Wisdom, p.7
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       Wisdom, p.7

         Part #4 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
 
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“What were you just looking at?” I narrowed my eyes at him.

  “Um, me? Nothing. ” He flicked his black bangs from his eyes and refused to look at me. “Just browsing. You know, surfing the interweb. ”

  “You’re being a spaz,” I said. “What are you up to? Downloading porn?”

  “Yeah, like I’d look at porn in the living room,” he scoffed. I kept staring at him, so he sighed and opened the laptop. “I just didn’t think you needed to see this. ”

  “What?” I reached for his computer, tilting the screen towards me, and then I saw it.

  7

  The giant photo on the screen was color, but the overcast day, gray concrete, and dirty snow almost made it look black and white. I would’ve thought it was, if it wasn’t for the dark reddish stains that spilled out in the center of the photo, and the black policeman’s shoes standing next to it.

  The headline over it read, “Minneapolis Officials Deny Serial Killer,” and in smaller print below it, “After the third death in a string of similar murders, residents fear for their safety. ”

  But I barely even read the words. My eyes were focused on the blood splashed over the sidewalk. I could see just enough of the buildings to make out that it was Hennepin Avenue, where Jane had been found. This was her crime scene.

  “That’s… this’s Jane’s blood?” I asked numbly and sat down on the couch next to Bobby.

  “Sorry. ” Bobby moved to close the box, but I stopped him and took the laptop from him. “Are you sure wanna look at that?”

  “No,” I said but clicked on the link to read the full story.

  The article didn’t say much more than Jack had already told me. Three girls, aged eighteen and nineteen, had been left discarded around downtown Minneapolis in the early morning hours. Since the crime scenes yielded no evidence, they assumed the girls had been killed elsewhere and were posed to be found.

  Page 19

  The most surreal part of it was reading about Jane in such matter of fact way, like she wasn’t a flesh and blood person I’d known for ten years.

  “Jane Kress, 18, is the latest suspected victim. Her body was discovered at 4:35 am on January 16. She suffered multiple stab wounds, like the other two victims.

  Kress had been known to frequent the nightclubs in the area and had returned from a treatment center on January 14. It had been a planned 90-day stay, but Kress left after only 24 days. When asked for comment, both the center and her family declined to say what Kress had been treated for, or what led to her early departure. ”

  I read the article through three times, and Bobby sat on the couch next to me, saying nothing. I leaned back on the couch, staring at the screen as if I expected something new to happen. But nothing did. It didn’t tell me anything more about why Jane was dead.

  “Why were you looking at this?” I asked.

  “They were talking about it in class today. ” Bobby sounded apologetic and pulled at the ends of his sleeves, making them swallow his hands. “I didn’t know very much about what happened, or her for that matter, so I just… I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have. ”

  “No, it’s okay. ” I shook my head. “I’m not mad. ”

  “Are you sure?”

  “Yeah. Where did you find this?” I asked.

  “I just Googled it,” Bobby shrugged. “Why?”

  “Do you think there’s more information?” I was already typing Google in, preparing to do a search for everything I could find on Jane’s murder.

  “Yeah, there’s tons of information. ” He moved closer so he could look at the screen with me. “A lot of the major news networks have picked up the stories, especially since Jane got murdered. ”

  “Why?” I glanced over at him as I sifted through the endless list Google gave me, all mentioning Jane’s name.

  “Cause she’s rich and beautiful. The other two girls were poor, and one of them was allegedly a hooker,” Bobby said. “But what are you trying to find out?”

  “I want to find Jane’s killer. ” I paused as Bobby looked expectantly at me. “I’m going to kill him. ”

  “That’s a little sexist, don’t you think?”

  “How is revenge murder sexist?” I shot him a look.  

  “You automatically assumed her murderer is a guy,” he said. “It could be a girl. ” I thought of Violet again, but I pushed her from my mind.

  “Serial killers aren’t usually women, but alright, whatever,” I shrugged. “I’m going to kill whoever killed Jane. ”

  “Do you think a human killed her?” Bobby asked.

  I was pleasantly surprised that he hadn’t tried talking me out of it. He didn’t even question it, as if going after a serial killer was the most logical thing in the world. It was stuff like that that made me dig Bobby.

  “I don’t know what to think. ” I clicked a link and leaned into the screen, devouring as much information about the whole thing as I could.   “I mean, at first, I thought it was a vampire. For sure. But now. . . all these articles are saying there wasn’t a mark on the girls. ”

  “That doesn’t mean anything,” Bobby said, and I looked over at him.

  “What do you mean?”

  “There’s always one detail the police hold back,” he explained. “That’s how they can verify people’s claims when they say they killed her or they saw it happen or whatever. There’s always one thing they keep out of the press that only the killer would know. ”

  “And that one thing could be bite marks?” I asked, and my heart thudded in my chest.

  “Right,” Bobby nodded. “And I’ve always wondered what kind of relationship vampires had with city officials anyway. ”

  “What kind of relationship?” I wrinkled my nose.

  “Well, remember in the fall, when the lycan killed that guy in the park and Ezra’s car was right there?” Bobby asked. “Ezra got the Lexus out of impound without any problems. He was never questioned in the homicide, and I’m pretty sure that guy’s murder was written up as mugging related. ”

  “That could never pass for a mugging,” I said incredulously. “He had his throat ripped out. ”

  “Exactly,” he nodded. “And V is open until seven in the morning. How could they possibly get licensing for that? And they don’t card anyone that goes in there, ever. It’s easier to get into a vampire club than it is any other club in the city. ”

  “You think that the city officials are on a vampire payroll or something?” I raised an eyebrow.

  “I don’t know,” he shrugged. “Probably not a payroll, but some of them have to be involved with the vampires in some way to cover this all up. ”

  “And if they are, and these murders are vampire related, they’d probably cover that up too,” I said.

  “You guys try really hard not to kill humans, and I’m grateful for that, but sometimes, some people have to die,” Bobby said. “And you never hear of people dying with all the blood drained from their body. ”

  “Oh my gosh. ” I exhaled and leaned back. “They had to have covered up vampire deaths before. And if Jane and these other girls were killed by vampires, they would’ve covered them up too, except they were out in the open. People saw the body before they could fix it. ”

  “But whoever is doing this wants to get caught. ” Bobby sounded excited, not about the death, but about solving a crime. He sat on his knees and faced me. “I don’t think it’s the normal serial killer like Hannibal Lecter doing it for attention. Maybe he’s trying to expose vampires. ”

  “You said ‘he’ too,” I pointed out.

  “Sorry, he or she,” he corrected himself.

  “But why would anybody want to expose vampires?” I asked.

  “I don’t know. ” He shook his head. “But why else would he leave the bodies for everyone to find?”

  “I don’t know,” I sighed and looked back at the screen. “But this is based on a lot of conjecture. It’s more likely that
it’s just some twisted human. ”

  “They found Jane a block from V. You think that’s coincidence?” He tilted his head skeptically.

  “Yeah, and that happens to be within a few blocks of like 10 other clubs. Maybe it’s an angry bartender sick of getting stiffed on tips. ”

  Page 20

  “You really think that?” Bobby asked.

  “I don’t know what to think. ” I rested my head back on the couch and stared up on the ceiling.

  “The patio is officially cleared off!” Jack announced and walked into the living room. His jeans and hoodie were covered in packed snow, and some of it fell off and dripped onto the floor.

  “Good job. ” I wanted to smile up at him, but I didn’t feel like smiling. “You’re dripping snow all over. ”

  “Yeah, I’m gonna go change and hop in the shower. ” Jack brushed chunks of melting snow from his hair. “I just thought I’d let you know. ” He stood there for a minute, eyeing up Bobby and me. “Is something wrong? It seems pretty somber in here. ”

  “Nah, me and Bobby were just talking. Everything’s fine. ” This time I did force a smile.

  “Alright. ” Jack looked hesitant, but he shrugged and decided to believe me. “I’ll be upstairs if you need me. ”

  I didn’t have any real reason not to tell him that Bobby and I were talking about Jane, but I didn’t really want him to know. It’d make him worry or stop me.

  I didn’t have the energy for arguing about whether or not I should do what I’m doing, or feel what I’m feeling. I knew what I had to do and I wouldn’t let anyone stand in my way.

  “We need somebody in the know,” Bobby said, picking up on where our conversation left off before Jack came in. “That’s how we’ll find out what really happened to Jane. ”

  “Well, yeah, duh,” I said. “That’d be nice if we-” I hadn’t even finished my sentence when it occurred to me. “We do know somebody. ”

  “Who?” Bobby asked.

  Without telling him, I shut his laptop and got off the couch. Bobby followed me, and I think he figured it out when we turned down the hall and walked toward the den. We knew Ezra.

  “You have got to stop moping,” I said. I pushed open the door and flicked on the lights without waiting for Ezra to respond.

  Ezra stood in front of the large windows that faced the frozen lake behind the house. He had his back to us, and he didn’t turn around. The speakers on his computer played out the same classical music it had over the past few months.

  “I don’t know how you can listen to this all the time,” I said, walking around the desk. I clicked off the computer, noting the name of the composer Joseph Haydn before closing Ezra’s iTunes. “I’d get sick of listening to the same piece over and over. ”

  “I saw him perform once. ” Ezra said as he turned around to face me. “Back when I was still under Willem, my maker. We saw him in London towards the end of the 18th century, I believe. It was quite moving. I don’t think you understand what it was to see a concert like that, when music was so unavailable. ”

  “This isn’t gonna turn into ‘the internet is magic’ speech again, is it?” Bobby asked. He’d gone over to Ezra’s bookshelf and picked up something that looked like an antique slinky.

  “Of course not. I wouldn’t want to bore you,” Ezra said with exaggerated indifference and lowered his eyes, so I shot a glare at Bobby. He shrugged sheepishly in return and sat down on the sofa.

  “You need to stop sitting in the dark, listening to music,” I said, leaning up against his desk.

  “So you came in for a pep talk?” Ezra raised an eyebrow and sat down in the office chair next to me.

  “Well… no, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need one,” I said.

  “What can I do for you?” Ezra leaned back in the chair, ignoring my advice, much the same way he did every day prior.

  “What do you know about the cops?” I asked.

  His expression changed and he shifted his eyes between Bobby and me. For a change, Bobby kept his mouth shut and crossed his legs so he could play with his shoelace.

  “I’m afraid you’re going to have be more specific,” Ezra said, resting his gaze back on me.

  “How come you weren’t questioned in November when the lycan attacked?” I asked pointblank, and his dark eyes never left mine.

  “I’ve lived here for a very long time, and it suits me well to have an understanding with the people in power,” Ezra answered evenly. “But if you’re looking to get out of a speeding ticket, I won’t get involved with that. ”

  “No. It’s not that. ” I chewed my lip and looked to Bobby for help.

  “Ah,” Ezra said knowingly and swiveled the chair side-to-side. “This is about Jane. ”

  “Yes,” I nodded.

  “Nothing you find will bring her back or bring you any comfort. ” He looked out the darkness behind the house, the frozen lake looking black in the night. “Death, unfortunately, doesn’t have a cure, not even for the pain of those left behind. ”

  “Maybe not,” I said, but I wasn’t sure that I believed that. “But someone is out there killing girls, and I’d rest a lot easier if I knew who it was. ”

  “And you think that the police know who it is but haven’t bothered to catch him?” Ezra asked when he looked back at me.

  “No. ” I sighed and shook my head. “I don’t know. But I think they know something. ”

  “Maybe they do,” Ezra allowed. “What would you do with that information that they aren’t already doing? You’re presuming that they’re hiding something for a reason. What would they hope to gain from this?”

  “I don’t know,” I sighed, growing frustrated. All of this felt so logical in the living room with Bobby, but Ezra had a way of punching through everything.

  “Just because we don’t understand why they’d cover up something doesn’t mean they aren’t,” Bobby said, and we both turned to look at him.

  “Now you just sound paranoid,” I said.

  “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after you,” Bobby said with an expression so serious that I couldn’t help but laugh.

  Milo came home a few minutes later, breaking up any chance I had of convincing Ezra that I needed to know what the police were up to. I’m not sure that I did actually need to, and I hated that he had a point.

  What could I do that the cops already weren’t? It wasn’t like I had any experience with solving crimes or forensic equipment. My knowledge was Law & Order reruns on TNT, and I doubted that would help me catch a serial killer.

  Page 21

  As soon as Milo came in, he started making supper for Bobby. He still loved to cook, and it was a shame that hardly anybody around him could eat it anymore. When Milo asked what we’d been up to, Bobby made a point of not telling him about Jane. Apparently, we’d both decided that it’d be better if our respective boyfriends didn’t know what we were doing.

  Jack had to go away for work the next day, so I spent the evening curled up with him. He’d been handling most of the business affairs by himself lately, since Ezra didn’t feel like doing much of anything, and I was really proud of Jack for stepping up. I just hated that he had to be away so much.

  We went to bed early since he had an eight a. m. flight, and I still didn’t understand how he learned to handle himself so well in the daytime. I’d gotten much better about being in the sun, but it would never be anything I’d enjoy.

  I woke up with him to see him off, and Matilda whimpered as soon as he was out the door. I tried to reassure her by telling her that he’d be back in a few days, but I’m not sure that she understood me. Or if she did, it still hurt too much to be away from him. I agreed with her on that point.

  I crawled back into bed and began crying. I hated the empty space left behind when Jack went away. I felt lonelier than I had in a while, and everything felt off-kilter. Not just because
Jack was gone, but everything with Ezra and Mae and Jane. Milo was busier with school, Jack was busy with work, and I was just here… doing nothing.

  “Alice?” Bobby knocked on my bedroom door, and I hurried to wipe away the tears before he could see them. He opened the door without waiting for me to respond. “Are you awake?”

  “Yeah. What do you need?” I sat up in bed and rubbed at my eyes, covering up my sadness by looking sleepy.

  “Milo just went to school, and I saw that Jack left for work,” Bobby said, walking into the bedroom.

  “So? Shouldn’t you be at school?” I asked, looking over at him once I felt certain my tears were gone.

  “Yeah, but I decided to skip. ” He bit his lip and shoved his hands in the pockets of his skinny jeans. “I’ve got an idea for a better way to spend the day. ”

  “Yeah? What’s that?”

  “Let’s go find Jane’s killer. ”

  “Like now? Like right now? How?” I asked as I pushed off the covers. I’m pretty sure Bobby didn’t have a plan, but it already sounded better than anything else I would probably do today.

  “Milo and Jack are gone, so it seems like the best time,” Bobby shrugged. “And I thought we could just go downtown, check out the crime scenes. I mean, I know stuff’s gone, but I thought we might find something. I wrote down all the addresses. ” He held his hand out to me, and he’d written a couple locations on the back of it.

  “Alright. Let me get dressed. ”

  Wisdom

  Bobby smiled and went outside to wait for me. I’m not sure why exactly, but as I pulled on my jeans, I felt better than I had since I’d gotten back from Australia. I was actually doing something. And even if it was a long shot, it was something that actually mattered. Or it would, if we could catch the killer before another girl got hurt.

  8

  We stood on Eighth Street, with the buildings blocking out the morning sun.   I’d donned a jacket, a hat, and giant sunglasses, so the sun wouldn’t be much of an issue for me anyway. As we walked away from the second crime scene, I felt queasy.

  This time of the day, downtown was bustling, and I wasn’t used it. I’d gotten accustomed to the quiet of the night. We brushed past people, some of them bumping into me. Being in crowds didn’t bother me anymore, and the open air helped alleviate the scent of their blood. Lately, my bloodlust hadn’t been bad at all, and Ezra commended my ability to get it under control so quickly.

  “I don’t think this is gonna work,” I told Bobby as we waited at a crosswalk for the light to turn green.

  “I know we didn’t see much back there, but we still might find something,” Bobby said. “Anyway, it’s better than doing nothing. ”

  Other than a piece of battered police tape stuck to the side of a pole, there hadn’t been anything at the last scene. The one before had even less evidence than that. I’m not even sure what we were looking for, but we found nothing.

  The closer we got to the spot where Jane had been found, the sicker I felt. My mouth and throat felt dry, and it was hard to swallow. The jacket and hat were making me too hot, and cold sweat broke out all over my skin.

 
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