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Drop Dead Gorgeous: Part 5 – Chapter 50

Julie Continues

No one said a word. We all watched the two girls make their way across the gym. On the floor, Imhoff let out a groan. One of his legs twitched, but he didn’t open his eyes.

“What happened?” Delia cried, spotting his crumpled body. “Who is that?” She started to run toward him. Morgan followed, blinking, her face twisted in confusion.

“It’s the vampire hunter,” Liam said, stepping forward to greet them. “I think it’s his head injury. The one I gave him. He just . . . collapsed.”

I watched Morgan and thought about Imhoff’s accusation. She raised both hands to her face as she gazed down at his unmoving body. “Is he . . . breathing?”

Before anyone could answer, two green-uniformed medics came bursting into the gym, carrying a bag of equipment. We all stepped out of their way as they trotted up to us. One of them knelt beside Imhoff and reached for his wrist to check his pulse.

“What happened here?” the other medic asked.

“He fainted,” I said. “As you can see, he has a head injury.”

“He was in the hospital,” Amber added. “Maybe he came out too soon.”

It didn’t take them long to get Imhoff onto a stretcher. He raised his head and gazed around as they started to carry him away. One of the medics put a hand on his chest and made him lie back down.

As soon as they were out of sight, everyone started talking at once. I kept my eyes on Morgan, thinking about what Imhoff had said. Even with her hair tied back loosely, some of it falling over her face, and no makeup at all, and in ragged jeans and a baggy T-shirt, she looked beautiful. She didn’t look like a vampire.

But what does a vampire look like?

I felt a chill at the back of my neck. What if Imhoff wasn’t out of his head? What if he wasn’t just talking crazy because of his injury?

I’d heard rumors that Winks had been drained of his blood. And some people said that the same thing had happened to Liam’s mother.

A real vampire in Linden? It didn’t seem possible. And it definitely didn’t seem possible that Morgan Marks could be the vampire. For one thing, she was too light, too thin. How could she drink that much blood?

Crazy thoughts. I shut my eyes and tried to get my head together. We still had a lot of work to prepare for the party.

I opened my eyes when Delia grabbed my wrist. “Julie, what was he doing here?” she demanded.

“He came to warn us,” Liam spoke up before I could. He answered Delia’s question but his eyes were on Morgan. “He said the killer is still out there somewhere. He said he’d keep us safe.”

“But then he fainted to the floor,” I added.

“Horrible,” Morgan murmured. She still had her hands covering her cheeks. “How horrible. Everyone must have freaked.”

“It was kind of frightening,” I said. I was dying to tell Morgan that Imhoff had accused her. But I just couldn’t say the words.

To my surprise, Liam said them for me. “Imhoff was muttering to himself. He kept repeating things,” he told her. “It was crazy. He said that you are the vampire. He said he came to Linden to protect us from you, and he failed.”

Liam watched Morgan to see how she would react. So did I. So did everyone.

Her hands slid from her cheeks. Her mouth dropped open in surprise, and I could see her thinking hard, her green eyes on Liam.

“Of course, I’m a vampire,” she said. “Look at my fangs.” She opened her mouth and clicked her teeth a few times. She laughed. “Don’t I look like a vampire?”

“Not exactly,” Liam said.

She smiled at him. “Thanks. I guess that’s a compliment.”

Kids shifted uncomfortably. A few muttered to each other, keeping their voices low.

Morgan turned to me. “Julie knows I’m a vampire. Right, Julie? You work in the office with your mother. You saw my old school records. You know I went to Transylvania Middle School.”

Some kids laughed.

Morgan was getting her point across. The idea of her being a vampire was a total joke.

But then I remembered something. “Morgan, actually, we don’t have your school records. They never came. Your file is totally empty. So . . . maybe you did go to Transylvania Middle School.”

She grinned at me. “Maybe I did.”

Amber tugged down the sleeves of her white sweatshirt. She cleared her throat. Her eyes were on Morgan. “We all feel weird and frightened and tense,” she said, “because of the horrible murders. But we have to try to have a normal life and just keep on. You know. Keep on keeping on.”

She took a breath. She didn’t usually speak up in a crowd. I could see it made her nervous. “And we can’t start accusing people we know of being vampires. That’s just crazy.”

“She’s right,” Delia chimed in. “We can’t accuse one another. We don’t know anything about that Imhoff guy. He may be a total nutjob. If he came here to protect us, why didn’t he save Winks’s life? Why didn’t he save anyone’s life?”

“Yes, he’s a nutjob,” Liam said. “Did anyone check up on him? Did the police check? Did they just let him go free?”

Again, voices rang out. Everyone had an opinion about Imhoff.

He had to be crazy. Just take one look at Morgan. She’s beautiful. And normal. And funny.

But then another chill tightened the back of my neck as I remembered the letter from her old school. The letter that said she had died five years ago.

I froze watching her, listening to everyone putting Imhoff down, talking about his crazy speech to us. Out of his head. He’s out of his head.

I froze watching Morgan and remembered snapping the photos of her in my mother’s office with my phone. The photos that turned out to be blank, a blur. No school records. No photos. And that letter that said she had died. The letter she explained as a mix-up.

I had to get everyone back to work. I didn’t have time for these thoughts. I didn’t have time . . .

But what if? What if?

What if Imhoff was telling the truth?

Would someone else die because we didn’t believe him?


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