I winced as I could see the bulge in her belly. If you were looking for it, you could tell she was pregnant for sure. She headed off down the hallway, and I could tell that she was already beginning to walk differently, her hips widening already.

Liam’s office was open, still too early for the secretary to be in, but he was there, changing from his nightly struggle and grabbing something to eat. To my surprise though, Nina was sitting in his desk chair.

“Oh,” I said, hovering by the doorway.

Liam turned, giving me a tight smile. “Amy. I didn’t expect you so early. You should be on your way to class.”

“I uh…” I glanced from him to Nina, who gave me a frosty look. She was leaning back on his chair, idly flipping through some papers like she was comfortable and belonged there. “I just thought I’d stop by and chat with you. My Ranger audition is today.”

“Oh.” He turned from the mirror where he was making sure all traces of fangs and dark eyes were gone. “Sure. Are you nervous?”

“Um…?” I glanced to Nina again, and met Liam’s eyes. “Do you think we could talk alone?”

“Sure,” he replied. “I’ll be right back, Nina.”

Once we were in the hallway, I reached up on my tiptoes to kiss him. He drew back, looking around.

“Sure, but we can still maintain an aura of professionalism,” he replied. While, on occasion, he tried to keep a bit of professionalism, it was usually me trying to fight to keep Liam’s hands off me.

“Right. This doesn’t have anything to do with Nina? What is she doing there anyway?”

Liam raised an eyebrow at me. “I think the answer’s obvious, Amy. I’m just trying to help her out, you know she’s been having a hard time.”

“Right, but she’s always around you,” I retorted. “Every time I look, there’s Nina by your side, Nina clinging to your arm.”

“Amy…” He reached out for me now, but I drew away slightly.

“Whatever. You could have told me you were going to help her last night. I thought you were going down to the basement to transform by yourself. But she was there?”

“I didn’t know that I needed your permission?” Liam snapped back at me.

It seemed to be a day for me to get in fights with people, and it was the last thing that I wanted. Sarah and Liam were the people I loved most in the world, and I didn’t want to fight with them. But today, nobody seemed to be getting along with me.

“You don’t. But it’s nice to tell your girlfriend when you’re spending all night with another woman.”

“Amy.” Liam looked shocked. “It’s not like that and you know it.”

“Whatever.” I shook my head. The conversation with Sarah had put me on edge and I didn’t want to discuss anything with him anymore. “I have to go to class.”

“You don’t want to talk about your audition?”

I shook my head, readjusting my backpack shoulder straps. “See you later,” I said, turning and leaving. I was already late, and it only added to my bad mood.

Trying my luck, I took a short cut through the empty Red Theater to get to the main lecture hall. The theater was dark and I stepped quickly through the aisles that I knew well, going up the steps and heading backstage to take the stage door exit to the other hallway. My emotions were boiling over, and I had so much on my mind that I almost missed it.

There was a flash of light, out of the corner of my eye. I turned my head out of instinct, and just for one moment, I thought I saw a swirling white mist.

I froze and blinked, not trusting my eyes. The white mist was getting taller and branching out. I shook my head and closed my eyes, counting to five.

When I opened my eyes, it was gone and the only thing still there was the memory I had in my mind’s eyes.

Over six months ago, standing on that very spot, I had prayed for Porsche’s life in the wake of Selene’s murder. Liam had hovered over her broken body, sobbing, frantically trying to change her into an immortal. The floor had been cleaned, the blood had been wiped away, but the white mist had been over that exact spot.

I took the other stage door exit, my heart thundering loudly. I felt a weight on my chest that wouldn’t lift until I was back into the hallway that was busy with students. Once among the masses, the fear disappeared and I felt like I was safe. I didn’t know what I saw, and I couldn’t make sense of it. I just know it had made me afraid. And that I would never forget it.

I sat on the opposite side of the lecture hall from Sarah, wanting to keep my head clear. She gave me a few glances, but I didn’t meet them.

When class was over, I bolted towards my audition, not wanting anyone who was coming from school to catch up to me. This should be one of the more exciting days of my life, but instead, it was turning into a disaster.

The only bright spot in the day was that Drago would be there as the new stunt coordinator for Ranger. Technically, there was no reason for him to be at the auditions, but when he found out I would be auditioning, he found an excuse.

I wasn’t expecting a paparazzi mob when I approached the building, but I guess, with Ranger being a popular show, there was a reason for them wanting to capture the next future star. Trying to maintain a cool head, I ignored them, keeping my head low and slipping around them into the doors. Cameras flashed at my back, but I didn’t turn around as I headed down the long hallway, following the signs.

The last TV audition I had was an absolute disaster. Film acting is so much different than stage acting, and it had taken me quite a while to grasp that concept. But I feel like I have learned a lot in the past year, and I was ready to give it another go. Heck, the camera time alone on Sites, which would air tomorrow, had taught me more than I needed to know. Film was long and tiresome work, but what I liked about it was you could play up little things that a theater audience couldn’t otherwise see, like a flicker of a smile or a flash of the eyes. Those things were all captured in minute detail on a camera.

I signed in and joined the other potentials in the waiting room. Liam had taught me to ignore what everyone else was doing and just focus, but today, I couldn’t. I was thinking about what I had seen in the theater, and the fight I had with Liam and with Sarah.

I pulled out my phone and I selected both their names and sent a peace offering text. Sites premiere party, my room, tmrw? I’ll bring the food.

I watched the message send, and then slipped the phone back into my pocket and pulled out my sides. I knew enough to know that as soon as I walked into the room, they would choose what part I would read for, based on how I looked, my demeanor and my personality. These were things that you couldn’t control. Casting directors had already made fifty percent of the choice before you even opened your mouth.

When my name was called, I took a deep breath and smiled at the casting assistant. I heard a few whispers from behind me, and I knew that they knew who I was. But all that mattered right now was my performance in the room.

“Amy, hello,” said Ranger’s producer, Samuel, as soon as I walked in the room.

I recognized him, but not many others on the panel as he went down the line quickly, introducing them. At the end, though, Drago gave me a smile and I nodded to him.

“Yes.” This time I went straight to the spot marked on the floor, and planted my toes on it. Last time, I had no idea where to stand or look. Already, I felt ahead of the game.

“So Amy…” Samuel glanced at me and then shuffled through the papers. “I’d like you to read for Cassandra Winters, if that’s ok.”

I found the sides in the pile and put the rest back in my pocket. From what I could glean, Cassandra was some sort of a ranger herself, but it was hard to guess when you only had two pages of what could be one hundred pages of scripts. So I just straightened the papers and looked at the reader.

I closed my eyes, blanking out my mind, or at least trying to. But to my alarm, I couldn’t. The fear at the white mist was still there, and my anger at Liam was still fresh in my head. I knew that I was being illogical about both things, but I couldn’t help the emotions that flooded through me. When I launched into my first line, it came out harsher and rougher than I meant it to. It was filled with all the things I was feeling.

Make strong choices, even if they are wrong. Make them strong. Liam’s voice echoed through my head, and so I continued the script the way I started it. If I did it the way I rehearsed, all wide-eyed and innocent, it would contradict with what I had started. So my reading for Cassandra came out rough, angry and intense.

There was a silence when we came to the end of the sides, and the main panel leaned into whisper to each other. Drago, on the end, leaned into the huddle as well, but made eye contact with me. Just before they broke apart, he gave me a smile.

“Amy, we have some additional sides for Cassandra. Can you read those as well?”

I stepped forward to take them, trying to glance at them even as I took a few steps backwards. Just as I predicted, they weren’t big on letting me take a moment to read them. Luckily, being on stage all summer had taught me how to think on the spot. There was certainly no time to figure stuff out when one of the main girls slipped and twisted her ankle on stage, or a flat came down about three inches from my head like it had one night. The show must always go on.

Cassandra must be some sort of visiting undercover officer, and from what I could tell, she was sweet on the main character. However, it didn’t tell me anything about her background, or her story arc. It was interesting to learn more about it, and I wondered if her story continued beyond these few pages.

Before I knew it, it was over and they were thanking me, promising they would be in touch when they likely wouldn’t. That was just the way it went, false promises and niceties.