So – we have gotten the green-light FINALMENT! (That is “finally” to us Francophones. Yup me and my 1 on my AP French exam!) to release the first chapter on my blog. As you can tell, I’m a bit giddy over here. First off, the blog has now gotten over one million hits! That is so coooool. I love big numbers. Supersize THIS, mo’fos! And it’s my birthday week. Just like Ashley Spencer, I think MY birthday is the most important thing in the…it’s just the most important thing period.
I’m not one of those people who WAIT to see if people will remember, let alone celebrate my birthday. Oh no. If I left it up to the gods, or my husband’s slightly dim memory, my birthday would go something like this. Finger-poke to husband’s side. “Um. It was my birthday yesterday.” Mike: “FRACK! It’s your birthday! Now I have to run out and get flowers, make reservations, buy jewelry! FRACK! I forgot! FRACK!” And he wouldn’t even apologize for forgetting. He’d just be mad that he now had to do all this running around and not even get credit for it because it’s a day late.
So to save us the marital heartache, three weeks before the day, I do a countdown. MY BIRTHDAY IS COMING UP. BEEP! BEEP! And so he is so well-trained that by now he’s gotten it down. Flowers? A spectacular bouquet from an avant-garde florist. (Red roses and babies breath are just SO dreary aren’t they?) Jewelry? This year I want diamond hoops, you know, the ones that are a carat and a half’s worth of bling on each lovely circular glittering band. I kind of also wanted just huge diamond rocks, because it’s so LA to wear a t-shirt, cargo pants and ROCKS. Like, yes, I am cas (casshh for casual) but I got it goin’ on: check out the five-figure earrings. But I saw this lovely pair of sizable diamond hoops which make me queasy with infatuation. You know you really have to have something if it gives you butterflies.
Anyway, why am I prattling on when the real reason you are all tuned in is for the sneak peeks. In the Filipino culture, when it’s your birthday you have to treat YOUR friends, not the other way around. So, herewith as my birthday gift to all of YOU is the first chapter of REVELATIONS. And I will be emailing the FIRST FOUR CHAPTERS to my email subscriber list. So if you’d like to read further: sign up here. The book is on sale October 28, 2008!
On an early and bitterly cold morning in late March, Schuyler Van Alen let herself inside the glass doors of the Duchesne School, feeling relieved as she walked into the soaring barrel-ceiling entryway dominated by an imposing John Singer Sargent portrait of the school’s founders. She kept the hood of her fur-trimmed parka over her thick dark hair, preferring anonymity rather than the casual greetings exchanged by other students.
It was odd to think of the school as a haven, an escape, a place she looked forward to going. For so long, Duchesne, with its shiny marble floors and sweeping vistas of Central Park, had been nothing less than a torture chamber. She had dreaded walking up the grand staircase, felt miserable in its inadequately heated classrooms, and even managed to despise the gorgeous terrazzo tiles in the refectory
At school Schuyler often felt ugly and invisible, although her deep-set blue eyes and delicate Dresden-doll features belied this. All her life, her well-heeled classmates had
treated her like a freak, an outcast—unwanted and untouchable. Even if her family was one of the oldest and most illustrious names in the city’s history, times had changed. The Van Alens, once a proud and prestigious clan, had shrunk and withered over the centuries, so that they were now practically extinct. Schuyler was one of the last.
For a while, Schuyler had hoped her grandfather’s return from exile would change that—that Lawrence’s presence in her life would mean she was no longer alone. But those hopes were dashed when Charles Force took her away from the shabby brownstone on Riverside Drive, the only home she had ever known.
“Are you going to move or do I have to do something about it?”
Schuyler started. She hadn’t noticed that she’d been standing in a daze in front of her locker and the one above it. The bells signaling the start of the day were clanging
wildly. Behind her stood Mimi Force, her new housemate.
No matter how out of place Schuyler felt at school, it was no comparison to the arctic freeze she weathered on a daily basis at the Forces’ grand town house across from the Metropolitan Museum. At Duchesne, she didn’t have to overhear Mimi grumbling about her every second of the day. Or at least it only happened every few hours. No wonder Duchesne felt so welcoming lately.
Even though Lawrence Van Alen was now Regis, head of the Blue Bloods, he had been powerless to stop the adoption process. The Code of the Vampires stipulated a strict adherence to human laws, to keep the Blue Bloods safe from unwanted scrutiny. In her last will and testament, Schuyler’s grandmother had declared her an emancipated minor, but in a wily move, Charles Force’s lawyers had contested its tenets in the Red Blood courts. The courts found in their favor, and Charles had been named the executor of the estate, winning Schuyler as part of the package.
“Well?” Mimi was still waiting.
“Oh. Uh. Sorry,” Schuyler said, grabbing a textbook and moving aside.
“Sorry is right,” Mimi narrowed her emerald green eyes and gave Schuyler a contemptuous look. The same look she’d given Schuyler across the dinner table last night, and the same look she’d given Schuyler when they’d bumped into each other in the hallway that morning. The look said: What are you doing here? You have no right to exist.
“What did I ever do to you?” Schuyler whispered, tucking a book into her worn canvas bag.
“You saved her life!”
Mimi glared at the striking redhead who had spoken.
Bliss Llewellyn, Texan transplant and former Mimi acolyte, glared back. Bliss’s cheeks were as red as her hair. “She saved your skin in Venice, and you don’t even have the decency to be grateful!” Once upon a time Bliss had been Mimi’s shadow, happy to follow her every directive, but a trust had broken between the two former friends since the last Silver Blood attack, when Mimi had been revealed as a willing, if ineffective, conspirator. Mimi had been condemned to burn, until Schuyler had come to her aid at the blood trial.
“She didn’t save my life. She merely told the truth. My life was never in danger,” Mimi replied as she ran a silver hairbrush through her fine hair.
“Ignore her,” Bliss told Schuyler.
Schuyler smiled, feeling braver now that she had backup. “It’s hard to do. It’s like pretending global warming doesn’t exist.” She would pay for that comment later, she knew. There would be pebbles in her breakfast cereal. Black tar on her sheets. Or the newest inconvenience—the disappearance of yet another of her swiftly dwindling possessions. Already she was missing her mother’s locket, her leather gloves, and a beloved dog-eared copy of Kafka’s The Trial, inscribed on the first page with the initials “J. F.”
Schuyler would be the first to admit that the second guest bedroom in the Forces’ mansion (the first remained reserved for visiting dignitaries) was hardly the cupboard under the stairs. Her room was beautifully decorated and sumptuously appointed with everything a girl could want: a four-poster queen-size bed with a pillowy duvet, closets full of designer clothes, a high-end entertainment center, dozens of toys for Beauty, her bloodhound, and a new featherlight MacBook Air. But if her new home was rich in material gifts, it lacked the charm of the old one.
She missed her old room, with its Mountain Dewâ€“yellow walls and rickety desk. She missed the dusty shrouded living room. She missed Hattie and Julius, who had been with the family since she was an infant. She missed her grandfather, of course. But most of all, she missed her freedom
“You okay?” Bliss asked, nudging her. Schuyler had returned from Venice with a new address and an unexpected ally. While she and Bliss had always been friendly, now they were almost inseparable.
“Yeah. I’m used to it. I could take her in a cage fight.” Schuyler smiled. Seeing Bliss at school was one of the small reprieves of happiness that Duchesne afforded.
She took the winding back stairs, following the stream of people heading in the same direction, when out of the corner of her eye she saw the barest flicker and knew. It was him. She didn’t have to look to know he was among the crowd of students walking the opposite way. She could always sense him, as if her nerves were fine-tuned antennae receptors that picked up whenever he was near. Maybe it was the vampire in her, giving her the ability to tell when another was close by, or maybe it had nothing to do with her otherworldly powers at all.
His eyes were focused straight ahead, as if he never even saw her, never registered her presence. His sleek blond hair, the same translucent shade as his sister’s, was slicked back from his proud forehead; and unlike the other boys around him, dressed in varying degrees of sloppiness, he looked regal in a blazer and tie. He was so handsome it was hard for Schuyler to breathe. But just as at the town house—Schuyler refused to call it home—Jack ignored her.
She snuck one more glance his way and then hurried up the stairs. Class had already started when she arrived. Schuyler tried to be as unobtrusive as possible as she walked, out of habit, toward the back seats by the window. Oliver Hazard-Perry was seated there, bent over his notebook.
But she caught herself just in time and moved across the room to sit next to the clanging radiator, without saying hello to her best friend.
Charles Force had made it clear: now that she was under his roof, she would have to follow his rules. The first rule was that Schuyler was forbidden to see her grandfather. The animosity between Charles and Lawrence ran deep, and not only because Lawrence had displaced Charles’s position in the Conclave.
“I don’t want him filling your head with lies,” Charles had told her. “He may rule the Coven, but he has no power in my house. If you disobey me, I promise you will regret it.”
The second rule of living at the Forces’ was that she was forbidden to associate with Oliver. Charles had been apoplectic when he’d discovered that Schuyler had made Oliver (her designated Conduit) her human familiar. “First of all, you are much too young. Secondly, it is anathema. Distasteful. Conduits are servants. They are not—they do not fulfill the services of familiars. You must take a new human immediately and sever all relations with this boy.”
If pressed, she would grudgingly admit that Charles was probably right. Oliver was her best friend, and she had marked him as her own, had taken his blood into hers, and there had been consequences to her actions. Sometimes she wished they could go back to the way they were before everything became so complicated.
Schuyler had no idea why Charles would care whom she made her familiar anyway, since the Forces had done away with the old-fashioned practice of keeping human Conduits. But she followed the rules to the letter. As far as anyone could see, she had absolutely no contact with Lawrence, and had refrained from performing the Sacred Kiss with Oliver.
There were so many things in her new life that she could and couldn’t do.
But there were some places where the rules did not apply. Somewhere that Charles had no power. Somewhere Schuyler could be free.
That’s what secret hiding places were for.