Saturday, September 30
Edie ate pudding off a spoon, trying to hide her smile as Corrie slowly and torturously pronounced a sentence she’d learned in her introductory French class. Corrie stuck her tongue out and shook her head at the end of it, then turned to Edie. “Well, how did I do? Did any of that make sense?”
Edie put her spoon back in her pudding. “Sorry, I charge twenty dollars an hour for French tutoring.”
Annie and Dawn both laughed. “Can you afford those rates, Corrie?” Dawn teased. “Usually all you have to do is offer Edie a new book or some yarn.”
“I’ll accept the equivalent of my rate in books or yarn,” Edie said hastily, and all four of them laughed.
“I don’t think French is my thing,” Corrie said, flopping her head on the dining hall table dramatically. “Maybe I should leave it to you, Edie.”
“Oh, come on!” Edie said. “You’re just starting out. At least give it a full semester.”
“But if I drop out now, I won’t get a negative on my transcript,” Corrie said. “I don’t think I can face the midterm.”
“Someone has to learn French with me,” Edie said. “I want to study abroad in France for a semester, but I don’t want to go by myself.”
Annie stopped grinning and looked down at her plate. Edie winced inwardly. She didn’t know what exactly she’d said just now to upset Annie, but she felt like she was walking on eggshells with her ever since she’d asked her out. Edie knew she owed her an answer, and things would be uncomfortable between them until she gave that answer, but she just didn’t know what she wanted to say.
“So how come Roe didn’t eat with us tonight?” Dawn asked. Edie inwardly thanked her for breaking the awkward silence, whether or not she’d done it on purpose.
“She’s out with Link,” Annie said.
“Oh, so their date did get rescheduled?” Edie asked. “Good, I was a little worried after last week. She didn’t seem too confident about it.”
Annie sighed. “She hasn’t told me a lot of details, but I think their relationship might be on the rocks.”
“Again?” Corrie asked. “They certainly seemed to have made up last semester…”
“Yes, and things were fine over the summer, but not as much now. He might still be living on campus, but he’s working—he’s more like an adult than a student. And I think he feels a little bit less needed now that Troy is doing so well on his own, so he’s grumpy about that.”
“That sucks,” Edie said. “I mean, not that Troy is doing so well—I’ve seen it and it’s great. But Link should feel better now that he isn’t needed.”
Annie nodded. “And he definitely still wants to get married, and she is definitely not ready for that. It probably doesn’t help that she hasn’t been sleeping well, either.”
“Is she having more disturbing visions?” Dawn asked. “Like with the teeth last semester?”
“No, it’s just the ghost.” Annie grimaced.
Corrie frowned and put down her drink. “We need to do something about that. I’d say we should try to communicate with her again, but it obviously backfired last time.”
“I caught Lal in the hallway the other day and tried to talk to her about it, but she brushed me off,” Annie said. “The professors seem really determined not to believe that there’s no ghost.”
“I guess we just have to hope that we learn something in Ritual Magic,” Dawn said.
Annie put her head in her hands and groaned theatrically. “So we have to hope for Mardalan to be a competent teacher. Great.”
Edie and Corrie both laughed, and then they all started to gather up their dishes—Edie had finished her pudding, though she would have been tempted to get more if they hadn’t all seemed ready to go. Dawn and Corrie led the way out of the dining hall, but as they were heading out into the cooling evening, Annie touched Edie’s elbow, distracting her from the brilliant yellow and orange that the leaves were turning.
“Can I talk to you for a few minutes?”
Edie swallowed, feeling that something inside her was twisted, but she nodded. They split off from Corrie and Dawn when the path branched—Edie wasn’t even sure if her roommates noticed her going a different way—and headed to Mary Thomas.
Annie stopped just inside the door and headed over to the left to stand by one of the thick, lead-paned windows that let light into the lobby. “I don’t want to go back up to my room just yet,” she said with a sigh, touching her temple with her fingertips.
Something inside Edie squeezed. “You’re welcome to sleep over in our dorm again,” she said. “I don’t know if anyone else is planning to spend the night in someone else’s room, but we can figure something out…”
She trailed off as Annie shook her head more and more vigorously. “I can’t do that,” she said.
“We don’t mind helping you get some sleep,” Edie said, but she strongly suspected that it was hopeless.
Annie sighed again, glancing around the deserted lobby as though to make sure no one else was there. “Maybe you don’t understand, Edie,” she said, looking down at her hands and then clasping them in front of herself. “I couldn’t sleep when I stayed over in your dorm, either. It wasn’t the ghost then. It was you. I couldn’t relax, being that close to you, without knowing.”