Author Note: All of my stories are works in progress. I'm just experimenting with different ideas. If you like a story, leave me a message so I know I should continue it.

My alarm could wake up a log with its painful siren. Whoever invented alarm clocks was a twisted person who probably delighted in the torture of others. I flung an arm out and slapped the obscene technology into silence. Yawning, I shoved off the warm covers and made my first of several attempts at standing up. I somehow managed to make it to the bathroom. Thus my morning routine had begun.

I finished my shower and blow-dried my hair straight. I guess I'm lucky when it comes to hair; I never have to flat-iron it straight because it's naturally pretty straight. But that's about the only thing I have going for me. For instance, I'm one of the palest people you will encounter in our city, which is right on the coast. I also have extremely dark brown hair, that kind you get into arguments about with people because they think it's black. It's not. It's dark brown. I know what color my own hair is, people! And it isn't that lustrous dark brown you see on models either, I would probably classify it as dull to the max. Whatever, I digress. I don't bother with makeup besides a bit of eyeliner and mascara. Seriously, it's not like there is anyone I care about impressing. Although, tell that to my sister Adriana, and she might go into convulsions. Her world revolves around primping and preening.

Speak of the devil. Adriana gave a polite knock then walked right in.

"Mel, have you seen my lipgloss?" As if. She only has a drawer full of lip products. Why does she need one in particular?

"You'll have to be a little more specific."

She rolled her eyes at me. "The new one that I bought yesterday."

"I'm getting a blank."

"You always do, don't you?" she scoffed. Turning and walking out, she went to continue her probably futile mission. Like I would know where her stupid, little lipgloss is. Adriana is impossible.

I threw my half-finished, math homework into my backpack and headed downstairs to breakfast. My brother Darcy, Adriana's twin, was already there, chowing down on some scrambled eggs and sausages.

"Morning, Melvin." I gave him a flat look at the nickname. Darcy just thinks it's hilarious to call me a guy's name. He claims I act like a guy enough to be called it. Okay, so I'm not a simpering idiot like all the girls he brings home. That doesn't justify his accusation. It's not my fault he finds stereotypic blondes attractive.

I grabbed my plate to pile my eggs onto. No sausage for me. Actually, it grosses me out. Most meats don't bother me, but anything like sausage creeps me out. Especially bratwurst, bratwurst is definitely the worst. I set my plate down at my usual place.

"Did you already get to juice out?" Darcy replied that he hadn't but to get him some too while I was at it. I went to the fridge and pulled out one of the three Tropicana Orange Juice cartons, the solid white ones that don't show the juice inside. There's a reason we buy those specific cartons. Grabbing two glasses, I went back and sat at the table. I poured out the juice, but it wasn't orange. It was red—blood red. And yes, it was blood. Want to know why we had blood in the fridge? We have this little condition called vampirism. We're one, big, happy vampire family. Well, except for mom. Mom isn't a vampire; she just fell in love with one. She is considering joining us, though, to make her youth permanent. She's taking a supplement right now, but that can't keep the wrinkles back forever. I don't know how much detail is necessary, but her "supplements" consist of Dad's vampiric blood.

Adriana sat down at the table and poured herself some juice. So, here we were: the three, black-but-really-dark-brown-haired, Sanders siblings. No one questioned Darcy and Adriana's being related, they were both gorgeous in that dark, brooding way. Darcy in particular looks like how a tortured artist should, whereas Adriana just looked more like a model. Her name even sounds like a model's. Anyone ever hear of Adriana Lima? Yeah, I didn't get a supermodel's name. I got Melinda. At least, I don't know of any supermodel's named Melinda. I should Google that.

Don't get me wrong. I like my family. They have their issues, but they're pretty good overall. It's just if someone where to play that game, Which One Does Not Belong, I would be the answer. I'm the oddball, and I can't quite put my finger on why.

"You ready to go, Melvin?" Darcy asked while shoving in his last few bites.


"Ana?" Adriana gave a nod.

We stood in unison to leave for school—our first day back from Christmas vacation. I took a last swig of juice, grabbed our lunches, and followed the other two out to Darcy's, black Tahoe. I was in the backseat of course. As the youngest, I didn't get a say in anything. It was all about the twins. I put their lunches in their backpacks that were in the seat beside me. Our lunches consist of some kind of meat, usually hidden in a sandwich. It would be a little weird if we munched on only a piece of beef, so we put up with the bread and dressings of a typical person's sandwich. Bread tastes nasty. I don't understand why humans like it so much. Of course, humans think we only drink blood because we are "undead" or whatever. This is quite the misunderstanding. Vampires don't only drink blood, we love meat. Raw is preferred, but cooked is tolerable. So we have our sandwiches, and accompanying those are opaque, black waterbottles Yeah, that isn't conspicuous. If anyone ever asks, Darcy says it's some weird protein shake. Adriana and I say it's some funky, herbal drink our mother makes us have.

We made it to school safely, even though Darcy drives like he is in an action movie's car chase. The twins veered off to their friends, leaving me to walk into school by myself. Typical. I head straight to the library to meet up with Cara. There's a peaceful, hidden table there that sits in the back. We've converged there every morning since freshman year when we stumbled upon one another, each seeking a refuge in this chaotic and exclusive high school.

Cara wasn't a vampire, but she felt isolated like me all the same. She didn't know that I was a vamp either, and I planned on keeping it that way. Her scent did not prick any of my instincts beyond the normal "blood is near" one that goes off whenever there is a human in the vicinity. It was easily ignored which paved the way for our desperate friendship. We didn't have anybody else, so we made it work.

She glanced up at me from the textbook strewn across the table. "Do you know anything about last night's Shakespeare assignment?"

"Umm, maybe a little." Her face had already turned back to the book by the time I gave my answer, but she shook her head to show she had heard.

"This interpreting Shakespeare stuff is dumb. I thought they had experts who just sat around and did this kind of junk." Cara gave a disgruntled sigh.

Cara wasn't ugly by any stretch of the imagination. Her long, blonde hair had that natural body that hairdryers try to replicate. Her eyes were an average blue, and she didn't have rampant acne. In terms of weight, she was heavier than the girls guys seem to go for. Of course, this is because she's curvy, and those girls are sticks. Her overall personality was not too sweet but not too mean either. I guess she was just kind of average all over: nothing very eye-catching. Was that why no one bothered to include her? Nobody noticed her. I don't know. I do wish they would though. She deserves to have normal friends, not just one that brings a sandwich then takes the bread off and drinks funny, herbal stuff.

Her heart was pumping harder today. Yeah, the whole hearing peoples' hearts thing could get a little annoying. I'm supposed to be ignoring my bloodlust, and here is a thump-thump in my head for each person inside the room.

"Do you have a test today?"

"Huh? No."

"Oh. Well, you seem stressed." She sighed.

"Am I that transparent?"

"No, but I can read you easier than other people because I know you."

This made her pause before responding.

"Prom is in like four weeks," she said in a strained tone.

I waited for her to continue, and when she didn't I said, "Yes, it is," to encourage her.

"I wanted to ask someone to go with me." My lips tightened. They didn't know whether they should smile or frown. I had only ever been to one prom. It was a bust so I hadn't ever gone back. Since I never went, Cara did not either. Who would she have talked to?

"Got someone in mind?"

"Yes." The evasive tone in her voice said the topic was now closed.

The warning bell rang and Cara collected her things. We waded into the crowded hallway. After much ducking and dodging, we made it to our first period English class and sat in our usual seats. Once again, they were in the very back of the room. The rest of the class meandered in and filled the remaining desks.

Halfway up the row, some chatting girls took the desks, and being in so near proximity and not bothering to lower their voices, I listened into their conversation.

"…hottest guy I've seen in a while."

"I call dibs."

"No way! He's so mine!"

"Whatever, you had the last fresh blood that came here."

I gave a subdued chuckle. Blood references. I loved to overhear. Notice the difference. Overhearing to eavesdropping. Although with my enhanced senses, I can overhear a lot more than anyone else. Oops.

"That's the weirdest thing, this whole Caesar's ghost thing Shakespeare put in here." I looked at Cara after her statement. It amuses me that I don't even notice silence because I can get very preoccupied, but to Cara, it's a very awkward silence. She probably thinks I'm mad at her for not telling me who she is thinking of asking to prom. I don't actually care, and it's very hard to make myself. I know it is important to her, so it should be important to me as her best friend. Yeah. Well, there is a reason that I don't have a swarm of admirers.

To humor her I responded, "Shakespeare can be a little strange with his stories. Like in Macbeth he has three witches who jump around singing crazy chants."

Cara gave a forced laugh, and the air was cleared.

Our teacher began to go over the assigned homework, which left my mind free to roam. My lack of friends did not really bother me. If I wanted some I could get some. Not in the conventional manner, but with a little help from my vamp powers. In order to catch prey, moreover humans, we had to find a way to lure them to us and away from other humans. And so we have Jedi mind-tricks. That would be how I gained friends. Seriously, Darcy and Adriana do it all the time to help with their friends, such as if someone gets mad at them.

Granted, they have "it" so they don't have to Jedi people as much as I would have to. There, I brought the dreaded thing out into the open, the fact that some have "it." "It" is the oh-so charismatic something that draws people to you like bugs to a bug zapper. "It" is possessed by some and envied by others. The twins have it; I do not. So even amongst other vamps, I'm still out of the circle. Other vampires would rather talk to my parents or the twins. A courteous greeting is about all I ever get from anyone. Except from Sardis.

Sardis is our clan leader. A clan leader is a vampire who is three-hundred years or older, because vampires can't actually turn a human successfully until they reach that age. When they do reach it, they can begin building their own clan. Sardis is almost fifteen-hundred, so he's doing pretty well for himself. He may be over a thousand years older than me, but he seems to really care. He makes an effort to talk to me and just me. He's coming to stay with us for a week. That could be why mind brain feels like it is in overdrive.

My heel started to tap with anticipation.