Amanda Hocking

My Blood Approves

“Since feeling is first who pays any attention to the syntax of things will never wholly kiss you; wholly to be a fool while Spring is in the world my blood approves, and kisses are a better fate than wisdom lady I swear by all flowers.

Don't cry — the best gesture of my brain is less than your eyelids' flutter which says we are for each other: then laugh, leaning back in my arms for life's not a paragraph And death I think is no parenthesis”

— E. E. Cummings

Chapter 1

The goose bumps were standing all over her bare flesh and she stomped her foot, at least partially because of the cold. Jane would claim it was wholly because of her frustration over the length of the line and continue insisting that chain smoking cigarettes kept her warm. The law stated that people had to be at least twenty feet from the door of an establishment to smoke, and fortunately, we were much farther than that.

“This is truly disgusting,” Jane grunted, flicking her cigarette to the dampened sidewalk and smashing it hard with her stilettoed boot.

“Maybe we should just call it a night,” I suggested hopefully. Our fake IDs had not been as impressive as Jane’s connection had promised, and this would be the fifth club we would be turned away from, if we ever managed to even make it to the door.

Since we were going out, I had reluctantly allowed Jane to dress me, so everything was ill-fitting and far too revealing for the cold Minnesota night.

There was a heavy mist settling over us, and I felt chilled to the bone. Jane’s top was completely sleeveless, but she refused to shiver or admit that any of this fazed her. Her plan was to get crazy drunk and hook up with somebody completely random, and there was very little I could do to reason with her.

“No, no!” Jane shook her head shook ferociously and rolled her heavily lined eyes dramatically when she looked at me. “I have a good feeling about this place.”

“It’s after midnight, Jane,” I persisted. The pair of heels I had borrowed from her were causing permanent damage to my feet, and I shifted my weight in hopes of easing the pain.

“I just want to dance and be stupid!” The night had begun wearing on her, so she had started whining. It made her seem much younger than seventeen and made us even less likely to get into the club. “Come on, Alice! This is what being young is all about!”

“I really hope not,” I grumbled. Waiting in line for hours and being turned away from clubs did not sound like the way I had planned to spend my youth.

“We can try again next weekend. I promise. It’ll give us more time to find better ID’s.”

“I don’t even have any alcohol.” Her expression had gone all pouty, but I knew that she was starting to cave. Her boots could not be comfortable, and the cold mist had to be getting to her.

“I’m sure we can find some somewhere,” I reassured her. In truth, Jane could find alcohol the way I found water. She had an endless stream of guys that were eager to buy her drinks and let her get stupid and dance. I wasn’t actually sure what she was complaining about. Wherever Jane went, a party was sure to follow.

“Fine.” Sighing deeply, Jane stepped out of line and grudgingly started walking in the direction towards my apartment, away from the bright lights of the clubs and crowds of drunk people smoking cigarettes. “But you owe me.”

“Why do I owe you?” I demanded. We’d barely made it a few feet from the line when I couldn’t take it any longer. I stopped and ripped off the borrowed shoes, preferring to walk barefoot on the cold, dirty cement than risk any more blisters or injuries to my body. Most likely, I’d get spit or gum or something in a fresh wound and end up with typhoid or rabies, but it still seemed like a better option.

“For making me leave early.” Jane cast a disapproving look down at me and shook her head. I was short to begin with, but after wearing heels and walking next to her while she still had hers on, I felt like an awkward hobbit.

“Why’d you take off your shoes?”

“Cause they hurt.” The relief of being shoeless was almost painful. I could feel my feet expanding back out to their normal size and my calf stretching to reach the ground. My whole body seemed confused by the sudden lack of four inches and I struggled to keep up with Jane’s rather slow pace.

“Beauty is pain.” For some reason, Jane felt obligated to take me under her wing and try to improve my status, no matter how hard I tried to resist. I was all too comfortable in jeans and Converse, but that was definitely not good enough for her. At any mention of comfort, she would spout a sermon about the essentials of beauty. “Alice, you’re never going to get a boyfriend if you don’t step it up.”

“I am stepped up, and its not my life’s mission to find a date,” I muttered.

Fortunately, she didn’t bother to ask me what my life’s mission was because I was pretty sure I didn’t have one.

“Some days, I don’t even know why I bother.” Jane sounded completely exasperated, as if I was the one trying on her. Here I had gotten all dolled up the way she wanted and stood out all night in the cold for her, but I was wearing on her.

“We should get a cab soon,” I suggested. We had walked far enough away from the clubs where it was starting to feel deserted, and two teenage girls walking around in downtown Minneapolis wasn’t the safest thing in the world.

“Not yet.” The problem was that we didn’t have very much money, so the farther we walked, the shorter the cab ride would be. I lived by Loring Park, which really wasn’t that far from where we were, but it still wasn’t within walking distance.

“Soon?” I asked plaintively, looking up at her. A green and white taxi sailed past us, but Jane didn’t even look towards it. My feet were killing me, and the night felt too long. I just wanted to go home, put on sweats, and curl up in my bed.

“We need the exercise anyway,” Jane hedged my question. Maybe I needed the exercise but Jane could’ve passed for a supermodel easily.

“But my feet hurt.” It was my turn to sound like a petulant child, but I couldn’t help it. It was late and I was tired. I don’t know why I ever agreed to her shenanigans. They were always much more fun for her then they were for me.

Being the less sexy sidekick wasn’t a very glamorous life.

“Beauty is-”

“-pain, yeah, yeah, I get it,” I grumbled, cutting her off.

Jane lit another cigarette, and we walked in silence. I knew she was sulking about the club and trying to plot some exciting adventure to drag me into, but I wouldn’t fall for it this time. By the morning, it would probably hurt to even stand, and while I hadn’t officially checked yet, I was certain the blisters on my feet were at least the size of quarters.

Even though I was mostly just concentrating on the pain in my feet, I felt them before I saw them. There was suddenly this weird sensation of being followed, and the sound of the traffic from Hennepin Avenue had faded enough where I could start to hear the footfalls echo behind us. Jane seemed oblivious, but I didn’t want to say anything. Either I would let onto them that I knew they were there, or I would just once again confirm Jane’s suspicion that I was certifiably insane. Instead, I just quickened my pace, which pleased Jane as she easily met it. Her constant complaint in life was that I was too slow and she had to spend the majority of it waiting for me.

Then the footsteps behind us started to hurry up, becoming heavier and louder, and there was the sound of heavy breathing and hushed male voices.

Jane looked over at me, and the panic in her eyes meant that she heard them too. Out of the two of us, she

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