Home > The Coffin Club (Vampire Kisses #5)(15)

The Coffin Club (Vampire Kisses #5)(15)
Author: Ellen Schreiber

You must decide for all eternity, one said seductively. You won`t regret it.

There is only one way to be a member! another ordered, his gold fangs flashing.

Our way is the best way, someone added.

We are offering you the chance for immortality. Would you rather be buried in a grave or just sleep in one?

Come join us. We won`t bite... one said with a laugh.

Scarlet linked tightly on to one of my arms and Onyx the other.

Back off! Onyx yelled.

The two girls held on to me like a prized possession, but I felt more like a pi�ata. They were no match for the angry mob of Jagger`s crew, and it took only a few moments before our hold was broken.

I stood alone, surrounded by bloodthirsty vampires. The rest of the club was motionless. Even Phoenix`s benign vampires, who wanted nothing more than a secure place to hang out, were now conflicted. Was I more of a threat alive--or undead?

I`d always fantasized about becoming a vampire, hanging limp-bodied in the arms of a seductive vampire lover. I`d be the only one who could sustain his eternal life. Without me, he wouldn`t exist and he`d be buried deep within his coffin even in the moonlit hours. We`d live out our Underwordly lives together--shrouded in mystery. This is the picture I`d always had in my mind, and when I met Alexander, I felt this undying love for him--my dream was coming true.

But being seduced by a gang of Jagger`s cohorts wasn`t what I`d imagined. I was living the nightmare I`d had a few nights ago. I wasn`t ready to give up my mortal life because of peer pressure. I`d waited forever for Alexander to be the one to turn me--not a gang of Underworldly strangers. I`d always wanted to become a vampire, but under the moonlight during a covenant ceremony, not in a club brawl. My heart raced. I hoped to wake up at any moment, out of breath on Aunt Libby`s futon. It didn`t happen.

Don`t touch her! Onyx yelled as a few evil-looking vampires held her back.

So you`ve been hanging out here... a white T-shirt member said, slithering up next to me. Is it what you always dreamed of?

Jagger`s crew inched closer, hovering around me like a flock of vultures.

Yes! Just not this way.

There is only one way to become a member of our club, one said as they tightened their circle. I turned to my new friends, Onyx and Scarlet. And to the whole club that I`d been accepted in and wanted to remain part of. Though I was attracted, mesmerized, and even seduced by the Dungeon, when faced with the decision, was I willing to give up my life to join? At what cost did I want to be a member of the real Coffin Club?

At any moment, like an action hero, I hoped Alexander would burst through the Dungeon door.

But Alexander was nowhere to be found. He and Jameson were naively packing while I was moments away from becoming a vampiress.

Even Dragon wasn`t in plain view. I`d have to get myself out of this mess. Only I didn`t know how. The entrance was locked, and there was no getting past the gang of POSSESS-ed.

I`ve always wanted to be like you. That`s why I`m here. Why I snuck in! I shouted. Don`t you see?

Then join us! one said.

You will be eternally grateful, another proclaimed. They stared at me with hypnotic eyes. I became dizzy and shifted my gaze away.

Not now, not this way! I cried.

Two clubsters in POSSESS white T-shirts grasped my wrists and brushed my hair away from my shoulder.

I was overpowered. I couldn`t move. My heart was pounding so hard I thought it would explode at any moment. It won`t hurt, they said, licking their lips.

Well, it might sting a bit, one said, and leaned into me.

No! Not this way. I want Alexander!

Suddenly the sound of a motorcycle`s engine tearing through the catacombs was heard.

Phoenix peeled out of the tunnel and screeched to a halt at the edge of the dance floor. He vehemently revved his engine repeatedly.

Several members stepped back, uncertain of Phoenix`s next move. But the crew continued to latch on to my wrists even tighter.

Phoenix revved his engine again. When Jagger`s crew didn`t flinch, he shook his head. He thrust the motorcycle in reverse and backed it up ever so slowly, inch by inch, never taking his eyes off of me. He backed up as far as the farthermost archway--about twenty yards away from us--and shifted back into drive. My heart was throbbing louder than the engine itself. When my captives didn`t release me, Phoenix revved the engine a final time. He took off and headed straight for me.

I froze. Everything was happening in slow motion. Phoenix sped toward me, his engine roaring, dust spraying behind him. The crowd on the dance floor quickly dispersed. My heart must have stopped and I forgot to breathe. He continued to race right for me. I tried desperately to wriggle out of the gang`s clutches, but I couldn`t as the Night Rod approached. At any second I was going to have motorcycle tracks racing up my body. Phoenix was now only a few feet away and still I couldn`t move. I closed my eyes and said a quick prayer. At the very last second, Jagger`s crew released me from their clutches and scrambled to the sides. I let out a bloodcurdling scream as the motorcycle skidded to a dead stop a few inches from where I was standing.

It took a moment before I could inhale again. My body was limp and my legs like buttered noodles. Phoenix hopped off his bike and extended his hand to me, but I refused. I still didn`t know who this guy was. Maybe Phoenix wanted me to be the Dungeon Mistress.

He didn`t grab my hand or lean in to bite me. He actually looked quite surprised. Dragon resurfaced and, along with a large group of club members, gathered Jagger`s crew together and repossessed their club keys.

Scarlet and Onyx ran over to me. It`s okay. Phoenix saved you. He`s restored order to our club.

The crowd began chanting, Phoenix, Phoenix as the two girls helped me straddle the sleek bike.

I still have the Master Key, Phoenix announced with a thumbs-up to the crowd.

Everyone cheered.

I looked out into the crowd of immortals. They, like me, just wanted a place to hang out and be the insiders for a change.

The music began to blast and many cheered, kissed, or started to dance.

Onyx gave me a tight squeeze and I hugged her back as hard as I could. Come back, please, she said, flashing her onyx-jeweled fang. You have a lifetime membership.

Keep in touch, Scarlet said. You have my number. Just remember to call after sunset. My--

...parents hate to be woken up during the day, we said in unison. Then we both giggled wildly.

I glanced around the Dungeon--the dance floor, the bar full of blood drinks, the hollowed-out graves and tombs used for life as much as for death in my world. I`d never been in a truly Underworldly environment, and I didn`t know when or if I`d ever be in one again. I`d been surrounded by cold-blooded vampires who, I learned, surprisingly, were warmhearted. I`d found the club of my dreams--the only one I`d ever really wanted to belong to. Phoenix handed me his helmet and I placed it on my head. I wrapped my arms around his studded leather jacket and smiled at Scarlet and Onyx, now in the company of their dates. The members retreated, rocked to the music, and waved.

Phoenix started the engine and I held on to him with all my might as he drove off through the labyrinth of dark, winding catacombs and out a secret exit.

Phoenix sat on his motorcycle as I unlocked Aunt Libby`s bike outside the library. I sensed his gaze as I wrapped the heavy metal chain around the Schwinn`s seat.

Phoenix was leaning back against his bike, his motorcycle boots crossed at the ankle and his black leather pants hugging him hard like cellophane. His leather jacket was open, revealing a black T-shirt, and his arms were folded. Purple hair flopped over black sunglasses, and the moonlight cast a shadow against his pale face. He was staring straight at me--just like he was when I`d seen him illuminated in the Dungeon.

I didn`t know what to say. Phoenix had saved my life.

And I wasn`t sure when I`d see him again, or if I`d ever.

I can`t thank you enough--, I said from a safe distance.

Well, you can try, he said coyly.

I smiled and playfully rolled my eyes. I told you, I have a boyfriend.

For some reason I sensed that it didn`t matter to him whether I surrendered to his advances or not. I almost felt that he preferred I didn`t. He appeared to be the kind of guy who was comfortable living in the shadows while the other guy got the girl.

I was wrong about you, I confessed. You were much more benevolent than I imagined. I`m sorry I misjudged you.

He nodded. That`s all right, he replied. I misjudged you, too. Really? I asked.

Yes. You were much more trouble than I imagined.

We both laughed. I knew I should have felt happy that Phoenix had saved me, but instead I felt really sad knowing I might never see my new vampire friend again.

I had started to straddle Aunt Libby`s bike when I quickly climbed off and leaned it against the rack. I raced over to Phoenix and wrapped my arms around him, giving him a long, tight squeeze. I must have surprised him, because he didn`t hug me back. Then I felt his leather- clad arms around me. He hugged me, too, as if it were for the last time.

I hopped on Aunt Libby`s bike and sped away, not once glancing back. When I passed Main Street and turned the corner, I heard the familiar roaring sound of a motorcycle racing off into the night.

Chapter 14 Secrets Revealed

As I pedaled back toward Aunt Libby`s, I was overtaken by a flood of emotions. I`d come here to Hipsterville for one reason only--to reunite with my boyfriend. However, once I`d gotten my wish, I`d defied his one request--I had returned to the Coffin Club without him.

Not only did I discover an intoxicating and dangerous underground world of vampires in the Dungeon, I had been one bite away from belonging to the Underworld for eternity--all without my beloved Alexander.

After falling in love with Alexander, it wasn`t just that I wanted to become a vampire--I wanted to become one together.

Yet I immersed myself in a world that my own boyfriend himself felt like an outsider in. Was that what Alexander wanted for me? Or for himself?

I coasted downhill and replayed the last week in my head. I thought I was being investigative and mature when perhaps I was only being reckless.

And if Alexander ever found out about my Dungeon adventures, I wanted him to hear it from my own lips. I wanted him to know that if and when I became immortal, he`d be the one on the other side of my neck.

I felt as if I`d betrayed Alexander. I was ashamed and disappointed in myself. I had to confess to Alexander all that I`d done. I had to let him know I`d been so close to joining his world but that without him it meant nothing.

Alexander was right to buy me a ticket out of town. He always knew what was best for me, and I`d taken the wrong path. Instead of taking a turn to head to Aunt Libby`s, I veered left toward Lennox Hill. It began to rain.

I sped through the growing puddles and steered through the long street to the cul-de-sac that the manor house sat on.

I pedaled up the driveway and leaned the Schwinn against a small gate. I ran along the uneven rock path and banged against the front door.

No one answered. I stood back. I didn`t see anyone lurking in the main room or attic room windows. Lightning flashed as I ran alongside the house and around to the back door. I pounded my fists on the door, droplets of rainwater bouncing off.

I climbed on top of a discarded box and peeked in the kitchen window. There were no signs of dishes, plates, flowers, or anything resembling the living. The already empty-looking manor now appeared totally vacant. Frustrated, I ran through the unkempt gardens infested with overgrown weeds. I tried to peer into Alexander`s attic window, but from my vantage point I couldn`t get a clear view.

One thing had changed. There was no curtain in the window.

My heart sank. I kicked the corner of the wooden bench.

I had one last shot. I hurried to the garage. The lock had been removed and the door was slightly ajar. When I opened the garage door I was shocked--the Mercedes was gone.

That meant one thing--Alexander and Jameson had already left the manor house.

I wouldn`t be able to fall into Alexander`s arms and tell him about my terrifying night or explain that I didn`t want to become a member of the real Coffin Club without him.

For now, my confession would have to wait.

I unhinged the Dungeon skeleton key from my key ring and symbolically placed it on the floor of the garage.

A streak of lightning lit the sky and I saw something in the garage sparkle. I inched forward to examine it more closely as the thunder crashed around me. I caught a glimpse of something behind a hanging sheet hidden in the shadows. Perhaps it was a coffin or mirrors from the manor house. Protruding from the sheet and catching the moonlight was a shiny silver exhaust pipe.

I inched closer. I pulled back the sheet to reveal whatever was being hidden. I stepped back in disbelief. Chrome frame. Handlebars. It was a motorcycle.

What on earth was it doing here? Maybe Alexander had bought a Night Rod after admiring the bike outside the club.

But I felt heat emanating from the motorcycle as if it had just been ridden.

I took a long breath and discovered something sweet permeating the air. It was the smell of Obsession.

I sensed a familiar presence standing behind me. I glimpsed down at the floor behind me. A shiny motorcycle boot was blocking me.

I spun around and gasped.

Alexander was looking at me, his soft chocolate eyes staring soulfully into mine. He was wearing a leather motorcycle jacket and pants and holding a purple wig and sunglasses in one hand.

I stood frozen.

My eyes welled up.

It was you all along. I wiped a tear away from my cheek. It was you who saved the Coffin Club--and me.

Alexander pulled off his motorcycle gloves and extended his hand, his spider ring almost glowing.

He pulled me into him and wrapped his arms around my waist.

This is why you had to stay in Hipsterville so long? I asked. Not for the art festival but for the Dungeon?

He nodded.

But why the disguise? I asked.

Jagger and I finally had come to a truce. Not only was it important to me--but to my family. If he noticed I was in the Dungeon, he would have known that once I`d heard his real intention for the club, I`d try to thwart his plan. I know it sounds strange, but I found it comforting knowing that Jagger and I were no longer nemeses. If I`d shown my face, I`d risk restoring another feud. But someone needed to stop him. And since I couldn`t, I had to find someone who could.

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