Chapter Four

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A New Arrival

'So, this is your dorm. It's called Redwood and the house next to it is Maple. If you ever get lost, follow the signs to Oakwell. You'll find your way from there. There's a flat meet tonight at seven – try to take it easy, they can get kinda messy – and you have orientation for English tomorrow at nine.' She looks up at me. 'Got it?'

I look at the girl who introduced herself as Amy ten minutes ago, knowing I certainly haven't got it. As my senior mentor, Amy's here to answer any of my questions and make me feel as welcomed as possible. So far, she's doing a crappy job.

When she speaks, her hands do just as much work as her mouth and the smile plastered onto her face reminds me of Casey Jones' smile: fake and coated in Chanel.

Not to even mention that she talks too quickly for me to understand. Clearly raised with privilege, my senior mentor – with her clipboard and check lists in tow – pulled me away from the guy back there before I could even learn his name.

But don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. A small part of me is glad for it and hopes I don't see him again. It's a big campus, after all.

I don't know what it is about him, but the way the edges of his smile didn't quite reach his eyes unnerved me. It settles deep into my stomach even now as I stand all the way across campus. Who was he?

'Haley?' Amy says. Her smile isn't friendly. 'You in there? The rain's getting heavier – god, it's gonna ruin my hair. Look, let's go inside and meet your flat. They're all in already. You were a little late on arrival so I expect they've already unpacked.'

Ironically something in her tone makes me feel unwelcomed, but I nonetheless follow her – because, well, what else can I do? As she pulls open the front door of Redwood's dorm, a crash of thunder rolls across the sky and the long-awaited downpour begins.

I just miss it, hopping through the door with my bag thumping heavily in tow. Silently, I hope this weather isn't some sort of omen – it reminds me of the night I'd rather forget.

'So,' Amy continues, leading me through the building that's more like a cabin, 'rules are pretty simple. You guys are just about free to do whatever you like, but obviously, you gotta remember you're not the only person living here. So, no loud music after midnight. During deadline season, that's reduced to ten.'

She opens a door, letting me through first.

'You'll have a cleaner come in every Friday for common areas like the kitchen and lounge – but it has to be tidy to get tidied, if that makes sense. The Wi-Fi password is cherub's valley – don't ask – and your room number is four. Oh, and don't kill anyone.' She looks up through her lashes. 'Got it?'

Meeting her blue eyes, I find myself wanting to say no, I have most certainly not got it.

But instead, I smile tightly and say, 'Yup. I think so.'

As we step into the hallway, I hear a low murmur of conversation and laughter. The smell of burnt popcorn meets my nose as an alarm pings on and off. I take a deep breath.

Through those open doors are my flatmates and probably more than a little bit of chaos. My mouth goes dry. What if they hate me?

I'm supposed to be living with this group for the next year, so what happens if I'm Redwood's hamartia? Will I end up moving dorms?

'You look terrified,' Amy says with a smile. Her hand grabs my arm and she pauses us to a halt. Just in time, too. Another few steps and we'd be out in the open. 'Honestly, Hails – can I call you that?' I nod. 'You're gonna be fine. It might not look it, but everyone else feels the same way.'

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