“Liam,” Thomas said, his face neutral. “I will make sure to hand this one over to the proper authorities. After we are done with her.”

I bit my lip. Thomas was essentially asking for payment for his participation. To leave a vampire in the hands of the Shields was torture, excruciating pain, guaranteed.

But I knew that it was the right thing to do after looking at Amy and Sarah, both with tears running down her face.

Thomas glanced to Sarah and then back at me. “A word, Liam, if you please,” he asked.

I nodded, my chest tightening at what he might say.

We went out into the hall, Isabelle struggling the whole way. The smell of blood was everywhere since Isabelle had slaughtered the whole staff. I knew I would have to sneak Amy out of here. I didn’t want her to see any more than she had to see.

“Why did you call me to protect an O’Malley Shield?”

My jaw fell open. “The O’Malley bloodline is dead, at least 600 years. Porsche told me that after the whole clan betrayed the coven, they were… taken care of.”

The O’Malleys were one of the old Shield bloodlines that were since long gone. In their case, they had chosen, as Porsche did, to work in conjunction with vampires. The rest of the Shield families had made sure they did not live to see the dawn. It was a bloody massacre, and they were rarely talked about it.

I found it almost ironic how the Shields could call vampires monsters, and hold them so high and mighty, and yet have such a bloody history.

“And there were supposed to be no survivors. But there is always one or two that escape. What you have in there is a diluted O’Malley Shield. Did you know that?”

I almost blushed. “We knew… something, that she was something. But we traced family history and couldn’t find anything. We figured she was some diluted passive Shield.”

“She is diluted and passive. The O’Malley’s wouldn’t have active Shields anymore. But she is still a Shield, and she belongs with us. We will not lose another one to your cause.”

“I-I uh...” I was at a loss for words. “Sarah knows what she is, and she chooses to stay with us.”

“A Shield’s fate is not up to them.” He shifted the struggling Isabelle as if she were a rag doll. “She’s likely never been educated in our ways.”

“Even those disgraced can still find their way back to light,” Thomas replied. “The terms of our agreement have changed, Liam. You have not been entirely truthful with me. For us to continue our partnership, I need the truth from here on out.”

I bowed my head. “Of course. My apologies.”

“And when our treaty has ended, upon on Selene’s death, the O’Malley Shield will be coming with us.”

This made my jaw fall open, and it even seemed to shock Isabelle, who stopped struggling long enough to look up at Thomas.

“I…” I searched his eyes but saw that he was completely serious. Like his daughter, he was stubborn. I knew that if I did not agree to this, Thomas De Ritter and his Shields would walk away from our deal. And so I nodded and prayed I would have time to figure out a way around this.

“Sarah will be yours,” I agreed. “She deserves to hear both sides of the story, I think, at the very least, and choose where she wants to be.”

“I’m glad you agree.” Thomas nodded and then without warning hit Isabelle on the back of the head, knocking her out. He swooped her up in his arms, as if she weighed nothing and turned on his heel, wordlessly, leaving me standing alone in the hallway.

Taking a deep breath and hoping that I hadn’t just signed Sarah’s death warrant, I headed into the room.

As an actor, I almost always knew what to feel. Emotions were obvious and came easily, often with scripted words and actions. I knew what to draw on, how to feel, and what to do. But as we left the hospital, I was at a loss.

We had given our statements to the police a hundred times. That Sarah called us, upset, and we had come right over, only to find this scene and a frightened Sarah. As long as the hospital didn’t have security cameras in that room to check, it seemed that we would get away with our story.

“Do you really think that Thomas De Ritter will hand Isabelle over to the authorities?” I asked.

Liam shook his head. “He will hand her body over to the police. The Shields will not let her live.”

I drew in a deep breath as we walked away to the car. I hated to leave Sarah, but it had to be done. If we stayed and whispered to her any longer, it would have looked suspicious.

“What are you going to tell Connor?”

“The truth,” he replied, getting in the car, and looking at the clock as it turned on. “Sites is on in half an hour.”

“Oh my God, I almost forgot.” I buried my head in my face. “I don’t know if I can watch it.”

“Amy.” He took my hand as we drove. “You need something to take your mind off today.”

I glanced at him. He was so handsome, muscular forearms bared as he drove.

“Liam… I’m sorry that we fought.”

He let out a huge breath, nodding. “I’m sorry too, Amy. I never should have said those things.”

“All couples fight. Probably about different things, but they do fight.” I offered him a small smile. “We’ll be ok.”

“I hope so.” He grinned at me. “Otherwise, I’ll have no Meg Giry for the show.”

I smacked him. “That’s all you think about?’

Just then, my cell phone rang. Looking at the caller ID, I furrowed my brow. “I don’t know who this is. Wait,” I said, pressing talk. “Hello?”

“Amy, this is Steven Caf, I’m the head of casting for Ranger.”

“Yes?” My voice must have gone up about three octaves.

“Amy, we’d love to have you out to play Cassandra Winters. She’s a reoccurring character and right now has a seven episode arc with a strong possibility of extension. The show films here in the city, and we’d probably need you about three days a week.”

I made a noise that I didn’t even recognize, somewhere between a squawk and a screech. Liam gave me a funny look as a thousand questions went through my head, as I tried to figure out what to ask him. The first thing that came to mind was my school schedule.

“Um… would… mornings, five days a week work for you?” I asked. “I mean, I’m in school, but I’m potentially free every morning,” I said, even though it meant that I would be killing myself with my independent study. And how was I going to go to class for the lectures I needed?

“Potentially. I’m sure we can work something out, Amy. I’m going to email you all the details, since it says you’re unrepresented?”

“Liam,” I blurted out. “I’m at Leopard Academy, so Liam is the one who represents us, the headmaster.”

“I’ll speak to him. But do you accept the role?”

“Yes!” Now the excitement was flowing through my body. “Thank you.”

“Great, Amy. We’ll see you on set later this month. Congratulations.”

“Thank you!” I squeaked again, and then hung up, turning to Liam. “I got the part! Oh my God, I’m going to be on Ranger!”

He grinned at me. “For how long?”

“For at least 7 episodes. But oh my God, what am I going to do about school?”

“Do your independent study on that,” he said.

“Uh, no,” I replied. “I thought maybe doing it on the history of triple threat performers or…”

“Do it on your experience in general,” he suggested. “Homeschooling to theater schooling, to returning to school after a summer in professional theater, and now, trying to maintain an education while being on a hit TV show. Write it like an essay, with anecdotes and all the things you’ve learned, tips and tricks, things that were hard, things that weren’t.”

I took a deep breath, leaning back in my seat. “How would I propose that?”

Liam laughed. “I’m sitting right beside you, and I am the proposal committee. I approve 60,000 words and you have until June.”

“Deal.” I grinned, playing with my phone. I wanted to text everyone I knew, but Liam had taught me to wait until things were real, until I had the paperwork and everything. “Oh my God!”

“Tell me about the part,” he prompted as we cruised down the road.

I thought back to the audition. “She’s uh…” I laughed then. “She’s an angry cop, I think. A tough girl. And I was pretty damn angry with you at the audition, so it all poured out. I guess, convincingly.”

“I really hope we don’t have to fight every morning before you film,” he replied.

“Do you think you can work something out with them?” I asked. “So that both rehearsal schedule and school and filming work out?”

“Yes.” He nodded. “Although it won’t be easy, I’ll make it work.” He gave me a look then that confused me.

“Nothing. I’m proud of you. And a little jealous. I miss all that life.”

“I should call Deon,” I said, referring to my ex-costar who now had a long running part on another show.

Liam laughed at that. “Deon kind of did the opposite of what you want to do. He quit school, remember, to be on the show?”

“Right.” I remembered vividly the moment he got his call, how it seemed his life had changed forever. And now those emotions were mine.

We pulled into the parking lot of the school, and Liam locked the car, taking my arm as we walked into the dorm entrance. We only had a few hours until the sun fully set, and I felt light and free. Liam was by my side, we had hours to spend together. I had missed class today and didn’t die, so clearly I could work something out with Ranger. Everything was going to be alright.