Clare K. R. Miller

Chatoyant College, Book 13: Chapter 2: Attendance

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When Dawn and her friends reached the common room, they found it packed, beyond standing room only. Of course, the residents of the fifth floor were probably the last to make it down, so everyone who lived on all the other floors would already be here. Dawn looked around quickly, but Rico found her first, reaching out from the sea of bodies to grab her hand.

She gratefully allowed him to pull her close to his warm, solid body. “What’s going on?” he muttered in her ear. “Lorelei didn’t say anything.”

She shook her head and stood on her tiptoes to whisper in his ear. “She said she’d explain after she took attendance.” It was so loud in there that she couldn’t have explained much to him anyway. Everyone seemed to be speculating and worrying about what they were doing there—some of them at the tops of their voices. She thought she could pick out Lorelei’s voice, but not quite make out what she was saying.

“All right, everybody, quiet down!” came a roar—Charlie, the other RA for the building, shouting at the top of his lungs. The noise level abated somewhat. Dawn realized that Lorelei had probably been trying to get them to be quiet, but couldn’t make herself heard.

People were still talking. Dawn poked the couple in front of her. “Be quiet,” she hissed. One of them gave her a nasty look, but she didn’t care; they were shutting up.

Rico said something about being quiet to a few people over his shoulder. Gradually, the room quieted all the way, all eyes turning to Charlie and Lorelei. Dawn saw that Corrie, who was “casually” dating Charlie, was standing near him—he was holding her hand, in fact.

Lorelei held up a clipboard. “I need to make sure everyone is here. Please be quiet and just raise your hand when I call your name. If you hear the name of someone you don’t think is here, just stay quiet for now.” She looked down at the clipboard. “Stephen Acton.”

Dawn looked around the room, trying to move only her eyes—she didn’t want to make any movement that could distract Lorelei. Good, Stephen Acton was raising his hand. She was glad, too, that Lorelei was calling names in alphabetical order; that meant she would be near the beginning and could relax soon. Corrie would be last or close to the end, but it wouldn’t be hard for them to find her.

Lorelei went through the list of names, including a few that didn’t seem to have anyone attached to them. Dawn bit her lip. Hopefully those people were just behind her—there were probably a number of people she couldn’t see behind Rico. Finally, Lorelei said, “Corrie Vine, I see you,” and marked her off. Then she flipped back through the clipboard.

People were starting to mutter again, but this time it wasn’t so loud that Lorelei couldn’t be heard over it. “First things, will the roommates of Ben Rixon and Alisa Langley please come up here and tell us if you know where they are?”

“We don’t care where they are,” Charlie said. “They won’t get in trouble, we just have to check on them and make sure they’re safe.”

Three people made their way through the crowd and talked quietly to Lorelei. The crowd got noisier. Dawn couldn’t blame anyone; she was getting impatient, too, wanting to find out why they’d all been gathered down here.

When Lorelei finished with those two, she had to have Charlie quiet the crowd again. “Is there anyone here whose name I didn’t call? Raise your hands and come up here.” This time two people made their way to Lorelei. They must have belonged in other dorms. Dawn remembered that the last time this had happened, Naomi had been in a different dorm with her boyfriend. She was glad her roommate was home tonight.

“Okay,” Lorelei finally said, handing the clipboard over to Charlie. He said something quietly to Corrie, let go of her hand, and left the room as Lorelei continued talking. “Sorry for all the drama, but we have to locate everyone on campus tonight.”

“But why? What’s going on?” a girl shouted.

Lorelei took a deep breath. Her throat seemed to tighten, and Dawn worried for a moment that it was a resurgence of her old curse, the one that the court faeries had put on her to keep her from talking about them but that Professor Lal had removed.

But she spoke, though her voice was slightly strained. “Officer Gossett found a body on campus. They haven’t released her identity yet, but they asked us to check on all of our students to make sure no one is missing.”

Someone shrieked. Rico’s arm tightened convulsively around Dawn, and she tightened her fingers on his hand. Someone had been killed? The faeries did awful things, but… no, she couldn’t ever tell herself that they weren’t this bad. Marlin, the faerie who had been after Edie, had turned girls into stone statues. That had killed them. This wasn’t any worse than that.

But they didn’t know who it was. The security officers weren’t just keeping it quiet; they had to check the entire campus to see who was missing. What awful thing had happened to the body?

And was it a student? A professor? Another faerie? Or was it just a body dumped on campus to point fingers in the wrong direction?

Dawn could only hope they would find out soon.

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