Ivy Vega trudged sleepily into the breakfast room, slid into her chair, and rested her cheek on the cool stone table. She wished she was still in her coffin. Monday mornings were the worst.
“Good morning, sleepy bones,” her father said, placing a bowl next to her head.
“Shh,” Ivy murmured, her eyes closed. “I’m still sleeping.”
“It’s your favorite,” her dad coaxed. “Marshmallow Platelets.”
Ivy peered at the little white marshmallows and maroon bits bobbing in their milky sea. “Thanks,” she mumbled.
Her father, already dressed for work in black chinos and a black pin-striped shirt with French cuffs, sipped his tea and picked up the remote control. “There is nothing better for a young person’s dull morning mind,” he said, “than dull morning television.”
He flipped through the weather and some talk shows before settling on The Morning Star.
“Please no,” Ivy said. “Just looking at Serena Star’s smile gives me sunburn.”
Serena Star, WowTV’s best celebrity reporter, had impossibly bright, bleached blond hair and eyes that looked as if they’d been surgically enhanced to be permanently wide open in either adoration or shock. Lately she’d been trying to cast herself as a serious journalist on her own morning news show, The Morning Star. Just the other day, Ivy had turned the TV off in exasperation after Serena had said, “Tell me, Mr. Senator, how does it feel to have a law named after you?”
This morning, Serena Star was standing with her back to a small crowd of people, talking into her microphone. She was wearing a tiny blue suede miniskirt under a knee-length trench coat, and the look in her wide eyes said “shock!” She was in a park or maybe a graveyard. A scruffy, black-clad teenager stood beside her—
Ivy’s dad flipped the channel.
“Turn back!” Ivy blurted.
“But you said—”
“I know. Turn back!” she repeated.
Ivy could not believe her eyes. The boy standing next to Serena Star was none other than Garrick Stephens, one of the lamest vampires at her school. He and his bonehead friends—everyone called them the Beasts—were always pulling dumb stunts, like seeing which one of them could eat the most garlic croutons without getting seriously ill. They weren’t nearly as scary as they smelled, but they’d been annoying since forever.
What is he doing on national TV? Ivy wondered.
“I think that’s the local cemetery,” her dad said.
Ivy realized he was right—this was being filmed less than five blocks from their house.
The camera panned over to an empty grave, and Ivy’s dad turned up the volume.
“...yesterday’s small-town funeral went horribly wrong,” Serena Star was saying off screen. “Local deceased man, Mr. Alan Koontz, was scheduled for burial here at the Franklin Grove Memorial Cemetery. As Mr. Koontz was being lowered into the ground, eyewitnesses say that his casket creaked open.” The camera zoomed in on a shiny midnight-blue coffin lying open next to the grave. “In a bizarre turn of events, out climbed an allegedly live person!” Serena continued. “Mr. Koontz’s widow immediately fainted and was rushed to Franklin Grove General Hospital for treatment.”
Serena Star’s frowning face reappeared on the screen. “Friends of the family say that the person who emerged bore no resemblance to Mr. Koontz and was, in fact, a teenage boy.” The camera pulled back to reveal Garrick, who was licking his palm and then using it to slick back his hair.
Ivy was frowning now, too; Garrick and his friends didn’t know the meaning of the word “discreet.” They probably couldn’t even spell it. Ever since they were little kids, Ivy had always been amazed at how close the Beasts routinely came to breaking the First Law of the Night: vampires are never supposed to reveal their true selves to an outsider.
Thinking about that made Ivy feel uncomfortable. After all, she’d recently broken the First Law herself. She’d had no choice, though: she couldn’t possibly keep the fact that she was a vampire secret from her identical twin, Olivia, even if Olivia was human.
She and Olivia had only discovered each other at the beginning of the school year. They’d been separated at birth and adopted by different parents, so Ivy hadn’t known that she had a twin until Olivia turned up at Franklin Grove Middle School. And it had been just as great a shock to Olivia.
I may have broken the First Law, but at least I didn’t reveal myself to the whole world on national TV! Ivy thought.
Serena Star looked squarely at the camera. “I, Serena Star, now bring you an exclusive interview with the thirteen-year-old boy who was almost buried alive. I think you’ll agree it’s a story that’s truly . . . INDEADIBLE!” A graphic with the word “INDEADIBLE!” materialized on the screen over Garrick’s head, and Ivy rolled her eyes. Serena was always making up lame words for her on-screen headlines.
“Awesome!” Garrick Stephens grinned.
Ivy’s head ached. How in the underworld, she thought, are we going to cover up a vampire popping out of a coffin in the middle of a funeral?
“Mr. Stephens.” Serena Star turned to face her subject. “How do you feel?”
“I feel great!” Garrick said.
“Amazing!” Serena commented, with a slight frown. She had clearly been expecting Garrick to be upset. “How long were you in that coffin?”
“Like seven, eight hours.”
“That must have been very unsettling,” Serena Star prompted sympathetically.