I felt my neck for wounds.

Suddenly the memory started to come back. I never thought it would happen. My nemesis and the love of my life, enraged for different reasons, both staring straight at me.

I had spent the last few days trying to save Trevor from the clutches of a vampire and now he, alongside Alexander, unknowingly saved me.

The impact of their tackling Jagger had sent me flying to the ground.

Becky and I now raced the few yards to the tombs, where a huge crowd had gathered. Alexander was standing over Jagger, who was coughing and wheezing. Luna was leaning against the covenant coffin.

Trevor had no idea that the garlic tablet was making them vulnerable. He thought it was his bravado.

The soccer snobs encircled Jagger and Luna.

Matt and Becky stayed by my side. "Alexander's deathly allergic to garlic," I said.

"It looks like Jagger and Luna are, too," Becky remarked. "That and being pummeled by Alexander and Trevor."

"I told Trevor the gelcap was an aphrodisiac," I proudly whispered when I reached Alexander.

"Apparently he told his friends, too," he said softly with a smile. "The entire soccer team must have taken them." Alexander turned to Jagger and Luna. "It's time you return to Romania. For good."

"Yeah, go back to Romania, you freaks!" Trevor said, balling up his fists.

I put my arm around Alexander's waist and held him close.

Then I turned to Trevor.

"I guess you are the school bully again," I complimented.

Just then a dog started barking, distracting everyone. We all turned around.

"What's going on here?" Old Jim, the caretaker, called, holding a flashlight toward us.

Ghosts and goblins started to jump the fence. Werewolves and witches hid behind tombstones. The soccer snobs took off around the shed. Becky and Matt raced up the cemetery aisle.

"What's with all these cans?" Old Jim scolded. "I'm going to call the police!"

Alexander, Trevor, and I turned back to the coffin.

All that remained was the flickering candelabra.

Jagger and Luna were gone.

Chapter 19 Vampireville

Back at Alexander's attic room, after weeks of adventures with the twin vampires behind us, Alexander and I finally had a chance to be alone and chill.

I had a lot of time to make up for in the lip-action department. We cuddled and kissed in his comfy chair until I thought my heart would explode out of my chest. He nibbled playfully on my neck, and I wondered if it was hard to resist my mortal self.

"Anytime you are ready," I offered. "The cemetery is only a few miles away."

"I like you just the way you are," he said, and brushed a few strands of hair from my face. "You know that."

"But you may like me better," I teased.

He began tickling me, and I cried out in laughter. I leaned back and accidentally kicked something hard against the wall.

It was the door handle to his hidden attic room.

I was immediately brought back into the reality of the situation.

"Just for a minute?" I pleaded.

Alexander hesitated.

"After all I've been through. All we've been through. It would mean the world to me," I added.

Alexander paused. His midnight eyes could not mask the dark conflict that he was trying to conquer in his soul. After a moment he rose from the chair and offered me his hand.

Exhilaration rushed through me like I was Veruca Salt about to step into Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.

Alexander pulled out a skeleton key from his pocket, pushed away the comfy chair, and unlocked the secret door. He slowly opened the entranceway into his cryptic world.

There, as I'd seen a few days earlier, a secret in the shape of a casket--a simple black open coffin with dirt haphazardly sprinkled around it. Next to it there was a wooden table with an unlit half- melted candle and a small, softly painted portrait of me.

I walked inside the room. Alexander followed me and lit the candelabra. The room was sparse--void of a decorative soccer headboard like Trevor's or hanging posters of sports teams like Billy Boy's.

I peered into his coffin: black sheets, a black pillow, and a rumpled blanket.

"I love it. You don't even make your coffin. Just like any teen."

I looked into his lonely eyes, which now sparkled.

Then I noticed something silver lying on the pillow, catching the candlelight. I leaned over and picked it up. It was my black onyx necklace that Alexander had replaced with the vampire's kiss one he'd made for me.

My heart melted as I held it in my hand.

"I sleep better knowing I have a part of you close to me."

No one had ever meant so much to me as Alexander. For my whole life, I'd suffered as an outsider. The fact that because of me he, too, felt less alone in his world was almost too much for this dreamy goth girl to bear.

Tears welled up in my eyes.

"May I?" I asked, motioning to the coffin.

Alexander's forehead wrinkled, then a smile overcame his face as if he were relieved to finally share a piece of him he had to keep private from the world. I unlaced my boots and held on to the attic door as Alexander helped me yank them off. He held my hand as I stepped into his coffin. The mattress was soft against my socks. I lay back, and pulled the cozy black duvet over me.

The candelabra gently lit the room and shadows danced around like tiny vampire bats. I smelled the sweet scent of Drakar on the pillow.

The casket was small and claustrophobic. The sides of the coffin entombed me. I felt like one of the undead.

"This is so cool!" I shrieked.

I smiled up at my boyfriend as he gazed down at me with pride.

"I'm ready."

"I don't think--"

"But I have to...I need to know what it's like."

A small handle had been nailed inside the lid with a dangling chain.

I reached up and grabbed the chain.

I took a deep breath. I gently pulled the chain toward me. The heavy lid began to lower slowly. Alexander's smiling face began to disappear from view. Then his shoulders, his AFI T-shirt. Finally all I saw was his handcuff belt buckle. Light in the coffin gradually turned to thick black darkness until I couldn't even see the chain I was pulling; then my own hand disappeared.

I felt as if I were being buried alive.

The coffin lid lifted open and a blast of light hit me.

"Alexander--" I could hear a faint voice call from the other room. I squinted and tried to adjust to the candlelight as I sat up.

Alexander held out his hand and pulled me out.

"But I didn't get to--," I began, like a disappointed child.

"We've got to go--"

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