"He was quite eccentric," Marshall continued. "He asked if I was aware of any abandoned mansions in the area. Dark, secluded, near a cemetery, with an attic."

"Are there any? I love old mansions." "I confessed I was starring in Dracula" Marshall said proudly, "and I'd been to the Historical Society to research mansions and local cemeteries. I explained to him that he was better off going to the Historical Society than a real estate agent."

Dracula got up to leave. "It was a pleasure meeting you."

I could still see the figure creeping outside through the partially covered window. When I turned to look at Aunt Libby as she thanked Marshall for his visit, I could see their reflections in the long mirror, as well as the reflection of the window through which I'd been peering. The alley appeared empty. But when I turned back to the window, the figure was still there.

Alexander?

I quickly headed for the door, pushing past the exiting Dracula.

"Raven," Aunt Libby scolded.

"I'm sorry," I began. "I think I saw one of your fans outside. I'm going to see if they want to meet you!"

I rushed outside, past a smelly Dumpster, some discarded antique chairs, and stage scenery. Fire escapes hung from overhead.

When I came to the other side of the dressing-room window, the figure had already gone.

Disappointed, I looked around for any signs. The alley was empty of people. A glistening object on the cracked blacktop underneath the window caught my eye.

On closer inspection, I saw a pewter skeleton earring lying next to a puddle. I'd vaguely remembered seeing someone wearing an earring just like this. But Alexander wore studs. Then it hit me-- it had been Jagger. I checked all around me, making sure the coast was clear. I picked it up, stuck the earring in my purse, and ran back inside the theater.

Aunt Libby and I walked to her car with some of the other cast members. With each step, I couldn't help but feel as if someone was watching me.

I looked up and spotted a small dark object dangling from the telephone wire above the alley.

"Is that a bat?" I asked as she unlocked my door.

"I can't see anything," she said.

"Over there." I pointed.

Aunt Libby squinted. "I'm sure it's a bird," she commented.

"Birds don't hang upside down," I said.

"You're creeping me out!" she hollered, and swiftly raced around to her side and got into the Beetle.

Could it be Alexander? Or were my suspicions right about Jagger?

As my aunt started the car, I looked back at the wire, which was now bare.

"What are you doing?" Aunt Libby asked, back at her bachelorette pad, as I turned on all the lights. "Are you paying for the electric bill this month?" She followed behind, turning them off.

"We have to keep them on," I declared.

"All of them?"

"Didn't my dad tell you? I'm afraid of the dark."

She glared at me in disbelief. "This from a girl who has sleepovers at cemeteries?"

She had a point. But I couldn't tell her my most secretest of all secrets. "The show really spooked me," I said instead. "You gave such a realistic performance, I'm afraid I could be bitten at any moment."

"You thought I was that believable?" she asked, surprised.

I nodded eagerly.

"Well, I prefer candlelight," she said. She lit some votives and placed them throughout the living room. Her apartment began to smell of roses and flickered with shadows of Italian masks.

Had I really met a second teen vampire? Maybe Jagger had been afraid I'd spotted his unreflected image in my compact. He might have been spying on me in the alleyway, or watching me as he hung from a telephone wire. I took a deep breath, realizing I was no better than an overreacting gossipmonger like Trevor Mitchell. I should be spending my time planning my continuing search for Alexander instead of pointing fingers to a white-haired goth's mortal existence. Jagger could have dropped his earring on his way home from the Coffin Club. The lurking figure could have been a clubster, weaving back and forth by the Dumpster after having a few too many Executions.

I picked up Aunt Libby's Lava lamp phone and called my parents.

"Hello?" Billy Boy answered.

"It's me. Are Mom and Dad home?" "They're next door, visiting the Jenkins's new baby," he replied.

"They left you alone?" I asked, ribbing him.

"Give it a rest."

"Well, don't touch my room! Or anything in it," I warned, wrapping the telephone cord around my fingers.

"I've already read one of your journals."

"You better be kidding!"

" 'Alexander kissed me!'" he said in a girlish voice. Then I heard him leaf through pages.

"You better--"

" Trevor was right,'" he continued. " 'Alexander really is a vampire.'"

I froze. How had Billy Boy gotten hold of one of my journals?

"Close it right now!" I cried. "It's not a journal. It's a story I'm writing for English class!"

"Well, you have a lot of spelling mistakes."

"Right now, Nerd Boy! Shut it or I'm coming home and melting all your computer games!"

"Calm down, spaz. I'm in my room, leafing through my NASA book," he confessed. "You think I want to go in your messy room? I could be missing for days!"

"I knew that," I said, with a sigh of relief. "Well, tell Mom I called." I was amazed how accurately Billy Boy had guessed the contents of my journal. Maybe he should perform crystal-ball readings at the Coffin Club.

"Oh, someone called for you," he remembered. "Becky?"

"No. It was a guy."

I held my breath. "Alexander?"

"He didn't leave his name. When I said you weren't home, he hung up."

"Did you check the caller ID?"

I waited an eternity for his response.

"Out of area," he finally answered.

"If he calls again, ask who it is," I demanded. "And then call me immediately!"

Aunt Libby was munching on carrots dipped in hummus while sitting on the floor on a purple corduroy pillow. I was too distraught to eat.

"So tell me about your boyfriend," she asked, as if reading my thoughts.

"Well, he's a goth like me," I answered, beginning to tell her the part of Alexander's identity that wasn't secret. "And he's delicious!"

"What does he look like?"

"Luscious, long midnight hair. Deep, dreamy eyes. He's taller than me, about your height. Thin, not malnourished, but not beefy like he has to be in a gym twenty-four-seven. I just can't believe he left," I added, remembering the farewell note.

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