Spirit Page 17

Casper crammed himself onto the bench seat, too, pressing his back against Hunter’s chest and his nose into the space under Hunter’s chin.

He’d be covered in dog hair in the morning, but Hunter didn’t care. Casper would keep him warm.

He checked his phone again. Nothing.

His throat felt tight.

He told himself to knock it off.

He wished he knew how to fix this. All of it.

His breath was catching. Casper lifted his head and licked Hunter’s cheek.

There was no one here to see, but he’d know, and he wouldn’t let himself lose it. Not when he’d been the one to cause this.

But his breath wouldn’t stop hitching, and he buried his face in the scruff of Casper’s neck.

He missed his father so much.

He thought of where he was right now, and how he’d gotten here, and knew exactly how disappointed his father would be.

He’d fix it. Somehow. He’d fix this.

His phone chimed, and Hunter swiped at his eyes. His heart flew with hope. Maybe his mother had reconsidered? Maybe she’d give him a chance to explain?

But it wasn’t his mother’s number on the face of the phone.

What do you stare at when you’re not in school?


Hunter lifted his head. For an instant, he thought about turning the phone off and burying it in his pocket—but really, what else did he have to do?

Obviously I stare at text messages from girls with theories.

Her response was lightning quick.

Slow night, huh?

He smiled.

Long night would be more accurate.

A long pause, then:

What’s with you and the girl from the caf?

Hunter frowned. She meant Calla. He remembered the look on Kate’s face when she’d watched, standing there with her hand on Nick’s arm.

Wasn’t it obvious?

No. And don’t get all >:O at me.

How did you know I was >:O?

Please. Your text style screams >:O.

Hunter smiled again, but only briefly.

It’s complicated.

I have a theory about complicated boys.

He smiled. Before he could type anything else, another message appeared.

BTW that was a pretty sweet spinning backfist you used on the guy who flipped your tray. Where did you learn to fight like that?

His smile vanished altogether.

Another sentence appeared before he could say anything.

Though you’re out of practice. You were lucky that teacher stopped him. Your timing needs work.

He stared at the phone, wondering if he should be impressed or insulted. Then he typed.

This is me right now. :-O

I prefer you like this: :-)

He smiled. Another message from Kate appeared.

Seriously. Where’d you learn to fight like that?

Ninja school.

Funny. Why are you having a long night?

He paused, studying the phone. He didn’t know her at all. But somehow this was easier, sending text messages into the ether.

Family stuff.

Mom or dad?

Grandfather and mom. My dad died at the beginning of the summer.

After he hit SEND, he stared at the words. It wasn’t the first time he’d said them, but it was the first time he’d typed them into a text message, and now they were burning themselves into his brain, like they held more power in writing.

He typed something else quickly, just to make the screen scroll.

We live with my grandparents now.

Her message appeared almost instantly.

I’m sorry about your dad.

A long pause, and then another message from Kate.

My mom is dead, too.

Her words held weight, too, as if the screen knew their power. He typed automatically.

I’m sorry.

Then he added,

Don’t you hate when people say that?

Yes. I’m sorry I said it.

Me, too.

This time the pause was really long, as he fought for something to say after that. He wondered if she’d given up on the texting, when a new one appeared.

How did your dad die?

Normally the question would piss him off. But it was different in a text message, from someone else who’d lost a parent.

In a car accident. I was with him. My uncle died, too.

My mom drowned last year.

Hunter flinched. Somehow it seemed worse—but what was the difference?

Another message popped up on the screen.

It wasn’t supposed to happen that way.

It should have seemed like a weird statement—but he got it.

I know exactly what you mean.

Were you and your dad close?

The words hit him like a bullet. Close.

He and his father hadn’t always gotten along, but Hunter had always felt like his father understood him.

He slid his fingers across the screen.

Yeah. Sort of. Sometimes not at all. Bizarre, right?

We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.

He smiled.

Was that a quote from The Breakfast Club?

O_O Most people don’t get that one.

My uncle loved eighties movies. I’ve seen them all.

Nobody puts Baby in the corner.

Wax on, wax off.

I can’t believe I gave my panties to a geek.

He froze. That one sent his thoughts in a dangerous direction. His phone buzzed.


He grinned.

Can’t help it now.

Stare at me tomorrow?

Sure. I’ll be in the caf early.

And that was it. She didn’t respond.

But that was okay. For five minutes, he didn’t feel so alone.

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies