Charlie put his hand on the back of his head, rubbing his hairline. “Not really. I mean, obviously you’ve seen that I’m able to move through faerie territory, though I avoid it when I can.”
Corrie nodded. “Of course. It only makes sense, since they’re pretty scary.”
“Well, to be fair, we’re pretty scary, too.” Charlie grinned. In his human shape, it just looked like a friendly, somewhat goofy smile, but Corrie had seen him in wolf form. She could imagine the canine snarl hidden behind that kind face.
It was a frightening thought, but she’d had worse. “As scary as Mardalan?” she asked, putting her hands on her hips. She didn’t doubt that her dad and Charlie were tough, and some of the other werewolves—like Sasha, Charlie’s mom, who was their leader—seemed tough as humans, too, but… she just couldn’t imagine any of them scaring her like Mardalan had, or Marlin, or even Leila.
His grin faded. “I guess we can be. I’ve always grown up knowing about the faeries, and not to tangle with them, but if we have any trouble, to come get the rest of the pack.”
Corrie pursed her lips and nodded. “That makes a lot of sense. There are other faeries that follow Mardalan, and some of the others might be loyal to each other, but a werewolf pack would be an intimidating group to take on even for several faeries. I haven’t seen enough loyalty from among other faeries to think that Mardalan could match you for numbers.”
“I always got the impression that’s why they left us alone,” he said with a shrug. “I could ask my mom.”
“If you think of it, maybe, but don’t worry about it,” she said. “I was just curious because I wondered if whatever arrangement you guys had would be messed up by the ending of the college’s treaty with the faeries.”
“No, I don’t think so.” Charlie shook his head. “I did tell Mom about that, and she wasn’t very happy, but she didn’t seem to think it would affect the pack—just me and Belinda.”
Corrie grimaced. Belinda, a young werewolf in Charlie’s pack, was planning to attend Chatoyant College in the fall. She had been helping them out, teaching some of the faeries music, until the barrier had gone up between the campus and faerie lands. Now she couldn’t risk going over there, and Corrie hadn’t seen her in a while. But if the pack was worried about her attending Chatoyant College, they had good reason.
“Well, let me know if you do find out anything more,” she said. “But if your pack keeps the faeries from bothering you with sheer numbers, then I’m really glad you’re on our side.”
His grin returned—with no shadow of the wolf behind it this time. “Yeah, me too.”
She finally managed to say goodbye to him and hurried up the stairs, taking them two at a time. She really needed to get back to her room to study.
When she arrived, Edie was sitting on her bed, chin in her hands, looking utterly miserable. Any desire to study that Corrie had felt rapidly evaporated.
“Hey,” she said, tossing her jacket on her bed and going to sit down next to Edie. “What’s wrong?”
Edie looked up and shook her head. “I don’t really know.”
Corrie had a feeling that she did know. Or at least, she knew where the problem was coming from. She put her arm around Edie’s shoulders in what she hoped was a comforting way. “How did the conversation with Leila go?”
Edie leaned against her slightly, so it must have been working. “That’s the thing, I’m not sure,” she said, dropping her hands into her lap. “She didn’t really give me any answers or tell me whether I was helping her make a decision. She got mad when she heard about how my theater professor and the other students are treating me, but she says she isn’t going to do anything about it. She’s just hard to understand sometimes.”
Corrie nodded. “I get that.”
“I did give her a notebook and pencil, and we’re going to exchange notes when we want to get in touch with each other. That way she doesn’t have to stand around looking for me like she did today.”
“Well, that’s progress, right?” Corrie gave Edie’s shoulders a quick squeeze, feeling guilty for saying it. She didn’t want Edie to keep her hopes up about Leila. She wanted Leila out of their lives, the sooner, the better.
“I was trying to make things easier for her, but now I might see her even less.” Edie heaved a sigh. “And the weird thing about it is, I’m not as unhappy about that as I expected to be.”
Corrie’s heart leapt, but she tried to keep her voice calm. “Do you think your feelings are changing?”
“I don’t know if it’s my feelings or just that my expectations are low.” Edie turned toward Corrie with a wry smile. “But we should get to our homework. Thanks for listening.”
Corrie gave Edie another squeeze, then let go. “Anytime.” She turned to her homework with a much lighter heart.