Lesson 2: The people we love most may be the ones we know least…
Archangel Academy is more than a school to Michael Howard. Within its majestic buildings and serene English grounds, he’s found friends, new love, and a place that feels more like home than Nebraska ever did. But the most important gift of Archangel Academy is immortality…
Life as a just-made vampire is challenging for Michael, even with Ronan, an experienced vamp, to guide him. Michael’s abilities are still raw and unpredictable. To add to the turmoil, the ancient feud between rival vampire species is sending ripples of discord through the school. And beneath the new headmaster’s charismatic front lies a powerful and very personal agenda.
Yet the mysteries lurking around the Academy pale in comparison to the secrets emerging from Michael’s past. And choosing the wrong person to trust—or to love—could lead to an eternity of regret…
Michael Griffo is an award-winning writer and one of six playwrights whose career will be tracked by WritersInsight.com until 2010. He is a graduate of New York University, has studied at Playwrights Horizons and Gotham Writers Workshop, and has written several screenplays.
Outside, the earth was cold.
The New Year brought with it an early frost, burying the
past, at least temporarily, beneath a thick layer of snow.
Archangel Academy was practically empty, most of the students
spending their holiday break with family, so the campus
was a sea of white, an enormous unsoiled blanket with
only a few patches of brownish-green grass, bruised yet resilient,
peeking out every hundred yards or so as a reminder
of what was and what will be again. Tomorrow when classes
resume, the sprawling blank canvas will be tarnished with
footsteps, the imprints of students making their claims on the
land, their own private piece of the world. Looking out from
his dorm room window at the wintry landscape, a landscape
that would soon be altered, Michael was once again amazed
at how quickly everything can change.
Only a few months ago he was looking out of a different
window at an entirely different landscape, wondering when
his life would begin, when it would change. And now here he
was, half a world away, his life transformed in more ways
than he could ever have imagined or even thought possible.
Sometimes he didn’t know what was more incredible: the
fact that he was a vampire or that he had a boyfriend. He
looked over at Ronan sleeping in the bed that they shared,
the moonlight making his skin look almost translucent, his
thick black hair tousled like a little boy’s, a faint smile on his
full red lips, and Michael’s breath caught in his chest for he
was fully aware that Ronan and everything else that had
happened to him since he left Weeping Water were the answers
to his dreams. It was just that everything had happened
He didn’t hear the sound until a few seconds after it
began, a sound like teeth, sharp and strong, clicking, chattering.
It had started to rain and the raindrops, more ice
than water, were hitting the window, striking it, as a welcome,
a warning. That’s why Michael loved the rain; it could
be so many things. It could cleanse, destroy, interrupt,
change. The first time he saw Ronan, it had rained. The
memory of rainwater riding down Ronan’s cheeks, clinging
to his lips, still stirred feelings within the pit of Michael’s
stomach, still made him feel nervous and excited and passionate,
still made him feel incredibly alive, even though
technically he wasn’t.
He watched two drops of rainwater travel down the window.
One moved swiftly in a straight course from the top to
the bottom, never slowing down, never hesitating, bubbling
at the bottom of the window until it could no longer hold its
shape, then bursting into the air to continue its journey elsewhere,
maybe fall into the snow-covered earth below and
wait for the rest of the world around it to melt. Or perhaps
become something completely new, a glade of ice, hard, silver,
The other drop of rain moved with caution, traipsing
slowly to the left, then the right, pausing a moment almost as
if to ask Michael toward which direction it should travel. But
Michael had no advice, so the raindrop was forced to make
its own decision. Slowly it continued to move down the window
on a slight angle, hugging desperately to the glass so it
wouldn’t fall, so it wouldn’t stray too far and too quickly
from what it knew, moving in its own time. Finally, it reached
the base of the window, long after the other raindrop had disappeared,
and made the decision to stay, content in its travel,
content to allow life to continue to move around it as it
stayed unchanged, a simple drop of rain, nothing more, nothing
less. For a moment Michael felt regret, just for a moment,
but the presence of the emotion, no matter how fleeting, was
profound because he was beginning to realize that nothing in
his life would ever be simple again. Not even his reflection.
In the window, through the crisscrossing currents of rain,
among the grayish-black shadows of the moonlight, he was
reminded once again that his image was forever changed.
Changed by a drop of red, one tiny drop of red blood that
clung to his lip.
Before he came here to Double A, before he met Ronan, he
would have thought a spot of blood would spoil his image,
ruin it, but now he knew that it enhanced his reflection and
gave him strength and courage and power that he had yet to
fully comprehend and employ. He flicked the dash of red, the
stubborn blood drop, with his tongue and savored the taste,
the taste that reminded him of a feeding earlier in the day, the
taste that reminded him of Ronan and of himself. And he
couldn’t help but smile. Michael thought how fascinating it
was that something like the bitter taste of blood, someone
else’s blood, that a few months ago would have been repulsive is now a vital aspect of his life. And it was all because of
Before Michael could turn to look at Ronan, a thunderclap
roared somewhere far above him, somewhere out of
reach but somehow right next to him, and his gaze remained
with the rain, with the cold, with his grotesque face. Because
the rain, falling with more intensity now, had altered his reflection.
He saw that he wasn’t the Michael he remembered,
the Michael he was still trying to hold on to, he was something
different, something much, much different from who
he was when he began his journey to this new place.
It was as if each drop of rain latched on to the window,
sliding in a multitude of directions to create dark, watery
veins that sprawled across Michael’s face like sins as they
begin to etch into a soul. His image, torn and dissected,
heightened and distorted, looked back at him as if to announce,
This is who I am now; that other Michael is no
more. But strangely he wasn’t afraid. He didn’t know exactly
how he felt, but he knew that this harsh truth didn’t frighten
him. Maybe it was because he was stronger now or because
he was learning to accept the unacceptable. Or maybe it was
simply because he knew he was no longer alone.
There was no more time to ponder his misshapen reflection
or how his present was so vastly different from his past,
because he heard his name. Ronan’s husky whisper never
failed to arouse Michael, never failed to remind him how
lucky he was, how grateful that he was exactly where he was
born to be.
“Michael,” Ronan said, his eyes still half closed with
sleep. “Where are you?” Michael didn’t move, but he smiled.
His first thought is about me, the first word he speaks is my
name. It filled Michael with joy, and yes, pride. “Michael!”
“I’m right here.”
The two boys stared at each other, Michael framed by the
first determined rays of the sun that demanded to be seen
through the dark gray rain clouds, and Ronan sitting up in
bed, his bared flesh almost as white as the rumpled sheets, his
black hair a stark contrast. Reaching out his hand to
Michael, he said, “Come back to bed.” And Michael did because
he missed Ronan’s touch just as much as Ronan missed
Silently, the boys melded together as one, Ronan behind
Michael, his strong, powerful arm wrapped around him,
their hands finding one another, their fingers intertwining. A
soft kiss on Michael’s neck, a shiver down his spine, bodies
moving even closer together, then Ronan’s even breathing, a
gentle rush of air every few seconds passing by Michael’s ear,
reminding him that he wasn’t alone and that he won’t be, not
for the rest of eternity. A comforting feeling and one that
Michael had begged for but never imagined would come. But
it had come so quickly that sometimes, like now, his mind
was filled with thoughts and emotions so powerful and conflicting
that it was hard to fall asleep. So instead of sleeping
peacefully, he simply held Ronan tighter around him and listened
to him breathe.