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 con-sciousness 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 … what-ever. 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 unnec-essary 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 … assum-ing 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 fin-gers 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 bal-loons 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 prob-ably 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 treat-ments, 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 par-ents 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 haul-ing 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 con-trol, 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 tohaving 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 recog-nized 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 Fran-kenstein, especially in the gunnysack I was currently wear-ing. 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 punctu-ated 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 transfor-mation 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 some-thing 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.