Storm Page 48

’’Stop.’’ Hunter had to draw a long, shaky breath. ’’Becca.’’

’’This wasn\ your fault,’’ she said. ’’I know what it feels like to blame yourself ’’

’’You don\ ,’’ he said, and his voice almost broke again. ’’Not like this. You don\ .’’

’’I do,’’ said Gabriel.

’’I do,’’ said Michael.

Hunter didn\ move, but Becca could feel his uncertainty. His breath was shaking.

’’You don\ want to do this,’’ she said. ’’Hunter, you\ e not a killer.’’

’’He is,’’ he said, his eyes hardening. The barrel touched Michael\s forehead.

’’You\ e not,’’ she said, feeling her voice rise in pitch.

’’This is bullshit,’’ said Gabriel.

’’Damn it, Gabriel,’’ said Michael, his voice breathy.

’’It is,’’ Gabriel said. ’’You didn\ kill that girl. You didn\ start that rock slide. You don\ even know if you could have saved her. You\ e not a superhero. You were seventeen years old, and you probably should have gotten a medal for saving the kids who did make it out of that quarry. Seth and Tyler and the others tried to drown you and Chris Mom and Dad were right to go after their parents. They wanted to kill us that night it got out of control. All of us we were out of control.’’

Hunter didn\ move, but he was listening. Becca could feel it.

Gabriel took a step closer. ’’But this ’’ He paused, looking at Hunter, his expression disgusted. ’’This is bullshit. Michael is a huge pain in the ass, but he\s the closest thing to a parent I have left. He didn\ want us to go after Seth and Tyler the night they tore up Chris. He refuses to let us use our powers, then bitches about homework and forgets to sleep. He works twenty-four seven. He barely has time to make dinner, much less set a trap for someone. Self-defense, yeah, I\d buy it. But cold-blooded killer? No way.’’

Gabriel took another step, until he was almost in Hunter\s face. ’’You pull the trigger? That, kid, is all on you.’’

Hunter swallowed.

’’Give me the gun.’’ Michael put a hand out, his voice soft.

Tension rode on the sunlight as she listened to Hunter\s breathing shake.

’’It\s okay,’’ said Michael. ’’You don\ want to do this.’’

Inch by inch, Hunter lowered the gun into Michael\s palm, finally letting go.

Michael didn\ move. ’’You all right?’’

Hunter nodded.

’’Good.’’ Michael wrapped his hand around the hilt.

Then he lifted it, cocked the hammer, and put the barrel against Hunter\s forehead. ’’Now where the f**k are my brothers?’’

A door slammed, and Chris jumped.

He\d fallen asleep. Stupid.

Nick\s hand was wrapped around his, a lifeline in the darkness. ’’What was that?’’

Chris shook his head, then realized his brother wouldn\ see it. ’’I don\ know.’’ He cast his senses into the air, but the only moisture in the room was attached to their skin, focused on things like pain and worry.

’’Food,’’ said Nick. ’’I smell it.’’

’’Should we trust it?’’

’’There might be water.’’

There wouldn\ be. Chris would have felt it from here. But he couldn\ squash the hope in Nick\s voice. ’’I\ll check.’’

A paper bag sat on the ground near the door. The cell phone light revealed a McDonald\s logo.

’’Fast food,’’ he said. ’’And milk shakes. Hilarious.’’

’’I could eat,’’ said Nick.

Chris carried the bags over.

’’I\ll try not to fall asleep again,’’ said Chris. ’’I missed a chance.’’

’’We don\ even know if it was him. Besides, how long could it take him to shove a bag through the door?’’

’’Still.’’

They ate in silence for a minute. The food was still hot meaning they weren\ out in the middle of nowhere.

The room was soundproof, though, or pretty far from anyone who could hear him. Chris had spent a good amount of time banging on the walls and shouting until Nick told him to stop using up all the air.

’’Why do you think he brought food?’’ said Nick after a while.

’’I don\ know,’’ said Chris. He stared out at the darkness and wondered if Becca had made it off the field. He\d dreamed of water, the way rain traced lines down her face during the storm.

’’Do you think Gabriel and Michael are looking for us?’’

’’Probably.’’ Chris didn\ mention the alternative.

He didn\ say this, either: He hoped his brothers weren\ looking at all. He hoped they stayed away. He hoped they ran.

Because now he understood the power he\d felt on that field. If his brothers came looking, they\d just end up in the same situation.

Trapped.

Or dead.

CHAPTER 38

Becca was having a hard time figuring out whose side to be on.

Hunter had his hands up, but his eyes were furious.

Michael pressed the steel barrel against Hunter\s forehead, making him bow back a little. ’’Where are they?’’

Hunter glared at him and didn\ say anything. Casper was snarling beside his master, obviously still trapped in the grass.

Michael grabbed the front of Hunter\s shirt and shook him. ’’Where are they?’’

’’Stop it!’’ she cried. ’’Michael ’’

’’He knows,’’ Michael growled.

’’I don\ ,’’ said Hunter, his voice dark. ’’I don\ have any idea.’’

’’Hey, Law-and-Order,’’ said Gabriel. ’’Let him go.’’

Michael didn\ move. ’’Why?’’

’’He\s not the Guide. He\s not strong enough. I was on the bridge. I was on the field last night. That guy it\s not a teenager. And he wouldn\ be bowing to a gun.’’

’’He knows something.’’ Michael adjusted his grip on the weapon.

And then Hunter moved.

Becca couldn\ even follow it all. An arm here, a fist there. Michael was suddenly on the ground, disarmed.

The gun was back in Hunter\s hand, pointed at Michael. His feet hadn\ shifted. ’’You want to keep playing?’’

Michael gaped up at him, looking more stunned than hurt.

Gabriel was staring at Hunter. ’’Dude. I\m going to need to see that again.’’

Hunter didn\ put the gun away. ’’Something tells me you\ll get another chance.’’

He\d trapped his emotion somehow, and now had full control of himself. His easy confidence spoke to her, reminded her that Hunter was a friend or had pretended to be.

’’Was it all a lie?’’ she said. ’’From the start?’’

He didn\ glance up, but his voice was soft. ’’I never lied to you, Becca. Even at first, when I thought ’’ He shook his head slightly. ’’I never lied.’’

’’How about now?’’ said Becca. ’’Do you know where they are?’’

’’I have no idea where they are.’’

’’He\s lying,’’ snapped Michael.

’’Why would I lie?’’ Hunter shot back.

’’There has to be another Guide,’’ she said. She remembered Tyler\s threats, when she\d first met him. ’’When your father didn\ show up, Tyler and Seth called for another. Would you recognize him? Could you help us ’’

’’Why would I help them?’’ said Hunter, keeping his gun trained on Michael.

’’You think you\ e safe?’’ said Gabriel. ’’You\ e not a real Guide. What if he comes after you next? You know he\ll stay in town until he finds all the Elementals, finds out who\s a threat. Rogue kid with a gun? Might make the list.’’

’’Yeah,’’ said Becca. ’’What if someone paints a pentagram on your door?’’

Their words seemed to hit Hunter like stray bullets, drawing his attention away from Michael.

’’What about your grandparents?’’ Becca paused. ’’What about your mom?’’

Hunter flicked his eyes her way. ’’Are you threatening me?’’

Her heart was threatening to escape her chest. ’’Yeah. I am. How\s it feel?’’

He shook his head. ’’I\ve never threatened you, Becca. I never wanted to hurt you.’’

She didn\ believe that for a minute. All the times he could have told her confided in her. He\d put a tracking stone on her wrist the first night they\d gone out. He probably followed her to Chris\s house. He\d probably known what had happened on the bridge. All that anger about Chris he didn\ give a crap about her safety.

’’Yeah,’’ she scoffed. ’’You\ e such a good guy. What were you going to do next? Shoot Gabriel? Shoot me?’’

’’Becca.’’ He gave her a wounded look. ’’You don\ understand ’’

’’I understand that\s a gun. Didn\ you sit on my couch and tell me people carry guns when they want to kill people? Didn\ you warn me away from Chris because he was nothing but trouble? Chris is a good guy.’’ Her voice was close to breaking, but she saved it. ’’Chris helped me last night. He saved me on the beach. Now some guy has kidnapped him or killed him or ’’ Now her voice did break, and she had to take a heaving breath. ’’I know you miss your father, Hunter. They miss theirs, too. Nothing will bring your father back. But you could help. You could ’’

’’I won\ help them.’’

’’Would you help me?’’ She wasn\ above begging. She didn\ even have to fake the hitch in her voice. She moved closer, until she was right beside him. ’’Hunter? Would you help me?’’

That got his attention. ’’Becca, if he\s already taken them, there\s nothing ’’

’’But you\ e strong! They\ e strong! You could help.’’

’’Becca, I can\ .’’

She reached out a hand and put it on his arm, gently, so as not to spook him. ’’There\s been too much violence, Hunter. The Merrick brothers have been tormented since they moved here. They shouldn\ be killed because a bunch of bullies are scared of them.’’

He didn\ say anything.

’’You saw what Tyler and Seth did to Chris,’’ she said. ’’You saw how they came after the Merricks at the party. They are not good guys.’’

Hunter was shaking his head. ’’Becca, I can\ ’’

’’Did you know Seth and Drew tried to rape me in the middle of this field last night?’’

His head jerked up.

’’Yeah. They did.’’ Wow, her voice was actually steady. Strong. ’’That apology? Crap. They grabbed me and dragged me to the middle of the field and tried to rip my dress off and ’’

She stopped. Hunter actually looked stricken.

’’They did,’’ she said, more quietly. ’’And Chris saved me, while you were off trying to kill Michael. That\s the only reason he was on this field last night, and the only reason the Guide got to him while he was alone. So don\ tell me you can\ get involved.’’

’’Becca,’’ he whispered. ’’I\m sorry. I had no ’’

’’Don\ be sorry!’’ She wanted to punch him, but he still had his hands wrapped around a gun. ’’Sorry doesn\ mean anything, Hunter. Do something. Help me.’’

He wasn\ looking at Michael anymore, but at her. His expression was a mix of pity and regret, anger and sadness and rage barely contained behind flushed cheeks and rapid breathing.

She stared back at him. ’’At least put up the gun.’’

Hunter glanced at Michael. ’’Not until he lets go of my feet.’’

’’Gun first,’’ said Michael.

’’I\m not falling for that again,’’ said Hunter.

’’Then give it to me,’’ said Becca.


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