“And how is Sarah?” His opinion of Sarah hadn’t risen too much since her hospitalization and the police report. He didn’t know the whole story, but the times he met me for lunch and saw Sarah and Connor sucking face, he could probably figure some of it out.

“She’s better.” I looked at my watch. “We should go back up. They will probably be calling us soon.”

We were taken into Dr. Martin’s office just as it closed, being ushered in as the secretary locked the door.

I could see him through the door, paging through my test results and entering notes into the computer. I swung my feet against the bed and my father smiled.

“You used to do that when you were a little kid, remember? Only a lot louder. The whole office could hear you and I used to have to buy you a lollipop to get you to stop.”

After not too long, Dr. Martin came in with my file and a stack of papers. He did not look happy and I knew that all my suspicions were true.

“Well?” I asked, eager to get this over with.

He sighed. “Well, Amy, your T cell count is low and your blood tests show the disease has progressed. It looks like we are in the early stages now, so no need to worry too much. There’s a lot we can do to…”

I let him drone on and on, but I wasn’t listening. It didn’t matter what medications he had to offer, or what the statistics said nowadays, or what I could or couldn’t do.

The truth of the matter was right in front of me: I had AIDS.

The car ride home was silent, except in the middle, when Father asked where I wanted to sleep. I asked to be taken to his house and he agreed.

From there, I went straight up to my childhood bedroom, where I lay with my phone in my hand for quite a few minutes before rolling over and texting Sarah.

She responded immediately. I love you. Remember that.

I smiled, and we went back and forth for about 45 minutes, never once hearing each other’s voices. This was the way it used to be, Sarah and me, before all this complexity came in. Before Liam, and school and relationships, it was just Sarah and me, our personalities coming through the texts, as we shared every detail of our day through our phones. All the awkwardness and anger of the previous weeks melted away.

I knew I should text Liam, but I didn’t want to. How was it his business anymore? Of course, I still loved and cared about him, but he had made it clear that he was in a different place in his life right now, and there was no room for me in it. So instead, I scrolled down my contacts and texted Drago.

After a few minutes and in between texts to Sarah, he responded.

For you? Anything. Want me to bring food? Where are you?

I smiled, sitting up. Perhaps a good meal, or a weird meal, with two close friends was exactly what I needed. I confirmed with Sarah that she was free, and then texted Drago back, giving him my father’s address.

Be there in 20 minutes was the response.

I smiled, feeling better already and went to my closet, where there were still some clothes. No matter what the situation was, I still had friends that I could be close to, that could make me laugh no matter what. A night out with Sarah and Drago was just what I needed.

My phone beeped again and I went over to check it, assuming it was one of them. But instead, it was Liam.

That was all it said. I didn’t think that my heart could pound any louder after today, but it leaped into my throat.

And yet, at the same time, I didn’t want to go. The days of rushing to Liam’s side to fix yet another issue of a world I wasn’t apart of was over. After the show, I was pretty sure I would be leaving school and not coming back.

I’ll tell you when you get here.

I sighed, rolling my eyes. Typical Liam. And yet, Liam never made a mountain out of a molehill. If it was serious, it was serious. It seemed like he sent a mass text to everyone, so I simply replied ok and went back to getting dressed. I wasn’t going to let him ruin my evening, not with so few evenings left.

I paced the stage at 1 pm as the others arrived. When Connor had told me that the other vampires wanted to speak with me, I assumed it had to do with the plan, and so I decided to arrange for a whole cast meeting. I knew that Amy had to film Ranger, so I arranged a breakfast meeting when most of them would be coming out of their transformations with the rising sun.

Amy came in first with Sarah, and neither girl looked like they had slept much. The scent of death wafting from Amy grew stronger every day, and from the look on her face today, I knew she had learned something about it. It just about killed me to not ask her how she was feeling, or what was wrong. Once upon a time, I could practically read Amy’s mind, but now times were different. I felt like I couldn’t trust her anymore. I knew all about Drago from the summer Gatsby tour, and even though I knew she was probably telling the truth, I couldn’t help but wonder if that compromising picture was more than she claimed it was.

After all, I remembered clearly being her age, being young and free and off on my first tour. And I remembered all the girls I bedded during that tour. I knew how the media could be, of course, but I also knew that each article had at least some semblance of truth in it. They had the picture as proof. I wasn’t accusing Amy of sleeping around. I knew that she wouldn’t, not with a human in any case. But she had been so far away from me, and we were such different people that I wondered if she was looking for a way out that summer. And in a way, I thought she deserved it. This boy was human, in nearly the same place in his life, working side by side with her every day. I pictured them staying together at night, no last minute kiss goodbye as the sun set, no transformation. It made me angry, and yet, I couldn’t help but feel like I deserved to be betrayed. Amy deserved a better future than being with a vampire, a creature of darkness, when she represented light and life. Perhaps she and I being apart was for the best. So why did I feel so angry at this other man in the picture with her?

Everyone filed in by 1:15, which made me smirk. They had coffee cups and paper plates in hand as they juggled their backpacks. I thought about how well they were adapting to student life. They certainly looked like students, slurping coffee at 1 pm in the afternoon as if they had just woken up.

“So, here I am,” I said, holding out my arms as everyone sat down. “A few of you asked to meet, so I figured you had questions that we could all sort out.”

“Actually.” Steven stood up, clearing his throat and looking around sheepishly. The others gave him an encouraging nod. “Liam, is it true you were visited by the elders?”

“Yes.” I shrugged. “It’s sorted out now, don’t worry about it.”

“You were visited by the elders?” Amy called out, raising an eyebrow.

Once upon a time, she was privy to all information at the school. But not being on speaking terms with the headmaster kind of killed that idea. She knew all about the elders, since I had told her once.

“Yes. But it’s taken care of.” I met her eyes.

I didn’t need to tell her that they had nearly ripped my head off for her knowing about vampires, and I didn’t need to tell her how we got around it. What I really wanted to do was wrap her in my arms and keep her safe and take care of her. Even now, she looked exhausted.

“Liam, there is one thing we fear more than Selene and respect more than our sire and that is the Elders,” Steve said in a trembling voice. “Many of us feel that the elders’ visit has rained disapproval on this plan. And we cannot kill Selene but live our lives in fear of the elders.”

“What?” I glanced to Connor, who was taking it all in.

Connor raised his voice. “As Liam has said, the elders visit had nothing to do with our plan. They were here for Liam and Liam alone.”

“Then why is Liam not dead?”

“Because it was taken care of, as I said.” I really didn’t want to tell them, but it looked like they were giving me no choice. “Who feels this way?”

A group of them shuffled together towards Steve, and I realized that by ‘many of us’ he meant every single vampire except for Connor.

“Liam is the leader of this coven,” Connor snapped. “You will obey him!”

But the others clearly did not feel that way. Sighing, I rose to my feet.

“The elders visited me for violating the vampire law of secrecy. Two mortals knew of our existence, and they were clearly not happy about it. But we came to an agreement.”

“How?” Steve demanded. “The penalty for violating the law of secrecy is death.”

“By invoking the law of deliverance,” Connor supplied. “The humans Liam had informed smelt of death. They will not carry our secret for long.”

I locked eyes with Amy, and I don’t think I had ever seen such fury than what she carried then. She would have slapped me if I was closer. I could see her hands trembling. Without speaking a word, she rose and took Sarah with her, stomping out of the theater and slamming the door so hard behind her I was worried it might break.

I sighed, burying my face in my hands. When I looked up, the others were whispering to each other.

And then Steve stepped forward. “We’re sorry, Liam. But we can’t risk it. The elders will be around forever, they are truly immortal.”

“But it had nothing to do with the plan!” I protested. “They even wished us luck!”

“And we wish you luck as well, Liam.” Steve bowed his head just the right amount to show respect to a clan leader, which contradicted with his actions because he and the rest turned to go. “We will remove our belongings and be gone in an hour.”

And then it was just Connor and I alone in the theater.

I glanced at him and he sunk into a chair.

“Well that went well,” I said.

He sighed. “We can still execute it without them,” he said. “It’ll just be a lot harder. Thomas De Ritter is still on board?”