“Hello?” I asked, knowing it was him.
“I got your message,” he said, talking softly. I assumed he was already in the theater. “What’s the matter?”
“Nothing. I’m sorry I’m going to be late, but Shannon told me about a commercial audition, so I thought I’d go.”
“As you said,” he said, approvingly. “You should always take opportunities like that, especially when your schedule can be re-arranged with little inconvenience. We’re just working on some fight chorography, so you’d be sitting here doing nothing anyway.”
“Yeah” I replied, my voice sounding far off. Liam picked up on it and made a noise of concern.
“Uh…the acting part went ok,” I said, as I walked down the sidewalk, falling into a rhythm. “The words poured out of my mouth. But the rest of it was weird. It was a little room with only one guy on the panel, filming, and he told me to ‘slate’, which I had no idea about, and then made me stay on this little ‘X’ the whole time, and not have freedom of character movement. Do you think it was sketchy?”
Liam laughed at that, although it was friendly.
“That’s film and TV auditions for you, Amy. Always exactly like that. They are very different from theater, and it’s almost as if it’s a whole different world. Film and theater actors sometimes don’t translate over. But you felt ok when it came down to the actual acting part, yes?”
“Yes,” I nodded, even though he couldn’t see me. “I just…” I closed my eyes for a moment. “I wish that I could have talked to you beforehand. I felt like an idiot. In fact…” I took a deep breath, knowing what I was about to say was powerful. “I think talking to you before the Gatsby audition was the only thing that kept me sane.”
There was a silence on the other end of the phone, but it felt comfortable. Now that I was talking to Liam, the panic of the audition had gone away and I felt fine. I hadn’t realized how much I needed him, and needed his advice and support, until this very moment. Yes, I could act, and that came easy, but he was right, it came down to so much more than just acting. I thought I had been ready for all this, but it was clearly going to be harder than I thought.
“Anytime Amy,” he said, and I could hear the noise behind him increase. “I have to go. I’ll see you soon, though?” It was more than just a confirmation, he sounded hopeful.
“Yes,” I said. “About 20 minutes. 30 if you are feeling generous and want to give me time to stuff my face.”
He chuckled at that.
“Make it forty. I’ll see you then.” He hung up quickly, and I put my phone into my pocket, continuing to walk down the sidewalk, and feeling more alone. The sun was shining, and the birds were chirping and I could hear children playing in a nearby park. The dark mood over me had lifted, and I felt a lot better. I had just finished one rehearsal, I had an audition and now I was headed to rehearsal for a spot I had won over hundreds of hopefuls. Life wasn’t so bad.
Although I didn’t want to admit it, I knew part of my mood was due to the fact that I was going to see Liam in a matter of minutes.
I felt that painful feeling in my chest again as I realized how little time I had left at the school. In a matter of weeks, I would be permanently moved out and in the world on my own. Gatsby would soon be on tour, and there would be no coming back to the school after that, no safe haven to look forward to. I had never gone more than two days without seeing my Dad in my entire life, and soon I would be going months. And after Gatsby, who knew? If I didn’t make it here, there were other cities, other theaters, other tours. It was a scary thought, and it didn’t seem real that my entire world was about to change.
I realized when she walked in, I’d been watching the door for her the entire time. My head had been pounding all morning, and I was exhausted from last night’s excursions. If we didn’t only have a few days of rehearsal left, I would have already called it for today. I wanted a hair of the dog, enough water to drown a horse, and a nap that took fifteen hours. Unfortunately, those things had only been possible when I was a human movie star. Now, as a vampire headmaster, I supposed people expected me to be somewhat responsible. Still, I knew I hadn’t been as involved today as I should have been.
As soon as she walked in, I felt my heart beat speed up and I couldn’t help but smile. She was here, and I could relax.
“Let’s take five minutes,” I called to the fight choreography on stage. The boys stopped, panting, and headed off for their water bottles. I motioned to Amy to join me back stage. “How are you?”
“Better now that I’m here,” she said, looking around. “No, uh … unexpected visitors?”
“No, nothing,” I shook my head, watching her. Her hair was pulled up, but a few strands were falling into her fresh face. She looked beautiful and young, and I knew her future held nothing but promise and hope. “Porsche and I patrolled most of the night, but nothing came up. Selene is like that. She’ll show up long enough to scare me, but she has yet to do any harm. I suspect she’s just checking in to make sure I keep my promise.”
“Your promise?” Amy asked, reaching into her backpack as we talked.
“Why she turned me,” I said, keeping my voice down. “With such a public persona, I was guaranteed to keep the secret unless I wanted to ruin my life. Supposedly, I had it all. Vampires could always find me for help, I have a truck ton of money and contacts, but I also will make sure to keep it secret unless I want to ruin my own life. I was the perfect candidate. Hell, I should have predicted it would happen to me.”
“Liam,” she said, compassionately and I looked down to find her holding a container. “Do you want a cookie?”
“Yes,” I said, taking one of her father’s secret recipe cookies. They were so loaded with chocolate it was a wonder they had any other ingredients. I had them once or twice before and they never failed to make me feel better. At the moment, however, it was Amy’s smile that was assisting in that endeavor.
We locked eyes for a moment, and the intensity of the gaze was so fierce it almost overwhelmed me. I tilted my head down a fraction of an inch, and she responded, arching her neck upwards. Our lips were only inches apart when we were interrupted by a string of swear words.
“What the…” I pulled away the curtain. On the other end of the stage, Deon was standing there, his phone in one hand, his face the very picture of stunned. I didn’t even have to ask to know what the problem was, I recognized the look immediately. He wasn’t sad, or upset, or grieving. He wasn’t in pain or angry. That was the look of an actor who was simultaneously happy he got a part and stunned because he had a conflict. “Deon?” I asked, as Amy came to stand beside me. He turned his head towards me, waving his phone.
It would have taken a normal person half a day to figure out what he was saying, but I understood immediately. “You can’t do the show then,” I said, calmly. Deon had yet to change the expression on his face.
“Yes…no…But I…What should I…oh Man.” He seemed so overwhelmed he could barely get the sentence out. Everyone was gathering around him in excitement, but his gaze was locked with mine. I forced a smile onto my face as I stepped forward. Deon came over at once, looking much younger than his 18 years.
“Liam?” he said, unsure and I nodded.
“This is what I wanted for you guys, your whole lives. Why are you looking so unsure?” I asked. “Deon, you’ve been here for years, and you’ve been trained since you could speak to do this. Every day of school, every exercise and workshop was so you could be prepared for this day, this moment in your life.”
“But the show…” he said, and I put my hand on his shoulder. Beside me, Amy stood by, and I couldn’t look at her. The most talent in the entire school was now within two feet of me and I was about to lose both of them.
“Don’t worry about the show. You’re ready for this. For all of this.”
He nodded, although I could see the fear in his eyes.
“Amy,” He said, turning to her. “I’m sorry…”
“Don’t be sorry,” she replied, reaching up to hug him. “Don’t be. I almost did the same thing, remember? We’ll work together again, I’m sure.”
“You’re going to make it big, girl.” He hugged her tight, and then turned to me. “I guess I should…”
“Pack,” I said, nodding. “And go see Peter; he’ll be happy for you.”
“Right. Yes,” he said, a grin spreading across his face. “Thank you, Liam. For everything.”
“You won’t say that when your set call is at 4am,” I blurted out, and he laughed. After hugs all around, Deon picked up his stuff, and headed out the door, standing two inches taller than when he walked in. There was a silence that fell over the cast then.
“Well,” I said, turning to Amy. “I guess it’s you and me.”
“Every show? … I’m glad,” She said, quietly, her hand brushing mine. “I’d rather do it with you. With you, it feels like it’s just... a conversation. ”
“I’m glad I get a second chance to do this with you.” I replied, and she met my eyes, seeing my meaning as clear as day. She looked away, and I turned to the cast. They were still shell shocked.
“Right. Everyone forget Deon’s blocking, right now. Forget it, erase it from your memories, it’s gone. We need to be happy for him, but we need to focus on our show now. From now on, every show is with me, and I want no more interruptions for the rest of the day.” I even reached into my pocket and pulled out my phone, turning it off as an example. “You have three minutes to set yourself from the top. Ready, set, go!”