‘Strawberry cupcake with pink glitter frosting?’
Ivy Vega had to resist the urge to curl her lips in disgust as Holly thrust an absurdly colourful cake in her face.
‘Er, thanks, but no,’ Ivy muttered. There’s only so much pink I can be near without coming out in hives.
Holly’s smile didn’t falter. It never did. ‘Maybe later!’ she chirruped, before moving on round the group with her platter. It looked like a rainbow that had fallen to earth and shattered on to the plate in the form of colourful cakes.
Sunshine streamed on to the bright green grass of Franklin Grove’s park but, for once, vampire Ivy didn’t mind it one bit. She was just glad to be back in her home town in time to enjoy the last of the summer before school started again. With her twin sister Olivia, her boyfriend Brendan and all their friends happily picnicking around her, Ivy couldn’t have felt further from the dark, ancient Transylvanian halls of the super-snooty Wallachia Academy for Vampires. And she couldn’t have been happier about that, especially now that Brendan had recovered from the illness that had brought her racing back to Franklin Grove.
He’d had a seriously bad reaction to the oxymistine in his Taurus Bars – the energy snacks he’d been eating – with dire consequences. It was only because of Ivy’s skills with essential herbs – learnt from the Transylvanian gardener, Helga – that she’d been able to save his life.
There was just one thing that could have made their celebration picnic even better: if Ivy had been allowed to talk about everything she was celebrating! Unfortunately, Olivia’s new friend Holly was sharing the picnic and, as a certified ‘bunny’ who knew nothing of vampires, she couldn’t be allowed to know the secret.
It’s called the First Law of the Night for a reason, Ivy thought.
‘Come on, everyone! Try them!’ Holly had arrived back in front of Ivy and pressed a fairy cake into her hands. ‘Olivia is such an amazing baker!’
Ivy blinked as she accepted the same pastel cupcake she’d turned down only a moment earlier. ‘When you said “Maybe later”, I didn’t think . . .’ She trailed off, feeling a mean sentence forming. Then she frowned. ‘Did Olivia really make these?’ For almost as long as Ivy had known her, Olivia had been a total klutz in the kitchen.
Ivy’s twin shook her head, laughing. ‘Trust me, I’m not that good,’ she said. ‘I actually got a lot of help from –’
‘Don’t be silly,’ Holly said. ‘These cakes are all you!’ She turned to the rest of the group, flipping her long blonde hair back and setting one hand on the hip of her jeans. Embroidered flowers swirled down her legs like a walking garden, stitched in such bright colours they made Ivy’s eyes hurt. ‘Don’t listen to her, you guys! You know how she’s always so modest.’
Brendan smiled politely, and their vampire friend Sophia was barely bothering to pretend that she was listening. Olivia’s bunny friend Camilla gave a distracted ‘Hmm’. Her blue eyes were unfocused beneath her artistic beret, and she was clearly too busy mentally storyboarding her next movie to care about the finer points of cupcake baking.
Ivy felt herself frown. I know my own sister. Olivia definitely got some help from someone else. Perhaps their bio-dad’s fiancée, Lillian?
It didn’t really matter who had helped – that wasn’t what made Ivy narrow her eyes as she watched Holly going round the group with the platter like a door-to-door saleswoman. No, the real problem was . . .
Why is Holly talking about Olivia as if she’s known her forever ? When Ivy had left for Transylvania, Holly hadn’t even lived in Franklin Grove.
‘Hey! Earth to Ivy.’ Brendan scooted closer, pulling a Tupperware box out of his backpack. ‘Olivia’s not the only one who’s been baking.’
‘Don’t tell me you’ve turned into a master chef too.’ Ivy took the box and started to peel back the lid as Holly started an enthusiastic conversation with the rest of the group about pastries. ‘I wasn’t gone that long – Oh !’ Ivy’s mouth dropped open. Inside were the most perfect, smooth orbs of sugary almond goodness. ‘Macaroons! For me?’
Brendan grinned, his dark hair flopping over his forehead. ‘Don’t you think I know what you like?’
Ivy shook her head, amazed. Instead of the usual pinks and greens, these macaroons were blood red. Gorgeous. Ivy sighed in wonder – each macaroon was wrapped in its own ribbon, and each ribbon had bats printed on it. Brendan knows me so well, she thought. These are perfect.
‘I just wanted to do something really special to welcome you back from Transylvania,’ said Brendan. Then he smiled. ‘I kinda missed you, you know.’
‘Me too,’ Ivy said, her throat suddenly tight.
She’d gone to Wallachia Academy to keep her grandparents happy and have a ‘proper’ vampire education, but it hadn’t taken long for her to realise that it had been a big mistake. Her uber-traditional grandparents might never understand, but Ivy knew that a boarding school thousands of miles from her twin and her boyfriend could never be the right place for her.
She wanted to tell Brendan this, but she knew she was skating on the thin ice of Lake Mushy. Quickly, she unwrapped a macaroon. As Brendan watched, grinning, she took a big bite. Her teeth caught on something cold and sharp.
‘Ow!’ She spat whatever it was out on to a napkin – then stared. It was a bat-shaped ring. Brendan had hidden it in the macaroon! The writing inscribed across its wings read: I’m batty for you.