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My Sister the Vampire Book 2: Fangtastic! (Chapter 5)

After school, Olivia was warming up for cheer- leading practice in the gym, trying to ignore both Charlotte Brown, who was chattering on oblivi- ously beside her about how being on TV had completely changed her life, and Garrick Stephens, who was lounging on the bleachers with Kyle Glass and leering at all the cheerleaders as "research" for his movie.

Suddenly, the gym door swung open and in marched Serena Star, followed by Toby Decker and her cameraman. Charlotte's friend Katie shrieked and whispered, "But I'm having the worst hair day!"

"Hey, Serena!" Garrick Stephens sprang up from the bleachers and trotted over. He was still wearing the same Interna 3 T-shirt, which Olivia thought was starting to look crusty. "I was won- dering when you'd be back for more of me!"

Serena turned to Toby and said, "Keep him away from me," loud enough so that everyone could hear. Toby looked doubtfully at Garrick and went to distract him while Serena went up to Charlotte.

"I need to talk to you," Serena said.

"Of course!" Charlotte winked at Olivia smugly as Serena led her out of earshot.

I have to hear what they're saying! Olivia thought. She started doing huge jumping jacks, inching closer to where Charlotte and Serena were standing with every jump. Finally she heard Serena Star say, ". . . you have a big role in a film that Garrick Stephens is making?"

Charlotte flipped her hair and said, "Not really, it's just–"

"It's called `Cheers for Fears,'" Garrick inter- rupted, reappearing beside them as Toby scram-bled to intercept him. "It's going to be a block- buster!"

Serena spun around to face Garrick and snapped, "Don't you have a coffin to be in?"Then she looked over his shoulder at her new assistant. "Toby, is there a problem?"

"No, Ms. Star," Toby answered sheepishly. "I mean, yes, Ms. Star. I mean, come on, Garrick." He put his hand on Garrick's arm.

Garrick shook him off. "Showbiz," he scowled. "One day you're the big story, and the next you're out on the street." He glowered meaningfully at Serena Star and then stalked away.

Serena turned back to Charlotte and switched her smile back on. "Have Garrick or his friends ever asked you to do anything strange?" she asked.

"Like what?" said Charlotte.

"Like sleep in a coffin? Or do anything with vampire fangs?"

Charlotte laughed, "Oh, that!" and Olivia's jumping jacks skipped a jack. "I thought you meant something serious. Those guys are always playing Dracula. It's so lame. They're all, like, `I want to suck your blood' and `I should bite that guy's neck.'" Charlotte rolled her eyes. "I mean, this is eighth grade. Isn't it time to stop playing dress up?"

Serena nodded. "All this vampire talk could be the start of something dangerous," she said. "Have you heard of any vicious animal attacks or grue- some murders taking place in Franklin Grove?"

Charlotte frowned, looking faintly alarmed. "No, I can't . . . I mean, I don't remember . . ." she stammered.

Serena smiled reassuringly and changed the subject, but Olivia's stomach was churning. Serena Star was becoming obsessed with vam- pires, and the problem was that that fixation could lead her to stumble on the truth.

Out of the corner of her eye, Olivia saw Garrick still lurking off to one side. He was clearly eavesdropping, just like she was, and he did not seem happy with Charlotte's description of the Beasts' behavior. Olivia saw him gesture to Kyle Glass, and a moment later, the two boys slipped out of the gym.

Toby was still hanging around, waiting for Serena to finish talking to Charlotte, and Olivia suddenly remembered her promise to Ivy.

Now's my chance, she thought.

She did an extralarge jumping jack so that her arm accidentally clipped Toby's shoulder.

"Oops, sorry!" said Toby, stepping backward apologetically.

Olivia gasped. "Oh, my gosh! Toby, I'm so sorry," she said. "Are you okay?"

He pushed a blond lock of hair off his fore- head. "Yes," he said, blushing slightly. "No prob- lem."

"So," Olivia went on, "what have you been up to lately, Toby?"

"I'm acting as special assistant to WowTV's Serena Star on her big story about Franklin Grove," Toby told her.

"Wow! Really?" Olivia said with wide eyes.

"Yes." Toby nodded proudly.

"Any big leads?" Olivia inquired.

Toby looked around to make sure no one was listening. "Garrick Stephens asked my dentist's office for a set of vampire fangs, and Serena thinks it might be the big break we've been wait- ing for! She's absolutely determined to discover everything she can about the obsession with vam- pires in Franklin Grove."

"You're kidding!" Olivia exclaimed with a grin. "Vampires?" Maybe if I can convince Toby that there's nothing to the vampire angle, Olivia thought, he'll convince Serena Star.

Toby nodded, looking slightly uncomfortable.

"Come on, Toby," Olivia said, rolling her eyes. "Serena Star might as well be looking for were- wolves–I mean, witches," she added quickly, remembering Ivy and Sophia's ambiguity on the werewolf front. "You don't think there's anything to it, do you?"

"Honestly?" whispered Toby, with a backward glance toward Serena Star. "I've known Garrick and those guys all my life, and they are pretty strange. But lots of kids have issues. My father says they're just looking for attention." He shrugged. "Nevertheless, I have to do what Serena Star says. This job is a stepping-stone for me. In a few years, I could be the youngest network anchor- man in television history."

Olivia believed he could, too–Toby was noth- ing if not driven. Suddenly, she thought she heard Charlotte mention Ivy's name. From the look on Toby's face, she knew he'd heard it, too. They exchanged glances and edged closer to Serena's conversation.

"She is like the darkest Goth of all. She's been wearing nothing but black since before kinder- garten–I've even seen her wear black socks. Isn't that gross? I live next door to her house, and sometimes you can see her lurking behind these thick dark curtains. Not that I would ever spy or anything." Charlotte giggled uncomfortably. "Anyway, if there's anything bizarre happening in Franklin Grove, I'd bet my poms that she's behind it. Even Garrick and the Beasts listen to her!"

"And you say this girl's name is Ivy Vega?" con- firmed Serena. Olivia bit her lip.

Charlotte shuddered. "Just the sound of her name gives me the creeps! You should read some of the morbid propaganda she writes in the school paper."

Serena held up a pink fingernail. "You mean, this is the same Ivy who's on the school paper?"

Charlotte nodded disapprovingly. "I ask you: What is happening to journalism in our schools today?"

Serena Star narrowed her eyes. "I thought there was something odd about her." Abruptly, she turned to Toby. "Toby, I want you to follow Ivy Vega's every move and then report back to me. I want to know every single place she goes, every single person she talks to, and every single thing she does."

Olivia looked on with dread as Toby said, "Right away, Ms. Star." He turned and smiled at Olivia. "I look forward to speaking with you again when I'm not working, Olivia."

"You, too, Toby," Olivia quavered, as he hur- ried out of the gym.

I have to warn Ivy that she's under surveillance! thought Olivia in a panic. Suddenly, Ms. Barnett, the gym teacher, appeared. "What's going on in here? Ms. Star, this is cheerleading practice, not journalism club. You can talk to my squad some other time.We've got some serious cheering to do!"

It was nearly 4:30 P.M. Ivy had stayed after school to do homework in the library, but she hadn't been able to concentrate because she couldn't stop worrying about Serena Star.

Now she was at her locker, packing up to go meet Sophia at the Meat & Greet. As she slammed her locker door shut, she thought she saw someone dart into a nearby doorway. She stared for a long moment, but no one reappeared. In fact, the hall- way was almost completely empty.

This Serena Star thing has made me seriously paranoid, she decided with a shake of her head. In the library, she'd even convinced herself that someone was peeking in at her through the window.

Ivy turned and began making her way down the hall. No matter how many times she told her- self nothing was amiss, she couldn't shake the feeling that someone was following her. Slowly, the hallways started filling up as people finished their clubs and sports practices.

At the corner of the main hall, Ivy set her jaw and abruptly spun around. Twenty feet behind her, a person in a blue shirt slipped behind a tall girl wearing a basketball jersey. The girl obviously found this odd, because she stepped aside to reveal . . . Toby Decker!

"Can I help you?" the tall girl demanded, peer- ing down at Toby, her hands on her hips. Toby nervously caught Ivy's eye and lunged to bury his face in a nearby water fountain.

Suddenly Olivia appeared at Ivy's side. "I've been looking for you," she said.

"Apparently you're not the only one," replied Ivy. "I think Toby Decker is following me." She gestured toward the water fountain, where Toby was peering at them as water filled his mouth.

"That's what I need to tell you," Olivia mur- mured in a low voice. "Charlotte told Serena Star that you're like queen of the Goths, and now Serena's commanded Toby to follow your every move."

"What!?" exclaimed Ivy.

"Shhh!" Olivia said and gestured for Ivy to start walking beside her. She spoke out of the side of her mouth. "Act natural. Serena also thinks people here are obsessed with vampires."

Ivy's heart skipped a beat, and she couldn't help glancing over her shoulder, only to see Toby snapping a huge telephoto lens onto a camera. She whipped her head back around. "He's trying to take pictures of us!" she gulped.

"We shouldn't be seen together like this," Olivia said.

Ivy agreed with a tiny nod and whispered, "Meet me at the Meat & Greet in thirty." They split off in different directions down the hall.

A half hour later, Ivy walked into the Meat & Greet and saw her sister sitting alone in a booth next to the one where they normally sat, tucked in the back. She glanced over her shoulder and saw Toby lurking on the edge of the parking lot.

Ivy and Olivia exchanged knowing looks, and Ivy went to her usual booth. She sat so that she and her sister were back to back, separated only by the banquette. Ivy picked up a menu and pre- tended to study it.

"I can't have Toby on my tail all the time," she said to her menu. "What if he follows me to the BloodMart or something?"

From the booth behind her, Olivia loudly ordered some chocolate cake. Then Ivy heard her whisper, "Maybe it's not so bad."

"That's what they used to say about public hanging," Ivy murmured, "and they were wrong about that, too."

"Think about it," Olivia whispered over her shoulder. "If Toby's following you all the time, you can control what he sees–he won't find any- thing interesting if you don't let him."

Ivy thought about it. Her sister had a deadly point.

Sophia arrived, looking down at them with a seriously puzzled expression on her face. "Why are you two sitting in separate booths?"

"Serena Star assigned Toby Decker to spy on me," Ivy seethed. "Olivia can't be seen with me because she's a double agent."

"Craziness," Sophia said, scooting in across from Ivy. "I just passed Toby on my way in."Then she whispered, "Hi, Olivia," to the back of Olivia's head.

"Hi, Soph," Olivia whispered back.

"Do you think my cell phone's tapped?" Ivy asked.

Sophia rolled her eyes. "You're under investigation by Toby Decker, Ivy. Not the FBI."

Ivy leaned forward. "Olivia found out from Toby that Serena's really focused on the vampire angle now."

"Oh, no," Sophia groaned, dropping her face in her hands.

"Pretty bad, huh?" Olivia called quietly from the next booth.

Ivy let out a sigh. "Can we change the subject and talk about something that doesn't make me feel like biting my own neck?"

For a long time none of them said anything. Then Olivia said, "Did Ivy tell you about my film project, Sophia?"

Sophia nodded. "She said you got all this killer stuff from a dead great-aunt."

"Who married a duke," Olivia added. "It's actually really romantic."

"I wish I could come over and see everything," Ivy said to her fork. "That necklace sounds drop dead."

She heard Olivia shift in her seat and say, "I don't think my parents should see us together. What if they notice how alike we are?"

"You two still haven't told your parents?" Sophia asked. Ivy shrugged by way of a response. So far, Sophia was the only other person in the world who knew Ivy and Olivia were twin sisters.

Suddenly Olivia stood up, walked to the diner window, and looked outside. Then she came back and slid into the seat next to Sophia. "He's gone," she said. "I just saw his mom pick him up."

"That's the first good news I've heard all day," Ivy said with relief, as the waitress appeared and set down Olivia's cake. Ivy and Sophia both ordered burgers.

Olivia was looking thoughtful. "I've been won- dering how come one of us is a vampire and the other human," she said once the waitress had gone. "Is it possible for someone to be born human and then get bitten and turned into a vampire?"

"It can happen," Ivy admitted. "But for a human to get turned into a vampire, she first has to get bitten by a vampire–and that hasn't hap- pened in generations. Even then, it would rely on the person surviving the vampire's bite."

"And that almost never happens," Sophia put in. "It's seriously a one-in-a-thousand chance."

"Anyway," Ivy said, "I know I was born a vam- pire."

"How?" Olivia pressed.

"Because of her eyes," Sophia answered matter- of-factly. "Born vamps have unusual eye colors. Trans-vamps don't."

Olivia's eyes suddenly lit up like she'd had an idea. She held up her spoon. "How about this? Maybe I was born a vampire too, but then I got cured!"

"Cured?" Ivy repeated. She and Sophia exchanged a grin. "Being a vamp isn't a disease, Olivia," Ivy explained. "It's not like it is on TV. It's not a curse."

"It's who we are," Sophia agreed. "It's physi- cal. It can't be undone."

Olivia frowned. "So I guess that means one of our parents must have been a vampire and the other a human," she mused. "Have siblings like us ever happened before?"

Ivy and Sophia exchanged glances.

"Um," Ivy began, not wanting to freak her sister out. "Actually, there's a lot of folklore about that."

"About us?" Olivia asked.

"About humans and vampires, you know, mat- ing," Sophia explained.

"Most people think it can't happen, or that . . ." Ivy hesitated and looked at Sophia for help.

"Or that a human and vampire's offspring couldn't survive or would have four heads or something . . . strange . . . like that," Sophia put in helpfully.

"Hardly anyone believes the monster thing anymore," Ivy added hurriedly, seeing a look of alarm on Olivia's face.

"But the legends still crop up," Sophia pointed out.

"I know," Ivy agreed, "but it's like vampires telling their kids that babies are delivered by bats. That isn't true either."

"Anyway," Sophia said, "a vampire and a human getting together in that way is forbidden."

"What do you mean?" asked Olivia.

"The Second Law of the Night," Sophia answered. "A vampire is never to fall in love with a human."

"Maybe our parents broke that rule, and that's why they put us up for adoption," Ivy suggested.

Sophia considered this and then nodded. "If the coffin fits . . ." she agreed.

"Isn't there some way we can find out for sure?" Olivia wondered.

Ivy thought for a second. "Have you ever tried talking to your adoption agency?"

"My mom and dad tried to get more informa- tion from them a few years ago," Olivia told her. "The only thing in the file was a copy of that note I told you about this morning. Do you know any- thing about your adoption?"

Ivy shook her head. "All I know is that I was left at a special vampire adoption agency that placed me with Charles Vega, bachelor. I know my name, where and when I was born, and that my parents wanted me to have the ring. End of story. Whenever I ask my dad about it, he just says"–she imitated his smooth baritone–"`You must look to the future, my Ivy, not back to the past.'"

Olivia and Sophia both chuckled.

"I used to think he was right," Ivy said with a shrug, "but now I feel like I have to know about my past." Ivy heaved a great sigh. All at once, she'd made up her mind. "I'm going to talk to someone at the vampire adoption agency."

Olivia leaned forward. "You can do that?"

"I can try," Ivy said. "If we were able to find each other, maybe we can find our biological par- ents, too!"

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