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My Sister the Vampire Book 2: Fangtastic! (Chapter 10)

"Many think there is no deep, dark secret in Franklin Grove," Serena Star was saying as the TV flickered to life in the family room. Olivia sank down on the couch, relieved that she hadn't missed the morning news. After last night's grave- yard bash and then staying up late to do her homework, she'd overslept.

"They say," Serena continued as the camera followed her down Main Street, "that the Goth culture here is no more harmful than football." Olivia noticed that the camel suede suit Serena was wearing was the same one she'd worn yester- day. In fact, it sort of looked like she'd slept in it.

Her makeup looked a bit hurried, too.

"And perhaps they are right," Serena Star fin- ished suddenly.

Really? Olivia perked up.

"I'd hoped to have the answers for you this morning, America, but"–Serena's face changed from serious to smiling–"we were all shocked and overjoyed by last night's breaking news! That's right, I'm talking about Academy Award winner and former Miss America Charlene Costa's surprise wedding to country music heart- throb Manny Shucker. Tune in this afternoon for exclusive video footage taken by the maid of honor, the final word on Franklin Grove, and other hot stories on a special blockbuster edition of The Morning Star later today!"

Serena Star flashed her trademark smile and approached the camera. "Because the Star of truth must shine! My name's Serena Star. Wake up, America!"

A smile spread across Olivia's face as she clicked off the TV. Finally, she thought as she headed upstairs to get ready for school, the dis- traction we've been waiting for–Serena will probably be on the next plane to California to cover the Charlene Costa story!

Ivy was walking down the hallway on her way to her first period class when she spotted the Beasts huddled together in a corner. There was some- thing about them that wasn't quite right, but it took her a second to sink her fangs into what it was: none of them was laughing. They're up to something grave, she thought.

Charlotte Brown was passing by with her clique of bunny minions. Garrick lifted his head, and Ivy noticed that he was wearing the same Interna 3 T-shirt he'd been wearing all week. "Charlotte!" he called. "Wait up!" He separated from his friends and ran over to her.

Ivy slipped behind a school flag, hoping to catch a hint of what Garrick and Charlotte were talking about, but she couldn't hear what they were saying. She did notice Charlotte's bunny eyes light up and saw her nodding like Garrick had just promised her a shopping spree. Then Charlotte ran back to her friends, Katie and Allison, shrieking, "Guess what?" and Ivy heard them tittering excitedly as they disappeared down the hall together.

Garrick was slinking back to his friends with a devilish leer plastered on his face when Ivy inter- cepted him. "What are you up to?" she demanded.

"Vega," said Garrick. "Wake up on the wrong side of your box again this morning?"

Ivy narrowed her eyes. "Don't you think it's time to wash your T-shirt?" she asked pointedly. "It's ready to climb out of a coffin all on its own!"

"Hey," Garrick retorted, "I got a free top-of-the- line, brand-new Interna 3 out of all the publicity I've been throwing their way. And you thought jumping out of that coffin was a bad idea! Shows what you know."

Ivy rolled her eyes. "What's going on with you and Charlotte Brown?"

"None of your business," he answered.

Ivy bore down on him with her death squint.

Garrick's mouth spread into a sinister grin. "I'm, uh, interviewing her for my movie." He raised his eyebrows and puffed out his chest. "Once Serena Star sees it, she'll be begging me to come back on her show," he added. "And Charlotte might just win an Academy Award for Best Victim," he finished with a wink.

Then he sauntered back to his friends, who greeted him with hoots and hollers, and Ivy frowned as she watched.

Suddenly, there was a tap on her shoulder, and Ivy turned to find Serena Star smiling at her strangely. Right away, Ivy noticed that there was something different about her. For one thing, her cameraman wasn't with her. Also, she was wear- ing the same suit she'd been wearing yesterday, and her hair looked unusually flat.

"I've been looking for you everywhere," said Serena.

Ivy wanted to say You mean Toby has, but she thought better of it. "Well, here I am." She shrugged. "Aren't you leaving for Hollywood to interview Charlene Costa?"

"Not until I'm finished with Franklin Grove," replied Serena, her eyes flashing. "I thought you'd like to know that I've decided to reshape my story."

Ivy took a step back. "What do you mean?"

"Well," Serena said, nodding wildly, "I've been in this town all week, and it's clear that there's no big secret here."

Ivy stared at her incredulously.

"So what I'm going to do," Serena went on, "is profile a Goth who's really a leader in this com- munity. Someone who all the others look up to, a real role model. I can't think of a better way to show America that Goths are nothing to be afraid of. And guess who I want to profile?" Serena raised her thin eyebrows.

Ivy swallowed. "Me?"

Serena unleashed a smile that nearly blinded her. "That's right."

"You're serious?" Ivy asked suspiciously.

Serena nodded enthusiastically. "Aren't I always?"

She's not kidding, Ivy thought. I think we might have fooled her.

"So?" Serena Star pressed. "Ready for your close-up?"

"I don't really like being the center of attention," Ivy said. It was true. Just the thought of being on TV made her stomach hurt–she'd had a hard enough time pretending to be head of decorations at the All Hallow's Ball. "I'm not even wearing the right clothes," she added, gesturing to her old black cardigan and flared black pants.

"I won't take no for an answer," Serena said, with a sparkly smile.

If this is what it takes to shut the coffin on Serena's interest in Franklin Grove once and for all, Ivy thought, I'd better do it.

She forced herself to smile too. "Then I guess I have to say yes," she told Serena.

"Maybe we can pull Edna's jeweled fan across the screen to reveal a map of Italy," suggested Olivia.

Camilla nodded enthusiastically. "That's a great idea." They were in media studies, working on the storyboard for their movie. Mr. Colton said they had to plan every single shot, to make sure they used up the whole five minutes.

Behind them, Olivia could hear Garrick and his friends whispering intensely. Olivia heard Garrick mutter, ". . . on eBay. They were a sick bargain!"

"Let me see!" one of the other boys whispered. There was some rustling, and then Olivia heard something clatter to the floor. She looked down.

Gross, she thought, making a face. Dentures. They were all old and yellow and pointy.

Wait a sec, Olivia thought. Those aren't just den- tures!

Garrick snatched the teeth off the floor and shoved them in his pocket. "You guys are going to get us staked!" Olivia heard him hiss as he slid back into his seat.

So Garrick's finally got himself a set of fake fangs, Olivia thought, but at least he's trying to keep them a secret. Maybe he's finally decided to give the public- vampire routine a rest!

The bell for the end of school rang, and Ivy put her hand on Olivia's open notebook just as her sister was about to close it. "Play dead for a minute," she said quietly. "I need to talk."

The other students in science class filed out of the room. Mr. Strain finished cleaning the black- board and looked at them expectantly.

"We're just going to stay here and talk about tomorrow's experiment for a few minutes, if that's okay with you, Mr. Strain," Ivy said.

"Of course," Mr. Strain replied. "I'm glad you girls are finally starting to take scientific explo- ration seriously." He picked up a huge pile of papers from his desk, squeezed them into his briefcase, and walked out the door, leaving Olivia and Ivy alone.

"What's up?" asked Olivia.

"Serena Star wants to interview me," Ivy answered nervously.

"No way!" gasped Olivia. "I thought she was backing off."

"She is." Ivy nodded. "She says she wants to profile a Goth student who's a good role model."

"Great!" Olivia declared. "At last this whole deep, dark vampire secret thing seems to be blow- ing over."

"I guess so." Ivy sighed. "Then again, I'm not sure which I think is more painful: being found out and burned at the stake or being interviewed on national TV by Serena Star!" She felt like there were bats in her stomach every time she thought of the coming interview.

"Oh, please," Olivia said, nudging Ivy's arm reassuringly. "You'll be awesome. Anyway, there's something I wanted to tell you, too."

"What?"

"In media studies today"–Olivia lowered her voice–"Garrick Stephens accidentally dropped something on the floor."

"Like his brain?" Ivy joked.

Olivia cracked a smile. "Like he has one?" she joked back. Then she shook her head and looked serious. "Fake fangs," she told Ivy.

Ivy pursed her lips. "Hmm, Garrick was acting seriously strange this morning about Charlotte Brown," she admitted. "He was talking about his media studies project, and he made a comment about her winning a Best Victim Oscar."

Olivia's eyes widened. "You don't think he'd try to bite her, do you?" she whispered. "He wouldn't be that stupid, would he?"

Ivy gave her a doubtful look. "These are the Beasts we're talking about."

"Come on," Olivia said, shutting her note- book. "Garrick's been pretty desperate to get back on TV, and something involving fake fangs and a cheerleader could certainly get him noticed. We'd better find Charlotte."

"And fast," Ivy agreed, grabbing her bag. They bolted out of the classroom and into the hallway. "There hasn't been a case of a vampire biting a human in generations," she told Olivia as they raced toward the front hall. "If Garrick even tries to sink his fangs into Charlotte, he'll do exactly what we've been trying to avoid–reveal the exis- tence of vampires!"

Ivy spotted Charlotte's blond ponytail bounc- ing across the hallway, with Garrick Stephens' dark silhouette slouching after her.

Ivy and Olivia raced down the hallway after them, and Ivy peeked around the corner just in time to see Garrick duck into the media studies classroom. She and Olivia snuck up on either side of the classroom door and peered in through its glass window.

Inside, Dylan Soyle was fiddling with the school video camera as Kyle Glass adjusted a big light and Ricky Slitherman maneuvered a fuzzy sound boom into position, huge headphones on his ears. Charlotte was sitting on a chair in the center of the room, illuminated by the spotlight. She was looking at herself in a pink plastic compact, putting on extra makeup and fluffing her hair. Ivy watched her cycle through a series of facial expressions: a fat smile, a sultry pout, a sur- prised open mouth. Then she blew herself a big kiss. Well, she's sure doing her best to look juicy, Ivy thought.

"Where's Garrick?" Olivia whispered.

Ivy scanned the room and directed her sister's gaze to a darkened corner near the back. Garrick's hands were lifted in front of his face, like he was putting something in his mouth.

"Please tell me that's just bubble gum," Olivia quavered.

"I'm afraid it's the fangs," Ivy whispered.

They could see Garrick's lips bulging slightly as he shot a ghoulish close-mouthed smile at the other Beasts.

Just then, Dylan Soyle burst into a coughing fit. Ivy couldn't hear him through the door, but it was clear to her he was faking it. All at once, he recovered, and when he brought his hands away from his face, Ivy could see there was something in his mouth, too.

Kyle and Ricky had their own suspicious bulges behind their lips. Garrick wasn't the only one with fangs–they all had them.

They're actually gearing up to bite Charlotte! Ivy thought incredulously. She glanced at Olivia and saw that her sister had turned white as a sheet.

Garrick took his place behind the camera, and Charlotte put her compact and makeup away in her bag. A moment later, Dylan pressed a button on the camera, and Garrick pointed a crooked finger at his star. Right on cue, Charlotte plas- tered a smile on her face.

The other boys crept along the sides of the room as Garrick looked through the viewfinder and called something out to Charlotte. Ivy could just make out enough to know it was a question; the interview had begun.

Charlotte took a deep breath, batted her eyelashes, and started to speak directly to the camera.

Garrick nodded encouragingly as the other Beasts closed in behind her. Between Charlotte's heavy makeup and exaggerated facial expres- sions–and the fact that Ivy couldn't hear a word she was saying–she looked exactly like the victim in an old silent vampire movie.

"We have to stop them!" Olivia croaked. The Beasts were licking their chops hungrily while Charlotte prattled on at the camera, completely oblivious.

"Yes," Ivy agreed.

Olivia was trying not to hyperventilate. "But there are four of them, and only two of us. Plus they're all vampires!" She gulped for air. "I really, really want to make it to ninth grade–you know?"

Ivy squeezed her sister's hand. "Olivia, I've been putting up with the Beasts my whole life. They're complete wimps! You and I can definitely take them," she said confidently. "On the count of three," she went on, putting her hand on the doorknob, "we're going in. One, two–"

"Wait!" Olivia grabbed her sister's hand. "If anything happens . . . I want your dark red top."

Ivy cracked a smile. "Three!" She turned the knob and eased the door open, but an unexpected noise stopped them from going farther. They peeked in to see Dylan Soyle coughing up a lung again.

"Stop coughing, Dylan!" Garrick hissed. "You're ruining the . . . er . . . the shot!"

But Dylan just kept coughing. Finally, Charlotte spun around in her chair, her lip curled in annoy- ance. "Why don't you go get a drink or some- thing?" she snapped.

That's when Olivia noticed that Dylan's mouth wasn't puffed out anymore. He took out his fangs! she thought.

Suddenly, Dylan was heading for the door. Olivia and Ivy dove out of the way as he burst into the hallway. Looking like he was going to puke, he fled in the direction of the boys' room.

From where she was crouched on the other side of the doorway, Ivy grinned at Olivia and mouthed the words "Cold feet!"

Now that the door was open, Olivia and Ivy could hear exactly what was going on inside.

"Go on, Charlotte," Garrick said, motioning frantically from behind the camera. "Don't stop!"

"So unprofessional," Charlotte muttered under her breath and adjusted herself in her chair. "Like I was saying"–she switched her smile back on– "the life of a cheerleader is filled with ups and downs, tosses and turns. Just like a real cheer!"

Behind Charlotte's back, Ricky and Kyle looked like they were having a silent finger-pointing contest. Olivia grinned at Ivy across the doorway. They can't figure out who should go first! she thought gleefully.

Suddenly, Kyle cleared his throat loudly.

"What is it now?" Charlotte snapped.

"N-nothing," Kyle stammered. "Uh, I'm just going to go see if Dylan's okay." And just like that, he rushed out of the room without a backward glance.

"You'll never work in this town again!" Garrick shouted after him. Then he leered at Charlotte, clearly determined to salvage the situation. "Please, contin–"

"Garrick?" said Ricky bashfully from behind Charlotte's chair. "I'm not really hungry either."

Charlotte looked like she was on the verge of throwing the biggest fit in middle school history. "Hungry!" She leaped up from her chair. "I'm lighting up the silver screen, and all you boys can think about is food?"

Ricky mumbled an apology and shuffled out.

"Garrick Stephens," Charlotte said, marching right up to him, "this is all your fault!" She poked him in the chest angrily. "I'm going to have to start all over again!"

Suddenly Charlotte peered at Garrick's mouth suspiciously. "Are you chewing gum during my movie debut?" she demanded incredulously. "You spit that out!"

Garrick's sunken eyes dulled with defeat. He turned his back on Charlotte, and Olivia saw him spit his fangs out into his hand. "Show business," he muttered forlornly.

Thrusting the teeth back into his pocket, Garrick gestured for his star to return to her seat. In a grim monotone, he said, "Charlotte Brown, cheerleader, take two."

"It's head cheerleader, you dork!" Charlotte corrected.

Olivia and Ivy snuck away down the hall, rushed into the science hall bathroom, and burst into laughter.

"I should have known they wouldn't go through with it!" Ivy cried.

"I'd say Charlotte was the only one who drew blood in that room!" Olivia joked.

A moment later, Ivy glanced at her watch, and her smile melted away. "Oh, no," she grimaced. "I'm supposed to meet Serena Star in the Scribe office for my interview in five minutes!" She glanced at herself nervously in the mirror.

"Don't worry," Olivia said. "You look great." She straightened the shoulders of her sister's black sweater so it fell squarely over her black pants. "If Charlotte could survive her interview with a vampire, I just know you'll survive yours with Serena Star!"

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