Home > Love Bites (My Sister the Vampire #6)(10)

Love Bites (My Sister the Vampire #6)(10)
Author: Sienna Mercer

The lake house! Ivy mouthed to her sister.

Then, the house came into view.

‘How old is this place?’ Ivy asked, staring up at the six towers casting imposing shadows across the lawn.

‘Only three hundred years old,’ Horatio said dismissively.

It was even bigger than the gothic building that housed the entire Franklin Grove Middle School. The dozens of windows along the long facade were dark and uninviting. As they came to a stop, Ivy could see gargoyles on the rooftop. They seemed to stare down disapprovingly. Normally, Ivy would be all about the gargoyles, but she was feeling so out of place.

She followed her sister out of the car and the cold made her shiver. Her clunky boots crunched on the gravel, and she saw that the door knocker was a distorted face with fangs.

Ivy shuddered. I’m a long way from home, she thought. A very long way.

Olivia expected the huge oak doors to creak open, but they swung open silently.

It was warm inside and the scent of burning pine logs filled the air from the open fireplace in the corner of the hallway.

‘It’s almost cosy,’ she whispered to Ivy, who was gazing up at the walls.

Olivia followed her gaze to see portraits of stern-looking men and women. One woman was wearing a tight corset and a large ruby ring on her finger while another stared down at them dressed in a velvet cloak and white ruff. They all had pale skin and unusual-coloured eyes.

‘This must be the family,’ Ivy said.

Opposite the front door and to both sides were long corridors, making a T-shape. Each corridor was decorated with tapestries, chandeliers and more paintings. ‘It’s like a museum,’ Olivia whispered.

From the hall on the right, an elderly couple dressed in black entered the room. Olivia caught her breath. The woman was graceful and elegant. Olivia immediately felt dishevelled and under-dressed. Her hair was in a neat bun and she wore a stunning green jewel on a choker. Olivia realised it was shaped like an eye with a V in the middle – the same symbol that was on her and Ivy’s matching rings. This must be her grandmother, the Countess.

‘Welcome home, Karl,’ she said. She held out her hand, her arm clad in intricate black lace, for Mr Vega to kiss.

Olivia couldn’t help noticing how her father’s face coloured. ‘It is Charles, now, Mother,’ he replied stiffly. ‘Call me Charles.’

‘Yes, of course,’ the Countess said, drawing back. ‘I’m sorry.’ She looked hopefully into Charles’s face. ‘It’s good to have you back.’ Her voice was thick with emotion.

At her shoulder, the Count cleared his throat loudly and wiped his eyes. ‘Just a . . . speck of soot from the fire,’ he muttered.

‘It’s good to be back,’ Mr Vega said, after a moment. ‘Though this will all take some getting used to.’ He tried to laugh but it came out as a croak.

The Count shook his son’s hand awkwardly and then fiddled with his thick grey moustache.

There was an uncomfortable pause, until the Countess turned to Olivia and Ivy. ‘And you must be our beautiful granddaughters. We are so happy to meet you at long, long last.’ She hurried forwards with a smile and her arms opened wide for a warm hug.

As she released them, their grandfather approached. Beneath his waxed moustache, Olivia could just see his mouth split in a grin. ‘Darling children!’ he said. Olivia shared a glance with Ivy, and then the two of them stepped into his arms. His suit rustled noisily next to their ears, and Olivia could feel the thick wool scratching her.

She took a deep breath and pulled away. Looking at the sparkling eyes of the Count and the Countess, and the smile on her sister’s face, Olivia knew Ivy was right: this was their family and even if she was different, she was sure she could still belong here.

‘Welcome home,’ said the Countess. ‘Do you like our little abode?’

Olivia found herself smiling from ear to ear. ‘It’s perfect,’ she said, gazing around. ‘Just perfect!’

‘Would you like a tour?’ the Countess said, taking each girl by the hand. Her fingers were heavy with jewellery.

Ivy hesitated before nodding. She definitely wanted to see the rest of this amazing place but she couldn’t help but notice that every time she took a step, the sound of her heels striking the floorboards echoed loudly. Too loudly? Why can’t I just relax? she wondered.

‘Let’s see if you can remember your way around, Kar– er, Charles,’ said the Count, slapping Mr Vega on the back and smiling.

‘Girls, this is the parlour,’ the Countess said, opening the door to a sunny room with white and cream wallpaper, blue velvet chairs and a white baby grand piano in the corner. A delicate golden chandelier hung from the ceiling and light yellow curtains framed the tall windows.

‘Wow,’ Olivia breathed.

‘It hasn’t changed much,’ Mr Vega commented.

‘Some things have,’ the Countess said softly. ‘You see that vase?’ She turned back to the hall and pointed to a simple, tall piece of green ceramic shaped like a V on its own little table. ‘I never used to like modern pieces, but this one I could not resist.’

‘Very nice,’ Mr Vega commented. Ivy should have guessed that her grandparents would appreciate the artistic as much as her dad.

Ivy reached out to stroke the varnish – only noticing too late that her dad was bending over to peer more closely. Her elbow connected with his nose and, with a yelp of pain, he staggered forwards, right into the vase’s table.

‘Oh no!’ gasped their grandmother as Olivia shrieked.

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