“He said I was weird and ignored me for the next 5 hours.”
I laughed. Sarah never cared what other people thought of her, and I was sure that was what made her so successful as an actor. She had a confidence I never had. She never second-guessed herself, or made a plan B, C and D. If she wanted something, she went for it, like she deserved it, and it worked well for her.
I pointed out a few landmarks as we got closer to the school. I promised to take her on a tour of the best places to eat and shop once we were settled in. When the cab pulled up in front of Leopard Academy, we got out, holding an arm over our heads to try and stop the light rain from soaking us through. Inside, Sarah looked around in awe.
“Wow. It’s also more beautiful in person. Where’s Liam?”
“You’ll meet him later. And also, you’ve seen this before,” I said, steering her down the right hallway to the dorms. “Remember? That night I took you on a webcam tour and we stumbled upon Liam?”
“Right. The beginning of your torrid love affair,” she teased me.
I rolled my eyes. “Sure, you could say that.”
“It does look different though.”
“Well, that door has been repainted,” I pointed out, and then, on a whim, twisted the knob. It opened and we both stuck our heads inside the Red Theater.
“This is where we did Beauty and the Beast. This is where it all went down.”
Of course, I had told Sarah everything. There were three late night calls in a row, the first two with her sitting there bewildered, asking if I was on drugs. But by the third call, when I was in tears, after Porsche’s death, she finally believed me. Vampires, witches, Shields and werewolves all existed, even if we didn’t want them to. I thought Sarah was brave for still applying, despite it all. But looking at her, with her piercings and jet black hair, maybe she thought she would fit right in to this evil world that was brewing in Leopard Academy.
We were almost at the dorms when I stopped, patting my pockets in disbelief.
“Ah, no,” I said, shaking my head. “I think you might get your wish to meet Liam sooner rather than later.”
“Because I seem to have lost your room key. We could go to the Don, but they would just call Liam anyway since he has the spares. Come on.”
“Can I leave this here?” she pleaded with me, indicating her heavy bag.
Sarah left her bag leaning up against the wall and then followed me back down the winding hallway to Liam’s office.
“I can’t believe it. I’m an idiot,” I apologized to her. “You’re exhausted and probably just want to sleep after a transatlantic flight.”
“What do you think I did for the 5 hours the cute boy ignored me?” she asked.
“Right… Here we are.” I walked into Liam’s outer office, Sarah in tow. I nodded to the secretary, who had long stopped trying to get me to wait, and knocked on Liam’s door twice and then walked in.
He was on the phone, his elbows on the desk as he listened with a bored expression to whoever was on the other end. Seeing me, he gave me a smile and held up two fingers. I nodded, leaning up against the wall, and turned my head to Sarah.
“Uh… huh… huh… Yes, alright, I’ll do that. Thank you for the call.” Liam finally hung up and turned his attention to us. “Amy?”
“Hey. I lost Sarah’s key because I’m dumb. You have a spare, right? And uh… This is Sarah, by the way.”
“It’s nice to meet you.” Liam extended his hand across the desk, standing up. Sarah reached to shake it. Their hands met and I saw an odd expression cross Liam’s face, just for a fraction of a second. And then the smile returned.
“Sarah, how nice to finally meet you. Your application was stunning.”
“It’s nice to meet you, too,” she replied. “You’re stunning!”
But Liam only grinned as he came out from behind the desk and opened a cabinet on the wall, which had several keys hanging inside of it.
“It’s ok, Amy, that’s the least harmful thing I’ve heard this term. It’s like the admission office purposely found people who were my fans. It’s worse this year than ever before.”
“Well, we did make a huge splash with Beauty and the Beast,” I pointed out. “If anyone had forgotten about you, it kind of brought you back to fame. You think I should watch my back in the hall?”
“No more than usual.” He winked at me, handing me a master key for the dorms on our floor. “You can use that for now until we can get a proper one cut for you. Maybe Sarah should hold it.”
“Indeed you are.” He grinned at me. “I’ll see you at dinner. Around 5’ish?”
“Sure.” I reached up to give him a kiss on the cheek. He turned, a mischievous grin on his face, and kissed me on the lips.
I blushed, lowering back down from my tip toes. “See you later.”
“Bye girls,” he said, returning to his desk.
Grabbing Sarah’s wrist and applying a little force, I dragged her from the room. She could barely contain herself.
“That was awesome!” she exclaimed, as soon as we were in the hallway.
“He’s not that cool,” I replied. “He leaves towels on the floor after the shower and plates of food lying around. He also forgets to pick up lettuce every time he grocery shops.”
“Can I join you two on your dinner date? I don’t mind being a third wheel!”
“No!” I giggled, shaking my head. “But if you unpack fast enough, I’ll take you out shopping. There’s a bunch of stuff you need to see that they only sell around here. Or we can go to a movie tonight. After dark. After Liam… ya know.”
She nodded, grabbing her suitcase again as I fit the key in the lock, and swung open her door. Identical to mine, with the makeup mirror and small dance floor, Sarah gasped.
“This is going to be amazing!”
I watched my best friend explore her room. I felt ecstatic. The final piece of the puzzle was in place. I was finally home.
I had thought that I felt something odd when I shook Sarah’s hand, but I couldn’t be one hundred percent sure. Whatever it was, it was weak, untrained and unfocused. Judging by the way she dressed and what seemed like a strategic placing of piercings, I wondered if she was a witch, untrained and unknown. Witches were a lot more frequent than people realized, their bloodlines and powers easily transferred to other bodies. There had been fifteen original Witch families when they came into power nearly 2000 years ago, and God knows how many descendants since then.
I didn’t think this girl was out to do me any harm, however. Amy had known her half her life, and although she knew all about me and my kind, thanks to Amy, she had never been curious. Amy had told me she was mostly disbelieving, and it had taken a lot of convincing, so unless the girl was an actress all the time, even to her best friend, then she wasn’t aware she was a witch. We had a few of them at the school, diluted bloodlines of pupils who weren’t even aware of it. There was one in second grade, training to be a dancer, who didn’t know it was her powers that were making her jump higher than any of the other kids in her class. I didn’t feel the need to tell her. If the little girl could go through life blissfully unaware of a mythical existence, it would probably be for the better.
And so I forgot all about it, until the first week of classes. One of my dance teachers called me at 6 am, just as I was coming out of transformation, and begged me for a sick day. Without a substitute at the last minute, I moved some meetings around to be available to teach. It was an open dance class, meant for senior non-dancers who were taking it as part of a performance major. Amy and Sarah were both a part of the class, and when I texted my girlfriend in the morning, she texted back a smiley face and exclamation marks. Minutes later, a picture text arrived.
Opening it, my eyes nearly fell out of my head. It was Amy, clearly taken just a few seconds ago. She was wearing a dance leotard that I knew was not her own, fashionably shredded in the back, her hand on her hip and her body arched. She had clearly run next door to Sarah’s room, not that I was complaining. She looked stunning, every curve emphasized. Managing to pick my jaw off the ground, I sent her a quick message.
What would you wear if I wasn’t teaching?
A few minutes passed and then my phone beeped again. Amy in an oversized tee-shirt that came down to her knees.
I laughed, sending her back Love you. Despite barely returning to my human form, she always knew how to make me feel wonderful.
The dance class was the last class of the day, and with winter coming, darkness fell early. I had already planned to end the class fifteen minutes early, just in case I needed extra time to get out safely. But, as the day went on, the sun became obscured by rain clouds and the day grew grey and depressing. While it wasn’t true darkness my transformation would still be on time, as predicted. I always found dark days harder to deal with. I could often feel the twitch of the fangs in my mouth or the faint lust for blood. Nothing was terribly distracting, but it was there all day and it started to wear on me by day’s end.
When the time came, I made my way to the dance studio, already cursing the offending teacher for being late. I could dance, but it was more Broadway style than proper ballet. She had sent me a lesson plan that would be a group dance scene for Phantom of the Opera that everyone should know, whether they were cast as a lead or a chorus member. So I decided to show a video on the projector for the class.
Amy and Sarah were at the front, Amy in Sarah’s leotard. I couldn’t drag my eyes away from her, and I knew I had to. Not that it was a secret anymore that we were together, but I still wanted to remain professional. I could smell her infected blood and it made me feel calm, the small cravings almost disappearing.