Spirit Page 65

That was an hour ago.

If he was being honest with himself, he craved the simplicity of this. Teaching something to someone who needed the skills. No ulterior motive, no elements, no betrayal. Seeing Simon gain confidence as he figured out that he wasn’t powerless at all.

The basement door opened with a rattle and a creak, and Hunter held up a hand for Simon. Light footsteps came skipping down the wooden steps.

Kate? Hunter considered ducking into the alcove beside the washing machine.

Dude. Really.

It was Becca anyway, brown hair long and shining. She glanced between them. “Are you guys going to come up?”

“In a bit,” Hunter started—but Simon was nodding. He mimed needing a drink, then held out a fist for Hunter to bump.

Once he was gone, Hunter hoped Becca would follow Simon, but she remained in the basement, staring up at him.

“What’s up?” he said.

“You tell me.”

He shrugged. “Simon asked me to help him out, so—”

“Come on. Don’t do that.”

This was what he’d liked about her originally. Becca didn’t pull any punches—but she was gentle about it. “They don’t want me up there, Becca. Not really.”

“Nick said he invited Kate for you, and now you’re hiding in the basement.”

Hunter dropped onto the old sofa that sat against the cinderblock back wall. The basement wasn’t finished, but a bunch of old furniture sat down here, and he kicked his feet up on an ottoman with torn upholstery. “I also told Nick she’s a player, and I’m not interested.”

Becca smiled a little ruefully. “I believe that.”

Hunter frowned. “What does that mean?”

“It means I’ve listened to her hit on every guy on the porch. I’m surprised she’s not mounting Casper.”

Oh, good. Just what he wanted to hear.

Becca flopped down next to him.

“You don’t have to do this,” he said. “I’m fine, really. I’m just not in the mood for a party.”

“I know you have a lot on your mind,” she said softly. “Do you want to talk about it?”


She shifted on the sofa until she was looking at him. “Can I ask you a personal question?”

He kept his eyes on the ceiling and tried not to imagine what was going on upstairs. “Shoot.”

“Have you ever been with a girl when you weren’t using her for something?”

She didn’t mean it as an attack, but his shoulders tightened anyway. He turned his head to look at her. “I’m sorry if I hurt you, Becca. I had—it was a lot—”

“I’m not looking for an apology, Hunter.” Her eyes were kinder than he deserved—and maybe a little mischievous. “I’m just saying that you were full of confidence with me, and now you’re hiding in the basement.”

“I’m not hiding.” But her comment was a little too close to what Michael had said last night, about running away.

“You know why I think you’re down here?” said Becca. “Because you like this girl. I think you stand to lose something you might care about, and that scares the crap out of you.”

Hunter refused to look away, but he didn’t have much of a retort.

He had to clear his throat to speak. “How do you know that?”

“Please. I saw the look on your face when I said Kate was hitting on everyone. Don’t worry, I think Quinn is about to yank her fingernails out by the roots.”

Another rattle and creak, and more footfalls were coming down the wooden steps.

Honestly, was everyone going to check on him?


And Nick, followed by Quinn.

But seriously, it was a miracle he was able to look past Kate. She was wearing this tight sky-blue top with inch-thin straps and a ruffle at the bottom—and the bottom ended right at the base of her rib cage. Tight black jeans sat just below her belly button, exposing a solid few inches of very toned midsection.

He couldn’t have said what Nick and Quinn were wearing if someone held a gun to his head.

Kate snapped her fingers in his face. “My eyes aren’t that far south, slugger.”

He refused to let her make him blush. “Then you shouldn’t have worn that outfit.”

“I heard you were giving ass-kicking lessons down here.”

Her voice was challenging, and that was a lot easier to take than anything else. He still had no idea what she was doing here. Had she texted Nick last night just to screw with him?

“Sure am,” he said evenly. “Interested in an ass-kicking?”

Quinn had moved close to Nick, and just now she was murmuring something that made him laugh.

“What was that?” said Hunter.

“I said you should just go find a bedroom and get it over with.”

Kate smiled and stepped closer to Hunter. “I’ve got time if you know what to do with it.”

He wasn’t sure if that was an insult or a come-on. His eyes were right on level with the button on her jeans, and it was suddenly hard to think. “Told you, I’m busy with ass-kicking.”

She stepped forward until she was straddling his knees, then sat.

He tried to force his brain to think about other things, but his brain was more than content to think about the curvaceous female in his lap.

She leaned forward to whisper in his ear. “Come on, baby, teach me something I don’t know.”

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