Clare K. R. Miller

Chatoyant College Book 12: Chapter 1: The Morning

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Saturday, April 15

Edie had awakened early that morning, while her roommate Corrie was still out on her daily run, and resisted the temptation to go outside looking for her girlfriend, Leila, right away. She’d glanced out the window, promising herself she wouldn’t search too hard, but it was still fairly dark out. If there had been movement, she would have seen it. But there wasn’t.

She took advantage of the early morning to shower before the dorm bathroom got crowded, then started on her homework while she waited for her friends to be up for breakfast. It was hard to focus. She knew Leila was returning soon.

Her girlfriend was a faerie, one of many who lived on the outskirts of Chatoyant College, where Edie learned French, English, theater, and, of course, magic. Months ago, in December, Leila had disappeared. Now it was April, and the trees were in leaf and in bloom; Edie’s friend Roe had told them about a vision she’d had in which Leila returned right around now.

Edie had experience with Roe’s visions. They always came true, though not always in predictable ways—and sometimes, knowledge of the vision changed people’s actions, which changed what actually happened when the vision came to pass. So she knew that Leila would come back. But she also had to control herself, because the vision might not come out right if she changed her actions, and she didn’t want any chance of missing Leila when she did return.

She kept lifting her head to look out the window. Leila wasn’t there.

Finally, Corrie returned from her own shower. “It’s a beautiful day out there,” she commented. “Spring is really here. Wear boots.”

Edie laughed. “It’s muddy?” she asked, turning around in her desk chair.

“Yeah, I almost fell. I had to carry my shoes up the steps so I wouldn’t smear everything with mud.” Corrie went into her closet to start getting dressed, and Edie turned around, looking for her boots.

“You ready for breakfast?” she asked as she dug through her trunk.

“Of course,” Corrie said. “I hope they have pancakes today.”

Edie found her boots and pulled them on. “I’ll go see if Dawn is up.”

She left the room and knocked on the door of the dorm room next to theirs, the last one between them and the bathroom. Dawn, their other closest friend, opened the door quickly. “Ready for breakfast?”

“Just about. Corrie says it’s muddy out.”

“That’s okay, I’m wearing old shoes.”

They knocked on the doors of their other friends who lived on the hall, Roe and Annie, but no one answered. When Corrie joined them, they headed down the stairs. Edie paused on the third-floor landing, considering asking her friend Derwen to join them, but Dawn and Corrie kept going, so she hurried to keep up with them instead.

Anyway, Derwen was fun, but Edie wasn’t sure if she was in the mood to hang around her right now. She was loud and dramatic and thought almost everything was funny—probably a product of being a faerie like Leila, but not having spent as much time with humans. Edie thought Derwen might be younger, as well. Still, she’d saved Annie’s life—back before the semester had even started—by joining the faerie court in her place, so Edie would always be her friend.

Maybe she’d want to hang out with Derwen more if they didn’t have a class together and study for it three times a week. Especially now that their midterm exam was approaching, Derwen was freaking out about all the studying, and Edie found her drama overwhelming.

When the three of them reached the dining hall, they found that pancakes were, indeed, being served. All three of them piled their plates high. Edie got a separate, small plate for maple syrup so she could dip her forkfuls in it as she went along. Corrie told her she was crazy as she poured maple syrup liberally all over her own pancakes.

“Any plans for the weekend?” Edie asked her two friends.

Corrie shrugged. “Not this weekend. I mean, I guess I have to work on homework. I’m a little behind in the reading for Professor Moran.”

“Don’t let that slip or you’ll just get further behind,” Edie warned her. Professor Moran kept their Introduction to Literature class interesting, but fast-paced.

Corrie nodded. “I’ll catch up.”

Maybe she’d deliberately avoided making plans with Charlie—their RA, who was a werewolf, and whom Corrie was casually dating—so she would have time. Edie made a mental note to check with Corrie again to make sure she was keeping up with her homework.

“Rico and I are actually going out,” Dawn said with a smile. “He wants to go on an actual date that involves leaving campus, so I wasn’t going to argue. You two are on your own for dinner.”

Edie grinned. “That sounds really nice. Have fun.” She was genuinely happy for Dawn and her boyfriend Rico, who was a really sweet, gentlemanly guy—though it gave her a twinge when she remembered that she and Leila had never had a real date off campus.

They probably never would. She didn’t know how far Leila could get from her tree, since she was a dryad, but she had never had any interest in going away from campus that Edie could recall.

The three of them chatted about classes as they finished their pancakes, then headed back to their dorm building, Gilkey. Edie thought she saw a flash of red hair when they were leaving the dining hall, but when she looked again, it wasn’t Leila.

When they reached the building, she looked toward the woods again. But no one was there.

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