Home > Kissing Coffins (Vampire Kisses #2)(7)

Kissing Coffins (Vampire Kisses #2)(7)
Author: Ellen Schreiber

Aunt Libby lived on a tiny tree-lined urban street with skinny row-house apartments from the 1940s--a sharp contrast to my contemporary suburban house and neighborhood in Dullsville. Her one-bedroom apartment was small but cozy, with a bohemian feel-- flowered rugs, pillows, wicker chairs, and lavender potpourri filled the living room. Italian masks decorated the walls and Chinese lanterns hung from the ceiling.

"You can crash here," Aunt Libby said, pointing to a paisley futon couch in the living room.

"Thanks!" I said, excited about my new digs. "I appreciate you letting me visit you."

"I'm so happy you came!" she replied.

I placed my suitcase by the futon and glanced at a Pink Floyd clock hanging above the antique "just for show" fireplace, which she had filled with unlit candles. I had only a few hours until sunset.

Libby poured me carrot juice as I unpacked. "You must be hungry," she called from her tiny art deco kitchen. "You want an avocado wrap?"

"Sure," I said, plopping down at her vintage weathered-yellow dinner table with a beaded napkin holder and a wobbly leg. "I bet you have a hot date tonight," I hinted, as she topped my sandwich with sprouts. "But that's okay. I can take care of myself."

"Didn't your father tell you? I guess he wanted it to be a surprise."

"Tell me what?" I asked, envisioning Libby handing me VIP passes to the Coffin Club.

"I have a show tonight."

A show? I didn't travel all the way to Hipsterville to spend three hours sitting in a garage.

"It's downtown," she said proudly. "We're having a private performance tonight for the town's senior citizens, so I'm sorry to say you'll be the only one there without gray hair. But I know you'll love it." She grabbed an envelope hanging on her fridge by a rainbow magnet. She opened the envelope, pulled out a ticket, and presented it to me.



The Village Players performed in a former elementary school. The actresses' dressing room was a classroom that still smelled of erasers, and the large windows were covered with heavy shades. Mirrors replaced the chalkboard, and a long vanity lined with makeup cases, flowers, and congratulations cards sat in place of a teacher's desk.

As Aunt Libby applied her makeup and squirmed into her white Victorian dress, I spun a forgotten globe in the corner, letting a black- painted fingernail come to a rest on Romania.

Of course, under any other circumstances I would have loved to see a performance of Dracula. I would have gone every night, especially to see my aunt as an admittedly old, but I'm sure convincing, Lucy. I would have ordered front-row seats. But why would I want to see a fake Dracula when I could see the real thing sipping a Bloody Mary down the street at the Coffin Club?

The stage manager called from the hallway, "Five minutes."

I hugged Libby and told her to break a leg. I hoped she wouldn't notice my empty seat during the performance, but I couldn't worry about that as I hurried up the aisle to the back of the theater.

I pulled aside an elderly usher who looked like he might be one of the undead. "Which way to the Coffin Club?" Some people spend all their lives searching for their soul mates. I had only an hour and a half to find mine.

Chapter 5 The Coffin Club

I turned the corner to a sight I'd never seen before: More than a dozen young goths waiting in a line. Spiked, dyed black-and-white hair, purple floor-length extensions, billowy capes, knee-high black boots, and Morticia dresses. Lips, cheeks, tongues, foreheads pierced with metal studs and chains. Tattoos of bats, barbed wire, and esoteric designs covered their limbs, chests, and backs and, in many cases, their entire flesh.

Above the line of ghoulish goths, two coffins were outlined in red neon on the black brick building.

Impatience being my virtue, I snuck in front of a girl who was tying up loose corset laces in her medieval gown.

A Marilyn Manson look-alike standing in front of me turned to face me. "You from around here?"

"I don't think any of us are from around here, if you know what I mean," I said, all knowing.

"I'm Primus," he responded, extending his hand. His fingernails were longer than mine.

"I'm Raven," I replied.

"And I'm Poison," a girl in a tight black-and-red-striped rayon dress snapped, grabbing Primus's hand away. The crowd continued moving forward. Primus and Poison showed their IDs and disappeared inside.

A bouncer in a Nosferatu T-shirt scrutinized me, blocking the black, wooden coffin-shaped door.

I held my card proudly. But when the devilish-looking bouncer started studying it, my confidence waned and my heart began to pound.

"This looks like it was taken yesterday."

"Well, it wasn't," I said with a sneer. "It was taken today."

The bouncer cracked a smile, then laughed. "I haven't seen you here before."

"Don't you remember me from last time? I was the girl in black."

The bouncer laughed again. He stamped my hand with an image of a bat and wrapped a barbed-wire-shaped plastic bracelet around my left wrist. "Here alone?" he asked.

"I'm hoping to meet a friend. An older dude, bald with a gray cloak. He was here recently. Have you seen him?"

The bouncer shrugged. "I only remember the girls," he said with a smile. "But, if he doesn't show, I'm off just before sunrise," he added, letting me pass and opening the coffin door.

I stepped through and entered a dark, crowded, smoke-filled, head-banging Underworld. I had to pause to let my eyes adjust.

Dry-ice fog floated over the clubsters like tiny ghosts. The cement walls were spray-painted black, with flashing neon headstones. Pale mannequins with huge bat wings hung from the ceiling, some bound in leather, others in Victorian suits or antique dresses. The bathroom doors were shaped like giant tombstones; one read MONSTERS and the other GHOULS. Spiderwebs clung to the bottles behind the bar. A sign underneath a broken clock read NO GARLIC. Next to the dance floor a mini gothic flea market was set up on folding tables. A vampire clubster could buy anything from fake teeth to body tattoos and tarot card readings. A balcony loomed above the dance floor, accessible by a spiral staircase. Clubsters, with blood- filled amulets dangling from their necks and grimacing vampire teeth, seemed to be a mix of harmless outcast goths and maybe a few truly deranged. But if I had to bank that there were real vampires in this part of the world, some had to be mixing it up here, where they could walk hidden among the masses. The thrashing music of Nightshade blasted from the speakers. I could feel the stares as I walked by. Instead of the usual glares I was used to enduring whether walking down the halls of Dullsville High or sauntering past Prada-bes milling about town, I felt self-conscious for a different reason--I was being checked out. Hot Goths, Gorgeous Goths, even Geeky Goths were eyeing me as if I were a gothic Paris Hilton catwalking down a medieval runway. Even girls, sporting shrunken T-shirts that read SIN or pretentiously exposed their concave, multipierced bellies, scrutinized me territorially, as if threatened by any other single female with black eye shadow in a tight black dress. I fingered my raven- colored hair nervously, trying to be careful whom I made eye contact with. Were they real vampires smelling the scent of a mortal? Or just goths looking for a ghoul?

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