When we finally did, it was only because we could barely catch our breaths, the passion having broken like a swell of waves on a beach. I felt completely satisfied, lying there in the sunlight, and never getting up. Amy was lying with her head on my shoulder, her eyes half-closed, and her body relaxed.
She laughed. “Yes. But even though I want to stay here…”
“You need to go. The world of film beckons.” I gently hoisted her up and went to retrieve our clothing. Once dressed, we made our way back to the car. “Man, I hope there was no paparazzi.”
She snorted. “At least this time it would be an accurate shot, not a fabricated story.”
“And what would that story be?” I asked cautiously.
She smiled up at me. “The headline would be something like, Amy and Liam, back together again, question mark.”
“Ahh, question mark,” I replied as I held the door open for her, and then slid into the driver’s seat. “Well, that is the question.”
“It doesn’t have to be.” She took my hand as I started the car. “I mean… if we take it slow. I think I would be willing to give it another go. If you’re okay with that.”
I laughed. “If I’m okay with that? Really? It’s pretty much been the only thing on my mind.”
“I hope not, we’ve got a show soon.” She giggled, and then turned solemn. “Do you really think we can pull this off? Without the others?”
I turned down the road that led us back to civilization; back to the real world; or at least, as close as we could get with me being a vampire. It was the last place I really wanted to go right now. But looking at Amy, with her shining eyes, and quiet beauty, I knew that we’d be alright in the end.
“I think, together, my love, we can make anything work.”
She nodded, staring off into the distance. “Then let’s do it.”
I squeezed her hand, getting up to speed as we drove back towards the school, where it all started. Whatever Selene had in store, she was not stronger than what was between us. Selene operated on hate and lust, and that was a world I would never live in again.
I hated dress rehearsal day, always have and probably always will, no matter what side of the stage I was on. Today, I was just as nervous as when I was ten years old and doing my first show as a talking tree.
Christmas had been like the calm before the storm. Peter and I had joined Amy and her father for Christmas lunch and then exchanged presents after the meal in Amy’s father’s home. It was fascinating, to listen to her Christmas memories, growing up, and then share my own. A candle was lit by her mother’s picture, as Amy told me this was the tradition every Christmas. But this year, she told me she wasn’t as sad as she normally was. There wasn’t that moment of silence. I didn’t want to ask how much she had shared with her father, and she didn’t tell me. She knew that sharing our secrets were forbidden, that the elders would crack down just as hard. But when they talked about her mother over the meal, there was more happiness than previous times. Perhaps he was comforted simply by knowing his dead wife’s spirit was watching over them. Adding that his daughter was dating a nightwalker; a creature of the undead, was probably not the best thing to do. I felt like it was her news to share and didn’t prod her for information. I figured when she was ready, she would tell me what he knew. But judging by the fact that he didn’t greet me at the door with a crossbow and wooden stake, I figured he didn’t know the whole story… yet.
It was one of the things we had discussed, late into the night as the chains bit into my wrist. How long before our secret would come out to her father and to the school, and what we would do when it did. It was never an if. Amy and I accepted that one day we would have to run away and hide for good, to die in the eyes of society. But that day was not this day; and in the face of the 48 point to do list, that day seemed a lot less scary.
Replacing some of the cast at the last minute had been tough, especially with some of the routine being highly choreographed. But the vampires had left gaps in the scenes, and I had to do some fast shuffling around to fill them, including the entire party scene. We still had Connor, which I thanked God for, and he was still enough to lure Selene on stage, and drag her off into the wings, weakened by Sarah’s powers, and untempted by Amy’s blood. At least, I hoped he was. In the wings, I would be waiting, fangs gleaming. For tonight, Sarah would bind herself to me.
Binding a Shield was like using a coupon code: it only worked once. The witch who we had enlisted explained to me that it was more about changing my body chemistry than Sarah’s. I would be both immune to her power and immune to any others, including a werewolf bite or a witch’s spell while she was around. So while Selene was withering in the weakness of being human, I would be in full transformation.
When I found out it only worked once, I thought for sure that Connor was going to beat me into a pulp. The relationship between Sarah and Connor had developed into something quite deep and quite serious. The conversation that I heard them having surprised me; they were already planning well into their future. Part of it worried me; after all, Sarah was a rebound girl after a 500 year relationship. But Connor was showing no signs of distress, and it made me wonder if there really was The One for everyone.
And if there was, Amy was certainly it for me.
Things had been amazing since our waterfall picnic. I wouldn’t say things were the same, because they weren’t. There were little differences here and there; she was different than before, and yet, it was a difference I liked.
The theater was already in full chaos mode when I got there. Everyone seemed to be going in different directions and shouting different things at each other. I heard at least four conflicting instructions before I made it to the stage.
“Alright, everyone, listen up!” I called, my voice ricocheting off the walls. Everyone turned. “I’m going to go through this from the top in thirty minutes. That means you have fifteen minutes to finish what you are doing and then I expect everyone to be in costumes. So let’s get moving!”
I was fixing Amy’s front lace corset, admiring the view from above, when I heard the door open.
A quiet, deep voice answered me back, “I think we’re part of the show.”
I looked up, stunned, to find Steve and the others standing at the door, en masse. Grabbing Amy’s arm, and ignoring her cry of surprise as her corset was half open, we flew down the stairs towards them. Steve stepped forward from the group, bowing his head.
“Liam, please accept our apology. We have acted foolishly.”
I stood, stunned, my arm around Amy. “Steve, no one is forcing you to return. If you don’t choose to fight this battle…”
“This is our battle to fight, and we were foolish to forget it,” he said, and the others nodded. I found the older a vampire was, the less they tended to say. “That is, if there is still a place for us.”
“I’m sure we could manage something.” I smiled, reaching out to shake his hand. “Thank you, guys.”
“Thank you,” Amy piped up from beside me, smiling up at them. I was glad that she seemed relieved; I had wondered if she would be angry at them for abandoning us. “I can take care of it, Liam. Connor and Sarah can integrate them back into the show, I’m sure.”
“That’s great.” I glanced back to the stage, where Connor and Sarah were descending down the steps to greet them.
Soon there was more chaos, as others noticed their former classmates had returned. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I stuck my head into the hallway to look for a costumer and came face to face with Thomas DeRitter and about thirty Shields behind him. Even though it was daytime, the force of their power stopped me in my tracks.
“What are you doing here?”
Thomas smiled so slightly that if I blinked, I would have missed it.
“Since we are part of the show, we thought we should be around to see how it would go.”
“You’re just going to be ushers,” I blurted out, and then immediately regretted my words, from the look on his face. “But of course, you can come in… Thank you for coming.”
“Selene’s ticket is not confirmed until closing night, is that correct?”
“Yeah.” I held open the door and they glided in, as if they were royalty.
The remaining vampires on the stage turned, feeling their power, and I signaled briefly to leave it be. Still, they couldn’t help but stare at the Shields, coming in single file and standing as if they were waiting for someone to pull out the chairs for them. Even I felt diminished in their presence, there was something regal about them. There was also something stuck up about them, and I exchanged a glance with Amy, who was warming up. She smiled at me, reassuringly.
“If you want to sit here,” I said, “and watch the first run-through of the show, you’ll have a better idea of what is happening when. But it’s the party scene, like we discussed, and you’ll see Connor come into the audience to get someone…”
Thomas nodded, and they filed in, sitting and crossing their arms, as if theater was the lowest form of entertainment possible. I decided to leave them be, and headed backstage.
“Alright, everyone who is not actually in this production, it’s time to clear out, now!” I bellowed, moving through the wings. My heart was pounding in anticipation as the lights dimmed and I heard the opening strains of music start.
To my relief, none of the vampires seemed to have forgotten their roles and blended in perfectly with the actors. And my actors were trained enough to step back and make roles of their own. There were few times when I felt I was doing a good job, and this was one of them.
Somewhere in the second scene, I came down from the wings to sit beside Thomas, who was watching the stage with fascination.
“My daughter…” he said in a half-strangled voice, “was she as brilliant as they say?”