Sean turned his head back toward Samita, frowning. “I know where their room is.”
Vaughn raised an eyebrow, and cocked his head backwards to see Sean’s face. “Sounds like you’ve got a story.”
Sean shook his head. “Yeah, a stupid story. You remember how we tried to keep that alien spaceship in the air while Nick and the others took out its engine?”
Vaughn snorted. “It’s hard to forget.”
“Yeah,” Sean said, taking a breath. “Well, lots of people got video of it, and it looks like the two of us are keeping it up, you know? We know it was mostly Izzy, but she was inside, so no one saw her. Anyway, I’ve been getting piles of attention from that. Like people are calling me and offering big money for me to form a super team.”
Vaughn glanced back in our direction, probably wondering what Haley and I thought.
I had no idea what I thought.
Haley muttered something I didn’t catch. She didn’t sound happy.
Turning his attention back to Sean, Vaughn asked, “How big?”
Sean stopped walking. “Seven figures. We’re talking NBA player money.”
Vaughn gave a whistle. “That’s crazy. Are you taking it?”
Samita cleared her throat. “Sean, could you please show us where we’re going while you talk?”
He nodded. “Yeah. It’s this way.” He started walking again, his footfalls echoing in the nearly empty hall.
“So anyway,” he said. “I feel weird about taking it because I didn’t even hold the ship up in the first place, but the money guys? They don’t care. All that matters to them is that I’ll be visible, you know? I’ve got a name now. I haven’t signed anything, but I will if I get the right offer.”
Vaughn blinked. “Whoa. Yeah, I get that. You’ve been worried about your mom since your dad died.”
Sean kept on walking, pointing right as we came to an intersection. “My mom’s got some money. Dad had life insurance, and he saved. Plus your uncle said he’d help if we ever needed anything, but I’d feel a lot better with several million, you know?”
I was wondering how this all connected with Hunter, and evidently Vaughn was wondering the same thing because he asked, “What’s Hunter got to do with it?”
“Shit,” Sean grimaced. “I was talking with him and his mother happened to drop by. She knows one of the money guys. So she told me I ought to sign with him, and all that. I ended up talking with her about it forever. Look, if I’m going to put together my own team with other people’s money, I’m going to bring in people I like—Dayton and Jody for sure—not Diva’s kid and his friends, right?”
Before Vaughn could reply, Sean held up his hand. “Fourth door down.” Turning he asked Samita, “How do you want to handle it, knock or break down the door?”
Samita opened her pouch and began fishing around inside. Looking up from whatever she was trying to find, she replied, “Knock first.”
Shaking his head, Sean raised his hand to knock on the door. “You got it.”
He knocked, giving the door a solid hit each time. No one inside could have missed it—which most likely meant that no one was inside.
Samita pulled a bronze colored key out of the pouch. It wasn’t an unusual key. It could have been bought from any locksmith shop in the country. What made it odd was that the door like all the rest of the dorm rooms’ doors had a key card reader, but no place to insert a key.
She stuck it in the card reader, and with a click, the light on the keycard reader turned green and the door opened.
Sure, why not?
Samita had taken her staff out of the pouch along with the key, so as the door opened, she stepped back, hands on the staff, and probably readying a lightning strike.
Nothing jumped out at her. That, at least was what you’d normally expect out of a room. Their room was neat—beds made, nothing lying on the floor, drawers shut. Without the pile of books stacked neatly on the dresser, it would be easy to believe that the room was unoccupied.
“I’m going to try to find something I can use to track them.” Samita stepped through the door, staff still in hand. She’d dropped the key back into her pouch.
Haley, Amy, and I looked at each other, and I asked, “Do you want to follow her? Wait, does she even need to go in? Haley might be able to find them by scent.”
Amy smirked. “Do you really want to try to go in there? We’re already marching in place just to keep this spell working.”
Haley didn’t say anything. She had her eyes closed, and was sniffing the air. After a few moments, she stopped, frowning. “I can smell everybody. I think they had everyone in the halls when they left. It was about an hour ago… You know, they may have all left in the same direction. I’m not sure…”
She was still sniffing the air and thoughtfully biting her lip when Samita came back.
“Good news.” She pinched a few pieces of hair between her forefinger and thumb. “I was a little worried when I saw their room, but I managed to find a few pieces of hair caught in a comb.”
She pulled out a basin out of her pouch, and poured water into it from a water bottle. Then she said a few words, and a picture began to form in the water. It showed the park outside the foothill’s rocky top, the park we’d seen as we drove in on the first day.
Instead of playing children, it appeared to to be filled with students. Adam and Hunter stood in the middle of the group.