Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Sunday, March 17, 2013
My blog has reached twenty thousand views! Thanks to each and every person who has visited:) I continue to write, draw pictures and plan stories because I love to, but having people out there in the web universe who may just be reading along with me makes writing my stories extra wonderful! Twenty thousand BIG THANK YOUS:) I have decided to upload Bella Cinderella here on my blog as a gift to all (particularly those readers & writers who enjoy high concept YA). I hope you all enjoy my take on Cinderella. Princes for everyone & Virtual Hugs to all:)
The nicest girl in school
Julissa Bella, or Jewel for short, was one of the most beautiful girls in Venice Beach, Los Angeles; she just didn’t know it. Her days were spent being bossed around by her wicked new stepmother, Miranda Minchin. Miranda had pale skin and long black hair and teeth that were fluorescent from spending too long with her dentist. Jewel’s stepmother also spent hours at the most expensive salon in town to make sure her glossy locks were just right. The truth was, Miranda was a vampire. In a moment of madness, Jewel’s father had married her. So far, Jewel and her dad had remained human. They were O generic and Miranda and her girls only drank the rarest blood types.
When Jewel arrived to stay, Miranda was busy organising a sweet sixteenth for her vampire triplets: Vanity, Charity and Patience. They were closer to two hundred years old but had been turned at sixteen, so they never aged.
Jewel’s stepsisters were the worst ‘teenage girls’ imaginable and constantly taunted Jewel, often trying to scratch and ‘pretend bite’ her, just to scare her a little bit more. Because of this, Jewel had tried to contact her mom who had originally agreed to let her stay with the Minchin sisters (before Jewel knew the truth). Jewel’s mom was on a study trip off shore (she was a marine biologist) so Jewel just had to wait it out. Of course, her dad had also left to ‘go to a conference’ in San Francisco a few days ago, which is why Jewel was stuck with her wicked step-family, alone, for the weekend.
“Guess what little sister?” Charity said when Jewel arrived. “Your blood is so deeply unappealing we’ve decided not to make you one of us.”
“Why aren’t you smiling? We’ve decided not to bite,” Patience said, “even though I’d like nothing more than to rip out your wrist vein right now; your dad pays the bills and he might not like it.”
“Yes,” Vanity said as she checked her red gloss in the mirror, “mommy has asked us to show some restraint.”
Jewel’s eyes widened as they grabbed her suitcase and threw it into the spare room at the top of the stairs.
“Now, get in there and when we decide you’ve learnt how to behave, we might let you out.”
That was when Miranda returned from her stylist. She opened the door to Jewel’s room (it wasn’t so bad – there was an ensuite and a flat screen), and pretended to be all politeness. Miranda had other ideas besides locking Jewel up. She was throwing yet another sweet sixteenth for her girls and wanted to turn Jewel into the maid, since the previous one quit after Max bit her. Max was Miranda’s chubby toddler son. He liked to sleep a lot and run amok when he woke.
With Jewel’s unofficial help, Miranda intended to throw the party to end all parties on Saturday night. That only gave them the week to prepare. Builders had arrived and made the necessary renovations to the patio. They were also extending the ball room out to the pool area.
Miranda had warned her girls before the carpenters arrived, “not one of them is to disappear. You know how the neighbors talk.” The last time Miranda had required renovations (back in 1969 when she was married to her sixth ‘husbee’ - that was Miranda’s word for all her husbands) the girls had drained a plasterer. It took Miranda six hours to clean up the mess! Miranda liked to keep up appearances at any cost.
Jewel was terrified of her new stepfamily and sat on her bed, unable to decide what to do next. She had no friends in the neighborhood and she couldn’t drive, yet. She was stuck here until her mom returned from her working vacation.
The only thing she was allowed to do was go to school and babysit her little half-brother, Max. Max was a toddler, but Jewel, who was almost sixteen, loved to take care of him even though he was extremely naughty.
Max was half vamp, half bro and still had his ‘puppy fat’ as Miranda called it. He had blonde sticky up hair and often ran away and hid in the middle of shopping malls. He sucked on a bottle of plasma and threw shoes out of car windows. If strangers got too close, he tried to bite them.
In the mornings, before day care, he threw tantrums. He hid toys in his pockets to throw at unsuspecting people, leaving Jewel red with embarrassment.
Jewel’s stepsisters attended a select local school that had recently become like a freak show since vamps took over. Venice Beach Hall was practically off the map and the outside of the building didn’t look sunny or welcoming. It looked grey and creepy, more like a reform school or a haunted house. Jewel only had to endure it for eight weeks and it had to be better than home. At Miranda’s place, Jewel washed the dishes just like her stepmother asked her to and dried them as well. If she was reading, Miranda literally placed a duster in her hand while her stepsisters sat on the table, floor and window sill barking instructions. Jewel wanted to run away but there was nowhere to go and she had no money until her dad returned. Besides, school started tomorrow.
That night, as Jewel cried herself to sleep, the housekeeper Jacinta, brought her in milk and cookies.
“Don’t worry dear,” she said. “I’m like a fairy godmother and your life is about to change for the better, forever.” When she woke up, Jewel wondered if it had all been a dream.
She dragged on some vintage jeans and a red sweater only to be confronted by her stepsisters slurping blood smoothies.
“Want one?” Charity asked.
Jewel was silent.
“Never mind,” Patience replied, “we have to motor.”
Vanity checked her gloss in her gold and diamante compact. Their little brother Max slurped on a bottle full of thick, red, liquid.
“Oh, not exactly.” Patience said, (she could be quite nice when she wanted to be). “He’s just a half – so he eats real food as well.”
“He loves sweets,” Patience added. The sisters walked in front of Jewel.
“You have to walk behind us,” Vanity informed Jewel, “because we are more important and prettier.”
It wasn’t true. Jewel was a very pretty girl, like I said; she just didn’t know it yet.
Venice Beach Hall = freakshow
If Jewel had been dreaming, she’d awakened to a nightmare.
Her half-siblings practically ruled the school and the whole place seemed to be filled with more than the usual amount of miserable looking teens wearing dark clothing.
Jewel went to the office to sign in.
“You’re looking very cheery today,” the office manager, Mrs Parks, noted. She even wrote it on Jewel’s form next to her name, age and other details; smiles a lot.
“I’ve allocated you a home room,” Mrs Parks said. “I think you’ll enjoy the company. We have two new boys today – both of them total hotties if you don’t mind me saying so.”
She slunk into her seat in the back row of home room and pulled out her copy of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. She figured she should do some research and she may as well start at the beginning then work her way up to Twilight. Jewel was comfortable in her seat surrounded by a small selection of dozing teen vampires (some curled up in the rafters, others slumped on chairs and tables) and a few other ‘normals’ like her. Some of the vamps had notes from home giving them permission to sleep most of the day. It was discriminatory to apply normal rules to the nocturnal. The nocturnals collected their class work at the end of the day and simply worked through the night and delivered it to their teachers the next morning.
There were also kids at Venice Beach Hall who were trapped in the school district and couldn’t transfer out of VBH for fear of being branded ‘discriminators.’ As long as you had type O generic (safe blood) and resided in the district, you were required to attend Venice Beach Hall. It was deemed perfectly sound. As Miranda told Jewel, “don’t worry dear, no one would dream of biting you there. Your blood is hardly sweet enough.”
VBH wasn’t so bad, although the décor was more like Dracula’s castle. The cafeteria gave a choice of real food as well as various blood snacks. They were supposedly made with animal blood but it still grossed the average humans out.
Jewel had her head immersed in Dracula when she walked straight into Riff Martin in the lunch queue. Riff was the new boy. At first she thought he was a vamp because he wore black and had dark circles under his eyes. After Jewel knew him better, she realized he stayed up all night mixing music. Riff was kind of tall and skinny which made him appear quite hungry.
Jewel jumped when he said “hi.”
“It’s okay,” he said. “I’m not gonna bite you. I just… moved here with my aunt. She’s the guidance counselor but don’t tell anyone. She said she’s never been so busy – already. Vamps have a lot of issues. I didn’t think this place would be so… creepy,” he said as an afterthought. Then he smiled politely.
“Right, sure, well, it is,” Jewel said.
The last time a hot boy spoke to her, at her previous high school, Jewel had made the mistake of going out with him. The next day at school the rumor went around that Jewel had tried to bite him. It was so untrue, but students had heard her stepsisters were vampires and bullied Jewel accordingly. Perhaps it would be better here, Jewel thought.
“So, you take music?” Riff asked.
“Oh, yeah.” Jewel was carrying her music notes and Riff was holding his guitar. He wanted to ask more but he had to be at practice.
“Well, I gotta go. See you in class then,” he said, picking up a bottle of soda.
“Okay,” Jewel replied. Riff was kind of a nerd by anyone’s standards but he was also warm, friendly and mysterious. Jewel hoped she’d see him again.
The lunch room was crowded as Jewel took a seat. Her stepsisters were gathered in a bunch gossiping about a new guy called Marco. They waved her over but when Jewel moved towards them Charity mouthed, “just kidding.”
Jewel shrugged. From where she was seated, she could hear their conversation.
“He’s totally not normal. Have you seen how hot he is?”
“Sure,” Vanity replied. “I think he’s a vamp.”
“I don’t,” Charity said, “I saw him buy a sandwich…”
“Yeah but did you see him digest it?”
“He’s so rad I don’t care. Either way, I’m going to get with him at the party.”
And that’s how the conversation continued.
Jewel thought she’d spend lunch alone, and pulled out Dracula again. She was up to a very descriptive part when the boy in question, the topic of the day, Marco De Marco, sat down opposite her. Everyone talked about how handsome and cute Marco was and they weren’t kidding. Since the start of the new semester, he’d been considered one of the hottest juniors ever. He had light brown hair (Patience described it as ‘caramel’) and warm brown eyes. Girl vamps followed him everywhere in groups, even the sleepwalking ones woke up and slumped along to catch a glimpse of him in class. (On the other hand, Riff apparently flew under the radar. Being supposedly ‘normal’ was less than appealing to the majority at VBH).
Jewel continued to read; she was pretty shy and hoped to just endure her first days at a new school by flying under the radar.
She hadn’t counted on Huck and Ruby.
“Hey,” Huck said, “well look at you, another normal.” He introduced himself, “My real name is Huckleberry,” (Ruby laughed) but everyone calls me Huck, and this is Ruby.”
Jewel’s new friends were witty and smart, making jokes over lunch about how they ended up at Venice Beach Hall (both expelled from other schools for ‘anti-social’ behavior). Lunch flew by as they spoke.
Meanwhile Jewel’s stepsisters, Patience, Vanity and Charity, sat on the other side of the cafeteria discussing Marco De Marco and various possible themes for their Masked Birthday Bash.
They came up with suggestions like: Vixens and Vampires, Secret Agents and Vampirical Assistants (but argued about the fact that girls shouldn’t always be relegated to assistant status) and finally settled on an Undercover Sucker theme. All three girls wanted to go as various different Bond girl vampires but they worried that gave the wrong impression.
“Perhaps it’s time we presented a more academic image,” Patience suggested.
They thought about this for a moment. The Minchin girls never studied and laughed at those who did.
“We’re so wealthy,” Vanity sniggered, “we’ve had two whole centuries to consolidate the income from mom’s marriages. In any case, we’ll never have to work at all now because mom has married one of the richest men in Los Angeles.”
“I cannot wait to raid our step’s closet – apparently she’s into vintage.”
By this time, Marco De Marco and his friend Giovanni had left the cafeteria without looking up at Jewel or her new friends.
Jewel was glad. She didn’t want to draw any more attention to herself. It was bad enough that she was obviously a normal.
“Word on the street is that Marco is European. Of course, there’s something exotic about him, but in a school full of freaks, who’d notice?” Ruby whispered.
“Hey, we heard you’re related to the Minchin sisters.”
“Hey, we heard you’re related to the Minchin sisters.”
“Not by blood,” Jewel cringed.
“Lucky you,” Ruby said. “By the way, we’re coming to your place on Saturday – big birthday party.”
Huck leaned in, “Well, we weren’t technically invited, but we’ve decided to crash it anyway, since everyone’s wearing masks and our blood doesn’t appeal!”
Jewel started to laugh. She’d forgotten how it felt to have friends.
“Well, I’m inviting you – both of you.” Suddenly Jewel didn’t care what her stepmother said, she knew she’d have to fight back or risk being beaten into submission.
“Awesome,” Huck said. “We’ll come early. You could use a stylist.”
Meeting Marco .
The school week continued uneventfully. Going to VBH was an event in itself. Jewel hoped she’d see Riff again in English Literature, but she didn’t. He was absent most of the week. On Friday, Jewel had to tick an optional activity: cheerleading, singing or band. No one ever ticked band. But Jewel liked to sing and play keyboards and her stepsisters didn’t. Her stepsisters liked to slap on war paint and cheer. She knew she’d have a whole afternoon free of them if she ticked band, so that’s what Jewel did. Other bloodsucker teens weren’t as mean to her as the Minchin trio, but they weren’t particularly friendly, either. Still, school was better than home.
Jewel was as surprised as everyone else when Marco showed up with Giovanni. They were both dressed to the nines in the coolest designs.
“Maybe they’re more than friends,” the vamp opposite Jewel sniggered.
“No, Giovanni’s too hairy!” the other vamp giggled.
Marco even had a red sweater tied around his shoulders. He didn’t look hairy or hungry but Jewel was pretty sure he wasn’t a vamp. She saw him buy a soda from the vending machine before class. Vamps didn’t drink soda, did they?
Jewel was kind of surprised when he chose to sit next to her and even more so when they were paired together.
He introduced himself.
“You’re not actually related to the Minchin girls, are you?”
Jewel shook her head.
“Not by blood.”
They both attempted a song on the keyboard but neither of them were natural musicians.
“I like to think I have an appreciation for music,” Marco said. “Besides, I wanted to get out of soccer practice. I like the game – the beautiful game, they call it in Europe, but they let the girls on the field here and one of them tried to bite me. I’m not kidding. I’ve been avoiding her ever since.” He pointed to the girl who’d been whispering about him.
“I had no idea what kind of school I was enrolling in. There was nowhere else to go at the last minute, but this place… is so weird.”
“You got that right,” Jewel said. Marco checked his hair in the window. He was hot, there was no denying it, but he seemed kind of vain. Perhaps he and Vanity would make a good pair?
In any case, he had a warm smile and who cared if he was glancing around the room to check out how many vamps were registering his cute factor. Jewel didn’t hold this against him. After all, Marco was as used to being as popular as Jewel was resigned to being overlooked. If only, she thought, I’d allowed Huck to make me over before class. Jewel wished she hadn’t rushed out of the house that morning but her sisters were freaking her out. Jewel and Marco continued to practice their duet.
Meanwhile, Riff was working on his guitar in the corner, alone. Jewel noticed him, but he was too shy to smile. Riff felt his throat grow dry. He noticed her talking to the exchange student and registered regret deep in his chest. Why hadn’t he worked up the courage to talk to her again or even ask her out? Now she was being monopolized by the new boy and his weirdo ‘bodyguard’. He was always too quiet, too reluctant and secretive. With regret, Riff packed up his guitar. The bell was about to ring and Riff had been too shy to make a move.
Marco didn’t have that problem.
“So, you’re the talk of the school,” Jewel noted.
“Oh, yeah, I just arrived in America.”
“Right. From Italy?”
“Just outside Florence, actually, but I’ve been speaking English since I could talk. Hey, I’ve been invited to the party... on Saturday night.”
“Great. I’ll see you there… hopefully,” Jewel said. “Who’s he?” Jewel couldn’t resist asking about Marco’s ‘friend’. The friend had slumped on the window ledge. He looked a lot older than any of the students and certainly wasn’t afraid of the light like almost everyone else.
“Oh, that’s Giovanni. He’s … he’s thinking of enrolling here next semester…”
“So what? He just shadows you every day?”
“Well, he wants to get the feel of the place…” Marco leaned in “… he’s like my bodyguard.”
At that moment, Giovanni looked up from his texting.
“Oh, right.” Jewel was more confused than ever.
“So, you want to play the first bars again?”
Marco played a few lines. Together, the song was pretty good. Not great, but good. Jewel noticed her stepsisters banging on the window near where she was seated.
They were waving and making faces, poking out tongues and making kissing sounds. Only Vanity looked seriously jealous.
“I gotta go.”
“Hey, see you tomorrow night.”
“Yeah, I’ll be the one wearing a Venetian mask,” Jewel whispered.
“That’s funny,” Marco said, “me too. Save me a dance.”
After Jewel left, Giovanni whispered to Marco as they got into the Maserati parked outside school, “She doesn’t seem like your type.”
“Why not? Because she’s not as glamorous as the models I dated in Europe?”
“She seems smart. You normally go for the opposite,” Giovanni offered.
“American girls are hot, Giovanni.”
“American girls or one in particular?”
“One in particular…” Marco swerved.
“Stay on the right side of the road – I mean, don’t drive on the European side…”
Marco laughed. They had that kind of friendship. As you can probably tell by now, Marco was no ordinary student and Giovanni was no ordinary man. Marco was an Italian aristocrat with extraordinary powers and Giovanni was his bodyguard.
As you’ve probably gathered Patience had very little patience. She sucked her non-alcoholic Bloody Mary through a straw hungrily as she blabbed away to her sisters.
“When I asked for a Bloody Mary, Jacinta thought I wanted tomato juice!” Patience guffawed, ‘I just love type A.’
While Charity had been raiding the kitchen, Patience had done a basic web search on Marco but nothing came up. His last name didn’t seem to exist. Patience was working on a visual search. After she’d seen him drive off in his Maserati, Patience was convinced he was a vamp. He showed no sign of it, but no one had actually seen him eat food, either.
Vanity was a party girl and more obsessed with finding the right dress and outfit to wear that night than doing a people search. Miranda had invited tons of vamps from the movie world and Vanity was determined to get famous in any way possible. There was even a film crew coming because Vanity was filming her own reality show and wanted to include highlights of the evening.
To that end, she was busily trying on the shortest, tightest new dresses but at the eleventh hour, none of them fit. Patience had convinced her she should buy out the boutique a week ago in case someone else got there first, but she must have put on weight since then. That gave Vanity an idea. She rifled through her sister’s closets, finally discovering a tight red, flapper dress with tassels.
“Now I remember. That was 1928. I loved that year. The fashion was exquisite and the parties relentless. I’ll take that,” Vanity said.
A verbal fight broke out between Vanity and Charity because Charity didn’t want to lend Vanity the dress, even though Charity had never worn it and didn’t intend to. This resulted in the dress being torn and Vanity storming out of the room to go to the nearest designer boutique to, “find something better.”
“Good luck,” Patience said. “You should try Jewel’s closet instead. She has lots of hidden gems like the spoilt teenage brat she is. Daddy’s Princess is sure to have something. Go on; hurry up before she catches on.”
“Oh, don’t worry about Jewel,” Vanity said. “She’ll be busy with the catering all night. In fact, I left the maid’s outfit on her bed for her to wear.” Charity and Patience laughed.
“I don’t even want her coming as the maid. She’s sure to attract Marco and he’s all mine.” Patience had finally discovered some information about Marco on the internet: Marco De Marco, Italian, rumored Prince and heir to vast estate, rumored vampire lineage.
“Ha, so that’s why he fled his country! Girls I have news, not only is he probably one of us, he’s an aristocrat!”
“What does that mean?” Charity asked.
“It means he’s smart.” Vanity replied.
“No sister, it means he’s seriously rich, richer than us.”
Each of the sisters pushed and shoved each other out of the way in order to get a better view of Marco’s photograph.
“I want him,” Vanity announced, (having the right boy on her arm was very important to Vanity).
“I need him,” Charity stated (her credit cards were seriously maxed out).
“I’ll bite you for him,” Patience added, she was definitely craving some noble blood.
My vampire rules
As usual, Jewel had to rush home to the house (or ‘the fortress’, as Jewel referred to the Bella-Minchin mansion). She was expected in the kitchen, which looked like a dungeon with loads of extra appliances for plasma mixing and storage. Jewel had agreed to help only to keep the peace until her dad returned and because she enjoyed cooking. There was an extra television on the wall in the breakfast nook playing the Food Chanel relentlessly. Jewel ate breakfast (alone) – her stepfamily dined in the dining room. Since all of their food choices were blood red, plasma, protein or iron, Jewel liked to eat alone.
The cook had walked out and the maid had resigned that morning. Only the housekeeper remained. Jacinta occasionally dusted with her feet up on the coffee table as she played the afternoon soap operas and entertainment news on television. She regularly threatened to quit but had been with the family so long they had grown quite attached to her and upped her salary. Jacinta did not allow the family to intimidate her into working very often. Besides, she had extra powers that made her indispensable.
In the kitchen Jewel sorted through the acceptances. The invitations had been sent a week ago. Jewel couldn’t believe so many people were actually showing up. Then she remembered, in and around Venice Beach, the vamp families were freaks. Just about every O generic (most people) would kill for a ticket. Only a few hundred got them.
Jewel tossed the acceptances aside and tied her apron over her jeans, pulled her hair up in a ponytail, took a sip of a big glass of water, and referred to the recipes in front of her. She started peeling some carrots and pulling the string off the celery to prepare crudités for the dip while her sisters lay sleeping.
As you probably know, vamps hate the sun. In the olden days it used to fry their skin but in the modern day (like today) the Minchin girls wore protective jewelry and took their formula (readily available from the pharmacy) every morning. It made them less sun sensitive.
On warmer days, they tended to sleep all afternoon. The school itself was light protected. Jewel was thinking about all of these things as she opened the blackout curtains in the kitchen. She liked to see the sky while she worked.
As the sun began to set outside and enormous platters of crudités were prepared, Jewel’s stepsisters came and went. Hairdressers arrived, manicurists and even personal trainers walked through the Bella-Minchin hallway.
By early evening, Jewel had finished all of the canapés: tiny quiches, miniature cheeseburgers and sushi; even Jewel was impressed with the end result. Then she created a tray of frozen blood cocktails, she even put imitation sugar on the edges of each tiny glass. Her entrée selection was quite an achievement.
By six that night, the creepy mansion was lit up with colored lights to resemble an enormous haunted house. There was a butler hired just for the evening (to formally invite all of the vampire guests inside) after they’d buzzed the intercom. The ‘normals’ only needed to knock and present their invitations.
More guests started to press the buzzer.
Miranda entered the kitchen. She seemed remarkably scary although she thought she looked beautiful. Her hair was newly streaked in front with blue-grey foils resembling the mane of a skunk. Her lips, recently filled, were overly-inflated and her cheeks had not seen the sun for two hundred years. They were in need of some serious blusher.
“How do I look?”
“Great,” Jewel lied. She knew not to bother telling the truth. Her stepmother never believed her anyway.
“Ah, you’ve finished, finally,” Miranda said, “now off you go to get changed for the party, dear.”
‘Thanks’ might have been nice, but it was not expected. Jewel sped up the stairs to check that Marco was coming. Sure enough, there was a text from him on her cell, just waiting: See you tonight.
Jewel felt giddy with excitement. Then, as she entered her room, she heard a loud thump on the door. When she turned on the light in her closet, Jewel realized her entire wardrobe had been ransacked. Most of her clothes were shredded including the party dress she intended to wear. As she turned there was a loud, forceful shudder. She heard the keys clank, the lock turn and the unmistakable buzz of vampires giggling on the other side.
“Let me out!” Jewel screamed. Her stepsisters just laughed in reply. Jewel’s screams couldn’t be heard above the sound of the DJ who had just put on a Vampires Greatest Hits remix.
Exasperated, Jewel threw a shoe at the wall and considered climbing out of the window.
Her stepsisters whispered outside her room, “We’ll let you out when it’s over. Don’t worry, we’ll save you some piggy human food.”
“Oh, and guess what, Jewel?” Patience added, “Marco might be a prince, a real prince. He’s coming tonight and you’re not going to get with him!”
Earlier, Vanity had found the text on Jewel’s phone. The sisters knew they were beautiful and no one could compare with them, but even so, they made sure any possible competition was safely locked away.
Patience, Charity and Vanity were wild with excitement as they bolted the outside lock firmly and sipped their miniature frozen plasma smoothies.
“Imagine a prince coming to party!” Vanity said as they skipped down the stairs.
“I’m dancing with him first,” Patience added.
“I hope he brought some lavish gifts for us. I’m so over all the cheap, boring things normals give…” Charity whispered.
Meanwhile, Jewel was trapped in her bedroom, far from the party guests and no one could hear her banging on the walls. After a while, Jewel threw herself on her bed. Her cell had been stolen; the window was too high to crawl out.
She heard a voice say, “Look on the bright side.”
On the bright side there was at least water in the basin and candy in a jar hidden under her bed. This wasn’t the way she envisaged spending Saturday night. Mortified, Jewel ignored the voice, threw herself on her pillow and cried.
“You shouldn’t ignore the voice,” Jacinta said.
The housekeeper walked out of Jewel’s closet.
“I was next door, checking on your little brother; and I remembered the secret passageway that connects these rooms. Wipe away your tears, girl.”
“I’m no expert fairy Godmother but your dad did ask me to keep an eye on you. I’ve been known to conjure up some real magic in my spare time. How else do you think I stand working for these Minchin freaks? Although Max does grow on you…”
“Huh? What’s the point of going to this party anyway? They don’t even want me to be there.”
“Now you dry your eyes. I’m here to tell you to get yourself ready. You are destined to meet the love of your life tonight.
“Sure… he might even be a prince.”
“Are you serious?”
“Kind of. Now, show some fight woman. It’s a masked ball. They won’t even realize it’s you at first.”
There was a growl in the dark and Jewel noticed Max crawling out of her closet. He left a trail of cookie crumbs. Max had been banned from the party and wanted to go exploring. Jewel reached down to pick him up but he nuzzled and bit her on the wrist. Thankfully it took more than one bite to become a bloodsucker.
“Jewel,” he said in his baby voice, “Ju Ju. I missed you.”
“Aww,” Jacinta said, “see, he means well.”
Jewel let her chubby little half-brother hug her. He blew raspberries with his mouth and laughed then reached up to squeeze Jewel’s cheeks. He laughed naughtily and ran off.
“I’m going after him,” Jacinta said, “and you need to have a bubble bath.”
Sometimes something amazing comes from something awful. While Jewel was luxuriating in bubbles, Jacinta conjured an exquisite designer dress. She placed the gown alongside a pair of glass slippers on the chair near Jewel’s bed, then quietly left the room.
Glass turns golden
When Jewel touched the shoes, they turned to gold.
“Wow,” Huck said. He and Ruby were standing at the door, masks in hand.
“What are you guys doing here?”
“Jacinta told us where you were.”
“We’re incognito,” Ruby laughed, a normal non-alcoholic cocktail in hand.
“I’m so glad you both came.”
“Could your stepmother be any more wicked? She nearly threw us out on the pavement until she realized Ruby’s dad owns a company.”
“She has issues,” Jewel said.
“By the way,” Ruby said, “your step siblings are wearing your clothes and Vanity is monopolizing Marco.”
“I told you not to tell her. It would freak her out.” Huck turned to Jewel, “Oh well, I suppose someone’s got to spill the beans: turns out Marco is seriously rich and powerful. Everyone says there’s a prince hiding out at the school. The Maserati was probably a giveaway. His family own a whole island, apparently. Vanity told everyone they’re a couple.”
“Oh, are you serious?” Jewel asked.
“Don’t get excited, Vanity got her hooks in the moment he arrived. They’ve been dancing together...” Ruby added.
“This might be the moment to make an entrance.”
Atop Jewel’s head, Huck placed a bright, delicate diamante tiara.
“It’s what everyone’s wearing in the clubs,” Huck said.
Jewel’s blonde curls had been ironed straight making her look almost like another person. The friends were also disguised in designer clothes and masks, just in case the Minchin’s decided to unleash their wildest freak show – vamp magic had only ever been whispered about at Venice Beach Hall.
“On with the camouflage,” Ruby said.
“Let’s go darlings,” Huck added. “The minute your step-nightmare sees us she’ll wonder who the awesome socialites are.”
Get your party on
The party was in full swing by the time the trio arrived on the dance floor. Everyone stopped and stared for a moment ‘cos they all looked so fine. Marco was nowhere to be seen. In the middle of Vamps Shake It, a little boy ran through the ball room and out towards the elaborate guest house. Max was dressed in a cape and wore fake fangs. All the teen vamps and most of the normals laughed as he ran through the crowd.
“Max has escaped from his babysitter again. I’ll go get him,” Jewel said.
Jewel pulled off her tiara and gold slippers, she worried her little brother would unlock the fence and get into the pool. He was so devious.
As Jewel ran after her half-brother she dropped her shoes. They changed instantly from gold to glass on the ground.
“Max! Max!” Max had a terrible habit of escaping from his bed, creating drama for the whole neighborhood.
Jewel’s brother led her into the guest house, opened up for the party that was taking place.
Suddenly, Jewel saw her stepsister, Vanity, sipping a drink.
Jewel was clearly recognisable without her mask.
“What are you doing here?” Vanity asked.
“I escaped. I’m looking for Max. He’s run away.”
“How can you blame him? The décor in his nursery is at least ten years out of date!” Vanity replied.
They were standing near the pool now.
“Hey, I’m looking for the girl who…”
Jewel and Vanity looked up. They could hear Marco’s voice outside.
“He’s mine,” Vanity snarled. That’s when she employed her most powerful vamp magic to trap Jewel. Vanity pushed her stepsister into the pool and encased her in an air bubble. Jewel was able to breath underwater but unable to swim to the surface.
Vanity smoothed her dress, pulled on Jewel’s mask and walked over to Marco, “I’m here!” Vanity said.
“But you’re not…”
“Give me that!”
Vanity stuffed her feet into Jewel’s shoes. They immediately turned black and weeds grew over them in hideous, winding tangles, cementing Vanity’s feet to the spot. Vanity screamed just as Marco saw Jewel waving under the water. He dived in like the princely hero he was and released her.
Marco pulled Jewel from the bubble as she gasped for air.
“Thanks,” Jewel said. They noticed Huck and Ruby in the distance pulling Max out of the family tree house.
“Should I release her?” Marco asked, glancing at Vanity.
“Maybe, in about an hour.”
“Thanks for saving me,” Jewel said.
Out of the corner of his eye, Jewel could tell Marco was checking his reflection in the water, again. This wasn’t how she imagined getting with Marco. Her perfect man wasn’t supposed to be vainer than her. She wondered how he could possibly be a vampire – she was sure most of them couldn’t see their reflections.
“You know, Jewel, I totally think you are the hottest girl in school.”
“Wow, that’s awesome Marco.” Jewel was confused. Wasn’t he supposed to be too cool to say something like that? Weren’t there rumors he was a prince? So far he was really not living up to Jewel’s expectations. Who cared if he was so rich he owned Milan?
Then he leaned in and for a moment, Jewel thought he was either trying to bite her or kiss her. He kissed her.
It wasn’t what Jewel expected. How was this dude dating or boyfriend material if Jewel didn’t feel a real connection?
As it turned out, the kiss wasn’t whatever Marco expected either. Jewel and Marco looked at each other a moment and realised they made better friends.
“So you’re not?”
“Are you kidding? I learned some powerful magic from my nanny but I’m not a sucker! I only came to Venice Beach Hall School because it has a good music program.”
Jewel could hear Vanity screaming in the distance.
“You better release her.”
When Jewel returned to the ball room, Huck and Ruby were laughing and dancing the night away. By then, the adults had moved to the pool party and all the (invited) kids from school had the ballroom to themselves. They were jumping up and down to the beat.
That’s when Jewel noticed him.
Riff, the lone guy from Venice Beach Hall, dressed head to toe in black. Illuminated by party lights, he looked way too cool to join in. Jewel wondered why he was even there. He stood next to a guitar in a case and sipped a red drink waiting for the DJ to finish his set. Then she realised, Riff was the music, the ‘after-DJ’ music. It was close to midnight when he stepped on stage.
Riff noticed Jewel from across the room.
How could he not? Jewel was the girl he’d spoken to once. He tried to smile at her a few times and she’d smiled in return, but he got the feeling she never really noticed him. Jewel was the one girl in school he’d been trying to get close to all week. He could never just walk up to her and tell her the truth.
It was kind of ridiculous that he couldn’t speak to her easily, but unless he was performing on stage, he was shy. At school, he wore glasses and read a lot and kept to himself. On stage he could be anything. He stopped being what he was, shy.
In the future, he wanted to form a band. At the moment he played mostly at birthday parties and weddings but he had dreams, big dreams.
It was almost midnight, time for him to play ‘Happy Birthday’ to the spoilt tramp of a stepsister who had gone outside with that equally self-important Marco dude. Riff wanted to play something wild, a song everyone would remember, something by some of the famous bands he listened to; but he knew that would get him thrown out and he wanted to stay close to Jewel. He’d never met anyone like her. He could hear her heart, her blood thumping in her pure veins.
Meanwhile, all anyone wanted to hear was, ‘Happy Birthday’. Riff’s hearing was more than acute, it was perfect. He found it hard to sing or play an ‘off’ note.
He put down his drink, walked onstage at midnight and played with abandon.
Everyone stopped what they were doing to listen. Riff was so good. He made ‘Happy Birthday’ sound like Mozart – if Mozart had composed in the twenty-first century.
Everyone except Vanity (who was busy trying to remove weeds that kept growing around her shoes) was stunned.
As the song ended, all the party guests could hear Vanity and her sisters arguing.
“He was ours too…”
“You never should have monopolized him…”
“How could we expect any better?”
“You are our sister and should show some loyalty!”
“Really? Game on sister!”
“Game on, then!”
Vanity had finally managed to remove most of the weeds and started throwing them at Patience who in turn covered Charity with them. The Minchin sisters were physically fighting in the garden and creating ‘quite a scene’. Miranda Minchin tried to stop them until they all bundled into the pool, thrashing hysterically.
Meanwhile, the film crew from Vamps Gone Wild filmed everything. Miranda would hate the publicity, Jewel realized. Her father was sure to see how badly behaved they all were. Maybe he’d finally come to his senses. Maybe, but Jewel wasn’t holding her breath. She’d miss Venice Beach High when she returned to her real home. But until then, she’d get to see Riff every day. Now that was something worth waking up for.
The guests began to leave after Patience and Vanity started throwing their rocks and shoes at each other. It wasn’t a sign of appreciation. Some missed and shattered the ball room windows. Then the lights went out because Charity had ripped the wires.
“I saw him first!” Patience screamed.
“The prince is mine; we’re going to prom together!”
“Are you kidding? He’s totally mine!”
The voices of the spoilt girls could be heard across Venice Beach as Marco tried desperately to climb over the wall. He wondered how in the world they had come up with the idea that he was a prince? Sure, his family were rich but they’d been trying to buy titles for years – it had never happened.