College was eccentric enough that Taryn passed by the stranger eating cereal in her apartment without a second thought. She also barely registered that there was an open book floating in front of the stranger’s face, pages turning by themselves.
All Taryn cared about was getting out of her rain-drenched clothes and praising every God if her textbooks had stayed dry. They were rentals, and she couldn’t afford to buy them at the end of the semester if they were too damaged to return.
Holding her breath, she dumped them onto her twin-sized bed in the apartment’s one bedroom past the kitchenette. She shared it with her roommate, who was doing her rounds for her residency. The two years it would be before Taryn started her own residency seemed way too far away.
Roommate’s gone, a part of her brain chimed in, so who the hell was that out there.
No longer caring about books or cold and wet clothes, Taryn rushed into the kitchenette, slipping on the linoleum. She bit back a swear as she prepared a spell, the rings on her left middle finger and right pinky hot against her skin.
“Angie wasn’t kidding about pre-med being full of zombies,” the stranger chuckled before slurping milk from the bowl.
Swallowing the spell, Taryn straightened. She ignored the already-fading pain in her backside and ankle—she must have twisted it in the fall—and she focused on her rings growing cool again. She couldn’t afford the energy waste. Spells required time of prepping jewelry and other physical objects to hold power for when she needed it, but with classwork, she didn’t have much time to even pay attention to the phase of the moon these days.
Luckily, it looked like the cereal thief hadn’t noticed any slips or altering of energy, and a smug smile cut across her round face when she caught Taryn eyeing the floating book. She must have done it for show, rather than entertainment, while she waited for someone to return. She shifted in the two-seat couch but didn’t get up, and the book slammed shut and lowered onto the old trunk being used as a coffee table.
It was Taryn’s ethics textbook, and she finally recognized the stranger.