Spirit Page 22

But Michael just gave half a shrug and turned, gesturing to the grassy slope again.

The work was harder than Hunter expected. He kept his mouth shut and did as he was told, digging and laying stone dust and staking rebar. It felt good to work, to put his hands in the earth and let the sun draw sweat from his back. The cut stone was heavy, and he was really feeling it in his shoulders before they had a third of the wall built.

He straightened and stretched his back.

And from the corner of his eye, he saw a flash of movement between some trees by the road.

Hunter froze. He watched for a moment.


Stupid. This house was way back off the main road. It could have been a deer, or a tree branch moving in the wind. All he could hear was his breathing and the water hitting rocky breakers. He dropped his guard and let the elements speak to him—but whatever it was, the elements didn’t mind its being here.

But something about it had bothered him, caught his attention and held it.

He kept thinking of Calla in his bedroom, sneaking in to hold a gun against his cheek.

He wished he had a weapon. He wished he had a weapon right now.

“What’s up?” said Michael.

“Nothing,” said Hunter. “I thought I saw something.”

He was ready for scoffing, because there was absolutely nothing around, but Michael put a hand to the ground and tilted his head. “I don’t feel anything malicious.” He paused. “But I’ll pay attention.”

Hunter kept his senses wide open now, laying stones as Michael directed, but focusing most of his attention on the road.

Michael glanced over. “Does this have something to do with the fight you didn’t have?”

Hunter didn’t look at him. “No.” He shrugged. “I’m just on edge.”

Another stone went on the wall. Michael wiped his forehead against his sleeve. “Does this have something to do with why you were ready to level the Home Depot?”

Hunter’s hands went still on the rock in front of him.

Michael didn’t say anything else, just laid another one without stopping. He flung the stones like they weighed nothing, and they slid into place perfectly. Hunter would have called him a perfectionist, but he’d bet Michael did it without thinking.

Another stone hit the wall, and Michael glanced over. “Think and work at the same time.”

Hunter grabbed a stone, letting a slow breath out. “I wasn’t going to level the Home Depot.”

“Maybe not intentionally.”

Hunter ran through the last twenty-four hours. Calla. School. Kate. His grandfather. Spending the night in his car.

Jesus, his throat felt tight again. He slammed the stone into place, feeling the impact all the way up to his shoulders.

Michael flung a stone next to his and remained silent.

And after a minute, Hunter realized he was going to stay that way. Michael wasn’t going to push. Hunter relaxed into the rhythm of the work again.

Then he felt . . . something brush his senses. His head snapped up.

Just as Casper growled from the grass nearby.

Wind came off the water to blow across the lawn, toward the road. The air carried no power, no direction. No help there. The sun had dropped behind distant trees and houses, leaving long shadows tracing across the grounds. Michael had a hand against the dirt, his eyes trained on the clusters of trees now.

Hunter thought of Calla again and wondered if she’d been following him, whether she’d choose this house to set on fire, just to screw with him.

But she would have had to follow him all day, right?

Casper growled again.

There! Movement. Definitely someone in the trees.

Hunter didn’t realize he’d started forward until Michael grabbed his arm. “Wait,” he said.

Hunter waited.

“Grab your dog,” said Michael.

He didn’t have to grab him, but Hunter issued the command for Casper to stay, wondering if the dog also had trouble hearing over a suddenly thundering heartbeat.

No further motion from the tree line.

Michael stood and brushed his hands against his knees. “Come on. I’ll finish in the morning. I’ll tell them I lost the light.”

“You just—you want to leave?”

“It’s probably nothing, but we’re out in the middle of nowhere. I’d rather be safe than sorry.”

When they were in the truck, Michael fed Casper old fries from the Wendy’s bag. He kept the windows closed, but Hunter peered out at the trees as they passed.


Michael glanced over. “Any problems at home?”

Hunter almost choked on his breath. “What do you mean? Why?”

“No pentagrams or anything?”

Oh. Those.

“No,” he said, speaking around the sudden gravel in his throat. “No pentagrams.”

And again, he waited for Michael to push, but they just drove in silence back to the parking lot at Home Depot. It wasn’t that late, but it was a weeknight, and the lot was mostly empty.

Hunter slid the cap off his head and ran a hand through his hair, letting it fall across his face. His muscles were starting to knot together with tension and exhaustion, and he couldn’t stop thinking about Calla’s threat to burn more houses.

Even if she hadn’t been stalking them at the landscaping job—and he still couldn’t make that work out in his head—she could be planning something tonight.

And he had no way to stop her.

“Thanks,” said Michael, pulling twenties from his wallet and holding them out.

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