Spirit Page 23

Sixty bucks. Hunter looked up. “I don’t have enough change.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

Hunter wanted to take two twenties and leave the third—but who knew when he’d be able to get his hands on cash again. He closed his fingers around the bills and shoved them into his pocket.

The night had turned pitch-black so quickly. The halogen lights in the parking lot blazed like suns against the darkness. Hunter put his hand on the door handle, ready to burst into the cold air.

Into the promise of another night alone.

Hunter checked his phone. No messages.

His throat felt tight again.

He needed to get the hell out of the truck before Michael called him on being a freak.

Then Michael said, “You want to talk about it?”

For some reason, the words were a relief and an assault simultaneously.

Hunter couldn’t even get it together to answer him. He kept his eyes on the strip of metal where the truck door met the window. It must have been colder than he thought; his breath began to fog in the air.

Michael flipped on the heat in the cab. “Nick does that, too.”

That pulled Hunter’s gaze off the window. “Does what?”

“Drops the temperature when he’s stressed. I’d bitch about it, but I can just turn the heat on. If you set the truck on fire, I don’t have as many options.”

Hunter held his breath, but there was no judgment in Michael’s tone, and no urgency or impatience, either. “I’ve never lost control like this before.”

“You’re sixteen, right? It’ll get worse before it gets better.”

Hunter scowled. “Great.”

Silence streamed through the truck again, accented by the hiss of air through the vehicle’s vents.

Just as Hunter was ready to climb out of the cab again, Michael said, “Why do you need money so badly?”

Hunter looked over at him, feeling his eyes narrow. Michael must have heard the conversation with the store manager. “So this was a pity job?” He thrust a hand into his pocket for the cash, ready to fling it back. “You thought—”

“Chill out. Pity would have been if I’d handed you the cash. You earned it. What’s going on?”


“That’s bullshit, Hunter, and you know it.”

“What the hell do you care?” Hunter threw the door open. “I’m not one of your brothers.” He waited for Casper to scramble out beside him, then slammed the door, stalking toward the jeep.

Michael shifted the truck into gear and accelerated out of the parking place.

Good. He could take all that stupid concern back home. Hunter shoved his key into the door of his jeep.

Just as Michael pulled his pickup directly behind it, effectively blocking Hunter’s vehicle in the spot, along with the Honda Civic parked beside it.

When Michael got out, Hunter glared at him. “Now I want to set your truck on fire.”

Michael came close enough to speak low. “Look, if you think I’m letting you get behind the wheel when you’re ready to make it snow in October, you’re out of your mind.”

“Move your truck.”

“No. I’ll drive you home so you can chill out.”

Hunter was going to hit him in a second. “Move your damn truck.”

Michael didn’t even blink. “Save it. Get in. I’ll take you home.”

Hunter felt his hands curl into fists. He could lay this guy flat and move the truck himself.

But all of a sudden, it felt like too much. His head was pounding again, and the air was freezing. It took forever to find his voice.

“You can’t,” he said.

Michael’s voice was impassive. “I can’t what?”

“You can’t take me home. My grandfather—” His voice almost broke, so Hunter just stopped talking. His keys were cutting into his palm, and Casper nosed at his free hand.

Michael waited for a moment, then said, “Get in. You can come home with me.”

God, that would be worse. “No way.”

“Look, just take a few hours to get it together, and I’ll bring you back for the jeep.”

Hunter just stared at him.

Michael opened the cab of the truck and whistled through his teeth. “Come on, doggie.”

Hunter expected Casper to stay at his side, like always.

But his dog leapt into the truck and lay down on the rear bench, his tongue lolling out. He looked at Hunter as if to say, Stop being such a baby.

So Hunter sighed and climbed in after him.


“So let me get this straight,” said Michael. “Calla trashed your place and said she’s going to burn houses down until you bring Guides here.”


“And then she told Vickers that you roughed her up.”

Hunter set his jaw. “Yeah.”

“Well, there haven’t been any more fires—yet. Gabriel downloaded a police scanner app or something and he’s been keeping tabs on it. The fire marshal thinks the real arsonist is behind bars, so they’re not expecting more. But I’ve got a bigger question. Why you?”

Hunter looked at him. He hadn’t said anything else about his grandfather, and he was glad Michael was focusing on Calla’s role in this mess. “Why me?”

“Yeah.” Michael shrugged. “Why you? If she wants Guides here, they’ll come eventually, right?”

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