Chatoyant College, Chatoyant College Book 14: Ghost Stories

Chatoyant College Book 14: Chapter 48: Wanting

“I wonder if any of the faerie professors who are currently here knew her,” Corrie said. “If she worked with the professors, then they would have known her. At least the magic professors. I could ask Professor Lal.”

“I thought we weren’t going to talk to them. What would you say if she asked why you’re asking about a long-dead student?” Annie asked.

Corrie shook her head. “I’ll think of something. Knowing she was a magic student makes it more important to talk to them. Edie, have you talked to Derwen?”

Edie shook her head. “I haven’t seen her. We don’t hang out as much anymore.” She was privately a little relieved. She liked Derwen, but spending a lot of time with her was, well… it was a lot.

“Okay, I’ll look up the Mary Thomas scholarship,” Dawn said. “Edie will talk to Derwen. Corrie will talk to Lal. Annie will think of more questions, because she’s good at asking questions. And Roe… I guess your job is just to be the go-between with Lin.”

Roe grinned. “I like this division of labor.”

“See you guys later, then.” Dawn headed out the door, Corrie right behind her. Edie hurried to follow them.

Corrie glanced back at her on the stairs with a grin. “You aren’t going to stay behind and chat with Annie?”

Edie swallowed, her throat suddenly feeling tight. Corrie’s grin faded, and the three of them were quiet on the walk back to their dorm room.

That ended as soon as they shut the door to their room. “What is going on with you and Annie?” Corrie asked, putting her hand on Edie’s shoulder in a comforting manner.

“We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to,” Dawn said.

Edie shook her head. “No, I…” She sighed and sat down on her bed. “Maybe I should talk about it. I don’t know what to say. Annie asked me out—“

“Yes!” Corrie interrupted.

“But I haven’t given her an answer, and I don’t know what answer to give,” Edie finished.

“Oh.”

Dawn pulled out Edie’s desk chair and sat on it. “How long ago was this?”

“It was…” Edie tried to think, then sighed. “Over a month ago. I know, I’m awful.”

“You’re not awful,” Corrie said. “You’re just confused. Is this about Leila?”

“Yes. No? I don’t know. I keep thinking about Leila, but it’s not like I think Annie is going to treat me the way Leila did.”

“You didn’t think Leila was going to treat you the way that she did, either,” Dawn pointed out.

Edie nodded, her mouth twisting into a half-smile at the mirroring of her own thoughts earlier. “But it’s silly, right? I just fell into a relationship with Leila without knowing anything about her first. Annie is obviously different.”

“Do you like her?” Corrie asked. “I mean, as more than a friend?”

“I don’t know,” Edie said miserably, hiding her face in her hands. “I want to.”

“If you want to, then you don’t,” Corrie said.

“Then you should probably say no,” Dawn said.

“I thought you guys were going to tell me to date her,” Edie said.

“Well, obviously I think you two should date. But if you’re not all in for it, it doesn’t make sense.” Corrie touched Edie’s shoulder again. “You know her well enough by now to know whether you’re into her, so you don’t have to date her to figure that out. And she’s liked you for so long, you don’t want to get things started unless you’re ready for something serious.”

There was a lump in Edie’s throat again as she remembered how clear and serious Annie had been about her feelings. She swallowed and nodded. “So you think I should say no.”

“I hate saying it!” Corrie threw her hands in the air.

Dawn smiled and pushed Corrie a little. “But despite what we may have been hoping, the most important thing is to do what’s best for both of you. And yeah, it’s probably best if you say no. You don’t want to keep her waiting for an answer that may never come.”

Edie put her elbows on her knees and rested her forehead on her fists. “I wanted to tell her yes. I wanted to make her happy.”

“Better to make her sad now and get it over with than stretch it out,” Dawn said.

“I agree with Dawn,” Corrie said. “Even if you do decide someday that you want to date her—I’m not ruling it out—you don’t want her to be waiting around for you to change your mind. You should both be living your own lives.”

Edie lifted her head to wrinkle her nose at Corrie. “How are you this obsessed with me dating Annie?”

“You’re perfect for each other!”

Dawn rolled her eyes. “Until now she’s only had me to talk to about it. I admit, I kind of thought you two were meant to be together for a while. But I think the fact that you didn’t immediately say yes to her proves that this is not the time. The time may come, or it may never come, and that’s okay.”

Corrie put her arm around Edie’s waist and rested her head on her shoulder. “I’m sorry if I’m stressing you out. You’re making a smart decision. I’m the one suggesting dumb decisions. But dumb decisions seem to work out for me. Look at Charlie.”

“I think that was a smart decision.” Edie tilted her head so it rested gently on Corrie’s. She decided not to mention the arguably dumb decision Corrie had made in dating her ex, Paul, who had turned into a stalker. “You’re right. Thanks for talking through this with me. Now I just have to break the news to Annie.”

“That, you’re on your own for,” Dawn said.

“It would just be mean to bring my other friends to tell her that,” Edie said. “Even if I was giving her a different answer.”

She actually felt a little bit better now that she’d made the decision. She had probably known that this was going to have to be her answer all along—maybe Annie had even known it, too, but hadn’t wanted to push her. She’d just been trying to find a way to change her answer. Now that she’d given up on forcing herself to do something she knew was wrong, she felt relieved.

She just had to actually give that answer to Annie. She was dreading it a little, but she would get it over with soon. Whenever she could find a few minutes alone with Annie, she would do it.

Chatoyant College, Chatoyant College Book 14: Ghost Stories

Chatoyant College Book 14: Chapter 47: History

Edie hurried to take a seat; Dawn, the last to enter, hastily pulled the door shut behind them. Lin had adopted the same tense, stiff posture she’d had yesterday when the ghost entered her. This time it had happened much more quickly, though. Could it be that the ghost actually wanted to talk to them?

“Alice,” Annie said. “Thank you for returning to speak to us again.”

Alice turned her head and nodded at Annie. “What do you want?”

“That’s our question for you,” Corrie said.

“But we can take our time to figure that out,” Annie said quickly. “We want to know more about you. You lived—you live here in this dorm room. What is the dorm called?”

“Mary Thomas,” Alice said. “Just like the scholarship.”

Edie raised her eyebrows and wrote that down—she was glad she always carried a notebook with her. She’d never heard of a Mary Thomas scholarship.

“Are you here on that scholarship?” Annie asked.

“Yes.” Alice swallowed and looked down at my hands. “I was lucky to find this place. My family—I want to support them, make life easier for them. If I can learn magic, then I’m sure I can find a way to make money.”

“It will definitely help,” Dawn said. “That’s a great idea. My aunt knows magic and it helps her support herself as a single woman.”

Edie wondered if, like Pru, Alice had gone through a doomed romance with a faerie. Or just a doomed romance with a human student, like the story Sam had told—though, now that she thought about it, there was nothing in that story that made it impossible that the ghost’s lover had been a faerie. He had refused to marry her, even though they loved each other, like Tom had refused to be with Pru.

Was Annie trying to find out whether Sam’s story was true? It certainly matched so far. She was a scholarship student trying to make life better for her family.

“Thank you,” Alice said, but her voice was soft and she looked down at her hands, twisting her fingers.

“Is that what you want to do?” Edie asked. “Support yourself as a single woman?”

“If necessary.”

“There isn’t anyone you want to marry?”

“Me?” Alice looked up, shaking her head. “No, no. I’m much too focused on my work. I don’t have the time to get to know any men.”

At least she wasn’t getting upset. Edie realized belatedly that it had been a risky question—if she had truly killed herself over a man, thinking of him would likely be distressing. But it seemed that Sam’s story wasn’t quite accurate.

Annie seemed to want to press the point. “Not even a fellow student? You haven’t worked with any young men in your magic classes?”

“I suppose.” Alice shrugged. “I’m friendly with some of the others. But we don’t really speak outside of class. Sometimes I work with the professors. I have been working with them recently, since there’s a big project I want to do.”

“Tell us about that,” Annie said. “Is it an independent study?”

“Yes, it’s the last thing I need to do before graduating,” Alice said. “I need to graduate and return home—my father is ill. The professors agreed that I could graduate early if I was able to prove my mastery of the magical disciplines, but…” Her voice faded.

“Yes?” Annie pressed her. “Tell us about that. It sounds very difficult. How do you prove your mastery? It’s more than taking an exam?”

“No… no…” Alice’s voice was faint. Suddenly Lin went limp again, though this time she didn’t collapse like she had yesterday, but caught herself on the sides of the chair.

She pushed herself upright, smiling faintly. “Sorry if that was a bad time to end the conversation,” she said. “The ghost was getting distressed again, and I didn’t want to risk it freaking out like yesterday.”

“That’s okay,” Roe said. “We don’t want you to overtax yourself. Thank you again for helping. It looks like you’re dealing with it well.”

Lin stood up and stretched, her smile widening. “It’s so freeing to know that I can eject a ghost anytime I want to. Doing it a second time proved that it wasn’t just a fluke. I hope I can keep them out when I don’t want them, too, though I won’t test it with this ghost until we’re done. Do you guys want to try another session later?”

“Yes,” Annie said quickly. “If you don’t mind. We still haven’t figured out how she died or why she’s haunting… or, crap, when she lived. I got distracted with the scholarship conversation. I was going to ask her what year she thought it was.”

“Next time,” Lin said. “I’ll be in touch. Right now I’m going to go have a nap.” She opened the door and left quietly.

“Well, that was a lot more illuminating than our last session,” Edie said, looking down at her notes. “We’ll have to see what we can find out about this Mary Thomas scholarship.”

“That might help us narrow down the timeline, too, if it only existed for a little while,” Dawn said. “Then we won’t have to ask her about the year. Though I guess we should still ask her about Otis Atkins.” They hadn’t been able to find Alice Atkins in the yearbooks at all. They’d come to the conclusion that since the first yearbook they could find was from 1910, she must have lived earlier than that; there was certainly plenty of Chatoyant College history to go through.

Chatoyant College, Chatoyant College Book 14: Ghost Stories

Chatoyant College Book 14: Chapter 46: Banana Bread

Sunday, October 15

Edie was not sure she was entirely awake, but Corrie had dragged her and Dawn to breakfast anyway. She’d done an extra long run and was starving, and somehow couldn’t bring herself to eat alone. She’d promised to let Edie sit down while she got breakfast for both of them.

So she was confused when the person who sat down across from her with a bowl of cereal and a huge smile was not Corrie, but Roe. Annie sat down next to her with her own bowl of cereal, also looking cheerful. Edie blinked blearily at them.

“Are Corrie and Dawn coming, too?” Roe asked.

“Um, yeah,” Edie said. “They’re just getting breakfast.”

“Are you okay?” Annie asked, peering at her.

Edie tried unsuccessfully to suppress a yawn. She covered her mouth. “Corrie made me get up,” she said. “I guess I was up late reading.”

“Must have been a good book.”

Edie nodded, but before she could tell Annie about the fantasy novel she was reading, Corrie and Dawn returned. Corrie had two plates and put one down in front of Edie. “I figured chocolate chip banana bread would cheer you up.”

“And a glass of milk,” Dawn added, putting it next to the plate.

Edie grinned and picked up her fork. “I guess that’s worth getting up in the morning for.” Just the smell of the banana bread made her feel a little more awake.

“Hi, guys!” Corrie said to Roe and Annie as she and Dawn sat down. “I didn’t know you were joining us.”

“We’re just glad you’re here,” Roe said, grinning widely again. “Guess what?”

Dawn stopped with her fork in her omelette. “Did you find something about Alice Atkins?”

“Better,” Roe said. “Lin wants to help some more. She said after a good night’s sleep she actually wants to face a ghost again. She’ll try to let this session be longer, but she’s mostly looking forward to being able to expel the ghost when she wants to, so we have to try not to upset the ghost like we did yesterday.”

“That’s great!” Corrie said.

Between the food and the good news, Edie was starting to feel human. She took a swig of milk to wash down the banana bread. “I guess we have to try not to ask the ghost about being dead again. When are we meeting Lin?”

“I’m supposed to call her when we’re done having breakfast and she’ll meet us in Mary Thomas,” Roe said.

“So hurry up,” Annie said with a laugh. She’d already shoveled down her bowl of cereal.

“I’ll do my best, but it’s hard not to slow down and savor this banana bread,” Edie said, taking another forkful.

“I’ll help it go faster.” Annie leaned forward with her spoon and scooped off a piece of Edie’s second slice of banana bread. They all laughed, but Edie thought she saw Corrie and Dawn give each other a significant look.

The banana bread became a lump in Edie’s throat and she looked down at her plate, working hard to swallow. She still owed Annie an answer, and she hadn’t exactly been spending a lot of time thinking about it. She’d been distracted by school and the ghost… and every time she tried to think about giving Annie an answer, any answer, her brain shied away from it. She didn’t want to tell her no and hurt her. But she found it hard to tell her yes when every time she noticed a new tree that was starting to change the colors of its leaves, she thought of Leila and how she’d vanished at the end of last fall.

She didn’t think she was afraid the same thing would happen with Annie. Her friend had been around since the beginning of their freshman year, and—barring the time she had been kidnapped by faeries—had never shown any signs of disappearing, and she was certainly never dishonest. Unlike Leila.

But there was the undeniable fact that Edie had never thought Leila was hiding anything, being dishonest, or likely to disappear, until she actually did.

She ate as much banana bread as she could manage. She was the last to finish breakfast, and they all gathered up their dishes and returned them to the dishwashing area. As they walked out of the dining hall, Roe made a phone call, and by the time they reached Mary Thomas, Lin was waiting for them in the front hall.

Annie smiled at her. “Thanks for doing this again.”

Lin nodded. “I’m excited but I’m also pretty nervous, so let’s get started as quickly as possible.”

“Do you think the ghost will actually return?” Corrie asked Lin as they climbed the stairs. “What if she’s mad about the way you kicked her out?”

“I don’t know,” Lin said. “I’ve never been able to do that before, so this is all new territory to me. How was the haunting last night?”

“It was actually fine,” Annie said. “I slept through the night.”

“Me, too,” Roe said. “But I guess that doesn’t mean she wasn’t out bothering other people.”

“It doesn’t seem likely that she got so upset that she left the building,” Dawn said.

“If she hadn’t gotten that mad before,” Annie said, taking out her key and unlocking her door, “then I doubt it’s even possible.” Edie shivered.

“I don’t think they can leave the buildings or locations they’re tied to,” Lin said, going in and sitting down on Annie’s desk chair again. “I guess that’s one of the problems with being a ghost. You’re trapped. Oh—I think she’s here.”

Chatoyant College, Chatoyant College Book 14: Ghost Stories

Chatoyant College Book 14: Chapter 45: The Yearbooks

Dawn waved to the guy at the front desk—she knew everyone who worked at the library this year—as she led her group of friends in to the library. He waved back, but didn’t ask what she and a whole group of friends were doing there on a Saturday night.

They trooped up to the study room on the second floor where the yearbooks were kept. Luckily midterms had just ended, so no one else was trying to use the room. Edie shut the door behind them.

Corrie stood in the middle of the room with her hands on her hips, surveying the yearbooks. “I guess we should split them up by years. With five of us, it shouldn’t take too long.”

“I don’t think they’re in order by year,” Annie said, kneeling down by one of the shelves. “They didn’t seem to be in any kind of order when I was looking through them.”

“Really?” Corrie pursed her lips and sighed. “I thought they were in order last year when I was looking through them for Vertiline Gravette, but maybe not. Or maybe the library workers just don’t do a very good job keeping them in order.” She turned and raised her eyebrows accusingly at Dawn.

Dawn couldn’t help smiling. “I can’t say that I’ve ever been told to come in here and make sure the yearbooks are in order. Maybe we can put them in order before we leave for the night.”

“Okay, I have a plan,” Roe said. She strode up to a shelf and pulled off several yearbooks at once. “Let’s get the yearbooks off shelves and each take one. When we’ve finished with the one we have, we can put it on the shelves in approximate order, and then get another. That way those of us who are faster readers“—she grinned at Edie—“can read more, and not get bored waiting for the rest of us.”

“Sounds good to me,” Dawn said. The five of them made quick work of getting the yearbooks off the shelves and piling them into stacks. Dawn took one off the top of a pile and retreated onto a beanbag to start paging through it.

She didn’t see any Alice Atkins, but she did see Professor Lal—and Derwen, a few pages later. She remembered Corrie finding both of them when she was looking for the names on the statues scattered around campus last year. That made her think. “If Alice Atkins was a Chatoyant College student,” she said, “then one of the faeries we know might have gone here at the same time as her. I don’t think the professors would like to be asked, but we could try Derwen, at least.”

“That’s a good idea,” Edie said. “I’ll ask her when I get a chance.”

“What about your aunt?” Corrie asked.

“If the ghost was already haunting Mary Thomas when she went here, then she could hardly have known Alice when she was alive.”

“Still, she could know something,” Annie said. “She might not even know she knows.”

“Yeah, I guess it’s worth talking to anyone we can think of who has gone to Chatoyant College in the past.” Dawn nodded. “I’ll ask her.”

She flipped back to the cover of her yearbook. It was from 1912; that seemed like a pretty good year to find a ghost who had evidently been haunting Chatoyant College for many years. That gave her another thought, and she looked up at her friends. “Actually, if Pru knew about the ghost, she had to be here before… I’m not actually sure what years Pru went here, but let’s say 1980 is too late. So if your yearbook is after that date, you’re definitely not going to find Alice Atkins there.”

“If Pru knew about the ghost but not about the death, Alice has to have died years before your aunt came to Chatoyant College,” Edie pointed out. She looked at the spine of her yearbook and got up to put it on the shelf. “We can probably discount everything before 1970, at least.”

Dawn nodded. “I can’t argue with that.”

“That cuts down on the pile a little,” Annie said, looking a little more cheerful. She looked at the yearbook she had. “This is 1959, so I guess there’s a chance.”

Dawn bent her head and started flipping through her yearbook. There was Professor Lal, and there, a few pages later, was Derwen. No sign of the name Alice Atkins, though there was an Alice Purcell. Some of the photos didn’t list all of the students in them, but there was no way to know whether any of those people might have been Alice Atkins.

She put her book toward the left end of the shelf and went for another one. It was 1992, so she put it at the far end of the shelf and got a third.

After some time of silence punctuated only by the swishing of pages turning, Corrie perked up. “I found an Atkins!”

“Not Alice?” Annie asked.

Corrie shook her head. “This is a guy. His name is Otis. But I wonder if he might be related to Alice.”

“That’s a thought,” Roe said. “We can ask her about Otis Atkins when we get another chance to talk to her.”

“What year is that?” Dawn asked.

“1965,” Corrie said. “So chances are good he’s still around. He’s graduating in this one, so he’d be in his sixties now, right? He’s probably still alive.”

“If we can’t talk to the ghost, we can at least try to get in touch with him,” Edie said. “The alumni association might have his information. If he is related to her, then he might know something about his relative who died here.”

Corrie nodded and jumped to her feet. “I’ll go photocopy this page.”

Annie let out a long sigh as Corrie left. Edie turned to her. “Getting frustrated?”

“I just don’t think we’re likely to find her if we haven’t found her yet,” Annie said. “Mary Thomas is a Victorian-era building. If Alice Atkins is as old as the building, I don’t think they even had yearbooks then.” She swallowed and looked up. “But I appreciate you guys helping me so much.”

“We’ll find something,” Edie said. “We’ll solve this. I promise.”

Chatoyant College, Chatoyant College Book 14: Ghost Stories

Chatoyant College Book 14: Chapter 44: Expulsion

Corrie took two quick steps forward, then stopped, uncertain. How did one comfort a ghost, even one who was inhabiting someone else’s body? Did she even want comfort? Corrie didn’t want to touch Lin’s shoulder to comfort Alice. But she didn’t want someone coming to investigate the scream and freaking the ghost out further, either.

The scream suddenly ended in a gasp. Alice’s shoulders jerked, then she suddenly flopped over in the middle, like a marionette whose strings had been cut. Her arms dangled nearly down to her ankles.

Roe rushed forward. “Lin! Are you okay?”

Alice—or Lin—took Roe’s outstretched arm and used it to pull herself upright again. She was grinning wildly.

“I’m better than okay,” Lin said. “I did it! I expelled the ghost! I forced her out of my body!”

Annie stared at her. “But we’ve hardly gotten any information out of her.”

“I couldn’t hear the conversation,” Lin said. “I could just tell she was getting distressed, and…” She shook her head and wrapped her arms around herself. “But the important thing is, I can do it! I can remove ghosts at will!”

“That’s great, Lin!” Roe said, grinning. She and Lin seemed to be the only ones pleased with this development.

Corrie was really confused. “I’m glad that it went well for you, but… that wasn’t very helpful. We didn’t get far in our conversation.”

“We found out that her name is—“ Dawn started.

Lin held up her hand. “No, I don’t want to hear any of the details. This is information for you to use, not me.” She took a deep breath and stood up. “I’m going back to my own room now. We can try again another time. Now that I know I can expel the ghost, I think I’ll be more comfortable with letting it in, but right now I’m exhausted.”

“Do you need anything?” Edie asked. “Help getting back, or some food?”

Lin shook her head. “I’d rather just get back to my room. I’ll get in touch with Roe when I’m ready to try again.”

She left, shutting the door quietly behind her. Annie sat back on the bed, looking stunned.

Corrie took a deep breath. “Well, we’ve made some progress, right? We can look up Alice Atkins. If she was a student, we might be able to find her in a yearbook. We can search online, too. Maybe someone will have some information about her life or death.”

“It’s a start,” Dawn agreed. “When she was saying no at the end, do you guys think that meant she didn’t die here, or was she just objecting to the idea that she died?”

“I think she was just freaking out,” Roe said. “Maybe she just doesn’t like to think about having died.”

“But we have to find out how she died to find out how to appease her, don’t we?” Annie asked.

“It might not have anything to do with that,” Dawn said. “Maybe it was just an accident, and if we find out more about her life we’ll know more about how to help her. Or get rid of her. It could be that there’s some magic tying her here.”

“What if we’ve just made everything worse?” Annie asked. Her face was pinched with worry. “She got so upset, and then Lin kicked her out, so she couldn’t even continue talking to us.”

Corrie could touch Annie’s shoulder to comfort her, so she stepped closer and did that. “Maybe we’ve made things better. Now that we’ve made some real progress in talking to the ghost, she might feel like someone actually cares, and bother you less.”

“If you want to stay in our dorm again, you’re welcome to,” Dawn said.

Annie shook her head. “I’ll think about it.”

“Let’s go to the library,” Edie said, standing up and closing her notebook. “It’s not busy right now, right, Dawn? We can look at the old yearbooks and see if we find any more information.”

“Good idea,” Corrie said. “Better than sitting around doing nothing while we wait for Lin.” She held her hand out to Annie.

Annie half-smiled and took Corrie’s hand. “Yeah, okay. I just hope we can find something.”

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 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”