Chapter 1: Amy

I knew my alarm had already gone off twice, but I was ignoring it. Forget getting up and stretching today, I was going to get as much sleep as possible. Besides, this was likely the most comfortable hotel bed I had ever been in.

It was the last day of summer, and the last day of the Gatsby Tour. I had agreed to perform and tour for the first leg, only after making sure that Shannon would release me from my contract a week before the school term started.

I hated being away from Liam, and my father. I hadn’t been this far away from Liam since we met, and I had never been away from my father this long in my entire life. When I told Liam, he gave me a sad smile, and kissed me on the forehead.

“That’s the life of a professional actor, Amy.”

Of course, he was right, and I couldn’t always be coming home to comfort.

And the part that I didn’t admit to them was how much I craved being on the stage every night. Even with two lines, I knew that I would never be able to just stop acting. This was what I was meant to do my whole life, and I was forever grateful to Liam for giving me the chance to do so. I wouldn’t trade the experience for all the world.

Of course, dating the headmaster did have its disadvantages. We wouldn’t be able to be as open with our relationship at school as we were when we were away, in a foreign city, sitting in a little café making googly eyes at each other. Not that everyone didn’t know by now, since Liam had made the announcement on the staircase the day Porsche died. He announced he loved me, and ever since, people had stared at us in the hallways. We didn’t walk down the halls holding hands, and I didn’t sit in his lap during class, or even kiss his cheek in public. Privacy was becoming more and more of a big deal for me. We were only free when we were in cities where no one knew my name.

Dating the headmaster, however, was just as challenging as dating a vampire. Liam’s thirst for blood at night often left me waking up to a cold bed. He would return just before dawn, and his mood during his transformation wasn’t always the best. Without the luxury of having Porsche, a Shield, to keep him human whenever he wanted, Liam had to transform every night. And every morning, we dealt with it.

On my bedside table, my phone buzzed, and I groaned, finally cracking open my eyes and looking at the time. It was 11 am, which meant I had slept in plenty. I would never get away with this when the school year started. Still, the effort of answering the phone seemed to be almost too much. It stopped ringing before I got to it, and I cursed, sitting up and grabbing it.

You have 1 missed call.

I was about to open up the call log, but while my finger was on the button it started to ring again.

“Hello?” I put it to my ear immediately, not bothering to check the caller ID.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

I pulled the phone away from my ear, wincing in pain and looking at the caller ID in confusion.

“Sarah? What’s the matter? Are you ok?”

Sarah was probably my best friend in the whole world. We had never met face to face, having found each other on a message forum about acting. She lived across the ocean from me, so we were separated by thousands of miles and a 6 hour time difference. She never called me before at least 3 pm my time. Her scream had made my heart rate rise. If I wasn’t awake before, I was certainly awake now.

“I GOT IN!!!!!” Her voice was so high pitched and excited, I could barely understand her.

“What?”

“I got in! To Leopard Academy! Someone from admissions just called me! I start next week! I’m coming, Amy, I’m coming! Oh my GOD!”

I couldn’t contain my grin as I sat up straighter, crossing my legs underneath me. The graduate studies program at Leopard Academy--technically the program I was in since last year should have been my last year of high school--hadn’t really been active for many years. But since I had been homeschooled up until I arrived, Liam had suggested I enter a grade lower. Instead, I opted to try the graduate studies program that hadn’t really been active for five years. Liam had, of course, agreed and let me pick my own independent study focus. I knew the admissions office had opened their doors to more graduates, and I knew Sarah had applied.

“That’s amazing!” I screamed back. “We’re finally going to meet!”

“The letter was post marked last month. It took this long to come across the ocean! Do you think I’m going to get in trouble for replying so late?”

“Nah.” I shrugged, throwing aside the covers and getting up. “If you do, will you allow me to put in a good word for you?”

“YES!” She giggled with excitement. “Oh my God, I can’t believe it!”

“I knew you’d get in,” I said, as I padded to the bathroom to get my toothbrush. “You’re just about the most talented and beautiful person I know. We don’t have anyone who looks like you.”

Sarah was exotic, the product of exotic mixed parents in their own right marrying each other to produce stunning children. She kept her hair dark and short, with spikes everywhere, and multiple piercings in her face. But underneath all that dark eye makeup and heavy mascara, she was a knock out. So far, it had worked well for her in her hometown. She had booked several acting gigs that required specialty looks. But coming to Leopard Academy would change everything for her career.

“Are you packing and booking a plane right this second?” I asked, turning on the tap. “Because I cannot wait to see you.”

She laughed. “I’m way ahead of you. I found the letter under a pile of junk mail last night and already logged onto Flight Centre to book. I wanted to call you right away, but I remembered today is your closing night. How does it feel to have a full theater show under your belt?”“Weird,” I said, putting the phone on the counter and turning it to speakerphone. “Like it can’t be real.”“Have you met your replacement yet?” Sarah asked, shouting over the noise of the tap.“Yep. Not that it’s hard to replace a 2 line role, but you know.” I splashed water on my face and ran my toothbrush under the tap for a moment before applying toothpaste. “I’m kind of glad for it to be over, though.”“Awww, you miss your boyfriend,” she teased me.“I’m not going to deny that. But it’s also gotten… boring. The same show, day in and day out, the same lines. I want bigger and better things.”“It’ll come. You’re a super star,” she exclaimed. “Look, I got to go. I’ve been up all night tearing my closet apart. I’ll call you when everything is in place, ok?”“Sure! Congrats,” I said, and we exchanged our goodbyes.I finished brushing my teeth and washing up, and then pulled my hair into a bun. My hair style on stage was an extensive up do and so the hair stylists demanded I wash it only every third day. As soon as my mouth was free of toothpaste, I picked up my phone again and hit the number 1, speed dialing Liam in his office. It was Friday, and Friday mornings he spent doing paperwork, so I knew he was there.He picked up on the third ring.“You hear some good news just now?” he asked, and I could hear his smile through the phone line.“How did you know?” I protested, deflated that he guessed before I could tell him.“I saw her name change to accepted on our list about an hour ago. I was waiting for you to call.”“Liam,” I said, as I went back into the bedroom to change. “You didn’t just take her… because of me, did you? She was so set on getting in on her own.”“I know,” he replied. I could hear papers shuffling. “And to answer your question, no. The audition video she sent in was her doing Waiting for Godot in 5 minutes—by herself. All the parts. How was I supposed to say no to that?”I laughed.“That’s Sarah for you. So, how’s your day going?”“Mmm, it’d be better if you were here. Today is orientation day for any new students, so we’re about to get flooded. What are you doing?”“Changing. I’m naked right now,” I said it in jest, to tease him, but he groaned all the same.“Amy, don’t do that to me now. I have to go out and make a speech in front of 100 students.”“It’s not really my fault you can’t control yourself.” I grinned, slipping on a pair of sweatpants and a tank top. One of the nice things about being on stage was that my appearance was not my responsibility. For once, it was somebody else’s job to care about my hair, my makeup, stuff my bra or powder my chest bones.I was skinny, and I didn’t particularly like it. It came with the territory of carrying the HIV virus, which had not developed into AIDS yet. But it meant I hovered somewhere between skeletal and thin, the right light making my ribs show through my chest. Liam, however, had always worshipped my body and never indicated any sort of displeasure. Still, when I could, I made sure my clothing was baggy to hide it.“It kind of is, if you continue to tease me like that,” he replied. “Are you ready for your last show?”“I guess. How exactly does one end something they’ve been doing for 3 months? I am ready to come home, though. I miss you a lot.”“I miss you too,” he said softly, his voice full of emotion which told me how much he meant it. “Have you booked your train ticket yet?”“No, not yet,” I admitted. “But the trains run all day long, so I’ll just jump on the first one as soon as I wake up.”“Ok, give me a call when you know. We’ll have a good meal and… evening…” he said provocatively, which made me laugh. All I wanted to do was be snuggled in his arms after months apart. True, we had our little visits here and there, but it wasn’t enough.“Alright.” I told him I loved him and then hung up. It was just in time, because a knock came at my door.“AMY!”“Jesus,” I said, throwing the phone on the bed and checking myself to make sure I was decent. Throwing open the door, I found Drago standing there.