“Rough night, hm?” Beth’s eyes snapped open to see Liam Artis, the Graduate Teachers Assistant for the class she was currently missing. He was grinning down at her, and Beth tried her hardest not the blush.
“My sister is ill,” Was all she could think of to say in that moment. She blinked a couple more times before adding, “that’s why I’m not in class.” She began to wonder if Professor Andrews had sent Liam to come find her, if he’d finally been fed up with her missing class at least once a month.
“Hey, I have no room to judge.” Liam sighed, pointing at his own rumpled hair and the dark circles under his eyes. “Last night was a rough one for everyone.” He sank into the chair next to Beth, slumping down so that he seemed shorter than her—even though she knew he had about ten inches on her easily. “I forget all the technically mumbo-jumbo—Something about the moon at its apex or Mars being in retrograde or…” Liam blew air through his lips. “I don’t know. My friend Jonny takes care of learning all that for me. I just have to do the hard part at night and stand back up, which is way easier said than done. We’re just lucky that the illness excuse makes it so easy for people to cut us some slack. No one wants to press the girl whose sister has been dying since the day she was born—or the man with the reoccurring disease—but he bravely presses on to get his graduate degree.”
Liam went to rub at his eyes, and Beth noticed the bright, white gauze taped neatly around his hand. There was the beginning of an idea forming in the back of her head, but she didn’t know what to do with it. She didn’t even know how to begin to process it. He couldn’t be saying what he thought she was saying.
“She’s lucky to have you though,” Liam continued, “And your parents I assume. My support system when I was young was—let’s just call it mediocre and leave it at that.” Liam pulled himself up, sitting properly in the chair now, turning to look Beth in the eye. “So—was it a bite or hereditary?”
“I—don’t know what you’re talking about,” Beth stuttered. This couldn’t be happening. It was some kind of prank or something. He couldn’t mean it.
“Your sister. The werewolf. Was it a bite or did she inherit it?” Liam pressed on. Beth looked up and down the hall so fast her neck cracked, but there was no one besides them in the hall. She barely focused back in when Liam started talking again. “Mine was a bite. Parents didn’t know what was happening for a long time—believed it was the work of the devil. To Be honest, I’m not sure that they are completely wrong. But—it didn’t help with that whole taking care of your son the freshly turned werewolf thing. Like I said, your sister is lucky.” Suddenly, Liam was on his feet. “Come on,” He offered, reaching out a hand. “Class is going to go over today—I’ve seen his lecture notes. I’ve already got a copy of the slides too, so I can get you those. I want to introduce you to some people. They’ll be excited to meet someone else who is in the know.”
“I—uh, what?” Beth looked back and forth down the hall again, like someone was going to jump out and tell her she was on candid camera at any minute.
“C’mon. We won’t even leave campus. What’s the worst that can happen?” Liam smiled, and Beth blushed again, all the way to the roots of her hair. It did make her feel more awake, so it was easier for her to stand up when she took Liam’s hand. “They are going to love to meet you,” He grinned, not dropping her hand as he lead the way down the staircase.