Spirit Page 12

He was staring at Kate. Or more precisely, her hand.

And the way it was resting on Nick Merrick’s arm.

Hunter slouched in the chair in the guidance office and stared at the corner of Vickers’s desk. His shirt was wet and tacky from the soup, and somehow it had turned ice cold on the walk down here. He didn’t want to give Gabriel the satisfaction of hearing him complain about it.

Kate and Nick. How had that happened? Wasn’t Nick dating Becca’s friend, Quinn?

The air felt tight and scratchy against his skin, like a wool sweater that didn’t fit right.

Ms. Vickers was tapping her pen against her desk blotter. “Twice in one day, Hunter.”

He wanted to ask if she could just give him detention or whatever so he could get the hell out of this room.

But he bit back the words. Becca’s father’s parting comment kept ricocheting around his brain, adding to the headache. You made your bed, kid. Now you lie in it.

It sounded so much like something his father would have said.

Ms. Vickers shifted in her chair. The fluorescent light in the ceiling was buzzing with a tiny flicker. “And Gabriel Merrick. I’d hoped your recent brush with the law would keep you out of my office for a while.”

“I’m happy to leave.”

She didn’t crack a smile. “You know we don’t take physical altercations lightly here. Who wants to tell me what happened?”

Hunter didn’t lift his eyes from the corner of her desk, waiting for Gabriel to sell him out.

But Gabriel didn’t say anything, either.

Ms. Vickers sighed. “All right, Hunter, what happened with Calla Dean? Coach Taylor says you had a run-in in the lunch line.”

Hunter felt his hands form fists. “I didn’t do anything.”

“She says—”

“She’s lying. I didn’t touch her.”

Ms. Vickers pursed her lips. “I asked you to stay away from her entirely. If I don’t think you can do that, you’re going to force me to suspend you.”

This was ridiculous. “I’m trying!”

“You didn’t make it through lunch. I’m not sure that qualifies as trying very hard.”

Hunter almost came out of his chair. His hands were ready to snap the plastic armrests clean off. “I didn’t—”

“Hey.” Gabriel’s voice was sharp.

Hunter rounded on him, ready to finish what he’d started in the cafeteria. “What?”

Gabriel didn’t flinch from his look. “Dial it back a notch.” He glanced up.

And then Hunter realized that the overhead light was buzzing more frantically, making loud clicks within the tube. The air in the room had to have dropped ten degrees.

He’d always been able to sense the elements, and control was a newer talent, but he’d never affected anything to this extent.

Hunter closed his eyes and took a slow breath. In through his nose, out through his mouth. Then another. His hands unclenched, and he dropped back into the chair.

“Very zen,” said Gabriel. “Should I light a candle?”

Hunter’s eyes snapped open. “Fuck you.”

“Gentlemen,” said Vickers.

Damn. Everyone was managing to burrow under his skin today.

“I’m sorry,” Hunter bit out. “I’ll stay away from Calla.”

“Three strikes and you’re out, Hunter.” She shivered and pulled a cardigan off the back of her chair, then forced her arms into the sleeves. “If we have this conversation again, you’ll be looking at a three-day suspension. Do you understand?”


Her eyes shifted to Gabriel. “The same goes for you, Mr. Merrick.”

“Roger.” He mock-saluted her.

“Can the two of you make it to next period without fighting? Or should someone stay with me?”

Hunter shot out of his chair. “I’m good.”

Gabriel followed him into the hall. Hunter ignored him, though he wanted to slam him into the bank of lockers. The bell hadn’t rung yet, and the halls were still empty.

“Nice shirt,” said Gabriel.

“Go away.”

“What, you’re not still tracking me so you can report back to your keeper?”

Hunter ignored him and kept walking.

Gabriel kept after him. “Don’t like being called a traitor?”

“I’m not a traitor.”

“Did you turn on your dad, too? Is that what you feel so guilty ab—”

Hunter spun. Gabriel caught his wrist before he could throw a punch.

“Don’t be an idiot,” he snapped. “Do you want to get suspended?”

Hunter jerked free. “I want you to leave me alone.”

“Oh, it’s okay for you to follow me around—”

“I wasn’t following you around!” God, Hunter would pay good money for a handful of ibuprofen. “And you know what? Why don’t you cut the martyr act?”

Gabriel looked incredulous. “Me. The martyr act.”

“Yeah. You.” Hunter glared at him. “Like I screwed you over. You didn’t even give me a chance to explain—”

“All right.” Gabriel stopped walking. “Explain.”

Hunter took a breath—and had nothing to say.

“Yeah, whatever.” Gabriel moved away.

“Can you blame him?” called Hunter.

Gabriel hesitated, but didn’t turn. “Blame who?”

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