He shrugged. “The girl, the Shield, is with child.”

“Heard what?” Connor shifted uncomfortably and his face contorted in concern. “Is she alright?”

“Sarah… lost the child,” I said, tactfully. If he hadn’t heard the rumors, he didn’t need to know that it was self-induced.

“She lost it?” The emotion that took over his face surprised me. He actually seemed concerned about it.

“She did. And her main concern, all the way through, was that you would hurt her if it got out that it was yours.”

“Listen to me.” I took a deep breath and leaned over my desk to be closer to him. “Nobody wants Selene dead more than me. And nobody knows how much I need your help more than me. I’m using my school and my otherwise unsuspecting actors for another more sinister reason. I cannot have them in any more danger than they already are. On top of that, Sarah is my secret weapon. If I thought she was in any danger, I would make sure she wasn’t. Is that clear?”

“Sarah is also Amy’s best friend, and I would lay down my life for Amy in an instant. And she trumps everything; this battle against Selene, this school, everything. It’s always Amy. Amy always wins. And so I can’t have even a whisper of a threat against Sarah. You’ll have to go. You and Isabelle. You are no longer welcome in this alliance.”

I shook my head. “I can’t, Connor, I just can’t. Selene will be dead one way or another, but we can’t operate this way.”

“Liam!” Now his voice rose. “I never made a threat against Sarah. Never. I would have never done so. I-I love her.”

I raised an eyebrow. “You never told her anything of the sort?”

“Never,” he replied, his eyes wide and honest. “I would never do such a thing. I am a man of honor, and if there was a child, I would make sure that it would be taken care of.”

He didn’t behave much like a man of honor. But years of dramatic acting had taught me that there were some things people couldn’t fake.

“One minute,” I said, and picked up my phone, dialing Sarah’s hospital room number.

She picked up immediately. “Liam?” she asked, her voice full of concern. “What’s the matter?”

She sounded so different than the self-assured girl I admitted to my school, and my heart broke for what she had to go through. After I had stormed out, neither of the girls were really speaking to me, so she must have assumed that something was really wrong if I called her.

“Sarah, you told me Connor threatened you. Is that true?”

“Yes.” Her voice quivered. “He left me a note under the door.”

“A note?” I raised my eyebrow. “Sarah, do you still have it?”

“I threw it in my trashcan before I… got sick,” she replied. “And I haven’t taken it out yet.”

“Do I have your permission to get it?” I asked, trying to be polite as possible.

“Whatever.” She hung up on me.

I rolled my eyes, turning to Connor. I took a pen out of my desk and pushed a piece of paper towards him.

“Write something and sign your name.”

“Just write Sarah’s name and sign your name.”

I felt like I was threatening schoolchildren who wrote on desks. Obediently, he wrote what I asked. I rose and retrieved a file from the filing cabinet, and then took his paper.

“Now, I’m going to lock you in here. It won’t be for long, alright? I’m just not going to take any chances.”

“Fine.” Connor crossed his arms, leaning back in his chair.

I dug the keys out of my pocket and turned the lock on the door before striding down the hallway to the dorms.

If someone had told me four years ago that my life would be like this, I would have laughed. I had thought at my age, I would be hitting the night clubs hard, or maybe married to a model. Or ten of them. But dealing with delinquent vampires, miscarriages, and teenage angst was nowhere on my list.

Sarah’s dorm room was a mess, which didn’t surprise me. The walls were covered with posters, and the floors with clothes. I had a feeling she was going to be one of the students who we had to hire a cleaning crew for at the end of the year.

Her garbage can was near her desk. Wincing, I dug in, moving around hair from her hairbrush, an empty package of Gravol, and then, there, a folded piece of paper.

As soon as I unfolded it, I could see that Connor was telling the truth. I wasn’t a handwriting expert, but there was nothing even remotely similar about the two papers.

Placing my file on her desk, I opened it, slowly flipping through it. All the vampires had filled out admission or staff forms, and so I had all their writings. I squinted, trying to compare letters, sizes, scrawls.

When I found it, it was obvious. The cursive script was old style, with perfectly made letters. The ‘o’s were crossed through and the ‘i’s were dotted. She had struck me as smart, but I had also thought her English wasn’t that good. Whether she had an accomplice or not, it didn’t matter.

It had been Isabelle who wrote the letter to Sarah, threatening her life and the life of the child. Isabelle, dangerous little Isabelle. The more I found out about her, the more I disliked. I had Connor trapped in my office, but it was Isabelle I had to find.

My phone rang then, and it was the hospital. My heart leaping into my mouth, I answered.

“Liam, it’s Sarah. Reception just called me. It’s Isabelle. She’s on her way up. Why would she come here? Do you think she knows?”

“Sarah,” the words tumbled out. “Don’t let her in.”

“I think it might be too late for that. She can’t hurt me, right? It’s daylight, she’s human.”

“We’re still stronger than humans, Sarah.” I thought wildly. “Listen to me. Do you have an IV line in?”

“Pull the needle out, slash your arm. If you have a heart monitor, cut it so you get people rushing in there. Do anything you need to increase your Shield powers, and get yourself surrounded by people. Do not let Isabelle in there alone with you, ok?”

“Ok.” She sounded frightened, but hung up the phone.

I moved as fast as I could, dialing Amy’s number, but it went straight to voicemail. I growled, and tried again. Again, to voicemail. She was either ignoring me or had it off. And while she had every right to ignore me, I wished that she would do anything but that.

Suddenly, I turned on my heel, went two doors down and pounded on her dorm room door. It was a long shot, she was probably in class, but it was worth a try.

The door opened, and she stood, looking unimpressed.

“Sarah’s in trouble. Let’s go.” I grabbed her wrist, pulling her out the door and leaving her stammering as we flew towards the parking lot.

I explained as fast as I could as I drove like a mad man, being caught by about 10 speed cameras on the way. In between explaining to Amy, I dialed numbers recklessly, looking for another weapon. Anyone who picked up was instructed to meet us at the hospital.

I nearly cut off an ambulance pulling into the hospital parking lot. Amy was hot on my heels as we ran through the lobby.

Sarah’s room was on the 3rd floor. When we reached it, I could already tell something was horribly wrong. The floor was abandoned and eerily quiet. I put my arm around Amy, who seemed so small in comparison.

“Stay close to me,” I mouthed and she nodded, looking around in fear.

Blood wafted to my nostrils and I had to fight every instinct I had to not enjoy it. When we reached the nurses’ station, Amy jumped, but to her credit, did not scream. A nurse lay in a pool of her own blood behind the desk, her throat gouged out in true vampire fashion.

I knew that older vampires had more control over their transformation, but I didn’t think that they could do such a thing at 10 in the morning. So either Isabelle could and I had a lot to learn about vampires, or she was a cold-blooded killer when she was human as well.

Movement at the end of the hall alerted me, and I looked up to see Thomas De Ritter standing there, his eyes meeting mine, those same eyes that his daughter had often gazed at me with.

“Amy,” I mouthed, and she looked up to see him approach.

Out of respect for the head of the Shields, and because I didn’t want to start a war, I bowed my head. Thomas’s eyes darted around until they rested on Sarah’s hospital room. I nodded, and slowly, we approached.

Thomas was not as powerful as his daughter, but he was more powerful than Sarah, whose power I couldn’t even feel.

We crept up to the window, afraid of what we might find.

Isabelle was standing beside Sarah’s bed. Sarah, clearly alive, looked terrified by Isabelle’s words. I nodded to Thomas and held up three fingers.

He nodded back, and waited for my signal.

When the time was right, we both leapt in. Thomas grabbed Isabelle before she could get any closer to Sarah. I heard her shriek an ungodly shriek. Amy immediately ran to Sarah, making sure she was alright, while I faced Isabelle, who was struggling. Luckily, whatever superhuman strength she possessed was neutralized by Thomas.

“Isabelle,” I spoke carefully. “I can’t have you threatening my plan against Selene, which Sarah is instrumental in.”

I shook my head. “Not appropriate language for my students. Your participation in this plan is no more, Isabelle.”

“Connor will save me!” she cried, her voice heavily accented. “You will regret this!”

“Your husband handed you over,” I replied. “And now I see why. You’re a right bitch to deal with.”