how much my life will be destroyed without you, they might change their mind."But Alexander didn't move. Instead he pulled me to him and held me close as I continued to sob."I didn't see this coming," Alexander confessed. "I knew when they were arriving here that they'd cramp our style, but never to this degree."Then my despair turned to anger. "Why didn't you trust me with this news? I don't understand why you didn't tell me right away, I had to read about it in the paper.""I didn't want you to hear about it at all."And then I faced him head-on, exposing the saddest part of my soul to him. "You want to leave, don't you?"Alexander grasped my shoulders. "Don't ever say that-not for a minute-don't you ever think that. My home is here, with you.Now and forever."I fell into him and we held each other,"This is why you were keeping your parents away from me?""I needed time.""I can't even bear the thought," I began. "This isn't possible! Well never see each other again. I'm not letting you go! You should have told me." I knew Alexander's parents had missed him. Their only son, several time zones away.Left alone to be attended by a single butler. This wasn't what they wanted for him. He was supposed to be hiding from theMaxwells , not falling in love."I was trying to figure out a plan." "I'm all about figuring things out. And in this case, I think I know exactly what to do.""Yes?" "A solution to your problems and mine."
"We're on sacred ground."
"Yes we are."
"I'd be yours forever."
"No-that's not an option." Alexander stepped back.
"It's our only chance," I said, tugging on his s.h.i.+rt. "I would be just like you-and your family. Then they
won't worry about you being the only vampire in town.""It's not time-""Is there any other time better than this? Is there any better reason? If not now... then when?"Alexander gazed down at me. His eyes were loving, yet sad. "You don't understand what you are asking me to do.""I absolutely do. If I become a vampire, we will be bonded forever-together for eternity. If I stay a mortal, I'll never see you again."Alexander paused. He was as dreamy as the first time I saw him. His hair blew in the breeze. "My home is here," he said, "with you the way it is now.""You're the one making the decision for me," I challenged. "Maybe I should make it for myself.""What would you do if it was the other way around?" he suddenly asked me. "And there was some way I could be justlike you-a mortal.Then what?"Take the vampire out of Alexander? I hesitated. I pondered the thought of changing Alexander. I never realized the strain and burden I was placing upon him to fulfill my dream. What if I changed him and he didn't like being a mortal? What if it changed his personality? What if he was bitter and unhappy and, most of all, blamed me?I never thought of it that way."Do you only like me because I'm a vampire?" he asked. "Of course not.I'd like you if you were a troll. But it is who you are. I wouldn't want to change you.""And that is how I see you." He cupped my face in his hands. "I love you just the way you are.""So you wouldn't like me if I were a vampire?""Of course I'd love you, but... what if you didn't like being a vampire?" Alexander asked."But I'd love it! I've always dreamed of being like you.""You'd never be able to tell your family about your new ident.i.ty. And if you did, do you think they'd be happy? Their daughter is a bloodsucking vampire? It might be fun in theory until you have to leave town because you are being persecuted, like my grandparents. You think you are an outsider now, but what do you think you will become as a member of the Underworld?"
I really hadn't thought of all the details, just the highlights.
"So when you say, 'Just bite me,' it is always much more complicated than that. I'd be making a decision for you- for the rest of your life. And it's not an easy decision to make."
Alexander was always looking out for me. Not just presently, but forever.
"You can't leave Dullsville. Promise me you won't!" I said.
"I promise-to the best of my ability. I'm trying to figure out a solution, every minute of every day."
He squeezed my shoulders.
"Besides," he continued, "I can't leave you here alone with Trevor Mitch.e.l.l."
I thought of the Mansion, of all the time I'd spent in Alexander's coffin, the nights watching him paint or walking through the corridors by candlelight.
"My heart is breaking," I said.
"Mine is, too. It's something I never thought was a possibility. I thought the Mansion would remain our family's forever. And I'd remain in it."
"Now you'll live inRomania ?" I asked. "I'll have to come with you. It's the only way I'll survive."
"We can't be so grim yet," he said softly, touching my cheek. "At this point there have been no offers on the house. There's still time to figure out a plan."
When I arrived home, my parents were on the edge of their couches waiting up for me. I was racked with pain and torment.
"So, what did Alexander have to say?" my mom asked. "Are they staying in town?"
I shook my head.
"You must be devastated."
Tears began to roll down my already-soaked cheeks.
"We were so taken with his parents, too. We were hoping to spend more time with them. I'm so
sorry, honey.I could barely speak."I thought they liked it here, but I must say that I can imagine it would be difficult for them," my mom said. "Why, because she wears a corset?And uses an umbrella to block the moonlight?" I asked."You gripe about how conservative this town is," my mom said. "They might be seeking someplace more cosmopolitan.""What are the chances-if Alexander does move that I could go with him?" I asked my dad."Zero," he answered."Honey," my mom said softly, "I know he is your first love.""He's my only love!""I know," she continued, "but you are only sixteen.""I'm almost seventeen. Juliet was married at that age!" "And look what happened toher " my dad said."This isn't funny! If Alexander moves, my life is over- pure and simple. I'll never wake up again." I burst into tears.My mom hugged me like I was a child. "Why can't theSterlings like it here?" I sobbed. "Why do they have to go back toRomania ?""I'm sure they have family there," my mom said, brus.h.i.+ng my hair away from my tearstained face.
"That is their home.""But this is Alexander's home. If we buy it-then Alexander can live there. He's almost eighteen, you know.""I'm not sure we can afford two homes."
"But can't you try? Use my college money. I'll get a job."
"Now you are thinking." My dad smiled.
"I mean it," I said. "I'll do it." But then I calculated the wages I'd made when I worked at Armstrong
Travel. "It would take me years working part-time to earn enough for 'Jill a house," I said, frustrated. "By then I'll be buying into a retirement community."
"When your mother went back home at the beginning of college summer break/' my dad said, "I was so lonely. I wrote her letters every day and called her. That was long before the Internet and cell phones."
"An e-mail is not going to replace Alexander," I said, and stormed off to my bedroom. "Nothing will."This was one time there was nothing my parents could say that would comfort me.
By the following day the news that theBensonHillMansion was for sale had swept through Dullsville like a tornado. However, the only damage it was causing was to my heart.
"What are you going to do?" Becky asked at my house the next morning as I was still lying in bed. "Is Alexander moving, too? Where is he going to live?"
"I don't know."
"Well, get up. We're going to be late. I mean, later than usual."
"I don't want him to move. I'd die."
"I don't want him to move and he's not even my boy friend. He's so perfect for you. And I'd hate to see you without your true love."
"This is, like, the worst news ever!" I cried out. It was true-there was no way around it. My world was cras.h.i.+ng around me. "I can't go to school today!"
Becky tugged at my s.h.i.+rt. "You have to go. I'm not going to let you stay here and sulk. School will get your mind off of it."
After splas.h.i.+ng cold water on my face and promising to help solve my problem, Becky was successful at dragging me to school. But when we arrived I was far from distracted.
"The Mansion's for sale and Alexander has to move back toRomania ," Becky said as soon as she saw Matt.
"My parents told me last night when I got home. That totally sucks, Raven. Word has it that they are selling it and are going to build a house next to the cemetery" he said.
Word has it? It was just announced in the paper yesterday morning. "Who did you hear that from-Trevor? "
"How did you know?" Matt asked, like I was clairvoyant.
Even Trevor's scenario was better than the reality. At least Alexander would remain in Dullsville.
I was as miserably morbid as my black attire. I spent the day daydreaming about a life inRomania with theSterlings .The four of us as vampires, without any downside.A life of eternal love and beauty and moonlight.
Before cla.s.s I was at the vending machine buying a soda.
"Finally that horrible mansion is for sale," I overheard aPradabee say. "Hopefully they'll burn it down and put up a shopping mall."
"So you finally scared him away" Trevor said at my locker before English cla.s.s. "I guess when his parents sawyou, they had to pack their coffins."
"Don't you even start withme. Not today."
"Well, when then? When will we start our essays?" he asked.
"I have our list of questions and my answers are blank," I said.
"To match your brain?That's not my fault,"
"Half the soccer team is almost finished with theirs and we haven't even started. I know you're a procrastinator, but I'm not cramming this in the night before it's due. Unless we pull an all-nighter-then I'm game." His suggestive gaze bore through me. "I know how you like to sleep in."
I snarled and slammed my locker shut. "I have a lot on my mind."
Trevor blocked my exit.
"You'd better do this a.s.signment. You heard what Mrs.Naper said. If I fail this, it could affect my grades for college. I'm not going to spend the rest of my life in prison with you."
"We'll finish it in time. I've just been preoccupied."
"Doing what? Polis.h.i.+ng gravestones? Painting your nails with blacktop? Conjuring the dead?"
Now he was getting on my bad side. "Then maybe I won't do it," I challenged him.
Trevor paused. His face grew red with anger. "I knew that was your plan all along. I'm not going to let you ruin my chances for a soccer scholars.h.i.+p, Monster Girl."
The bell rang, ending our hostile discussion.
"Don't bother asking me to walk you to cla.s.s," he said sharply.
Here I was worried Trevor was planning to sabotage me when all along he was thinking I was going to do the same to him. My nemesis and I were more alike than I ever would care to admit."Remember, I know where you live," he said in his most threatening voice, "and that monster family, too. And believeme, they will be here for a while. That house won't sell."
Trevor started off for English cla.s.s in a huff.
I was taken aback by my nemesis' last statement. I raced after him.
"What do you mean the Mansion won't sell?" I asked, jumping in front of him.
"Who do they think they can sell that bat trap to?" he asked. "It's an eyesore. And my dad says it's a major money pit. With all the new houses being built, who would buy a ghost- filled broken-down home when someone could buy a brand- new one?''
Trevor's injurious comment was actually a blessing in disguise. If the Mansion didn't sell, then Alexander couldn't move. My boyfriend could remain in Dullsville forever.
"I could almost kiss you," I surprised myself by saying.
"Then why don't you?" he asked, his eyes piercing through mine.
Just then the second bell rang.
"There's not enough time!" I said, and escaped into cla.s.s.
ABerkley Realty for sale sign was stuck on the lawn of the Mansion. I wanted to rip it out of the ground and throw it over theiron gate .
I wasn't sure how I would react to Mr. and Mrs. Sterling now that I knew their true plans for Alexander and the Mansion. I dearly loved them like my own parents, but I was obviously conflicted. I knew they weren't trying to hurt me and my boyfriend, but their decision was breaking my heart.
I waited outside the Mansion's door, barely able to breathe. I knocked several times.
The door finally creaked open and Alexander appeared/ "They're out," he said.
I sighed. My anxiety flew out of my body like a bat from an attic. I entered the Mansion and gave my boyfriend a big kiss.
"I wasn't sure if I was going to have to beg them on my hands and knees or just burst out in tears."
Alexander gently laughed, but it was apparent by his hollowed cheeks and bloodshot eyes that he hadn't slept.
"I have great news," I exclaimed.
"I could use some."
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