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Authors: Flynn Meaney

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BOOK: Bloodthirsty
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After the victory dance, Luke’s teammates mobbed him and ripped off his helmet. They swallowed him up in a giant sloppy pile of man love. Somehow, by the time I had made it down the bleachers to congratulate him, that crowd of sloppy teammates had been replaced by a mob of girls. Jeez! Where had they all come from? He’d only been at this school four days! Further, this school didn’t have any girls! But here they were, sporting plaid skirts of various uniform shades and sweatshirts that listed the entire roster of girls’ schools in the area: Ursuline, Holy Child, Sacred Heart. My brother is magnetic north for Catholic schoolgirls.

And they were finding any excuse to touch Luke, even though he was so sweaty he looked like he’d survived a tidal wave. The fortunate girls who had arrived early were staking out the prime territory of Luke’s bicep. Others used flimsier excuses: one girl’s manicured nail traced the 5 on the front of his jersey; one authoritative hand rearranged his sweat-soaked hair. One girl even bent to tie his shoe.

Luke waved at me from inside his circle of girls.

“Brother!” he said. “Thanks for coming!”

“You slaughtered them, bro,” I told him.

“And people said Holy Cross was good!” He laughed. “Piece of cake.”

Girls began asking Luke questions mostly about his feats of strength and how much he worked out. It was a flirtatious little press conference. “How much can you bench-press? Could you bench-press me? Will you?”

One girl, a brunette, observant—much more my type than Luke’s—looked me up and down and asked, “Are you a reporter for the school paper or something?”

I shook my head. “I’m Luke’s brother,” I said.

“Oh, his little brother?” She broke into a smile. “Awww.”

She looked at me like someone who had the potential to be cute one day.

“Oh, uh, no,” I said. “We’re… twins.”

Her pupils flashed from the bandages around my toothpick arms to my sunken-in chest and the goose bumps emerging on my legs beneath my swim trunks to my super-pale face and eyes.

Then this brunette said an obvious, truthful, and terrible thing.

She told me: “You two are nothing alike.”

When I didn’t leave the house for three days after the football game, my mother worried that I was antisocial. My mother has suspected me of antisocial behavior since last year when I didn’t cry during
The Notebook
. After her prodding, I managed one tear. I didn’t tell her that the tear came from the fact that I was home on a Friday night watching a Nicholas Sparks adaptation with my mother.

During the last few days of August, I used the excuse that the doctor had said it was too sunny for me to go outside. This also conveniently got me out of mowing the lawn. It also excused me from scoping out our seventeen-year-old neighbor, whose family was Italian and renting a house for the summer, and who Luke claimed sunbathed topless. I was so embittered by my recent experiences that I didn’t want to see another teenage girl as long as I lived. I didn’t even want to see another teenage girl’s
boobs
. When it became early September, and also got rainy and overcast, though, I had no more excuses (neither did the topless girl, who buttoned up and went inside, much to Luke’s dismay). To appease my mother, I decided to go to some museums in Manhattan. I looked forward to losing myself in mummies, dinosaurs, and other species who were past their self-conscious teenage years.

Unfortunately, my seat on the train was directly facing three teenage girls. Didn’t girls in New York ever go to school? Oh, wait, school hadn’t started for me either. Well, I could just look out the window. Oh, wait. I didn’t have a window seat. Oh, well. If I had to look ahead, I would focus on the books the girls were reading and not on the three pairs of crossed legs beneath them.

The first book cover had the typical Fabio-style romantic male lead. He had blond hair longer than the woman’s and a piratelike shirt ripped open to reveal pectoral muscles that were bigger than hers, too. He was a guy who could speak five languages and perform award-winning sexual maneuvers. He was a seducer.

I could never be a guy like that.

On the second novel cover, the guy was swinging an ax dangerously close to the woman’s face. She was still smiling. He was a clean-cut kind of guy, with a flannel shirt and bulging biceps, like the Brawny paper towel man. He could handle a canoe or a grizzly bear, and catch and grill a fish for dinner. Like that guy on the Discovery Channel who scoops the insides out of buffaloes and then sleeps inside them.

I could never be a guy like that.

The third book cover was different. First of all, the book was called
Bloodthirsty
, which didn’t seem very romantic. The letters of the title were enormous and red and dripping with blood. On this cover, the girl was featured prominently. Although she was wearing a white lacy dress and making the sort of innocent face you see on kids in juice commercials, she had some pretty intense cleavage. The Grand Canyon of cleavage. I admit that I leaned forward to examine this a little closer (hey, it’s literature!), but then the
guy
on the cover caught my eye. No, not in that way. In fact, he wasn’t sexy at all.

The
Bloodthirsty
cover guy was lurking in the distance behind the girl. He had bad posture. His arms were crossed. He was brooding. His skin was the color of paper. And his eyes… He had eyes like mine! They were spooky, crystal-ball blue. Why was the cleavage girl with him? What was this guy’s secret?

The Brawny book girl looked over at the
Bloodthirsty
girl. She smiled and said, “I love that book.”

The sexy pirate book girl looked up to see what the other two girls were talking about. “Oh, me too!” she chimed in. “How sexy is the guy in it?”

The girls all moaned in unison. Really sexy, urgent moans. Somewhere a sound guy for a porn movie was kicking himself that he missed it.

“He is SO sexy!” the
Bloodthirsty
girl emphasized.

But why?
I thought. I was bursting to ask them out loud. If the guy they were talking about was the guy on the cover, what was sexy about him? He was thin! He was pale!

“He’s so brooding,” the first girl said.

Wait,
I
was brooding! In fact, I was brooding right now!

“He’s so smart,” the second girl said.

I’m smart! I’m smart! I can give my PSAT scores to prove it.

“He’s so thoughtful,” the third girl said.

Thoughtful? No one’s more thoughtful than me! Hell, I’ll chase you down the street with the first edition of your favorite book!

What was happening here? Either brooding, smart, skinny, and pale had suddenly become sexy and karma was paying me back for the time my priest suggested I use self-tanner so I wouldn’t blend in with my altar boy robe, or I had stumbled upon my own personal fan club. I’d dreamed of this day before. I would call them “Fanbars.”

“I know,” the first girl said. “I
love
vampires.”

Wait, what was that? Excuse me? Pardon? Had I heard right over the conductor’s announcement that “a crowded train is no excuse for an improper touch”? Had this girl said she…
loves vampires
?

“I started with
Bloodthirsty
,” the second girl said. “After that, I read all the Twilight books. And once I finished them, I read
everything
about vampires. I’m obsessed with vampires!”

That was it! It all made sense now! Girls
loved
vampires! How had I forgotten about the Twilight craze? Robert Pattinson and his pale mug everywhere? His accepting Hottest Dude awards or Best Kisser awards or whatever awards Nickelodeon and MTV thought up?

So that meant that the blond girl from the train car hadn’t been insulting me by calling me a vampire. She hadn’t thought I was a bloodsucking killer. She had thought I was a bloodsucking killer with
sex appeal
.

And she hadn’t sat next to me because she was deranged. She wasn’t deranged. She was attracted to me! Okay, some might think those are the same thing.

Optimism and a sense of power flooded me, a sense of power that’s pretty unusual when you’re six-foot-one and weigh only 130 pounds. Maybe I couldn’t be a Brawny paper towel man or a bodice-ripping foreign lover. Frankly, I couldn’t even unhook a bra. But when it came to being pale and dead-looking, when it came to being old-fashioned and a little bit strange, I could ride this trend like no one else.

I would become a vampire.

When a storm broke over the electrical lines of the train, it seemed the perfect time to christen myself. The early fall heat sparked into a sharp sliver of lightning, small through the train window, and I became a new man. A brave, fearless, fearsome man. A bloodthirsty man.

I stood up and (silently) declared myself: Finbar Frame, vampire.

Then the train conductor walked through and told me to sit down. He also gave me a suspicious look, like I’d been inappropriately touching people. I think he sensed my newfound power and was threatened by it.

But I did sit down.

chapter 5

With only seventy-two hours left before school started, I was off to a magical place that would be the source of all my vampire secrets and power. The Pelham Public Library. I still believed books could change your life, even though they hadn’t worked during my previous attempted transformations (see the still shrink-wrapped copy of
Weightlifting for Wimps
on the third level of my bookshelf).

Thank God for my kick-ass attention span. Between Saturday and Tuesday morning, I read the following books: “
The Family of the Vourdalak,”
by Count Alexis Tolstoy;
Carmilla
, by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (this one had some really cool lesbian vibes going on like 150 years before Marissa kissed Alex on
The OC
);
Dracula
, by Bram Stoker (this one I just flipped through; I’ve read it twice before. I also saw it acted out in the episode of
Degrassi
where Emma gets gonorrhea);
Revelations in Black
, by Carl Jacobi; ’
Salem’s Lot
and “
The Night Flier,”
by Stephen King;
Carpe Jugulum
, by Terry Pratchett; four books by Anne Rice; two House of Night books by P. C. and Kristin Cast; and Stephenie Meyer’s
Twilight
Saga.

Getting any reading done, much less this many books in one nerdy weekend, was an impressive feat considering I shared a room with Luke. In Alexandria, we’d had rooms at opposite ends of a hallway, and I’d only heard about his cracking a wooden ceiling beam with a basketball, his using his bed as a trampoline and swinging from the window sash. In Pelham, I got to experience it firsthand.

At some point in my research, when I already had, like, twelve paper cuts, I heard Luke pounding his way up the stairs. The lamps in our room were trembling in fear of him. I swear, the kid’s a portable earthquake. I looked around quickly. All the book covers on my bed looked suspicious and creepy—knives, blood, some bare female chests. So I scooped up five of them and shoved them into the crack between my bed and the wall, where I kept all my other suspicious and creepy stuff like my Megan Fox
Transformers
poster (it’s life-size, and you can totally see one of her nipples).

Luke banged open the door, his white headphones blaring and his shirt soaked through with sweat. He lifted it over his head while he walked to his bed. My brother walks around shirtless more than Mario Lopez.

“Summer reading?” Luke’s pecs asked me.

Yeah, right. I’d completed the Pelham summer reading list by the fourth of July. Summer reading is my favorite thing in the world!

“Just reading,” I said.

“Hey, when are we going to the beach again?” Luke asked. “I never got to go.”

“The beach made my skin boil,” I told him.

Luke shrugged. “Mom said she enjoyed it.”

I rolled my eyes. Then I put
The Queen of the Damned
down on my bedspread. Although I never thought I’d say this, I was sick of reading. I decided to do what the rest of the country did instead of reading: watch TV.

“Hey,” I asked Luke, “did you ever watch
True Blood
?”

Luke took one of the towels we shared and rubbed it over his head, neck, and chest. Reminder: never use that towel again.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“A show on HBO,” I said. “There’s vampires.”

“What happens on it?” Luke pulled a polo shirt over his head.

Retaining Luke’s attention requires a team of Mexican soap opera scriptwriters, but he agreed to watch the DVDs and followed me downstairs to the den, where we have that enormous HD television whose radiation my mother fears. I put the first season in the DVD player and got absorbed in the show almost immediately. My brother, ADHD poster child, left the room whenever no one was being killed or having really noisy sex. Luckily, there were a lot of murders and a hell of a lot of sex (maybe becoming a vampire would be more fun than I predicted). Luke was better able to pay attention when he watched while simultaneously trying to balance on this wooden board on wheels. That balance board is the first physical manifestation of my father’s midlife crisis. He bought it to work on his balance when he decided to become a surfer. That never worked out for him. Or me. Apparently delusions of surfdom run in our family.

While Luke balanced (or, rather, crashed into the couch, like, three times), I let all the information I’d read and watched come together. Every book had a different take on how vampires worked. For example—how were vampires made? Bram Stoker, who wrote
Dracula
, said it took three bites from a vampire to “turn” a human. The House of Night books said that becoming a vampire was an automatic physical change, like puberty (and God knows, I didn’t want to relive puberty. I think I would have rather turned into a vampire than get braces with red rubber bands). And what was the deal with vampires and the sun? In
True Blood
, sun shriveled up vampires until they dropped dead. In the
Twilight
books, sun doesn’t hurt vampires but reveals their super-beautiful skin. Well, I didn’t have to worry about that.

BOOK: Bloodthirsty
10.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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