Spirit Page 43

Hunter walked into the kitchen easily, as if that creak in the floor was completely innocuous and he hadn’t heard a word. Gabriel and Michael were at the table, and he expected them to look guilty, but they just looked tired. Three mugs of coffee sat on the table. One was untouched, but a carton of half-and-half sat there, along with a bowl of sugar. And Hunter’s cell phone. The light was flashing.

At least it gave him an excuse not to look at them. He wasn’t sure he could keep the feeling of betrayal off his face. Hunter dropped into a chair and glanced at the screen.


We need to talk about last night.

That kicked his heart into action. He hit the button to clear the screen and set the phone down in favor of the coffee.

Gabriel’s words on the porch were duking it out with the conversation he’d just overheard.

No offense dude, but you weigh a f**king ton.

“Hey.” He looked across the table at Gabriel. “Thanks.”

Gabriel half shrugged and spun his mug between his hands. “I didn’t know what you wanted in it.”

“No—I mean—”

Gabriel met his eyes. “I know what you meant.”

“Did you fix my shoulder, too?”

Another half shrug, like it was nothing. “There was a lot of power in the fire. You were bleeding. It was easy.” But then he looked away. “We had to run. I couldn’t do it all the way. Hannah saw all the blood and was ready to put you on a helicopter.”

Gabriel’s voice was casual, but Hunter could hear the undercurrent of tension. Shadows underscored his eyes, punctuating his worry.

“What happened to the Guide?”

“Don’t know. Chris and Nicky pulled the rain to stop the fires, and we thought for sure he’d find us, but . . . he didn’t.”

“Yet,” Michael said. “He didn’t find us yet.”

Gabriel took a sip of coffee but didn’t say anything.

Michael glanced over at Hunter. “You look a lot better than you did last night. You all right?”

No. He felt like his world was collapsing around him. His brain was having trouble reconciling the fact that they’d saved his life with their talk about secretly leaving town, abandoning him to this mess that they were a part of.

He looked into his coffee and nodded.

“I thought about calling your mom,” Michael said. “But I was worried she’d want to come over here, and I didn’t want to put her in the line of fire.”

“It’s fine,” he said. He didn’t want to see her—if she even cared to see him. His grandfather would probably call him names and demand that he pay for the damages to the carnival equipment.

But for a fraction of a second, he wished Gabriel hadn’t used power to heal him, that this Hannah woman had put him on a medevac helicopter to shock trauma or wherever. Just so his mom would have to look at him for an instant, instead of wallowing in her own mess.

Then again, she’d probably ignore even that. She hadn’t moved a muscle while her father was laying into him.

Michael pushed loose strands of hair back from his face. “I checked the news last night. Seven people are missing. Three are confirmed dead, but the bodies were too badly burned to identify which of the missing people are definitely dead. Seven. Most of those were kids. And that doesn’t even count the number of people in the hospital.”

The sudden guilt clogged Hunter’s throat. He remembered the feeling of panic and despair on those carnival grounds. He hadn’t been able to help any of them. He rubbed at his eyes.

Michael was still looking at him. “Calla is on the list of the missing.”

Hunter thought of the way her body had jerked, the way she’d dropped in the middle of the flames.

She’d fallen in the middle of an inferno. She had to be one of the dead.

“At least she can’t hurt anyone else,” said Hunter.

“Jesus,” said Gabriel. “Why do you sound upset about that?”

“I’m not upset.”

But he was. Because he’d wanted her to stop, but he hadn’t wanted her dead. Because he hadn’t been able to stop her himself, and now more people had lost their lives. Because once again, he wasn’t exactly sure where he fell on this continuum of good and evil, or even which end was which.

He wasn’t like Calla. He knew that much.

But if he wasn’t like the Guides, where did that leave his father? Where did it leave the man who’d shot Calla? The same man who’d pointed a gun at Hunter?

Hunter’s first instinct had been to run.

Not to put his hands up and say, “Don’t shoot. I’m one of you.”

And where did it leave Kate, a girl who seemed to have as many secrets as he did himself? She’d climbed down the Ferris wheel more efficiently than he had. She’d called his name when he’d been running from the Guide—causing a hesitation that had probably saved his life. His shoulder wasn’t any great distance from his heart.

She hadn’t been the one with a gun. But what would happen if he told the Merricks that he suspected . . . something about her? About this friend she was texting all the time? He didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t even pin it down himself, so how was he going to explain it to them? He had no proof of anything, really. And they already didn’t trust him.

He wasn’t sure he trusted them, either, if they were going to leave him here.

His head hurt.

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