Spirit Page 8

Kate slid the map back into her bag and laced her words with sugar, touching the teacher on the arm. “Thank you so much. I’ve been so lost.”

He hmphed and stepped back into the room, ignoring her.

Wow. So much for charm.

“Hey. I’m Nick. Where do you need to go?”

She blinked up at the boy who’d appeared in the doorway—and almost dropped her bag.

Not just because he was a looker—though that was part of it. Dark hair, blue eyes, a few freckles across his cheekbones. Taller than she’d expected.

Because she’d seen his picture before. It was in a file on her phone, right now, in fact. She almost wanted to yank it out of her bag to double-check. Nick. Nick Merrick.

Kate locked down any trace of her abilities, though it was a challenge. She wanted to touch him, to see if she could sense his power right here in the hallway.

He sure didn’t look like part of a band of marauding killers.

She’d expected to hate him on sight. She knew what these full Elementals could do—those lessons had been drilled into her head since day one. Hell, she had firsthand evidence: her mother had lost her life trying to destroy one of them.

Right in front of Kate.

But this guy standing in front of her seemed so . . . normal that she was having a hard time dredging up a powerful emotion like hate. He had an easy, engaging smile that made her want to smile back.

But she’d seen the news footage of the recent tornado damage in town. She’d seen photos of the bridge that had been destroyed in an earthquake and the resulting flood.

She’d seen newspaper articles showing the victims of the recent arson attacks—all caused by these Elementals.

She had to stop staring at this guy. She dug through her bag for the blue sheet of paper that had her class schedule.

The teacher cleared his throat. “Is there a problem?”

Kate shook herself. She was better than this. “No. Sorry.” She found the paper and yanked it free triumphantly.

Nick pulled the classroom door shut and took a glance. “This is on the other side of the school. We have to go under the library. I’ll show you.”

She should thank him. Flirt. Try to get close.

She just couldn’t get past the fact that she’d pretty much walked in here and he’d fallen into her lap.

Kate just nodded and walked alongside him. Her nerves were screaming at her.

This boy is a killer! Do something!

Don’t engage don’t engage don’t engage.

“I didn’t get your name,” Nick said.

“Kate.” Finally, her brain decided to work. “Is that guy always such a tool?”

Nick shrugged. “Dr. Cutter? Nah, he’s all right. Anytime someone interrupts a lecture on inclined planes, he gets all flustered.” He caught the door at the top of the stairwell and held it for her.

Holding the door! A gentleman, too!

“Where are you from?” he said.

“Here,” she said. “I just transferred from St. Mary’s in Annapolis.” A complete lie, but Silver had told her that someone from out of town might arouse suspicion—and they couldn’t afford suspicion right now. She’d spent hours in the truck learning landmarks and popular hangouts just so she could pass for a local.

She could almost feel Nick’s power in the air around them, and it took everything she had not to let her guard down.

“Sucks to move in the middle of high school,” he said.

“Not for me. I couldn’t stand those stuffy old nuns.”

He smiled and glanced at her schedule again. “My brother’s a junior, too. Chris.”

God, her brain wasn’t working. She almost said I know. “Nice,” she choked.

“I think he has fourth-period History. If you’re still lost by then, he’d help you out.”

“Thanks,” she said. “I’ll look for him.”

Chris Merrick. Fourth period. Check.

Seriously, this was like shooting fish in a barrel. Silver was going to be stoked.

Nick looked over. “Juniors and seniors have lunch at the same time, so if you need somewhere to sit, feel free to look for me. I could introduce you around.”

And then Nick went and said something like that.

It threw her off balance for a minute.

Then Nick gave her a slightly wicked smile. “Though I don’t think you’ll have any trouble making friends.”

Aha! So there was a little tarnish on his gentlemanly armor. It helped her dial back the bit of conscience niggling at her. She shook hair out of her eyes and looked up at him. “I never do.” She paused. “But I think I’ll take you up on lunch. If you don’t mind.”

“I wouldn’t have offered if I did.” He gave her a breathtaking smile. Nice and handsome.

She almost hated to kill him.



Calla was sitting in the cushioned chair in the guidance office, sniffling, cradling her arm. She wouldn’t look at Hunter.

He glared at her and tried to hang on to his temper as the guidance counselor droned on.

“I asked you a question, Hunter,” said Ms. Vickers. “Did you leave those bruises on Calla’s wrist?”

Right this second, he wanted to leave a lot more than bruises. Calla had pretty much just guaranteed he’d have to leave her alone—in school and out. He gritted his teeth and lied right through them. “No.”

Calla sniffed again. “Ms. Vickers, I really don’t feel comfortable being in the room with him.”

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