Chapter 24: Dark Night
Corrie had to admit, if only to herself, that she was getting anxious as she pulled on warm clothing to go out to meet Paul. (Thankfully, it wasn’t too cold, and she’d be able to move her hands without mittens on.) She wasn’t really sure why. She knew Paul wasn’t going to hurt her. He was a really nice guy deep down, or they wouldn’t have dated in the first place. The only problem was that he’d gotten fixated on her. By now he might even have found a new girlfriend. The thought cheered her up slightly.
But when Dawn came in and she saw her unhappy face, Corrie’s stomach plummeted again. Edie had a similar anxious expression. “Are you guys really worried about me?” she asked.
“We wouldn’t say we were if it wasn’t true,” Dawn said, reaching out to take her hand gently.
Corrie sighed. “I’m a little worried myself. And I’m not sure why.”
“Paul isn’t taking any magic classes, is he?” Edie asked. “He’s not in yours. And he couldn’t have gotten hold of that book.”
That would be a good reason to be anxious—the possibility that Paul knew magic, too, and had hidden it from her for some reason. It didn’t make sense, though. Wouldn’t he have taken the curse off himself if he could? “He’s not in our magic class,” she said firmly. “And I don’t think he’s in the other one.”
“He’s not,” said Dawn. “But that doesn’t mean he couldn’t have learned magic some other way. The magic the Circle of the Goddess girls did wasn’t from magic classes.”
“He certainly couldn’t have learned from them,” Corrie said.
“But he could have learned from the same people they learned from, if there is someone who taught them,” said Edie.
Dawn squeezed her hand, then dropped it. “If you’re really upset about going, we don’t have to. Paul might not understand, but it isn’t his feelings we’re worried about. You never worry, so if you are, you probably have something to worry about.”
Corrie shook her head and drew herself up, glancing half-consciously at her mood poster. It was still set on ‘cheerful,’ where she’d most recently put it. It had moved around on its own and affected her mood a while back, but now that Professor Lal had taken out the excess magic, that didn’t happen anymore. Still, she would have liked to have that as an excuse for her worrying. “It’s okay,” she said. “I am worried about Paul’s feelings. I feel bad that I haven’t done anything about the curse before now.”
“What if this doesn’t work?” said Edie.
“Then I’ll talk to Payton and Elena,” Corrie said. She wrinkled her nose. “I’d rather not have to, but I can’t leave him like that.” She zipped up her coat to her chin. “All right. Let’s go.”
They were quiet as they walked down the steps and out into the chilly air. It was a clear night, and the stars were thickly spread over the sky like spilled sugar. Corrie stared up at them as they walked. The moon was a low, bright light near the western horizon. Maybe she should have waited until the full moon—whatever small werewolf powers she had inherited from her father might be strongest then.
She shook her head and shoved her hands into her pockets. There was no use second-guessing herself now. They were almost there.
As she’d expected, it was dim but not too dark in the middle of campus where she’d chosen to meet Paul, and there was no one there. On a Sunday night after a holiday, especially now that it was nearly winter, everyone would be either off-campus or in their dorm rooms. Everyone except the four of them.
She walked forward into the arc of light created by one of the emergency phones and looked around. Paul wasn’t here yet. She could feel Dawn and Edie behind her, quiet but reassuring presences at her shoulders.
Seconds later, a dark, shadowy figure stepped just into the light and stopped abruptly. Corrie almost jumped before she realized that of course it was Paul. He was dressed all in black, like usual. He lifted his head and pushed down the hood of his jacket.
“Hi, Paul,” she said, smiling. “Aren’t you cold in just a hoodie?”
He shrugged, the movement rippling down his long arms. “I’m okay. I produce a lot of heat. How are you?”
“I’m fine, thanks.”
He nodded at her, gesturing with his pointed chin. “You brought your friends?”
“I might need some help with the magic. They know magic, too. You don’t know magic yet, do you?” The lie made her stomach twist itself in a knot, but she didn’t want to tell him the real reason. The whole point of this exercise was to make him feel better, and saying that her friends were there to protect her wouldn’t help.
“No. Maybe next semester.”
“I thought you were going to transfer to a different college.”
He shrugged but didn’t offer any response.
Corrie took a deep breath. “Okay. I’m going to see what I can do about this curse.”