Corrie closed her eyes, stretching her back slightly to get closer to Charlie. His lips came down gently on hers, sending a thrill through her.
And then, of course, her phone rang.
She swore lightly, the words coming out as a hiss between her teeth, and slumped her shoulders, opening her eyes. “Sorry. I should really see if that’s Professor Lal.”
Charlie drew back, a frown pinching his eyebrows together. “Uh, okay.”
She dug her phone out of her pocket and checked the caller ID. Sure enough, it was the professor calling. Making an apologetic grimace at Charlie, she turned away, bringing the phone to her ear. “Hello? Professor Lal?”
“Corrie.” The professor’s clipped tones came through clearly. “Are you and your friends available to meet with us in fifteen minutes?”
She sighed—quietly enough, she hoped, that the professor couldn’t hear. “Yeah, I think so. I’ll have to check with them, but I don’t think they’re going anywhere.”
“Well, whoever can come, please meet us in the magic building. The Djanaea will be meeting us there as well.”
“Sure. We’ll be there. See you soon.”
Professor Lal hung up, not bothering with niceties like farewells to end conversations. Corrie grimaced again, hung up her phone, and stretched, then turned to Charlie. “Sorry. We have to go help them some more.”
He nodded with a wry smile, resting his elbows on his knees. “Off to save the world again.”
“Hey.” She smiled. “You’re not exactly an antihero type yourself.”
“Maybe you can come by later?”
She hesitated. She could really just tell Edie and Dawn that Professor Lal had called and send one or both of them to meet with the Djanaea. After all, last night the magic professors had said that just one of them could come, and Professor Lal didn’t seem to expect all of them. Then she could come back here and spend time with Charlie.
But she would be wondering what was going on with the Djanaea, what plans they were making with Troy and Link. She wouldn’t be able to give Charlie her full attention. That wouldn’t be fair to any of them.
“If I have time to come by, I definitely will,” she said. “You’re right, I want to hang out before you leave, too. I just… might be a little stressed about the murders.”
He sighed and nodded. “Aren’t we all?”
They said goodbye, then she hurried upstairs to tell Dawn and Edie what was going on. They were both in their rooms and ready to go at a moment’s notice, so a minute later, the three of them were heading back down the steps and outside.
As they approached the magic building, they saw Troy and Link approaching from the other path. Corrie raised her arm and waved at them, and she, Dawn, and Edie slowed down a little to wait for them.
Link had his usual sunny smile on, but Troy looked worried, and Corrie wondered if Link’s smile was faked at the moment. Or maybe he was just happy because he’d made up with Roe.
“Do you know what’s going on?” Troy asked as the two groups met. “Did they want your help too?”
Corrie nodded. “We’re trying to help. I don’t know how much they’ve told you, but it’s probably better to get the full context.”
“How’s your arm?” Edie asked him.
“Oh, it’s all better, see?” He pushed up the sleeve of his T-shirt to show them his arm, where the bite had been. Corrie could see a faint bruise, but other than that, it looked like he’d never been injured.
“Well, that’s good to see,” Dawn said. “No permanent harm done.”
“Of course not,” Link said. “We should go inside.”
“Yeah, we probably should.” Corrie took a quick look around, but of course, even if Gerlina were out here, Corrie wouldn’t be able to see the faerie—not unless she attacked.
They all went in to the empty lobby. Corrie couldn’t help looking at the chairs to see if the Circle of the Goddess girls had left any blood behind, but all the chairs seemed clean.
“Where are they?” Link asked, looking around.
“I think we’re early,” Dawn said, but a moment later the magic professors came walking out of their hallway, Professor Lal in the lead.
“Good,” Professor Lal said, looking around at all of them. “Let us go upstairs to the lounge. There will be too many of us, but that is the room that can accommodate as many as possible.”
“Why not a classroom?” Dawn asked. “The room we use for Trance class has a lot of seats.”
“Yes,” Professor Strega said, stepping forward. “It is a good plan, Dawn. Let us go there.”
“Then lead the way,” Professor Lal said, gesturing with an open arm. Professor Strega seemed to hesitate for a moment, then strode down the hall. The others followed.