Chapter 4

The next day, Olivia made her way to the science hall bathroom--which Ivy had chosen because it was the least-frequented bathroom in the school--and excitedly arranged her supplies on the counter: Santa Monica spray-on tan, Autumn Day blush, Shimmer lip gloss, Nature's Sheen hair gel . . . .

The door opened a crack, and Ivy's pale face appeared. She slipped inside and pulled a piece of cardboard out of her black patent leather purse.

Olivia's eyes widened as her sister held up the makeshift sign: OUT OF ORDER.

"You wouldn't!" Olivia said.

Ivy flashed a devilish smile that said Wanna bet? Opening the door a tiny bit, she screwed up her face in concentration and reached around to hang the sign on the doorknob, looking like a safecracker in a heist movie.

"Okay!" Ivy returned, empty-handed. "Make me pink."

"Not pink. Natural," Olivia corrected, handing her sister a facial wipe. "Start by taking off your eyeliner."

In a matter of seconds, the white towelette was blacker than the rag Olivia's dad used to shine his shoes. "Oh, my gosh, I knew you wore a lot of eyeliner. But this is really--"

Ivy gave her a look.

"Impressive," Olivia finished and quickly changed the subject. "Anyway, I can't believe how white your regular skin tone is," she said, shaking the can of spray-on tan.

Ivy grabbed her wrist. "You are not putting that on my face."

Olivia sighed and looked her sister in the eye. "Ivy, natural means healthy. It means aglow with life, awash in sunlight. It means you woke up this morning on the beach in California with a hottie feeding you grapes. You need spray-on tan."

"Brendan Daniels doesn't like grapes," Ivy countered frostily. "I know for a fact."

"Well, this washes off anyway," Olivia reas- sured her sister. "And who's Brendan Daniels?"

Ivy just rolled her eyes. "Spray away." She sighed, closing her eyes and relaxing her face.

After the spray-on tan, Olivia did Ivy's blush and lip gloss. It was the eyeshadow that really clinched it, though. Ivy now actually looked like a living person. Olivia ran some gel through her sis- ter's hair and pulled it back in a ponytail.

"Okay." She smiled, stepping back and admiring her work. "Let's switch clothes." She and Ivy each took a stall. Olivia pulled off her shirt and skirt, folded them neatly, and slipped them underneath the blue metal divider. In return, Ivy passed her a tangled wad of black fabric.

A minute later, Olivia opened the stall door and stood looking at herself in the mirror. A floor- length, black lace skirt was so not her style. Then again, she did like the way it was slit up the side.

Actually, she'd like to try it with her green silk top and a pair of black heels.

Suddenly, the stall door beside her opened. Olivia watched her sister take in their reflections. Ivy's eyes shifted back and forth--Olivia won- dered for a moment whether Ivy was having trou- ble remembering which reflection was her own--before settling on the girl in the denim skirt and the pink wrap top.

"Pretty awesome, huh?" Olivia said.

A totally horrified look spread over Ivy's face. "I never thought I'd look like . . ." she began hoarsely.

Uh-oh, Olivia thought.

"Charlotte Brown!" Ivy's face burst into a smile.

"Shut up!" Olivia cried. "I do not look like Charlotte Brown!" She threw a cosmetic sponge at her sister's head in mock anger, but Ivy batted it away just in time.

"I don't know--this top is seriously pink," Ivy teased.

"I have way better fashion sense than her, and you know it!" Olivia protested lightly.

"Okay, okay, don't pop a blood vessel!" Ivy giggled, holding out her arms for Olivia to spray them with tan, too. Then she took the can and sprayed her lower legs and feet herself. "Geez, how do you wear short skirts like this all the time? I feel as naked as Principal Whitehead's head."

"Well, you look great. Except for the combat boots. They sort of ruin it." Olivia stuck her tongue out at Ivy.

Ivy stuck her tongue out right back.

They traded shoes.

"It's lucky I didn't paint my toenails black," Ivy said, peering down at Olivia's sparkly pink flip-flops.

Olivia finished lacing up the heavy black boots and tried taking a few steps. "Oh, my gosh." She shook her head. "It's like wearing cement blocks!"

Ivy shrugged. "You never know when you might drop a refrigerator on your foot."

Olivia paced back and forth, trying to get the hang of walking. "Okay," she said as she went. "Show me your best cheerleader hair flip."

Ivy turned her head sharply. The dark ponytail whipped around and smacked her in the face. "Ow!"

"Not that way," Olivia instructed. "Do it with grace. Lead with your chin. Like, just pretend like you're watching a mouse running across the floor with the corner of your eye. That's better. Good. Now let me see you smile." Ivy bared her teeth. "You look like you're about to eat me for dinner." Olivia giggled. "Relax!"

Ivy tried again. And again. "Okay," Olivia said, satisfied. "Whatever you do, don't stop smiling. My sunny disposition is one of my best qualities."

Ivy's face lit up. "You bet!" She bounced, giv- ing a big thumbs-up.

"Don't overdo it," Olivia said. "In fact, you should probably just limit your conversation to `Really?' `Really' is like the most versatile word in the English language."

Ivy widened her eyes. "Really?"

Olivia tried not to smile. "Oh, you're going to make me look like a regular Einstein. I can tell."

Ivy beamed. "Really?"

Olivia tried to ignore her. "The other thing you have to remember is that I'm the new girl.

So you can't talk about anything I shouldn't know. If you get stuck, just ask about the latest . . . the latest . . . whatever."

Ivy took a deep breath. "Really?"

"ENOUGH!" Olivia cried.

Ivy slouched back to her normal self. "My turn!" she sang, picking up her shiny black purse and turning it upside down over the counter. A jumbled waterfall of stuff clattered out: cosmet- ics, pens, chewing gum, scraps of paper, nail files, pictures, paper clips. Ivy shook the bag. A full-size stapler crashed to the counter. She shook it again. Out tumbled a small, black aerosol can, which Ivy snatched up and displayed in the palm of her hand.

"`Pale Beauty, the spray-on whitener,'" She caressed the can like a model on a TV commer- cial. "`For that extraspecial made-of-marble look!'"

"You're kidding!" Olivia said. She grabbed the can and inspected the label.

"Lots of Goths use it," Ivy explained, "espe- cially if they're not blessed with a flawless white complexion like mine. Now close your eyes."

Olivia did as she was told. The spray was cool and moist on her skin, but it dried almost instantly. She glanced in the mirror. "I look like a clown!" she said.

"Careful what you say or I'll take your eye out," said Ivy, already leaning in with an eyeliner pencil as fat as a Sharpie marker.

Olivia tried to hold still. She focused on a brown spot on the ceiling and asked, "So what should I talk to your friends about?"

"Excuse me?" Ivy stopped mid upper-left lid. "You cannot talk to my friends. At all. Charlotte Brown's one thing. But Sophia Hewitt has been my best friend since we were four years old. She'd be able to tell you weren't me instantly."

Olivia knew Ivy was right, but she was still dis- appointed. "I was sort of excited to be all gloomy," she said, pouting.

"Sorry," Ivy said with genuine sympathy. "What about hiding out in the library? That's where I normally work on my articles for the paper."

"It won't be as fun as gabbing with Goths, but I guess it'll have to do," Olivia conceded. "Luckily, I have an apple and some health chips to keep me company."

As Ivy finished Olivia's eyes, she said, "Let's meet back here right after lunch and--"

The bell rang.

"Oh, my gosh!" Olivia squealed. "It's time.You have to go!" She scooped up her cosmetics, dumped them back in her pink purse, and handed it to Ivy. "I'll refill your bag once you've gone," she added.

Ivy rested her hands on Olivia's shoulders and looked her right in the eye. "Don't smile too much and don't speak," she said, and Olivia felt her sister pressing her down toward the ground. "And, whatever you do, please don't bounce!"

Olivia nodded seriously. She hugged her sister for luck.Then Ivy plastered her face in a smile and headed out the door, clutching Olivia's purse.

Olivia did her best not to grin after her. After all, she was a Goth now.

Ivy pushed open the doors to the cafeteria, curl- ing her toes so that Olivia's flip-flops wouldn't fly off her feet.

She tried bouncing as she walked, but then she realized she wasn't smiling. She started smiling, but then she forgot to bounce.

Ivy caught a glimpse of Charlotte Brown and her minions already at their table, and she ducked nervously into the food line.

As the line crept along, Ivy decided to try a hair flip. She thought of a mouse running along the floor, just as Olivia said, and followed it out of the corner of her eye. Her ponytail swung around smoothly. Then the mouse ran under Charlotte Brown's chair. Ivy imagined Charlotte jumping up and down, screaming her head off.

There. That was better. Now it was suddenly easy to smile and bounce.

"A burger, please!" Ivy requested perkily when it was her turn.

Her full tray in hand, Ivy set her sights on the Table of Evil. Charlotte saw her and waved excit- edly, then rested her hand meaningfully on the shoulder of the boy next to her--none other than Jeff Moore, the original beefy superbunny. Even from this far away, Ivy could see Charlotte flutter- ing her eyelashes.

Ivy made her way across the cafeteria bouncily. She was almost at the Table of Evil when she real- ized with a jolt that she was walking right past her usual table, where all her friends were eating lunch. She nearly tripped over one of her flip- flops and had to bend down to get it back on.

Sophia was saying, "It's seriously the most important night of the whole year" to Holly.

What am I doing? Ivy thought nervously.

As Ivy straightened, Charlotte caught her eye again and mouthed, "Isn't he hot?" She was leaning toward Jeff like she was hanging on his every word.

I remember, thought Ivy, turning her smile back on. I'm getting back at Charlotte Brown.

She plopped her tray down across from Charlotte and Jeff and unleashed an exuberant, "Hi, guys!" Oops, she thought. I wasn't supposed to overdo it.

Fortunately, Katie and Allison didn't seem to notice. "Hi, Olivia!" they replied.

Then Charlotte said, "What do you think you're doing?"

Ivy's heart stopped. "Uh . . . I'm, like," she stammered, "having . . . lunch?"

Charlotte blinked in disbelief. "Since when," she asked wide-eyed, "do self-respecting cheer- leaders eat hamburgers for lunch?"

Allison and Katie nodded in concern.

"Yes, well, you are so totally right," Ivy said, her heart beating again. "And I don't know what came over me, but I just really wanted a burger today."

"I think it's cool," said Jeff Moore, smiling broadly at Ivy from beneath his crew cut. "Refreshing, actually. A girl who really eats. All the girls I know won't even have a French fry unless it's covered in fatless dressing."

"I love hamburgers!" Charlotte said quickly. "Just not from the cafeteria." She giggled uncom- fortably. "Anyway, let me introduce you. Olivia, this is Jeff. Remember I was telling you about him? Jeff 's co-captain of the Devils football team."

"Really?" Ivy said in wide-eyed wonder as she took a bite of her burger.

"Plus he's all-state cross-country," Charlotte continued, savoring the words like she was eating a chocolate.

"Baseball, too," Jeff added.

"You should see him in uniform." Charlotte winked.

"Rea-lly," Ivy said with a knowing smile. Jeff chomped a French fry.

Ivy wasn't about to stop now. "So, what's the latest in Devils football?"

"I scored seventy-two touchdowns last year." Jeff swallowed. "It was a county record. This year, I'm going for eighty."

"Really?" Ivy said automatically.

"Yeah." He cocked his head. "Hey, Charlotte tells me you're trying out for the cheerleading squad."

Ivy nodded coyly.

"She says you're pretty good," said Jeff.

"For a new girl," Charlotte put in.

"You sure look like you'd be a good cheer- leader," said Jeff, with what he obviously thought was a winning smile.

I've sunk to a new low, Ivy thought. Jockstrap Jeff Moore likes me!

The look on Charlotte Brown's face made it seriously worth it, though. "Jeff!" she said, clutching at his arm like she was drowning. "Oh, my gosh, Jeff. We forgot wrestling!"

"Oh, yeah," Jeff nodded, looking impressed. "I wrestle, too."

Charlotte narrowed her eyes.Then she reached over, grabbed the last bite of Ivy's burger off her plate, and dramatically popped it in her mouth, smiling at Jeff goofily as she chewed.

Katie and Allison looked seriously shocked.

This is going better than I ever imagined! Ivy thought, wiggling her toes in delight underneath the table. Charlotte Brown is literally eating her words!

Olivia was having a great time trudging back toward the science hall bathroom at the end of lunch period. Now that she was used to Ivy's boots, every step made her feel really powerful, like she could march through a crowd of people and they would all move out of her way. Her mouth set firmly, she peered out at people from behind a wall of hair. A passing Goth girl mur- mured, "Hi, Ivy."

"Hi," Olivia answered without stopping. She tried not to let a tiny smile escape, but she couldn't help it. Being a Goth is so cool! she thought.

Her period in the library had flown by. At first, Olivia had been annoyed that she'd forgotten to bring Thrice Bitten, the latest Count Vira book, with her. But then she'd remembered reading about an old French short story that, according to what she'd seen on a vampire fiction fansite, was one of the first vampire stories ever written. She'd decided to see if they had it.

"The Horla and Other Stories of Guy de Maupassant. It looks like this isn't the first time you've checked this book out, Ivy," the librarian had said when she'd looked at the computer screen.

Olivia had shrugged as she'd thought Ivy might, taken the book, and started reading. . . .

The story had been so awesome that, before Olivia knew it, the bell had rung for the end of the period. Now she was in a hurry to get back to the bathroom and find out from Ivy how things had gone with Charlotte Brown.

Olivia rounded the corner and crashed right into a Goth boy! Her book flew from her hands and skittered across the floor.

She looked at the boy as he bent to pick up her book. He was thin with broad shoulders, wearing black cargo pants and a black button-down work shirt. His pale face was surrounded by dark disheveled curls. He looked familiar, probably from one of her classes.

"Are you okay?" he asked, sounding concerned.

"I'm fine," Olivia said. "Sorry. I guess my boots got ahead of me."

The boy handed Olivia her book, and she finally figured out which subject they had together. "I know you," she said with a nod. "You're in my social studies class."

The boy gave her a weird look. He frowned, looking cute, if you were into the brooding type. "Ivy," he said slowly, "we've been in the same social studies class for the last three years."

"Uh . . ." Olivia fumbled. "Of course. Just kid- ding?" She tried to grimace in a friendly way.

He glanced at the cover of her book. "Looks interesting," he said, holding it out to her.

She knew she should just take the book and go, but it really was something that more people should read. "It is. The Horla' s about this guy who thinks he's being stalked by a vampire. It, uh, really sucks."

"Yeah?" the boy said, clearly intrigued.

"Yeah. It's all told in diary entries, and this guy doesn't know if he's going crazy or what," explained Olivia.

He nodded. "I'll have to read it."

"You should," she said. Then she spotted Ivy down the hallway. Gosh, she really does look fabu- lous in that skirt! Olivia thought.

The boy was still looking at her. "What else do you like to read?"

Over his shoulder, Olivia saw Ivy stop and stare at her, mouth agape, looking completely panicked.

Oh, no, thought Olivia. Lunch with Charlotte was a bust!

Ivy stamped her flip-flop on the ground and frantically motioned for Olivia to follow her into the bathroom right now! Olivia mumbled, "Gotta go," to the Goth boy and rushed away. She heard him call, "Hey, Ivy!" as she pushed through the bathroom door.

"Oh, my gosh, what happened?" Olivia cried when she saw her sister's stricken look in the bathroom mirror.

"How the heck am I supposed to know what happened?" Ivy demanded with a wild look in her eyes. "That's what I should be asking you.WHAT HAPPENED?" She washed the spray-on tan off her face, arms, and legs, pulled her hair out of its ponytail, and abruptly disappeared into a stall to change.

Wow! Olivia thought as she washed off the heavy eyeliner and white makeup. Lunch must have been really awful.

"I'm really sorry, Ivy," Olivia said, taking the next stall and unlacing her boots. "You were right. It was a bad idea. Charlotte was never going to fall for it."

"Charlotte?" Ivy's voice rang off the bathroom walls. "Charlotte fell for it like a skydiver without a parachute. I'm not talking about Charlotte. I'm talking about Brendan Daniels!"

"But I thought you were having lunch with Jeff Moore," Olivia said to the blue metal divider.

"I am going to strangle you," Ivy said, clearly exasperated. Olivia's clothes appeared at ankle level.

"You mean the guy in the hallway?" Olivia asked, gradually piecing things together as she handed back Ivy's clothes.

"Yes!" Ivy said.

"You don't like him?" Olivia guessed.

"No!" Ivy cried. "I am utterly in love with him!"

"Oh." It all made total sense now. Olivia felt like such a dork. "I get it," she said sheepishly.

"Well?" Ivy prompted. "What did he say?"

"I bumped into him by accident," Olivia explained. "He asked about my book. It's due back next Tuesday, by the way."

"Did he . . ." Ivy's voice was suddenly much quieter. "Did he know my name?" Olivia heard her sister emerge from the next stall.

Olivia straightened her skirt and pushed open her own door. "You mean you've never even spo- ken to him?" she asked.

Ivy sighed dramatically and shut her eyes. "No."

"Well," said Olivia brightly. "It appears your unusual mating strategy worked, because I'm pretty sure the guy is totally into you."

Ivy's eyes flew open. "What? What did he say?"

"Nothing. He just . . . he seemed like he really wanted to talk to you. He was, like, hanging on my every word. He didn't want me--you--to walk away."

"Like how?" Ivy demanded.

"Stop obsessing," Olivia said, handing Ivy her bag and taking back her own purse. "If I were you, I'd thank me for breaking the ice."

"I told you not to talk to anyone!" Ivy protested.

"Come on," Olivia said, giving her sister a playful poke in the arm. "Will you please just tell me what happened with Charlotte?"

Ivy leaned back against the bathroom counter to lace up her boots. "Well," she said matter-of- factly. "It's safe to say you're not the only match- maker in this bathroom. In fact, lunch went so well that Jeff Moore asked you to go to the mall with him after school."

Olivia's jaw dropped. "No!"

"Oh, yes," said Ivy as she reapplied her makeup and a little sunblock. "I said you were busy of course. He's too dumb for you. But you should have seen the look on Charlotte's face!" She did a perfect imitation: chest out, mouth open, eyes popping out of her head. Olivia laughed.

"Still," said Ivy, letting her hair fall in front of her face. "I'm glad to be myself again. Talking about sports makes the lunch period seem eternal."

"Careful," Olivia said as she pulled out the container of facial wipes. "Brendan might like sports."

"Why?" Ivy gasped. "What'd he say about sports?"

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