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       Wisdom, p.17

         Part #4 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
 
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“That wasn’t very nice,” I said, and Violet rolled her eyes at my attempt at standing up for Bobby.

  “What are you gonna do about it?” Young James Spader stepped towards me.

  “Dane. ” The dark haired vampire put his hand on young James Spader’s chest, and I assumed that his name was Dane, and not Young James Spader.

  “We don’t mean any trouble,” the woman said, stepping out from the shadow of the other two. Her eyes were large and innocent, but I sensed something sinister about her despite her button down appearance. “We just want to know if you’ve seen anything. ”

  “Seen anything what?” I asked. Bobby had taken a few steps back, standing more behind me and closer to Violet. I’m not sure that he really needed to, but it made me feel safer.

  “We’re looking out for you. That’s our job,” the dark haired vampire gestured to himself and his comrades. “We just want keep you safe. ”

  “I have no idea who you are or why you’d want to keep me safe,” I said, but I stood taller. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Violet tensing up too.

  “I’m Thomas,” the dark haired vampire said. “And this is Dane and Samantha. ”

  “So?” Violet asked.

  “We’ve seen you,” Samantha said. Her eyes were on me and only me.

  “You’ve seen me what? What are you talking about?” I asked, and I hoped I kept the fear out of my voice.

  “We want to know what you’ve seen,” Samantha said.

  “Okay, look. I seriously have no idea what you’re talking about. ” I held my hands up, palm out. From the look on Dane’s face, it wouldn’t take much to set him off. “I was here, with my friends, getting some food. That’s it. We didn’t see anything. We don’t want to see anything. We’re all good here. ”

  Page 49

  “Yeah, well, we know that’s bullshit,” Dane said derisively, and he wouldn’t even look at me when he spoke. Not out of fear but like looking at me was beneath him.

  “We believe you’re involved with the serial killer,” Samantha said, ignoring her friend’s inappropriate outburst at me.

  “What?” My jaw dropped. “No, no. I’m not. I’m trying to find them, but I don’t know who it is. ” Thomas and Samantha exchanged a look but neither of them said anything, so I blundered on. “And what do you even care? I was told that vampires don’t give a shit because only humans were killed. ”

  “We take life very seriously,” Samantha looked at me gravely. “All life is sacred, even humans. ”

  “Thanks,” Bobby muttered when she smiled at him.

  “If vampires don’t care about human murders, then why do you?” Dane asked, picking at something on his fingernail.

  “My friend was murdered,” I said.

  “You’re friends with a human?” Thomas sounded surprised and eyed me up.

  “Yeah. I am. ” I gestured to Bobby to emphasize my point.

  “Interesting. ” Samantha’s eyes flashed with something, and I saw a darkness flicker underneath.

  “Whatever your involvement is with the serial killer, you need to let it alone. Now,” Thomas said.

  “Why should I?” I asked.

  Before he could answer, Nurse Janice or Francine came out from the back room, carrying two coolers for Violet and me. Thomas wanted to say something, but when he saw her, his mouth closed. I glanced back at her and saw the same Stepford smile she always had.

  “Hello, Mr. Hughes,” the nurse said, setting the coolers on the counter. “Will you be needing anything from us?”

  “Not today. ” Thomas smiled back at her, but it looked strained. He nodded to his associates, and the three of them turned and walked out of the blood bank, the bell above the door chiming behind them.

  “Okay. That was weird, right?” I looked over at Violet.

  “Yeah. Were they following you?” Violet narrowed her eyes at me.

  “I don’t know,” I said, and my mouth felt dry. They had just walked in here, saying they’d seen me, and left without buying anything.

  “They might be following you,” the nurse said. We’d been staring at the front of the shop to watch the vampires as they left, but all three of us wheeled around to face her.

  “Do you know who they are?” I asked.

  “Yes, of course. ” She smiled and blinked her eyes, but said nothing more.

  “Can you tell us who?” Violet asked, her words much snippier than I would’ve gone for.

  “No. Confidentiality. ” Her smile turned apologetic, and she gave a helpless shrug.

  “So there’s nothing you can tell us about them?” I asked.

  “Oh, no, I can tell you something. ” The nurse lowered her voice and leaned closer to the glass. “They aren’t people you want to mess with. They’re vigilantes. Miss Smith is familiar with them. ”

  “Of course she is,” I sighed. “And she’s not here right now. ”

  “Wait. ” Bobby pushed in between Violet and me to get closer to the glass. “Vigilantes? You mean like Batman?”

  “What is with this kid and Batman!” Violet groaned.

  “He’s only the most awesome thing ever,” Bobby shot back, glaring at her.

  “Hey, you guys shut up!” I snapped, and they fell quiet as I turned my attention back to the nurse. “What are they vigilantes against?”

  “Why, vampires of course. ” She stood up straighter and scanned the UPC symbol on the cooler. “Vampires can act out if someone isn’t watching. ”

  “And they’re watching?” I asked. She punched something in the computer after she scanned the coolers. “Are they part of an organization?”

  “No. ” The nurse opened the slide glass window and set the coolers in front of us. “You’re all set. ”

  “Is there anything else you can tell us?” I asked, and Violet grabbed her cooler off the counter.

  “No, I’m sorry. ” She did the apologetic smile again. “Miss Smith probably knows more than I do, anyway. She used to work with them. ”

  “Awesome. Thank you. ” I sighed and grabbed my cooler and turned to start walking out.

  “Oh, you, sir!” The nurse pointed to Bobby. “Were you going to donate today?”

  “Um, no, sorry,” Bobby said, following us out. “I already give away too much for free. ”

  As soon as we pushed the doors, I looked around. I half-expected the trio of vigilante vampires to be waiting outside to jump us, but they weren’t. I wanted to walk quickly to the car, but I had to slow down to match Bobby’s pace. Milo would kill me if I let something happen to him.

  “Did Olivia leave any number for you to get a hold of her?” I asked Violet as I popped the trunk.

  “No. She doesn’t believe in cell phones. ” Violet tossed her cooler in the trunk, and I did the same.

  “But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” Bobby said. “I mean, most vigilantes are good guys. They’re on our side. They’re trying to stop the same killer we are. ”

  “Maybe. ” I slammed the trunk shut and got in the car. Bobby climbed in before Violet and arranged himself on the hump in the center, and then Violet got in. “But if these vampires think I’m with the killer, and they’re out to get him, then they’re out to get me too. And that’s not good. ”

  “Yeah,” Violet agreed as I started the car. “And besides, that Dane guy seemed like a major douche. ”

  “Yeah, and what was with his clothes?” Bobby asked. When I floored the car, he flew backwards, hitting his head on the glass.

  “Hang on,” I told him belatedly.

  “That happens sometimes with the older ones,” Violet said, referring to Dane’s sense of fashion. “They get really, really out of touch with trends, especially if they live off the grid. Olivia’s told me some about what she used to do. When she was working, she’d move around a lot. She usually only reentered society when she got called in. ”

  “You mean somebody like
summoned these guys to come here and take care of this?” I asked.

  “I would guess so,” Violet shrugged. “If they really are friends of Olivia’s, they’re probably more familiar with the area. ”

  Page 50

  “Do you think she would’ve called them?” I asked.

  “I doubt it. I mean, not without telling you at least. ”

  “But why would anybody call them?” I rounded a corner fast, and Bobby flew into Violet.

  “Get off me!” Violet shoved him back roughly.

  “It’d be nice if you could take it easy,” Bobby said, readjusting his hat.

  “Sorry. ” I slowed down a bit as we got closer to Olivia’s building.

  “It’s a vampire,” Bobby said.

  “What?” I glanced over at him.

  “I said that earlier that a vampire is the serial killer,” Bobby said. “That’s the only reason those guys would get involved, right? I mean, assuming they are what that chick said they are. ”

  “Holy shit. ” I stopped in front of the building, almost slamming on my breaks, and Bobby reached to brace himself on the dashboard. “You’re right. ”

  “You know, Olivia has never called herself a vigilante,” Violet said, looking over at us. “She’s a vampire hunter. And so are they. ” Her purple eyes met mine. “And we’re both vampires. ”

  “Oh, that’s real deep,” Bobby said sarcastically.

  “You’re lucky you’re with her, or I would kill you,” Violet said flatly.

  17

  I popped the trunk, and Violet got out of the car. She grabbed her blood from the back, and giving me one final wave, she went into the building. Bobby adjusted himself more comfortably in the seat and clicked on his seatbelt, and I pulled away from the curb.

  “Do you think it was her?” Bobby asked as I drove us home.

  “Who?”

  “Violet. Do you think she’s the serial killer?”

  “No, of course not,” I scoffed.

  “Why not?” Bobby asked me directly. “She tried to kill you once before. You did kill her boyfriend. She just threatened my life. And she knows Jane. ”

  “She didn’t really threaten your life,” I shook my head.

  “Yeah, but she fits everything else. ” He got more excited and turned to face me. “The only thing we know about Jane’s killer is that they knew Jane and they were a vampire. ”

  “What about that branding thing?” I asked. “Violet was the one that told us about that. ”

  “Exactly!” Bobby said. “She told us! It could be a total red herring. And we don’t even know if Jane was branded. Even if it’s true, it could be completely unrelated. ”

  “Come on. ” I shook my head, but I couldn’t refute his logic. I looked over at him. “You don’t really think its Violet, do you?”

  “No. I don’t know. ” He shrugged and leaned his head back against the seat. “It could be her, though. You can’t discount that. ”

  “No, I guess I can’t,” I sighed. I didn’t want to agree with him, but at this point, I couldn’t cross anybody out.

  “Well, who else do you think it could be?” Bobby asked.

  “I don’t know,” I admitted. The truth is, I didn’t really want to think it was anybody.

  “What about that Jonathan guy?” Bobby asked. “He’s a douche, right?”

  “Yeah, he is, but being a total douche doesn’t make you a killer,” I said. “And right now, that’s all I have on him. That he’s douche. ”

  “What about those three assholes we met tonight?” Bobby asked.

  “Nah. ” I sighed. “I don’t know. Maybe. I mean… maybe they’re… I don’t know. They might’ve, I guess, but since I know nothing about them, I can’t say anything for sure. ”

  “How about Leif?”

  “What?” I looked at him and jerked the wheel.

  “Hey, take it easy!” He held up his hand. “Watch the road. I’m just saying stuff. ”

  “You can’t possibly think Leif did it,” I shook my head. “Why would he have any reason to do it?”

  “He was part of a totally sadistic pack of lycan that already tried to kill you and Jane before,” Bobby said. “Or did you forget that?”

  “No, I didn’t forget, but he did fight against them to save us. ” I gave him a hard look. “And he saved your life, too. ”

  “Well, maybe he killed Jane for altruistic reasons. Like to protect you and Milo cause Jane is a bad influence. ”

  “Why would he want to protect me and Milo?” I asked.

  “I don’t know. ” He shrugged. “But Leif does it all the time. Whenever I’m fighting with Milo about something stupid, he always comes in and defends Milo’s honor, even if Milo’s wrong. And I’ve seen him do it with you and Jack before. He’s always protecting you guys. ”

  “Well, that means he wouldn’t kill Jane, because he’d know that hurts us,” I argued lamely.

  “Maybe. ” Bobby didn’t sound convinced when he looked at me. “But you can’t say for sure it’s not him. ”

  “I can’t say for sure it’s not anybody!” I wanted to throw my hands up in the air, but I was driving, and it would be better if I didn’t kill Bobby. “It could be you, for all I know. ”

  “No, it can’t. I was in Australia with you when she was killed,” he said. “The only people you know for sure didn’t do it were me, you, Milo, Mae, Peter, and that brat of theirs. ” He shrugged. “Maybe Jack did it. ”

  “Oh, Jack did not do it,” I rolled me eyes. We rounded the turn getting closer to our house. “You can’t tell Milo about those vampires we saw tonight, okay?”

  “Well, duh,” Bobby said. “And you can’t tell Jack. ”

  “I know. ” I hated having secrets from Jack, but he didn’t need to freak out and worry.

  When we got home, only Milo and Jack were there. Peter had taken Mae and Daisy down to show them how things were coming in the tunnel, and I wasn’t sure if they were coming back to the house or not.

  We found Milo in the living room, sitting on the floor next to the couch with a few of my textbooks lying around next to him. Jack had taken to the X-box, and he appeared to battling some kind of horrific demon in Dante’s Inferno. He’d already beaten the game twice, but he kept coming back to it.

  “Are you even reading any of these?” Milo asked, not bothering to look up from the law book he had opened on his lap.

  Page 51

  “I’ve read some of it. ” I flopped down on the couch behind Milo. “I haven’t yet today, but today’s been busy. ” I reached over him and grabbed the book from him.

  “How did training go?” Milo asked, looking back at me.

  Bobby sat down on the floor next to him, snuggling up to him already, which was good. If Bobby distracted him with affection, Milo would be less likely to lecture me about my schoolwork or pry too much about what happened tonight.

  “Great,” I shrugged and flipped through the book.

  “Did you kick Bobby’s ass?” Jack asked, keeping his focus on the video game on the screen.

  “Nah, Bobby didn’t do a lot,” I said. “He was too busy pretending to be Batman. ”

  “If Batman were real, that’s exactly where he’d hang out!” Bobby turned back to glare at me. “That building is like Wayne Industries!”

  “You’re just deflecting because you can’t fight. ” Jack glanced away from the game to laugh at him.

  “You’re one to talk,” Milo scoffed. “It’s not like you can fight either. ”

  “I can fight. ” Jack paused the game when Milo and Bobby laughed at him, and he looked back at us. “You guys really think I can’t fight?”

  “We’ve seen you fight, Jack,” Milo said with a smirk. “We know you can’t. ”

  “Oh, it’s on. ” Jack shut off the X-box and tossed the controller in the chair and stood up. “You wanna fight, little man?”

&
nbsp; “Really?” Milo arched an eyebrow.

  “Yeah. It’s go time!” Jack pointed to his chest in some kind of weird dominant gesture, trying to stifle his own smile.

  “Jack, you’re really no good at trash talk,” I said.

  “Come on. ” Jack grinned at Milo. “Let’s do this. ”

  “Alright. ” Milo shrugged and got up, and I rolled my eyes.

  Jack bounced around on one side of the room, rolling his neck, like he thought he was Muhammad Ali. Milo smiled and went about pushing all the furniture to the side of the room so they’d been less likely to damage things if they tussled.

  “Bobby, you should probably move,” I said, flipping a page in the law book that I was only half-reading.

  Bobby did what he was told, climbing up on the couch next to me. I’m not sure exactly why Milo and Jack were fighting, since they’d never been the kind of boys that even play fought. It probably had something to do with the fact that Jack was all riled up from video games, and both of them were bored.

  They both eyed each other up, grinning like idiots, and neither of them really knew how to start a fight. Any time they fought, somebody else had started it.

  “You ready?” Milo asked, suppressing laughter.

  “I was born ready!” Jack declared.

  Milo rushed Jack half-heartedly, but Jack responded with as much intensity as he could muster. He sidestepped Milo and tripped him, but Milo caught his balance before he even stumbled. He turned on Jack, swinging his leg around, so he knocked Jack’s feet out from under him.

  Jack fell to the floor with a bit of a bang, smiling up at Milo and looking surprised. Matilda barked and wagged her tail. I didn’t want her getting hurt in the fray, so I got up and let her out the back patio.

  On my way back, I heard a horrible crashing sound, and I ran to the living room. Jack lay sprawled out in a pile of a broken chair, with a broken picture shattered on the floor behind him. Milo stood on the other side of the room, looking rather proud of himself.

  “You guys! Mae’s gonna be-” I stopped myself before I finished the sentence. Mae didn’t live here. She wouldn’t be mad about anything we destroyed because she would never know about it.

  “Are you okay?” Bobby asked, his eyes wide. He got up off the couch to help Jack.

  “Yeah. I’m fine. ” Jack shook his head to clear it, and a few bits of broken glass fell from it.

  I went past Jack to pick up the picture. It looked like all squiggles and lines to me, but it was probably some kind of priceless work of art, so I worked to rescue it. Brushing glass and splintered wood from it, I scowled at the mess.

  Bobby gave Jack a hand, and even though he didn’t need it, Jack let him help him to his feet. Jack shook his head again, dismayed by what had happened.

  “When did you get so strong?” Jack asked Milo, brushing debris from his tee shirt. “I used to be able to take you. ”

  “We never really fought. You never really took me,” Milo shrugged.

  “Well, I could at least hold you back. ” Jack cocked his head, looking over Milo in a different light. “Now I don’t think I could even do that. And you should still be pretty weak. You’re only a baby. ”

  “What does that mean?” I asked. Jonathan had said almost the exact same thing to me the other day, and I didn’t fully understand it.

  “He’s only been a vampire for six months,” Jack gestured to Milo. “He should be still getting his sea legs. Usually, the older you are, the stronger you are, but Milo slammed me like that. ” He snapped his fingers to demonstrate.

 
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