Chapter One

Chapter 1
Myth: Vampires never die.
Truth: Generally true. But they sure can fake it.

I, Mina Hamilton, am officially dead. Officially, officially. You name it, I’ve got it: death certificate (which I’m not allowed to keep in a scrapbook, per the Vampire Relocation Agency rules), obituary in the paper (depressingly short, if I do say so myself, and ditto on the scrapbooking), and a funeral. A funeral which, incidentally, my family’s personal VRA goon, Josh, would not let me attend.

What’s the point in having a funeral if you can’t go and see who cared enough to show up? I had an excellent disguise picked out and everything, but the Josh-erator put me under total house arrest.

Or should I say total hotel arrest. It’s not like I—or for that matter, anyone in my family—can be seen in our house since we’re all, you know, supposed to be dead.

But maybe I should back up for a minute here. In case you haven’t been following my every move (and why would you be?), at the end of my junior year in high school, my parents dropped the v-bomb on me. Sure, I knew they were vampires (I mean, duh, I’ve lived with them my whole life) but the stupid Northwest Regional Vampire Council was making me choose if I wanted to be one too. That meant:

  1. I had to attend vampire information sessions (aka pro-vampire propaganda classes) taught by this crazy vampire lady named Ms. Riley (aka Grandma Wolfington) so I could make an informed decision on my bloodsucking future,
  2. which would have completely sucked except that I met George, my boyfriend and (who knows?) possible love of my undead life there, and
  3. ultimately decided that, yeah, I’d rather be a vampire and stick with my family than get my brain washed and lose them forever. (Though I’d be lying if I said I were giving up my best friend Serena, because I’m not. She knows it all and I don’t care what The Council says . . . okay, I do care, but I’m not telling them.)

So that brings me up to this week. One minute Mom’s telling me it’s time for us to die (and I’m like, “Huh? How much more undead can we get?”) and the next, there’s the Josh-erator at our front door ready to hack my life apart. Because apparently The Council decided that we can’t live here anymore. But when you’re a vampire, you can’t just call up U-Haul and schedule a moving day like normal people. No, you’ve gotta tear your whole life apart. And here I was hoping The Council and the VRA would be off our backs since we were all legal now and I was a bona fide, registered vampire.

I managed to get exactly one text out to Serena before the Josh-erator confiscated my cell phone:


Send text to (SERENA)

Me (3:44 pm): dnt frk out no matter wht

nt dead del ths msg!! more l8r dnt txt bk!

Which was a good thing, since she’d have completely killed me if she found out I wasn’t actually dead (like dead-dead, not just undead) after the whole funeral fiasco.

Not only did I miss my funeral, I also missed my own death. “Your presence is not necessary,” was how the Josh-erator put it. Huh. That totally doesn’t seem right to me, but the VRA and The Council certainly know how to suck the fun right out of everything.

Josh did at least get me a copy of the article they ran in the newspaper about our so-called demise (after warning me at least five times that I’d have to destroy it after I read it). It was pretty nice, you know, as far as those things go:

Local family dies in tragic car accident

Four people were killed in a road accident in San Mateo County early last evening. According to eyewitness reports, a large dog or other mammal darted in front of their car, causing the driver to veer sharply off the road and into the guardrail. The car, a silver-colored minivan, then reportedly continued over the guardrail to fall into the Pacific Ocean. The area, known as the Devil’s Slide, has claimed many lives over the years.

Detective Lee of the San Mateo County Police Department commented, “This is one of the worst accidents I’ve seen in some time, and I’ve seen my share of tragedies. There’s no way any of the family could have survived a fall of that height.” The deceased include Bob and Marianne Hamilton and their seventeen-year-old daughter, Mina, as well as Mortimer Hamilton, the father’s uncle . . .

It went on for a while about things like keeping your dog in check and the problem with the guardrails along the highway, and the controversy over whether or not the road should be rebuilt entirely, etc. etc. And there was a picture of the tail end of our minivan sticking up (barely) out of the ocean. I can’t say I’ll miss the thing; it was pretty much on its last legs anyway. Or last wheels. Whatever.

Those eyewitness accounts? All VRA plants. As well as the deputy they got the quote from and for all I know, the guy who wrote the newspaper article. If there’s one thing you can say about the VRA, they’re very thorough. And very, very present. As in around ALL the freakin’ time. Maybe they do that on purpose so you don’t have a chance to back out of the relocation or so you don’t mess things up by popping up somewhere noticeable when you’re supposed to be dead. Or maybe they just like to be annoying.

So here I am, stuck in a fleabag motel on the outskirts of my hometown. Mom and Dad are out conferring with the Josh-erator in some “undisclosed location” (i.e., probably some pancake house or something like that), which means I’m finally alone for the first time since this whole fiasco started. Uncle Mortie was supposed to stay and babysit me, but he disappeared right after the Josh-erator, muttering something about having to “take care of a few things’” (which probably means there’s either a blonde or a hamburger in his future, or both if he’s lucky). The Josh-erator may not trust me, but at least Uncle Mortie does.

Not that he should. Trust me, that is. Because the first order of business for the brand new Mina? One last big hurrah with my best friends. There’s no way I’m leaving town without a party. And it’s about time George found out that Serena knows about the whole vampire thing anyway. I hate keeping secrets from my boyfriend.

Since we’re going to go out tonight, I need to figure out what to wear so no one will recognize me. But there’s no way I can piece together a decent disguise with the stuff at this dump. I’ve only got my one VRA-allowed tiny little overnight bag of stuff with me that holds

  1. my notebook from my vampire lessons, since I hopefully (but probably doubtfully) took notes on at least some of the stuff the Josh-erator keeps mentioning (and besides, it’s not the kind of thing you want to leave behind for people to discover); and
  2. my fav picture of me and Serena, and a prom picture with me and George and Nathan and Serena, all looking really happy (VRA contraband, but I hid them in my notebook); and
  3. a couple of my favorite outfits (my Ella Moss dress, a pair of jeans, my fav shirt and a T-shirt I snitched from George that still smells like him); and
  4. Lumps. Because there’s no way I’m leaving my teddy bear behind. I don’t care what the VRA says about it.

My only possible option is to put on the shower cap that looks like it’s been here since the nineties. Somehow I think that’d make me more noticeable than I am normally. I’d hope, anyway.

Time for plan B. I call Serena from the front desk of the hotel after I give the guy some story about how our room phone isn’t working, just in case the VRA’s checking up on our phone calls (I wouldn’t put it past them). I tell her to bring some disguise-ready stuff and meet me at this cute little tea café place I saw around the corner from the hotel. It’s not like anyone who knows me will be hanging out at some teahouse halfway across town eating crumpets or curds and whey or whatever it is you have with tea. We can get in disguise there. Or I can, at least. Serena doesn’t really need one. Her normal look is a pretty good disguise.

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