Spirit Page 71

Then she said. “I’m telling him I’m with you.”

“Is that a good idea?”

“Honestly, I’m out of ideas. I don’t know what this means, and we’re in the middle of nowhere.”

He didn’t have anything to say to that. He’d driven her out here, and now something was happening and they were too far away to do anything about it.

He kept hearing Michael’s lecture from last night, about running from confrontation.

Now it was biting him in the ass.

“Huh,” said Kate.

She was killing him. “What?” said Hunter.

“Silver says, ‘My question was rhetorical.’ ”

“So he knew you were with me.” This wasn’t getting them anywhere.

He drove, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel, thinking. He didn’t have enough information. Could Noah have run away? What was the crime scene?

Did Silver have something to do with the boy’s disappearance?

Then Hunter had a startling thought. Did the Merricks? Hunter’s files were at the house. They could have gone after Noah Dean themselves.

Without telling Hunter?

Gabriel had kicked Hunter in the stomach last night, had laid into him with true fury.

No. They wouldn’t have told him.

“Finally got Internet,” said Kate. “Local news says the mom went to the grocery store, leaving Noah at home.” She whistled low, through her teeth. “When she got back, he was gone and there was a pentagram on the door.”

“Silver?” said Hunter, his voice grim.

“Maybe,” said Kate. “He’s not responding to my texts now.”

Hunter froze. “Did you tell him about what happened yesterday?”


“So he knows Calla is still alive?”

“He said he’s had no indication that her death was not final, and the word of one child is not enough to distract him from his mission.”

Hunter tried to remember that moment during the carnival. He’d seen Calla fall, had seen the blood pour from her shoulder. Fire had caught at her clothes.

And then he’d run.

Focus. Keep thinking.

There hadn’t been any more fires. But Noah had been so assured that Calla was still alive—but his mom, Calla’s aunt, had seemed stressed when Hunter saw her. Even the news report talked about Calla’s death in the carnival fire. If Calla was alive, she was hiding, or she was gone.

No, she wouldn’t have left town. Not with her army of kids.

But where would she be hiding? She was a popular student, captain of the girls’ volleyball team. She obviously couldn’t go to school, and she was way too eye-catching to move around town without being noticed.

“Where should we go?” said Kate.

Hunter blew out a long breath and ran a hand back through his hair. “Who’s more likely to help us?” he said. “The Merricks or Silver?”

“I’ve got a better question,” said Kate. “Who’s less likely to kill us?”

The Merrick house it was.

Hunter knew something was wrong the instant he pulled into the driveway.

No SUV. No work truck. No vehicles at all.

He pulled the parking brake but didn’t cut the engine.

“What’s wrong?” said Kate.

“No cars.”

They’d pulled off the highway to put the top back on the jeep, and just now, the interior of the car was ice cold.

He didn’t think it was him this time.

The longer they waited here, the more he was going to feel like a sitting duck. His father’s lessons were rattling around in his head, telling him he should have parked somewhere else and approached the house under cover.

Kate’s breath was fogging on the window.

Hunter yanked the keys out of the ignition and unlocked the glove box.

Kate’s eyes went wide when she saw the gun. “You’ve been armed this whole time?”

He gave her a look. “Tell me you’re not.”

“I don’t have a gun.”

“What do you have?”

“Maybe you can find out later.” Then she turned and slid out of the jeep.

God, she was killing him.

Nothing was amiss in the yard, but he felt too exposed on the walk to the front door. Especially when they found it unlocked.

No, not just unlocked. Slightly ajar.

Hunter paused there on the front porch and opened his senses, asking the elements for information. The power to the house had been turned off: either someone had thrown the master breaker in the basement, or the power had been cut. He didn’t sense any electricity. Just quiet air that carried no malice.

He had the gun in his hand anyway.

His back was to the house, so he could see as much of the yard as possible. Nothing moved.

But he couldn’t shake this feeling of wrongness, and it seemed foolish to walk straight into a house left this way.

Casper was alert and silent by his side, waiting for a command.

“Go ahead,” said Kate. Her voice was a bare breath of sound. “I’ll cover you.”

Well. Maybe it wasn’t so bad having an ally.

He slipped through the door, all the while hearing his father’s voice in his head.

Shadow shadow shadow shadow.

He wondered what his father would think of his activities in this exact moment.

The main level was unoccupied. Kate was a shadow herself, moving so silently that he could almost forget she was there—hell, Casper’s nails made more sound on the tiled entryway. He’d never worked with someone like this, someone who knew how to move, who could fall back on training and use it to her advantage.

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