Spirit Page 41

He’d been negotiating with her?

“I’ll make sure the fire takes care of it,” said Silver.

Thunder cracked overhead again. A bolt of lightning struck the carousel. Sparks shot into the air. Kate jumped a mile. She could feel cool air swirl through the grounds, tickling her cheeks despite the fires.

Hunter and Gabriel were gone.

Silver had his gun up again, and he was headed for where they’d been. “I will not stand by while they cause more harm.”

Another bolt of lightning blasted into the dirt ten feet behind them, and this time even Silver jumped, whirling with the gun in hand.

The power stroked along her skin, so she knew Silver had to be feeling it. Part of her wanted to drop her guard and ride the streamers of energy.

She shut down the thought almost before it could form. That would make her like them.

If Hunter’s father had been a Guide—what was he doing with the Merricks?

How did they fit with that Calla girl?

The sirens were close now. The wind picked up more fully, swirling sparks and debris from the ground, lashing at her face. The power in the fire pulsed against her skin. It had to have spread farther with the wind—she couldn’t see an end to the flames. For a while she’d felt nothing but pain and suffering, but now she felt nothing.

Had she made a mistake, stopping Silver when he could have stopped the Merricks? Were they working with Calla? Did that explain Hunter’s fight with Gabriel in the cafeteria?

Were they spreading the fire even now?

She had more questions than answers.

“We must find them,” said Silver. “They’re spreading the fire. They’ve already taken enough lives—”

“Wait.” She held out her arm. A drop of water clung to her wrist, but it quickly evaporated.

Another appeared.

And another.

Then rain was pouring down, a full deluge, the kind you usually saw in late summer. Lightning crackled in the clouds overhead, but the rain was heavy, wet, and constant.

And it put out every single lick of flame.

Hunter was drowning in darkness, every now and again breaking the surface of awareness.

The first time, his eyes were pried open, and the light was blinding. He flinched away. He wondered if he’d fallen in among the flames, because his entire body felt like it was burning and freezing at the same time.

A woman’s voice was speaking. “He’s lost a lot of blood. He’s going to need—” But just as he was about to make out the rest of her words, everything went black again.

The second time, he opened his eyes to fire and darkness, and he felt sure they’d left him. He sucked in a huge choking breath, breathing more smoke than oxygen. A hand squeezed his, hard, sending sparks of pain shooting through his shoulder. Gabriel Merrick’s voice. “Come on, Hunter.” Then the sparks took over, and he was out again.

The third time, Hunter woke to whispers.

At first, the sounds were nonsensical, and he couldn’t puzzle them out through the haze in his brain. His eyes didn’t want to open yet. He didn’t sense fire or danger, but rain rattled against windows.

Windows. He was inside.

He just didn’t know where.

Now he kept his eyes closed on purpose, trying to assess more before revealing that he was awake, and alert.


Carnival. Ferris wheel. Fire.


The way her body jerked.

The way he’d run. The way he’d hit the ground.

He wanted it to be a dream, but the pulsing ache in his shoulder convinced him it wasn’t. None of it was.

Hunter fought to keep his breathing even.

The whispers drew close, but he still couldn’t make sense of the words. Breath brushed his cheek, then a finger stroked across his eyebrow.

Hunter flung out a hand and seized a wrist. He jerked upright and looked at his captive.

A boy, looking just as shocked as Hunter felt. Young and blond and wide-eyed, he couldn’t have been more than five or six. His expression was frozen in that state where crying was a possibility.

Hunter let him go.

Then he winced, as the adrenaline wore off and his body suggested that sudden movement hadn’t been a bright idea.

The little boy hadn’t moved, but at least he didn’t look like he was going to cry anymore. He’d leaned forward. “Why do you have earrings in your face?”

What the hell? Hunter rubbed his eyes. He was sitting on a couch, a comforter thrown over him. The room was dim, pale light breaking through the rain, meaning either early morning or early evening. His shirt was gone, but he still had on his jeans. His shoulder hurt like hell. One of his hands was bandaged across the palm.

Hunter’s brain couldn’t piece it all together.

Wait. He knew this room.

The Merrick house.

But then who was this kid, peering at him curiously, reaching out a hand to touch the piercings in his eyebrow?

Hunter caught his wrist again, but more gently. “Where is everyone?”

“Mommy is working.” His voice dropped to a hushed whisper. “I’m supposed to be sleeping, but I wasn’t tired anymore.”

The house was a well of quiet, insulated by the rain smacking the glass outside. At least that meant it was probably morning.

The boy stretched for a remote control on the coffee table, ignoring Hunter’s hold on his wrist. “Can I turn on cartoons?”

This was . . . surreal. Hunter let him go again. “Sure.” He paused. “Do you know where everyone else is?”

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