Spirit Page 60

The house next door had been destroyed by a fire and was now surrounded by construction fencing.

The first house Calla had burned to the ground.

According to the file, Noah Dean, that kid with the dark hair, the one with the not-broken arm, lived in the house with the rainbowed driveway.

Hunter was waiting for everyone to go to bed so he could break in and continue the interrogation.

He was waiting here, instead of somewhere else, in case Noah decided to leave.

Hunter’s cell phone buzzed, and he sighed.

So far, he’d ignored five text messages.

Two from Becca.

And three from Michael.

He hadn’t read any of them.

He glanced at his phone now, just out of idle curiosity. Another from Michael.

Where are you?

Hunter rolled his eyes and shoved the phone back in his pocket. Like Michael gave a crap. He probably wanted to know when Hunter was going to get his stuff out of the house so they could move on to the next city. Hunter had only one reason to go back to the Merrick house tonight: Casper.

Lights in the Dean house were slowly ticking off. Only a matter of time now.

But then the front door opened, and Hunter straightened.

Moonlight reflected on dark hair, a trash bag crinkled, and Hunter recognized his mark. He was out of the car in a heartbeat, creeping along the sidewalk.

Be a shadow, Hunter. Can you be a shadow?

It was one of the first things he’d learned from his father. He’d been six.

Noah Dean never saw him coming. Hunter had him on the ground between the houses before the kid could draw enough breath to scream.

He was fighting now, though, and his flailing foot caught a trash can.

Hunter bit back a curse and braced an arm against Noah’s neck, using enough pressure that the boy whimpered and froze.

“That’s better,” Hunter said.

Noah’s breathing was shaking. “My parents will know something is up. I was just taking out the trash.”

“You and your friends have been killing people. You think I give a crap about your parents?”

“They’ll call the cops—”

“Then maybe I should work faster, huh?” Hunter added another few pounds of pressure, until the boy’s eyes squeezed shut.

“What?” he cried. “What do you want?”

“I want to know where Calla is hiding. What you’re planning.”

“I don’t—I can’t—” The boy choked and gasped and squirmed under Hunter’s grip.

Hunter held him there for another minute, until the fear in the air was potent.

“If you think I won’t hurt you,” said Hunter, “you’re wrong.”

“Fuck you.” The boy squeaked out the words. “You’re just proving our point.”

“And what point is that?”

“The Guides are the ones who should be destroyed.” Noah squirmed again, trying to ease some of the pressure on his throat. “Your talents don’t make you better than the other Elementals. They make you worse. Just look what you’re doing right now.”

His rage practically hit Hunter in the face.

The guilt that followed was his own. But he couldn’t let this kid go. This was so much bigger than just the two of them.

“What are you planning?” said Hunter. “What’s Calla planning?”

Noah choked and squirmed. “Let’s just say I wouldn’t want to be around here on Monday.”

A door creaked around the front of the house, then a female voice called out, almost wavering. “Noah? Are you okay?”

Hunter looked down at the boy he had pinned to the ground and knew he had about three seconds to figure out what to do.

“Tell me where Calla is or I’ll shoot your mother.”

He must have sounded pretty convincing, because the boy’s breathing shook. “Leave her alone. She doesn’t know about this. My mom’s not an Elemental.”

Hunter had told Kate that he needed these kids to be afraid of him.

Now that Noah was, it felt horrible.

“Tell me,” Hunter hissed.

“Noah?” Mrs. Dean was coming closer. She sounded worried.

Hunter drew his weapon and cocked the hammer. He added weight to Noah’s throat.

“Tunnels,” gasped Noah.

“Tunnels? What tunnels?”

“The—the tunnels—”

The woman’s flip-flops smacked the driveway. Hunter was either going to have to shoot this woman or let Noah go.

If he couldn’t shoot Calla, he sure as hell couldn’t shoot an unarmed non-Elemental who was looking for her son. He let the kid go and slipped into the shadows.

The boy hadn’t made it to his feet by the time his mother came around the side of the house, but he was sitting up, rubbing his throat.

She was at his side in a heartbeat, touching his face, asking if he was all right, assuring him he could take a few days off from school if that mean older boy wouldn’t leave him alone. Then a hug and a promise of chocolate chip cookies.

Hunter felt his fists clench. It took a while to figure out this emotion.


He had to shove thoughts of his mother out of his head.

Thoughts of Kate were quick to replace them. Not the feel of her body in the parking lot, the way she’d yielded to his kiss and practically melted under his hands. Instead, he thought of that moment in the woods, when she’d breathed power on his neck to heal the knife wound there.

The way she’d put a hand on his wrist that morning when he’d told her what happened with his grandfather.

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