Spirit Page 66

Her voice was full of suggestion and his body wasn’t complaining.

And that’s exactly why he needed to shut her down.

“Sure,” he said, loading his voice with just as much suggestion—but adding a touch of mockery. “Want to learn how to drive a stick?”

Quinn snorted.

Kate was just staring at him, as if trying to sort through the innuendo. Some of her easy confidence stumbled a bit.

Good. It was nice to know she could falter.

While she was off balance, he put his hands on her waist and lifted her, setting her to the side and shoving a hand into his pocket for his keys. “Come on,” he said. “Try not to tear up my clutch.”

He was already on the steps, but she was just staring after him. “Your clutch—? What are—”

But he was already through the door, heading for his jeep, not bothering to wait to see whether she’d follow.

Kate had half a mind to let him just leave. It would serve him right, and she sure wasn’t the type to go scampering after a boy just because he snapped his fingers.

But the whole reason she’d come here was to talk to Hunter privately, and here he was giving her the perfect way to do just that.

She caught up to him beside his jeep. His dog was already in the back, flopped out on the backseat.

“Get in,” Hunter said.

He barely gave her time to obey, because he was throwing the car into gear before she even had the door closed.

Her heart was skipping to some rhythm she couldn’t figure out, but she pulled a stick of gum out of her bag like she was bored, then rolled it into her mouth. “Are we running from something?”

“No, I just needed to get out of there.”

“Trouble in paradise?”

“Tell me, Kate, do you have absolutely no self-confidence, or are you just completely full of yourself and you don’t give a shit about anyone else?”

She almost choked on the gum.

Hunter came to a stop sign at the end of the road and turned to look at her. “What are you really doing here?”

“I was invited.”

“Yeah, and how’d you drum up an invitation? Did you send Nick Merrick na**d pictures of yourself?”

She wanted to punch him, but some part of his words were ringing true, and that stung like crazy. “What do you care if I did?”

He turned back to the road and hit the accelerator.

“Jealous much?” she said.

His jaw was so tight she could make out the lines where muscle met bone. “If we’ve decided the problem is Calla and a bunch of middle schoolers, you shouldn’t be hanging out with the Merricks.”

“They invited me!”

“You could’ve said no, you know.” He cut a glance her way. “Or is that foreign territory for you?”

“I’m a little sick of you acting like I’m some big slut.”

“Oh, I’m the one acting like you’re a big slut?”

She didn’t give a crap that he was driving, her fist was just flying in the general direction of his face.

He caught her wrist one-handed, and he wasn’t gentle about it. In a flash she saw that kid lying on the field, passing out from the pain in his arm.

She was about to pass out from the pain in her own.

Kate got ahold of his keys with her other hand, and killed the engine while they were still moving.

Then she used the fistful of keys to stab him in the crotch.

She was lucky he didn’t flip the car.

They ended up on the side of the road. Casper was standing up on the backseat, one paw on the center console. Hunter’s hands had a death grip on the steering wheel, and his forehead was between them.

“I think I might have to kill you,” he said. “Just as soon as I can stand up straight.”

Her heart found that odd syncopated rhythm again. “You deserved it.”

Hunter turned his head and looked at her over his fingers. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said those things to you.”

His apology took her by surprise more effectively than if he’d run off the road again. She couldn’t remember the last time someone had apologized to her.

And he’d done it so simply, like it was nothing.

But beyond the apology, she couldn’t get past the realization that he hadn’t struck back. She could still feel tenderness in her jaw from where Silver had knocked her around, and here Hunter took a solid hit with something like . . . grace.

She cleared her throat. “Are you just apologizing because you’ll never father children?”

“Probably.” She made like she was going to jab him again, and he winced, then almost smiled. “Nah. I mean it.”

She looked back at the road. A few houses sat down the way, but right here nothing but trees lined the roadway, and the jeep had kicked up a bunch of red and yellow leaves. The air swirled through her hair, just this side of chilly, making her want to tuck her hands under her thighs to warm her fingers.

She still couldn’t figure Hunter out, and she kept her hands where she could use them.

“What were you doing over there, really?” he said.

“I wanted to ask if you’ve seen Silver.”

That took him by surprise, and he straightened, little by little. “No. Why? Did something happen?”

“He didn’t come back to the apartment last night. He texted me to say he was working on something.” She didn’t add the rest of Silver’s commentary, how he’d told her to be a good little girl and stay out of trouble.

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