Spirit Page 37

“Why would she say it?”

“Because she’s—” He stopped himself.

“Because she’s what? A bitch?”

“No. Because she’s nuts.” He made a circular motion at his temple, feeling the pulsing pain of a headache there. “Certifiable.”

“She seemed pretty lucid to me.”

“I guess sometimes you just don’t know about people.” He looked away.

Silence hung in the car for a while, and he looked out at the other students milling around the carnival grounds. Chris and Gabriel were shooting hoops now at a booth, Layne and Becca laughing with them. He didn’t see Nick and Quinn anywhere.

Then he spotted Layne’s little brother, Simon, at the balloon popping booth, tossing darts with a girl who looked like a freshman. Hunter smiled.

Then some guys he didn’t recognize walked over and got in Simon’s face.

“Jesus,” Hunter muttered.

“You know them?” said Kate.

“Yeah. Hold on.” He fished out his phone and shot off a text to Gabriel.

Help Simon at the balloon booth. I’m stuck on the wheel.

He watched to make sure Gabriel received the text, then relaxed when he saw all four of them head off to help Simon.

“He’s deaf,” Hunter explained to Kate. “He gets a lot of crap for it.”

She was watching him with a bemused expression on her face. “That’s nice of you.” She paused. “I didn’t think you liked that Gabriel guy.”

“Yeah, well . . .” He paused. “It’s a long story.” Then he realized something. “You can tell him apart from his brother?”

She looked startled for the barest second. “Well—his brother’s dating the blonde, right?”

The Ferris wheel stopped to let more people on, and they hung suspended at the three o’clock position.

“Yeah,” he said.

“So . . .” Kate started. “You’re in a love-hate bromance with Gabriel Merrick, you’ve got mixed feelings about this Calla chick—”

“Why don’t we talk about something else?”

She leaned back against the wall of the car. “Like what?”



“Yeah. You said no games. Who’s the guy in the pickup truck?”

“His name is Silver.” She paused. “He’s a friend.”

Like he would buy that now, after hearing about Quinn’s comments. “Do you make out with all your friends?”

“Only the hot ones.”

He snorted again and looked away.

“Why?” she said. “Interested?”

His pulse jumped, but he had no tolerance for bluffing. He met her gaze head on. “Sure.”

And then she was straddling his lap. The car rocked forcefully, and he swore and caught her automatically, one arm going around her waist, one arm catching the bar for support.

Her fingers tangled in his hair and she didn’t let him go, laughing a little as she pressed her lips to his.

He sucked in a breath and pulled away.

She took it in stride and kissed the spot just below his ear. “Startled you, did I?”

He was very aware of her body and the way she still pressed against him. This was very different from the fight behind the tents. He wanted to move, to push her away, but he was pretty sure his hands would betray him and go the other direction.

Her fingers were still in his hair, her breath against his earlobe, and it was making it hard to think straight.

He closed his eyes. Focus. “I thought you were bluffing.”

She caught his earlobe with her lips, then her teeth, sucking it into her mouth.

He felt it all the way through his body. He gasped and had to catch her waist with both hands, still unsure whether he wanted to push her away—or pull her closer.

One of her hands sneaked under his jacket, stroking across his chest with her fingertips. Her lips moved to his neck, and she caught the skin there with her teeth.

He wasn’t going to be able to talk in a second. “Kate,” he said. “Kate—”

She arched into his hands, grabbing one of his wrists and forcing his hand higher on her body, until his palm was over her breast and his thumb was brushing intimate things through the fabric of her shirt.

Hunter hissed a breath through his teeth and had to shift on the bench. It felt like the Ferris wheel was spinning fiercely yet simultaneously standing still. He could only see lights and stars and the glowing halo of her hair.

This time when her mouth fell on his, he didn’t pull away at all. Her tongue slipped between his teeth, teasing at his until he sat up straighter, his free hand at the small of her back, just inside the waistband of her jeans, pulling her closer. He felt silk and lace and skin under his fingertips. All at once, clothes were an irritation, and he moaned into her mouth, drawing at her tongue until she was panting against him.

He was dangerously close to the farthest he’d ever gone with a girl, and here he barely knew her. Instead of that being a deterrent, he never wanted it to stop. The hell with the fires, the hell with his living situation—if he could spend the rest of his life in this Ferris wheel car, doing this exact thing, it would totally be fine.

And then she caught his wrist again, making his hand go still against her. “Easy,” she breathed.

He froze and moved his other hand to safer ground, too. “Sorry,” he said, his voice a whispered rasp of sound. God, he wanted to crack his head on the metal wall of this car. Five minutes ago he’d been pissed at her, and now he didn’t want to stop touching her. How had he lost control like that?

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