Spirit Page 77

Kate took him up on that and started scratching Casper behind the ears herself.

The dog flopped over in the sand, looking for a belly rub. Kate obliged him.

Then she said, “So what’s the plan?”

“Staying alive? I don’t know.” Hunter pressed his fingers into his eyes. “I don’t have anywhere for us to go.”

“What do we know?”

“Not much.”

“Let’s lay it out and make a plan.”

Hunter looked at her in surprise.

“What?” she said with a spark of irritation in her eyes. “You think you’re going to figure all this out on your own?”

“No—I didn’t—” He stopped to figure out his words before he sounded like a moron. “I just . . . I’ve been on my own for a long time.”

“Me, too.” She stared at him, and he loved the way the fire cast shadows across her features. “We’re together right now.”

“Okay.” He nodded. “Okay.”

“Lay it out. What do we know?”

“Silver killed my phone, and I dropped the files when he shot you. I have half a tank of gas in the jeep and maybe twenty bucks in cash. I don’t remember all the names of the kids who were involved with Calla, and I don’t know where she’s hiding. All I know is what Noah told me: that she’s alive, and they’re planning something for Monday.”

Kate took all that in and nodded. “Do you know where she might be hiding?”

“Noah said something about tunnels. But I don’t know if that means she’s hiding in a tunnel somewhere, or if she’s planning something to do with tunnels . . . I don’t know. She’s a Fire Elemental. Why start a fire in a tunnel? But if that’s just where she’s hiding, I don’t get that, either. The only tunnels around here are sewer tunnels—also not conducive to fire. Gabriel spent the night in the water a few weeks ago, and he said he’d never felt more drained.”

“Does Silver know any of that?” said Kate.

“Not from me.” He scowled. “But he probably has my files now, so all those other kids are at risk.”

“At risk? They’re the ones trying to hurt people.”

“Not all of them. Some of them can’t be older than ten or eleven. They probably have no clue what they’re getting into. And they’re just trying to protect themselves.” He paused. “I still don’t know which is the right side, here. I could never be like Silver. But I can’t sit back and watch pure Elementals hurt innocent people, either.”

“Silver sees harming innocent people as a means to an end. Did your dad?”

Hunter thought back. “I don’t think so.” He paused. “Bill told me that my dad made sacrifices to keep me a secret. Silver said I’m living proof of what my dad did wrong. Do you know what that means?”

Kate sighed. “Maybe.”

Hunter waited. More wind blew off the water to trace through his hair. The air had a definite bite to it now, and Kate rubbed at her arms.

She shifted to slide back under the blankets, then propped herself up on one shoulder, scooting back to give him room. “Get under the blankets. I’ll tell you what I know.”

He hesitated, then slid under, too, mirroring her position.

“When Silver and I first got here,” said Kate, “he told me that John and Jay Garrity had died on a trip to destroy the Merricks. Then I met you, and your last name was Garrity, and you were new here . . . well, it was a big coincidence. Too big. When we tried to find out more about you, there were no listed numbers under Garrity in town, no homes or vehicles registered under that name, no—”

“Because I lived with my grandparents,” said Hunter. “My mom’s parents. And she kept her maiden name, so . . .”

“Right. So that was a mystery. Especially since you knew how to fight—but you’d obviously never been through any kind of training as a Guide. I couldn’t put two-and-two together.”

Hunter frowned. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“Hunter, when I was twelve, my mother took me to the Farm. Do you know what that means?”

“You told me about some guy teaching you how to fight.”

“Yeah. There’s this farm in Virginia where a guy named Roland basically beats the sensitivity out of you until you figure out how to put duty before feeling.”

Hunter’s eyes widened, but before he could say anything, Kate added, “Everyone goes there, Hunter. Everyone. It’s mandatory.”

He was trying to push images of someone beating the crap out of Kate from his mind. “My father used to tell me that he’d send me for training,” he said. “He always told me one more year. He said I wasn’t ready.”

Kate’s eyes were vaguely haunted, made more so by the flickering firelight. “No one is ever ready for that, Hunter.”

Hunter bit the inside of his cheek, wanting to ask—but not wanting to.

“I think he kept you a secret,” she whispered. She hesitated. “And that’s a big no-no.”

Like Bill had kept Becca a secret.

Hunter rolled back to stare up at the starry night and wonder what that meant.

Not for the first time, he wished his father were here right now. Not just because he’d be able to answer the thousand and one questions fighting for space in Hunter’s brain. But because he’d know what to do.

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