Spirit Page 19

Instead, she’d said, “Stop disappointing me, Kathryn.”

Kate typed quickly on her phone.

Are you OK?

When his phone chimed, he glanced down. Then he looked back at the windshield.

And shook his head.

She knew that feeling, when your life felt so out of control that you had to do something to get it back on a track, any track, just so you didn’t explode with tension from staying in one spot.

She was supposed to be doing some kind of reconnaissance, but she couldn’t disregard the brittle state of the boy sitting beside her.

“Was Calla your girlfriend?” she asked softly.

He hesitated. “No. I thought—I don’t know.”

“What did you think?”

His eyes were locked on the steering wheel. “She found me at a party a few weeks ago. Her dad is in the Marines—mine was, too. I just thought she needed someone to talk to. I didn’t realize—”

Kate waited, but he stopped there.

“You didn’t realize what?” she said.

Hunter took a deep breath—but then he didn’t let it out, and the tension rolled around in the car with them. “You should get out and go inside. I think I’m going to cut, and you’ll be late for first period.”

“I’ll cut with you.”

He shook his head. “No—I mean, I’ve got things I have to do.”

Things? What kinds of things?

Her phone buzzed in her hand, and she was so surprised that she almost dropped it.


What are you doing?

She hit a button to clear the screen. Her pulse jumped.

It buzzed again.

Is that our mysterious Hunter Garrity?

Did that mean Silver was watching them right now? She cleared the screen again and shoved the phone into her pocket, where it vibrated a third time.

“Someone wants your attention,” said Hunter.

“He’s like a toddler,” she agreed.

Hunter’s eyebrows raised just the tiniest bit. “He?”

“No one important,” she said. But her phone buzzed again.

The emotion in Hunter’s eyes was walled up now, and she could see the tightness in his jaw. He looked so tightly wound that she was almost afraid to leave him alone. “Where do you want to go?” she said. “I’ll go with you.”

He didn’t look over.

She put a hand on his arm. “Come on. Maybe you can show me around—”

He caught her wrist. Not hard, but fast enough that it made her gasp.

“I don’t want to be a jerk,” he said, his eyes shifting to meet hers. “But I can’t do this.”

She didn’t understand. “This?”

His eyes were tired and wary—but also sharp and intelligent. “Yeah. This.”

Kate stared across at him. “What just happened?”

He glanced at her phone. “Boyfriend?”

“What? No.” Then she remembered Silver’s cover story. If she denied it now, would it screw things up later? “It’s not like that.”

But she’d fumbled her words, and she knew exactly what it looked like. Hunter leaned across her body to pull at the handle to release the door. Cool air streamed into the car.

He was throwing her out?

His expression said he was.

“You’re getting this all wrong,” she said.

“I don’t think I am.”

She slid out of the car. Before closing the door, she said, “I just thought we could get to know each other.”

He finally looked at her fully, and he laughed shortly. “If you’re lonely, why don’t you text Nick Merrick? He seemed perfectly willing to stare at you.”

Then, without waiting for an answer, he reached out and grabbed the door, pulling it shut and leaving her out in the cold.

Hunter waited until he couldn’t ignore the hunger clawing at his stomach, then bought two breakfast sandwiches at Dunkin Donuts. He was hungry enough to inhale both, but he’d fed Casper the last of the milk bones this morning, and the dog was staring at him desperately. So he set the second sandwich on the wrapper on the ground.

Eleven dollars left, and a third of a tank of gasoline.

His cell phone remained blank. At least he had a car charger for that.

He’d been so stupid, entertaining the thought of . . . of anything with Kate. Like his life wasn’t complicated enough right now. She’d climbed into his car, he’d almost broken down, and then she’d started texting with some other guy.

God, he’d looked like such an idiot.

Really, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that she’d pick him to screw with. His abilities drew people to him. He was just used to the heckling, fist-swinging type of attention. He’d been dumb enough to think this would turn out differently.

Besides, he had other things to worry about.

Like finding a way to earn money. It would cost a fortune to fill his gas tank, and if he had no transportation, he was sunk.

His mom hadn’t even called to see if he was okay.

He felt like he shouldn’t care—she’d let his grandfather throw him out—but he did.

A lot.

Stop. Focus.

He could fill out applications. How hard would it be to find a job?

Three strip malls later, he knew the answer: hard.

He wrote his personal information so many times that he started to bore himself. At first he was meticulous, knowing that he only had one opportunity to make a first impression. He knew to make eye contact, to shake hands, to speak confidently.

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