"I thought you went back to Romania," I said, stepping back.
"I was hoping you would come with me."
"Alexander assured me that the feud was over and you were gone for good."
"That is why you can't tell him," he said. "Otherwise, not only will your safety and Sterling's be in jeopardy, but the whole town's."
"The whole town?" I asked.
"Don't tempt me," he said, licking his lips. "You wouldn't like to know what happens when a small town finds out a vampire is living among them and dating one of their daughters."
I froze. I remembered how easily Dullsville was sucked into Trevor's rumor, resulting in gossip and graffiti. If the town had proof of Alexander's true identity, there was no predicting what people would do.
"Fine, I won't tell him. But you must leave now!"
Jagger only stepped closer. "I'm not going back to the cemetery with you," I argued, backing up. "I'll scream if I have to. My father is inside and he's a lawyer."
"That won't be necessary. Why spend your life sitting in a mansion with a sensitive artist watching paint dry when we could see the world together?"
"I'm not going anywhere with you!"
"Well, I'm sure you could persuade me to stay in town. In fact, I'm beginning to like it here."
"I don't want you! Your feud is over with Alexander. Go home already--"
"Feud? I have other things on my mind now. Alexander might be able to deny who he is, but I can't deny who I am."
His blue and green eyes shot through me. I looked away, afraid he'd make me dizzy again. He began to lean into me.
"Raven!" Billy Boy called from the back door.
My brother ran down the steps holding Nightmare. Jagger stepped back into the shadows.
"Billy Boy! Go inside. Now!" I exclaimed, running toward him.
"What's taking you so long?" Billy Boy asked. "Nightmare is throwing a freak attack. I found her pawing against your bedroom door."
I blocked Billy Boy's step. Frantically, I turned around, shielding him.
The backyard was empty. Jagger was gone.
I pulled Billy Boy inside and locked the door. "I've never been so happy to see you!" I said, squeezing my little brother, Nightmare in his hands.
"What's wrong with you?" he asked, cringing like I had cooties.
"I just thought I saw the bogeyman."
"You watch too many scary movies," he said.
"I sometimes feel like I'm starring in them," I replied.
Chapter 17 School Ghoul
As much as I hated going back to school after spring break, I knew at least my daylight hours brought a safe reprieve from Jagger.
I returned to Dullsville High a different person than when I had left--as if being the only goth in a conservative town hadn't made me different enough. I couldn't concentrate in class, knowing I was privy to a secret world of vampires.
Classmates continued to bury their heads in textbooks and anticipate the next soccer game, while I doodled in my journal and couldn't wait for the next sunset.
I was still an outcast, but I think my classmates got a rise that Trevor had been dethroned from his kingdom. And although they didn't high-five me in the hallway or invite me to their parties, I was actually given a cutter's privilege at the drinking fountain.
"It's a shame Alexander is homeschooled. It would be nice to eat lunch as a foursome," Becky said at lunch on the baseball bleachers. "Yeah, that would rock."
"But still, we should do something together."
"How about going to the drive-in?" Matt asked, as he walked up the bleachers behind me. "Kissing Coffins is playing tonight. Admission is half price if you wear a costume."
"Cool! I've always wanted to see it on the big screen. I'm sure Alexander would love to go."
"And I'll be able to see what happens to Jenny," Becky said excitedly. "I can dress as one of the town's vampires and wear a cape."
"And fangs!" I added.
Just then Trevor walked onto the field with his soccer-snob groupies. He looked up at Matt, who sat down next to Becky.
As much as Trevor tormented me and as pathetic as I thought he was, I felt a tinge of pity for him. He was an even sadder case now that he was Matt-less. I watched Matt offer Becky his sandwich.
"I'm glad you got traded to our team," I said to Matt, who closed his brown bag and gave me a warm smile.
After school, Becky and I searched through my closet to find her a costume to wear to the drive-in.
"Man, you do have a lot of black," she said, as I tossed out dozens of skirts and shirts for her to choose from.
Becky modeled black tights, a black miniskirt, and a lacy black chemise. "That's perfect. You'll be one of the members of the vampire gang who tries to convert Jenny. I just need my outfit."
I heard my mom's SUV pull into the driveway, and Becky and I raced to meet her at the back door.
"Can I have an advance on my allowance?" I asked hurriedly.
"Calm down," she advised. "Don't I even get a hello?"
"Hello," I replied. "Now, can I have an advance on my allowance?"
"I hope you didn't bid on a Hello Batty toaster on eBay again. I thought we told you--"
"I want to dye my hair blond."
"Blond?" she asked, shocked. "You are not going to ruin your gorgeous black hair."
"But it needs to be blond to complete my costume."
"Are you in a play?"
"Well, sort of."
"No, I just need your help."
"Well, I have some wigs from college in the box I emptied for Nightmare. I know there's an auburn one. There may be a blond one, too."
"Can we go see?" I begged.
Mom reluctantly put her purse down on the kitchen table, and Becky and I followed her into my parents' bedroom. She rummaged through an old Harrod's shopping bag. "Here it is!" she exclaimed, as if she'd found a sunken treasure. She handed me a weathered blond wig. "I wore this in college. Your father loved it!"
I rolled my eyes. "I also need a white dress," I confessed.
She looked at me, pleased, as if her rebellious daughter were finally asking to borrow pearls. "I'll see what I have!" she replied gleefully.
She picked up a pair of flared denims with rhinestones from the box. "Do you believe I once wore these?" she asked, holding them against her pleated Ann Taylor skirt.
"I have a white blouse," she said.
"Ahh. Here's a white eyelet skirt."