Ivy leaned back in her swivel chair and hiked her shiny black combat boots up on to the oak desk. Her grandparents had given her the desk on day one at the new uber-fancy boarding school she was attending.
You cannot get a proper education at a proper school without a proper place to work, Count and Countess Lazar had told her. Apparently an antique bureau weighing as much as a small freight train was the only thing that would do. There were miniature bats carved into the rich mahogany and its iron handles were in the shape of ‘V’s. Ivy leaned over and tapped the bottom of the desk. A secret compartment opened up, out of which she pulled her shiny new student I.D., complete with the awkward picture of her curling her lips into an odd mix of smile and scowl.
She’d agonised over the decision to enrol at Wallachia Academy in Transylvania. It wasn’t easy being a vampire, but a teen vampire whose powers were on a sudden growth spurt? That was even more challenging. Her grandparents had suggested boarding at the same academy where generations of her family had learned to hone their super-strong powers. Ivy had only had two problems with this: she didn’t want to leave her twin sister, Olivia, and no way did she want to be apart from Brendan, her boyfriend. But in the end, she’d been persuaded to leave Franklin Grove. ‘And I’ll make the most of this,’ she muttered to herself, gazing out over the lawns. ‘Whatever it takes.’
She flipped open her laptop, tapping the spacebar so that the screen lit up. Her grandparents had done a killer job making sure she’d settled in when she’d first arrived at Wallachia. Of course, they’d brought the family butler, Horatio, to do all the heavy lifting. And thank darkness they did! Ivy thought. Because Olivia insisted on packing my entire wardrobe!
Olivia could have saved herself the time, since Ivy was stuck wearing school uniform every day. It was pretty formal – a crimson pleated skirt and a black sweater emblazoned with the Wallachia Academy crest – though she had managed to ‘Ivy up’ the outfit with her signature boots and chopstick-pinned bun. Hoity-toity school or not, Ivy is staying Ivy, she thought.
She glanced at the new school schedule hanging above her desk:
9 o’clock – Etiquette
10 o’clock – Potion Mixing
11 o’clock – Fang Sharpening
1 o’clock – Herbal Science
2 o’clock – Coffin Carpentry
And she had thought woodshop class at Franklin Grove was bad!
Ivy typed her password and signed on to the Vorld Vide Veb, the secret vampy version of the Internet. She double-clicked her mouse and opened up the Lonely Echo webcam-program. She’d been using Lonely Echo – some vampire video-chat software – to talk to Olivia, but seeing her sister’s face flash up on the monitor each time had done nothing to help her homesickness. I just can’t stop calling her, even though it makes me feel worse afterwards. Sometimes, being one half of a set of twins really was not good.
She clicked on Olivia’s avatar and waited for the connection to kick in. She hadn’t spoken to her grandparents at all since arriving at the academy a few days ago. She’d chatted with her father, Charles, only once. No wonder I keep calling Olivia. I need some contact with the outside world!
Static blinked across the screen. Something’s happening! Ivy sat up straighter. A sharp picture appeared on the monitor. A bright Franklin Grove morning shone through the open set of French doors that led out into Olivia’s backyard. Ivy could practically smell the freshly mown lawns and newly potted pansies from clear across the Atlantic.
‘One second!’ she heard a voice call from off-screen.
Ivy tapped her black onyx nails on the surface of her desk. Olivia was a full six hours behind her, so while it was mid morning for Ivy’s twin, outside Ivy’s window in Transylvania the sun was already setting. Trees cast long shadows across the school grounds; the light outside had grown dim and fuzzy. Turrets spiralled up into the evening sky, and down below teachers in long black gowns scurried to their quarters. Ivy switched on her desk lamp.
Who would have thought Ivy Vega would get nostalgic at the sight of a little sun? I’m a vampire, for goodness’ sake! Pitch black was kind of supposed to be her thing. But she couldn’t help that she missed her hometown. She hadn’t been one hundred per cent sure she’d wanted to attend Wallachia in the first place, even if it was tradition in elite vampire society.
Olivia’s adoptive dad, Mr Abbott, suddenly entered the frame on Ivy’s laptop. He was wrapped in a white bathrobe with the sash tied around his forehead. He was several feet away from the camera lens, in the middle of Olivia’s backyard, struggling to position two stools side-by-side and lay a plank of wood across the top.
This does not look good. Ivy knew that Olivia’s dad was an amateur martial artist – was he going through his routines now? Ivy tried to stay very still so that he wouldn’t notice her image on the computer screen. I don’t want to disturb him. If he breaks any bones, it won’t be my fault!
He took three steps back, slipping momentarily out of the picture, before charging forwards, arms raised in the air like a deranged whooping crane. ‘Hiiiiiyyaaaaaaaah!’ he screamed, slamming the side of his hand down on the plank.
Ivy cringed as Mr Abbott came away shaking his red karate-chopping hand. He picked up the plank and turned it around. As if that’s going to help, Ivy thought. She wanted to cover her eyes but it was like a car crash she couldn’t stop watching.
He wound up again, preparing for his running start. ‘Hiiiiiyyaaaaaaaah!’ he repeated. This time his hand smacked the stiff wood with such force that he lost his footing and slipped backwards, falling hard on the garden mulch.