Spirit Page 53

Hunter grabbed a paper plate and a piece of chicken, then dropped into one of the folding chairs that had been added to make enough seats. He was smashed between Nick and Simon and barely had enough room to put his plate down.

Chris was still glaring at him. “So what did you want to show Becca later?”

Becca was glaring at Chris now. “Leave him alone.”

“No way,” said Chris. “If it was so innocent, he can tell everyone.”

Hunter pulled the skin off his chicken and fed it to Casper, well aware that everyone at the table was looking at him now.

He was spinning his wheels trying to think of something innocuous to say, but he was coming up with nothing. He was tempted to keep everything secret, to hand over the files to Kate to see what they could come up with together.

But he didn’t know who all those people were, and the Merricks might.

The gun was a solid weight at the small of his back, like a heavy steel security blanket.

“I went through the things my mom packed up,” he said slowly, looking at the chicken on his plate. He wasn’t sure how many people at the table knew about Elementals, so he chose his words carefully. “She included my dad’s files.”

“Files files?” said Gabriel.

Hunter nodded.

“Anything interesting?” said Nick.

“They’re old.” Hunter paused. “But yeah.”

“What kind of files?” said Hannah.

“Later,” said Michael. He gave Hannah a crooked glance. “Maybe when the daughter of the county fire marshal isn’t sitting at the table.”

“Don’t worry,” she said. “I’ll get the secrets out of you later.”

“Trust me,” said Michael. “You don’t want these secrets.”

Hunter kind of agreed with him.

Later, when Hannah and James were gone, and Quinn had driven home with Becca, Hunter brought the files downstairs and dumped them out on the table.

He’d been doubtful about Layne and Simon, but Gabriel said, “They can stay. They’re good at secrets.”

Hunter watched as the Merrick brothers went through their own files first.

Michael blew out a long whistle. “Your dad had a lot of information.”

Layne poked Gabriel’s cheek. “Did you always look surly? How old are you in that picture?”

Gabriel was staring at the grainy reproduced photograph. “Twelve? Thirteen? I don’t know.” He glanced up at Michael.

“There’s notes in here about Mom and Dad. The Guides knew what happened with Tyler’s sister, and Seth’s parents.”

Nick looked at Hunter. “Why didn’t your dad come after us then?”

“I don’t know.” He hesitated, remembering his father’s caution when discussing the Merricks a few days before he died. Hunter strongly suspected that the four of them together were more intimidating than they even realized.

It reminded him of the conversation with Kate in the field, about his presence in the house making them more formidable instead of less, no matter which side he was on.

Hunter shoved the thought out of his head and pulled more files from the Pendaflex. “There are notes about Seth and Tyler, too.” He slid them onto the table. “And a bunch of people I don’t know.”

They quickly discarded the files about Seth and Tyler. When they got to the first one Hunter didn’t recognize, Nick said, “Jeff Bluster. He was a year ahead of us. His folks were friends with Tyler’s. They were in on the deal.”

“What happened to them?” said Hunter.

Chris shrugged. “They moved away a few years ago.”

Hunter turned to the next file, on Noah Dean. “This is the kid who was with Calla when they trashed my house. She never said she had a younger brother, but maybe this is her cousin? She lives with her aunt and uncle.” Hunter hesitated, then said more softly, “Lived.”

Simon leaned forward and looked at the picture. He turned to Layne and signed something.

“I remember this kid, too,” said Layne. “He’s in eighth grade, a year behind Simon.” Her younger brother signed some more, and she kept translating. “He wasn’t a troublemaker. Had a lot of friends.” She glanced up. “Probably still does.”

“I don’t know him,” said Michael. “His family wasn’t in on the deal—my parents probably never knew they were Elementals.”

Hunter grabbed the next folder. This one and the rest were labeled POTENTIAL THREAT. “How about this girl?”

The Merricks all shook their heads, but Layne leaned over. “Alison Merryman. I know her. She’s a freshman. Quiet. Sweet.”

Next folder. Another seventh grader. And another one. Then an eighth grader.

Simon signed quickly. Layne leaned over. “I know him, too. He’s a jerk.” She glanced at Gabriel as Simon kept signing. “He’s one of the ones who was hassling Simon at the carnival.”

“He ran when I showed up,” said Gabriel. “I just thought he was running from a fight.”

Layne’s brother looked pissed at the memory.

Hunter glanced at him. “I could help you with that,” he said.

Simon’s eyes widened in surprise.

Hunter shrugged. He remembered what it felt like to walk through school hallways and wonder when the next idiot was going to slam you into a locker. “If you want,” he said.

Simon nodded.

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