Undead and Unappreciated Chapter 9

It was going to be sunrise soon enough, so I figured I should change into shorts and a T-shirt. What I really wanted to do was talk to Jessica about all that had happened that night, but she'd disappeared after assaulting Sinclair. There was still time to track her down...

I decided to cheer myself up by wearing my bargains, a $180 pair of white-and-black loafers. I'd be the best-dressed dead girl in the house. Then when I rose tomorrow night, I'd be ready for action. What kind of action, I had no idea. I'd worry about that then.

Meanwhile, I paired the bargains with black anklets, a black and white skirt, my cashmere mock turtleneck (a gift from Jess... the thing was practically indestructible in the hands of a good dry cleaner), and my black wool blazer. I checked myself out in the mirror and thought: adorable. I immediately felt better.

I guess this sounds kind of shallow, but it's harder to be depressed when you put yourself together as best you can. To put it another way, my life might be in the toilet again, but with my hair combed, my eye shadow coordinated, and my bra matching my underpants, I was ready for whatever the world threw at me.

I walked out of my room, down the stairs, down about six hallways, and into the kitchen, where Marc was eating Cheerios. I could hear Jess rummaging around on the other side of the room.

Without looking up from his cereal he said, "Nope."

I trudged back to my room, but not so quickly I couldn't hear Jessica talking to Marc.

"What was that? Where'd she go? I was looking for her."

"She's too tall to pull off the schoolgirl thing."

"I thought she looked cute."

"She looked like a blond zebra. Look, I'm her friend; it's my job to tell her this stuff."

"It's your job to pay rent. It's my job to tell her that stuff. You're a picky bitch," Jessica replied.

"Now who's spouting cliches? I'm gay so I'm bitchy?"

"No, you're gay and you're bitchy. I think she's had a tough enough week. And it's only Tuesday!"

"Right, so the last thing she needs is a fashion clashin'..." He trailed off (or I got far enough away) and I shut my bedroom door.

Nuts. Well, switch to leggings, stick with the mock and the blazer, and change into sandals. No, it was thirty degrees outside. Not that I was going outside. But you weren't really dressed until your toes had something under them. Penny loafers, I guessed.

I was just putting my bargains back into the closet when there was a knock at my door.

"Come in, Jess."

"Well, I thought you looked cute," she said by way of greeting.

"I think he's right. I'm too tall. You'd look good in that outfit. You want it?"

"No thanks. I want to talk about what happened earlier-" She glanced out the window. "You got time?"

"Yeah, half an hour, at least." I never saw the sun, though it couldn't hurt me. One of the perks of being the vampire queen. "Ugh, how awful was that whole thing?"

"No wonder Sinclair was so interested in tagging along tonight," she added, sitting next to me on the bed. "He knew, and he didn't tell you. Didn't warn you or anything."

"I know! See, see? Everyone's all 'Oh, give Sinclair a chance, he's not so bad' because they don't see the evil, dark, yukky, nutty side of him. He is the Almond Joy of my life."

"Honey, I'm convinced. That was pretty sneaky, even for him. Are you okay? It must have been a shock. You want another cup of tea or something?"

"No." I wanted not to be dead, but of course that wasn't happening anytime soon. No point bitching about it right that minute. But knowing me, I'd get back to it later. "I'm so full of tea I'm seeping. Thanks for smacking him for me."

"It was either bonk him on the head or stab him with his own butter knife."

"That could have been fun. And thanks for evicting him."

"I don't think it'll work." She frowned. "He won't leave."

"Vampires and cockroaches. They're impossible to get out of the ducts."

"So, what? What does this mean?"

"I have no idea. I was starting to get used to the Ant being knocked up."


"Okay, you're right, I was still kind of freaked. But now I'm sort of getting used to the idea that I've got another sibling, never mind that she's the daughter of the devil. Not the Ant. The devil. But-and stop me if you've heard this before-what am I supposed to do about it?"

Jessica shrugged.

"There's gotta be more to it than that. I suppose I'll have to go to him and get the rest of the story."

"Screw that."

"Amen." I flopped down onto my bedspread. "I knew it was too quiet around here," I mumbled into my pillow. "Something was bound to happen. I was expecting zombies to come out of the walls or something."

"Bets, I think it's time."


"Yes, it is. You need it, and you're ready."

"It's too soon."

"I know it's scary," she said, rubbing my back, "but you'll feel better. You know it's the right thing to do."

"I'm not ready," I replied, scared.

"Yes. You are. It's okay, I'll be there with you."

I shook my head, but she wouldn't be dissuaded.

The next evening...

"Oh my Gawd," the pedicurist said. "What have you been doing with your feet?"

"She's been dead for the last six months," Jessica said helpfully from the opposite chair.

"I don't care, that's no excuse. Gawd, they're like hooves. You've got to take better care of them. What about that cucumber cream I gave you last spring? It doesn't apply itself. y'know."

"I've been busy," I said defensively. "You know, with stuff." Solving murders. Trying to run Scratch. Restraining myself from jumping Sinclair's bones. Not that I wanted to do that anymore. I think it would be fair to say my desire for him had been thoroughly squashed. I didn't want those big hands on me or those firm lips on me or that big-anyway, squashed, thoroughly squashed.

"Everybody's got stuff, you've got to take care of your feet."

"And they'll take care of you," Jessica and I chorused obediently.

The pedicurist was sawing at my heels with a pumice stone. "Right! See, girls, you listen to me. Never mind about stuff. Foot care has to come first."

"Uh-huh." Maybe I could take her a little more seriously if she'd been out of high school more than twenty minutes. "I'll keep it in mind."

"Okeydokey then."

Jessica rolled her eyes at me, and I grinned back. "For a rich girl, you've got tough feet."

"Off my case, blondie. Yours aren't better."

"Yeah, but-"

"Didn't we just establish that there's nothing-not a single thing-more important than foot care?"

"Give me a break," I muttered.

The pedicurist dipped my feet back in the swirling water, then shook the bottle of nail polish. "Good choice," she told me.

"I like the classics," I replied. Revlon's Cherries in the Snow. A great, dark red. I didn't like dark colors on my fingernails, but I liked them on my toes all right.

"There, now," Jessica sighed as her pedicurist rubbed her toes. "Told you. You needed this."

"I'm not arguing. Heck, for a couple of minutes I forgot about the whole my sister is a child of Satan thing."

"How are her feet?"

"Not as good as yours," I told the girl, which was probably the truth.

When I rose the next night, my feet were bare and unpolished. Unpumiced. They looked exactly the way they had the day I died.

I cried for five minutes-not over my stupid toes but for what it meant-and then I went downstairs and locked myself in the library with the Book of the Dead.

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