crash in your old room,” Jack suggested.

  “No, I’m good. ” Peter walked past me, giving me a small smile, and paused at the doorway. “Is Daisy alright in here?”

  “Yeah, she’s fine for now,” Jack nodded.

  “Thanks. ” Peter waved at him with the DVD and headed downstairs.

  I waited until I heard his footsteps disappear into the living room before I went over to Jack. “What was that about?”

  “What?” Jack put back his movies on the shelf and glanced back at me. “I just lent Peter a movie. Most of his stuff is still in Australia. ”

  “Yeah, but you were being… nice. ”

  “I’m a nice guy,” Jack laughed and pushed a button so the closet door slid shut, hiding all his movies. “And I don’t hate Peter. ”

  “That’s not what you’ve been saying for like the past year,” I pointed out, crossing my arms over my chest.

  “Do you want me to hate Peter?” He looked at me, his eyebrows arched.

  “No, of course not!” I said quickly. “It’s great to see you getting along. It’s just… strange. ”

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  “I know. ” He sighed and looked down at the floor, rubbing his feet along the carpet. “I hate the way Pet
er feels about you, and I really hate the way you feel about him-”

  “I don’t feel anything for him!” I interjected. Jack glanced up at me, and I knew I protested too loudly.

  “Well. Whatever. I still don’t like it. ” He shrugged. “But you spent two weeks alone with him in Australia, and that turned out fine. I think I can trust you to be around each other for like two days. ” He ran a hand through his sandy  hair, disheveling it more. “And even if I can’t, he’s my brother, and he’s in trouble. I don’t want the last things I say to him to be in anger. ”

  “That’s really sweet, Jack. ” I touched his arm. “And it’s really mature. ”

  “No, it’s not mature,” he sighed. “I just can’t hold a grudge. I’m a sucker. ”

  “You’re sweet, and I love you. ” I wrapped my arms around him and smiled up at him.

  Jack leaned down and kissed me, his lips pressing warmly against mine. It started out gentle, but quickly worked its way into something more. His arms wrapped around me, pressing me hard against him. His skin burned hot against mine, and his emotions flooded me with their fervor.

  “Jack,” I breathed, putting my hand on his chest.

  “Oh, right. ” His eyes went over to the bed, where Daisy lay buried amongst his navy comforter. He grinned when he looked back, but I felt how disappointed he really was. “If only there wasn’t a small child on the bed, I would totally ravish you. ”

  “I’m sure you would,” I smiled.

  “Too bad. ” He gave me a kiss on the forehead and pulled away from me. “I’m gonna hop in the shower. ”

  “I was just gonna take a shower. ”

  “I need the cold shower more. ” He walked backwards toward the bathroom. “Unless you wanted to join me. ”

  “That would defeat the purpose of a cold shower, wouldn’t it?” I asked.

  “Maybe. ” He shrugged and pulled off his shirt, revealing the perfect hard contours of his chest and stomach.

  He disappeared into the bathroom. I heard the water turn on a moment later, and he tossed his shorts out into the bedroom, enticing me to join him. I probably would’ve, if it weren’t for Daisy in the room and Peter in the living room below us.

  I shut the bathroom door without even peeking in on Jack, and he laughed. I looked over at the bed, and I knew I didn’t want to hang out in here with Daisy. She still creeped me out. I didn’t trust her alone with the dog either, so I called Matilda as I left the room, and she ran after me.

  Peter was in the living room, sitting on the couch with his feet propped up on an ottoman. Blade Runner played on the TV, but he didn’t seem to be paying attention to it. He had his fingers laced behind his head and he stared off at nothing.

  “Are you okay?” I asked.

  “What?” Peter looked over at me, as if he’d just realized I was there. “Uh, yeah. I’m great. ” He lowered his arms, crossing them over his chest, and sat up straighter so his feet were on the floor.

  “You seem kind of spacey. ”

  “Got a lot on my mind,” he shrugged.

  Matilda jumped on the couch next to him, and he scratched her head. I sat down at the opposite end of the couch, putting as much room between us as I could.

  “I thought you said you weren’t gonna think about it,” I said.

  “Trying not to. ” He gave Matilda one final pat than dropped his hand. He looked over at me, letting his emerald eyes linger on me just long enough where I had to look away. “How have you been?”

  “Good, I guess. ”

  “Even with Jane’s murder?” Peter asked, and I shook my head. “She was murdered, right?”

  “Yeah, she was. And they don’t know who did it. ”

  “I’m sorry to hear that,” he said, and it really sounded like he meant it. I don’t think I could ever get used to him sounding so kind. It added something to his already velvet voice that never failed to startle me.

  “Me too,” I sighed.

  After that, we watched the movie in silence. I sat stiffly, afraid to move or do anything. I could feel Peter sitting next to me, doing the same thing. I’m not exactly sure what I was afraid would happen, but I knew I didn’t want to risk it. I’d already hurt both Peter and Jack enough.

  Jack bounded downstairs a little while later. His hair was still damp from the shower, and he ran his hand through it absently, sending little droplets sprinkling all over the room.

  “How’s the movie?” Jack asked, glancing back at the TV.

  “Fine,” Peter and I both answered quickly.

  “Great. ” Jack pushed Matilda off the couch and sat down next to me, but he turned to Peter. “I was thinking. Why are you going with them?”

  “What?” Peter asked.

  “Why are you going with Mae and Daisy when they leave?”

  “Because. ” His eyes flashed to me for a moment, then he looked away from both of us.

  “Mae and Daisy don’t need you,” Jack went on. “And I know me and Bobby have a lot of crap in your old room, but we could clean it out. Well, we’re gonna move soon anyway, but that’s not the point. ”

  “What is the point?” Peter asked.

  “Why don’t you stay here?” Jack asked. “This isn’t your fight, the thing with Mae and Daisy. Neither of them are your responsibility. ”

  “Thanks. ” Peter swallowed and stared down at the floor. “I mean, I appreciate it, Jack, I really do. Especially coming from you. But you know why I’m going with them. ”

  “Come on, Peter. ” He gestured to himself and glanced back at me. “This thing between the three of us, it’s stupid. I didn’t realize how stupid it was until I saw you today. It’s over, you know? I’m with Alice, and you’re fine. We can just be… normal, again. ”

  “I think you’re being overly simplistic, Jack. ” Peter lifted his head to look at him.

  For a minute, they only stared at each other. Finally, Jack nodded and looked away.

  “Hello?” Leif called as I heard the French door swing open.

  “Who is that?” Peter asked, and Jack rolled his eyes.

  “It’s Leif,” Jack sighed and got up. “He practically lives here now. ”

  “Oh, he does not. ” I stood up and went out to the dining room to meet him.

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  “Sorry. I didn’t mean to just barge in. ” Snow clung to Leif’s hair, and he brushed it out.

  “You didn’t barge in. You know it’s never a problem when you visit,” I smiled at him.

  “Nope, no problem at all,” Jack said. He shoved his hands deep into his pockets as he came into the dining room, and Peter followed more slowly behind.

  “Peter. ” Leif’s brown eyes widened at him. “I didn’t know you were back. ”

  “It’s only temporary. ” Peter rubbed at his arm, but his eyes had hardened at the sight of Leif.

  He’d spent some time with Leif when they’d both been part of the lycan pack, and as far as I know, they’d gotten along. Neither of them ever really talked about what happened there, but like Jack, I don’t think Peter trusted Leif or his intentions here.

  I moved closer to Leif. It’d been bad enough when just Jack had been around glaring at Leif, but with him and Peter both doing it, I felt like I had to move to defend Leif somehow.

  “Really? Why is that?” Leif asked.

  “We have to lay low. I don’t want to trouble the family here,” Peter said, giving away as little as possible.

  “You’re in trouble again?” Leif raised an eyebrow.

  “Well, Peter isn’t this time. ” I cut in with a nervous laugh, attempting to lighten the mood. “He’s just helping out people who are in trouble. ”

  “Alice, I don’t think he needs to know our problems,” Peter said.

  “No, I don’t,” Leif agreed. “But if you need a place to hide out, I might know somewhere. ”

  “Really?” Peter crossed his a
rms over his chest. “You know a place here?”

  “Yes,” Leif nodded. “I’ve had to hide out myself. ”

  “What kind of trouble have you gotten yourself into, Leif?” Jack asked, his tone only pretending to be light.

  With Jack and Peter standing there, glowering at Leif, I decided that I didn’t like them getting along. I’d never really seen them agree on something before, but they’d apparently both decided to hate Leif, and it was really annoying.

  “Hey, guys, Leif is offering to help out. ” I stepped closer to Leif, almost standing in front of him now to block Jack and Peter’s unflinching stares. “And we need help. I think we should hear him out. ”

  “Where is this ‘hide out?’” Peter asked, doing air quotes with his fingers, and I rolled my eyes.

  “Underground,” Leif said.

  “You mean like ‘underground railroad’ underground? Or like six feet under underground?” Jack asked.

  “Actually under the ground. ” Leif pointed to the floor. “In tunnels. ”

  “You want us to stay in tunnels?” Peter asked skeptically.

  “No. I want you to stay wherever you want to stay,” Leif corrected him. “I’m merely offering a place you can hideout. I’m not sure how much trouble you’re in or how deeply you need to hide, but I know that this will work for whatever your troubles might be. ”

  Peter didn’t say anything for a minute and exchanged a look with Jack. Peter sighed and nodded.

  “Let’s check it out,” Peter said. “We don’t have anything to lose at this point. ”

  Without bothering to tell anyone where we were going, we all left in the Jetta after a small argument. Jack wanted to take the Delorean, but that would mean taking two cars since it only sat two people. Peter told him to shut up and get in the Jetta, and to my surprise, he did.

  I sat in the back with Jack while Leif gave Peter confusing directions to the entrance of the tunnel. Leif didn’t drive, so he knew where things were by foot – cut through lawns and back alleys. Eventually, Peter figured out that Leif was directing him to an area underneath a bridge.

  We parked next to the river and had to scale the icy slope to get below the bridge. Leif led us to a narrow hole in the cement wall of the underpass. He went in first, sliding through with ease, but Peter and Jack stood outside, staring at the hole.

  “Do you think it’s a trap?” Jack asked, his words barely audible over the sound of the river rushing past us and the cars rushing on the bridge above us.

  “I don’t know. It’s a weird trap, if it is,” Peter said, staring thoughtfully at the hole.

  “Oh you guys are idiots,” I scoffed. I pushed past them and crawled in through the hole. A chunk of concrete scraped against my back, but I just kept going.

  “Alice!” Jack called after me, surprised I’d just gone in, but I didn’t stop.

  The tunnel had no light, other than the bit that came in from the hole. I could see, but not as well as I’d like. The walls were brick lined with several rows of thick, black wires. The floor was dirty concrete, and when I stepped inside, I saw vermin scatter, but I couldn’t be sure if it was insects or rats.

  “Well, this is sexy,” Jack said once he’d climbed inside. “I can totally see Peter living it up here. ”

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