My Sister the Vampire Book 2: Fangtastic! (Chapter 9)

Olivia peeled her eyes away from her sister, who was frozen on the landing, and looked at Brendan, who was staring up at Ivy with his mouth hanging wide open. He looked even paler than usual.

"Bren," Ivy said quietly at last, "there's some- thing I've been meaning to tell you." She pulled her hair from its ponytail and descended the stairs to stand before him. "Olivia and I are twin sisters," she said, her voice trembling.

Brendan looked over at Olivia. "You're not Ivy?" he asked.

Olivia shook her head.

"Whoa," he said, and for a moment Olivia thought he might faint.

Ivy grabbed his hand to steady him, and Brendan's eyes flickered. "That hand feels like you."

Ivy smiled. "That's because it is me," she said quietly.

"You two . . . are t-twins?" Brendan stam- mered.

Ivy nodded. "We only just found each other at the beginning of the school year," she explained. "I never even knew I had a twin sister before."

At least we don't have to keep it a secret anymore, Olivia thought.

"I have to sit down," Brendan said drily. He pulled his hand from Ivy's and staggered to the corner of the bed.

Ivy followed, talking faster now. "Not even the two of us noticed how much alike we look at first. But, apart from the fact that Olivia's a cheer- leader, we're practically identical."

Brendan shook his head. "I don't understand," he said. "How come she doesn't look like a cheer- leader right now?"

"Because," Ivy said, wincing, "we switched places."

Brendan blinked slowly.

"Bren?" Ivy quavered. A single tear tracked down her face, and Olivia felt her own eyes well up. "Are you okay?"

Brendan didn't answer.

Please, please don't break up with her, thought Olivia, biting her lip.

Brendan's voice erupted hoarsely at last. "I– I just can't believe it. . . . Long-lost twin sisters? It's like something from a book."

Ivy took a deep breath. "I'd understand if you never wanted to see me again, Brendan." Her lip trembled violently. "I should have told you. I wanted to–"

Brendan suddenly stood and put his hand on Ivy's face, gently wiping away a tear with his thumb. Ivy's spray-on tan rubbed off to reveal a pale stripe of skin. Brendan smiled and hugged her. "I'm a little confused, but I'm not mad," he whispered, as Ivy wrapped her arms tightly around him.

Olivia wiped her eyes as she let out a heavy sigh of relief.

"There's something else." Ivy sniffled, pulling back from Brendan after a moment.

"You mean you've got a secret bigger than your twin sister?" Brendan teased. Olivia chuck- led nervously.

"Olivia and I aren't completely identical," Ivy began. "She's not a vampire."

Brendan did a double take. "Ivy!" he whis- pered disapprovingly, shooting a quick, sidelong glance at Olivia.

"I had to tell her, Brendan," Ivy said.

Olivia stepped forward. "I promised Ivy that I would never, ever tell anyone, and I won't, Brendan. I'll do anything to keep the vampire secret safe." Brendan looked at her doubtfully. "That's why I'm dressed up like Ivy right now– to keep Toby Decker off her trail."

"What does Toby Decker have to do with any- thing?" Brendan asked.

"Serena Star has got him spying on me in the hope of finding out something sensational," Ivy explained.

"Oh," Brendan said. "I guess that makes sense, then." He chuckled. "It's completely insane, but it does make sense."

He and Ivy hugged again.

Olivia realized that her feet were killing her from marching around in Ivy's heavy black boots all afternoon. "Hey, now that the big secret's out," she interrupted, "can we switch back?"

Ivy looked down at the pink sparkly top. "Definitely."

"Aw," whined Brendan, "but I really like you in pink."

"Really?" Olivia and Ivy both said in surprise.

"No," Brendan answered mischievously. Then he winked at Olivia. "No offense."

"None taken." Olivia laughed as she and Ivy headed for the black-lacquered screen in the cor- ner of the room to swap clothes.

Brendan started to laugh, too. "No wonder you couldn't find my book!"

Ivy pulled her top on over her head and came out from behind the screen in the corner of the room, leaving Olivia to finish changing.

Brendan's eyes lit up when he saw her. "There you are," he said, and Ivy's heart fluttered.

With a grin, she walked straight to her desk and pulled Brendan's English book from the mid- dle of the heap. She walked over to him and held it out. "Thanks, Brendan," she said, and she wasn't just talking about the book he'd lent her.

Brendan brushed her hand as he took the book. "You're welcome." Then he added, "No more secrets, though. Okay?"

"Okay," Ivy said, pushing aside a shoe and some bags and sitting down beside him.

"You know," Brendan remarked, "you both do this thing where you scrunch your nose up when you're nervous."

"My nose does not scrunch!" protested Ivy.

"Yes, it does." Brendan smiled gently. He leaned back on his elbows. "One vampire sister and the other human," he said, his black T-shirt stretching across his chest. "That doesn't happen every day, huh?"

"No kidding," said Ivy. "That's why Olivia and I switched this afternoon. I went to the vampire adoption agency to see what I could find out about our parents."

Olivia's head popped out from behind the screen, half her face still covered with spray-on whitener. "What did you find out?" she asked.

"Nothing. They didn't even have a record of my adoption. Apparently, no one named Charles Vega has adopted a child in the last four hundred years! I think they must have lost my file."

Olivia's face fell.

"I'm sorry, Olivia," Ivy told her.

Olivia sighed. "I've been spending so much time thinking about my mother and Great-aunt Edna and their history, you know, for this film project," she quavered. "I thought we might be able to get at least a clue into our own family."

Ivy nodded sympathetically.

Olivia was silent for a moment, and Ivy couldn't tell if there was a tear falling down her sister's whitened cheek. "I'll be done in a sec," Olivia whispered at last, disappearing behind the screen again.

Brendan stood up abruptly. "We should have a party!" he announced.

Ivy turned to him in disbelief. "A party?"

"Sure." Brendan nodded. "Or have you and Olivia already celebrated the fact that you're long-lost twin sisters?"

Ivy shook her head, and Olivia's voice called from behind the screen, "I could use a party!"

Brendan looked at Ivy. "What do you say we go to my family's crypt? We'll bring some celebratory A neg for us, and we can pick up a fruit smoothie for Olivia on the way."

Olivia emerged looking like herself again. "What's a family crypt?"

"Lots of vamp families have their own tombs," Ivy explained. "It's sort of like our version of a vacation home."

"My family's place really sucks, though," said Brendan. "I go there all the time just to hang out and play guitar.You'll dig it. Seriously."

"I'm game." Olivia grinned. "My mom isn't expecting me home till eight thirty."

Ivy smiled. "Then let's party," she agreed.

"Does anyone else know you guys are twins?" Brendan asked.

"Well, there's Sophia," Ivy replied. "She fig- ured it out weeks ago."

"Then let's invite her, too," Brendan sug- gested. "The more, the merrier."

You are seriously the most amazing boyfriend ever, Ivy thought.

Olivia was bending down to put on the pink mule that was lying at the bottom of the stairs. "Ivy, where's my other shoe?" she asked.

Suddenly, Ivy heard measured footsteps approaching from upstairs. "My dad's coming!" she cried. "He can't see the two of us together! Olivia, you have to go!"

Brendan whispered, "You mean your dad doesn't even know?"

Ivy practically pushed her tottering, one-shoed sister up the stairs. When they reached the land- ing, Ivy hoisted the window open and helped Olivia tumble out through it. She slammed the window just in time to turn and see her father descending toward her.

"Hi, Dad," she said, trying not to sound out of breath.

"Hello, Ivy," her father replied.

"I was, uh, just coming up to tell you that Brendan and I are going out," Ivy told him.

Ivy's dad glanced past her to the bottom of the stairs. Brendan gave him a friendly wave.

"What a coincidence!" Ivy's dad said, and for a split second Ivy thought he knew something. "I am also leaving, to go and inspect Mrs. Wendell's new curtains."

"Great," said Ivy nervously. "We'll follow you out."

Her father peered into Ivy's eyes suspiciously. "Ivy," he said as Ivy's heart beat like a drum, "have you finished your homework?"

Ivy blinked. "Almost."

"Then you'd best be back by eight thirty to fin- ish it up," her father said. "Shall I pick you up something for dinner?"

"No thanks, Dad. We'll grab a bite," Ivy said.

Ivy and Brendan exchanged nervous looks as they followed her father back up the stairs, through the house, and out the front door. Then Ivy's dad kissed her on the forehead and got into his black convertible.

"That was close," said Brendan as they watched the car head off down the driveway.

Then Ivy grabbed Brendan's hand and led him around the side of the house. They found Olivia, looking slightly disheveled from having scrambled out the window, staring up at a tall bush.

"Ivy, what is my shoe doing up there?" she asked, pointing to the mule, which was lodged on a branch near the top of the bush, like a pink bat.

As she followed Brendan, Ivy, and Sophia into the oldest graveyard in Franklin Grove, Olivia glanced over her shoulder. She was still a little paranoid that Toby Decker might be following them, even though Brendan had done reconnais- sance before they left Ivy's backyard. Brendan had said Toby wasn't lurking anywhere nearby, and they'd all agreed he must have finally given up and gone home.

Relax! she thought to herself, slurping her strawberry and mango smoothie. As she gingerly stepped over a fallen tombstone, she was really glad they'd been able to get her other shoe down from that bush.

Deep in the center of the cemetery, her friends stopped in front of a low, ancient stone building that looked like it was sinking into the ground. A series of three arches supported by ivy-entwined pillars made an awning. Beneath the center arch, Olivia could dimly make out a hulking stone door with tarnished bronze gargoyles on either side. In the middle of the door was an ornate square plate carved right into the stone, inscribed with a single word: DANIELS. The letters almost seemed to glow.

"Ready for the underworld?" Brendan asked Olivia, who nodded nervously.

"Wait until you see the inside," Ivy whispered.

Brendan ducked under the awning and turned one of the claws of the gargoyle on the right. There was a series of dull clicks and thuds, and suddenly the enormous door slid open. With a grin over his shoulder, Brendan stepped into the darkness inside.

Sophia followed right behind him, and Ivy went next.

Suddenly, Olivia realized her heart was thrash- ing like a pom-pom. She wanted to walk into the darkness, she really did, but somehow it was just too creepy.

Ivy's head reappeared. She flashed Olivia a devilish grin, grabbed her hand, and pulled her inside.

Ivy led her through the pitch blackness and down a flight of uneven steps. Suddenly Olivia heard the strike of a match, and a tiny flame illu- minated the darkness. She saw that they were in some sort of antechamber, and it was enormous. It almost seemed impossible that such a big place could fit inside the structure she'd seen outside.

Brendan walked around, lighting a huge can- dle in each corner. Beneath the cathedral-like ceiling, the walls were covered with huge, strange markings carved deep into the stone, and the ground was grooved, as if a network of tiny rivers flowed through it. A small tower of stone rose like a bony finger from the center of the floor; a gar- land of long-dead flowers hung around it.

"T-this place is incredible," Olivia stammered.

Each wall had an arch in its center which led to another room.

"That room," said Ivy, pointing to the passage on the left, "is where all the urns of Brendan's rel- atives are." Olivia peeked in to see dozens of ornate stone containers, each one on its own lit- tle shelf, rising from floor to ceiling. She was overpowered by a musty smell and backed away.

Then Ivy gestured to the passage on the right. "And that one his family uses for some of their more valuable antiques." Olivia could dimly make out an elegant chaise longue, some gleaming can- delabra, and a big old wooden chest.

"But this one," said Brendan, pointing to the middle room, "has killer acoustics." He ducked inside and started lighting more candles. The three girls followed.

The middle room was lined with a series of life-sized bronze figures, sitting with their backs against the walls.

"Are there dead people inside those?" Olivia whispered.

Brendan shook his head with a little chuckle.

Brendan, Ivy, and Sophia each took a seat on the laps of the effigies as Olivia stood in the cen- ter of the room, looking around her in amaze- ment and fascination. She loved the enormous tapestry of the silhouette of a huge leafless tree, which hung high up on one wall.

Finally, Olivia took a seat beside Sophia on one of the cool bronze laps. She leaned back. This is surprisingly comfortable, she thought.

Brendan opened his backpack and pulled out some plastic cups. Then he pulled out a dark bot- tle, uncorked it, and poured a round for himself, Sophia, and Ivy.

"Is that . . . you know . . ." Olivia stammered, desperately trying not to be lame. "Blood?"

"Not really," Sophia said.

"Sophia!" Ivy exclaimed, rolling her eyes.

"It's true!" Sophia cried. "This stuff is packed with preservatives!"

Brendan raised his cup in the air. "A toast," he announced.

Ivy nodded. "To family," she said, looking right at Olivia.

"To friends," said Sophia.

"To secrets," Olivia said, grinning.

She clinked her smoothie against her friends' cups, and a moment later, their laughter was echoing in the crypt's perfect acoustics.

Ivy hugged Sophia and Olivia good-bye outside the tomb. Brendan was staying behind to hang out and start working on his essay, and Olivia and Sophia had decided to walk home together, since they both lived in the same direction.

"Are you sure, Ivy?" Olivia asked. "My parents would never let me walk home alone after dark in a zillion years."

Ivy smiled. "I'm a vampire, remember? Night's my favorite time of day."With a little wave, she set off across the graveyard.

Ivy stayed off the main streets, enjoying the darkness around her. She didn't have to be home for another half hour, so she had lots of time. As she strolled, she couldn't help thinking about how happy she felt. It was strange, because in lots of ways, it had been a terrible day: from first thing this morning, when Serena Star had tried to implicate her on national TV, to her failure to learn anything at the adoption agency. But, some- how, none of it mattered. Brendan was right: there was so much to celebrate.

He wasn't even mad, she thought tenderly.

Before she knew it, Ivy was climbing the long drive to her house. She glanced at her watch: 8:25 P.M., righton time. Her dad's car still wasn't back, though, so she reached into her bag for her keys. After a few seconds of rummaging, she realized she hadn't gotten them back from Olivia.

No big deal, she thought. She would just have to climb in through her bedroom window. Ivy calmly walked around to the back of the house but was shocked to find that her window was closed. With a jolt, she remembered that she'd closed it after pushing Olivia out, so that her dad wouldn't catch them.

Ivy scanned the back of the house, and noticed that the window of her father's second floor office was open. She smiled to herself. I have to admit, being a vampire is pretty killer. After all . . . she thought, taking a few steps back and peering around to make sure no one was watching, . . . it means I can do this.

A superhuge leap landed her feet first on the second floor window ledge. Ivy deftly swung her- self inside and shut the window. She wound her way down through the house, pausing in the kitchen to grab a cookie.

She stopped at the top of the stairs that led down into her room and surveyed the damage. I didn't think it was possible, she thought, smiling and shaking her head, but Olivia has made my room even more of a mess!