Storm Page 47

’’This is stupid. A lot of people wear crystals. What, are you going to do some magic ’’

’’Just shut up and take them off. If you\ve got nothing to do with this, then he does.’’

Michael looked like he was going to rip them off her wrist if she didn\ concede. She was ready to dig in and fight but she kept hearing Chris\s words on the soccer field the night before.

Just how much do you know about our local narc?

Hunter had never been anything but kind to her. If anything, he was overprotective. Maybe protection just ran in his family, with his police officer uncle and special forces father. Hunter coming to town at the same time as the Guide was nothing but coincidence. An accident.

I don\ believe in accidents.

His father had been killed in a thunderstorm and a rock slide. Was that a coincidence? An accident?

Becca unchained the rocks and held them out to Michael.

He pulled the chain free, letting them drop into his palm. Quartz and amethyst, from the night she\d choked down too much tequila. Citrine and garnet, from the morning Hunter had picked a fight with Chris.

Michael studied all four, then picked up the clear quartz. ’’What did he tell you this one was for?’’

She tried to remember. ’’Ah, to make the rest of them work better, I think.’’

’’More likely to keep track of the rest of them.’’ He held it up and crushed it in his palm.

’’Are you crazy?’’ she sputtered. ’’That wasn\ even ’’

’’He was tracking you, Becca.’’ Dust trailed out of Michael\s hand and into the grass below. ’’Give it five minutes. I bet he\ll call ’’

Her phone chimed.

Michael smiled, but it was grim. ’’See?’’

She scowled at him, but her heart was making a racket against her ribs. ’’It\s probably just my mother writing back.’’

But it wasn\ . It was Hunter.

Are you OK?

She stared at the phone, nibbling at her lip.

Gabriel grabbed it out of her hands and looked at the display. ’’I should have kicked that kid\s ass in your driveway.’’

’’It doesn\ mean anything. That could be a coincidence. He could ’’

Her phone chimed again. She reached to grab it from Gabriel, but he backpedaled, obviously typing something back.

’’This is stupid,’’ she snapped. ’’Give me that.’’

He stopped and handed it to her. Hunter had sent another inquiry, but Gabriel had already responded. She looked at what he\d sent.

Help. Chris\s brothers won\ let me go.

She glared at him. ’’Did you spend too much time in the water? Why would you type that? He doesn\ even know where I am. What if he calls my mother, or ’’

’’Or what if he\s the Guide?’’ said Gabriel, his voice dark. ’’And he killed Chris and Nick?’’

His words were a fist to the gut. ’’Gabriel Hunter isn\ a killer.’’

’’I guess we\ll find out.’’

Becca didn\ like the look in his eyes it reminded her too much of Chris, when he\d talked about how easy it was to kill someone and make it look accidental.

The hair on her arms was standing up again. ’’I want to go home,’’ she said.

’’Why?’’ said Michael. ’’We already told him we won\ let you go.’’

Now she didn\ like the look in his eyes. She took a step back.

But Gabriel put a hand on her arm. ’’Just wait. Ten minutes. Please.’’

She thought of his pain in the woods, so clear now in his expression.

Ten minutes. Ten minutes to prove them wrong, so they could follow real leads, figure out where Chris and Nick were.

Ten minutes to wonder why Hunter would track her, why he\d fill her ears with nonsense about colors and stones and Krav Maga if he was really just here to kill Chris and his brothers.

Ten minutes to figure out what was an accident, and what was very intentional.

It didn\ take ten minutes.

Hunter showed up in five.

He strode across the athletic fields, Casper trotting through the grass beside him. Hunter moved like a panther, all loose joints and casual aggression wrapped up in jeans and a long-sleeved tee shirt. Even from thirty feet away, she could see him sizing up the situation, taking in her relaxed posture, the tense brothers by her side.

Hunter stopped before coming much closer, his eyes narrowed.

’’You look all right,’’ he said to her.

’’I\ve been better,’’ she said.

’’If this guy\s the Guide,’’ said Gabriel, low, soft, more for Michael\s ears than her own, ’’he hides it pretty damn well.’’

She could feel the brothers drawing power. The ground thrummed under her feet. The sunlight grew fingers that clawed along her skin. She had to breathe through it before it choked her.

But even with Hunter standing there, proving Michael\s claims, she didn\ believe he was the Guide.

So she left the brothers and walked across the grass toward him.

Hunter held up a hand when she\d made it halfway. ’’Are you with them?’’

She didn\ stop walking Hunter didn\ frighten her. ’’I\m not with anybody. And I don\ think I\m the one who needs to answer questions.’’

He was pale. Sweating a bit, but steady. He glanced from her to the brothers and back. ’’Becca, if you\ e not with them, then you need to get out of here.’’

’’Why, so you can kill them?’’

’’Becca. Go.’’

’’Did you track me?’’ she demanded. ’’All that crap about confidence and courage and making me sober. Total crap, right? Are you an Earth like Michael?’’

’’No.’’ He glanced behind her, and his posture tightened. Casper growled. ’’Becca, go.’’

She didn\ turn to look. She knew who was behind her. ’’Did you track me, Hunter?’’

He winced. ’’Yes.’’

’’Why?’’

’’Because I thought you were one of them.’’ He said the words in a rush. ’’Becca, you need to go.’’

Then she felt the power through the ground, the burn of sunlight against her skin.

Michael spoke from behind her. ’’Why does she need to go anywhere?’’

’’It can\ be him,’’ said Gabriel. ’’I don\ feel it.’’

Becca\s feet felt rooted to the ground, locked in place in the athletic field, a hundred times stronger than the night she\d tried to escape Chris\s house. Her breath caught.

’’I feel it,’’ said Michael. ’’He was at the house last night.’’

’’You got lucky,’’ said Hunter, his voice sharper than she\d ever heard. ’’It won\ happen again.’’

Casper was snarling beside him, but apparently he couldn\ move, either.

’’Lucky?’’ said Michael. He wasn\ rooted at all. He stepped up beside her, looking down at Hunter, just out of arm\s reach. ’’Just how lucky do you feel right now, kid?’’

’’Pretty lucky,’’ said Hunter.

And then he pulled out the gun.

CHAPTER 37

’’Holy shit,’’ Becca whispered. Hunter had the gun pointed straight at Michael\s face.

Michael was so still beside her, she wasn\ sure he was breathing.

She wasn\ sure she was.

’’No powers,’’ Hunter said. ’’I can pull this trigger faster than you can call elements.’’

’’Want to bet?’’ said Gabriel. She heard the flick of a lighter.

Hunter cocked the gun. ’’Try me.’’

’’Gabriel,’’ said Michael, his voice sharp.

’’It is you,’’ said Becca, her voice shaking. That gun was way too frigging close to her face. ’’You\ e the Guide.’’

’’No,’’ said Hunter. His eyes didn\ leave his target. ’’My father was.’’

His father was? But his father had died months ago. ’’Hunter,’’ she whispered. ’’Think about this. Just ’’

’’Think about it? All I\ve done is think about it.’’ His hand was steady, the gun not wavering. But she heard something in his voice, a tremor in the words, maybe. He kept his eyes on Michael. ’’I read my dad\s notes. He wasn\ coming here to kill you. He should have been. You sure didn\ have a problem killing him.’’

Becca had to stop looking at his finger on the trigger. ’’Please, Hunter. Put the gun down.’’

He didn\ move. He didn\ even blink.

’’I don\ know what you\ e talking about,’’ said Michael, his voice careful.

’’You\ve killed people,’’ said Hunter. ’’A girl, right? Seth Ramsey\s parents?’’

Michael hesitated then nodded.

Becca swallowed.

Hunter drew a breath, and this time she heard it shake. ’’You knew my father was coming for you.’’

Michael shook his head. ’’No. I didn\ . I don\ know who your father ’’

’’You knew!’’ Hunter\s voice cracked. ’’You had to know!’’

Casper barked.

Becca flinched.

’’Easy,’’ breathed Michael. ’’I swear to you ’’

’’Shut up,’’ said Hunter. ’’You got away with three murders. You\ e not getting away with five.’’

’’I didn\ know,’’ said Michael. ’’I swear to you, I didn\ know.’’

’’His father was killed in a rock slide,’’ Becca said, the words falling out of her mouth in a rush. ’’His father and his uncle. Hunter was in the car ’’

’’Becca!’’ Hunter\s voice made her jump.

’’You want to talk dead parents?’’ said Gabriel. ’’Get in line.’’

’’Shut up,’’ said Hunter.

’’You shut up. A rock slide? Some f**king power your father had, he couldn\ even ’’

Hunter put the barrel of the gun against Gabriel\s forehead. ’’You. Shut. Up.’’

Gabriel shut up.

’’Listen to me,’’ said Michael, his voice low and rapid and almost shaking. ’’I didn\ mean for that girl to die. We were at the quarry and the rocks gave. I knew it was happening. I stopped it before anyone else got hurt. But I was angry. Her brother and his friends were chasing us, so I hesitated, just for an instant. I just wanted to slow them down.’’ He drew a tremulous breath full of emotion. ’’I didn\ want to hurt her. I never meant to hurt her. I regret it every day.’’

Hunter didn\ move.

’’Seth Ramsey\s parents came after me,’’ said Michael. ’’After all of us. We went to Seth\s house and tried to work it out. But they wanted a fight. My parents weren\ ready. My brothers and I, we didn\ know what we were doing. We were so young. We just wanted them to stop fighting. There was a fire. It just it was so fast.’’ His voice broke. ’’Not everyone got out.’’

Becca hadn\ heard this part of the story from Chris. Gabriel had been furious at Michael in the woods. She wondered how much of that fury was directed at himself, for starting the fire that had killed his parents.

’’Save it,’’ said Gabriel, his eyes intent on Hunter. ’’He won\ pull the trigger.’’

A muscle in Hunter\s jaw twitched.

’’I didn\ know about your father,’’ said Michael. ’’I swear.’’

’’Hunter,’’ she whispered, wary of spooking him. ’’Sometimes accidents really do happen.’’

For an instant, she felt hesitation in the air. She honestly thought he\d lower the gun.

Then he swung the barrel around to center on Michael. ’’I don\ believe in accidents.’’

’’Why?’’ she said. ’’Because otherwise it\s your fault?’’

Hunter flinched then caught himself.

’’You didn\ make your dad come back for you,’’ she said. ’’You didn\ . It was just freakish timing, or fate, or ’’


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