Authors: Alex Duval
Van Dyke had been pale before, but Jason saw that even his lips were white now.
“Should I get the nurse?” Jason offered. He wasn’t sure, but he thought he’d seen the nurse’s office somewhere near the principal’s.
“Nah. We just need to get him rehydrated,” Brad said confidently. “And get him some air.” He waved Jason away, then Brad and Simkins led Van Dyke into the locker room, clearly supporting most of his weight.
Harberts jogged over to Jason. “What the hell was that? Is Van Dyke all right?” he asked.
“I don’t know. He looked completely out of it,” Jason replied, amazed. He couldn’t believe Van Dyke wasn’t on a stretcher right now. It didn’t look like a take-two-aspirin kind of thing.
For Amber Caravéo—there would be no Vampire Beach without you.
This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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Jason Freeman took a deep breath of the fresh California air. He
in Malibu now. This was him, driving his VW Beetle down the Pacific Coast Highway. The thought was as blinding as the sun on the ocean, as dazzling as the white sand stretching out alongside the car—
alongside the car. He could pull over and be down there in—
“How insane is that house?”
Jason reluctantly dragged his gaze away from the…the
, and glanced at the house his sister, Danielle, was pointing to. She’d pulled her sunglasses down for a better look, and her gray eyes were wide with curiosity.
“It has a tennis court!” she declared. “And I bet that glass dome is for an indoor pool. They don’t let you see much, do they? All those trellises and flowers.” Dani glanced over her shoulder as they drove by, trying to eye-TiVo every detail. “That new job of Dad’s, the un-pass-by-able job, the one I had to leave all my friends for? It pays a gazillion dollars. Why aren’t we living in a place like that?”
“Places like that cost multiple gazillions,” Jason told her. “Besides, we have a pool at the new house.”
pool,” Dani complained. But Jason could hear a hint of amusement in her voice. The idea of complaining about anything in this city was ridiculous.
“Don’t knock the pool. ‘It’s a lovely kidney shape, with colored tile detailing,’” Jason said, quoting the real estate agent with a wry smile.
Dani adjusted her Oliver Peoples sunglasses that had been a gift from their aunt Bianca: the aunt who—aside from having impeccable fashion sense—had also first mentioned the new job to their dad
helped find their new house.
“True. But the pool doesn’t make up for being dragged halfway across the country two weeks before junior year,” Dani said flatly.
Jason sighed. He knew the leaving-all-her-friends part of the situation had really upset Danielle. She’d had at least thirty “best friends” back in Michigan, and she hadn’t wanted to part with any of them.
“Hey, so I heard about this guy called the Surf Rabbi,” he said, trying to get Dani’s mind off her homesickness. “He’s an actual rabbi. He’s, like, fifty years old, and he gives surfing lessons: spiritual surfing lessons. He’s all about, I don’t know, giving yourself over to the water, or something. He teaches in Malibu.”
“Hmm,” Dani managed.
Jason shot a look at the surfers already out in the ocean. Sweet. He couldn’t wait to get out there himself. But he might need to pay a visit to the rabbi first, seeing as he’d never set foot on a board.
The lifeguard stations on their long wooden legs reminded him of another thing he needed to do. He had to find out where to apply for a job as a guard. That was seriously on the top ten list of things to do now that he was living in California, right after joining a gym. He figured he had a decent shot at getting a lifeguard job since he’d been on the swim team back home and he’d already taken a lifesaving course.
“Jeans!” Dani gasped as they neared the school gates.
“Huh?” Jason queried.
“I have to change,” Dani said, as if that was actually an explanation. Jason raised his eyebrows. She rushed on. “Those girls we just passed were all wearing designer jeans!” She shook her head, her chin-length auburn hair flying around her face. “And I’m in a skirt. I’m not dressed right.”
Jason sighed. “We don’t have time for you to change. We just got here. Besides, what you’re wearing is fine,” he assured her.
Danielle pulled out a brush and whipped it through her hair. “It’s different for you. You’re a guy. You have the vintage bug. You have the blond hair–blue eyes combo. You look like a combination of Chad Michael Murray and…somebody not so WB. Nobody’s going to care what you’re wearing.”
“And you’re the only one who cares what
wearing!” Jason countered. “You look great. You always do. Chill out, Dani.”
Jason swung the car into the parking lot of DeVere High. DeVere, as in DeVere Heights: the gated complex where they now lived. And DeVere University. And DeVere Museum of Modern Art. And DeVere Library. And DeVere Athletic Complex, et cetera, et cetera, and et cetera. He killed the engine and opened the car door.
Dani remained motionless. Her gray eyes were filled with apprehension behind her shades. She hated change. She always had. She’d actually insisted on moving every single Narnia book she’d ever owned across the country, even though she hadn’t read them in years. She seemed to think that the world would end if she didn’t have them stuffed in her closet in Malibu, just the way she’d had them stuffed in her closet in Michigan.
Jason had handed out his belongings left and right. He wanted to start clean here. No mooning over his past life, no calling his old friends every five minutes, no thinking about Michigan like it had been some kind of paradise. He wished he could give Dani a transfusion of some of his excitement. They were in Malibu now. Life was going to change. And Jason wanted it to. In Fraser, the suburb where he’d lived since birth, he had been able to see every day, every week, every month stretching out in front of him. Not bad. But boring. Here, he had no idea what was going to happen—and it was a total rush.
“Listen. You had more friends than anyone else at our old school,” Jason reminded his sister. “It’s not going to be any different here.” He climbed out of the car. The bug looked like a toy among all the ginormous H2s and Range Rovers that filled the lot. Still, Jason spotted a number of Mercedes SLK convertibles and several other vintage cars like his own. Not everyone was an SUV freak.
He glanced at Dani. She was still in the car. A couple of girls around his sister’s age—sixteen—walked by, laughing and gossiping to each other just like girls everywhere. “They don’t seem so evil,” Jason pointed out.
With a sigh, Dani climbed from the car and gave the girls a once-over. “They definitely wouldn’t survive a winter in Michigan,” she said at last.
“There’s the old Dani attitude,” Jason joked. He smiled as he led the way to the main building. It looked nothing like a school—an art gallery, maybe, a mansion, sure, but not a school. It had arches and parapets and red roof tiles. A bell tower rose up from one side, and a wide porch wrapped around the second floor.
They stepped through the largest archway and found themselves in a central courtyard with a manicured lawn in the middle, surrounded by palm trees. Jason still wasn’t used to seeing palms all over the place. And flowers grew like weeds out here, not in neat little gardens, but everywhere: on the medians of the freeways, on the sides of buildings—he’d even seen some growing around the trunks of palm trees.
“I’m this way,” he announced, stopping in a cool, dim walkway next to the courtyard. Stone steps led up to a side door, and his school map showed him that his first class should be right inside. He looked at the class schedule Dani was clutching so tightly that the blood had drained from her fingers, leaving them bone white. “You’re over there…,” he added, nodding in the opposite direction, where another set of stairs led into the wing across the courtyard.