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       Wisdom, p.2

         Part #4 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
 
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Her fingers healed up completely, making it possible for her to hold the crayons as she colored. She sang “Across the Universe” in an angelically perfect voice, and I’m sure that her Beatles repertoire was all Mae’s influence.

  It wasn’t that I didn’t understand where Mae was coming from. Daisy had been terminally ill, and if Mae hadn’t turned her, she would’ve died. Daisy was her great-grandchild, and she was an adorable, sweet girl… when she wasn’t a terrifying demon from hell. She was just much too young to have any impulse control, and she was going to be stuck looking like a perfect five-year-old for the rest of her life.

  “Hi, Alice,” Daisy chirped. She kept coloring and didn’t look up at me, but she’d stopped singing. Under the table, I could see her legs swinging back and forth.

  Page 4

  “Hey,” I said stiffly. I wasn’t the best at interacting with children, especially sometimes monstrous ones. “Where is Mae?”

  “Hanging up laundry on the clothes line. She said I could stay inside if I promised not to go anywhere,” Daisy informed me.

  Mae had left her completely unsupervised a few hours after she’d nearly killed us. Awesome.

  “That Mae sure does love doing laundry,” I muttered.

  “Do you wanna color with me?” Daisy looked hopefully at me with her honey-colored eyes. She really was a miniature version of Mae.

  “Um, no, that’s alright. ” I didn’t want to get invested in an activity with her, but I stepped closer to the table to see what she worked on. She had a My Little Pony color book splayed out next to her, but she drew something on a blank page that I couldn’t decipher. “What’s that you’re doing?”

  “I’m making a card for Bobby cause I hurt him. ” Daisy held up the paper so I could look at it.

  From what I could tell, it appeared to be a poorly drawn pink unicorn with a rainbow behind it. The words “sorry Bobby” were spelled correctly but with letters turned around.

  “That’s a really nice card. ” I forced a smile at her. “I’m sure he’ll like it. ”

  “I hope so. I didn’t want to hurt him. ” Daisy sounded sad and stared off for a second, then went back to coloring. “I need glitter. Peter says he’s going to get me some the next time he goes to town. ”

  “That’s pretty nice of him. ” I rubbed my arms and noticed the heat didn’t seem to be bothering her that much. But when I was a little kid, the heat never seemed to get to me either.

  The screen door slammed shut behind me, and Mae came into the kitchen. She smiled tightly at me, so I figured she hadn’t forgiven me yet. Which made sense because I’d done nothing that I needed to be forgiven for. I subdued Daisy the only way I knew how in order to save Bobby’s life, and she hadn’t really been hurt. She couldn’t really be hurt.

  “Daisy said you were hanging up laundry,” I said.

  “I like the way the fresh air makes the clothes smell,” Mae replied, her British accent sounding colder than normal. She wore her loose curls in a bun, and sweat dampened her sundress. She brushed past me and went over to Daisy, admiring her pictures and giving her a kiss on the top of her head. “That’s a beautiful card, love. ”

  “Thanks,” Daisy smiled up at her. “Alice says that Bobby will really like it. ”

  “I’m sure he will. ” Mae glanced up at me, and some of her anger dissolved. She sat down in a chair next to Daisy and colored a picture of her own. “Daisy ate and took a nap, and she’s been coloring just fine all evening. She’s just fine when she eats. ”

  “I’m sure she is. ” I couldn’t really argue with Mae. What could I say while Daisy was right there coloring? So I changed the subject. “Have you heard anything about the air conditioning?”

  “Not yet,” Mae shook her head. “But it’s cooled off since the sun went down. Outside, it’s not that bad at all. ” She looked up at me. “Peter’s sitting out there. ”

  I wasn’t sure if I should join him. Since coming here, I’d tried to spend very little time alone with him. But the heat was still stifling inside the house, and I could really use a break, so I went outside.

  The one thing I would say about the outback is that the stars were amazing. Without all the light pollution from the city, they twinkled above me like nothing I had ever seen.

  I stepped down off the front porch to get a better look at them. It was much cooler outside than it was in the house, so I let the night enchant me for a moment. I heard a sound to my left and looked back over to see Peter sitting on the end of the porch, his legs dangling over the edge.

  “The sky is really brilliant. ” I took a few steps over to him.

  “It is. ” Peter leaned forward to admire the sky. “It’s not something I’ve gotten accustomed to yet. I’ve spent too much time in the city. ”

  “Is that why you came out here?” I leaned up against the porch next to him, and he kept looking up. His face was impossible to read, the way it always was.

  “You know why I came out here,” Peter answered quietly.

  I dropped my eyes and kicked at a stone on the ground. He had come here because of me, and I didn’t have anything to say that.

  Shortly before he left, Peter had confessed his love for me, but I couldn’t reciprocate. Well, maybe parts of me could, but I refused to. Not when I had Jack, and I loved him. Then everything had happened with Mae and Daisy, and Peter had seen his chance to escape from me. Again.

  “So you like it out here then?” I asked. “Away from all the hustle and bustle of the Cities?”

  “I don’t know,” Peter sighed. “The weekly flights to Sydney to visit the blood bank are irritating, but the silence and isolation is nice. ” He paused, thinking. “I don’t suppose I like it anywhere very much anymore. ” I felt his eyes searching me. “I’ve been worse places, though. ”

  “Was that some kind of dig at me?” I asked sharply.

  “Alice, I’m not trying to fight with you. ” His eyes glowed green in the darkness, even without any light, and he let out a long breath. “I can’t win with you. I’m either being cruel, or I’m asking too much of you. Whatever I say, it’s never the right thing. ”

  “You didn’t say anything wrong. ” I shook my head. “I was just asking if you were happy. ”

  “Don’t ask me that,” Peter said gently. “Don’t ask me because you don’t want to know the answer. ”

  “How are Mae and Daisy doing?” I asked, changing the subject.

  “Not well,” he said. “Daisy isn’t getting any of her bloodlust under control, and Mae refuses to admit that that’s a problem. ”

  “Oh yeah?” I cocked an eyebrow at him. “Daisy has been doing stuff like today?”

  “She’s never around humans, or it would be far worse. ” He lowered his voice, in case Mae might be inside listening. “Daisy went after a wallaby or a koala a few nights ago. ”

  “A wallaby and a koala don’t look anything alike,” I pointed out.

  “It was something small and furry and gray-ish,” Peter shrugged, not caring what it was. “It was a bloody mess by the time I got of a hold of it. ”

  Page 5

  “You mean she killed it?”

  When he said that she went after it, I had assumed that she chased it down because she was a little kid and they were cute. I had chased down hundreds of bunnies and squirrels when I was young in an attempt to make them my friends.

  “She tried to eat it,” Peter said.

  “No way! That doesn’t even… I thought animal blood wasn’t edible?”

  “It’s not. ” He gave me a meaningful look. “She just gets so crazy when she’s hungry, she can’t even differentiate animal blood from human. ”

  I had been around animals since I turned. Jack has a Great Pyrenees, Matilda, but I never once wanted to eat her, no matter how hungry I got. Her blood didn’t even smell right.

  “Holy hell,” I said. “That’s intense. ”

  “She’s atta
cked both Mae and me on several occasions,” Peter said. “We feed her every day, but it’s not enough. I know she’s only been a vampire for a few months, and she was so young to start with, but I would’ve thought she’d gotten better by now. If anything, it’s worse. ”

  “What’s gonna happen with her?”

  “She’s going to live out here forever, and we’re going to hope for the best,” he said. “There’s not much else we can do. ”

  What had happened today with Bobby wasn’t a fluke, and as cute and innocent as Daisy looked coloring at the table, she was equally as dangerous.

  I stood outside with Peter for a while longer, but a tense silence fell over us, and I escaped back into the house. My bedroom was still too warm to sleep in, so I tried to put a fan in my window. Peter had brought a giant old metal box fan up from the basement, and it had to have come with the house.

  Spider webs clung all over the fan, and when I tried to brush one off, I felt the familiar burning sting of a spider bite. It scurried away, not that I would’ve killed it anyway, and I stared at the red bump on my hand.

  “Did a spider get you?” Bobby grimaced and leaned in my doorway.

  “Yeah. The damn things are everywhere,” I muttered.

  I went back to trying to get the stupid fan to fit in my window, and Bobby came in and sat down on my bed, as if I’d invited him in. Once I got it wedged enough where I thought it could work, I turned the fan on, and took a step back as dust sputtered out.

  “Nice. ” Bobby waved his hand in front of his face.

  “I had to do something before I died of heatstroke,” I said once the dust explosion settled. The fan seemed to be working, so I shrugged and lay down on the bed. “I am so sick of this. It’s ridiculous. ”

  “Tell me about it. ” He leaned back against the wall with his legs crossed underneath him.

  His commiserating would’ve been more convincing if he wasn’t wearing purple jeans and a tee shirt. Admittedly, the tee shirt was paper thin, and I could see the black designs of his tattoos through it.

  “You’re wearing pants. ” I looked over at him. “You can’t be that hot. ”

  “Yeah, but they’re purple pants,” Bobby said as if that that made some kind of distinction. “Hence, I’m awesome. ”

  “Do you even own shorts?” I puffed my pillow up under my head so I could look at him more easily when I was lying down. “I don’t think I’ve seen you wear any. ”

  “Just swim trunks. Shorts aren’t my thing. ”

  “How does Jack’s wardrobe make you feel?” I asked, smiling sadly at the thought of him. Jack wore Dickies shorts almost every day of the year, regardless of the weather. He was ridiculously awesome that way.

  “It works for him, so more power to him. ” Bobby scratched at the bandage on his arm that covered up Daisy’s bite, and he wrinkled his nose at it. When he looked down, his black hair fell more into his eyes, and he brushed it back. “She bit down right into my nautical star! I bet I have a scar that totally wrecks it. ”

  Bobby had a sleeve of tattoos that ran all down his arms, but most of them were black and shades of gray. The only one with color was a green nautical star on the back of his arm, and that was the one that Daisy got.

  “She bit the back of your arm?” I raised an eyebrow.

  “Nasty little brat,” he said. “I don’t even know what she was thinking. All the good veins are on the underside of my arm. She doesn’t know anything about being a vampire. ”

  “She certainly doesn’t,” I agreed wearily. “You need to stop picking at it, though, or it will scar. ”

  Bobby continued scratching at it, so I kicked him gently in the knee, and he stopped. He leaned back, resting his head on the wall, and sighed.

  “Between the spiders and Daisy, this trip is gonna be the death of me. ”

  “I really wish I hadn’t let Milo talk me into it. ” I stared up at the ceiling. “What is he doing anyway?”

  “Sleeping. He says it’s too hot to sleep during the day,” Bobby said. “He’s probably right. But luckily for me, I never sleep anyway. ” Bobby’s insomnia had made him a perfect fit for our lifestyle. “I can’t believe I’m wasting my last week and a half of winter break here. When Milo asked me to go to Australia, I was thinking Sydney hot spots and kangaroos and coral reef diving. ”

  “I know, right? Mae said they were living off the grid, but I thought we’d at least visit the grid. ”

  “And just think, you could be wasting your time here and going to school when we get back,” Bobby grinned at me, but I shook my head. “Oh, come on. You should at least graduate. ”

  “I didn’t let Milo talk me into it, and I’m not going to let you,” I said firmly.

  Milo dropped out of school at the beginning of his junior year because of the whole turning into a vampire thing, but he’d gotten under control enough and could handle going back. He’d enrolled in some swanky private school in Minneapolis to finish out the eleventh grade, and classes started on January twenty-first. The same day, Bobby started the new semester at art school.

  “So you’re just gonna be a high school drop out? What are you gonna do with your life?” Bobby asked.

  “What am I gonna do if I don’t drop out?” I asked. “I mean, it’s not like I can do eight years of med school still looking like I’m eighteen. ”

  “You can just pretend you’re Doogie Howser or something,” he suggested. “Or you can do something you don’t need as much school for. Like a dog groomer. ”

  Page 6

  “A dog groomer? Really? You think I look like a dog groomer?”

  “No. I just haven’t the faintest idea about what you aspire to be. ” Bobby cocked his head at me. “Do you even aspire to be anything? Or is this the zenith of your existence that I’m looking at?”

  “I don’t know. I have forever to figure it out,” I hedged his question. Lately, the exact same thing had been bothering me.

  In high school, I hadn’t really been worrying about grades or school because I didn’t care. Milo had always buckled down, insisting that an education and a career were important.

  Even though Milo was only sixteen and a vampire, he still hadn’t changed his mind. He wanted to finish out his high school career at a nice school, go onto college, and get a job. He still planned on having a normal life and doing normal things.

  When I first became a vampire, I thought I had it made. But now that I had nothing but time on my hands, I was starting to think that I had misjudged this whole eternity thing.

  “Did I just Debbie Downer the whole moment?” Bobby looked apologetically at me. “You’re being all quiet and sad now. ”

  “Nah, I’m okay. I was just thinking,” I brushed it off and smiled at him.

  “You’re not supposed to think. We’re on vacation!” Bobby said with false bravado. He leaned forward suddenly, looking excited. “We should do something really fun. We could chase down kangaroos or something. ” His smile widened and his eyes sparkled. “Or we could see if we could get a dingo to take our baby. ” He said the last part with an exaggerated Australian accent, trying to channel Meryl Streep.

  To bone up for the trip, Bobby had rented A Cry in the Dark and watched it like ten times. I’m sure there were better movies about Australia, but this one was his favorite. It was the true story of a woman who was accused of killing her own baby, but she insisted that a dingo took it.

  So, throughout the last month, I had heard Bobby spout “a dingo took my baby” about a thousand times.

  “You’re such an idiot,” I rolled my eyes, and he laughed.

  My phone jingled the first three seconds of “Purple Rain,” and I leapt out of bed. For the majority of the trip, my phone had sat discarded on my dresser because I could never get any service.

  The “Purple Rain” ringtone just meant that I had a voicemail, but that meant that it had connected with something long enough
to register that. I rushed to grab it before the signal dropped.

  “Who is it?” Bobby asked, jumping out of bed after me. We had been stranded without technology for so long that he was excited vicariously.

  “I don’t know. ” I tried to call my voicemail, but the call immediately dropped. “Damn!”

  “Go over to the window!”

  When I walked over to the window, a bar flashed on. The closer to the window, the brighter the signal. I was a little fanatical about having a chance to hear someone’s voice (in particular Jack’s), so I pushed the screen out of the window.

  “What are you doing?” Bobby asked.

  “Getting a signal!” I leaned out the window, and I finally managed to connect to my voicemail.

  I had barely talked to Jack since I’d been here, and I hadn’t heard from anyone else at all. Leif didn’t have a phone. Olivia had tried to reach me, but we had never been able to get each other on the phone. Jane was supposed to get out of rehab sometime soon, so I expected to hear from her.

  “You have one new voicemail,” the automated voice told me, and my heart raced.

  “Hey, Alice, this is Jack. ” My heart soared, but even with my happiness, I noticed something wrong with his voice. It sounded sad and faraway. “I’ve been trying to get you on the phone. I even tried Milo and Bobby, but…” He sighed, and my heart clenched. Something was very wrong.

  “I didn’t want to do this over the phone. I mean, I knew I’d have to, but I didn’t want to leave it on a voicemail…” He trailed off, and Bobby asked something behind me, but I just waved my hand at him.

  “I don’t know how to tell you this, but… Jane’s dead. I am so sorry, Alice. Jane was murdered last night. ”

  3

  The last time I saw Jane, she promised she would get out of this life.

  Back in November, she had been seriously injured in the fight with the lycans and spent a month in the hospital recuperating. I hadn’t really talked to her much after that because I thought it would be better for her if we severed all ties. Besides that, there hadn’t really been that much keeping us together anymore.

  We had been friends since we were seven, but the older we got, the clearer it became that our priorities were vastly different. Jane was addicted to partying, drinking, sex, and eventually, vampire bites. I didn’t want any part of that life, and she didn’t know how to stop.

  I hadn’t heard from her for a long time, until a few nights before Christmas. Bobby had been working his ass off on some school project, and he aced it. To celebrate that, he wanted to go out. Milo, Bobby, Jack, and I headed out to V – the vampire club in downtown Minneapolis. I had been hanging out there more since I started training with Olivia, and despite myself, I kinda liked it.

  After hearing a dance remix of “Jingle Bell Rock” far too many times, we decided to leave. It was snowing out, but in that nice way, like it does in movies, all magical and soft. With fresh snow, everything seems to look cleaner and brighter, and since it was after four in the morning, there weren’t many cars driving around to muck it up.

 
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