Spirit Page 47

Power surged in the air around them, and now, alone, no secrets between them, he did nothing to hold it back. His hand slid up her side, and she didn’t protest. He kissed his way down her jaw, along her neck, aware that the temperature in the woods had turned downright tropical. She smelled like something tropical, too, mangoes or papayas or something sweet and edible.

Suddenly, she was pulling at his T-shirt, and he drew back to help her.

But then her cell phone chimed.


It hit him like a bucket of cold water.

He was already trying to disentangle himself from her—but now she grabbed his shoulders. “Stop,” she whispered. “Stop. I told you—he’s not my boyfriend.”

Yeah, maybe not. But that didn’t mean this was . . . real.

Idiot, his subconscious was yelling. You’re an idiot.

Kate leaned in again, touching her forehead to his. “I’ve wanted to kiss you since the first morning I saw you.”

“All part of the plan, right?”

She flung herself off him. “You think all my text messages were part of some plan?” She kicked him in the leg. “You ass**le . You think I can’t separate what I’m doing here from what I think about you?”

He glared up at her. “I don’t know, Kate. Maybe I can’t keep up.”

“Jesus, don’t you trust anybody?”

“No, and I’m pretty sure you don’t, either.”

She stared back at him, her chest rising and falling as rapidly as his. She didn’t say anything, and that said it all right there.

“What do your text messages say?” Hunter demanded. “Is he checking up on how things are coming along with me?”

“He doesn’t even know I’m here.”


Her breathing was fast and rapid, her cheeks flushed.

Then she reached into her pocket, jerked out her phone, and tossed it at him. “Go ahead, see for yourself.”

He slid his finger across the screen, then glanced up. “Code?”


He hit the keys and her phone opened. He pushed the icon for text messages. Silver was in bold letters at the top.

When you say you’re going for a walk, I don’t expect you to disappear for two hours.

Do not make me come looking for you, Kathryn.

“Wow,” Hunter said. “He sounds charming.”

Kate grabbed the phone out of his hands. “He’s doing his job.” Then she slid her fingers along the screen, texting back.

After a moment, his own phone chimed, and Hunter grabbed it from his pocket.

She’d sent him a message.

I don’t want to be your enemy, Hunter.

While he was looking, another message appeared.

Silver was going to kill you last night. I stopped him.

He didn’t look at her, just texted back.


Because I understand you. And I think you understand me.

He sighed. Another message appeared.

I don’t want anyone to get hurt, either.

Before he could text back, she caught his hands between hers, cradling the phone. She looked up at him. “We can stop them, Hunter. We can. We can stop all of this from happening again.”

He blew out a breath. “How?”

“Find out who was working with her. We’ll take care of it and leave you alone.”

She was using him. It was obvious. He knew it, and she knew it.

But what would his father have wanted? For Hunter to hide with the Merricks?

“I don’t know who was working with her,” he said.

“Can you find out?”

He kept thinking about that kid who’d been with Calla in his house. Who was he?

They’d probably have pictures of the missing kids on the news. He could start there. Maybe it would lead to nothing—but maybe it would lead to a whole lot of something.

“I only have one lead,” he said. “It might not go anywhere.”

“But you’ll help?”


“That’s enough for now.” She kissed him on the cheek and then was gone.

Hunter didn’t check his other messages until he was in the jeep. He had a text from Gabriel.

All OK?

Hunter sat there and stared at the screen for the longest time. He thought of the gunshot, of Gabriel saving his life, of the arguments in the Merrick house, of the whispers about leaving, the quick action to shut up when they heard Hunter in the hallway. He thought of Calla. He thought of Kate, of Silver.

He thought of his father.

Then he typed back quickly.

Yep. Be back soon.

Then he clicked off the phone and started the engine.

Silver was waiting for her, sitting at the table, checking his weapons.

Kate deliberately took her time getting through the door, putting her sunglasses away, running lip gloss over her lips in front of the mirror in the front hall.

She gasped when Silver grabbed her arm and spun her around.

“Did he agree?” he said evenly.

“Let me go.”

“Answer me.”

“Yeah, he agreed. Now let me go, before I make you.”

Silver half smiled. “Now I’m curious. Make me.”

She didn’t hesitate—just swung a fist into his midsection.

He blocked, of course. She was ready for it, using his momentum to throw an elbow into his groin.

She wasn’t ready for his fist to smack into the side of her face. She wasn’t ready for the room to go sideways.

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