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       Wisdom, p.25

         Part #4 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
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My own wounds had already healed, but dried blood covered my skin and clothes. I should’ve went upstairs to change or hide out, but I sat on the steps off the living room, listening to Mae.

  For a while, I didn’t think she would ever stop crying, but eventually, she began to lose her voice. She made small croaked sobs and sniffles. I heard Ezra murmuring things to her, but she never responded.

  “Alice?” Peter asked, and I looked up. I’d had my head resting on the wall, leaning and listening. He stood in front of me at the bottom of the steps, his green eyes moist.

  “Hi,” I said softly. I didn’t want to disturb Ezra and Mae, even though they were both far enough away and so lost in their own pain that they would never notice me.

  “What are you doing?” Peter asked, and I shook my head.

  I had no good answer for what I was doing. I just… I felt like I should hear. Like this was my fault somehow, and it hurt listening to Mae cry like that, so I should listen. As some kind of punishment.

  “Mind if I join you?” Peter asked taking a step up towards me.

  “No, of course not. ” I gestured to the empty space on the stair next to me, and he sat down. “How are you doing?”

  “I don’t know. ” He shook his head, but his eyes were still wet and red. Daisy had gotten under his skin, and he hadn’t want to see anything bad happen to her. “I knew it would end this way, but…”

  “I’m sorry. ” I put my hand on his back, leaving tacky bloodstains on his shirt, but I doubted he’d mind. “I know you liked her. ”

  “It is better this way,” he said thickly and looked down at his hands. “Her life would’ve been torture. She was going to keep hurting people, killing them, but I think Mae would’ve stomached that. It was just… she was in so much pain. ”

  “Yeah?” I asked.

  “Yeah. ” He nodded and swallowed. “Daisy would wake up at night, screaming in pain. The hunger is too intense for something that small. They can’t…” His mouth twisted as he fought of tears.

  “I’m still sorry this happened,” I said.

  “Me too. ” Tears streamed down his cheek, and I put my arm around him, pulling close to me.

  Peter cried softly in my arms, and I wouldn’t have known if it wasn’t for the shaking of his body as he held back sobs. I ached for him, and I wanted to take away his pain.

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  “I’m sorry,” he mumbled when he got himself under control a bit.

  “Don’t be sorry. ” I pushed the hair back from his face, and he sat up more but still remained close to me.

  When he looked at me, his green eyes meeting mine, I’d never seen him look more wounded. With my hand still on his face, I leaned in kissed his cheek, meaning to kiss his tears away. His skin warmed under my lips, sending a familiar thrill racing through me, and I leaned back.

  I wiped my thumb along the spot I’d kissed him, erasing it, and his eyes held me the way the once had. Captivating and entrancing, for a moment, I didn’t breathe. I didn’t want to. I just wanted to lose myself in Peter, and forget about everything else that hurt so much lately.

  But I did remember, and I exhaled deeply, knowing this moment had to end.

  “You’ll be okay, won’t you?” I asked, dropping my hand back to my lap.

  “I always am. ” Peter attempted a small smile, and his effort made me smile.

  “I do love you, you know?” I asked him, and he nodded.

  “You just love him more. ”

  “But that doesn’t change the way I feel about you. ” I reached over and took his hand in mine. “Nothing can. And I don’t want anything bad to happen to you. ”

  “You’re worried I’m going to do something stupid?” Peter arched his eyebrow, and his smile widened.

  “You tend to do that when you’re hurting,” I said.

  “Don’t worry, Alice. I know that you’ll always come chasing me down, and I won’t do anything to risk your safety again. ”

  “So…” Jack interrupted, and I looked up to see him standing at the top of the steps, staring down at me sidled up next to Peter, holding his hand. “I just thought I’d let you know that Milo was doing good. ”

  “Thanks, Jack. ” I let go of Peter’s hand and stood up, but I didn’t rush. I hadn’t done anything wrong, and I had nothing to hide. “I should go get cleaned up. ”

  “Yeah. Do what you want. ” Jack walked down the stairs, brushing past me and Peter.

  “Where are you going?” I asked.

  “Out,” he said without looking back. “And I’m leaving on a business trip tonight, so don’t wait up. ”

  “Jack!” I called after him, but he didn’t answer.


  Ezra buried Daisy in the backyard, under the willow tree. After that, he decided that we’d had enough of it here and put the house up for sale.

  The next few days, Mae was inconsolable. She moved like a zombie, and Ezra had to physically prompt to her do anything. She was pale and listless, and I’m not sure that even Ezra was convinced that she would ever get better. But no matter, he would stand by her through this.

  Milo decided that we needed to visit our mom and that Leif needed to come with us. I was against it, but Milo eventually wore me down. She was our mother, and she had loved us the best she could. She didn’t deserve to be alone, abandoned by everyone she loved, without knowing why.

  More than that, maybe she didn’t need to be abandoned anymore. Milo wanted to come clean with her in hopes that we wouldn’t have to hide from her.

  Before Leif came in, Milo and I sat with her alone in our old apartment, and Milo told her the whole truth. About where we’d been and that we were vampires.

  At first, Mom got angry, asking why we were being so cruel to her. Then Leif came in, and all her defenses melted. He told her she looked as beautiful as she ever did, and by the look in his eyes, I think he meant it. They both cried and kissed, and after that we talked. We talked for hours, having the first real open conversation we’d ever had.

  She cried a lot, and I’d never really seen her cry before. She apologized for always running away from us, and said she was a coward. Milo and I reminded her too much of Leif, and she’d been trying to out run the pain from that, but she never could.

  When Milo and I left, Leif was still there. By the way they were interacting, I doubted he’d leave any time soon. They had a lot of years to catch up on.

  That reunion made me feel a tad bit better about everything else going on. Jack still hadn’t talked to me much since he’d been on his business trip. He responded to a couple text messages, but never initiated them.

  Although, in that defense, he said the trip was really busy since he was doing it all by himself, and Ezra was supposed to be the one to handle it. But Ezra was busy taking care of Mae, and Peter was mourning in his own Peter way.

  I tried not to think about anything and went about putting the house in order. I wasn’t sure how long it would take to sell, or where we would go once it was sold, but I wanted to be prepared.

  As I was going through my clothes, sorting them out to pack and to get rid of, I opened my underwear drawer in the closet. I decided I had way too many, and I picked up a handful to throw away. I lifted them up, and something caught on the drawer.

  A diamond encrusted heart-shaped locket, Peter’s gift to me for my eighteenth birthday. I detangled it from the panties and my drawer, and I held it up, watching as it spun and light shone off the diamonds.

  It was very beautiful, and I loved it, even though I had no idea where I’d ever wear something that extravagant. I clasped it behind my neck and went over to the mirror to admire how the necklace looked on me. I’d never tried it on before, and it did look stunning, resting right above my cleavage.

  But I would never wear it. No matter how lovely it might be, it wasn’t for me. I unhooked the locket, and I set it with the stuff to get rid of.

  Peter hadn’t been taking Daisy’s death much better than Mae. He’d spent the whole time locked inside Ezra’s den with the lights off, listening to classical music.

  Bobby had a big art show opening at the college, and I made Peter go with me to get out of the house for a while. Bobby had done some really amazing charcoal sketches, and even Peter commented on his talent.

  But it wasn’t long before the crowd started getting to him. Not the blood, but all the chatter. Too many people talking too much. We stayed long enough to see Bobby’s work and tell him it was fantastic, then we left to let him and Milo deal with the crowds all night long.

  “It’s good to get out of the house sometimes,” I told Peter as we walked out of the college.

  “I guess,” he shrugged. “I prefer sitting in the den listen to Joseph Hadyn. ”

  “You and Ezra are so much alike sometimes, it’s not even funny,” I rolled my eyes.

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  “Well, we have lived together for nearly two-hundred years,” Peter pointed out. “We ought to have some things in common. ”

  “Yeah,” I said and pressed my hand to my stomach. The strangest wave of nausea hit me, and I stopped, waiting a moment until it passed.

  “Are you okay?” Peter asked, pausing to wait for me.

  We stood in the middle of the sidewalk as art students and their friends and family brushed past us. Peter put a hand on my arm and ushered me off to the side so we weren’t blocking traffic so much.

  “Yeah, I’m fine,” I nodded.

  “You’re sure?” he asked.

  “I’m fine,” I insisted, and the queasiness had passed, so I thought I really might be.

  Twice more on the short drive home, I felt that same weird nausea pinching my stomach. I rolled down the windows, hoping the cold night air would help, and it did help, a little bit. Peter asked me about it, but I didn’t want to talk, so I turned up Julian Plenti on the stereo so I wouldn’t have to.

  As soon as he pulled into the garage, Peer jumped out of the car and ran around to help me out. I tried to brush him off, but I doubled over when I stood up. The nausea was so intense, I almost threw up all over his shoes.

  “What’s wrong?” Peter wrapped his arm around me and helped me hobble to the house.

  “I don’t know. ” I shook my head. “It just… hit me. Maybe I have the flu. ”

  “Vampires can’t get the flu,” he said and pulled open the door to the house. “Oh fuck. ”

  “What?” I lifted my head, but when I saw the kitchen, I understood.

  The house had been ransacked. Broken appliances and a dining room chair were splintered all over. Blood stained the tiles, splattering red on everything.


  I ran into the house, pushing past Peter, and I found the source of the blood lying in the corner of the kitchen. Matilda’s fur had been soaked red, and she whimpered up at me, thumping her tail on the floor. I wanted to crouch down next to her and tell her everything would be alright, but I couldn’t.

  “Ezra!” I shouted, holding my stomach to fight the pain growing inside me. “Mae!”

  “I’m looking!” Peter ran ahead, and I went after him.

  He went upstairs, and I searched the downstairs. Every room I went through looked like it had been demolished. But I never found anybody.

  “Nobody’s here,” Peter said, running down the stairs to me.

  “Maybe they weren’t here. ” I ran a hand through my hair and tears stung my eyes.

  “I think their cars were gone in the garage,” Peter said, rushing back to the garage. He pushed open the door to check, but he paused there.

  “What?” I asked.

  “The Lexus is gone. ” He looked back at me. “But the Delorean is here. ”

  “Jack was supposed to come back tonight,” I remembered, and the pain in my stomach intensified. I put a hand over my mouth to keep the sob back. “Oh my god, Peter, what if he was here?”

  “Call him,” Peter commanded pulling out his own phone. “I’m calling Ezra. Maybe they went somewhere together. ”

  I pulled my phone out of my pocket, and Matilda whined. Kneeling down next to her, I listened to the phone ringing in my ear over and over again. While I listened to Jack not answering his phone, I stroked her wet fur, trying to comfort her.

  Peter called Ezra, and I heard him talk excitedly when Ezra answered. But Jack never answered. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew he wouldn’t.

  “Ezra and Mae are safe. They went to the headstone of her other child. ” Peter hung up his phone, and then he saw my face. “Jack didn’t answer?”

  “No. ” I swallowed hard and stood up. “Where is he?”

  The nausea hit me again, much harder this time, and it sent a shooting pain all over my body. I bent forward and collapsed on the ground on my knees. The pain had gotten too intense for me to stand.

  “Alice!” Peter crouched down next to me and put his hand on my back.

  “Oh, hell. ” I gritted my teeth to keep from crying out.

  “When was the last time you bit Jack?” Peter asked me, and I shook my head.

  “I don’t know,” I managed when the pain subsided a bit. “What does it matter?”

  “That pain you’re feeling, do you think that could be Jack?”

  “What?” I looked up at Peter.

  “Maybe you can use it to track Jack. ” He put his arm around my waist. “Come on. ” He stood up, pulling me with him.

  “The pain?” I held my stomach. “That’s coming from Jack? He’s feeling that much pain?”

  “Don’t think about it. ” Peter put his hands on my shoulder and looked me in the eyes. “If you wanna find Jack, you need to focus on him. You can tell where he’s coming from. ”

  “How?” I asked.

  “Think about him. Not the pain, him. ”

  I closed my eyes and thought of Jack. The pain jolted through me again, and Peter squeezed my shoulders, keeping me here, in the moment. I thought of Jack, his smile, his laugh, and the tether that kept us connected… and then there it was. I could feel it – him – pulling me.

  “I don’t know where he is, but I can take us there,” I opened my eyes. “We have to go. ”

  “I’ll drive. ”

  As we ran out the door, I promised Matilda we’d come back for her as soon as we could. I sat in the passenger seat of the Lamborghini, holding my stomach to keep from throwing up, and I told Peter where to turn. I couldn’t tell him directly where to go – it was just a pull in a certain direction.

  We were almost there when I realized we were going to the tunnels where Peter, Mae, and Daisy had stayed. Jack had been taken underground.

  “Do you know what he’s doing there?” I asked Peter as he pulled up next to the bridge.

  “No,” he shook his head. “There shouldn’t be anybody here at all. If Leif has been staying with your mother… The tunnel should be empty. ”

  The pull and pain got stronger when we reached the tunnels, and I ran down them as fast as my legs would carry me. Peter called for me to slow down, to wait for him, but I couldn’t. I knew how much pain Jack was in, and I had to get to him.

  Before I reached the cavern where Peter had been staying, I could hear Jack’s screams echoing through the sewers. My skin crawled, and adrenaline pulsed through me. Something else, the animal part of me, started taking over, blocking out the way Jack felt. It even blotted out my connection to him, but I didn’t care. I needed to be strong to help him.

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  I peered around the entrance of the cavern to see what I was up against, and it made my blood run cold. Thomas, Samantha, and Dane – the vampire hunters – had ransacked the cavern too. All of Peter and Mae’s things had been flipped over and torn apart.

  Samantha had cut open Mae’s mattress, and she dug through it. Dane stood at the edge of the cliff, holding a chain in his hands. The cha
in had been looped through an old pulley system in the ceiling, and Jack hung from the other end of it, right over the edge of the cliff. His hands were bound with chains, and he had blood all over his body. His head hung down, and his body was limp.

  Thomas stood off to the side of him, leaning on a walking cane. Or at first I thought it was a walking cane. Then I realized it was a long metal poker, and the end on the ground still glowed orange. They’d set fire to Leif’s books, and the smoke from it stung the air.

  “So, you’re still saying that you don’t know where the child is?” Thomas asked. He picked up the poker, twirling it in his hand like a baton.

  “No, I’ve already told you she’s dead,” Jack said, and Dane yanked on the chain, making Jack bounce up and down. He grimaced, and his shoulders had already been popped from their sockets. His wrists looked like they’d been crushed, and blood seeped down his arms.

  “We need to find the child,” Thomas said firmly. “I don’t think you understand how serious I am. ”

  “No, I do… I just…” Jack closed his eyes and winced. “I can’t help you. ”

  Thomas held the poker over the flame from the books, waiting until the end was glowing bright yellow, and he took it out. He stepped toward Jack, raising the poker, and I couldn’t take it anymore.

  “Stop!” I shouted and ran inside.

  “Alice. ” Jack looked at me, and his eyes were wide and terrified.

  “Well, well. ” Thomas grinned and twirled the hot poker again. “Maybe she can tell us something. ”

  “No!” Jack shouted. “She doesn’t know anything! Leave her alone!” He struggled against the chains, bucking so hard at them that it had to cause excruciating pain. “Alice! Get out of here!”

  “Do you have the child?” Samantha asked. She stood up from her task of butchering the mattress, still holding the knife in her hand, and stepped towards me.

  “No,” I said. “But I know where she is. ”

  “Alice!” Jack yelled. “No, don’t listen to her! She doesn’t know anything! The child is dead!”

  “Oh, be quiet. ” Thomas sounded bored. While looking at me, he jabbed the burning poker backwards, right into Jack’s abdomen, and he twisted it.

  “Stop it!” I yelled. “Stop it or I won’t tell you where she’s at!”

  “Tell us where she is, or we’ll kill him,” Thomas countered.

  “I don’t think she knows anything,” Samantha sniffed. She stepped closer to me, cocking her head and breathing me in. “I think she’s lying. ”

  “I think you’re a stupid bitch,” I said.

  Her eyes widened, which was probably the biggest reaction I would get out of her. I raised my right arm like I meant to hit her, and when she dodged to the side, I kicked her with my leg, connecting right in her stomach.

  As she went to the ground, Samantha tried to swipe out my legs from under me with her knife, but I jumped. She hit the concrete but did a backflip back up, landing on her feet.

  She kicked me in my hip, but I grabbed her leg, twisting her around. She jerked the knife back, stabbing me in the stomach, but I ignored that and grabbed her hair and yanked it back.

  “Fighting like a typical bitch,” Samantha grinned wickedly at me.

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