Billy drifted along Main Street, scanning the faces of the people coming in and out of brightly lighted shops, hoping to spot Jay.
He had been phoning Jay’s condo endlessly. But no one answered. He had to assume the worst—that Jay was with April.
He knew Jay was under April’s spell.
April had clouded Jay’s mind.
Her hold on him would be hard to break.
I have to keep trying, Billy thought grimly. I can’t give up. I can never give up.
A blond girl and a muscular boy with sandy hair stepped out of an antique store.
“Nate!” he called, hurrying toward them. “Irene!”
Two strangers turned to him with puzzled expressions on their faces.
Billy mumbled an apology, and the couple hurried away.
Where is everyone? Billy wondered. Why can’t I find my friends?
He checked the beach. At least it wasn’t foggy tonight. The moonlight made it easy to see everyone there. But he spotted only a few couples. No one he recognized.
He had thought a lot about how to destroy April. He knew he had to get her into the sun. Or drive a stake through her heart while she slept. But how could he do it alone?
If Jay would help him, he knew he stood a chance. Then there would be a way.
Billy decided to check Jay’s condo. He made his way to the row of condos, found Jay’s place, and rang the bell several times.
He stood on Jay’s doorstep, trying to figure out where everyone could have gone. He pushed the doorbell button again even though he knew he was wasting his time. He heard its muffled ringing from inside the empty condo.
Billy almost jumped when the door opened.
Jay gazed at him through half-shut eyes. He appeared weak and pale, as if he might fall down at any moment.
“Man, you look really awful!” Billy exclaimed.
“I feel awful.”
Billy stepped inside. No one else there. “Where are your parents?” he asked.
“They’re having dinner with some people they met on the beach. I couldn’t go. I think I’d hurl if I tried to eat anything.”
They sat down on the couch.
“Were you out partying last night?” Billy asked.
“Last night?” Jay frowned. “I don’t think I was out too late. I can’t remember. I went walking on the beach with April, and everything else is sort of . . . foggy.”
Billy studied his friend. So pale. So fragile-looking.
Nothing on Jay’s neck, but Billy knew the mark of the vampire was there, below the collar, out of sight.
“You can’t remember because a vampire clouded your mind,” Billy declared.
Jay shook his head. “Not that vampire junk again,” he groaned.
“I’ll show you!” Billy cried. “I’ll make you believe me!”
He yanked Jay’s collar down so hard the top button of his polo shirt popped off and sailed across the room.
“Hey!” Jay protested. “What are you doing?”
“There!” Billy announced. “I knew it!”
Two marks in the soft flesh of Jay’s neck.
“Look at your neck!” Billy cried. “Look at the bite marks!” He dragged Jay to a mirror.
“What about my neck?”
“Look at it! Don’t you see it?”
“See what, man? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“The bite marks.”
Jay sighed. “You want me to believe that those bug bites are vampire bites?”
“Those are puncture marks.”
“Those are bug bites!” Jay cried impatiently. “All this vampire talk is crazy, Billy. It’s bad enough being sick during summer vacation. I don’t need you cracking up again. I can’t deal with this!”
“I’m trying to save you before it’s too late. Before you become one of them.”
“I’m not too worried, Billy. I’ve had lots of bug bites, and I haven’t turned into a bug yet.”
“April has messed up your mind so you don’t see things clearly. They can do that, Jay. So when you look in the mirror you see bug bites. That’s what she wants you to see.”
Jay glared at him. “April? You think April is a vampire? You’re crazy! You leave April out of this. She’s the first girl who ever liked me. If you ruin it for me—”
“Listen to me,” Billy interrupted. “I know why you’ve felt so bad lately. When April drinks your blood, she leaves behind some of her poison. It makes you sick. And eventually it will turn you into one of them—a vampire!”
Jay let out a hoarse cry. “Right. And if I go out during a full moon, I’ll become a werewolf.”
“I’m serious, Jay! You’re in a lot of danger. If April drinks your blood one more time . . . that might be all it takes!”
“Leave me alone, man,” Jay snapped. “Take a hike. Really. You’re totally disturbed.”
“I’m trying to help you!” Billy yelled. Anger surged through him. How can I make Jay listen? How can I make him see what’s happening to him?
“Get out of here, Billy!” Jay repeated.
Billy leapt to his feet. “I tried,” Billy said with a sigh. “I tried.”
He whirled around and stormed out the door. I have to prove it, Billy decided. I have to find some way to prove I’m right.
How do you prove to someone that his girlfriend is a vampire?
“Hi, Billy,” whispered a husky voice.
Billy raised his eyes to Kylie. She grinned at him.
“Where did you come from?” he asked in surprise.
“I was right here all the time,” she answered. “There’s a barbecue on the beach. Want to go?”
“Sure,” he answered.
“Good,” Kylie replied. She slipped her arm through his and licked her lips. “I’m starving.”