Ivy Vega was trapped inside her worst nightmare.
‘Welcome to Mister Smoothie. I’ll be your elixir mixer.’ The girl’s smile was almost as big as the one on the store’s cartoon logo. ‘What can I fix for you lovely people today?’
Too. Much. Perky. Ivy wanted to shade her eyes.
‘I . . . well . . . um . . .’ Ivy’s dad stared at the huge pink menu behind the girl’s head.
‘We just need a minute.’ Ivy pulled him to one side to let a little girl in plaits and her mom go in front of them.
‘I design skyscrapers,’ he muttered, running his hand through his usually neat black hair. ‘I should be able to order a smoothie like a regular person.’
‘You’re about two hundred years away from regular, Dad,’ Ivy whispered, glancing over her shoulder to make sure no one behind them could overhear.
Just this morning, Mr Vega had announced that he wanted to take his two daughters out. Ivy had tried to go to an establishment more suited to his tastes, but he’d insisted that he should get to know Olivia in the world she was used to – which meant the bunniest place in town.
‘It says here to pick a size and a special flavour.’ Ivy handed him a menu. ‘Or you can make your own from the list.’
He opened the complicated menu, turning it over to look at all the choices. ‘Do apples and carrots really go together?’
‘I’ve had that once before.’ Ivy nodded, her plastic bat earrings bouncing. ‘It’s an odd combination, but it works.’
He smiled. ‘Just like my beautiful twin daughters.’
Ivy looked across the restaurant to where her sister, Olivia Abbott, was waiting in the farthest booth, watching them. She knew this wasn’t one of the vampire-friendly restaurants in town and she looked worried for them. Perhaps Olivia should be up here ordering, Ivy thought. In her pink knit sweater and designer jeans, she fitted in here much more than Ivy and her dad, both in black from head to toe.
‘Are you ready?’ the server girl asked pointedly. It looked like her happiness was as fake as the tropical flowers hanging from the ceiling.
‘How about I go first?’ Ivy volunteered. She scanned the list of fruity concoctions. Crushed Blushed was too perky for her and Beauty-Boosting Blueberry was too silly. Ivy needed something with a little bite. Ah ha! She caught the eye of the server and asked, ‘Could I please have a Red Lipsmacker?’
‘Is that a Mini-Mummy, Midi-Dum-Di-Dum or Mega-Mighty?’
Ivy struggled not to roll her eyes. ‘Small, please. Oh – and no ice.’
The girl grabbed a cup, scribbled on it and shouted, ‘One Mini-Mum Smacker – no crunch.’
Ivy glanced at her dad and saw him opening and closing his mouth like a goldfish. The mini/midi/mega options were clearly too much for him to process. ‘Let’s get this over with,’ he muttered. He took a deep breath and slapped the menu down on the counter. ‘I’m going to have a Midi-Dum-Di-Dum Twist and Shout. Please. And for my daughter –’
‘A Twist and Shout?’ the serving girl interrupted. ‘Are you sure?’
‘Yes, I am.’ Mr Vega nodded.
Ivy had a feeling something bad was about to happen.
‘You don’t want more time to make up your mind?’ She pressed the menu back into his hand.
‘No . . . no,’ Mr Vega was insistent, firmly handing the menu back. ‘That’s the smoothie I’ve chosen and that’s the smoothie I want. A Twist and Shout for me.’
What’s wrong with a Twist and Shout? Ivy wondered. Is it really difficult to make? The menu just said crushed ice with an orange and cranberry swirl; sounded simple enough.
The girl sighed. ‘All right.’ Then she took a deep breath and called out, ‘Hey, Mister Smoothie!’
Mr Vega’s face dropped as the entire store shouted back, ‘Hey, what?’
Ivy shot a panicked look at her sister, who was cringing.
The girl called, ‘I’ve got a little twist!’ Understanding the routine, all the regular customers replied, ‘I’ve got a little SHOUT!’ Then someone hit the jukebox and the five teenage employees, including the girl who had served them, jumped up on the counter, twisting to the song as it blasted out of every speaker. An old couple in the corner stood up and started wiggling their hips, too.
Mr Vega looked utterly mortified, his face pale . . . r than usual. He gripped the counter as though to stop himself from fleeing the scene. Ivy would have been right behind him.
I will never set foot in here again, Ivy vowed as everyone danced around her.
The serving girl even grabbed her dad’s hands to get him to dance, so he bobbed his knees a couple of times and tried to smile. Ivy had seen more convincing smiles on corpses.
My worst nightmare just got worse, Ivy thought. Now Dad’s dancing.
After an eternity, the Midi-Dum-Di-Dum Twist and Shout was plonked down on the counter.
‘Is there anything else?’ the serving girl asked, slightly breathless.
‘Um,’ Mr Vega clutched the crumpled menu. ‘If I say “Pinkaholic” will there be any more . . . er . . . performances?’
‘No, sir,’ the girl said, ‘the Pinkaholic has nothing special except the taste. Should I go ahead and get you that?’
‘Yes, please,’ Mr Vega said, sighing with relief.
The girl leaned forward and whispered to him, ‘You see the little musical notes on the menu? You might want to sidestep those smoothies when you come back next time.’
‘Next time?’ asked Ivy’s dad with alarm. ‘Yes . . . next time.’
When the smoothie arrived, her dad paid, picked up the bright pink and yellow cups and stepped tight-lipped over to the table where Olivia was waiting. Ivy could see his hands shaking.
‘I should have warned you,’ Olivia said, trying to keep the smile off her face as her dad placed her drink down on the bright orange table. ‘There are a few smoothies to avoid if you aren’t into spontaneous group singing.’
‘Hmm,’ Mr Vega replied, sliding into the booth across from the twins. ‘I’m all for trying new things, but spontaneous group singing isn’t one of them.’
‘Thank the darkness,’ Ivy breathed.
Olivia was really happy her biological dad was going out of his way to get to know her. He already knew a lot about Ivy – she lived with him, after all. It was only a couple of weeks ago, just before Christmas, when Olivia found out he was her and Ivy’s real dad.