I pulled my purse close. "You knew enough about my Romanian friend to come to the Coffin Club and ask for him," he said, approaching me again.

"I don't know anything--"

"Then why do you want to find him?" he whispered softly in my ear as he gently stroked my hair off my shoulder.

"I must have been mistaken--" I said, looking away from his gaze, wanting to run, but not being able to move.

"Really?" he whispered. "He made you feel like his breath was yours," he said, circling me, his words landing softly on the back of my neck.

"I don't know what you are talking about," I lied, my heart pounding in my chest.

"That your flesh and his are one," he said, as his lips gently caressed the nape of my neck.

I could barely speak, my heart racing, the map crinkling underneath my boot.

He stepped close in front of me, his eyes piercing through my own, and gently touched my onyx necklace.

He leaned into me and kissed the top of my chest. He whispered, "That you are just a kiss away from being bonded with him for eternity."

I could barely breathe. My heart raced as he held me.

"Get off!" I cried, wedging my arms between us and pushing him away.

A map tore underneath my boot. Jagger tried to pierce me with his gaze, but I stared down at my feet. It was a map of Hipsterville. The cemeteries were highlighted in yellow, with several crossed out in black marker. Then I noticed, lying a few feet away on the floor, the other maps--neighboring towns of Hipsterville and Dullsville. Cemeteries were highlighted and crossed out in black.

I glanced up at Jagger as he tried to lock his blue and green eyes with mine. He gently grabbed my hand like he'd done in the Coffin Club. "We can find him together," I recalled him saying. Then I remembered the note I'd found in Alexander's room--"HE IS ON HIS WAY!"

I backed away from Jagger and reached into my purse. It was worth a shot. My fingers shook as I tried to pry open the container of garlic.

The container's suction was like Super Glue. I struggled with the lid when Jagger stepped toward me.

I raced out the door and ran down the hallway. I pressed the elevator button and glanced back. Jagger stepped through his doorway and began running down the hall after me. I could hear the screeching elevator above me, but it was nowhere to be found. I looked up. The number "3" lit up; "2" lit up. "G" lit.

"Hurry! Hurry!" I mumbled, pressing the button repeatedly.

I could hear Jagger coming closer. Suddenly the "B" lit up, and the elevator stopped in front of me. I pulled the rickety door to one side and jumped in. I used all my strength to pull the accordion door shut just as an angry Jagger stepped in front of the elevator.

I darted back, away from the door, as his gaze caught me. He reached out for the door, realizing I hadn't yet pushed a button. I quickly pressed my finger against the "G" button.

As the elevator began to lift, I leaned against the wall, away from him. "I hope you find him," I heard Jagger call. "Before I do." "What are you doing here?" Aunt Libby asked when she found me peeking underneath the shades in her dressing room after curtain call. "I called you at intermission, but you didn't pick up."

"I must have been in the shower," I rambled. "But I wanted to see you."

"You did? That's so cute!" she said, wiping off her makeup.

"I'm having such a fabulous time. But I have something to tell you."

"Yes?"

"I have to go back home tomorrow."

"So soon?" she asked, putting down her makeup sponge.

"I know," I whined. "I don't want to leave, but I still have tons of homework to do."

"When I was in school, spring break was just that--a break."

"And I'll need to leave early. Before sunset."

"Still afraid of the vampires?" she teased.

The truth was, I wasn't sure--I didn't know who or what Jagger was. The one thing I was sure of was that he was following Alexander.

It was just moments ago that I had barely escaped Jagger's lair. If I attempted to find out Jagger's reason for his search, I might be putting myself--and, more important, Alexander--in danger.

Now that Jagger was following me--outside the theater yesterday and waiting for me in the alley tonight--I knew if I returned to the manor house, or anywhere I thought I might find Alexander, I would lead Jagger right to him. Although it broke my heart, I had no choice. I would have to leave Hipsterville.

Chapter 9 Bus Stop Blues

Aunt Libby and I sat together on a wooden bench outside the Greyhound bus station waiting for the eight o'clock to pull in. There was only one bus each day out of Hipsterville, and it departed just as the sun was setting.

I looked forward to returning to Dullsville and hopefully Alexander, but I was sad to leave Aunt Libby. I enjoyed our visit together, and I really admired her. She had followed her dream of being an actress and in the process lived independently, with her own style, tastes, and view of life. She saw me as unique and special, instead of as a freak. And most important, she treated me like I was normal.

I'd also miss the excitement of Hipsterville, knowing there was a place like the Coffin Club for goths to hang out and dance, and Hipsterville's Hot Gothics--a store where I could purchase gothic clothes, spiked jewelry, and body tattoos.

Libby put her arm around me, and I leaned my head on her shoulder as the bus pulled in.

"I'm going to miss you so much, Aunt Libby," I said, squeezing her with all my might before I climbed aboard the bus.

As I walked down the aisle, I opened my compact to check the other travelers. After everyone reflected back, even a gothic couple snuggling in back, I chose a seat next to the window. Aunt Libby waved to me as we waited for the bus to leave. I could see in her eyes that she would miss me as much as I'd miss her. She kept waving as the bus drove off. But as soon as the station was out of sight, I breathed a sigh of relief. The nefarious, mysterious, feud-seeking shock-goth Jagger was now behind me. Hopefully, a new plan to contact my handsome Gothic Prince Alexander was before me.

The bus ride back to Dullsville was painfully long. I called Becky from my cell phone, but she was at the movies with Matt. I jotted notes about my encounter with Jagger in my Olivia Outcast journal, but writing gave me motion sickness. I imagined why Jagger was searching for Alexander--maybe it was a feud between the two families over the baroness's Mansion--but it only made me worry about my boyfriend. I dreamed about reuniting with Alexander, but I also couldn't stop thinking about the maps Jagger had lying on his floor.

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