Chatoyant College, Chatoyant College Book 14: Ghost Stories

Chatoyant College Book 14: Chapter 43: Presence

A few minutes later, they had all gathered in Annie’s room. The room was small and narrow, so it was a bit crowded with all of them there, but they weren’t quite packed in like sardines. Annie and Edie sat on Annie’s bed with a few inches of space between them; Corrie, Roe, and Dawn stood between Annie’s bed and the wall; Lin had taken Annie’s desk chair, sitting on her own.

“Is there anything we need to do?” Annie asked, clutching the notebook in her lap until her knuckles turned white. “To call the ghost or something like that?”

Lin shook her head and closed her eyes. “It will show up.” Her voice was shaking slightly. “It’s… they’re drawn to my presence, and if this is where the ghost spends most of its time, then it shouldn’t take long at all.”

“Unless it hates me, Edie, and Dawn now because we tried to talk to it earlier,” Corrie muttered. She hoped she hadn’t made everything worse by trying so hard to communicate with the ghost. Scratch that, she knew she had—she just hoped it wasn’t something Lin couldn’t fix.

“We just need to wait a few minutes,” Lin said.

“You can’t tell where the ghost is?” Roe asked.

“Just that it’s in this building,” Lin said. “They don’t necessarily take up physical space, it’s more like—oh.” She let out a breath, then took one in sharply, a loud gasp. She was suddenly sitting ramrod straight in the chair, her shoulders so stiff they almost looked pointed.

You,” she said. It was Lin’s voice, and yet it wasn’t. Corrie could not figure out the difference between now and a moment ago, other than the fury in the voice that definitely hadn’t been there before.

Lin—no, the ghost—glared around at all five of them. “What are you doing here? Leave me alone.”

“We just want to talk to you,” Corrie said quickly.

“If you don’t want to talk,” Roe said, “we don’t have to. You can leave the medium.”

The ghost looked down at Lin’s hands, stiff in her lap, and lifted the fingers to flex them. It was clear that she didn’t want to leave Lin’s body; she was probably enjoying corporeality for the first time in centuries.

“What do you want?” Annie asked. “Why are you haunting this dorm?”

The ghost covered her face with her hands—Lin’s face with Lin’s hands—Corrie didn’t know what to think, except that she was pretty sure Lin had nothing to do with anything her body was doing right now.

No wonder Lin didn’t like telling people she was a medium. It must be incredibly disconcerting to find yourself in a situation in which you have no control over your own body, but something else does. How had she even found out what she could do? “Could do” wasn’t even the right phrase here—it didn’t seem like she had a choice about whether or not to let ghosts in, they just showed up when she came close enough.

“I just want to be left alone,” the ghost said.

“But there must be a reason you’re haunting this dorm,” Annie said. “Did you die here? Did you kill yourself over a man?”

“What? No!”

“Is your name Mary Thomas?” Dawn asked.

“No! No! Leave me alone!”

“You’re welcome to leave at any time,” Roe said patiently.

“My name is Edie,” Edie said. Her voice was soft but determined. “What can we call you?”

The ghost swallowed visibly and lowered her hands. “My name was—is—Alice Atkins.”

“I’m Corrie Vine,” Corrie said, since obviously Edie had the right idea and they should all introduce themselves to the ghost. Maybe making a connection to her got her to open up a little bit more.

They all introduced themselves. Annie went last. “I’m Annie McGillan, and you’ve been haunting my room all semester,” Annie said. “Why me?”

Alice looked around. “This is my room!”

“Well, that’s one reason,” Annie muttered.

“So you lived in this room, when you were alive?” Edie asked. “Did you die here, Alice?”

Alice covered her face again. “No! No! No!” The last “no” spiraled into a scream, higher and higher in pitch.

Chatoyant College, Chatoyant College Book 14: Ghost Stories

Chatoyant College Book 14: Chapter 42: Here to Help

Lin took a deep breath, looking down at her hands. Corrie felt bad for her, with the five of them staring at her as though she were about to do some kind of performance, but there wasn’t really any other way to do this.

Finally, Lin spoke. “Roe assured me that all of you can keep secrets, so I’m trusting you to keep mine. The reason I’m at Chatoyant College is because I’m a natural medium and I needed to learn some control over my ability.”

Corrie gasped, her thoughts already running ahead. Lin must be able to help them communicate with the ghost where nothing else would work.

“I’ve learned a lot,” she continued, “but since I haven’t been able to take lessons with an actual medium—it’s a very rare power—I am still missing some control. And, well, Roe told me that you’re having a ghost problem. I’ve avoided Mary Thomas the entire time I’ve been here because I heard about the ghost, but I guess this is the time to face my fears.” She brought her hands up to rub her eyes with the heels of them, then finally looked up. “So if you want, I’m here to help you talk to the ghost.”

“That would be amazing,” Annie said quickly, leaning so far forward she was nearly toppling off of Corrie’s bed. “Is there anything you need?”

“I don’t ever want to be alone with the ghost,” Lin said, turning to Annie. “And I may need other people there to help the communication along.”

“We’ll go with you,” Corrie said. “As many of us as you want. Is all of us too many?”

“No.” Lin looked around the room. “We’ll just all need to fit into the room.”

“We can all squeeze in,” Annie said.

Corrie could see Lin’s shoulders relaxing and gave her an encouraging smile. She obviously hated telling people she was a medium, though Corrie couldn’t understand why. Maybe she’d had some bad experiences before coming to Chatoyant College. “We’re really grateful for your help.”

Dawn nodded. “We’ve tried to communicate with the ghost, but it didn’t go very well.”

Lin nodded. “I’ve heard stories. But if she can use me to speak… oh, that reminds me, you should bring notebooks so you can write things down. Sometime ghosts say things that don’t make sense until later.”

“Got it,” Edie said, getting off her bed and opening her desk drawer.

Lin looked around at them. “So none of you are going to beg me to look for your great-grandmother or try to get in touch with the ghost of Albert Einstein?”

Edie snorted, straightening up with two notebooks in her hands. “Pretty sure you couldn’t get in touch with my great-grandmother.”

Corrie laughed. Edie’s great-grandmother—at least one of them—was allegedly still alive, since she was a faerie living somewhere in a mountain lake. “I guess I’m not really interested in getting in touch with dead people unless they’re making my life difficult.”

“Is that why you don’t like telling people that you’re a medium?” Dawn asked.

Lin nodded. “That’s part of it, people wanting me to get in touch with a particular ghost, and they don’t like it when I explain that it doesn’t work that way—I mean, it should with the Mary Thomas ghost, but if I can’t go to a location that a ghost is haunting, I can’t really connect to that specific ghost.”

“I think we’re all pretty focused on you connecting to that one specific ghost,” Annie said. “Are you ready tonight or do you need some time?”

Lin stood up. “I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.”

“Let’s all make sure we have our stuff and head over to Annie’s room, then,” Corrie said, standing up as well.

“I need to talk to Rico, but I’ll meet you there,” Dawn said.

“I’ll show you where it is, Lin,” Annie said, leading Lin out of the room.

Chatoyant College, Chatoyant College Book 14: Ghost Stories

Chatoyant College Book 14: Chapter 41: Drama

Saturday, October 14

Annie had laid her head on the table between her arms. “I think I failed all my midterms. This sucks. I can’t concentrate without any sleep.”

Corrie reached out and patted her arm, hastily chewing her salad so she could speak. “I’m sure you didn’t fail every single midterm.”

“You’re really smart, Annie,” Edie said. “You did a better job than you think.”

“If nothing else,” Dawn said, “at least Ritual Magic doesn’t have a midterm. So you only have four midterms to have failed.”

That made Corrie and Edie laugh, and Corrie thought a weak chuckle emerged from Annie. After a moment, she straightened up. “I’m going to get some of that chocolate cake.”

“Good idea,” Edie said. “If nothing else, you can take your mind off your stress.”

Edie looked down as Annie walked off. Corrie looked between them, then at Dawn. Dawn gave her a tiny shrug. Corrie had noticed awkwardness growing between her two friends, and she didn’t like it. Had Annie confessed her crush on Edie and Edie turned her down? That would be terrible. They would make such a great couple—she wanted to see them both happy, as happy as she was with Charlie. No, happier than that—as happy as Dawn was with Rico. And she thought they could make each other happy.

If that had happened, though, at least they didn’t seem to have let it interfere with their friendship. Corrie wished Edie would tell her and Dawn about it, though. Maybe she was still confused.

Dawn sat up straighter and waved. Edie turned to see who Dawn was waving at, and caught sight of Roe entering the cafeteria. She waved, too, and Roe waved back at both of them.

Roe arrived at the table before Annie returned. “Hey, is that seat taken?” she asked. There was someone Corrie vaguely recognized behind her. Corrie would never have noticed the other girl if she hadn’t stopped at the same time as Roe—she saw her around often enough that she was just another student in the dining hall.

“Annie’s going to be back any minute,” Dawn said.

“Perfect,” Roe said, taking the seat on the other side of Annie’s. “Guys, this is Lin. Mind if she sits next to you, Corrie?”

“Of course not,” Corrie said, turning to her left. That explained the vague familiarity. “Hi, Lin, how are you?”

“I’m okay,” Lin said. “Corrie, right? And Edie.” She nodded at both of them—they’d had a few magic classes together by now.

Dawn smiled and gave Lin a little wave. “Hi, I’m Dawn. You’re Celeste’s roommate?”

“Um, yeah,” Lin said, raising her eyebrows. “You know her?”

“She’s in Ritual Magic with me and Annie,” Dawn said, gesturing as Annie sat down with two slices of chocolate cake and a glass of milk.

Lin’s eyebrows went up even higher. “Oh. This is the girl who set herself on fire, isn’t it?”

Annie’s cheeks went pink. “Uh, that’s me. Does everyone know about that?”

“Everyone Celeste knows might have heard about it,” Lin said apologetically. “It was a dramatic story. You’re okay now, right?”

“Yeah, Ginny fixed me up.” Annie touched her chest lightly.

“I’m Lin.”

“I’m Annie.”

“Lin is going to help us,” Roe said. “Or try to, anyway.”

Annie turned to her with a slight frown. “Really? How?”

“I’d rather wait to discuss that until we can go somewhere more private,” Lin said. “In the meantime, now that I’ve met all of you, I’m getting something to eat. Be right back.”

There was a brief silence after she left. “This is very exciting,” Corrie said, hoping to break the awkwardness. “And mysterious.”

“Yeah, sorry about that,” Roe said. “I’d better get something to eat, too. This is going to be a long night. Unless any of you had plans tonight? We don’t have to do this tonight.”

Corrie shrugged. Edie and Annie both looked down at their plates. “Well, I was going to go over to Rico’s,” Dawn said. “But if this is about helping Annie, he won’t be upset. In fact, he’ll tell me this is more important. It’s not like I never see him.” She smiled.

“Okay, good,” Roe said. “Be back soon.” She jumped up from her seat and headed the same way Lin had gone, toward the food.

Annie sighed, poking morosely at her cake with her fork. “This ridiculous school. Does everything here run on drama?”

“Maybe drama is just another word for magic,” Edie said. “And you can’t tell me you don’t thrive on it, just a little bit. You wouldn’t be back otherwise.”

Annie looked up and laughed. “You’re probably right about that.” Finally, she started to actually eat her cake.

When Roe and Lin returned, they kept the conversation light and superficial, mostly discussing their magic classes. Lin had heard from Celeste about Mardalan, the new faerie professor. She didn’t seem nearly as bothered by Mardalan as the rest of them, but of course, she didn’t have the history they did. Corrie was still baffled by Mardalan teaching. Hadn’t she wanted to get away from Chatoyant College? Why didn’t she do so, now that she could? But none of them could make any sense of it.

Finally, as Corrie’s curiosity about Lin’s potential assistance began to burn, everyone finished their dinners and they headed outside, into the cool evening. Students were still streaming in and out of the dining hall, as well as the dorms. Lin looked around with a frown. “Let’s go somewhere we won’t be overheard. Not inside Mary Thomas.”

“I know a good place,” Edie said.

Corrie shook her head. “Why don’t we all just go back to our room? It’s big enough to hold the six of us.”

“Yeah, that sounds good,” Dawn said quickly. Corrie was pretty sure they both thought that Edie was talking about the orchard kept by the environmental co-op students, but after all the time Edie had spent there with Leila last year, Corrie didn’t want to set foot near the place.

They all trooped up to the room. It was dim until Corrie flipped on the lights and pulled out her desk chair for Lin, who sat gingerly in it. The rest of them sat on Corrie’s and Edie’s beds, looking at Lin.

Chatoyant College, Chatoyant College Book 14: Ghost Stories

Chatoyant College Book 14: Chapter 40: Answer

Edie’s heart thudded low in her chest. She had known this conversation was going to be about that question. “I’m sorry I haven’t answered you yet.”

“It’s not just a casual question to me. I want to… I want to make sure you understand.” Annie took a deep breath, looking down at her hands. “I really, really like you. I’ve liked you for a long time. Ever since the four of you rescued me from the faeries, and I saw how brave and powerful you are when something is really important to you.”

“I’m not, though,” Edie said, feeling small and confused. “I’m not brave or powerful you are.”

Annie’s mouth curved in a tiny smile. “You are to me. You’re a very special person.”

Edie flinched and took half a step back. Leila had always told her that she was special. It had turned out not to be something about Edie herself, but about her ancestry. She had a faerie great-grandmother, and that was all that had seemed to interest Leila. She knew Annie didn’t—couldn’t—mean it the same way Leila did, but she still didn’t know what to say.

Thankfully, she wasn’t expected to respond. Annie was still going. “Maybe you don’t see it yourself. That’s okay. What I’m trying to tell you is, you’re incredibly important to me. It’s been really hard to say or do anything because I’ve been afraid of ruining our friendship.”

Edie sucked in a breath. “I don’t think anything you could do or say would ruin our friendship.”

“So I haven’t screwed it up by asking you out?” Annie finally dared to look up.

Edie had to smile. “Not at all. Unless I’ve screwed it up by failing to give you an answer.”

Annie swallowed. “I’ve been wondering if your lack of answer is meant to be an answer in itself.”

Edie shook her head quickly. She wanted to reach out and take Annie’s hand, but was afraid that would send the wrong message, when she just meant to be comforting. “It’s a struggle for me. I really like you as a friend, and I think dating you would be fun. But at the same time, I’m kind of freaked out after what happened with Leila. I know you’re not at all like Leila—in some ways you’re really the opposite of her—but she really hurt me and I’m afraid that if I date anyone else, I’ll just worry all the time that it will end up the same.”

Annie took a deep breath, her shoulders relaxing and her hands falling away from each other. “Okay. I get that.”

“You do?” Edie wasn’t sure that she got it herself.

“Yeah. You were scared and hurt, so you think the same thing will happen again, even though it isn’t logical.” Annie gestured at the building around them. “I’m happy to be living in Mary Thomas because there’s so much iron here, even though I know it doesn’t fully keep faeries out, and despite the ghost. It’s still better than being kidnapped by faeries and forced to play in their orchestra of evil.”

Edie relaxed and smiled at Annie. “And yet you face Mardalan in class three times a week. I think you’re the brave one.”

Annie laughed. “Maybe.”

“And you asked me out despite being so nervous about it.”

“Oh, well, that’s Roe’s fault.” Annie rolled her eyes. “She forced me into it.”

It was Edie’s turn to laugh. “She did? How?”

“She was going to tell you about my crush if I didn’t say anything,” Annie said. “And I know she would do it. That probably would have been even more awkward.”

Edie wanted to say that would have been okay, but then she imagined what things would be like if she had seen Annie again, knowing Annie had a crush on her but not actually having a conversation with her to get to the bottom of things. “Yeah, that’s true. I’m glad it worked out the way it did, even if I still don’t have an answer for you.”

“I’m willing to wait. As long as it doesn’t mean you want to stop being friends with me.”

“I meant what I said earlier. We are willing to do whatever we can to help you, because you’re our friend. Nothing we just talked about changes that.”

“Okay. Well, thanks.” Annie smiled at Edie again. “Now that we’ve had that conversation, I’m going to go take a nap while the sun is still up and the ghost is unlikely to bug me.”

“Good plan.” Edie grinned and waved to Annie as she headed up the stairs, then went back outside.

She took a deep breath of the cool night air. They had to help Annie. They had to do whatever it took. She deserved it.

Chatoyant College, Chatoyant College Book 14: Ghost Stories

Chatoyant College Book 14: Chapter 39: On the Rocks

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.”

Chatoyant College, Chatoyant College Book 14: Ghost Stories

Chatoyant College Book 14: Chapter 36: Not My Secret

“Weird noises in the middle of the night,” Celeste said. “People’s doors don’t stay shut and sometimes their stuff moves around. Weird, right? I mean, I know there are faeries and stuff on campus, but if faeries are teachers and students, they’re probably not sneaking around in dorms playing little tricks on people.”

“No, faeries don’t do that kind of thing,” Corrie said. “Though I guess it’s probably safest to keep a four-leaf clover and some iron on you at all times anyway.” She stuck her hand in her jeans pocket, where she always had a four-leaf clover. Nothing changed this time when she touched it, but she would have been very surprised if it had.

“Oh, yeah, I got one of those.” Celeste reached into her back pocket and pulled out a four-leaf clover, holding it up. “No faerie is going to sneak up on me.”

Continue reading “Chatoyant College Book 14: Chapter 36: Not My Secret”

Chatoyant College, Chatoyant College Book 14: Ghost Stories

Chatoyant College Book 14: Chapter 35: Nothing There

Saturday, September 23

Corrie and Edie stood in the doorway of Annie’s room while she packed a few things. They’d made plans earlier for a movie night with her, and since Dawn had made plans with Rico to spend the night in his dorm room (his roommate would be away), she’d agreed to let Annie sleep in her bed. They were all hoping Annie would be able to get a better night of sleep away from Mary Thomas. The ghost had been bothering her every single night recently. Corrie had suggested she ask to be moved to a different dorm room, but there weren’t any empty ones; the way the administration had juggled the student population when so many people had dropped out, the dorms that had remained open were fully packed.

Corrie heard footsteps on the rug behind her and turned around to see Roe, smiling wanly. “Hi, guys,” she said. “What are you up to? Keeping Annie company?”

Continue reading “Chatoyant College Book 14: Chapter 35: Nothing There”

Chatoyant College, Chatoyant College Book 14: Ghost Stories

Chatoyant College Book 14: Chapter 33: Handout

Monday, September 18

Dawn walked into Ritual Magic to find Annie already in her usual seat at the back, staring into a very large coffee cup from the coffee stand in the humanities building. She sighed and walked over to sit next to Annie. “Still having trouble sleeping?”

“Mhm,” Annie said. She made a face, wrinkling her nose, and took a large sip of the coffee. “I don’t like coffee. I ordered a fancy drink with sugar and steamed milk and stuff, but now it’s too sweet.”

“Maybe just a coffee with cream and sugar next time,” Dawn suggested.

Continue reading “Chatoyant College Book 14: Chapter 33: Handout”

Chatoyant College, Chatoyant College Book 14: Ghost Stories

Chatoyant College Book 14: Chapter 32: Illusion

“Right,” Corrie said. “If the building is not in imminent danger, I guess we can.” She took a deep breath. “We found the ghost—there wasn’t anything to see, but she knocked to communicate with us. She wouldn’t use the tarot cards, though, and she wouldn’t communicate very clearly. She ran out into the hall—Edie figured that out, since she felt the cold wind.”

“Cold spots,” Annie said. “I thought I’d noticed those, but I wasn’t sure.”

“We followed her to try to communicate with her more,” Corrie said. “But she still wouldn’t say anything. Then she started bending the floorboards. It looked like we were going to fall through the floor if we stepped forward. I’m getting more skeptical of the magic professors’ assertions that ghosts can’t hurt us.”

Continue reading “Chatoyant College Book 14: Chapter 32: Illusion”

Chatoyant College, Chatoyant College Book 14: Ghost Stories

Chatoyant College Book 14: Chapter 31: Buckling

“I think she might have left the room, if the cold air was her,” Edie said. “It felt like she went… right through me.” She shuddered again. It wasn’t a pleasant thing to think about, much less to feel.

“Let’s try the hallway, then,” Corrie said, getting to her feet. “That is where Roe’s vision took place, after all.”

“I just hope she hasn’t gone downstairs to harass Annie some more,” Dawn said.

Edie led the way back out into the hall. She looked up and down it, but of course she didn’t see anything.

Continue reading “Chatoyant College Book 14: Chapter 31: Buckling”