Spirit Page 44

Seven people missing.

Seven people. All because he couldn’t make himself pull a stupid trigger in the library.

All because he’d made his dad come back for him.

This line of thinking wasn’t going to get him anywhere.

Hunter kept thinking of the kid who’d shown up in his kitchen that night, when Calla had come after him in his bedroom. Where had that guy gone? Why hadn’t Hunter seen him around school?

He needed answers.

We need to talk about last night.

That statement could be about so many things.

Some were pleasant.

Some were not.

And there was only one way to find out which ones she wanted to talk about.


Kate was waiting for him.

Hunter didn’t spot her at first: she wore tight gray jeans and a slim-fitting olive-green tank that blended with the tree line at the edge of the carnival grounds. The sky still hung heavy with clouds, but the rain had stopped, leaving the field nothing but a soggy, charred mess. None of the carnival equipment had been removed. All the bodies sure had.

Almost everything was roped off with yellow crime scene tape.

Thank god his jeep had four-wheel drive—even so, he parked before it got too bad. He had to step through muddy tire ruts to get to her.

The place was deserted, but it felt haunted, as if the carnage from last night had left an impact in the very air.

Casper loped along beside him, happy for the adventure.

She wasn’t armed, unless she had something at the small of her back, but it took everything he had not to let his eyes linger on her form. Her eyes were fierce, her shoulders thrown back, her mouth sexy as hell.

He glanced around. “What’s with the cryptic meeting place?”

She ignored him. “What are you doing with the Merricks?”

Wow. As if that wasn’t a loaded question.

But he could play this game, too. “You know what happened with my grandfather. They’re letting me crash there for a while.” He paused. “Why?”

“Don’t play stupid.”

He gave her half a smile. “I’m playing cautious.”


“Probably the same reason you are.” More sure now, he took a step forward.

She didn’t move, but he sensed the sudden tension in her body, could feel the way her eyes tracked his movement.

He was out of practice. He should have noticed this when they’d played at fighting last night.

Only now he sensed she wasn’t playing at all.

“You look tense,” he said easily. “I thought you wanted to talk.”

“If you’re playing cautious, then you’ll want to stop walking.”

Well, that statement was full of threat, and definitely dictated how this conversation was going to go.

He hesitated for a second, weighing his options. The post-storm humidity spoke of danger, but he needed to take control of this interaction before she did. He kept moving, knowing that however she’d react, she was going to be fast. She wouldn’t waste energy on a strength move, not against him.

She moved half a second before he expected it—and not in the way he expected at all.

She didn’t fight, she ran.

He took off after her.

She was fast, launching herself through the underbrush in the woods, heading toward the creek, barely making a sound as her feet sprang through dead leaves. She ducked and bolted through narrow passages, until even Casper had a hard time staying on her trail.

And then she vanished.

Hunter drew up short, his lungs pulling for breath. His shoulder ached again, protesting all this motion.

About a hundred feet off, something skittered through a bush.

Casper took off after it. Hunter stared. How had she gotten so far away, so—

Wham. Kate landed on him from above. It was a lot of weight all at once, and he hit the ground. Kate was on his back.

With a knife at his throat.

She had a fistful of his hair, and the blade was tight under his chin, so sharp that he could swear he was bleeding already.

“Boys are such idiots,” she said.

But he wasn’t listening. His hand was already hooking her wrist from the inside, using his strength to jerk her forward.

And while she was off balance, he rolled her into the dirty leaves. He straddled her waist and pinned her arms—one with his knee, one with a hand—and put the knife against her throat.

“Now who’s the idiot?”

Her eyes lit with indignant fury.

“Don’t glare at me,” he said. “You’re the one who left my hands free.” He could still feel wetness at his neck. “That was a good trick, though. You have any more weapons hidden out here?”

Kate didn’t speak, and he eased the knife away from her neck, just an inch. “I didn’t come out here expecting a fight,” he said.

“What were you expecting? Another chance to feel me up?”

That hurt more than it should have, but she didn’t have to know that. “Why? Is that offer on the table?”

“Just kill me or let me go.”

“I don’t like either of those options. You’re another Fifth, aren’t you?”

“Oh, good. You’ve figured that out.”

“You’re working with the guy from last night?”

She kept glaring up at him, and that was answer enough. Hunter glanced around, but the trees were still. Casper was probably off chasing a rabbit or whatever. “Is he going to try to shoot me again?”

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