Spirit Page 49

Half-naked ÅÇ confident.

His mother was there, at the table, next to a blond woman he vaguely recognized. Hunter couldn’t look at them. He already felt like he was going to pieces; eye contact would clinch the deal.

Instead, he leaned against the door molding and jingled his keys in his pocket. “What are you doing here?”

“The fire at the school carnival was on the noon news, and after last week—I thought—I didn’t know—”

Now fury poured across his shoulders, hardening them in place. She’d just heard about the fires? He’d been shot last night, and she hadn’t known anything about the carnival until like an hour ago?

Even though it was something completely out of her control, he couldn’t help but blame her for it.

“I’m fine,” he said evenly. “You can go back home. You should have just called.”

“I wasn’t sure you’d answer.”

Well, that was honest. He wasn’t sure he would have answered, either.

A chair scraped against the floor, and he glanced up, wondering if she really was leaving. But it was the blond woman, young and slight and wearing the local fire station’s T-shirt.

This had to be Hannah.

“We’ll just give you some privacy,” she said quietly. Then she moved toward Michael, took his arm, and practically dragged him out of the kitchen.

Hunter moved out of the doorway so they could pass, but he still didn’t look at his mother.

“Did you go through the boxes I left you?” she asked quietly.

He shrugged. “I haven’t had time.”

That, at least, was the truth. He hadn’t bothered to go through them before the carnival, and the last thing he’d cared about today was a box full of old pictures and his gaming system.

She was silent for a while. Then she said, “Well, go through them soon, so you can make sure you have everything you need.”

He was clutching his keys so tightly, they felt like they might bend between his fingers. He wanted to snap at her to demand things like How could you do this?!

But he was scared of the answers. As much as he didn’t want her here, he didn’t want her to leave, either.

He cleared his throat and stopped clutching his keys. But then his hands wanted something to do. He settled for folding his arms across his chest. “Fine.”

She didn’t move. He didn’t, either.

He wished he knew how to fix this.

He wanted to tell her the truth about Calla. He wanted to demand to know how she could have thought he’d ever do something like that.

He wanted to talk to her, to tell her everything his father had said before he died. To tell her that he felt lost, directionless, trying to figure out just who he was supposed to be now that everything he knew had been crushed under that rock slide.

He wanted to ask why she was only looking at him now, when he would have given anything for one minute of her attention since the day his father died. He wanted to ask how she could sit there and watch him walk out the door, how she could sit here now, motionless, and not say anything to him.

The longer she sat there, the more she seemed to prove his father’s words, on the day before he died.

She was weak. She was ignorant. She was easily manipulated.

It made him want to rip the stupid stones off his wrist and fling them at her.

She’d been the one to give them to him, after all.

When her chair scraped the floor, he flinched but then stopped his body from making any further movement. His fingers were digging into his biceps now.

When she stopped in front of him, he didn’t look.

She put her hands on his arms and looked up at him. He wanted to shove her hands off.

No, he didn’t.

He finally looked at her and sandbagged all that emotion. “I’m fine.”

“I don’t think you are.” Her eyes were heavy with feeling. “I wish you would talk to me.”

How could he talk to her when she didn’t understand him, not even a little bit?

“I miss him, too, Hunter,” she said softly, so quietly that he almost couldn’t hear her.

It was the wrong thing to say—or the last thing he wanted to hear. He slid out of her hands and turned away. “That’s your problem, isn’t it?”

God, he sounded like such an ass**le. But the alternative was breaking down right here in the Merrick kitchen—and he’d had enough of that.

She let him go, and he almost called her back and apologized. He felt like he was keeping his father’s dirty little secret, and it was clawing at him from the inside out. He wanted to tell her, but that would cause her more pain than anything he was doing right now.

Dad never told you the truth. About anything.

He was only using you.

She stepped past him softly, just resting a hand on his arm as she moved past. Her fingers were warm, gentle, the same hands that had tended his scrapes when he was little.

He almost put his hand over hers, not wanting her to leave.

But then she let go. “Call me if you need something. I can bring over anything else you want.”


And just like that, she walked out of the house.

He had to stop himself from going after her. It didn’t help that he knew the Merricks were in the house, had heard every word, and were probably waiting for him to come out of the kitchen.

He went out the back door and dropped into one of the porch chairs.

The air still held a chill, and the clouds overhead suited his mood. He closed his eyes and tried to let the tension drain out of his shoulders.

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies