Fate, p.23
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       Fate, p.23

         Part #2 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
 
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“But Jack is wrong!” Peter slammed his hand on the counter, and we all jumped. “What gives him the right?”

  “He loves me, Peter,” I told him timidly.

  He turned, his eyes burning on me, and I felt myself try to shrink away. Milo hissed and Mae stepped forward, blocking Milo from Peter. She knew, just as I did, that Peter had no intention of hurting me again.

  “And you think I don’t?” he asked.

  Peter moved so quickly, I almost didn’t see it happen. His face was directly in front of mine, and I was backed up against the wall, but he wasn’t touching me at all. Milo freaked out because of his sudden movement, and Mae pushed him into the other room so he could get a reign on his emotions.

  “They’re fine! He’s just talking to her!” Mae kept insisting.

  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her finally wrangle Milo into another room, but all I could really see were Peter’s green eyes. He always looked at me is if he was trying to completely look through me and solve a great mystery.

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  Irrational tears welled in my eyes, and I fought to remember to breathe. He placed a hand on either side of me and lowered his face so it was directly in front of mine. All I could smell and see and feel was him. It was suffocating, and I didn’t know how to fight it.

  The horrible truth was that I didn’t even really want to fight it. My body kept screaming that this was exactly what it needed, that this was how I was meant to feel. Always.

  “How am I supposed to know how you feel about me?” I whispered hoarsely. “You were always pushing me away or running away. You’ve spent hardly a minute with me. All I know about you is that you’re repulsed and enraptured by me. ”

  “I’m sorry. ” For the first time, Peter’s voice registered a strong emotion and not just restraint to mask something. He was deeply pained, but he went on, unabashed. “I have not been honest with you. There are a million excuses for the way that I’ve treated you, but none of them absolve me. ”

  He exhaled deeply, his breath warming my neck. He was hungry in a familiar way, one that I stupidly welcomed. Peter wanted me in the only way he could want me, the way flowers craved sunlight. Our bodies claimed that I was the means to his survival, in more ways than one, and Peter was giving in to it.

  “Does it really matter anymore?” Peter continued huskily, and when he lowered his gaze to my throat, his eyelashes fell darkly on his cheeks. “It doesn’t really matter how much I love you, does it?” He moved in closer to me, breathing me in, and he sighed reproachfully. “You smell like him. ”

  “I’m sorry,” I murmured.

  Maybe a little bit of me was sorry, but the rest of me felt oddly proud that I smelled like Jack. As if he had marked me as his, and maybe even my blood belonged to him. Deep down, I had always known it was meant to, and I think that even Peter had, so he always rejected me.

  “He’s inside you now. ” Peter brushed my hair back and ran his fingers through it, letting his fingertips graze my cheek and send surges of pleasure over me. His eyes had returned to mine, but they were dull and sad. “I’ve already lost, haven’t I?”

  Before I could answer, his lips pressed softly against mine. Emotions swirled through me, and I found myself kissing him back. When he had kissed me before, it had been harsh and rough, but this time, it was gentle and a little sad. He realized this was going to be the last time that we kissed, and he didn’t want to waste a moment of it.

  When I heard the low growl coming from across the room, I awoke in the moment, with my arms wrapped around Peter’s neck and my fingers buried in his hair. His strong arms had me pressed against the hard contours of his body with little room for breathing.

  But as soon as I heard the growl, my heart froze, and I pulled my mouth away from Peter. He almost tossed me to the side, but that was merely for my own protection.

  Jack came flying across the room in a blur. He slammed into Peter, and together, they landed on top of the dining room table and crushed it beneath them.

  They were gnashing teeth and hitting at each other, and Jack went soaring through the glass windows of the French doors. Peter was on his feet, preparing to follow after him, but Jack was already up, brushing away broken glass.

  They stood a few feet from each other, glaring at one another and seething with unbridled rage. I scrambled to my feet, thinking that I had to do something, but Ezra swooped in between them. He stood on the rubble of the table, closer to Peter, but held out his palms to both of them.

  “Stop!” Ezra boomed. “This isn’t going to settle anything!”

  From somewhere down the hall, I heard Milo struggling to get free. Apparently, Mae had locked them both in a room, which was probably the safest bet.

  “There’s only one way to settle this,” Peter replied calmly, his eyes fixed on Jack.

  Jack’s face had contorted with so much hate, it was almost unrecognizable. His whole body was tensed so tightly, all his veins stuck out against his muscles. His chest heaved, and his lips were pulled back in a snarl.

  “Peter. ” Ezra turned his attention on him, which didn’t seem like the wisest decision to me, considering the expression on Jack’s face. Ezra took a step closer to Peter and rested his open palm on his chest. “You know what this kind of thing leads to. You don’t want this. ”

  “Tell that to him,” Peter nodded at Jack, who growled in response.

  “Jack!” I said, almost plaintively.

  Peter winced, but Ezra tried to keep Peter’s focus on him, and it seemed to work. Jack, on the other hand, immediately softened at the sound of my voice, and when his eyes flitted over to me, he looked guilty.

  “Come on. ” Ezra moved his hand onto Peter’s back and gestured outside. Jack moved away from the broken window so that Ezra and Peter would be able to get by if they wanted to. “Let’s take a minute to clear our heads. ”

  Jack stepped down, even allowing his fists to unclench, and that seemed to convince Peter that he was safe enough to take a break. Ezra led Peter through the rubble, out into the thick fog and mist that had settled onto the night.

  Jack watched them until they disappeared outside, but we could still hear the soft, careful tones of Ezra’s voice as he tried to reason with Peter.

  Once they were gone, Jack hurried silently over to me. I opened my mouth to speak, but he shushed me. Grabbing my hand, he dragged me into Ezra’s den at the far end of the hall, and I could hear the bewildered calls from Milo coming from Mae and Ezra’s bedroom. Inside the den, Jack closed the door quietly behind him.

  Again, I tried to ask him what was going on, but he pulled me into his arms and kissed me so ferociously, it erased everything. I remembered the way it felt when he bit me, his heart pounding with mine, and I could feel all the warmth and love radiating from him and surging through me.

  Underneath his kiss, there was a desperation that terrified me, but I tried to concentrate on how amazing it felt to be in his arms again. I wanted to make this moment last forever.

  “Alice…” Jack breathed.

  He forcefully pushed me away. He didn’t want to be away from me, but I clung to him so tightly he had to use strength to get me off him. His placed his hands on my cheeks, his skin smoldering hot against mine, and his blue eyes pleaded with me.

  “What?” My voice cracked.

  “I’m so sorry about all of this. ” He smiled sweetly at me. “Alice, please don’t cry. Okay? We don’t have much time. Once Peter realizes we’re gone together…”

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  “We can just run!” I said and tried to keep the tears from spilling down my cheeks.

  “No, he’ll never let you go. And neither can I. ” His face filled with agonized apologies. “But I know that I might not come back from this. ”

  “No, Jack, this is stupid,” I said through the lump in my throat.

  A pain so deep grew inside me, I thought it might kill me. It felt as if the g
round had been ripped out from underneath me, and I was free falling into nothingness.

  “Alice, you’re worth fighting for,” Jack smiled sadly. “You’re even worth dying for. ”

  “No!” I tried to fight him, so I could break away from him and stop this suicide mission he had himself set on. “This is stupid! This is the stupidest thing you’ve ever said to me! You’re such a fucking idiot, Jack!”

  I hit him as hard as I could, desperate to escape from the strength of his arms, but they were unrelenting. He let me struggle in his arms until I tired myself, and he pressed me against him. I could feel the slow, heavy thud of his heartbeat, and it made me sob.

  “Alice, listen to me. ” Jack had buried his face in my hair, and his words came out muffled. “He’s not going to stop until he has you, not anymore. He’s finally realized he loves you and…. And I saw you kissing him-”

  “No, Jack, I’m sorry!” I sobbed. “It’ll never happen again. I promise! I’ll never-”

  “Alice, no. It’s not you. This isn’t to punish you, okay?” His fingers were knotted in my hair, and I could still feel the heavy beat of his heart against mine. “I just know I couldn’t live with that. And you can’t fight it. It’s in your blood. ”

  “Jack…” I tried to think of an argument to counter that, but there wasn’t one.

  He was right. I had been fighting the way I felt about Peter for almost as long as I’d known him, yet somehow we had ended up in an embrace when Jack walked in.

  Jack moved so he looked me in the face, but he kept his hands strong on my arms, in case I would decide to bolt and spoil his ridiculous plan.

  I knew what he was saying almost made sense. He wanted to fight Peter for me, and there wasn’t any other way to reason with him. I could follow that logic right up until the point that one of them would die.

  That’s the only conclusion that Jack could come to. One of them had to die, and I knew there had to be something else.

  “Alice, I just need to make sure you’re okay,” he said thickly.

  “I’ll never be okay without you,” I cried, and he winced at that, but recovered quickly.

  “That’s not what I meant. I have to go back out there, and if something happens-”

  “We can run away. Don’t go back out there. Then you’ll always know I’m safe!” I interrupted him, but his mind was already made up.

  “If something happens, I don’t think he’ll hurt you, but I need to know that you’ll be safe,” he said, and I saw tears forming in his eyes, which only made me cry harder. “I need to know that no matter what, you have a long happy life!”

  “You’re not listening, Jack. I will never be happy without you!”

  “Please, Alice, for me. ” He was begging me now. “I want you to turn. ” He must’ve heard something because he glanced back at the door nervously, and when he looked back at me, he was even more insistent.

  “What? No! You expect me to live forever without you? No!” I shook my head fiercely, revolted by the idea.

  “Alice…” He leaned his forehead against mine and breathed in deeply.   “I love you so much. Please. Just do this one thing for me. ”

  “If you love me, I don’t know how you can even ask me that,” I said.

  Without warning, he bit into his wrist and tore open the skin. The room was filled with the intoxicating scent of his blood, and suddenly, his heart beat became palpable.

  I had never felt thirst before, not like that, but something about his blood triggered this very animal hunger inside of me. Since he’d bitten me, his blood had become everything to me. He knew as soon as he opened his veins, I wouldn’t deny him.

  Pressing his wrist to my mouth, his blood tasted nothing like I had remembered blood tasting. It was sweeter than honey, and flowed like wine down my throat, burning with thrilling warmth. Before it even hit my stomach, an intense pleasure exploded inside me, making my vision blur into white and everything about me felt alive for the first time.

  I felt his love flow through me, pure and unadulterated. Even when he had been biting me, I hadn’t felt it like this. Drinking his blood was drinking him, and while so much about him was loving me, everything about him was love.

  He only tasted of kindness and innocence and boundless happiness. The worst things he had ever done he had done because I had driven him to it. I was the worst thing that had ever happened to him, and yet he loved me more perfectly and more eternally than anything he had ever loved before.

  When he pulled his arm from me, I stumbled backwards. I would’ve fallen if he hadn’t caught me, and fresh tears burned hot down my face. The room spun, and I felt disoriented and dizzy.

  The after effects of drinking his blood made me feel like I was incredibly intoxicated, complete with nausea and confusion, and I knew it was only a matter of time before I passed out.

  His arms felt strong and safe around me as he laid me down on the couch. There was something different in his expression, in his face, and I realized belatedly I had weakened him. Going into the biggest fight of his life, Jack had the horrible disadvantage of being weaker than ever before.

  “Oh, no, Jack! You’re so weak! I’ve killed you!”

  “No, Alice, I’m fine. ” He brushed the hair back from my face, and I rested my hand on his. He was lying to me. If he walked out of the door and fought with Peter, he would die, and we both knew it.

  “Jack… I love you!” I told him fiercely. He was going to leave no matter what I said, so I decided to use my time the best I could. “You were always the one I loved. It was always you. ”

  “I know,” Jack forced a smile, and even though I was fighting it, my eyes shut. His lips press warmly against my eyelids, and I felt a tear splash on my cheek.

  I wanted to say more, and I really tried, but nothing came out. Epic blackness settled over me, but just before everything went completely blank, I heard the sound of hell breaking loose just outside the door.

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  - 28 -

  The days I spent turning were unquantifiable. In his book, Peter had once described the change as feeling “as if my gut had been cut open and filled with eels,” and that description is the most accurate I have ever heard.

  Of course, that says nothing for the incredible agony my body went through as organs moved about and died. Everything inside me shifted and reconstructed itself to fit an entirely different way of being.

  The turning was nothing short of a delirious blur. I was never asleep, but I was never truly awake. Everything felt vaguely like a nightmare, and it was nearly impossible to tell reality apart from everything else.

  The pain and the hunger turned my mind to mush, and I had dreams of beetles and snakes eating my flesh. Nothing I saw when I closed my eyes was very pleasant.

  The first truly coherent thing I can remember is waking from a dream where I had been on fire. Somehow, in my sleep, that had translated to me singing “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash.

  When I started to wake, I realized that my voice wasn’t the only sound in my ears. There was another one sounding amazingly perfect compared with the dry, crackled sound of my voice.

  I opened my eyes, which screamed painfully at the dim light in the room, and I could barely see anything. Eventually, my vision would be better than that of an eagle, but then, I was nearly blind.

  Faintly, I made out a silhouette. The details were still invisible, but the cockeyed hair was unmistakable. Even in my confused pain, delight went through me.

  “Jack,” I whispered in a voice that sounded like dry firewood. “You’re really here?”

  “Shhh. ” Jack brushed the hair back from my forehead, and it hurt like hell, but I relished the touch because it was his. “Get some rest. ”

  “But…” I tried to sputter some kind of an argument, but my throat was burning from singing and speaking.

  “I’m right here, and I’ll be right here until you re
ally wake up. So you just rest until then, and we can talk about everything. ”

  Nothing had ever sounded as wonderful as the sound of his voice, and I wanted to keep him talking. Unfortunately, I was drowning in pain and exhaustion, and I succumbed to them both. But every time I awoke with any momentary clarity, he was by my side.

  Eventually the thirst took over me, and I could hear the sound of his heart beat. Instead of finding that reassuring, it just made me even thirstier.

  There was a point in the beginning where I was hungry and thirsty, for both blood and actual food, but my body was at a transition where it couldn’t digest either. I had to wait until I was completely through the change and thoroughly weakened by the process until I could eat.

  A vampire’s thirst is unlike anything known to man. It’s more than an unquenchable thirst. It’s more than starving hunger. It’s more than a passionate lust. It’s all of those things combined and multiplied, and it’s none of them.

  Everything inside me focused on getting one thing, and it blotted anything else out. My body felt wrong and diseased until I finally drank blood.

  Jack gave me a bag of blood to drink from, and Mae and Ezra chaperoned on the sides of the room. I gulped it down greedily, but it felt nothing like when I drank Jack’s blood. Well, not nothing. It tasted wonderful, and it made me feel amazing and warm, but it was nothing as intense or amazing as Jack.

  Like before, and like when Milo drank, the blood intoxicated me. I passed out almost immediately after downing the bag of blood, but I slept better than I had in days. It felt like the first time I had really gotten any rest, and for once, it was dreamless. Sometime later, I’d wake up from all this.

  I opened my eyes to see the world as a vampire for the very first time.

 
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