I flew from class like a bat out of hell.
Dullsville High's bell rang its final year-end ring and I was the first student to arrive at my locker. Normally the sound of the bell grated on my nerves like a woodpecker hammering on a sycamore, but this time the buzzing was as melodious as the sound of a harpsichord. It signaled one thing: summer vacation.
The two words rolled off my tongue like the sweet-tasting nectar of the blossoming honeysuckles. Aren't all vacations sweet? Given. However, summer vacation beats out its sister vacations—spring and winter break. Summer vacation surpasses them all with its incomparable advantages—two and a half months of freedom from textbooks, teachers, and torment. No detentions, lectures, or pop quizzes. No more spending an eight-hour day in the confines of Dullsville High, being the only goth in the preppy-filled school, or trying to lift an overslept pre-caffeinated head off my wooden desk. And most important, I could sleep in late. Just like a vampire.
My red and white school-colored handcuffs had been slipped off my wrists.
I was so pumped I even beat model student and my best friend, Becky, to her locker. It was the last time I'd have to remember, or forget, as I often did, the lock's random coordinates. Unreturned textbooks, notebooks, candy wrappers, and CDs filled the tiny metal closet. Forever the procrastinator, I waited until the final moment to clean it out. Unlike other lockers that had actual photographs of couples, staring back at me were oil-based pictures of me and Alexander that he'd painted and surprised me with, by hanging them in my locker. I gazed at them adoringly and carefully untacked one when I became distracted by the huge mess in front of me. I figured I needed a wheelbarrow to haul the load to Becky's truck but instead dragged out a dented garbage can and tossed out anything that I hadn't paid for.
"Summer's here! Can you believe it?" Becky said, catching up to me. We clasped hands and shrieked like we had just won tickets to a sold-out concert.
"It's finally here!" I exclaimed. "No more tardy slips or calls to my parents about dress codes."
Becky opened her locker, which had already been cleaned out. Photos of her and Matt presumably had been placed in a scrapbook with colorful captions, beautiful borders, and funky heart-shaped stickers. She examined the empty locker for anything else she might have forgotten.
"It looks like you even dusted it," I teased.
"This is going to be the best summer ever, Raven. This is the first summer we both will have boyfriends. To think, we'll be lying poolside with the hottest guys in Dullsville."
I spotted a painting of Alexander and me in front of Hatsy's Diner that still hung on the inside of my locker door. The stars twinkled above us and we were lit by the glow of the moon.
"Well, one of us will be," I said. And I wasn't referring to the fact that my boyfriend wouldn't be able to worship the sun.
I had a bigger problem—he wasn't even in Dullsville.
Becky must have read my wistful expression. "I bet Alexander will be back anytime now to have graveside picnics with you," Becky offered with a bright smile.
Alexander and his creepy-but-kind butler, Jameson, had driven the ailing tween vampire, Valentine Maxwell, to Hipsterville in hopes of reuniting him with his nefariously Draculine siblings, Jagger and Luna. After Valentine tried to sink his tiny fangs into my little brother, Billy Boy, my sibling and his best friend, Henry, began questioning his possible nocturnal identity. While Alexander was upstairs in his attic room saving the sickly boy with Jameson's Romanian concoctions, I figured out and confirmed Jagger's and Luna's location—the Coffin Club. And with that, Alexander was forced to leave me behind in Dullsville as he reunited Valentine with his older siblings. Alexander had promised me that he would return to Dullsville shortly. However, what we thought would be an overnight visit to Hipsterville turned into two, then three days. Then longer.
The sultry homeschooled Romanian vampire Alexander had brought life into my already darkened one. As the lonely old Mansion remained empty of its unearthly inhabitants, I began to miss specific things about him—the way he softly brushed my hair away from my face or traced the lace of my skirt with his ghost white fingers. I missed his dreamy chocolate brown eyes, his bright, sexy smile, his tender lips pressed to mine.
I managed to remove myself as the third wheel from Matt and Becky's go-cart of fun. In the moonlit evenings, instead of reluctantly cheering on the school's soccer team, I often visited the empty Mansion, sitting beneath its skeletal trees, by its wrought-iron gates, or on its uneven weed-filled cracked cement front steps. Other times, I'd hang out in the gazebo where Alexander and I'd shared romantic desserts and stolen kisses.
I assured myself that at any moment I'd see the headlights of Jameson's Mercedes beaming up the winding driveway, but every night I went home alone, the driveway devoid of any hearse-like vehicles.
I crossed each passing day off my Emily the Strange calendar with a giant black X. It was starting to look like a one-sided tic-tac-toe game. Occasionally the doorbell rang, and when it did, I'd race to the front door in wild expectation of Alexander wrapping his pale arms around me, scooping me up, and planting me with a passionate kiss. Instead of being greeted by my boyfriend, I was met by the Flower Power delivery woman holding a bouquet of roses. My already darkened bedroom was beginning to resemble Dullsville's funeral home.
With each passing day, I wondered what could be taking him so long. Was he once again protecting me from something dangerous and underworldly? My boyfriend, always shrouded in a bit of mystery, only made me love him more.
Excerpted from Vampire Kisses 5: The Coffin Club by Ellen Schreiber Copyright © 2008 by Ellen Schreiber. Excerpted by permission.
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