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Authors: Alex Duval

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BOOK: Vampire Beach Hunted
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Zach shook his head. ‘The meeting is being held in an area that doesn’t have cell phone service or land lines. But this is something we should be able to handle ourselves.’

‘That’s not an answer,’ Erin said impatiently.

‘It’s all the answer I have for now,’ Zach told her. ‘There’s no point in doing anything without information. For now, we go on as normal. That means school tomorrow. I’ll get in touch with my sources and see what I can find out.’

‘That’s it? We just go to school and sit on our butts?’ Brad demanded, his face twisted with anger.

‘For now, yes,’ Zach replied, his voice even and unemotional. It was clear from his tone that the discussion was over.

‘I’m at least going to drive around town and see if I spot him anywhere,’ Brad said.

‘I’ll go with you,’ Maggie insisted.

‘If you do see any sign of him, call me. I don’t want either of you to take any action without my approval,’ Zach told them.

Brad hesitated a fraction of a second, then nodded.

‘Bring Maggie back to my place when you’re done, OK?’ Sienna asked.

‘OK,’ Brad said.

Sienna glanced from Belle to Erin. ‘I guess we should all go back to my house. Will you take us, Jason?’

‘Of course. Come on.’

‘I’m going to stay here. If he shows up, I’ll call all of you,’ Zach told them as they trooped to the front door.

The drive to Sienna’s only took a few minutes. ‘Will you three be OK or do you want me to stay?’ Jason asked.

‘I think I want to go back to bed,’ Belle said with a wide yawn.

‘We stayed up pretty late last night,’ Sienna explained. ‘I think we’ll probably all go to sleep. You should just go home.’ She leant over and gave him a kiss that landed on the corner of his mouth. ‘I’ll see you at school.’

Jason watched until Sienna, Erin and Belle were safely inside. He thought about staying parked in the driveway, keeping guard. But Zach wanted them to act normally, and that wasn’t normal, so he started home.

As he made a left turn, he felt his shoulder twinge, although the crossbow wound there had completely healed. Psychosomatic, he decided. The disappearing vampires had gotten him thinking about vampire hunters.

It’s true that Tamburo – the vampire hunter who had shot him – hadn’t minded leaving bodies around, but maybe other vampire hunters had different methods, he thought. Could Tamburo have belonged to a secret society? Were there hunters spread out all over the country?

Jason pulled into his own driveway and shut off the ignition. He folded his arms on the steering wheel. Were there always going to be people trying to kill off every vampire on the planet? Were he and Sienna always going to be in danger from someone?

He rested his head on his arms. Was this going to be his life? All through college and everything after that?

If you want to be with Sienna, maybe it is
, Jason thought. Was it worth it? Was
worth it?

He lifted up his head, the answer instantaneous: hell, yeah, she was worth it. There was no way he was ever giving her up. ‘So go ahead and bring it on,’ he muttered. ‘Whoever you are.’



as he headed across the DeVere High courtyard the next day.
Here I am, acting normal

His body jerked as a hand slid up his back. Jason whipped round to see Sienna. ‘At least I didn’t squeal,’ he said. ‘You have to admit, I didn’t make a sound of any kind.’

‘We’re all a little jumpy today,’ Sienna reassured him.

Jason checked the clock tower. Still ten minutes before first period. He sat down on the closest stone bench. Sienna took a seat next to him. The palm fronds over their heads rattled gently in the slight breeze.

‘I was thinking, would it be useful to bring the police in on this?’ Jason asked her. ‘Van Dyke’s a missing minor. They’d get right on it. Maybe they could find out something. And it’s not like absolutely everything that happens in Malibu has to do with

‘Great minds,’ Sienna said. ‘I asked Zach pretty much the same thing about an hour ago. He told me that his sources go deeper and wider than the police’s, and that getting the police involved could make it more complicated for us to do what we need to do – whatever that turns out to be. You know how Zach is. He doesn’t exactly tell you everything on his mind.’

Jason nodded. ‘I guess Zach’s sources haven’t . . . ?’

‘Nothing yet,’ Sienna replied. ‘We were up all night, imagining all these terrible things that could have happened to him.’

‘Sounds like quite a slumber party,’ Jason commented.

‘It’s so weird being here today, isn’t it?’ Sienna asked, watching groups of kids go by, talking and laughing. ‘Only a few of us know anything is wrong. To everybody else this is a totally normal day. Better than normal because school is almost out. If people notice Van Dyke isn’t here, they’ll just think he has a bad case of senioritis and is cutting class to go out and have fun.’

Whereas in reality he could be hurt
, Jason silently added.
Maybe dead.

Sometimes Malibu didn’t seem like a place where people could die. It was naturally beautiful to begin with, but it had been shined and buffed and glossed until it was almost artificial. And maybe that was the point. When you were rich enough to live in Malibu, you could almost pretend the real world didn’t exist. You could almost pretend that shiny, glossy, beautiful – plus safe and happy – was reality.

But the same ugly things happened in Malibu that happened in the rest of the world: illness, crime, divorce, death, even murder. Once Jason had almost fallen over the dead body of a murdered girl right on a stretch of beach so pretty it should have been on a postcard. Living here was no protection.

‘I guess we should head in,’ Sienna said as the crowd around them thinned out.

‘I guess,’ Jason agreed. They stood up and walked out of the sun and into one of the cool, dim walkways that ran through the school. ‘See you in English,’ he said when they reached the stone stairway he had to take to get to his world history class. Sienna gave a little wave as he started up the stairs.

He reached the classroom with only seconds to spare before the second bell. Not that even the teachers could get themselves to care about that too much at this point. They were as ready for summer as everybody else.

Mr Munro took roll, then popped in a DVD after handing out a sheet of questions that would be answered during the DVD viewing. He looked as tired as Brad and Maggie did. Jason wondered how long they’d stayed out searching for Van Dyke last night. He knew they hadn’t found even a hint about what had happened. Sienna would have called if they had.

Jason picked up his pen and read the first question. Mr Munro was cool about putting the questions in the order the info was given in the DVDs. Basically, all you had to do was stay awake to fill out the sheet – though that was sometimes not the easiest thing first period, especially with the lights dimmed.

A folded scrap of paper landed on his desk as he waited for the answer to question number one. He opened it after shooting a quick look at Mr Munro. The note was from Adam: ‘What happened yesterday?’

Like Jason was going to start writing stuff down about the vampires and passing it over to Adam, who sat almost all the way across the room from him. He shook his head at his friend.

He heard the word ‘Mesopotamian’. Damn, he’d missed the factoid he needed for the worksheet. He read the second question and got ready to listen for the answer.

Another note arrived from Adam: ‘Did it have to do with Vs?’ Jason crumpled it and focused on the photographs slowly flashing across the TV screen. He hoped Adam would interpret the message correctly as ‘not now’.

Maybe he should have sent the message in Morse code, because Adam didn’t seem to pick up on the paper crumpling. Another note arrived less than a minute later that read: ‘Let me help.’

Jason tore off a scrap of paper from the bottom of the worksheet. ‘Later’ he wrote on it. As he folded it, he heard the words ‘cult of Anu’. Crap, he’d missed the second answer.

Screw it
, he thought as he sent the note off across the room to Adam.
It’s not like CalTech is going to find out that I didn’t pay attention to the DVD and come tear up my acceptance letter
. At least, he hoped not.

‘You two have P.E. this period, don’t you?’ Coach Middleton asked, catching up with Jason and Brad in the hall after world history.

‘Yep,’ Jason answered.

‘Well, whatever they have you doing in there today, don’t do it. I want you to get your swim team lockers cleaned out. I’m going to start working with the new guys over the summer and I need the space,’ the coach told them. ‘Don’t get all sappy and nostalgic on me. You have fifty minutes. That’s more than enough time. Tell Van Dyke to get his crap out of there too. Where is he anyway? He’s supposed to have P.E. first period.’

‘Uh, I saw him yesterday and he wasn’t feeling that great. Maybe he decided to stay home,’ Jason said.

‘Seniors,’ Coach Middleton snorted. ‘Well, you call him on his cell and tell him to get his ass over here and get his locker cleaned out. I’m talking spotless or he’ll be spending the summer swimming laps.’ He veered off into one of the teachers’ lounges.

‘I guess we can pack Van Dyke’s stuff up for him,’ Jason suggested. He shot a look at Brad, wondering how he was doing.

‘I know his locker combination,’ Brad answered without emotion as they continued on.

Once they were inside the locker room, they found cardboard boxes waiting for them. Jason’s locker was a row over from Brad’s. They worked mostly in silence, separated by a wall of metal. Jason threw out a few comments, but Brad answered in monosyllables.

It didn’t take Jason long to load up his gear. He didn’t keep a ton of stuff at school. Goggles. Shampoo. Flip-flops. A couple of T-shirts and some shorts. A couple of swimsuits and a towel. Combined, it didn’t even fill up half of one of the boxes.

Jason slammed his locker – he wanted to give Brad a head’s up that he was finished – and circled around to see how Brad was doing. He had his gear boxed up too. He was sitting in front of Van Dyke’s closed locker – the one right next to his – staring at it. Jason had the urge to back away, feeling like he’d walked in on something really private. But it was too late. Brad looked up and saw him standing there.

‘Want some help?’ Jason asked, trying to make the best of the situation.

Brad shrugged. But Jason’s words got him moving. He dialed the combination into the lock and pulled it off, then opened the locker door. But he didn’t start taking stuff out. Jason wondered if that would feel like giving up to Brad, like admitting that Van Dyke wouldn’t be coming back to do it himself.

Jason was just about to make an excuse to give Brad some space, when Brad slammed the locker door shut. He pulled back his fist and rammed it into his own locker, leaving a crater. ‘Whoever has Van Dyke better pray Zach finds them before I do,’ Brad burst out, the muscles in his neck tense. He slammed the locker door again and strode away.

Zach was definitely more cool-headed. But Jason wasn’t at all sure that that meant his punishment of whoever had Van Dyke would be any less severe.

He considered his options, then decided to clean out Van Dyke’s locker himself. Zach didn’t want Van Dyke’s disappearance to become an issue, and it would become one with the coach if the locker wasn’t dealt with.

Jason opened Van Dyke’s locker door and moved a cardboard box in front of it.
When Van Dyke gets back, I’m going to have to give him some serious grief about the number of hair and skin products he has in here
, Jason thought, hoping he would get that opportunity.

Jason loaded half a dozen fancy little bottles into Van Dyke’s box, each one designed to keep hair or skin free from the ravages of chlorine.

‘Need any help?’ came Adam’s voice suddenly.

Jason glanced over his shoulder, surprised to see his best friend. ‘What are you doing in here? You don’t have P.E. now. And I know you never choose to hang out in the locker room of your own free will.’

Adam held up a bathroom pass. ‘It’s later. And I wanted to make sure that we aren’t in the middle of an emergency I need to know about.’

‘The short version is that Van Dyke went missing from his own barbecue,’ Jason explained. ‘He went to pick up Maggie, and never got there. Nobody’s heard from him since.’

‘You guys don’t want to get my dad involved? You do have a close personal connection to the Chief of Police,’ Adam reminded him.

‘We’re not sure exactly what, uh, elements are involved here,’ Jason said. ‘Zach wants to keep it quiet until he can find out more.’

‘OK.’ Adam dug around in his pocket, then pulled out a pill and stuck it in his mouth. ‘My dad’s on this vitamin kick,’ he explained, in response to Jason’s puzzled look. ‘He’s somehow rationalized eating a diet that’s ninety per cent junk food as long as he takes this massive assortment of vitamins, and now he has me taking them too. The up side – I get to have potato chips for breakfast.’

‘I wouldn’t mind that plan.’

‘So, anyway, there’s nothing I can do?’ Adam asked.

‘Well, you can carry one of these boxes over to the door. I’ll throw them in my car after school,’ Jason said, more because he wanted to give Adam some way to help out than because he actually needed help. ‘Other than that, our big assignment from Zach is to act normal.’

‘Act normal,’ Adam repeated, grabbing the closest box. ‘I’ll do my best.’

‘Well, we made it through the day,’ Sienna said as she and Brad caught up to Jason in the hall after last class. ‘We came to school like it was any other day.’

‘It felt about ten times as long, though,’ Brad commented.

‘Yeah,’ Jason agreed.

‘I talked to Zach in chem,’ Sienna told them. ‘He wants us to meet up at my place for a strategy session. Belle and I are going to do a quick food run on the way there. Two nights of slumber partying emptied the kitchen.’

BOOK: Vampire Beach Hunted
4.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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