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       Wisdom, p.23

         Part #4 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
 
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“It’s not anything I need to talk about. ” I shrugged and took another a sip.

  “Sit. ” She gestured to her couches. “Calm your nerves. Then we’ll talk. ”

  I sat down, and Olivia lounged on the couch across from me. She pulled her legs up next to her, letting the long silk of the dress flow around her. She twirled the stem of her wine glass between her fingers and watched me as I drank mine.

  I tried to drink it slowly, but I really needed it. The blood rushed through me, filling me with the warm ecstasy. My body seemed to lighten. I felt buzzed, but that actually made me more alert than I had been before.

  “Did you invite me over here to seduce me or something?” I asked.

  Olivia wore a dress, and I’d never seen her in one before. Classical music played in the background, I think Mozart. The lights were dim, and she was plying me with blood in wineglasses.

  “No, I wanted you comfortable,” she smiled. “I have conquests much higher than you in my sights. ” I wondered if she meant Violet, but I didn’t ask.

  Milo and Bobby came out of the bathroom, with Milo leading him along like a Seeing Eye dog. Jonathan had punched him in the left eye, and Bobby held an ice pack over it.

  “How are you?” I asked.

  “Good as new. ” Bobby sat down on the couch next to me, and the ice pack shifted in the process, so he grimaced. “Well, almost good as new. ”

  “So did you find out what the big news is?” Milo asked, sitting on the arm of the couch beside Bobby. He had his arm around him meant to look like a romantic gesture, but Milo was protecting him. He still didn’t really trust Olivia.

  “Not yet,” I said. “Why am I here, Olivia?”

  “Violet. ” Olivia leaned her head back, speaking towards the bedrooms behind her.

  Page 67

  Milo tightened his arm around Bobby, making him wince, but Milo didn’t loosen his grip. I have to admit that any information shrouded in secrecy and Violet tended to make me nervous too, but the blood was working against that. I felt almost serene.

  The door to Violet’s bedroom opened, but she didn’t step out. Instead, a child of about eight or nine came out of the room. Her wavy brown hair hung neatly around her shoulders, and her skin was flawless and smooth. She moved in a slow, deliberate way, and she had poise like I’d never seen.

  When she looked at me, that’s when it really hit me though. Her blue eyes were ancient. They had none of the innocence and energy a child of her age would have.

  “Oh my god. ” I gaped at her. “How old are you?”

  “That’s not polite,” she said, her voice like a cold bell.

  “Alice meet Rebekah, the oldest living child vampire I’ve met. ” Olivia smiled, and turned to face her a bit. “Can I tell her old you are?”

  “I’m over a thousand years old. ” Rebekah sounded bored with the idea.

  23

  Rebekah didn’t move at all. She had a stillness about her that I didn’t know any living thing could master, and her eyes seemed to stare right through me, right through everything.

  “She’s like a porcelain doll, only way creepier,” Bobby said in a hushed voice.

  “I know, right?” Violet agreed. She’d come out of the bedroom, but I hadn’t noticed her because I’d been too fixated on Rebekah. Violet twisted a strand of her hair and eyed up Rebekah warily

  There was something tremendously unsettling about her. She looked like a child, and she clearly wasn’t one. But it was more than that. I’d never see another vampire that looked less human than her.

  “Rebekah, have a seat,” Olivia told her, and with a resigned sigh, Rebekah sat on the couch next to her. “She’s why I’ve been gone. I went to get her. ”

  “Was she in trouble or something?” I asked, and I pulled my eyes off Rebekah. She had to think it was impolite that I stared, but I couldn’t help it.

  “No, I brought her here for you,” Olivia said. “You told me about the predicament with your child vampire, and Rebekah knows how to control them. She’s managed for centuries. ”

  “I hardly even remember being a child,” Rebekah said with some disdain.

  “Yes, well, you’re the only expert I know. ” Olivia smiled thinly at her, and Rebekah regarded her with her strange doll eyes.

  Rebekah even dressed like a doll. Her dress was more of a gown, and too lavish and ornate for anything a child would wear today. It was as if a porcelain doll had come to life, or at least attempted to, since there didn’t seem to be much life in Rebekah.

  “I have helped some children over the years, although I’d rather not be doing it anymore. ” Rebekah crossed one of her legs over the other and laced her fingers on her lap. “Olivia pulled me from Prague for this, and here I am. ”

  “Even you agreed it was time that you returned the favor,” Olivia looked coolly at Rebekah.

  “I honor all my debts,” Rebekah said, holding her chin higher.

  “What debts did you have to Olivia?” Bobby blurted out, and I elbowed him in the side. “Don’t take me places if you don’t want me to talk, Alice. ”

  “No, it’s quite alright,” Olivia said and sipped her glass. “Young Rebekah had been living in England with her ‘family’ during the War of the Roses in the fifteenth century. Rebekah allied herself with the house of Lancaster in an attempt to control the throne of England, but that gamble didn’t pay off. Rebekah’s family was slaughtered in a battle, and she was left an orphan, or so it would seem. ”

  “That’s not entirely accurate,” Rebekah cast a glare at Olivia, but Olivia waved it off.

  “Rebekah was cast out of England, penniless and unable to fend for herself, at least not economically speaking,” Olivia said. “I happened to be a courtesan in France, childless and widowed, and that fit Rebekah’s needs perfectly. ”

  “She turned you?” I sat forward, looking between the two of them.

  “Indeed. ” Olivia looked over at Rebekah, her expression an odd mix of affection and loathing. “My maker is a child. ” Rebekah sighed at the use of the term ‘child. ’ “We created an arrangement, after I’d been turned, of course. I would keep her safe, live as her mother in public while in reality I was nothing more than a servant. ”

  “Don’t be so dramatic, Olivia,” Rebekah said tersely and leaned back on the couch. “We had a good life. Did I ever leave you wanting for anything?”

  “You left me wanting my humanity,” Olivia replied, surprising me with her depth of emotion. She rarely expressed anything deeper than hunger or annoyance. “It is a debt that you can never repay. ”

  “After this, I will consider my debt paid in full,” Rebekah told her.

  “I worked for you over two hundred years, and this is only the second favor I have ever asked of you. ” Olivia’s voice began to rise, but she shook her head and took another drink from wineglass. “But it’s as you say. This is the last time I call upon you. ”

  “Very well. ” Rebekah’s lips curled up ever so slightly, revealing a hint of a smirk, and she turned to me. “Where is this child of yours?”

  “Um, she’s hiding out,” I said. “I didn’t know I was supposed to bring her. ”

  “I’m certain it’s for the best that you didn’t,” Rebekah said. “How old is she?”

  “She’s five,” I said. “And she’s been a vampire since November. ”

  “I see. ” Rebekah pursed her lips and didn’t elaborate.

  “You can help her, though?” Milo asked. He’d loosened his grip on Bobby, becoming more interested in Rebekah and what she could do for Mae and Daisy. “You can make it so she stops killing people?”

  “She’s a vampire. Of course I can’t guarantee that,” Rebekah said. “I can help her learn control. It’s a myth that child vampires never grow up. We don’t, physically, but with time and practice, we gain the same emotional and mental maturity as our adult counterparts. ”

  “She eats bugs and
kills animals,” I said, and everyone looked disgusted at that. “Can you stop that?”

  “Yes,” Rebekah nodded. “It’s fairly common for child vampires to be unable to control their hunting impulse. In truth, vampires do crave more than blood. We were meant to kill. But with time, that urge can be dulled. ”

  Page 68

  “How long does that take?” Milo asked.

  “It depends. ” Rebekah tilted her head, thinking. “A decade before I’d let her live in a community with humans. Half-a-century until she matched your level right now. In a full century, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between her or Olivia, as far as control goes. ”

  “A decade?” My jaw dropped. “You’re saying she should live on some deserted island for a decade?”

  “I prefer somewhere colder, but yes,” Rebekah nodded. “I’ve called in some acquaintances, and I have found us a place to live in Greenland. We should stay there, off the grid, for the next ten years. ”

  “That seems like an awfully long time,” Bobby said, echoing my thoughts exactly.

  “For you, perhaps. ” Rebekah gave him a condescending smile. “For me, for the rest of us, it’s a blink of the eye. ”

  “It’s longer than a blink of the eye for me,” Violet muttered. She’d stayed to the side of the room, avoiding Rebekah. That child vampire must’ve creeped her out the same way she did me.

  “So, what do you think?” Olivia asked me.

  “I think its… amazing. ” I smiled gratefully at her. “I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to repay you. ”

  “Right now, you needn’t do anything,” Olivia returned my smile easily. “But eventually, I’m sure that I’ll think of something. ”

  “So, Rebekah?” Bobby asked, and she rolled her eyes when he spoke. “What’s it like being a child forever?”

  “It’s an endless hell,” Rebekah said, accidentally betraying the emotion she felt. She hurried to erase it, though, so she turned to me. “I would like to leave in the next few days. Is that enough time to make arrangements with the child?”

  “Um, yeah,” I nodded. “It should be. ”

  “With this settled, I’d like to excuse myself. ” She stood up and turned to Violet. “Violet, isn’t there a human you’ve prepared for me somewhere?”

  “He’s not really ‘prepared’ for anything, but there’s a guy in the room next to mine. ” Violet pointed to the door. “And he’s open to… feeding you, I guess. ”

  “Olivia, you really must get better help,” Rebekah said as she walked around the couch, the hem of her skirt sliding across the floor. “One must have a reasonable chef on hand to prepare the food. ”

  “Violet isn’t help, Rebekah,” Olivia said, watching her as she disappeared into the guestroom. “Rebekah doesn’t understand that everyone in the world isn’t her servant. Despite that, she does know what she’s talking about, and she can help you, Alice. ”

  “How do you prepare a human?” Violet interjected, staring warily at the bedroom door even after Rebekah had shut it behind her. “Am I supposed to salt them or something?”

  “Rebekah prefers it when someone else opens them first,” Olivia explained and pointed to her own neck. “Make an incision in the throat to get the blood flowing. Rebekah claims they bleed faster that way. ”

  “That’s interesting,” I said.

  “I was gonna go with disturbing,” Bobby said.

  “What the hell happened to your face?” Violet asked, referring the icepack Bobby had clamped to his eye.

  “Got punched,” Bobby shrugged.

  “How bad is it?” I asked.

  I hadn’t actually been able to see what happened to him because he’d been covering it since it happened. All I knew is that Jonathan had hit him, and he’d bled.

  “Not that bad. ” He took off his icepack. “It wouldn’t have been bad at all if it weren’t for his ring, but at least his ring missed my actual eyeball. ”

  He moved his hand, and I finally saw his injury. Bobby kept talking, but I couldn’t hear him anymore. I couldn’t hear anything over the pounding of my own heart, and the blood rushing through my veins.

  His eye looked swollen and red, but the bloody shape on his temple was unmistakable, even at an angle. I’d seen that mark before, looking nearly identical to this one. Though the mark I’d seen had been made with heat and not force. It looked like a U, but the scales had even left an imprint in Bobby’s skin.

  It was a dragon, the symbol for Dracula. The symbol for vampires. That ring had been used to brand the dead girls.

  I stood up, but it felt like I was under water. Everyone’s voice came out muffled, and I could barely stand up straight.

  Every time I’d been around Jonathan, my blood burned. It was because I’d bitten Jane, and the blood left in my system reacted with the blood in his. It was like Jane had been trying to tell me he’d killed her, but I hadn’t known to listen.

  “He fucking killed her,” I breathed, and my vision blurred red. I was getting hazy, like when bloodlust took over and I blacked out, but this was different. This was pure rage.

  “Alice?” Milo’s face appeared in front of mine, and he put his hands on my shoulders. “What are you talking about?”

  “Jonathan killed Jane,” I said. “I have to find him. ”

  “What?” Milo blanched and tightened his grip on me.

  “He did do it?” Bobby jumped off the couch and hurried over to us. “How do you know?”

  “That mark-” I pointed to his temple. “That’s the brand. ”

  Olivia and Violet both chimed in to say things about Jonathan and serial killers and demanding to know what was going on, but I couldn’t answer them. I could only feel what Jane had felt. Her terror and panic took hold of me again, and I pushed Milo’s arms off me and staggered back.

  “Alice, where are you going?” Milo asked, trying to follow me.

  “I have to…. ” I shook my head. I had to find him.

  “You smashed his face, Alice,” Bobby reminded me. “He probably went home. ”

  “No,” I said. “No. He’s hurt. He has to heal. He’s feeding. ”

  When Milo had been hurt, Jack had given him his blood to speed up the process. Vampire blood was more potent than human blood, but fresh blood would do the trick if he needed it to. And after what I’d done to him, he definitely needed it to.

  I couldn’t wait for the elevator, so I ran to the stairwell in the center of the penthouse. I’m sure someone tried to stop me, Milo had to have, but I didn’t hear him and didn’t slow down. I raced down the steps, leaping over several at a time, but I was still taking too long.

  Page 69

  I looked over the banister, staring down the hole in the center of the stairs. The bottom floor plummeted twenty stories below me, but I couldn’t wait.

  I propelled myself over the railing, and my feet slammed into the concrete. One of my ankles snapped, hard. Part of the bone stuck out, so I pushed it in. I gritted my teeth to keep from screaming, and I focused on Jonathan and what he’d done. That made it much easier to forget the pain.

  The back rooms of the club were an interconnected labyrinth where vampires fed. It could take me hours to find him, but it wouldn’t. I stood by the entrance of the halls and closed my eyes, concentrating on his blood. I carried his blood with me, staining my pants, and I could track his scent.

  I hurried down the halls, and my ankle threatened to give out, but I forced it on. I ended up running down three different corridors before I found him.

  When I pushed open the door to the room, the first thing I saw was Jonathan slumped against the wall. His jaw still looked mangled, but it was clearly healing. Blood covered his face and chest, and his heart beat loud and strong. He was full.

  The girl on the bed got my attention next. Her body lay at an odd angle, her spine bent awkwardly back, and her head twisted around. Blood from her neck d
ripped onto the mattress, but only because gravity made it. Her blood no longer pumped through her veins. Jonathan had his fill of her, and he’d finished her off completely.

  “You son of a bitch!” I roared and flew at him. I grabbed him by his jacket and picked him up, then I slammed him into the wall so hard, his skull cracked on the concrete.

  “Why are you always bothering me when I eat?” Jonathan asked, his swollen mouth attempting a smirk. “You’re a very rude girl. ”

  “You’re going to die,” I whispered, my face right in front of his.

  “You can’t save them, you know,” Jonathan said wearily. “The humans. They will all die. You’re not doing them any favors. ”

  I pulled him back from the wall and threw him, so he landed hard against the opposite wall. His body clattered to the floor, and he laughed. He didn’t even bother trying to pull himself up. He slumped against the wall and cackled at me, spraying blood as he did.

  “Why Jane?” I asked. “Why her?”

  “Because she was mine,” he growled, pausing his maniacal laughter. “She was a piece of meat. And she thought she could decide when she left, that she was done, but that’s not how this works. Humans think they can do anything they want.

  “But Jane learned,” he said, his smile twisting up. “I even got her to leave that place for me. All I had to do was call her and reminder her who I was and what I did for her. By the time she came back to me, she was begging for me to bite her. The way all humans should. We’re the top of the food chain, and it’s time they learned that!”

  “But they won’t,” I said and it was my turn to smile at him. “I’m going to kill you, here, tonight, and everybody will think that a human killed those girls. A stupid, weak human will get the credit for your work. No one will ever even know that you existed. ”

  That got him. He jumped up and charged at me, slamming me back into the wall. I kicked him off me, and my broken ankle hurt like hell. He tried to punch me, but I dodged, and his hand collided with the cement wall. I stepped back away from him, towards the bed.

  “You know, I’m stronger than you think I am,” Jonathan grinned. “I’ve killed stronger bitches than you. ”

  “I’m sure you have,” I admitted.

  The bed with the dead girl sat on an old metal frame. The legs were long and rusted, and I bent down and snapped one off with ease.

  “What are you gonna do with that?” Jonathan laughed. “Poke my eye out?”

  “Nope. ” I held it up, showing him the broken, pointed edge.

  “If you think you can stake me with that, you’re wrong,” he grinned. “That’ll snap before it goes through my ribs. ”

  “I know. ”

  My answer confused him, so he moved towards me. I kicked him in the chest, and he stumbled back. I rushed at him and threw him back against the wall. Pulling the metal leg back, I shoved it into his stomach, angling it up.

  When I pushed it, it slid underneath his ribs. His eyes widened with surprise, but it was too late to do anything. I slammed the stake up into his heart, and he collapsed against me.

  I took a step back and let him fall to the floor. His blood covered my hands, still warm and smelling of the dead girl. The pipe stuck of out his stomach, and his eyes stayed open, staring off at nothing. His hand had fallen on my foot, and I jumped back from it. He was dead, and I didn’t want his corpse touching me.

 
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