Wisdom, p.5
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       Wisdom, p.5

         Part #4 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
 
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“But you don’t know?” I jogged down the steps after her.

  “I can’t say anything with certainty, except that the poor girl is dead,” Olivia said bluntly and pushed open the door to her apartment.

  The penthouse was a massive, luxurious loft. The building had a weird angle to it, more of a triangle than a square, and all the outer walls were floor-to-ceiling windows. Marble floors ran throughout. The steps opened in the center of her suite, going into her living room.

  Plush, overstuffed furniture filled the living room. It all looked pretty too, but Olivia’s main purpose in life was to lounge and be comfortable. She had a small kitchen off to the side, to feed the many humans she kept since she refused to drink bag blood. “If it’s not fresh, it’s not food” was her motto.

  In the center, to the back of the stairwell, was a squared off area. It contained the elevator that could only go down to the basement. The only way into her place was through the vampire club.

  The rest of the walled off area were three lush bedrooms, all of them without any windows. One was her bedroom, and the other two were for the occasional company she had stay with her.

  “You really don’t know anything?” I asked as Olivia went over and stretched out on one of her extravagant sofas. The only thing she ever wore was tight fitting leather, and when she stretched, it pulled back, revealing her flawless pale skin.

  “I know lots of things, but nothing useful about your friend. ” She yawned and rolled over onto her stomach, so her back was to me, and I sat back in one of the chairs.

  “But you hear everything in the club!”

  “Nobody cares about one dead human. ” Olivia had turned her head from mine, so she spoke into a pillow. “No offense, honey. They’re not saying anything about it. ”

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  “But it’s more than one dead human. They think it’s a serial killer,” I said.

  “A human serial killer. ”

  “I don’t know why that matters. Murder is murder. ”

  I leaned back deeper in the chair. I hated hearing about how little vampires cared for life. Just because they lived forever didn’t mean that everything else was incidental.

  “I’m going to find out whoever did this to Jane, and I don’t care if he killed other people or he’s a vampire or the prince of Egypt. I’m gonna kill that bastard. ” It wasn’t until I said it aloud that I realized that I meant it.

  “That’s why you’re trying to pump me for information?” Olivia looked at me over her shoulder. “You think you’re going to get revenge?” She raised a sardonic eyebrow and laughed.

  “What? Why is that funny? I kicked your ass today,” I said defensively.

  “I’m old!” Olivia laughed again. “And I am out of practice. If you’re serious about this, you’re going to need someone new to train you. I’m not making the cut. ”

  “Of course I’m serious about it. ” I stood up. “Someone killed my best friend!”

  “Easy, sweetheart,” Olivia said, not unkindly. “I know. You’re a passionate girl. That’s what I like about you. ”

  “So what does that mean?”

  “It means that you need to grieve properly, and then we’ll talk. ” She rolled back over on her stomach, letting her hair fall around like a shawl, and that was the end of topic for her. Olivia liked me, but she had little tolerance for any conversation that didn’t interest her.

  “Whatever,” I sighed. “I’m heading out then. ”

  “Are you going down to the club?” Olivia perked up a little.

  “I guess,” I shrugged. “Milo and Bobby are down there, so I’ll probably check it out for a minute. ”

  “Can you send up a girl then?”

  “What girl?” I asked wearily.

  “Any girl. ” She waved vaguely at me and sunk deeper into the couch. “You know what I like. ”

  “You know I’m not sending up a girl, right?” I said, pushing the elevator button so the doors would open.

  I didn’t like encouraging her use of humans as food, but she had a harem of girls that loved it when she bit them. After what that had done to Jane, I knew I shouldn’t even tolerate the idea, but at least Olivia didn’t kill the girls and treated them with some respect.

  Olivia used to drink blood every day, sometimes several times a day, which is how a vampire gets drunk. The blood hits us hard, making us feel high and happy. But if we only eat when we need to, about once a week or so, the high doesn’t last long, and we’re functional.

  Since she’s been training me, Olivia’s cut down a lot. Before that, she was pretty strung out and incoherent. Even now, the reason I beat her has nothing to do with her age. Drinking too much blood made her slow and lazy.

  The elevator opened into a black hallway at the back of the club. I made my way through a labyrinth of black tunnels to make it to the main floor. The first few times I went up to Olivia’s suite, I got horribly lost, but I finally had it down.

  I pushed open a massive door, revealing the dance floor splashed in cool blue light. The DJ played a new song by Cobra Starship, and the crowd surged on the floor. A lot of them were vampires and donors, but not all of them. Some of them were just normal people who just came here to dance. Maybe that’s all that would happen for them. But maybe, they’d end up as someone’s snack tonight.

  I ignored the thought. I couldn’t save every person, and most of them didn’t even need saving. Vampires generally tried not to kill people, because it made eating and living a lot easier if there weren’t a pile of corpses lying about.

  I was just starting to realize how revolting this lifestyle really was. But right now, I didn’t need to worry about everybody in the club. I just needed to find my brother and Bobby.

  They weren’t that hard to spot, thanks to Bobby’s newfound love of break dancing. In the corner by the bar, the crowd had dispersed a little so he could try out of some of his slick moves. They weren’t terrible, but he wouldn’t make it past round two on So You Think You Can Dance.

  Ever supportive, Milo stood at the side, cheering him on. I walked over to them and watched Bobby twirl about for a minute, then tapped Milo on the shoulder.

  “Isn’t the first day of school tomorrow?” I asked. The fanciest thing about being a vampire was that I didn’t have to shout to be heard over the music. I’m sure Bobby couldn’t hear anything, but Milo nodded.

  “What time is it?” Milo asked as he clapped when Bobby landed a hand jump thing.

  “It’s after three in the morning. ”

  “Shit,” Milo grimaced. “I didn’t realize it was so late. ” He left his position at the sidelines to get Bobby’s attention. “Bobby!” Reluctantly, Bobby stopped his dancing and got to his feet. The crowd applauded, but I’m not sure if it was over his performance or because he stopped. “We gotta get going. ”

  “Alright!” Bobby shrugged and headed to the door, but Milo stopped him. Bobby was shirtless, wearing only a pair of black skinny jeans, so he could show off his tattooed torso.

  “Where’s your shirt?” Milo asked him.

  “Uh… I don’t know?” Bobby looked around, but everyone had gone back to doing their own thing, and his sweatshirt wasn’t lying about. “Whatever. It’s fine. Let’s go. ”

  “It’s like twenty degrees outside!” Milo sounded irritated. “And you’re covered in sweat! You’ll get hypothermia if you go out like that!” He turned to me apologetically. “Sorry. We gotta go find his shirt. Or at least a shirt. ”

  Milo and Bobby disappeared onto the dance floor to scour for his shirt, but my bet was on them coming up empty handed. Milo wore a thin tee shirt, so he didn’t have anything to lend him. I looked around for anything Bobby could put on.

  I bumped into a girl when I wasn’t paying attention.

  “Sorry,” I said, glancing over at her. Then I realized who it was, and we both stopped.

  Before I had turned, a pair of vampires
had decided they wanted to eat me. Peter had taken care of the guy, but the girl – Violet – had gotten away. She had this whole Halloween get up when she was with him – too much makeup, fake fangs, and bright purple hair.

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  Since he died, she’d traded it all in for a normal, pretty look, going back to her natural blond hair and subtle makeup. I’d seen her around the club a few times, but I’d only ever talked to her once. She seemed too afraid of me, and after what Peter did to her friend, I didn’t really blame her.

  “Sorry,” Violet said quickly, even though I was the one who had run into her.

  “Hey!” I said as cheerily as I could and stopped her from scampering away.

  Sure, she had tried to kill me, or at least attempt to facilitate my kidnapping, but she seemed like a lost kid. She had turned when she was only fourteen because she was love struck with some stupid boy, and that’d only been two years ago. If I were being perfectly honest with myself, I saw a lot of Jane in her.

  “Hey, sorry. ” Violet talked to me to be polite, but her eyes scanned everywhere else. “I’ll try and watch where I’m going next time. ”

  “No, it was my bad,” I apologized, and she gave me a funny look. “How are you doing?”

  “Great. ” Her strange purple eyes eyed me up for a minute, then her face softened. “I heard about your friend. I’m sorry. ”

  “You heard about her?” I asked and my heart sped. “What’d you hear?”

  “Um, nothing, really,” she said took a step back. “I just… I knew that she’d died. I saw her picture on the TV, and I met her once, when she was with you. ” Violet used the term “met” loosely. She’d nearly killed Jane that night, too.

  Something in my gut twisted. Peter had killed her friend to save me. Would Violet stoop so low as to kill Jane to get back at me? My expression must’ve changed, because Violet blanched and her heart beat faster.

  “I don’t know anything about it! Honest!” Her fear made her look younger. “I just… I thought… I was trying to be nice. ”

  “Yeah, no, I know,” I shook my head, trying to shake away any hint of an accusation. “Yeah. Sorry. Thanks. I mean, for your condolences. ”

  “Yeah,” Violet nodded. Chewing her lip, she stared at me for a minute, then gestured vaguely to the left of her. “I’m gonna… go. Dance or whatever. ”

  “Yeah, alright,” I nodded and smiled at her. “Have fun. ”

  The dance floor swallowed her, and I wondered why exactly I forced that conversation with her. Just because she was lost didn’t mean I had to find her. It wasn’t like I had been that helpful to Jane.

  In fact, I never seemed to help anyone. I just made their lives worse, and I seemed to get everyone I cared about in near death situations. It was probably in Violet’s best interest if she avoided me.

  Milo and Bobby found me a minute later. Bobby was wearing a sexy black Member’s Only Jacket that Milo had to buy off another vampire. Milo grumbled about it the entire way to the car, but Bobby just chattered on about his awesome dance moves.

  With Peter gone, I had taken to driving his Audi, since I had finally gotten my license. The Audi didn’t have a backseat, so we had been forced to take the Jetta tonight, but I drove, because as it turned out, I loved driving. I had spent all this time fighting it, and it was awesome.

  In the car, I blasted the music to drown at the beginnings of Milo and Bobby’s bickering.

  But my mind wasn’t on them. I pushed the car as fast it would go, despite Milo’s protests from the backseat, and thought about what I had said to Olivia. I had been training for over two months. I wasn’t the best, but I could definitely take out Jane’s killer. I mean, he only preyed on weak, human girls. That was no match for me, right?

  Now, all I had to do was figure out who it was.

  6

  Jack slept sprawled out on his stomach across the bed, and I curled up next to him, resting my head on his back. We both slept soundly after another rough morning trying to get to sleep. I’m not sure if it was still jetlag from Australia, but I had a terrible time falling asleep, and Jack forced himself to stay up with me.

  Milo burst into the room without knocking. He’d just gotten home from his first day at of his new school, and he overflowed with excitement. Bobby was still at college and he had nobody else to talk to, so he woke us up. Or at least he tried to.

  I was happy for Milo, but I’d only been asleep for a few hours when he rushed in. Jack managed to sit up and engage in conversation, but I curled up closer to Jack and learned things through osmosis.

  The teachers appreciated Milo’s genius, and the girls kept hitting on him. He debated about whether or not he wanted to be openly gay, or fly under the radar. Jack gave him some sage advice about just being himself, and people could make of him what they wanted.

  Jack was awake after that, but he knew I slept better when he was around, so he grabbed the laptop and sat in bed next to me. I couldn’t really sleep either, but I loved lying in bed next to him. Then, abruptly, he slammed the laptop shut and hopped out of bed.

  “What’s going on?” I asked, watching as he rushed into the walk-in closet. I sat up when he didn’t answer, and he came out a few minutes later, pulling on a tee shirt. “Are you going somewhere?”

  “Yeah,” he nodded. He grabbed his wallet off the dresser and shoved it in his back pocket, and when he turned to look at me, he grinned like a fool. “I’ve got something awesome to do. ”

  “What does that mean?”

  “You’ll see. ” He came over and kissed me quickly on the cheek. “I’ll be back in a bit. ”

  “Okay?” I asked, but he just laughed as he walked out of the room.

  After he’d gone, I showered and got ready for the day. When I got done, I checked on Milo and Bobby across the hall, in Peter’s old room. Peter had actually packed up his stuff because he left this time for good. I hated to admit it, but I felt a pang in my heart every time I saw his empty room.

  Well, it wasn’t empty completely. His four-post bed had been dismantled and sat propped up in the corner, with the mattress and bedspring shoved in the walk-in closet. His empty bookcases lined the walls, and all his furniture and other belongings were gone.

  Peter had also left a copy of his book A Brief History of Vampyres behind on his bed, and I know he’d done it for me. But I couldn’t keep it. I’d taken it before Jack could see, and shoved it in the box with the rest of Peter’s odds and ends stuff, burying it below a shirt and some old records.

  With Peter gone, the boys had turned the empty room into a playroom. Before Christmas, Jack and Bobby had discovered a massive sale on Star Wars Legos at the Toys R’ Us, and they “had” to buy them all. That somehow translated into them bringing them all into Peter’s old room to put them together.

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  So far, they had managed to build the Death Star and a walking AT-AT, set carefully on the bookcases, and they had moved onto a giant Millennium Falcon. Bobby sat cross-legged on the floor, carefully sorting through the Lego pieces, and Milo laid on his belly, a textbook splayed open in front of him.

  The new Silversun Pickups CD played softly on the stereo, and the door to the balcony had been propped open, letting the cool winter breeze blow in. Bobby had flipped up the hood on his sweatshirt, but he didn’t mind the cold that much anymore.

  It still felt weird to me stepping into Peter’s room, even though it wasn’t his room anymore, and it didn’t even really look like it. I breathed in deeply, still able to smell him faintly. I wrapped my arms around myself and shook my head to clear it of thoughts of him.

  “What are you guys doing?” I asked.

  “Stuff,” Bobby said stiffly, adjusting his thick black glasses. He never wore them, but he needed them to see the small pieces of the Legos.

  “Bobby had a rough day at school,” Milo informed me without glancing up from his book. “He got some teach
er that hates him. But he doesn’t wanna talk about it. ”

  “I see. ” I walked over to Milo and looked down at his textbook, and all the words were in a different language. “What are you studying?”

  “French,” Milo said. “How do you feel about going to France this summer?”

  “Sure,” I shrugged. I stepped away from him and looked around the room. It looked so barren and large without all of Peter’s antiques cluttering it up.

  I knew that Peter and I couldn’t live together anymore, not if I wanted to make things work with Jack, but I didn’t like the feel of empty space. But it wasn’t just his absence that made the house seem empty. Mae had taken a good chunk of the warmth with her, and the house had the distinct feel of a bachelor pad.

  Since Milo didn’t seem to be in the mood to chat anymore, I went downstairs to check out the laundry situation. Under ordinary circumstances, Ezra would’ve been a rather clean, orderly guy, I’m sure, but he’d been all mopey without Mae. Milo was the only one who really picked up after himself, and I’d felt like I had to step up my game lately.

  The laundry room was overflowing in a way that would’ve made Mae faint. Jack had once made a joke about how unreasonable it would be to wear a new outfit every day, but he had enough clothes where he could go months without washing it and still have clean stuff to wear. So, that’s what happened.

  I shoved as many clothes as I could into the two washing machines and turned them on. Pushing the hair off my forehead, I surveyed the room and I’d barely made a dent on the laundry. Sighing, I turned to leave, since I couldn’t do much more for the time being.

  I paused in the doorway and looked down the hall, towards Ezra’s den. The door stood partially open, and I could see the dim blue glow from the computer. He’d holed himself up in there since Mae had been gone.

  Chewing my lip, I walked slowly down the hall to the den. I always felt I was invading his space, but I couldn’t just let him sulk anymore. Mae had left months ago, and Ezra had to move on at some point.

  “Hello?” I asked and pushed the door open wider. I’d expected to see Ezra sitting at the computer, but he lay on the sofa, his arm draped over his forehead.

  “Did you need something?” Ezra lifted his arm from his eyes so he could look at me.

  “No, I just…” I shrugged and leaned up against the doorframe. I wanted to make sure he was okay, but that sounded silly to say. Of course Ezra was okay. He was Ezra. “What are you doing?”

  “I don’t know,” he admitted. He dropped his arm to the side and stared up at the ceiling for a moment, his deep brown eyes looking beyond the wood. “I suppose it is time that I get up. ”

  “No, you don’t have to,” I said. “Nothing’s going on. ”

  “But you’re worried about me. ” He sat up and looked around his den, which was unusually messy. Books and papers were strewn about, and a blanket lay rumpled on the floor. He’d been sleeping on the couch, preferring the distressed leather to the empty space of his bed.

 
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