My Sister the Vampire Book 2: Fangtastic! (Chapter 6)

Just before seven on Wednesday morning, Ivy was already dressed for school in a jagged black skirt, a dark red top, and a black crocheted sweater. She hastily grabbed a bowl from the cupboard, dumped some Marshmallow Platelets in it, and pulled the milk from the fridge. She plunked it all down on the breakfast table and switched on the TV, just in time to catch the opening credits of The Morning Star, which consisted of Serena Star's smiling face superimposed on the Statue of Liberty.

"Today," the announcer's voice said, "Serena Star digs deeper into what's wrong with Franklin Grove!"

What's she going to dig up today? Ivy thought nervously, but her curiosity was immediately thwarted by a commercial break. By the end of the third commercial, which featured a seriously annoying dancing bottle of detergent, she was squirming with impatience.

Finally, The Morning Star came back on, and Ivy cranked up the volume. Serena appeared to be lying in a dentist's chair, today wearing a camel-colored skintight suede suit. Behind her stood a dental assistant in pink scrubs, smiling awkwardly. Serena sat up. "Good morning, America. I'm Serena Star.

"Welcome back to my ongoing investigative report on Franklin Grove, where this past Sunday, a thirteen-year-old boy named Garrick Stephens climbed out of a coffin during a funeral. Since then, an alarming portrait of this town has come to light–and it's filled with darkness." Serena raised her eyebrows meaningfully. "There's only one word to describe today's story: FANG- TASTIC!" The word appeared in huge letters beside her head, and Ivy rolled her eyes.

"This is Monica Messler, a dental hygienist here in Franklin Grove. Why don't you tell America, Miss Messler, what you just told me about Garrick Stephens?"

Monica Messler cleared her throat nervously. "He was in here last week," she said, "inquiring about getting a set of fake vampire fangs."

"Shocking!" cried Serena Star, her eyes wide. "Did he say what he wanted these vampire fangs for?"

Monica Messler shook her head. "I guess he's seen too many horror movies."

"Or perhaps," Serena said, looking into the camera meaningfully, "he's obsessed with vam- pires. And it appears he's not the only one in Franklin Grove." She turned back to her subject. "Miss Messler, have any other strange young people–commonly known as Goths–been in here making unusual requests?"

"I don't think so," Monica Messler replied.

"Are you sure?" pushed Serena Star. "Not even a girl named Ivy Vega?"

At the mention of her own name, Ivy dropped her spoon. Serena Star was checking up on her on national TV!

"Well," said Serena knowingly, after Monica shook her head, "I'm sure it's only a matter of time."

Serena stood up from the dental chair and stepped toward the camera. "America, I, Serena Star, have uncovered a secret society of mysteri- ous families in this sleepy town. They wear black clothes and heavy makeup. They keep themselves to themselves, rarely mixing with normal people. Why? Because they hide a truly menacing secret, and fake vampire fangs barely scratch the sur- face!

"But I won't rest until I find out everything this vampiric cult is hiding." She leaned forward. "Because the Star of truth must sh–"

Ivy flipped off the TV set and stormed into the kitchen. She was clearing away her breakfast bowl, when her dad walked in with the newspaper.

"Good morning," he said.

"As if!" Ivy snapped.

Her father put his newspaper down on the counter. "You appear to be upset," he said.

"Serena Star said my name on TV!" Ivy exclaimed.

Her dad raised an eyebrow. "Why would she do that?"

"Because," Ivy huffed, "I'm a Goth member of a vampiric cult hiding a terrible secret!"

"Oh," said her father. "Is that all?"

"Dad!" Ivy cried. "Serena Star's not going to let the story rest until she has every one of us staked and boxed!"

"Ivy, you worry too much." Her father sighed. "The vampire community is aware that Serena Star is digging. I promise you, she won't find any- thing."

"Aren't you the least bit upset that she's inves- tigating your own daughter?" Ivy demanded.

"Well," he began, a smile creeping across his face, "I would prefer the journalist in question to have a bit more gravitas than Serena Star, admit- tedly."

Ivy threw a dishcloth at her father's head, but he caught it.

"Honestly, Ivy," he said with a short laugh. "Vampires have been hiding from the world since long before you were born. Coffin chasers like Serena Star come and go."

The mention of her birth reminded Ivy about her conversation with Olivia. "Maybe that's why my parents gave me up," she remarked testily.

"What?" her father said, suddenly turning serious.

Ivy looked at her father carefully. "Maybe my real parents gave me up because someone was on their trail," she said slowly, "trying to expose them as vampires."

"That's ridiculous," her dad said briskly.

"How do you know?" Ivy asked. "Did they leave a note with the vamp adoption agency or something?"

Her dad threw his hands in the air. "No, of course not." He started rummaging around in the fridge.

"And you never found out anything about them?" Ivy pressed.

Her dad closed the fridge without taking any- thing out and turned back to Ivy. "I received nothing but your name, your place and date of birth, and your ring." He smiled and gave Ivy a hug. "But no matter. You yourself are all that matters–not your parents. You must look to the future, my Ivy–"

"Not back to the past," Ivy finished for him, rolling her eyes. "You always say that!"

"I say it," he said gently, "because it is true." And with that, he picked up his newspaper and walked out of the room.

But it's not true for me anymore, Ivy thought as she leaned against the counter. I want to know more–not just for my sake but for my sister's. She had no choice but to see what she could find out on her own.

At the beginning of lunch period, Olivia bounced into the school's editing suite and sank onto a swivel chair in front of a button-packed console. She and Camilla had reserved the suite so that they could record the voice-over for their docu- mentary. As she waited for her friend to arrive, Olivia pulled out the script they'd written and quietly started rehearsing her lines–she was going to play Great-aunt Edna.

"My dear duke," she whispered.

Suddenly, the room's loudspeaker crackled to life. "OLIVIA ABBOTT," boomed a computer- ized voice. "I COMMAND YOU TO TELL ME THE DEEP, DARK SECRET OF FRANKLIN GROVE!" Startled, Olivia leaped to her feet. "OR ELSE!" the voice finished.

Olivia peered around, confused and a little frightened. What is this, some weird Serena Star interrogation tactic? she wondered.

Suddenly, a slim door in the corner of the room flew open, and Camilla stuck her blond curly head around it. "Is this place neat or what?" she grinned. Behind her Olivia could see a tiny gray room with padded walls and a microphone hanging from the ceiling. Hers was the voice Olivia had heard.

Olivia flopped back into her chair. "You scared the living daylights out of me!" she wailed.

"Sorry," said Camilla mischievously. "So"– she grabbed the script from Olivia's hand–"have you figured out who's going to play the duke?"

"I asked Brendan Daniels, Ivy's boyfriend," Olivia answered.

Camilla looked pleased. "He's perfect."

"Unfortunately," Olivia went on, "he can't do it. He has band practice right now."

"Oh," Camilla said disappointedly.

"Maybe we can grab someone else," Olivia said, rising from her chair and sticking her head out into the hallway. There weren't many people around, but then she spotted her sister, trudging along, looking totally ticked off about something. Olivia caught her eye and waved her over.

"Hey," Olivia said. "What's wrong?"

"What's wrong," growled Ivy in a low voice, "is that I'm fed up with having that bloodhound Toby Decker on my trail! All I've wanted to do all morning is call the vamp adoption agency, but I can't do that with him watching me all the time."

Olivia scanned the hallway over her sister's shoulder and spotted Toby peeking out from behind someone's open locker door. Today he was wearing a striped tie. From a distance, he almost looked like an old-fashioned aristocrat instead of a slightly dorky eighth-grader.

"I have an idea," Olivia sang, straightening her sparkly pink top and gently pushing past her sister.

Toby noticed Olivia approaching and stepped out from behind the locker door. He smoothed his hair back with his hand.

"Hi, Toby!" Olivia said. "What are you up to?"

Toby blushed. "Oh, you know. Nothing, really."

Olivia widened her eyes and flashed Toby her biggest smile. "That is so exactly what I was hop- ing you were going to say. Come on!" She linked her arm through his and started leading him toward the editing room.

"B-but–" Toby stammered, his eyes scanning the halls for Ivy.

"No buts!" Olivia said. "You're just the man I need!"

"I am?" Toby croaked.

"You are." Olivia confirmed, giving his arm a squeeze. "Camilla and I are making a movie for media studies, and we've been looking everywhere for the right guy to play the dashing duke!" As she pushed Toby through the editing suite door, Olivia looked over her shoulder and winked at Ivy, who was lurking in a doorway across the hall.

"He was just perfect," Olivia told her sister later that day. "He's got a nice voice and he even put on an Italian accent. `Edna, bella,'" Olivia imitated, clutching her heart, "`I cannot live without you.'"

Ivy laughed so hard, black mascara tears streamed down her cheeks. "Olivia," she gasped, dabbing at them with the sleeve of her black cro- cheted sweater, "you seriously suck." Which Olivia knew was like the biggest compliment a vampire could give.

"Don't I?" Olivia grinned.

"It was like being freed from prison," Ivy said giddily as the bell rang for the start of science class. "I had the whole lunch period to myself! He did track me down again after English, though."

"Did you book an appointment with the adop- tion agency?" Olivia asked hopefully.

Ivy nodded. "I'm going after school."

There was a flutter in Olivia's stomach. Maybe today's the day I'll finally learn something about my parents, she thought.

As Mr. Strain started writing instructions for the day's chemistry experiment on the board, Ivy said, "There's just one thing." Olivia looked at her expectantly. "I need you to help me lose Toby again."

Olivia understood right away what her sister had in mind. It seemed like ages since she and Ivy had traded clothes and swapped places, but it was so much fun. A smile spread across her face.

"We'll switch!" they whispered together, as if on cue–which promptly set them both off in another laughing fit.

"Ladies," said Mr. Strain sternly from the front of the room. "Is there something humorous about oxygenation?"

"I'm sorry." Ivy gulped, straining to keep from laughing. "It's my medication." Olivia clutched her chair to keep from falling off.

It took half the class before they could say anything to each other without automatically cracking up. Finally, as they were finishing their experiment, Ivy whispered, "Where should we do it?"

"How about the mall?" Olivia suggested.

"Killer idea," Ivy said. "I'll head there with Toby in tow right after school. I'll go the long way."

"And I'll take the shortcut," Olivia said, blown away by how she and Ivy seemed able to read each other's minds, "and wait for you in the girls' bathroom in the food court. Once we switch clothes, I can lead Toby around the mall while you go to your appointment."

"Exactly," said Ivy. Then added loudly, "Five hundred seventy milliliters."

"Huh?" said Olivia, confused. Then she noticed Mr. Strain standing right in front of their desk. "Right," she said, writing the number on their experiment log. "Five hundred seventy mil- liliters."

As the teacher walked on to the next desk, Olivia felt Ivy slip something cool and metallic into her hand, and looked down to see that it was a set of keys. "I'll meet you back at my house after a few hours," Ivy whispered. "Just walk in, say hello to my dad, and head straight to my room. Don't come out until I get there. Eventually,Toby will give up and go home."

Olivia nodded. She'd have to call her mom and tell her that she was studying at someone's house. She went over the rest of the plan in her mind, and then she started to grin again.

"What is it?" Ivy asked.

"If we're switching clothes, then you're going to have to wear this to the adoption agency," she said, pointing to her pink sparkly top.

The look of complete horror on Ivy's face was more than Olivia could bear. She burst out laugh- ing again, which set Ivy off, too.

"Ladies!" called Mr. Strain.