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       Wisdom, p.6

         Part #4 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
 
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“Is that a bad thing?” I asked.

  “No,” he shook his head. “But I’ve spent too much time in here. ” He rested his heavy gaze on me for the first time. “I’m being selfish and ridiculous. You have real things to mourn, and I’ve been sulking about like a whiny child. ”

  “Come on, Ezra. You and Mae were together for over fifty years. I can’t even fathom that. ”

  “But she’s alive and happy. Happier than I could make her. ” He breathed deeply and turned away from me. “At least I have that. ”

  “She’s not happier,” I said. “She just. . . thinks she is, but she’s not. ”

  “A child was the one thing I could never give her, and it was the one thing she wanted more than anything else. ” He spoke so quietly, I barely heard him, and then he shook his head and looked back over at me. “But how are you holding up with everything that’s been happening?”

  “Great,” I shrugged. “Everything is about as good as can be expected. ”

  “Is it?” Ezra tilted his head, and his concern made me squirm. I lowered my eyes and fidgeted with the hem of my shirt.

  “Hi, honey, I’m home!” Jack shouted from the other side of the house, and I smiled in relief. I didn’t want to delve into how I really felt, not even with Ezra.

  “Jack’s back,” I said, as if Ezra hadn’t heard the same thing I had. “I’m gonna go. ” I edged back out the door, but I waited until he nodded before I sprinted down the hall.

  “Good, you’re here,” Jack grinned when he saw me. He stood in the middle of the dining room, and his excitement crackled through me.

  “Yeah. Why?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.

  “I told you. I did something awesome. ” His eyes sparkled, and he grabbed my hand. “Come on. I wanna show you. ”

  “What?” I repeated.

  “Okay, remember how you’re driving now?” Jack asked, pulling me along towards the garage.

  “I can’t really forget it. ”

  “And with me, you, Ezra, Milo, and Bobby all driving our own cars, it doesn’t really seem like we have enough vehicles?” He paused at the door leading to the garage. “And how I’ve been needing to buy a new car since I lost my Jeep?”

  Page 16

  “You didn’t lose your Jeep. You totaled it,” I reminded him.

  “Semantics. ” He waved it off. “So I’ve been looking for a car to replace mine, and today I found the perfect one. ”

  With dramatic flair, he pushed open the door to the garage and stepped inside. Sitting next to the bright red Lamborghini was a small silver car. For a moment, I was dumbfounded. His new car looked old, like from the eighties. Don’t get me wrong – it was in good shape, almost mint condition, I’d guess, but it was not at all what I’d expected. I’d thought Jack would want something as equally flashy as the Lamborghini.

  “So?” He stared at me expectantly.

  “It’s nice. ” I forced a smile, trying to match his enthusiasm and failing.

  “You don’t get it. ” His face fell with surprise and disappointment. “I can’t believe it. ”

  “No, it’s nice,” I said again and walked closer so I could see it better. I had to be missing something since he was that excited about it.

  “It’s more than nice!” Jack insisted, still looking appalled. “This is a completely rebuilt 1982 Delorean!” He gestured to it as if that would make me understand, but something about the name clicked with me.

  “Oh wait. Is that the car from Back to the Future?” I asked.

  “Yes!” He dashed over to his new car. “But it’s better. It’s been modified, so it has keyless entry, an iPod interface, and lots of other stuff. But look!” He pulled on the handle and doors open, lifting up instead of out. “Gull doors!”

  “So are you gonna take me for a ride?” I went over and peered inside, admiring the interior that looked brand new for being nearly 30-years-old.

  “Yes, definitely,” he smiled. “But first, I gotta talk to Ezra. ”

  “Why?”

  “Well, for one thing, I just pulled nearly a hundred grand out of our savings. ” Jack leaned into the car and flipped open the glove box. He grabbed a few papers, which I’m assuming had something to do with his transaction. “And I need to talk to him about getting this thing insured. I don’t know if I need special like collector’s insurance or something. ”

  “You paid almost a hundred grand for this?” I gaped at him.

  “It was totally worth it. ” He closed the doors to the car and walked back to the house. “And if you think that’s bad, you should hear what Ezra paid for the Lamborghini. ”

  “You guys are ridiculous. ”

  “Ezra!” Jack shouted as he went inside. By the time we made it to the dining room, Ezra was already at the end of the hall. “Good. I need to talk you. I bought a car. ”

  “Good,” Ezra said, and if he was surprised, he didn’t show it. “What kind?”

  “A rebuilt 1982 DMC-12,” Jack said, and Ezra smiled approvingly.

  “Nice,” he nodded. “What’d you pay?”

  “Here. ” Jack handed him the papers he’d pulled from the glove box.

  Ezra sat down at the dining room table as he read through them, and Jack sat next to him. I peered over Ezra’s shoulders and saw that Jack had gotten some kind of warranty to go with it, and Ezra was apparently deciphering the terms of it.

  “What are you guys doing?” Milo asked. He and Bobby came downstairs, and Milo stopped in the dining room to see what we were doing. Bobby ventured on, going into the kitchen to go through the fridge.

  “Jack bought a car,” I said.

  “A Delorean,” Jack smiled, and he puffed up every time he mentioned it.

  “The car from Back to the Future?” Milo raised an eyebrow.

  “Yeah. ” Jack’s smile grew broader.

  “Does it come with a flux capacitor?” Milo asked.

  “No. ” Jack looked at him like he was an idiot.

  “So it can’t really travel time?” Milo asked.

  “Well, no. Of course not,” Jack said, sounding a little deflated. “It’s a car. ”

  “An old car. ” Milo crossed his arms over his chest.

  “My cousin would’ve sold you his Gremlin for a lot less, I bet,” Bobby said, coming back into the room with a Diet Cherry Coke.

  “Whatever. It’s awesome,” Jack said defensively. “You’d know if you saw it. ”

  “Can we see it?” Milo asked.

  “Yeah. ” Jack pulled the keys out of his pocket and tossed them to Milo. “Go ahead. But don’t break anything and don’t drive it. You can just look. ”

  “Yes, sir,” Milo said, stepping towards the door. He turned to Bobby. “Wanna see it?”

  “Sure. Why not?” Bobby shrugged.

  “Bobby, don’t even think about taking that pop in the car!” Jack called after them, and Bobby set his can of pop on the kitchen counter before following Milo out to the garage.

  “It is a really cool car,” I told Jack once they were gone.

  “I know. ” He looped an arm around my waist and pulled me close to him, so I was leaning on his lap.

  “This all sounds good,” Ezra said finally. He tapped the papers on the table and looked at Jack. “It was maybe a tad overpriced, but everything is in order. ”

  “So it’s cool that I took the money?” Jack asked.

  “You earned it. You can do with as you see fit,” Ezra said mildly. “We need to get insurance started on it, and while I’m doing that, we should transfer the Audi into Alice’s name, and the Jetta into Milo’s. ”

  “What?” I asked, feeling a little startled. “Those aren’t our cars. ”

  “Nobody else is driving them. ” Ezra pushed back his chair and stood. “They’re not coming back, Alice. It makes more sense to have everything in your name, in case you get pulled over or in accident. You’d have enough questions
to answer without dealing with car ownership. ”

  “I guess,” I said, but it still felt strange to me.

  “Let me get some papers. I think I might actually have title papers,” Ezra said and went down to the den. He stockpiled all sorts of legal papers. It made things easier when he had to transfer things, since most of the transfers were to different versions of himself.

  “If you don’t like the Audi, we can get you a different car,” Jack said, misinterpreting my unease.

  “No, the Audi’s a great car. ” I shook my head. “And I shouldn’t get a new car. You had to work for yours, and I should too. ”

  Page 17

  “But you don’t work,” Jack looked at me quizzically.

  “I don’t know where they’re at,” Ezra sighed, coming back to the room a few minutes later. He had a Post-It note and a pen in his hand. Under his breath, he muttered, “Without Mae, I can’t find anything in that damn den. ”

  “I can help you look, if you want,” I offered.

  “No, I’ll just get the information, and I’ll call my lawyer tomorrow,” Ezra said, sitting back down at the table.

  “You need a lawyer to transfer a title?” I asked.

  “No, my lawyer can get the papers I need. ” He scratched the back of his neck. “What do I need to get from him? Just tiles and registration for you and Milo? And I need to call about insurance for the Delorean?”

  “Yeah, I think so,” Jack nodded.

  “Sorry, I have to make notes. ” Ezra smiled sadly as he scribbled down on the paper. “I can’t seem to remember anything anymore. ”

  Ezra had astonishingly beautiful handwriting, and I leaned forward to watch as he wrote down Milo’s name and the Jetta, and then Audi, followed by Alice Townsend instead of Alice Bonham.

  “Um, it’s Bonham,” I said, correcting him. “Instead of Townsend. ”

  “Oh yes. Sorry. I always forget. ” Ezra shook his head and crossed out Townsend and wrote my last name above it.

  “Why don’t we just leave it Townsend?” Jack suggested, looking up at me.

  “Cause it won’t match my driver’s license,” I said.

  “I know but… why don’t you change that?” Jack asked.

  “Not this again,” I rolled my eyes.

  “Oh, come on, Alice. It’s weird!”

  “No, it’s not!” I stood up, and Jack tried to hang onto my waist, but I pulled away from him. “You know what’s weird? Taking the last name of your boyfriend and his entire family. ”

  “It’s your brother’s last name too!” Jack pointed out. “And I just don’t understand why you’re so against it. It’s not a bad last name. ”

  “No, it’s not. ” I crossed my arms over chest. “I don’t have any problem with your last name. It’s just not my name. ” 

  “Mae took Ezra’s last name,” Jack countered, as if that would validate his point someway.

  “I don’t really want to be involved with this,” Ezra said, slowly standing up.

  “Jack, we shouldn’t really be talking about her. ” I hurried to use Mae as a shield to deflect the argument.

  “It won’t kill him to hear her name,” Jack scoffed. “Lord knows you never stopped talking about Peter around me. ”

  “Alright. I am going to the den. ” Ezra turned and walked out of the room, escaping the tension so quickly it made me envious.

  “I hardly ever talk about Peter around you! I’m always biting my tongue!” I shouted, and realized just a moment too late that that statement made things a lot worse.

  “Always?” Jack narrowed his eyes and stood up. “Sorry, Alice. I didn’t mean to stop your Peter gushing. I didn’t know it was so hard for you to not speak about him. ”

  “That’s not what I meant,” I sighed. “I’ve been careful of your feelings is all, and I think you should show the same respect to Ezra, since you know how he feels. ”

  “No. I don’t know how he feels. He had a woman who loved him and wanted to spend the rest of her life with him, so she didn’t see anything wrong with taking his last name. ”

  “She left him, Jack! Their relationship isn’t something we should strive for. ” I shook my head and stepped away from him.

  “You’re missing the point. ”

  “You’re missing the point,” I said. “Why can’t you let me have one thing that’s mine?”

  “What?” Jack was taken aback. “I don’t understand. This is all yours. ”

  “No. This is all yours. ” I gestured widely to the house. “Everything here belongs to you. ”

  “Not any more than it belongs to you,” he shook his head. “This is ours. This is our life. ”

  “No, it’s not, Jack! This is your life. Everything I’ve done has been for you, and I’ve changed everything to be with you. I gave up everything!”

  “No, you…” His expression crumpled. “I thought you wanted this. ”

  “I did. I do,” I sighed and looked away from him. “I do. I just wanted something for me. ”

  “You really feel that way?”

  “What way?” I asked, not sure what part he was referring to.

  “That you gave up everything. ” His blue eyes were so wounded, and I hated when he looked that way. “I was trying to give you everything. ”

  “No, Jack, I know that. ” I rubbed my forehead, struggling to think of what I meant. “I don’t regret being here, and I know that you only try to make me happy. ”

  “But I’m not. Am I?” He leaned back, resting on the edge of the dining table behind him.

  “Yes, you do. You make me so happy. ” I stepped over to him, meaning to reassure him. “But maybe that’s not the only thing in life that matters. ”

  A knock at the French doors made Matilda bark, and Leif stood outside in the snow, tapping at the door. Jack rolled his eyes and stood up straighter, but he didn’t go anywhere. I waved Leif in, and he opened the door, letting an icy draft blow in.

  “Is this a bad time?” Leif asked.

  “Yes,” Jack said too loudly, and I shot him a look.

  “No, come on in,” I told Leif, giving him a much softer look than one I gave Jack. “We’re just talking. ”

  “I didn’t mean to interrupt. The snow’s been really coming down today, but I can always find another place to sleep, if it’s a problem. ” Leif had stepped inside the house, but he waited by the open door, ready for us to kick him to the streets.

  “You know you’re always welcome here,” I said, but Leif looked at Jack, waiting for him to give his approval. When Jack didn’t say anything, I hit him in the arm. “Isn’t he, Jack?”

  “Yes,” Jack said.

  “I really don’t want to bother-” Leif started.

  “No, you’re fine,” Jack said and waved him in. “You can crash on the couch in the living room if you want. The blankets and stuff are in the hall closet, and you can get cleaned up or whatever. ”

  Page 18

  “Thank you,” Leif said gratefully as he walked past us, down the hall.

  “I see how it is,” Jack smiled after Leif had disappeared down the hall.

  “What?” I asked.

  “You do too think this is our house. If this really felt like my house, and not yours too, you wouldn’t have invited him in,” Jack said, looking a bit too smug.

  “Oh, come off it! It’s supposed to snow like 12 inches by tomorrow. He doesn’t need to sleep outside in this,” I said.

  “I wouldn’t make him sleep outside, but I’m not gonna pretend that we’re not in the middle of fighting just because he showed up. ”

  “You’re being rude,” I lowered my voice, even though Leif could probably hear everything I said anyway.

  “You’re being rude,” Jack countered.

  “How am I being rude?”

  “Your brother had no problem changing his name. He’s more connected to me than you are. ”
<
br />   “That’s not rude! That’s just… Ugh!” I groaned, completely irritated by this whole thing. “My name is Alice Bonham because I am Alice Bonham! Why is that so hard for you to understand?”

  “Didn’t you read Romeo & Juliet?” Jack asked. “A rose would still smell sweet and all that? You won’t stop being you if you change your name. ”

  “And I won’t turn into something else if I do change it, so what does it matter? Why can’t I just stay the same?” I asked.

  “Your name is Alice Bonham,” Leif said. I looked away from Jack to see Leif standing at the edge of the room, holding blankets and pillows. His skin looked pale, and his expression had hardened.

  “Yeah, sorry. You didn’t need to hear all that,” I said, my cheeks reddening.

  “You’re from here?” Leif asked.

  “That’s another reason you should change your name,” Jack interjected. “So people don’t associate you with the old, human you. ”

  “I’m not actually from here, so-” I stuck my tongue out at Jack, displaying the full magnitude of my maturity. “I was born in Idaho. We didn’t move here until I was like five because my gramma lived here, but she passed away, so I don’t have any other family to come looking for me. ”

  “Milo is your real brother?” Leif asked, and even though he was looking at me, I had the impression that he was staring off at something else entirely. “Not like… not like vampires. ”

  “No, he’s my actual brother. We have the same Mom. But listen, are you alright?” I asked. Something about him suddenly looked off.

  “Yes, I’m fine. I think I’m… I’m just tired. ” He forced a smile, but it only drew attention to how ill he looked.

  “Are you sure you’re okay?” Jack asked, and even he sounded concerned, so it had to be bad.

  “I’m quite alright. ” Leif swallowed and went into the living room.

  “Do you think he’s alright?” I whispered to Jack after Leif’d gone. “I mean, can vampires get sick?”

  “I don’t know. ” Jack shook his head and looked as dumbfounded as I felt. When he met my eyes, he’d softened.

  “I don’t wanna fight about this anymore,” I said. “I love you. Can we just leave it at that for now?”

  “Yeah. I’m sorry. ” He stepped closer to me and looped his arm around my shoulders. “I don’t understand this, but… I said I’d always do whatever I could to make you happy, so if this makes you happy…”

  “It does. ” I leaned into him.

  Leif had left by the time I got up the next day, but that was nothing new. He usually came and went without much notice.

  The snow continued falling, blanketing the world. Jack went outside to clear it up, and even though we had a snow blower, it didn’t really work on the stone patio. He spent the majority of the afternoon shoveling it up, but Matilda was outside “helping” him, so I suspected a lot more time was spent roughhousing than actual shoveling.

  Since Jack had the manual labor covered, I went to straighten up the living room. I found Bobby sitting on the couch, his laptop open on his lap.

  “Where’s Milo?” I picked up the blanket balled up next to Bobby and began folding it.

  “Um, school. ” Bobby scrambled to click things on the computer, and when I peeked over to see what he was looking at, he slammed the screen shut. “Milo joined the debate team or something. You can call him if you wanna know for sure. ”

 
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