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By B. A. Frade
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- ebook $5.99 $7.99 CAD
- Trade Paperback $10.99 $14.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around July 18, 2017. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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Best friends Zoe and Mateo are excited for their families’ annual winter break vacation together. This year, they’re going somewhere new: a ski lodge that promises to give them fun days snowboarding and sledding, and cozy nights with hot cocoa and scary stories around the fireplace. But the last thing they expect is for scary stories to come to life!
Enter Tales from the Scaremaster, a mysterious book with a mind of its own that starts writing Zoe and Matt’s story. The book weaves a tale of a ski lodge neighbor with a bloodsucking secret–could it be that vampires are responsible for the odd goings on at the lodge It’s up to Zoe and Matt to outwit and outlast the Scaremaster, and get to the bottom of this vampiric mystery….before they end up vampire victims!
Don't make the same mistake
Zoe and Matt made.
Don't read my book.
I warned you.
"What's in your bag, Matt?" I was smashed into a small sliver of seat in the third row of a rental van. I could barely move. "I'm squished here," I complained, shoving at the heavy duffel. It didn't budge. "This thing weighs a ton!"
The brown duffel was too big to fit in the trunk with the other luggage, so my dad had stuck it on the seat between Matt and me. After three hours of driving, with only one quick bathroom break, my legs were starting to cramp, and I was growing more and more crabby every minute.
"I was planning a surprise," Mateo Ortiz told me in a soft whisper only I could hear. "But if you have to know what's inside…" He gave me a sideways look with his dark brown eyes and waggled his eyebrows.
"Oh, good grief," I groaned. "Stop the dramatics. Tell me already!"
Matt paused another beat, then laughed. "Nah. I'm not telling."
"You're ridiculous." I rolled my eyes and tightened my blond ponytail. "I bet it's that new snowboard you got for your birthday. And maybe a basketball in case the lodge has an indoor court. And…" I considered what else he might have brought on vacation. "Your laptop so you don't miss any football games while we are away." Matt didn't just like one team. He liked them all.
Matt grinned and patted the duffel bag. "Maybe you're right…." He winked at me. "But maybe you're wrong."
"Stop acting like there's something amazing in this thing." I smacked my hand against it. Something lumpy poked me in the palm. "Ouch," I said, though it didn't really hurt.
"Ah, forget about it. You don't need to know." Matt plugged in his earbuds and leaned his head against the window.
I turned away from my best friend with a chuckle. This conversation wasn't over, and we both knew it.
"How much longer?" I asked my dad, who was navigating while Matt's dad drove.
"We'll be there soon," he replied, which had been his answer the last four times I'd asked.
With a sigh, I leaned forward. Maybe I could use the duffel as a pillow and rest awhile. "Ugh!" I immediately pulled back, adding, "Eww." I sat upright and poked Matt in the arm to get him to take out the earbuds. When he did, I said, "This mystery's solved. It smells like a dead body's in there."
"Way to go, Detective Lancaster. You're right!" He put up his hand for a high five. I ignored him, and he lowered it. "I know how much you like to be scared, Zo, so I thought we could create our own Frankenstein's monster." He placed a hand on the bag. "I brought everything we need: electrodes, wires, artificial heart, a fresh body…." Matt began to chuckle in a low, creepy voice. "We can get started tomorrow, right after we hit the slopes, of course."
"Mom!" Chloe whined from her comfortable seat in the middle row. She had plenty of room between Matt's mom and ours. "Zoe and Matt have a dead man stuffed in their bag." Chloe was eight years old and had amazing hearing. I had no doubt that my sister would be an excellent spy when she grew up. But that would only happen if she could learn to keep a secret.
The instant that Chloe got involved, the rules of the "What's in the duffel?" game changed. I was on Matt's side now.
"How do you know it's a man?" I teased her, winking at Matt before adding, "All you know is that it's a body."
Matt caught on immediately. "True," he whispered, quiet enough so Chloe could hear but our moms, who were busy chatting, couldn't. "It might be a dead woman…."
The terrified look on my sister's face was almost pathetic enough to make me feel bad about teasing her. That is, until she yelled, "MOM! Zoe and Matt are trying to scare me!"
"Cut it out, you two." My mom turned around to look at me and Matt. "Zoe Hannah Lancaster, you know better." Uh-oh. I knew I was in trouble when Mom used my whole name. "The ride's long enough without you torturing Chloe." She put a hand on Chloe's shoulder. "They're just joking around, sweetie," she said. "You know how the two of them are when they're together."
Matt and I had been friends before we were born. Seriously. Our dads were roommates in college, and our moms were pregnant at the same time. We were born just a few weeks apart twelve and a half years ago.
We didn't live in the same city but saw each other twice a year when our families vacationed together. Usually we'd go to a rented beach house, but this time our parental units jointly had a brilliant new idea: We were all going to Wampir Ski Resort for a week of "snowy fun."
I'd never skied before, but I was willing to give downhill a try. Matt had gone snowboarding a few times with a club from his school and wanted to get better at it. We both loved sports, so how hard could it be?
"Hey, Dad." I figured I'd try asking one more time. "How much longer?"
I expected him to say, "Soon," but instead he said, "We're here."
"Huh?" I sat up straight and rubbed the thin coat of breathy steam off the van window with a corner of my sweater. I looked out. It was early afternoon, but the entire mountainside seemed to have a dark cloud hovering over it, which made it seem spooky—in an awesome way!
"Matt!" I grabbed his arm to get his attention.
He had to lean over the body bag and then over me to peer out the window. "Wow," he echoed my excitement.
The lodge was old. Run-down. And creepy. It was three stories high with tall, imposing spires, like a castle. The road to the front door was covered with a thick layer of snow.
I squinted through the window, pressing my nose against the cold glass for a better look. Part of the roof appeared to have crumbled under the weight of snow buildup and the huge icicles that hung off the side of the building. They looked like a row of deadly tiger fangs. All along the front of the place, dark gray paint was peeling, and the steep porch was completely caved in on one side.
"That's not at all what I expected!" Matt cheered. "We're going to have the best vacation ever." This time when he raised his hand for a high five, I smacked it. "The ski lodge looks like a haunted mansion!"
"Forget resurrecting your dead body," I said. "We're going ghost hunting!"
"Yeah," Matt agreed. He rested a hand on his large duffel. "We don't need Frankenstein's monster. It's just my snowboard anyway. And some smelly socks."
"You never fooled me." I laughed. "That's what I thought." The hard lump I'd felt when I smacked it must have been the snowboard's bindings.
Suddenly, our van turned away from the eerie lodge and down another road.
"Wait! We need to go that way," I said, tapping my hand against the van window.
"Turn left!" Matt told his dad. "Left!"
"You're joking, right?" my dad asked us, looking toward the ski lodge and then directing his eyes back to the GPS. "You two are always messing around, trying to scare each other. Well, you can't fool the grown-ups. We know where we're going." He pointed to the GPS. "And it's not Creepy Hollow over there."
"You're looking at the old lodge," Roberto, Matt's dad, said with a chuckle. "That place should be condemned."
I could hear the smile in my dad's voice when he said, "Who'd want to stay there when we can stay"—he paused for a bit of drama as another building came into view—"here?"
Down a long, freshly plowed driveway was a gleaming, brand-new three-story resort. The palatial building was painted white with gold trim. The windows shone with pretty ice crystals. Glowing lamps lit the path to the two large, intricately carved front doors.
"Bummer," Matt said, glancing over his shoulder at the old lodge before turning his attention to the new one.
"Ditto," I said with a nod.
When Matt's dad stopped the car, a tall man in a crisp blue coat and black brimmed bellman's cap opened the door to help us all out.
Our dads went in to the reception desk. Our moms and Chloe gathered their handbags. Matt swung himself out of the backseat.
I hung out a minute while the tall man dug out Matt's duffel. He didn't even struggle with it. In his large hands, the heavy bag that had crushed my legs for hours seemed light as a feather.
Finally, my path was clear. I was the last one out of the van. By the time I got out, everyone else was already inside the lodge having a welcome cup of hot cocoa.
Everyone, that was, except Matt. He'd waited for me.
"Brrr." I shivered. It was cold. The freezing wind whipped through my light sweater. I hadn't thought to leave out warmer clothes. I looked at our luggage piled on the bellman's cart and wondered which suitcase held my heavy coat and gloves. I was going to need them before I went outside again.
"Hang on, Zo." Matt held me back for a second. I could tell he wanted a moment to take in the resort and the ski slopes in the distance. "I'm really excited to be here."
I wanted my coat but decided to give him a minute.
"Check it out!" He pointed out the last straggling skiers coming down the slopes for the final afternoon run. They carried torches to indicate the end of the day.
"I can't wait to hit the slopes tomorrow," I told him. A whole week of skiing, snowboarding, and adventure lay before us.
"Miss Lancaster and Mr. Ortiz, if you'll please follow me." With a tip of his hat and a tight smile that didn't reach his eyes, the bellman held out a hand, ushering us toward the sparkling new Wampir Ski Resort and Lodge. He paused at the door, taking his time to open it. Just before we entered, the bellman said in a heavy foreign accent, "Velcome to Vampir."
"Dinner's in forty-five minutes," my mom said. She was busy unpacking Chloe's things into a small dresser sandwiched between two twin beds in a tiny bedroom. "Make sure you wear something nice. The dining hall at the lodge is on the formal side. No jeans!"
I actually liked having an excuse to dress up a little. It was too cold for a dress or skirt, but the shimmery black leggings and fluffy green sweater outfit I'd packed seemed like it would be perfect. I changed quickly and tried fixing my hair, but after having been in a ponytail all day, it had that weird crimp in it when I took it down. Ponytail it was.
- On Sale
- Jul 18, 2017
- Page Count
- 160 pages
- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers