Authors: Sienna Mercer
‘Will you tell us another story about her?’ Olivia asked. ‘About when you both came here?’
Rebecca put down the beans. ‘I can tell you that she always used to tease me for being a vegetarian and she was a terrible cook. She tried
to make chocolate-chip cookies once and used baking soda instead of flour. Ugh!’
Olivia chuckled. ‘That must have tasted horrible.’
‘The funniest part was she was so determined to prove that she could cook, she ate a whole cookie, pretending it tasted wonderful.’ Rebecca smiled.
‘From the looks of that apple pie,’ Olivia replied, ‘you obviously know what you’re doing in the kitchen.’
‘Thanks,’ Rebecca said. ‘But that’s enough about me. I want to know everything about you.’ She started to put ingredients into a big blue pot on the stove. ‘Ivy, will you go first?’
‘I don’t know what to tell,’ she said.
‘Then, I’ll do it for you,’ Olivia said, carrying over her onions. ‘Ivy is the best writer on the school newspaper. She’s in all advanced classes
and has read lots of the classic literature books I wish I had, like Jane Austen.’
Rebecca beamed at Ivy. ‘Your mother read Jane Austen.’
‘Really?’ Ivy said, like she’d just won the lottery.
Olivia was glad to see her perking up – well, as much as a broody vampire could perk.
‘She read all that stuff,’ Rebecca said. ‘I could never understand it.’
Olivia watched her sister turn back to her tomato-chopping with twice the enthusiasm, while Rebecca stirred the soup with her big wooden spoon.
‘I always wondered …’ but Rebecca’s voice trailed off as she peered out of the window. ‘Is that …? Who could that be?’ She pointed with the spoon and a piece of cooked carrot plopped on to the counter.
‘Who?’ Olivia couldn’t see.
‘There’s some hooligan in black stalking my chickens!’ Rebecca cried.
Ivy ran to look out of the window. ‘He’s here!’ She jumped up and down, her boots clomping on the blue-and-white tile floor, then rushed for the door.
‘Oh dear,’ Rebecca said, frowning, as they followed her out of the kitchen. ‘That’s Ivy’s boyfriend, isn’t it?’
‘Don’t worry,’ Olivia said. ‘Ivy’s too excited to take any offence at the hooligan comment.’
‘It’s all that black he wears,’ Rebecca muttered as she hurried down the hallway.
Olivia cleared her throat. ‘It’s not what you wear that makes you a thug.’
When Olivia and Rebecca got to the front door, Ivy had jumped into Brendan’s arms to give him a huge hug and he was twirling her around.
He put her down when he noticed Rebecca
and said, ‘I hope you don’t mind, Ms Kendall, and I won’t stay long. I’ve left my bike by your mailbox.’
He didn’t look at all tired from his bike ride, but that was one of the advantages of vampire super-strength.
Rebecca cleared her throat. ‘No, no, I don’t mind.’
Olivia wondered if she was telling the truth. But Olivia knew that after Aunt Rebecca had spent some time with Brendan, she’d see past his clothes to know how nice he was.
‘Thanks, Aunt Rebecca,’ Ivy said. ‘Brendan really … uh … really loves horses.’
Brendan whipped his head up in surprise, but covered it up quickly. ‘Drawing them,’ he said. ‘Not riding them.’
‘OK, then,’ Rebecca replied, unconvinced. ‘I’ll just go add more beans to the soup.’ She gave an
awkward smile and went back into the house.
‘So, what’s really going on?’ Olivia said to Ivy and Brendan.
‘I was feeling like a third wheel,’ Ivy confessed. ‘A fifth wheel, really: you, Rebecca, Coco and Honey were having so much fun.’
‘I could tell she wasn’t,’ Brendan put in, ‘so I insisted on coming. Besides, I wanted to see my girl living the cowgirl life!’
‘I’m sorry this hasn’t been easy for you,’ Olivia said. She felt awful that her sister wasn’t enjoying herself. She didn’t want it to be like when they went to meet their vampire family in Transylvania and Ivy had felt like an outsider.
‘It’s fine,’ Ivy replied. ‘I never expected to do the horse thing. At least my mom and I have Jane Austen in common.’
As they headed back into the house, Olivia saw Brendan grab hold of Ivy’s hand.
I wish I’d thought of inviting Jackson
, Olivia thought, and decided to send him a text message. She took her phone out of her pocket but there was already a message from him waiting for her:
Headline: Franklin Grove 27 per cent less cool without Olivia Abbott. Entire town awaits her return.
She smiled and replied:
The horses are so beautiful. You have to come out here at some point. Miss you tons. She paused then finished: XXX.
, she thought,
I should be even more obvious and write out: Kiss, kiss, kiss. And don’t make my first kiss be with Garrick!
‘Come inside,’ Rebecca called. ‘And help me finish up the soup.’
They trooped down the hall into the kitchen; the smell of onions had started to fill the air. Brendan had to duck to avoid the copper pots that were hanging
from the ceiling, and definitely looked out of place next to the blue-and-red checked tablecloth.
‘What can I do?’ Brendan offered.
‘Nothing, nothing,’ Rebecca insisted, so Brendan sat down at the table awkwardly.
‘So, Ivy … Olivia gave me the summary all about you,’ Rebecca said, snipping up chives into the soup pot. ‘Why don’t you give me the rundown on your sister?’
Ivy pretended to think hard. ‘Well, she’s a neat freak, much too cheerful in the morning and has a flare for extravagant party planning.’
Olivia smiled. Ivy was such a cute grump.
‘Oh yeah, and – as you know – she’s dating the most famous movie star in the whole world.’
Rebecca clapped. ‘I know!’ she squealed and turned to Olivia. ‘Tell me all about it.’
That wasn’t something Olivia had trouble talking about at all. She launched into the story
of how they’d met, when he’d dressed up as a security guard.
But a nagging voice at the back of her mind kept piping up:
He still hasn’t kissed you yet!
Ivy and Brendan sat quietly while Olivia and Rebecca babbled on about cheerleading, horses and Jackson. Gonzo and Gibson, the Labradors, kept an eye on them from matching baskets in the corner of the kitchen.
‘So, Brendan,’ Rebecca said in a rare lull in the bunny conversation. ‘Why don’t you tell me a little about you?’
Brendan pushed his curly hair away from his face. ‘Well, uh, there’s not much to tell. I like running and am kind of a science geek, like my dad – chemistry, building stuff.’
‘Are you in any after-school clubs?’ Rebecca asked.
Brendan shook his head. ‘The kind of stuff I like tends to be less crowded.’
‘He plays a mean game of air hockey,’ Ivy put in.
Rebecca didn’t look impressed.
It’s not fair
, Ivy thought to herself.
Comparing Brendan to Jackson was like comparing funeral wreaths to wedding bouquets. Jackson might be the most amazing guy according to the entire world, but Brendan takes me by surprise every day.
‘Aunt Rebecca,’ Ivy said. ‘Do you mind if I take Brendan on a little walk around the yard before he rides home? We promise not to disturb any of the animals.’
At least, she hoped they wouldn’t.
‘Of course, sweetie.’ Rebecca looked relieved, either that they were going for a walk or that he was going to ride home.
, Ivy thought. ‘It makes sense to head out long before sunset.’
Ivy remembered Rebecca saying something similar to her dad.
‘Do you want to come, Olivia?’ Ivy asked.
Olivia shook her head and held up her script. ‘I was going to run through my Juliet lines.’
‘Ooh, can I help?’ Rebecca offered.
‘Sure!’ Olivia replied and handed over the papers.
Brendan grabbed Ivy’s lightweight buckled coat, and they headed out on to the front porch.
The sun was low and the sky was turning yellow.
‘I think your aunt doesn’t like me much,’ Brendan said, as they wandered past one of the weeping willow trees casting shadows across the yard.
‘She thought you were stalking her chickens.’
Brendan chuckled. ‘They are some crazy-looking chickens.’
‘She doesn’t seem to be a big fan of black,’ Ivy said. ‘She doesn’t like my dad much either. But she is really nice, and she’s already told us a ton about our mom that we never knew. Olivia is loving every minute.’
Brendan nodded. ‘There might be parts of your mom that Olivia understands better, but there are parts just for you, too.’
Ivy thought of Jane Austen again. ‘You’re right.’
‘And you’re beautiful,’ Brendan replied, giving her a little kiss on the nose. ‘I’d better go, before the sun sets and either my bike turns into a pumpkin, or I turn into a chicken-stalking zombie … Grr arrg!’ He held up his hands and pretended to chase Ivy.
She dashed under the willow tree branches, back up the steps and collapsed giggling on to the porch swing.
Brendan kissed her and then headed off
into the sunset, like a cowboy. Well, a black-clad vampire cowboy on a bike.
‘Thanks for coming,’ she called after him. He did a wheelie in reply, sending up a cloud of dust.
She snuggled into the cushions and gently swung back and forth, watching the sun go down. She could see why her mother would have loved coming here. The ranch was beautiful.
Ivy wished she had her notebook, but it was upstairs in her backpack. She felt like this swing would be the perfect place to write.
She sat for another moment, enjoying the changing colours of the sky. Then Olivia and Rebecca burst out laughing inside. Ivy hopped down from the swing to join them. She took a step. Her foot hit a floorboard that was poking up and she ended up sprawled across the porch. Ivy twisted round to look back over her shoulder; she’d dislodged the wooden plank.
, Ivy thought.
Now I’m destroying the house!
Ivy crouched down and saw that there were no nails at either end of the board. It had been loose for a while. When she went to slot it back in place, she realised why. There was something hidden under the plank. She took out her cell phone and used the light of its screen to see a battered journal wrapped in a clear plastic bag. As she pulled it out, she could see that its leather cover was embossed with the initials ‘S.K.’
Ivy sucked in her breath.
She’d just found a journal that belonged to her and Olivia’s biological mom!
he instant Aunt Rebecca shut the door to their top-floor bedroom, Ivy leaped off the red-and-white quilt of the bed they were supposed to share.
‘I have been desperate to tell you this for the last
!’ she declared.
Olivia was completely taken by surprise and almost backed into the white drawers covered in odd knick-knacks, like rainbow-coloured ceramic cows and a statue of an African drummer.
Ivy never got this excited unless it was something big.
‘What is it?’ Olivia asked.
‘This.’ Ivy held up a dirty plastic bag that smelled like mud.
‘Uh …’ Olivia had no idea what it could be.
‘Look!’ Ivy thrust it closer to her face and Olivia actually did bump into the drawers.
But then she saw what had Ivy hopping about like a cricket.
There were initials on the cover of the book inside the bag. ‘S.K.’
‘Is that what I think it is?’ Olivia whispered.
‘I think so,’ Ivy whispered back. ‘It was hidden in the porch and it looks old.’
‘More than thirteen years old,’ Olivia agreed.
‘I waited for you to look at it, but …’ Ivy hesitated. ‘I didn’t want to show it to Aunt Rebecca just yet. I think this might be too big to share before we really know what it is.’
Olivia nodded. Her heart was racing like she’d
just landed a back flip. ‘We can show it to her tomorrow.’
‘Can we …?’ Ivy said at the same time as Olivia started, ‘Should we …?’
They both wanted to read it. They
to read it … to see if it really was their mom’s.
‘You do it,’ Olivia offered. ‘You’re the one who found it.’
Ivy gingerly peeled the plastic back and pulled out the notebook. Around the initials, there was a faded pattern of ivy embossed on the brown leather.