Sarah nodded and I reached my hand out.

“Would you… would you mind?” I know my hand was trembling, but it had been so long since I had relief from this pain.

She took my hand again, holding on tight as my fangs slowly sunk back into my mouth. I heaved a huge sigh.

“Do you want me to unlock you?” Amy asked.

I shook my head. “No. No offense, my dear.” I smiled at Sarah. “But the last Shield we had could affect a whole room. For now, it’s only your touch that slowly takes away my powers. Thank you.” I pulled back. “But Sarah… don’t feel like you have to get involved in any of this. It’s not a good life, you can ask Amy. This isn’t all fun and games. There’s a lot of danger and pain involved in this.”

“Are you kidding?” Sarah exclaimed. “Look, Mister, I don’t know who you think you are, but Amy’s my best friend in the whole world. So if she needs my help, you can bet your life, immortal or not, that I’m going to be there for her.”

Amy beamed at Sarah, and I could see the love and loyalty between the two girls clear as day.

“Well then, we have a lot to discuss,” I said. “Please, have a seat.”

“This one.” Sarah pointed to one name in an endless list of names on what seemed like an endless stack of papers. We were lying on her bed, going through print-outs of her entire genealogy. There was a place outside of town that took DNA samples and cross-referenced it with their database. It was incredibly pricey, and to have it cross-referenced with other databases was even more expensive. But Liam had paid for it all, fast tracking it to the front of the line with another fee. When I saw the four figure bill, I had nearly passed out, but he assured me it was fine.

“We need to know who she is before they do,” Liam had told me, as he pocketed the receipt.

“Is there a whole science to this?” I had asked, watching as they put Sarah’s blood sample in a bag and seal it shut. “Like, if she’s not the active Shield… is there a possibility she can become one?”

Liam shrugged. “There’s a possibility she can hone her powers, and if they can be focused well, it could be an indicator that she’s next in line. But there’s nothing definite.”

“And if she’s not an active Shield?” I asked, eagerly. “How strong could she be?”

Liam’s face darkened as he held the door open for me and we left the medical building.

“She will never be Porsche, Amy. Even if she’s active, Porsche was dying, remember? And in a Shield’s weakness, in their utter mortality, comes strength. I doubt, even at her most powerful, Sarah could help us against Selene.”

“But she wants to try.” I protested. “She wants to try, for us.”

“And so she shall,” Liam said, as we got in the car. “But let’s see what the results say first.”

Now, with the results, Sarah and I were trying to make sense of any of the hundreds of names and lines.

“Cameron?” I said, raising an eyebrow. “That’s a whole different bloodline.”

“But look at the date. This guy was born in 1325. Records sucked back then.”

I shook my head. “So it needs to be more recent than that, if we want to know for sure.”

“Problem is Cameron and McIntosh are common names. De Ritter, not so much, but there’s nothing even remotely close here.”

“Sarah,” I said, suddenly noticing the top of her head. We have known each other for years, but I had never seen her hair undyed. Against her dusty white skin, Sarah’s jet black hair stood out, but as I noticed the top of her head, I realized her natural color wasn’t even close. “If I shaved you bald, what color would your hair grow back in?”

She giggled. “You’d never know, because I’d kill you before then. But your ghost might learn that it’s a fire engine red. Horrible color. You know the kids at school used to tell me that gingers had no soul? Are ghosts real?”

“No.” I examined her roots. “The Shields had red hair. I remember at Porsche’s funeral, all of them standing together, it was creepy.”

“So…” She scrunched up her face, trying to come to the same conclusion I did. “It’s not some long lost ancestor that only appeared once.”

“No.” I sat up, looking at the time. “Hey, I have to go.”

“Noooo,” she howled, grabbing onto my wrist.

It made me grin. I didn’t really want to go, but I had booked time in the library to work with some of the original plays Liam had stocked in the archives. I wasn’t sure what my graduate thesis was going to be yet, but it had something to do with those old plays, written on parchment that had drawn me in with their smells, the crinkles of the paper, the running ink. But I was also so glad to have her here: to finally have a best friend beside me.

“I’ll come back later. Liam and I are going to have an early dinner and then you and I can do whatever.”

“Is that weird?” she asked, rolling over and making several papers fall off the bed.

“Never being able to spend the evening with him? Or the night for that matter? I mean, don’t you want to?”

I pulled on my shoes as we talked, tying the laces.

“Of course I want to. But what exactly can I do about it?”

“Well.” She thought, as she scraped her hair into a tiny ponytail. “Can’t Shields make a vampire human?”

I snorted. “Sure. Porsche could have if she hung onto Liam. But what were we supposed to do, ask her to hang on and close her eyes while we got hot and heavy?”

“Can he catch…” she trailed off, and I knew she was referring to my disease; the bane of my existence. Well managed, but looming; one day the HIV would turn to AIDS and I’d have a whole different set of problems on my hands.

“No, which I guess is the only good thing about this.” I laughed, despite myself. “To have a normal relationship, I have to be sleeping with a vampire.”

“No, I know. It’s fine. It’s just… I don’t know, something to think about. Any idea what you’re going to do your senior project on?”

“Probably alternative theater. We can use any resources the school has, right?”

“Sure. It’s a new program, so we pretty much have free reign.”

“Hmm,” she said, and then laughed. “So… it would be in extremely bad taste to do a mimed emo version of Dracula?”

That made me laugh as well as I headed out the door. “I don’t know. Liam could always mime you a zero as your grade then.”

My mood lightened from earlier, I shut the door behind me, shoved my hands in my pockets and headed towards the library.

The library had its own building, isolated from the rest of the campus. It was the oldest building on campus, and the tunnel connecting it was only recently built. Taking my ID badge out, I swiped it at the doors to get through.

Since school was just starting, the tunnel was empty, no one wanting to start their studying before they had to.

I moved quickly, wanting to make my scheduled time, my footsteps echoing through the concrete. One of the lights was flickering and I was making a mental note to tell Liam to get it fixed when I realized that there was another set of footsteps, echoing mine.

I turned around, a smile on my face to greet whoever was making the trek to the library with me. But there was no one there.

I stopped moving and the sound of footsteps stopped. Shaking my head, I started to walk again, telling myself I was going crazy.

But the footsteps were now coming from behind me. They clearly were not mine, out of sync and heavier. I could see no shadows and yet I knew someone was there.

I quickened my pace, trying to hurry to the library, where the friendly librarians and cozy atmosphere would chase away any cobwebs. But before I could reach the double doors at the end of the wall, I heard a very timid voice call out, “Excuse me?”

I turned around and found an unfamiliar face. Probably 16 or 17, tall and lanky, with shaggy brown hair, the boy staring back at me was not a student that I knew. It’s possible that he was new, but there was something about his stance, his dark state of dress, the paleness of his face that told me he was not. All in black, he had safety pins holding his pants together, and a necklace made of an old bike chain. The rings on his fingers were enormous, and one of his ears was pierced at least 10 times.

“Yes?” I asked, trying not to panic. Although he was lean, and I might be able to outrun him. I could see power resting in those limbs.

This was getting creepier and creepier, but I nodded, standing up straight.

“Perhaps.” He held out his hand.

Cautiously, I shook it. It was cold as ice, and the hair on the back of my neck stood up.

“You belong to Liam, the headmaster of this school?”

I raised an eyebrow. “I wouldn’t put it like that, but yes. Liam is my boyfriend.”

“My name is Connor.” He dipped his head and held his hand out to the side of the wall. From the shadows emerged a thin, tiny girl dressed in a purple sun dress. She must have been no more than 14 or 15, although the eyes she looked at me with seemed full of wisdom. “This is my wife, Isabelle. We have come to seek your assistance.”

“Amy.” He drew closer, lowering his voice. “It is not a secret in the vampire world that you and Liam are formulating a plan.”

I had suspected they were vampires, but this had confirmed it. Despite her appearance, Isabelle must be a lot older than she looked.

“What plan?” I asked cautiously, in case this was a trap.