Clare K. R. Miller

Chatoyant College Book 13: Chapter 9: The Victim

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Thursday, May 11

Corrie slept badly that night. She was inclined to blame the fact that she hadn’t been able to get out for her run the morning before, but she knew it was just as likely to be stress in not knowing who was dead. All her friends were okay, but she was friendly with a lot of people on campus. What if it was one of the girls she chatted with in her art class? Or someone she just smiled at when she walked back and forth to her classes?

If it was a stranger, that would almost be worse. If she was a student, Corrie would feel bad for not getting to know her before she died. If she wasn’t someone who belonged on campus, then that would be very scary in a completely different way. What would she have been doing there?

When Corrie woke up on Thursday morning, she was relieved to look out the window and see that the fog had faded—though not all the way. She could still see wisps of it, moving slowly in what was hopefully a nice breeze. Strangely, she thought she could see even more among the trees, as though their protection had prevented the wind and sun from breaking it up. Maybe it was a natural fog after all.

She snorted. She didn’t believe that for a second.

She checked her email just to make sure, and there was an announcement that the school was open again, though they were warned to check for information from their professors, in case they still couldn’t make it in. Corrie didn’t take time to worry about that. She put on her running clothes and rushed outside.

She went for a harder and longer run than usual, though she was careful, as always, to stay on the paved paths. She didn’t want to draw the faeries’ attention. They might have bigger things to worry about, but that might just make their reactions worse.

The fog was strange, laying in heavy wisps across the ground, clinging to her when she was forced to run through it. But she could see it fading as the sun climbed higher in the sky, so she knew they wouldn’t be stuck with it forever.

She went back to the dorm, showered, and headed out for her math class. She was about to enter the building when she noticed a crowd of students outside, to the left of the entrance. Curious, she followed them.

They were all looking at a patch of grass that had been taped off with caution tape. There were splashes of what looked almost like black paint in the middle of it. Was that blood? Was it human blood?

Swallowing hard, Corrie rushed into the building to buy a coffee and bagel from the coffee stand so she would have something to eat in class. She did not want to look at that for any longer than she had to.

She was relieved to watch her classmates arrive in the room and find everyone she recognized there, though they were, for the most part, subdued and worried-looking; everyone whispered about the death, but no one knew who it was. She hoped the professor would say something when he came in, but he just started collecting the homework like usual. The girl sitting next to Corrie caught her eye, and they both shook their heads. Maybe he was trying to make everything feel normal again, but it couldn’t. Not with that patch of grass taped off just outside.

Math class was worse than usual, since she was having a hard time concentrating. Why couldn’t campus have been closed on a Thursday instead? Tuesdays and Thursdays were her worst days of the week, what with math, which she wasn’t very good at, and psionics, where she couldn’t seem to find her stride. Her art class was fun, but still not as interesting as her literature or trance classes.

Finally, though, it was over, and she headed back to her dorm. She would have time for a bit of a break before psionics class. Maybe Edie had heard something.

Before she reached Gilkey, she felt something touch her arm. She turned, startled, but then saw that Charlie was slipping his arm around hers. She grinned, feeling her heart lift. “Hey there.”

“Hey, Corrie.” He smiled back, but he looked strained. Well, he had a lot of responsibility. “Have you heard any news yet? About the person who was killed?”

She shook her head, disappointed. “Haven’t they told you yet?”

“Actually, yes. The school counselor came to my poli-sci lecture this morning, because she was in my class.”

Corrie’s eyes widened. They paused to enter the dorm, then stopped in the hall leading to Lorelei’s and Charlie’s rooms. “Wow, I’m sorry. Did you know her well?”

Charlie shook his head, rubbing his hair with one hand. “I hardly knew him at all, actually.”

“What?”

He looked up to meet her eyes. “They said the victim is Christy Latham. It was Elrath.”

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