Spirit Page 75

“Can we use power to heal her?”

“I’m assuming someone is after you?”


Bill nodded. “I don’t want a lot of power in the air.”

So Hunter watched while Bill treated the wound, sprayed it with some kind of topical anesthetic, and then began to thread the flesh of her hip back together. For the moment, that’s all his brain could focus on, the steady slip and pull of thread through skin. It should have been horrifying, but he’d been through enough horror in the last week. This was almost hypnotizing, especially with a fire crackling behind them.

“I think you’ve got a lot to tell me,” said Bill.

Hunter shook his head. “I can’t piece it all together.”

“Try me.”

So Hunter talked through the events of the past week, from Silver to the carnival to Calla and Noah Dean and the threats about what would happen Monday. He finished with the Merricks leaving town, how they’d packed up and deserted the house with no notice.

He had a hard time keeping the bitterness out of his voice with that one.

But Bill nodded. “Becca went with them.”

“And you’re okay with that?”

“Right now? Yeah, I’m okay with that.” He tied off the last of the sutures. “Your girl here might not even need those by morning. Leave the stuff out here when you go. I’ll burn it.”

Then he turned toward the house.

“That’s it?” said Hunter, dismayed. “That’s all you have to say?”

“That’s it. Like I said, kid: your mess.”

“Jesus. No wonder Becca hates you.”

Bill whirled and hit him so fast that Hunter didn’t even see it coming. Suddenly, he found himself down in the sand, tasting blood in his mouth. His jaw ached like . . . well, like he’d been slugged in the jaw. Casper was standing over him, growling.

But Bill wasn’t afraid of the dog, and he sure wasn’t afraid of Hunter. He stared down at him. “You don’t know what I’ve done to protect Becca. So don’t talk about things you don’t understand. You get me?”

Hunter made it to his knees and spit blood. “Yeah. Fine. Whatever.”

“This is life or death, Hunter.”

“No shit.”

“Your father made the same sacrifices for you, and instead of living up to his expectations, you’re right in the middle of it all. Well, you’re not dragging it to my doorstep. Not if I can help it.”

Hunter couldn’t decide if his head was spinning or if that really didn’t make any sense. He lifted his eyes to find Bill walking away. “What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about your dad. You think it’s an accident that no other Guides came after you when your father died?”




“Come back here,” said Hunter.

“Move your jeep when you can. I don’t want it sitting in front of the house.” Then Bill disappeared through the back door.

And Hunter heard the click of a lock.

Waiting for Kate to wake up was excruciating.

Hunter didn’t want to leave her, and he had no cell phone, no way to contact anyone. He had two sleeping bags and a head full of heavy thoughts.

Every time he heard the bare snap of a twig in the woods, his gun was in his hand.

Around sundown, his stomach alerted him to the fact that he didn’t have any food, either.

Kate was looking better, though. She’d regained some color, and the stitched wound appeared somewhat closed and scabbed over. Her breathing was deeper, more of a true sleep.

Now that the sun was going down, a chill crept out of the water to cling to the air. Hunter stretched out one of the sleeping bags on the sand and carefully lifted Kate onto it, then covered her with the other one.

One part of him wished she’d wake up so they could get moving.

The other part of him hoped she’d keep sleeping since they had nowhere to go.

This sucked.

He’d moved the jeep to the spot where the grass gave way to sand and then played the radio for a while, trying to catch the news, but he didn’t learn anything he didn’t already know. Eventually, he worried he’d run the battery down, so he turned the car off and returned to Kate’s side.

When the door to the house slid open, Hunter sprang to his feet—but it was just Bill carrying two canvas bags, the kind you get at the grocery store.

“I figured you hadn’t eaten in a while.” Bill paused, cleared his throat. “There are some clothes in there, too. Stuff I had around here for Becca, but . . . well . . .”

“Thanks.” Hunter took the bags and set them beside the blanket, though it was taking everything he had not to tear through them looking for food.

Bill reached out a hand and touched Hunter on the chin. Hunter wondered if he had a new bruise to add to the collection.

“Sorry I hit you,” Bill said.

Hunter was sorry about that, too. It had hurt like a bitch and reminded him a little too thoroughly of the fight with his grandfather that had started this mess.

He didn’t say anything.

“I did a lot to make sure Becca wouldn’t have to deal with this kind of disaster,” Bill said. “I know what she thinks of me, but I had my reason for keeping my distance.” He paused. “It’s just not very nice to have that thrown in my face.”

Hunter wondered how much could be resolved if Bill would just say those same words to Becca.

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