Tantalize
potential,” I said. “By the time I’m done with him —”
    “Good,” Uncle D informed me. “When I interviewed him, I told him how special you were, how much Sanguini’s is in your blood. I don’t know if he totally believed me then, but now —”
    The phone rang, and I jumped for it.
    Kieren opened with, “Why didn’t you call me back last night?”
    “You called?” I’d been stressed, thinking he hadn’t. We usually talked a few times a day, but he was so moody lately.
    “I left a message with your uncle.”
    Huh. “Sorry, I didn’t get it.”
    “You could’ve called when you got home,” Kieren said. “Or e-mailed.” He’d had his cell permanently confiscated months ago when his mama caught us talking after midnight. Harsh, but it hadn’t been the first time — that had been during the first week of finals, and he’d been warned more than once.
    I took a breath. “It was late and I was tired and —”
    “I was worried. I stayed up all night wondering —”
    “I’m sorry, but I was working and —”
    “With the new chef?” he wanted to know.
    I wasn’t loving Kieren’s tone of voice. “I don’t think you understand how important it is that —”
    “Fine.”
    “Fine,” I replied.
    We hung up, and I sat down at the table with my uncle, who was staring at his coffee like it held the secrets to the universe. “I’m sorry that I forgot to tell you the boy called. I thought I wrote it down somewhere. I don’t know where my brain is.”
    I did. Between raising me, managing the restaurant relaunch, losing Vaggio, falling in lust with Ruby . . . I sipped my juice. “Kieren’s just a little edgy these days.”
    “Do you think that’s something I should mention to the police?”
    The question caught me by surprise. “What do you mean?”
    “The detective said to call back if anything seemed unusual.”
    Even though he hadn’t been at the scene, Uncle D was questioned the day after the murder. I thought about it. Had Daddy ever confided to Uncle D about Kieren’s Wolf heritage? That possibility, coupled with the circumstances of Vaggio’s murder, made me wonder. What might Uncle D have told the police?
    After school, I was back on the job. Dragged Brad out of the Sanguini’s kitchen and down the sidewalk to All the World’s a Stage. The clerk helped us pull various male vampire costumes, and we sorted through them to find the most promising.
    “I’ve already got the eyes and fangs,” Brad said. “Do I need a whole outfit?”
    I held up a full-length blue suede western jacket, shook my head, and hung it on a spare rack. “People are going to be coming in from all over hell and half of Texas,” I said. “We need to give them a show.”
    Brad held a silky white shirt up to himself. “White washes me out, I think.”
    I smirked. “Go look at it in a mirror.”
    “If we find something worth trying on,” he said, “I’ll look.”
    Brad had sounded about as hopeful as I felt.
    “You’re really tall,” I said. “Slender, too.” More attractive than I’d thought at first glance. It was the kind of face that grew on you. Not so obviously handsome like Kieren’s, so obviously masculine. But sophisticated, like his affection for wine.
    Our best candidate: a black-and-crimson suit, unlined, shirt sewn into the pants, buttons made of plastic. A black-and-red plastic medallion hung from a frayed black ribbon. Brad claimed to already have black dress shoes, but . . .
    “Too chintzy,” he said.
    “Too chintzy,” I agreed. “And too short in the arms and legs.”

T wo days later, Brad’s never-ending quest for a menacing menu, well, never ended. While my fellow seniors, the ones with a parent or three, busied themselves with Back to School Night, I broke the news: “The most gothic thing about your eggplant parmesan is the fact that a purple vegetable exists in nature.”
    “I need a vegetarian selection,” he replied, rinsing a long, wooden spoon.
    Travis, who was

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