“That’s all. You’re still in school, right?” Shannon asked, and I nodded.
“So if we’re interested, we’ll talk to Liam. Thank you.” She gave me a look that clearly indicated I was to leave.
I got up, turning my back quickly.
“Thank you,” I said, rushing out of the room. My heart was running marathon again, and I wasn’t sure how to feel. I knew auditions were supposed to be like that, but that one felt wrong. I had caught to condescending tone they had used when referring to me as the scholarship winner; that I had only gotten before their panel by Liam’s influence. And they clearly weren’t impressed by that.
Porsche was another half hour, and the silence of the waiting room almost killed me, the thoughts running through my head like wild fire.
“How’d it go?” she asked, when she came out. I shrugged.
“I don’t know. They didn’t let me do anything besides the monologue. And they looked at me like I was a reality show winner.”
“Ah, Amy it doesn’t mean anything,” she shrugged. “Shannon’s just like that. She knows talent when she sees it.”
“Whatever. I just want to go home,” I replied, gathering up my stuff.
“Sure.” She checked her phone, and then picked up her own coat. “Are you alright?”
“I’m fine.” Once we were outside, the cool breeze hit me like a calming wave. “I just…I don’t know how to feel. Schizophrenic is probably the right answer. One second, I was happy to be there, and the next second, I was angry for not getting it on my own. And then I was…”
“Life of a performer,” Porsche said, with a shrug. “A different emotion every second and it’s never half-assed either.”
“I just…I wish I had gotten it on my own,” I said, and she draped an arm around my shoulders.
“Don’t worry about it. The important part is they saw you today.”
“Right,” I replied, although I didn’t believe her.
The sun was just setting when we got back to school, half way down the horizon. Porsche bid me goodbye at the entrance, heading to the dancer’s wing to spend the night. I thanked her and turned in the opposite direction, glad for the chance of silence. It didn’t last long however.
Liam was stalking down the empty hallway with haste, and I knew exactly where he was going. As much as I wanted to ignore him, I couldn’t. I nodded to him as we passed each other, and he nodded back. Already, his eyes were dark and he was pale, and I knew he didn’t have long. I thought I would escape without a word, leaving him to enter the half hidden door, when suddenly he called out to me.
“The door’s locked.” He jiggled the handle a few more times. “Damn Peter, that forgetful sod.”
I glanced out the window. The sun was almost set, and I could see it in Liam’s face that he didn’t have much time. “Uh…”
“Please go to reception and ask them for a spare set of keys. Tell them it’s for me, I’ll call ahead.”
The condescending tone of the scholarship winner was still in my head, and part of me didn’t want to help him. But he met my eyes, gritting his teeth, and I could see the pain of transformation already taking place. I nodded and headed swiftly down the hall. Getting the key was no problem. Students got locked out all the time and needed the master key. I brought it to Liam within minutes, and he took it, gratefully.
“Did it go well today?” he asked, as he slipped it in the lock.
“Yeah, except for the part where they sounded like they would have called me in anyway. They treated me like a reality show winner, Liam.”
He raised an eyebrow as the door opened.
“But they saw you,” he said. “And they saw your talent.”
“That’s what Porsche said.” I replied, and he smiled. For a moment, that smile floated me back to a time when things were different.
“Well, she’s a smart one. It’s just the way Shannon is,” he shrugged. “And talent like yours deserves to be seen, Amy, no matter how you get there.”
“By lying and pretending to be someone I’m not?” I accused him, and he glared at me, handing me back the key without another word. We held each other’s gaze a moment, and then he slammed the door in my face. Rolling my eyes, I went to hand the key back to reception. I wanted nothing more than a hot shower and sleep.
But, as I walked back to my dorm room, a part of me glanced back where I had left Liam. Regardless of what they would have done, I had my first professional audition today, a dream come true, and it was because of him.
Sighing, I locked my door and headed to the shower. Dreams didn’t always come true the way you wanted them to.
My phone rang at 8am, just as I got out of the shower. Porsche was sprawled across my bed, still fast asleep, so I grabbed it and headed back into the bathroom. Since she was here, last night’s transformation did not involve chains and a basement cell the entire night. Instead, we had driven over to the big city, and taken advantage of a night club that would not miss a few pieces of riff raff. I hadn’t had a party night like that in quite awhile, and it felt good to return to the life that had made me. But when the lights came on at the club, and the afterhours club closed their doors, we had no choice but to make our way back home; leaving me only enough time to shower and change before I was expected in morning classes. Porsche, however, informed me she had nowhere to be, and climbed into my bed. Oh, to be human again. My head was still pounding from the loud music and the booze; keeping the cravings at bay just long enough to lure someone outside.
There had been no bodies last night, only semi-drained victims that would find their way to a hospital. But I still felt more energized than I had been in a long time. Human blood gave me new life as the sun rose. My human companion however, had seemed the opposite. Normally, my antics when I was half drunk and high on blood kept her in stitches. But last night, she seemed nothing but annoyed with me, playing on her phone and refusing the long line of partners who lined up, wanting a dance with her. When the sun finally began to rise, she practically dragged me to the car, mid-transformation. The hour long ride back hadn’t been much fun either.
Her mood had gotten to me, and while I felt energized, I found the atmosphere that had once made me so happy didn’t do a thing for my attitude. The endless supply of women and booze didn’t feel like quite the reprieve it usually did, and I was glad to finally return to the school.
“Hello.” My voice came through a bit louder than I intended, and I turned on the tap to drown it out.
“Hello, Shannon,” I said, glancing at myself in the mirror. Years ago, Shannon had cast me in a few movies before moving back to her first love, theater. I didn’t particularly like her. She was full of attitude and ego … but then, so was I.
“I got your pint size package yesterday,” she said, and I could hear her flipping through papers on the other side of the phone. “Very impressive. When she walked in, I thought for sure there was only one reason you’d pick her. But she’s got some talent as well.”
“Do you really think I’m so shallow, Shannon?” I asked with a smirk on my face as I reached for a towel to rub my hair dry. I put the phone down, pressing speaker phone and turned off the tap. “That I would put the whole school in jeopardy to cast a pretty girl?”
“That’s the Liam I know,” she replied, and it made me set my jaw. She was right, of course. Beautiful women were what got me into this whole mess in the first place and I’d once rather have a blond on my arm that couldn’t form a sentence than a bespectacled brilliant nerd.
“And so, since you know me so well, what’s the answer to the question you are about to ask?” I wrapped the towel around my waist, spraying on some cologne.
“The answer is of course, yes. I’m going to take Gatsby on the tour circuit in two months. Rehearsals start next week. Amy can join the chorus.”
“As an understudy?” I asked, leaning against the counter.
“No, just a chorus girl - for the party scenes and such. She’ll have a few lines, maybe. But I’ll bill her as on loan from your school - it’ll be good publicity for the Academy. We’ll do a whole ‘introducing’ thing, as if your school turns out students directly ready for the professional world.”
“If rehearsals start next week, she won’t be on loan,” I replied, calculating how many days were left in the term. “This is her final semester here so she’ll finish the final show and then leave with you…and I don’t know if she’s ready, Shannon. There was talk of her being here another year. You know how it is with people who peak too soon.”
“Or she won’t be the first to drop out of school for a show,” Shannon purred. “Full union rates, full contract.”
“Right,” I glanced up at the mirror. I looked fully human now, if not a little tired, but I felt like I was walking through a fog. I squinted, trying to focus. Shannon was right, of course, the publicity with that kind of announcement would launch this school to a whole new level of success. It was Peter’s dream to bring the school to a level where it would be recognized as the best training academy in the world.
And it would be a convenient way to sever ties with Amy. My chest ached at the thought of her. She was angry and cold, but I was no better. Her judgemental actions had ripped my heart out, and I cursed myself for getting involved. How could I have thought that someone in this damn world would actually understand enough to be able to look past it? The truth was, I was still the Hollywood Hunk and that’s all they ever wanted. If it came with complications, women took off faster than a jetpack.