I took a deep breath. “There’s one favor I must ask of them. And you. There’s a spell, called a binding spell. Performed on a vampire, it binds them to a Shield’s chemistry, to their spirit. It can only be done once, and when completed, it makes the vampire resistant to all other types of magic, yet still retains their powers. It’s usually only done by force by vampires who wanted to enslave Shields. Obviously it is very rarely done willingly.”

“It’s now time to go,” I told Amy. “Soon it’ll be sunset and untempting or not, you don’t want to be down here with the rest when that happens. You too, Sarah.”

“But I can get stronger, right?” Sarah asked. “I can train.”

I nodded. “You can, of course, you can learn. It’s like a muscle. There are limits for everyone, but I don’t think we’ve come anywhere near reaching your full potential. Now, girls, I really need you to go.”

“I wish you could come with me,” Amy whispered, her breath hot in my ear.

I almost groaned, wishing we weren’t around so many people so I could respond the way I wanted to. Instead, I kissed her on the mouth, my tongue darting in and out.

“Me too,” I muttered, and then, with all the willpower I had left, pulled away. “Now go.”

Amy took Sarah’s hand, and the two turned to leave. I turned back to the vampires, knowing that the sun would set soon. It was time to get our night started.

“No.” Liam gritted his teeth, glaring at both of us as if we did something wrong.

It was sunset, a few days after our group discussion, and we were down in the basement, with Sarah, trying to fight off his transformation. Her hand was wrapped around his left wrist, and my hand was wrapped around his right wrist, staving off temptation with the smell of my untempting blood. He had assured me that between my blood and his control, Sarah wouldn’t be in any danger. Still, watching him fight it, I didn’t believe that.

“Are you sure?” I looked at my watch, rubbing his back gently as he spasmed in pain. “You usually have fangs by now.”

“Well, it doesn’t feel like it’s working,” he grunted.

“What happened when the other Shield touched you? Porsche?”

My cell phone rang then, and Liam gave me a look. He was snarly and angry, and I knew that he was trying not to show how much pain he was in. Pulling it out, I saw it was a number I didn’t recognize. Raising my own eyebrows, I pressed talk.

“This is she.” I wanted to back away to hear better, but I knew I couldn’t leave them alone.

“Amy, my name is Aphrodite, I’m a producer at Sites TV.”

“Oh! Hi!” I said, surprised. I had seen Sites TV a few times, they visited all the hottest spots in various cities around the world. But why in the world would the producer be on the phone with me?

“We’ve been in talks for a while with Leopard Academy about doing a Site visit, and after we heard your story, we’d love it if you could be the host for this episode.”

“Me?” I really did back away then, grabbing Sarah and pulling her back as well, to keep her out of danger. This was really my life right now, talking about hosting a TV show while my boyfriend was turning into a vampire. God. “Really?”

“Sure, you’re a great performer, I caught you in Gatsby, and your story as the scholarship winner and as the girlfriend of Liam is quite interesting. I think you’d be perfect.”

“Does Liam know?” My eyes went to him as he sank against the wall, his fists balled up.

“Well, he’s surely aware that we will be filming there. I’ll probably have to call to…”

“You can talk to him right now!” the words flew out of my mouth before I even thought about it. From his place on the wall, Liam gave me a glare. I took the phone off my ear, placing my hand over the mouthpiece. “It’s Sites TV! They want me to host a segment!”

Liam rolled his eyes, and motioned for Sarah to come closer as well. The chains jangling, he took the phone, his eyes relatively clear, and put it to his ear. We placed our hands on him again.

“Hello?... Yes… Yes, once or twice… urg.” He shifted, and reached for Sarah’s hand, placing it on his neck. I gave him a quizzical look, but he shook his head. “Yes, that will be fine… I’m sure she will be… Yes, alright. Have a good day.” He snapped the phone off and handed it back to me.

“Did you know they were considering me to host? Oh my God!” I couldn’t contain my excitement and I turned to Sarah, who was grinning at me. “You have to let me interview you! You can be my like student tour guide around the school.”

“I can’t believe it!” She was just as excited. “I love Sites!”

“Ladies.” Liam tried to get our attention. “I appreciate your excitement, but I’d like to draw your attention to the situation at hand.”

“Right.” I tried to contain my enthusiasm, taking a big breath. “Focus. Sarah, Focus.”

We lasted about 3 seconds before Sarah burst out talking again. “When is the episode going to air?”

“Ok.” Liam shook us both off him.

I noticed that his eyes were perfectly clear and that his fangs had barely come out. Whether he was still feeling pain or not, Sarah was clearly having an effect on him. “Thank you, my dear, but I think both of you need to get out of here.”

“Right.” I pulled back. “I’ll see you for breakfast in the morning and we can talk about this?”

“I’m counting the hours,” Liam replied, with a softness I hadn’t heard in a while. He leaned down to give me a quick kiss and then pulled back before anything could happen. My heart trembled a little, leaving him there all alone, but I knew that it was for the best. “Go on.”

“Love you,” I said, just as softly, and then took Sarah’s arm, pulling her away. I managed to stay serious until we made it out of the basement and to the top of the stairs. Once the door was closed, I turned to her, excitedly.

“Oh my God! I’m going to be on TV!”

“This is so exciting!” she replied, and then gestured down the stairs. “And did you see what I did? Did you see? He looked great!”

“You did great!” I agreed. “I think you’re getting stronger every day!”

“I can’t wait to be on stage and take down this chick,” Sarah exclaimed, as we walked back to the dorms. “Are you ready for the auditions tomorrow?”

“Oh God, I’ve barely thought about them. I was just going to do a Beauty monologue and then sing the title song from Phantom. Not very creative, but I don’t really have time to prepare anything else. What about you?”

“I’ve got something up my sleeve.” She gave me a wicked grin. “Hey, you go on ahead. I’ll meet up with you later.”

“Where are you going?” I asked, confused. It was late, there were no classes or shows and we were halfway to the dorms.

“I’m going to meet up with somebody.”

“Oh my God!” Suddenly everything made sense. “It’s Connor, isn’t it? You’re hanging out with Connor! Sarah!” That’s why she was stronger, she had been practicing with another vampire. “He’s married, you know.”

“So?” She winked at me. “He never says a word about his wife when we hang out.”

“What?! Oh my God!” My jaw fell open and before I could say another word, she hurried off down the corridor, leaving me standing alone in shock. My life was continuing to get stranger by the moment.

The next morning, Liam knocked on my door at 7 am. I wasn’t fully prepared, but I pulled it open anyway. To my surprise, he was standing there with a breakfast tray full of bagels, coffee, omelets, toast and a single rose in a small vase.

“Hey,” I said, standing up on my tiptoes to kiss him. “What’s all this?”

“Not as much as you deserve,” he replied, shutting the door. “Go on, get back in bed. The whole point was breakfast in bed.”

“Mmmm.” I returned to the warmth of the sheets.

He snuggled up beside me, placing the tray on the covers.

“It wasn’t as bad last night, obviously.” He poured me a cup of coffee and I took it gratefully. “Sarah is stronger than I anticipated.”

“Want to know why?” I said, sipping.

He gave me an inquisitive look and I filled him in on her whereabouts after we left him.

“What? With Connor? Doesn’t she know how dangerous that is?”

“Never mind the fact that he’s married,” I pointed out. “But that’s Sarah, she’s never let things like rules stand in her way.”

“Might have been good to know before we admitted her to the school,” he muttered. “Anyway, which part are you auditioning for?”

“Uh.” I shrugged. “They wouldn’t cast me twice in a row for a lead, would they?”

“It’s an impartial outside panel, so it’s possible.” Liam grinned at me. “I got an email from that Sites TV producer this morning.”

“Oh, you remember that!” I had been dying to ask him since he knocked on my door.

He raised an eyebrow. “You think being a vampire impairs my memory?”

“I thought you were focused on other things. What did it say?”

“They want to shoot on Thursday, and asked me for a list of places they should visit. You’d host the entire segment, start to end.”