Wednesday, August 23
Corrie’s new rolling suitcase bumped over the lines in the pavement as she headed toward the campus from the parking lot, taking a deep breath of the warm late-summer air. It smelled amazing; she loved the city, but she thought she might love the country more—at least, she certainly loved the middle-of-nowhere land of Chatoyant College. Here, she could smell things that were green and growing, even if it would only be a month or two before they turned brown and dried up. And she was sure that if it were possible, if she knew how, she would be able to smell magic.
She smiled and waved at a few people she knew as she walked through the huge iron gates that marked the front of Chatoyant College’s campus. She didn’t see any of her closest friends yet, but she knew that was only a matter of time—after all, she, Edie, and Dawn were sharing a room this year. They’d gotten their dorm assignments at the end of the spring semester, and the three of them had a triple on the second floor of Sayer. She was thrilled about it.
Corrie had to check in at the administration building to get her key, but the lines were short and it didn’t take long; soon she was walking through the front door of her new dorm building (someone had helpfully propped it open so that the students moving in didn’t have to keep swiping their ID cards while carrying bags) and then hauling her suitcase up the stairs.
She wasn’t surprised to find that she was the last one of the three to reach the room—Edie and Dawn were always more prompt than she was. No one was in the room at the moment, but she recognized Edie’s trunk at the foot of the bed on the right, and the suitcase and backpack on the bed on the left, around the corner where the building turned, looked like Dawn’s. They had thoughtfully left her the bed in the middle. Since that was what she wanted, she grinned and started unpacking.
She was in the middle of hanging her clothes in the closet (which was much smaller than the one she’d had in Gilkey, but the room size made up for it, and she didn’t need that much space) when she heard the door open and the laughter of several people burst in. She turned with a grin. “There you are!”
“Corrie!” Edie broke away from the group and rushed toward Corrie. They hugged each other tightly, and Corrie felt her metaphorical cup of happiness fill up even more. She belonged here—with her best friend.
Dawn was lined up right behind Edie to hug her, followed by their friends Annie and Roe. Dawn’s boyfriend Rico didn’t hug Corrie, but smiled and shook her hand.
“What have you guys been up to?” Corrie asked, going back to her unpacking. “You weren’t here when I showed up.”
“We went to look for Annie and Roe,” Dawn said. She and Rico headed over to her side of the room and started to unpack her things. They started with the sheets, making her bed. Corrie was tempted to make a dirty joke, but refrained.
She turned to Roe and Annie instead. “Oh, yeah, you guys are in Richmond, right?”
“Not anymore,” Roe said. “It turns out with so few people returning this year, they decided to shut down Richmond and Darnel and shift everyone who’d signed up for it to other dorms.”
“It works out for us, though,” Annie said. “We have singles now, in Mary Thomas.”
Corrie grimaced. She wouldn’t want to live in Mary Thomas and she was surprised that, if the college was going to shut down dorms, it wasn’t Mary Thomas and Sayer. After all, they were the dorms that had housed the two students who had been killed the previous semester by a faerie.
But it didn’t bother her to live in Sayer, even though this was where Sean had lived, and she realized that it wasn’t the deaths that she was concerned about, but who they’d been in life; Elrath, the first person to be killed, was a faerie who had used his magic to take advantage of women. And now that she thought about it, four students had been killed, and she had no idea where Payton and Elena had lived. It wouldn’t be practical to shut down all the dorms where the victims had lived.
Anyway, the people who had returned were the ones who weren’t scared off by the deaths that had occurred—which included her and her friends, since they had been involved in the capture of the culprit—or the revelation at the very end of the spring semester that faeries lived on campus and in the woods, disguised as humans.
“I guess I’m not surprised that a lot of people aren’t back,” she said. “I’m glad you guys weren’t scared off. Who do we know that’s still around?”
“I haven’t seen anyone else yet,” Edie said. She was starting to unpack her trunk.
“Troy is still here, of course,” Roe said.
“And Link?” Corrie said, looking over her shoulder and grinning at her.
Roe grinned back, blushing a little. Her boyfriend Link was the older cousin of their friend Troy, and both of them were Djanaea, something like mermaids who took human form to come to Chatoyant College. “He has an apartment in town and he’s working in the administration. How’s Charlie?”
It was Corrie’s turn to blush a little. Charlie was their old RA from Gilkey, and she’d been dating him since spring. He was also a werewolf in the same pack as her father.
Chatoyant College had thrown her and her friends into a tangled web of the supernatural that she didn’t think they’d ever get free of. Not that she wanted to.
“He’s got a good job in Human Resources,” she said. “He’s working for a big company in the city.”
“Human Resources?” Dawn said, laughing.
“I’m sure he’s good at it!” Annie said. “He puts people at ease.”
“You’re right, it’s just… so corporate.”
“I think it’s weird and so does he,” Corrie said, laughing too. “But he likes it so far.” She’d finished with her clothes, so she moved on to her sheets. Annie stepped in to help her, and they had the bed made in seconds.