Edie couldn’t help being anxious as they waited at the gate. Tom did show up, though, several minutes later, looking around dubiously at the gate as though it were going to swing shut on him unexpectedly. “Hello there, ladies,” he said as he stepped onto campus. “Where to?”
“We’ll wait here for a few more minutes,” Dawn said. “We’re expecting Corrie’s father and maybe a few others to help us out.”
Tom raised his eyebrows. “You expect a human’s father to be useful in this situation?”
“Well, he’s not entirely human,” Corrie said. “We did tell you we were asking werewolves for help.”
“Hmm.” Tom didn’t say anything else, and they lapsed back into silence until, finally, the crunch of shoes on gravel became more and more apparent to their ears.
“There he is,” Corrie said, lifting her arm and waving. One of the approaching figures waved back. When they got closer, Edie recognized Corrie’s dad—she probably would have been able to guess it was him even if she hadn’t met him before. He and Corrie looked a lot alike; they had the same hair and the same face shape.
“Hi, Corrie,” her dad said as he reached them. “This is Marie—I don’t think you’ve met her, at least not formally. She’s part of the pack.”
Corrie shook hands with Marie and introduced Edie, Dawn, and Tom. Edie did think Marie looked vaguely familiar; she must have been at the pack meeting the time she had gone with Corrie to meet her father. She didn’t look strong and robust in human form like some of the other werewolves did, being slim and fairly short, with her hair done in a crown braid, but Edie didn’t doubt that she could be formidable when she chose to. All the werewolves they knew could shift into wolf form at any time.
“Let’s go meet the others, then,” Corrie said. “Come on, Dad.” She turned and led the way up the path.
It was more of a crowd than Edie was used to, or maybe the problem was just that some of the people in the group were strangers to each other, since she’d certainly traveled around campus in groups of more than six before. But they still seemed packed in on the path. Maybe it was just that they were all being extra careful to avoid attracting Gerlina’s attention.
“Isn’t Charlie coming?” Corrie’s dad asked. “You said he wanted at least four.”
“He’s meeting us at the magic building,” Corrie said. “He knows where it is. I don’t know who he’s bringing, if anyone, but I thought that even if he couldn’t find someone we could get started.”
“I won’t be able to come again,” Marie said. “If this business can’t be done tonight, you will have to find someone else to help.”
“That’s okay,” Corrie said. “I appreciate you coming on such short notice.”
Edie nodded. That was exactly what she’d been afraid of. She hoped Charlie had found another werewolf to join them and that everyone would agree to the plan—or create a new one.
When they reached the magic building, Edie saw that Charlie was standing out front, his hands in his pockets. Beside him was a woman exactly the same height as him with a light scattering of gray in her dark hair. Edie recognized her—Sasha, the alpha werewolf, who also happened to be Charlie’s mom.
“Hey, Corrie,” Charlie greeted her, not moving his hands from his pockets. He must have been a little embarrassed. “You know my mom. She’s the only one I could get to come.”
“Francis, Marie,” Charlie’s mom said, nodding at the other two werewolves. They nodded back.
“Well, let’s go in, I guess,” Corrie said. “I’m glad there’s enough of you. I hope we can get everything done tonight.”
Corrie led the way into the building and back to the classroom they’d sat in before. The four magic professors and the two Djanaea were already waiting for them there.
“Hi,” Dawn said to the room. “We’ve brought our backup.”
The four werewolves followed the girls into the room first, and introductions were made all around. Charlie and Link seemed to know each other already. Link was plainly surprised that Charlie was a werewolf, but held back any strong reaction. Of course, he had a surprise waiting for Charlie as well.
Tom was the last to enter the room. As soon as he did, Professor Strega half-rose from her chair. “You?”
“Me,” he agreed, giving her a ridiculous grin and a bow. “I’m here to help.”
Professor Strega sat, but her knuckles whitened as she tightened her grip on the arms of the chair. “Do you trust him?” she asked, turning her gaze to Corrie, Edie, and Dawn.
It was Troy who answered. “I trust him,” he said. “He’s helped me before.”
“The Djanaea prince,” Tom said, raising his eyebrows. He gave a half-bow. “Of course.”
“I trust him,” Dawn said. “For the most part.”
Tom smirked at her. “As it should be.”