"Are you kidding? I'll be even more popular for scoring the new goth girl rather than the old one."

It was as if he had just driven a stake into my heart. "She and Jagger now hang out with me all the time," he continued in my face. "They watch me at practice and games. I'm more popular than ever--a king of both the insiders and the outsiders."

"I'm telling you, your mother is right this time," I tried to warn.

"Well, was my mother right about Alexander and his family?" he asked, referring to the rampant rumors spread throughout Dullsville that the Sterlings were vampires. "She thought they were weird just because they were different."

"So did you," I argued.

"She said they were vampires," he continued, hitting the ball again. "Had the whole town believing they were. Especially you."

"You were the one who made up and spread those rumors. But in this case, maybe you should believe it."

"That Luna is a vampire?"

I paused.

The restaurant went quiet.

Trevor let the pinball bounce against the bumpers and drop through the flippers.

Just then I felt someone behind me. I turned around.

Jagger, in a ripped white Bauhaus T-shirt and black jeans, and Luna in a black and pink minidress and pink fishnets, stood before me, glaring. She was beautiful. She looked like a gothic pixie fairy girl, with skinny pale arms dangling black rubber bracelets, her long cotton white hair flowing over her shoulders and bright blue eyes sparkling. Both stood in front of me like they were ready to extract me from the diner.

"What are you doing here?" she charged. Suddenly, like a gothic Superman, Alexander appeared by my side. As Luna leaned in to me, Alexander bravely stepped between us.

"Good-bye, Monster Girl," Trevor said, taking Luna's hand. "C'mon, Jagger."

Jagger gave Alexander a deathly stare, then followed the odd couple toward the tables where the soccer snobs were eating.

I leaned against the pinball machine as Trevor sat at the head of the table with Luna and Jagger on either side. The soccer snobs inched away as if the Romanian siblings had rabies. The players continued to avoid eye contact and kept the conversation to themselves.

"We have to get to the treehouse," Alexander whispered. "While Jagger and Luna are still here."

Alexander and I quickly returned to our table to find our order had just arrived.

"What was that about?" Matt asked.

"We have to go," I said, grabbing my purse.

"But we just got our food!" my best friend argued.

"Becky and I can't drink four shakes," Matt said.

I glanced back at Trevor. The star player was shining in his spotlight, back from a cold to save the team. A girl on one side, his new friend on the other. It disgusted me.

"We really have to go--," I repeated.

"Just because Trevor and those guys are over there?" Becky asked.

"Yes," I said, "but not for the reason you think. I'll have to explain it later. Trust me." Alexander placed a twenty and a ten on the table. "Please, it's on me."

"Our lucky night--we can order burgers now," Becky joked.

I laughed and gave my best friend a quick hug.

While all eyes were glued to Dixie as she took Jagger and Luna's order, Alexander and I snuck out of the diner, past Jagger's hearse, and into the Mercedes.

"We better hurry," I said as we bolted through Henry's backyard.

Alexander and I didn't know how much time we had to remove the coffins before Jagger and Luna returned.

I scaled up the treehouse ladder and Alexander met me inside. When I pulled back the black curtain, the coffins remained as we'd seen them before.

Alexander stood behind Jagger's casket. Then he pushed the coffin with all his might.

Jagger's bed wouldn't budge.

"What's going on?" I asked.

"It's stuck."

"Is something in it? Maybe a dead body?"

"It would have to be several dead bodies. This thing weighs a ton."

Alexander opened the lid. All that remained inside was a rumpled black blanket and white pillow. He closed the lid and tried to move it again.

"Maybe it's caught on something."

I bent over the opposite end, and together we pushed and pulled as hard as we could.

But the coffin wouldn't move.

"Let's try Luna," Alexander said, brushing his dark locks away from his face.

I grabbed one end of the pale pink coffin and Alexander held the other. We couldn't lift Luna's coffin off the ground.

Alexander and I searched the hideout for anything we could use as leverage.

"Check this out," I said, pointing to a few nails lying next to Jagger's duffel bag.

"When I think we've thought of everything, so has Jagger," Alexander said, frustrated.

"I don't have any tools with me," I said.

"I think he counted on that," Alexander remarked, gently touching my shoulder.

Just then we heard the sound of a car driving up the road.

Alexander and I quickly escaped from the treehouse as headlights from Jagger's hearse shined on the driveway.

"I've heard about nailing a coffin lid shut, but never the whole coffin!" I said as we made a fast getaway.

Chapter 11 Bat Fight

The following evening, when I headed out the front door to meet Alexander at the Mansion, I found a red envelope lying on the porch. In black letters it read: RAVEN.

Inside, a red note with black typed letters read:

MEET ME AT OAKLEY PARK, Love, Alexander.

How sweet, I thought. A spontaneous romantic interlude in the park. Alexander Sterling was king of planning the most mysterious, meaningful, marvelous dates--a picnic at the Dullsville cemetery; a goth rock dance at Dullsville's Country Club golf course; picking out my kitty, Nightmare, at an abandoned barn.

I imagined arriving at the park, votives surrounding the Oakley Park fountain, bubbles floating from the steaming water, Alexander and I wading in our bare feet, our lips tenderly touching.

Then I wondered, was this note truly from my vampire mate? Unfortunately, since I'd encountered Jagger at the Coffin Club, I had grown suspicious. After all, Jagger had met me in an alley in Hipsterville, appeared in my backyard, and hid in the Mansion's gazebo. Then again, if it was Jagger, he could just show up at my house.

I hopped on my bike in my lacy black knee-length dress and pedaled my heart out to Oakley Park. I raced over the bumpy grass toward the swings. When I reached the fountain, my dream guy wasn't there. I walked my bike over to the picnic benches.

"Alexander?" I called.

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