Peter was his grandfather, the old headmaster of the school. I could only assume he was being sent home on the infamous walk of shame. I smiled slightly to myself. Even Liam, the God of acting, was human.
“Maybe we could talk in the morning? I have … questions,” I said, and Liam paused in the doorway, turning back to me. He was growing increasingly pale and I wondered if blood made him squeamish. But still, he gave me a devilish grin.
“Sure,” he said, and then he was gone. Porsche rolled her eyes, wrapping my arm in gauze before checking my other wounds.
“Come on. We should get you to the school nurse.”
“Right,” I stood, shakily, taking her arm. “Is Liam going to be alright?”
She looked surprised as she helped me towards the door.
“He’ll be fine, Amy,” she said, although she didn’t sound like she believed herself. “He always is.”
The next morning, I was up at the crack of dawn, my head still spinning from what had happened last night. I hadn’t slept well at all, and part of that was due to the thin walls in the dorms. I knew I had it luckier than some of the students who had moved across the world to be here, some of them so young. I heard what I assumed was crying or moaning through the walls. And at first, my heart broke for whichever poor girl was so heartbroken that she was sobbing into her pillow.
By 3am, however, I had little pity for it, having been woken up twice. I actually fell asleep with my fingers in my ears, and they rang with exhaustion as I walked down the halls.
As soon as I knew Liam would be in his office I briskly walked down the hallways, trying not to draw attention to myself. In the hours since dawn, I had painstakingly done my makeup and paid more attention to my hair than I normally did. I put on the one pair of high heels I owned, trying not to pitch forward when I walked.
The hallways were mostly empty. The school officially opened at 8am but classes didn’t start until 9am, and so I passed very few students.
Liam’s door was closed, but I could see him through the shadowy glass window. Taking a deep breath, and checking my reflection once more, I knocked twice.
“Yes?” His reply was brisk and curt through the door.
“It’s Amy,” I said, my voice shaking. “I was hoping we could discuss those…questions I had…”
There was a silence and a shuffling of papers. Suddenly, the door opened. Liam stood there, looking crisp and sharp in the morning light; his shirt rolled up to his elbows and his pants perfectly pressed. The smell of a woodsy cologne drifted from his neck, and when he moved his arm to usher me in, I saw the ripple of lean muscle.
Once I was inside, Liam closed the door behind me, and sat on the edge of the desk, watching me intently.
“I’m fine,” he said, his eyes never leaving mine. “How are you?”
“Also fine.” I blushed, looking down at my shoes. For a moment, neither of us said anything, and then we both spoke at once.
We both stopped, and laughed, awkwardly, nervously. Finally, he spoke again.
“Right,” I swallowed the lump in my throat and tried to ignore the feeling of my stomach hitting the floor. “It was late, I was …clumsy and you were…not yourself and….I mean, of course it was a mistake, this is something that can’t happen, but don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.” I rose quickly. I just wanted to get out of there as soon as possible.
“Amy, Amy, Amy,” he waved his hand with a small smile, motioning for me to sit back down. “Last night was a mistake because you didn’t deserve to be treated that way. You’re a young woman, a respectable young woman and I should have approached you with respect … asked to court you, rather than act like a drunken lout.”
My jaw fell open, as I watched him pace the room slowly. He turned back to look at me, his eyes wide and full of question.
“May I court you?” he asked. I almost fell off my chair.
“Uh…” came out of my throat, as he advanced and reached for my hand. His fingers folded over mine.
“Since the first time I saw you in the audition, you have captivated me for reasons I can’t explain. Your talent, your grace, your beauty...” He was now just an inch away from my face, his warm breath making me blush.
The kiss was different from last night. Last night was frantic, passionate and fiery. Today was soft and tender. We savored each moment and made sure every touch was well worth the wait. The effect was the same, and when we finally broke apart, I was panting again. I had never felt anything like this before. My sexuality had always been something I pushed away. After all, when you grow up with HIV, you aren’t exactly going to be having one night stands if you are any kind of decent person.
“Can we?” I asked, meaning a million different things. Up close, he was even more gorgeous; his eyes glinting in the soft sunlight; his hair perfectly styled; his skin glowing with our passion. He shrugged, with a small smile.
“I make the rules around here,” he said, leaning back to sit on the desk. “And I don’t see why not. As long as you don’t publicly announce it.”
“I guess I’ll cancel the National Press conference at 9 then.” I said. A cheeky grin spread across my face and he nipped at my lips again, with a good-natured growl.
“I’ve never done this before, Amy,” he said, reading my mind. “It’s not like with every new wave of students I find myself a hot date.”
“I’ve never had a hot date…or a date…” I looked away, embarrassed. He smiled, gently, brushing hair back from my forehead.
“Well, then this will be a first time for both of us, won’t it?” I nodded. “Although…Amy, we should lay down some ground rules.”
“Like what?” I asked, hesitant to hear the answer. My heart was beating a million miles a minute at the sheer excitement of the situation. Liam thought a moment, before responding. More than anything, I wanted him to kiss me again, to take me in his arms. It was hard to focus, staring at his beauty and knowing now that I could have it if I wanted.
“We have to be careful where we are seen. Of course, there are things we won’t be able to avoid. Like the fact that I can’t take my eyes off you in class.” The statement made me blush, and I looked down. “But we must be careful about chatting too much in the hallways, or before or after class.” I nodded, agreeing to this. “Also, we must be careful where we are seen. I know a way to your dorm…If you wanted to have dinner there, or perhaps my office…No one will question a new student wanting to spend extra hours catching up.”
“But maybe we should do things off campus?” I suggested, getting into the spirit of things.
“Far off campus,” he nodded, agreeing. “I have a car, there’s a place a few towns over. But my celebrity status doesn’t allow for much privacy. Perhaps you’ll have to wait a few years if you want to stroll down the streets hand in hand.”
The fact that he was already talking about our future sent a warm feeling through my body, and I grinned.
“I think I can manage that,” I said, with a nod, although part of me had forgotten he was a celebrity. Since I had gotten to know him, he was just Liam, the headmaster, my teacher, and now, my boyfriend. He grinned.
“Good,” he said, standing up. “Shall I see you tonight then? You have a lot to catch up on. But perhaps we also have a lot to catch up on. I would like to know everything about you, Amy. Your hopes, your dreams, your aspirations. What you want from the world, and from life.”
“I …” I paused, trying to think of answers to those questions. When none came, I leaned in again, and kissed him. He placed his hands on my waist, gripping me tightly.
“And I would like to know about you,” I whispered, looking up to meet his eyes. Already, as if by magic, I could see a different person from the celebrity the whole world thought that they knew.
And so this was how the next few weeks panned out. Secret meetings, early morning rendezvous, empty classrooms and dark hallways. But it wasn’t all passion and fire. One morning, I opened my door to check for the daily school paper that was left at all the dorm rooms. Instead, I found a small item, wrapped in the daily paper.
Curious, I picked it up, looking up and down the hallways. However, there was no one there. Opening the package, a smile spread over my face. It was a tiny plastic Oscar, with my name sharpied onto it. I rolled my eyes, laughing a bit as I turned it over in my hand. On the bottom, a sharpied heart was drawn. To my right, I heard a noise and looked up, with a smile.
“Creative,” I said, as Liam approached out of nowhere as usual. He smiled, looking around to double check that the hallways were empty. And then, he kissed the top of my head, leading me into my dorm room.
“I thought you would appreciate that,” he said, bending in for a deeper kiss. I sighed happily, putting my arms around him. He smelled good, like wood smoke and whisky, something I couldn’t describe but was instantly addicted to. His tongue explored my mouth, and the intense passion in the early morning caused me to stumble. Before I knew it, we were pressed against a wall, my breath coming in gasps. With a devilish smile, he pulled back. “Good morning.”
“Good morning,” I said, sitting on my bed. He sat beside me, pulling open the brown bag he had been holding. From inside it wafted breakfast smells and he produced blueberry muffins. “Did you harass my father as soon as he got in the door? Only he makes these.”
“I did. Perks of being headmaster,” he replied, settling back against my headboard and taking a bite. He closed his eyes, and I watched his face a moment.
“You look tired,” I said, and he opened his eyes.