Vamped, p.1
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       Vamped, p.1

          part  #1 of  Vamped Series

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Vamped


  Praise for Vamped

  “Move over, Buffy! Lucienne Diver transfuses some fresh blood into the vampire genre. Feisty, fashionable, and fun—Vamped is a story readers will sink their teeth into and finish thirsty for more.”

  —Mari Mancusi, author of

  The Blood Coven Vampires series

  “This book rollicks along, full of humor, romance, and action. Gina is a smart-aleck heroine worth reading about, a sort of teenage Betsy Taylor (Undead and Unwed) with a lot of Cher Horowitz (Clueless) thrown in. Fans of Katie Maxwell will devour Vamped.”

  —Rosemary Clement-Moore, author of

  Prom Dates from Hell

  “I really sank my teeth into Lucienne Diver’s Vamped. A fun, frothy teenage romp with lots of action, a little shopping, and a cute vampire guy. Who could ask for more?”

  —Marley Gibson, author of

  Ghost Huntress: The Awakening

  This one’s for Ty, who makes my life so much sweeter.

  Woodbury, Minnesota

  Vamped © 2009 by Lucienne Diver

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any matter whatsoever, including Internet usage, without written permission from Flux, except in the form of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

  As the purchaser of this ebook, you are granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this ebook on screen. The text may not be otherwise reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, or recorded on any other storage device in any form or by any means.

  Any unauthorized usage of the text without express written permission of the publisher is a violation of the author’s copyright and is illegal and punishable by law.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Cover models used for illustrative purposes only and may not endorse or represent the book’s subject.

  First e-book edition ©2010

  E-book ISBN: 978-07387-2268-9

  Book design by Steffani Sawyer

  Cover design by Lisa Novak

  Cover image © 2009 Corbis/Jupiterimages Corporation

  Flux is an imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.

  Flux does not participate in, endorse, or have any authority or responsibility concerning private business arrangements between our authors and the public.

  Any Internet references contained in this work are current at publication time, but the publisher cannot guarantee that a specific reference will continue or be maintained. Please refer to the publisher’s website for links to current author websites.

  Flux

  Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.

  2143 Wooddale Drive

  Woodbury, MN 55125

  www.fluxnow.com

  Manufactured in the United States of America

  Excerpt from “Valley Vamp Rules for Surviving Your Senior Prom” by Gina Covello, spring issue of Modern Goth Magazine.

  Don’t go strapless. I don’t care how sexy you think it is, you’re going to spend half the night tugging your dress back into place. If by some miracle it’s tight enough to stay put, chances are you’ve got overhang. And let me just say for the record, “Ew.”

  Do not get so loaded at the after-prom party that you accidentally-on-purpose end up in the broom closet with the surprise hottie of the evening—say, the class chess champ who’s somewhere lost his Coke-bottle lenses and undergone an extreme makeover—especially if that makeover has anything to do with becoming one of the undead.

  If because of said chess champ’s ridiculously irresistible vamp mojo you’re compelled to skip Rule #2, do not let your extremely jealous boyfriend—let’s call him “Chaz”—catch you.

  Never get into a car, no matter how well the cherry red finish goes with your gown, with anyone who’s been drinking or just found you in a compromising position with the mother of all hickeys forming on your neck—just for example.

  If you’ve ignored the previous rules—and I mean, seriously, give some thought to #1 (talk about wardrobe malfunction)—make sure you have a death plan. It’s kinda like an emergency plan, but, you know, for death. For example, make sure there’s absolutely nothing in your closet you wouldn’t be caught dead in, because it’s a freakin’ guarantee that’s what they’ll dress you in for the viewing. You may also want to leave some kind of instructions behind about not being buried for four days—at which point you’re either risen or beyond caring—because digging yourself out of the ground, not to mention prying open the damned coffin, is hell on your manicure.

  Now, chances are that in the midst of everything, Rule #5 never even popped up on your radar. I get that. So, you’re famished and filthy, but hey, you’ve survived—better than a certain somebody’s cherry red convertible, anyway. Now, to keep up this trend. Normally, I don’t advocate going out in public without freshening up, so here’s a tip: blood is never fashion-forward. Chances are that as a newly risen vamp, you’re going to be a bit, um, indelicate in your feeding, so you may want to eat first, shop later.

  Here’s where it gets dicey. Vamps have no reflection. Yeah, don’t even get me started. No way at all to fix your hair and makeup. Who wants to go through eternity a total shlub? I mean, what a cosmic joke, right? My recommendation: turn your own stylist, start an entourage—whatever it takes.

  Okay, so you’re fed, you’re fab. Chances are your geek-boy sire is waiting in the wings somewhere expecting you to be his sex slave for all eternity. Girls, all I can say is I don’t care if the man is the second coming of Brad Pitt, you make him work for it. Begin as you mean to continue. You’re young, beautiful, and, as long as you avoid stakes and beheadings, immortal. The world is your oyster. Make him crack it open and set the pearls (preferably in platinum).

  1

  I’m here to tell you, rising from the dead just purely sucks.

  I woke in a blind terror. Literally blind … my eyelids tried to flip upward like cartoon window shades as consciousness kicked my butt, but they got nowhere fast. Something was holding my lids shut. My hands banged against the sides of my prison as I tried to raise them to my eyes, and a scream bubbled up from somewhere around my toes, but nothing came out of my mouth. Oh God, my mind gibbered—no breath! No air. I was suffocating.

  A microsecond later I realized how silly that was. I couldn’t suffocate because I wasn’t breathing. No heartbeat either. In fact, all was silent as … well, as the grave.

  My mind stuttered to a halt. Somehow, I didn’t think that was just, you know, a simile or metaphor or … whatever. No heartbeat equaled no pulse. No pulse equaled dead, right? And yet here I was. I fought down my rising panic—no, too calm a word—hysteria, with great unnecessary breaths … until my inner Cosmo girl witch-slapped me with an order to put on my big girl panties and deal with it. I was Gina Covello, dammit. I’d survive now, panic later.

  Okay, there was only one way I knew to wake up dead— well, two, but I didn’t feel like a flesh-eating zombie. So I must be, like, a vampire. A creature of the night, as in Bram Stoker, Anne Rice, and all that jazz. That could be cool, right? I mean, beyond the sucking blood and pointy-stick phobia, there was eternal youth and beauty and all … assuming I found a way out of the grave. Otherwise, it wouldn’t much matter. I’d be doomed to unlife, watching the worms crawl in and the worms crawl out, the worms play pinochle on your snout … the childhood rhyme played in my head.

  Ack! I felt around, appreciating
that my parents must have sprung for the deluxe model coffin with silk lining and all, and managed with some squiggling to get my fingers up to my eyelids, which—ewwww—were held shut by creepy plastic things that felt like tiny, spiny sea urchins. Gross! I didn’t remember Buffy-verse vamps having these kinds of problems.

  I tossed the freakshow eyelid doohickeys aside and moved straight into screaming for help (after filling my lungs like balloons so that I had air to force through my vocal cords) and pounding on the lid of my coffin. Ten or twenty blows later, things were actually popping and I figured this whole unlife thing must have imparted some cool superhuman strength to me. Either that or my grave hadn’t had enough visitors yet to really pack down the earth, which stood to reason. I’d only been dead three days, if the legends could be trusted. My parents, if they ran true to form, had probably taken themselves off to some exotic locale right after the funeral to drink away the discomfort of my death. It wouldn’t be so much that they didn’t care as that they didn’t like caring. Emotion messed with their Botox treatments, causing unsightly wrinkles and all. Crying made you blotchy.

  Superhuman strength or no, by the time I broke through to the surface, my manicure was totally shot, my nails were split, and I was covered in dirt. And I mean covered. I was about to wig out when I realized just what I was brushing off—and one shock kind of cancelled out the other. My parents had buried me in a truly heinous dress of white eyelet, which made me look like a stylistically challenged child bride. I had a vague repressed memory of being forced to wear it to my first communion years ago and marveled that it still fit. Not that I’d grown out, except for, you know, up top. Sadly, I hadn’t done much growing up either; I’d maxed out at, like, five foot nothing. Anyway, if anything deserved to be covered in grave dust, it was this old rag.

  I shook out my mane of black hair, trying not to think of all the things that might have fallen into it. Had there been maggots? Oh please, please, please don’t let there have been maggots. I forced that mental image down into a deep dark mental box labeled Spiders and all things icky, but somehow lifting the lid unleashed a hoard of other creepy crawly thoughts. The memory swarm knocked me to my butt on the fresh earth of my grave.

  I had a pretty good idea of how I’d become a vamp. I had flashes of prom gowns, yelling, screaming, Chaz hauling me around by the arm, his breath smelling of cheap beer, tossing me into his car, swerving all over the road, the painful shriek of metal on metal as we were sideswiped by a green muscle car, spinning out, a tree rushing at me way too fast …

  I brought my mental shield crashing down on the memory that followed: the world careening out of control, the sudden shock of impact, and … Anyway, that was how I died, not how I’d become a vamp—which must have happened earlier, I thought, at the post-prom party when I’d somehow found myself necking with Bobby-freakin’-Delvecchio, who’d become all mysteriously irresistible. And yeah, there’d been a bit of nipping involved too, which must have been where the whole blood-exchange thing took place. The details were a little fuzzy, maybe due to having dipped into Marcy’s punch, but that was probably just as well.

  My stomach gave a lurch. I thought at first it was a rebellious reaction against the idea of blood, but then recognized it as hunger—no, bloodlust. I cringed. Well, that sealed it. Despite my attempt to sunny it up, undead equaled uncool. I was starting to realize why vamp films qualified as horror.

  I mean, an all-liquid diet, a life without tanning options. I’d be doomed to an eternity looking like the bride of Frankenstein, especially in the gunnysack I was currently wearing. As soon as I got my hands on my sire, I was going to wring his scrawny little neck.

  Speaking of which, you’d think the advantage to being turned by a geekboy like Bobby Delvecchio would be endless devotion, like he should be waiting for me to rise with a cup of warm blood and a spa robe or something. I flashed back to those Elijah Wood blue eyes of his and the way he’d looked prom night, with his kinda shaggy brown hair contrasting with his tailored tux. Okay, maybe not so geeky after all. Maybe his new vamp mojo had given him a totally inflated sense of himself as a ladies’ man. He could be out flashing those baby blues at some other girl right now. Creating his own harem, even. The very thought made me rise again from the fresh earth of my grave, fists clenched.

  “Gina!” As if I’d conjured him, Bobby’s voice called out to me from across the cemetery. I almost turned toward him in relief before remembering I was mad at the two-timing bastard.

  “Gina!” he yelled louder. “Wait.”

  I allowed him to approach me, timing my turn for when he was about three steps away—optimum range for the whirl-and-glare maneuver. I was kind of amazed at how well I was able to pinpoint his position; my new vamp senses made the tiniest sound seem full volume.

  “You’re late,” I informed him, ignoring the fact that I’d nearly whapped him with my hair as I spun. I punctuated my comment with a hand to one hip.

  Bobby looked like he wanted to pull on the collar of his shirt, only he wasn’t really wearing one—a collar, that is. He had on a V-necked sweater the exact same shade as his eyes, and a black leather jacket that looked like it would be soft as butter. I wondered if the vamp transformation had given him supernatural fashion sense and, if so, why everyone wasn’t doing it. It stopped the breath that I … wasn’t using anyway. And that was beyond weird.

  “Um, yeah,” he answered, his ability to talk to girls still lagging behind his spankin’ new style. “There was something I needed to do first.”

  That was when my eyes lit on the shopping bags. Two of them. That most gorgeous Macy’s red. All my negativity just disappeared.

  2

  Are those for me?” I asked.

  When he nodded, I pounced and grabbed the bags. Bobby, startled, was wise enough to back away slowly. I had to drop one bag to paw through the other, which was bursting with the most gorgeous riot of fabrics—silks, satins, and fabrics not found in nature, all dyed in vivid gemstone hues. My heart nearly burst. I dropped the bag to pick up the second, heavier one—and found a jumble of strappy sandals, stylish boots, and a jewelry box that was long and narrow, just the right shape to hold a diamond tennis bracelet.

  “I wasn’t sure of your size,” Bobby said, jutting his chin at the shoes, “so I got a bunch.” He might have said something after that, but I couldn’t hear him over the call of the blood-red Macy’s bags, which was nearly as powerful as the bloodlust still tearing at me. Actually, the urge to shop and the urge to launch into a feeding frenzy were both pretty primal. Maybe Macy’s had tapped into something there, like a vein.

  I could have hugged Bobby for thinking of retail therapy—most men wouldn’t—but I had a jewelry box to explore. Holding it in one palm, I lifted the lid. Drawing a breath, I let it out again in a sigh. A garnet choker lay nestled in the velvet, along with a set of matching earrings. Not diamonds, but they would do.

  I moved to hug the boy, to show that all was forgiven, but was stopped in my tracks by a bright light aimed at my face.

  “You there!” someone called from the direction of the light. The voice had that air of officialdom that said maybe there was a badge to back it up and we were in big, big trouble. “The cemetery’s closed. What are you up to?”

  We were spared for about a second as the light bobbed down to the bags at my feet and back up to our faces.

  “Don’t move. I’m gonna need to see what you’ve got in the bags, and I want some ID.”

  “Um, I’ve got receipts for those,” Bobby said.

  The light centered on him, and he averted his eyes. Based on the crunching of dirt and twigs, the rent-a-cop was coming closer. I was still all but blind. I wasn’t sure what I should do anyway, but I had a bad feeling about this. All he’d have to do is recognize me, like from an obit or some news coverage of the accident (such a teen tragedy had to have been all over the news), but it
was Bobby he focused on.

  “You, boy, what’s your name?”

  “Bobby, uh, Beall.”

  The footsteps stopped just out of easy reach. “Uh-huh. And what’re you doing in the cemetery after dark, Bobby, uh, Beall?”

  “Meeting my girl.”

  “Uh-huh,” the security guard repeated, shifting the light my way.

  “You—you look like you’ve been digging in the dirt.” His voice suddenly took on a much harder edge than it had before, like he was no longer just rousting us kids. I looked at Bobby, but he met my gaze with eyes wide and clueless. Meanwhile, the guard was glaring like he might taser me now and ask questions later.

  “I’m just dirty from rolling around. You know, making out,” I answered, brushing myself off self-consciously. “Ruined my best dress,” it nearly killed me to add.

  The polyester patrolman sneered at that. “We could go on all night with you lying to me and me not buying it, or you could just tell me what you’re doing with the bodies.”

  I flinched back as if he’d slapped me. Bodies? As if.

  I kicked over the closest bag and shoes went sprawling. “Footwear, okay? Happy birthday to me. No body parts. Ick!”

  Something shifted in the guy’s look, like my reaction was too totally true not to be believed, but still … cemetery. At night. Me looking like the walking dead. Not exactly the picture of innocence.

  “I still need to see those IDs,” he insisted. “Take ’em out, then put your hands up where I can see them.”

  Bobby’s ID wouldn’t say “Beall” and, of course, I had none at all. I didn’t know what Bobby was doing when he reached into his jacket—stalling for time, maybe, but I didn’t see any way of this ending well. So I did the only thing I could think of. I sacrificed my new pretties to fling the jewelry box straight at the light. It probably wouldn’t have worked if I’d been the old Gina, but with my new vamp powers, even that little projectile had the force and speed to knock the light out of the guard’s hands and send it spinning crazily into the night. Cool! I thought.

 
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