She wasn’t just a dancer, of course. Although her personality was entertaining, and she knew how to tear up a room, it was more than her talent that had first strung us together.
Three years ago, when I was newly turned, and trying to forget, I stumbled upon a high school party, craving blood and death. Just as I felt the cravings were too much, and the entire school was likely to be wiped out, there was Porsche, grabbing my arm, wanting nothing more than to ask the Hollywood star to dance. And suddenly, the cravings were gone.
Porsche was a Shield, a form of supernatural being that was almost legend. There were only three bloodlines left in the world that produced Shields - the Camerons, the McIntoshes, and the most powerful one, her bloodline, the De Ritters. By her touch, she rendered supernatural beings powerless. Witches couldn’t light candles, Vampires couldn’t intimidate, Werewolves couldn’t transform and Ghosts couldn’t appear. When she touched me, it was like I never craved anything but pizza and booze.
Not that she had a particular inclination to stop my cravings. She didn’t care one way or the other, and encouraged me to be what you are, and cut out the crap, her other favorite saying. In return for her services, she made me promise one thing, and one thing only. That, when her natural death came, I would transform her into a vampire, and she would get to be immortal.
She wanted to live; to walk in the sun and dance in the rain. And while I saw the value in that argument, it was incredibly stupid, and she knew it. At fourteen, at the wrong kind of party, Porsche had used a dirty needle and contracted HIV. And while she may be managing it fine now, with a good prognosis, all it took was one wrong turn when she was on tour with the Ballet, and she’d be gone, without me to fix it. I had threatened her a hundred times, but with a flicker of those green eyes, she always laughed and walked away. And somehow, I couldn’t go against her wishes, not when she had helped me so much. Her blood smelled terrible when I could smell it, and although I fought cravings often, I never wanted her blood. It was infected, broken, and unappetizing.
Our friendship wasn’t romantic, although I’m sure there had been a drunken night once or twice. Instead, it was full of platonic love and support that I had never found elsewhere.
“So, what are we going to do?” She asked, spreading out the headshots. I glanced at them, downing my drink. Soon, the sun would disappear, and I would be, as she put it, what I was. I wanted to make this choice while I was still human.
“Throw darts and pick one?” I replied, sitting beside her. She thought for a moment, and then pulled one out, handing it to me.
“This one was in Hollywood awhile with you, Candice,” she flipped to the back, looking at the resume. “If you wanted good publicity for the school, this one is a good way to go. Shows that the school only takes the best of the best, and even Hollywood is not the best.”
“Yeah, no,” I immediately discarded her. “She’s got money. If she wants to, she can pay her own way. She’s just on a power trip, and I won’t tolerate it.” Setting her headshot aside, I picked up the next one.
“She was good,” Porsche said, looking at the headshot of Terry Monroe. “But…”
“She has a lisp,” I said, flipping it over to see a lack of resume. “It would take about 4 years of speech training before she could even start acting properly, and that wasn’t the point.” I smiled as I reached for another one, a six year old girl who would start in our youngest class, and therefore would be mine to shape and mold from the beginning.
“No,” Porsche shook her head, folding her long legs up under her. “She’s adorable, and anyone will take adorable, her chances are endless.”
“Right, but she’s six,” I pointed out. “I can mold her into whatever I want. She could be a success story from the very beginning, she’d credit everything she ever learned to us. It’ll be good for the school.”
“And when you stand beside an 18 year old at a press conference, looking barely older than you are now, how’s that going to work?” Porsche asked, and I shrugged.
“You’re aging because you’re treating your human body like crap,” She replied. “That’s not aging, that’s just looking hung-over every morning.”
I grinned at her, even as I got up to fill another drink. And then, I felt my jaw twitch, a sign that my fangs were starting to grow in for the night. Glancing out the window, I saw that it was almost dark.
“So come sit here and stop being dumb,” she replied, holding out her hand. Reluctantly, I went.
The second I touched her, the cravings began to recede. Picking up another picture, I was suddenly transported back to the audition, when this bright eyed young girl had read with me. I remembered her at once, the way she watched me without awe or fear, the way the words had tumbled out of her mouth naturally.
“That’s Amy,” Porsche said, her eyes softening. “She’s eighteen, which means she’ll only have a year, maybe two if she agrees to go back a grade. She doesn’t have any experience.” Everything she said was negative, yet I heard the softness in her voice. I turned, to meet her eyes.
Porsche let go of my hand to flip over the headshot, where notes were scribbled. The second she did, the cravings came back, now that it was fully dark. I could feel my fangs surge forward in my mouth. The sun was set, and my transformation, subtle yet obvious, was complete.
“Amy is also HIV positive,” she said, softly. I felt something move in me; a twinge of sympathy for this bright young girl. And she was good, she had blown me and everyone else in the room away. But it was knowing, looking at her as I gritted my teeth against the blood lust, that she would never tempt me, never be in danger at my hands, and never have to run from the room if a late night rehearsal was needed.
“How?” I asked, standing up to pace the room.
“Genetics. Her mother was infected, apparently.” Porsche looked over the form carefully. “She’s homeschooled…or rather, online schooled. Lives with her father, who is not infected. He’s employed as a chef at the school, and all of her work experience is also in the kitchens.”
“That’s right,” I remembered now, seeing her face in the hallway more than once. Her father also came to mind, a tall, wirily man, with grey in his hair and an aura of sorrow about him. If he thought losing his wife was bad, he should try becoming undead and knowing everyone you love will be dead soon enough. I downed another shot, looking out the window as the town’s nightlife began to emerge. It hit me like a hammer, a warm feeling rushing over me. Already, I could feel the effects, the cravings ceasing a bit as the alcohol warmed my blood. That was one problem with being a vampire, I was forever cold, even during the day as a human.
Whoever invented the story that vampires were blood thirsty creatures all the time was clearly in the mindset of torture and angst. Only turning as the sun set was quite enough for me, I didn’t think I could stand for it during the day.
“I want her,” I said, turning to Porsche, who was already packing up the other files. I smiled ruefully. The girl knew me too well.
“Fine. I’ll put her information into the computer and have her called in the morning.”
“I want to call her,” I said, surprising her. “Myself.”
“If you can remember,” she smirked at me, as she finished putting everything away, and then stood up. Clad in leggings, with her red hair piled on top of her head, she looked every bit the successful dancer.
“You going somewhere?” I asked, feeling giddy with drink. “I thought I’d take you out to paint the town red.”
“Oh I see,” she replied, smirking, probably at the state I was descending into. “Literally?”
God, she was beautiful. Despite it all, there was something in me that knew that if she wasn’t stunning, I probably wouldn’t keep her around. That’s what you get when you spend years in Hollywood, frolicking with only the beautiful people.
Mind you, that’s also what got me into this mess to begin with. But tonight … tonight I didn’t care. We had worked hard for months to pull these auditions together, and now it was over, the choice was made, and we could relax.
“Literally,” I replied, reaching for one more drink. “I want to take my time tonight, find the best of the best. Isn’t that what we deserve, after all? So hold my hand, hold me back …” I started singing and she laughed, heading for the bathroom.
“Ok, hold on, let me try to make myself presentable,” she replied. “I have an idea, there’s a carnival about two towns over, small little place, but will be populated with tourists. Everyone will be dressed up, and no one will notice a little chaos…”
“This is why I love you,” I said, deciding to make the shot a double. After all, if it was going to be a long drive, I needed to be fortified.
I knew the bills were overdue, but I had no way to know how badly they were until I woke up the next morning and found that my cell phone was not charged, nor did the lights in my room turn on.
“Dad?” I called, hearing his voice in the kitchen as I headed down the stairs. He was on our house phone, furiously arguing and scribbling something onto the back of an envelope. I headed to the stove and switched it on, hoping to make breakfast, but my hopes were quickly killed when the red light remained unlit.
Finally, my father hung up, continuing to write things on the back of the envelope.
“What’s going on?” I asked finally, and he sighed.
“We’re just…a little behind on things, Amy, that’s all. I had the bills set up to be withdrawn automatically, so I wouldn’t forget them…but it appears…”
“We don’t have enough money,” I filled in. “It’s not surprising. You’re missing a week or more of pay.”
“Thank you for reminding me,” he glared at me, as I sat at the table, mentally calculating how much we would be missing.