Spirit Page 86

Hunter squeezed his eyes shut and thought of Kate.

“He was never disappointed in you, Hunter. Never.”

“You don’t know that.”

She sighed and touched his cheek. He didn’t want to accept her comfort—but he so did.

“Remember those files I gave you?”

His eyes opened. “Yes.”

“Your dad set those aside before he left. He said to give them to you if he didn’t make it back.” She frowned. “But then he took you with him, and then the car crash—”

“Why didn’t you give them to me before now?” he demanded.

“Because I didn’t want you in danger!” She paused to compose herself. “And you were just so furious, and you wouldn’t talk to me—you went so far as to change how you looked—”

“Because I hated looking like him! I hated the reminder every time I looked in the mirror! I hated knowing I’d failed him—”

“You didn’t fail him, Hunter. You never failed him.” Her eyes were shining with fresh tears. “You wouldn’t talk to me. I didn’t know what you’d do if I gave you those files. But then the fires happened, and the news released information about the pentagrams—I realized you were in the thick of it, firing blind. I realized I’d been wrong to keep the information from you.”

Hunter rubbed his hands across his face. “It didn’t help. I don’t know what it all means. Did he expect me to kill all those kids on his behalf? Did he expect me to kill the Merricks if he failed?”

Her voice dropped to a whisper. “Is that what you think? That he wanted you to kill them?”

“I’m a Fifth!” he cried. “That’s what we’re supposed to do!”

“That’s not what your father was doing, Hunter. He knew how to run a mission his way. He didn’t always report the truth.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Her eyes were fierce, level with his. “When he got the report that he was assigned to kill those boys, he wasn’t heading down here for that.”

“What was he doing then?”

“He was coming here to help them.”

Everyone else was picking through a bucket of KFC, but Hunter didn’t feel like eating. His mom had offered him the choice of going home versus staying here. And while things between him and her didn’t feel quite so strained, the thought of facing his grandfather was too much just now.

Yet he didn’t want to sit at the table with a bunch of people with mixed feelings about him, either.

But Michael had asked for trust, and Hunter owed him this much.

He still couldn’t believe Kate was dead. He kept feeling that he should send her a text about his dad, just to let her know.

“You all right?” Nick was staring at him across the table.

“Yeah.” He wasn’t, but what else was he going to say? They knew everything, from the drive into the mountains, to Silver preventing the gun from firing, to Kate’s death.

Well, not everything.

Becca came around the table and put her arms around his neck from behind. “I’m sorry,” she whispered.

“I’m okay, Becca. Really.” He couldn’t take the sympathy. He felt so guilty about all of it, and sympathy added to the weight. He refrained from pulling away. “Just . . . sit. Eat. It’s fine.”

When she dropped back into a chair, he felt Gabriel watching him.

He was the only Merrick who hadn’t said a frigging word to Hunter since he’d walked into the hotel room.

Hunter didn’t really feel like getting into it with him, either.

But he met his eyes and held them.

Go ahead, he thought. Fuck with me. Right now. Do it.

Gabriel didn’t move.

“What’s the plan?” said Chris.

Hunter cleared his throat and quit the staring match. “The last thing Noah Dean said to me was that Calla is planning something for Monday. Something big. I have no idea where she’s hiding—and I can’t exactly look for her while Silver is out there, waiting to shoot me.”

“Monday is tomorrow,” said Michael.

Tomorrow? Hunter blinked. The days had all run together.

“What about her plans?” said Becca. “Any idea what this something big could be?”

“Kate said . . .” He had to take a breath. “She was looking on her phone. She said there were two tunnels leading in and out of Baltimore City. They go under the harbor. She thought maybe those could be a target. But they’re miles long—and I wouldn’t have the first clue how to protect something like that. Not to mention I wouldn’t even know where to start. I mean—”

“Why the tunnels?” said Michael.

“That’s the only thing I could get out of Noah. He said ‘tunnels. ’ I can’t imagine Calla hanging out in the sewers, and I couldn’t find anything about caves in Anne Arundel County—”

“There are tunnels under the school,” Michael said.

Gabriel snorted. “You mean the old bomb shelter? That’s a joke they play on freshmen. Like the swimming pool on the roof.”

“No, it’s not.”

“How do you know?”

Michael gave him a look. “Gee. I don’t know. How could I possibly know about tunnels in the ground—”

“What are they for?” Hunter interrupted.

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