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       Wisdom, p.9

         Part #4 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
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“Why are you helping me?” Violet asked as Bobby stepped in.

  “I don’t know,” I said honestly, and the doors slid shut.

  “I thought of something,” Bobby said. “After we met Violet, but I didn’t say something when she was around. ”

  “What’s that?” I leaned back against the wall and rubbed the bridge of my nose as the elevator went down.

  “You know how Jane’s dumpsite had more blood than the others?” Bobby asked. “Maybe it’s not because the killer was more aggressive. Maybe the first two victims were drained of their blood. ”

  “You mean by a vampire?” I asked, looking over at him.

  “Yeah,” he nodded.

  “But then why wouldn’t Jane be drained too?” I asked. “If it’s a vampire, why not drink her blood? And then why kill her at all?”

  “I don’t know,” he shrugged. “Maybe they meant to kill her and drain her, but they couldn’t. ”

  “Why wouldn’t they be able to? It’s not like we get full easy or something. ”

  “After you bit me, Milo wouldn’t bite me,” Bobby said. “My blood was tainted, and it made him sick when he could even smell you on him. So maybe if Jane was bitten by someone else, they wouldn’t bite her. But she was all part of their murder scheme, so they went ahead and killed her anyway. ”

  “She just got out of rehab, though. And I talked to her. She’d been doing good. I don’t think she got out and just went straight back into it,” I shook my head.

  “She’s a junkie,” Bobby said, as we reached the ground floor. “You can never be sure. And you don’t know who the last vampire was that bit her. ”

  “Actually,” I said as the doors slid open, “as far as I know, I was the last to bite her. ”


  Milo had taken to napping when he got home from school, since he had to be up all day, and he was getting home later and later. Last night was the debate team practice, and tonight it was something about tutoring a girl in calculus. He’d also started talking a lot in French, but since I’d barely passed the class the two years I’d taken it, he only ended up confusing me.

  Page 25

  Jack was still gone with work, and the Gossip Girl marathon on the CW seemed like a good way to spend the evening. I sprawled out on the couch, still in my pajamas, but I’d only been awake for an hour or two, so it didn’t seem that bad.

  Ezra walked into the room, carrying two thick books in his hands. He looked better than he had lately, meaning his hair had been brushed and his shirt looked pressed. He’d never gone through a sweat-pants-and-no-shaving-or-bathing phase, thank god, and he always managed to look good.

  When he came over to the sofa, he glanced back at the TV and raised an eyebrow.

  “What is this?” Ezra asked.

  “That’s Chuck Bass. ” I pointed at the screen to Ed Westwick.

  “He’s wearing a bowtie. Is that a modern trend again?”

  “Hell if I know,” I shrugged. “He’s Chuck Bass. He does what he wants. ”

  “Well, that’s enough of that. ” Ezra grabbed the remote from off the couch next to me and clicked off the TV.

  “What’d you do that for?” I asked, with feigned anger. “I was just about to find out if his womanizing ways would catch up with him. ”

  “Let’s just assume they will. You have reading to do. ” With that, Ezra dropped the books on my stomach, and I made an oof sound as they pushed all the air out of my lungs.

  “What the hell. ” I lifted up the books and rubbed at my stomach, even though the pain had already disappeared. “What’d you do that for?”

  “Because you were right. I need to stop moping about, and so do you. ”

  “I’m not moping about. ” I sat up and looked down at the books. “A History of Modern Europe: From the Renaissance to the Present and Grays Anatomy: The Anatomical Basis of Clinical Practice. I’m assuming this isn’t about the TV show, since its several thousand pages long. ”

  “No, it’s not,” Ezra said, and I looked up at him. “You do absolutely nothing. ”

  “I don’t do ‘nothing,” I shook my head. “I mean, I don’t do much, but it’s not cause I’m not trying. I’ve been cleaning the house, and I even feed Bobby sometimes. ”

  “You do realize Bobby isn’t a pet, don’t you?” He crossed his arms over his chest, as if he really wasn’t convinced that I knew the difference.

  “Yes, I do. ” I rolled my eyes. “But the point is that I’m trying. I’ve been training with Olivia, and I have to go over to her place later tonight. ”

  “Training with Olivia is good, but it’s not enough,” he said. “Having a mastery of your body and strength means nothing if you’re incompetent. You need a good education behind it, and since you dropped out of high school, I’ll have to see to it that you get one. ”

  “Look, I’m not against learning things. I just…” I stared down at the textbooks, running my hands over the glossy covers. “I don’t know that I understand the point of anything. I already have everything. What more is there?”

  “Yes, life is terribly rough for you,” Ezra said dryly.

  “No, I didn’t mean that. ” I sighed. “I thought all I wanted was to be with Jack, and then my life would be complete. We could live happily ever after. And I do love Jack, and I want to be with him. But now that I have this, and I’m realizing exactly how long happily ever after goes on for, and… I don’t know what to do. ”

  “You need a purpose,” Ezra said knowingly, and I looked up at him

  “Yeah, I do,” I nodded. “How do you do it? When you have forever, how do you… fill it? Endless games of solitaire?”

  “Your concept of time will change. ” He sat down on the sofa next to me. “Eventually, it moves faster, and it tends to blur together, so years feel like weeks. ”

  “And that’s how you make it through?”

  “Sometimes. ” His mahogany eyes went far away for a moment, but he took a deep breath and it vanished. “But you have to learn to enjoy the moments you’re in, to treasure the things around you. It’s the fleetingness of life that gives it its value, and even though we’re here forever, nothing else is. ”

  “So you’re saying that I should relish the things that will die?” I asked. “That death equates happiness?”

  “Not exactly. ” He leaned back and exhaled. “The problem with giving someone the choice to become a vampire is that it isn’t really a choice. You don’t really understand what you’re agreeing to. You can’t possibly fathom what eternity feels like. ”

  “I’m not seeing much in the way of advice in that sentiment. ”

  “Loving another person, even several people, will make your life fuller. ” Ezra looked at me, resting his deep eyes on mine. “But it will not make it complete. You have to do that. You must decide what you live for. ”

  “So… you brought me text books?” I held them up, and he gave a bemused chuckle.

  “No, I gave you text books because I want you to have all the tools you need to do whatever it is you decide to do, and knowledge truly is the most powerful tool. ”

  “What are you doing?” Milo yawned and walked into the living room.

  “Oh my gosh, you’re like the Pavlov’s dog of geeks,” I laughed. “I say the word text books, and you come running. ”

  “Are you going to school?” Milo’s eyes widened with excitement.

  “Well, Ezra’s tutoring me, I guess, if that counts,” I said.

  “Oh that’s fantastic!” Milo clapped his hands together and rushed over to the couch. “Let me see!” He snatched the books from my hands, not that I really put up a fight.

  “Read the first three chapters in both books,” Ezra told me as Milo flipped through the books and gushed over it. “We’ll talk about them tomorrow. ”

  “Tomorrow?” I asked. “I have to train with Olivia tonight. I won’t have time. ”

  “Make time.
Ezra used that tone he did when he meant business. It wasn’t loud or gruff, but it was firm enough where I knew not to argue with it.

  “Oh come on, Alice, it’ll be fun!” Milo said with far too much glee. “This’ll be so good for you. And you don’t even have to get up early. It’s way better than what I’m doing. ”

  “Good luck. ” Ezra stood up and smiled down at me.

  Page 26

  “Hey, wait. Why did you pick these books?” I asked. “I mean, the history I kinda understand. But why an anatomy text?”

  “You said you wanted to be a doctor. ” Ezra shrugged. “I thought it might pique your interest. ”

  He left me alone with Milo, who immediately launched into the history book. Shock of all shocks, Milo happened to be a history buff. He especially liked the really old stuff, like about Mesopotamia and early civilization, but all history fascinated him.

  “If we don’t learn from our mistakes, we’ll be doomed to repeat them,” Milo said when he noticed my interest waning. “You need to know what other people did so you don’t do it. ”

  “That’s really good advice, but it’s not like I plan on ever leading a revolution or anything,” I said.

  “You might,” Milo smiled. “We’re gonna be around for a long time. Who knows what you’ll end up doing. ”

  I studied with Milo for two more hours, but thankfully, Bobby came home and rescued me. He’d been working on some dramatic arts piece, and it ended up running late.

  At first, I was relieved to see Bobby. I tried to engage him in real conversation, since Milo’s incessant talk of history turned my mind to mush. But almost immediately after Bobby got home, they started making out.

  It was just as well, since I had to get ready to go over to Olivia’s. I showered and dressed, and when I left, Milo and Bobby were still in the living room, whispering sweet nothings to each other.

  As I sped downtown in the Audi, I thought about how weird it was that I’d been so nervous about driving. I loved driving. Speeding through the lanes of traffic on I-35 with Metric blasting out the car stereo had to be in my top five favorite activities.

  My joy over the car ride stopped when I caught sight of a billboard. It showed a gorgeous guy in black and white, his shirt open to reveal the perfect muscles of his abs. He looked bored in that off-handedly sexy way all models seemed to. The ad mostly featured his torso, with only the waistband of his pants showing above the bottom of the billboard, so naturally, it was advertising jeans.

  That’s not what made me sneer or stop singing along with the radio. The guy in the ad – that was Jonathan, Jane’s “ex-boyfriend,” for lack of a better term. The last time I’d seen him, he’d been gnawing out her throat, and that seemed like a marvelous idea to her.

  I pressed on the pedal harder so I could speed past it. I didn’t want to think about Jane anymore. At least not anymore tonight. I needed a day off from the constant guilt.

  When I arrived at V, I took the tunnel behind it so I wouldn’t have to deal with the crowd, but I peeked out onto the dance floor. Even though it was after midnight, the club looked to be down about a third of its normal capacity. That’s still a lot of people, but Violet hadn’t been kidding. The serial killer scare really had people locking their doors at night.

  That didn’t stop Olivia from finding guests. Even though she’d said she’d been cutting down on her blood intake, and for a while, she really seemed to be, the party was in full swing in the penthouse when I got off the elevator.

  Music with high bass and vocals that sounded like Maynard James Keenan pulsated through the room. The lights were dim, and the fifty or so people strewn about the place all seemed incredibly messed up. Humans and vampires alike were blitzed out in their own ways.

  I stood by the elevator for a minute. Watching two girls do a sinewy dance for a vampire, I considered leaving. In fact, I should leave. Olivia couldn’t train me in this condition, and I hated this shit. I didn’t live this lifestyle, and I didn’t approve of it in others. Getting drunk off human blood and using living beings to do it didn’t sit well with me.

  I turned to head out when Olivia spotted me. She’d been on the far side of the room, lounging on a faux bearskin rug. Before I made my escape, she called my name and scrambled to her feet, nearly tripping over someone in her race to stop me.

  “Alice! I’ve been waiting for you!” She ran to greet me, and she didn’t seem drunk at all. If she had been, I would’ve left right then and there.

  “Yeah, I can tell. ” I scanned the room, looking as disapproving as possible.

  “I would’ve called you, but you know how I feel about cell phones. ” Olivia waved her fingers dismissively. “I’ve found someone for you train with. ”

  “Can I come back tomorrow to meet them?” I asked.

  The room filled with the fresh scent of blood, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a vampire bite into a guy’s neck.

  “You’re already here. ” Olivia put her hand on my arm. I could pull away, but I sighed and decided against it. “Shall we go to the roof?”

  I followed Olivia up the stairwell to the roof, and she whistled Ode to Joy. Olivia pushed the door open to the roof, and the blast of icy winter air filled the stairwell. When we reached the roof, I saw Violet at the edge of the roof, admiring the view.

  “What the hell is she doing here?” I froze.

  “She’s going to train with you,” Olivia smiled.

  “She can’t…” I wanted to pull Olivia aside but Violet had already seen us. “This is highly inappropriate, Olivia. ”

  “Nonsense. ” Olivia brushed off my concern. “Violet and I were talking, and she’s had to master a lot living on the streets. We had a practice fight today, and she’s good. She’ll give you a taste of what fighting a real vampire would be like. ”

  “But Olivia-” I started but she cut me off.

  “You needed more help than I could give,” she said simply.

  “I know that I wanted to train, but I don’t ‘need’ help. ” I watched Violet walk around the edge of the roof and pick up a long metal pipe, a part broken off an old antenna.

  “Oh, but sweetheart, you do,” Olivia touched my arm. “You’ve got that draw to you, and I’ve seen it in a few vampires before. It always gets you in trouble. ”

  “Draw? What the hell does that mean?” I asked.

  “It’s something in your blood. I don’t know why it happens, but I understand little of why things happen. ” She looked at the cityscape. “You’re like a beacon of light, and other vampires are moths. Not all of them are affected as strongly as others, but we all feel it, to some extent. ”

  “What are you talking about?” I demanded.

  “You sound ready for a fight,” Violet smirked and flipped the pipe over her shoulders, moving like a ninja with a bo stick.

  Page 27

  “No, I’m not,” I shook my head. “I just wanna know what she’s talking about. ”

  “Train with her. ” Olivia gave me a serious look. “She’s better than I am. ”

  “Are you ready?” Violet asked, even though I clearly wasn’t.

  Olivia backed towards the stairs, and I took a step after her. When I did that, Violet appeared next to me, flicking the pipe in front of me so fast, it nearly hit me in the gut.

  “What hell are you doing?” I asked.

  “I wanna see what you can do. ” She shrugged and flipped the pipe again. I bent backwards, as if doing the limbo, and nearly missed it striking me in the chin. “Nice reflexes. ”

  I heard the door swing shut, and I looked back to see that Olivia had gone downstairs. I broke my attention from Violet for a second, and the bo struck me hard across the head.

  “Pay attention,” she commanded.

  Once the blinding pain in my skull stopped, along with the tingling as the fresh gash healed, I growled and dove at her. I didn’t want to be training. I want
ed to know what the hell Olivia meant, and I didn’t even really trust Violet. I tended to hate people that hit me in the head without warning.

  When I lunged at her, she easily moved out of the way. I’d seen vampires move faster than her, like the lycan Stellan who’s speed was something that bordered on teleportation. But Violet had a quick grace that made me blink my eyes to be sure she was really gone.

  Then she was behind me, nearly striking me in the back, so I leapt into the air, doing a back flip before landing on the roof. I’d actually never done that before, at least not reflexively. I wanted to take a second to admire how bad ass that was, but Violet charged at me again.

  “It’s not fair that you have a weapon!” I shouted as she swung the rod out, trying to swipe out my legs, but I jumped up over it. She moved to stab at the air, so she’d hit me if I jumped again, and I dropped to the ground, lying flat on my belly.

  “Who said life was fair?” Violet shot back, and I narrowly rolled out of the way. She drove the pipe into the roof, and if I hadn’t moved, she would’ve impaled me through the stomach. I leapt up to my feet and knew I had to launch a counter attack, or this would just keep going.

  I ran to the edge, and she threw the pipe like a spear, aiming it so it would hit the center of my back. I ran forward and jumped up, landing with my feet on the railing at the edge of the building. I pushed off and leapt backwards, feeling the pipe as it grazed the back of my calf before soaring off the building.

  I flipped backwards and stretched my feet out in front of me. Violet moved, so instead of my feet colliding with her head the way I’d hoped, I merely kicked her in the chest. I landed on her, but I didn’t even pin her down. She had me flipped over onto my back, one of her hands gripping my shoulders.

  Raising my feet up, I pressed them into her stomach so I could push her off me. She moved her hand back in swift movement, grabbing something from the back of her jeans. I started to kick her off, then I felt a sharp pain in my chest as she poked something in it.

  I looked down and the saw the pointed edge of a titanium stake pressed above my heart, hard enough to stain my shirt with blood.


  “What the hell do you want?” I asked, my breath coming out in rasps. Terrified adrenaline pulsed through me, but I wasn’t sure that I could get her off me before she drove the stake through my heart.

  “I wanna make sure you don’t get caught off guard like this again. ” Her violet eyes held mine, looking at me solemnly, then she got off me.

  “What the fuck was that?” I jumped up, holding my hand over my heart. I had no serious injury, and the small wound would heal within minutes, but for a second there, I’d been certain she was gonna kill me.

  “You’ve got good reflexes, and I think you have some real strength under there,” Violet said, ignoring my confusion and rage. She brushed the dirt off her clothes and smoothed out her shirt. “But you need to think more, be less impulsive. You need to plan out your attack. Have you ever played chess?”

  “Once and I suck at it,” I said. “But you nearly killed me!”

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