CHAPTER ONE

"Tyler!"

"Gah!" My eyes snap open as I bolt upright in bed, heart pounding and hands flying to grasp the sheets. In front of me, my younger sister Carolyn is laughing hard enough to split a side.

"That's not funny," I say grumpily, unimpressed at having been woken up so early - and in such an abrupt manner. My nose tingles, and I automatically reach up to rub the itch away. I gasp at a sudden pain and the feeling of cloth against my fingers. Oh yeah. Broken nose. I scowl at the memory of how I'd gotten my nose broken. At least I wouldn't be seeing Jalisa Hoffman again anytime soon.

It's been a month since the blood-sucking, murderous, so-called "babysitter" was arrested, and life has been... Well, as peaceful as life with a vampire living with you can be. Add in the fact that said vampire is my boyfriend, and you've got yourself a pretty wacky situation.

Not to mention my sister is a nut job.

"I wanted to show you something," Carrie says, and produces a newspaper from behind her back. On the front page is a full-color picture of a scowling Jalisa Hoffman, in handcuffs, being escorted towards a large, menacing courthouse. Two police officers have a tight grip on her arms, and a large crowd of reporters are tailing her like a swarm of buzzing bees.

I grin at the image. "Now that was worth being woken up for." I glance at the clock and groan. "But why so early? It's only nine o'clock."

"Because," Carrie says, drawing out the word, "Mom says we have to go into town today and get registered at the school."

My groan comes out sounding more like a howl as I turn away and flip my body over so that my face lands in the pillow. I have been dreading going to school in Maine ever since Mom mentioned the move to the state. If the rumors my friends told me were true, I'd be dead within a month.

I feel a pair of hands begin tugging gently at the wild strands of hair that have come loose from the elastic I have my hair bound in. "C'mon, Tyler, it's not so bad," my sister says softly. "We'll be going to the same school, at least, so if we don't have anyone to hang out with, we'll have each other."

I roll over so that I'm facing her again. "Yeah, and how are we supposed to find each other?" I snap. "The schools here are huge! I know it's only Maine, but seriously!"

Carrie bites her lip. "I'm sure we'll figure something out."

Her sunken expression tugs at my heart strings. I let out a sigh. I've been on edge for the past couple of weeks, and honestly, I think it's because school starts in exactly fourteen days. (Not that I care - Carrie counted out each specific day, and told me exactly when we start.)

"I'm sorry," I sigh, and throw back the blankets to reveal my pajama-clad form. I'm currently wearing an American Eagle tank top, and Spiderman shorts - much to my embarrassment. Yet I couldn't just say 'no' to Barnabas' puppy eyes when he held the shorts up to my face in the mall that day...

I mentally shake myself and swing my feet over the side of the bed. I had the foresight to finally buy a small rug to put beside my bed that day in the mall - the same day I'd bought the Spiderman shorts - because I was always having mini heart attacks from the shock of how cold the floor was first thing in the morning. I wriggle my toes in the soft material and grin happily.

"It's okay. I'm stressed out, too." Carrie blows a tuft of blonde hair out of her eyes. She'd recently got her hair cut, and now sports brilliant side-swept bangs on the left side of her face, and the rest of it now reaches to her shoulders. The only problem is, her bangs are constantly getting into her eyes, and they're beginning to seriously annoy me.

Note to self: Introduce Carrie to bobby pins.

"You? Stressed out?" I raise a sarcastic eyebrow. "Never."

Carrie frowns at me. "Very funny." She picks up my fuzzy green pillow and throws it at me. I retaliate by tossing the identical orange one at her, and so an all-out war begins. We're so caught up in throwing pillows, blankets, and anything else we can find on my bed - which, sadly, includes my iPhone and Teen Vogue magazines - that we don't notice Barnabas standing in the doorway.

Carrie is the first to spot him. "Hi, Barney!" she calls, grinning from ear to ear. I laugh. 'Barney' is Carrie's new nickname for my boyfriend. He hates it, but I think it's actually kind of cute, in a way.

Barnabas scowls. "Must you call me that, Carolyn?" he retorts, putting emphasis on her name.

My sister mirrors his expression and crosses her arms. I follow her every move; she's still clutching my iPhone. "I hate that name," she mutters.

The vampire in the doorway raises an eyebrow. "Now you know how I feel."

"Um, Carrie?" I say quietly, holding out my hand. "Uh... Phone, please?"

"Oh, yeah!" She drops the phone into my hand and turns back to Barnabas. The two engage in a verbal match about names and their meanings. I roll my eyes and walk over to my closet. I've just barely opened one of the doors when I hear Barnabas calling my name.

"Tyler, you won't be needing anything in there. I've brought you a surprise outfit." He's beaming at me when I turn to look at him.

Carrie snickers. "If it's anything like her current outfit, I cannot wait to see it."

"Carrie!" I shout. "Out!"

She grins and prances out the door.

Sighing, I shake my head, but walk over to where Barnabas is and raise an eyebrow at the rather large box he's holding. "What's in it?"

He smiles broadly. "Well, I talked to your mother about this 'designer' clothing you like to wear, and I think I've managed to piece together a fashionable appearance for you."

I can't resist; I say teasingly, "Oh? Is my appearance not good enough for you as it is?"

His grin immediately fades and he begins babbling. "Oh, no, no, no! That is not what I meant at all! I simply meant -" Barnabas sees my mischievous smile and shakes a finger at me. "Naughty girl! You tricked me." He grins and wraps his arms around me, pulling me into his chest. "But that... Is one of the reasons why I love you."

Barnabas dips his head and presses his lips against mine, and I'm immediately lost to a million different, wonderful sensations.

"Oh, get a room, you two!" Carrie suddenly snaps on her way past my room. Barnabas and I break apart in time for me to see her stomping her way downstairs.

The vampire chuckles. "Not a bad idea," he says huskily, touching his forehead to mine.

I shake my head and peck him on the lips quickly. "No time for that. Something tells me we're late for breakfast." I wink at him and sashay out the door, knowing without a doubt that he's right behind me, acting the part of the silent, strong protector as he always does.

Just one of the reasons why I love you.