Dire (Page 21)

“That’s a great idea.” Hunter moved between us, nearly stepping on Gage in the process. “Chet, after you finish up, take Gage to get a shower in.”

“I’ll have dinner first.” Gage gave him a long look.

“Suit yourself.” Hunter returned the look.

“The shower I used was wonderful, can’t Gage use it?”

“He might as well use the one where he’s staying.” Hunter turned to me. “No reason to move around a towel.”

“He can just use my towel, I have no problem sharing.”

Gage smiled. “Neither do I, and I’m staying here.”

“Everyone ready for dinner?” Chet called from the kitchen.

“Yes, I believe we are.” Hunter gestured for me to enter first.

I looked at the long wooden table. Most of the seats were filled with men in their twenties. I recognized Falcon from outside, but I hadn’t seen the others yet.

Hunter pulled out a chair. “Please, take a seat.”

“Thanks.” I sat down, startled when he pushed me in.

Hunter sat down next to me. Marni and Chet had already sat down, leaving Gage with the only empty chair—one on the complete opposite end of the table. Somehow I didn’t think that was an accident.

Chapter Ten

Gage

Hunter was seriously getting on my nerves. I put up with his attitude when we first arrived, but if he as much as touched Mary Anne again I was going to lose it. My personal feelings aside, the guy was creepy. He presided over the other guys and Marni like a king, but from what I could tell there was nothing special about him. And why didn’t anyone have a phone? I understood living in the middle of nowhere. Maybe there was farm land under the piles of snow, but they were off the grid. If they didn’t have a phone I doubted they had internet.

“Aren’t you going to join us?” Hunter smiled, but there was nothing friendly about the expression. What did he think? That Mary Anne was going to stay behind in his weird compound in the middle of nowhere?

“Yeah, sure.” I pulled the chair back and sat down.

“I assume neither of you are vegetarians.” Chet passed around a plate piled high with what appeared to be almost uncooked steak.

I put a piece on my plate, and looked around at the rest of the spread, or rather the lack there of.

“Oh, you forgot the salad.” Marni pushed back her chair and walked over to the counter. She set down a large bowl in front of Mary Anne. “Unfortunately we’re out of dressing.”

“Oh, that’s okay.” Mary Anne shot me a look over the table before putting a bunch of lettuce on her plate.

“Aren’t you going to have some steak?” Hunter asked.

“Oh, I’d take a little piece, but those are all huge.”

I forced myself not to laugh. Her attempt at being polite was priceless.

“I’d be happy to cut some up for you.” Hunter took a large piece of steak and cut it into pieces like she was a little kid.

“Oh. You didn’t have to do that.” Mary Anne appeared completely horrified.

“Is that small enough?” He pushed the meat over to her. Was he kidding? How long had he been living in the boonies? What girl would find that even remotely appealing?

“Oh, that’s great.” She picked up her fork and took a bite. She chewed it while Hunter watched like a weirdo. “Delicious.”

I cut into my steak. It made my usual medium rare steak seem overdone. Despite my hunger, I couldn’t get too excited about eating something that undercooked.

“Where were you two coming from? You said your truck is south of here so you must have been on your way back to Mayville.”

“We were driving back from school.”

“Where do you go to school?” For all his concern with Mary Anne eating, Hunter had barely had a bite of the two large slabs of meat on his plate.

“We go to Eastern University in Boston.”

“What do you study?”

I put down my fork. “Why does it matter?”

Hunter glared at me. “It matters because I’m curious what Mary Anne studies.”

“Engineering. Biomedical engineering.”

“Oh, wow. You must be good at math.”

I nearly snorted a sip of water I’d taken.

“Yeah, numbers and I get along just fine.”

“What about you, Hunter? You into math?” I couldn’t resist.

“I get along with numbers too.” He smiled at Mary Anne and she smiled back. Was she buying any of this?

“And what do you study, Gage?”

“Psychology.”

He nodded.

“What did you think I was going to say, drama or something?”

The whole table laughed including Mary Anne.

I caught Mary Anne’s eye every few minutes as we ate. It was a testament to our hunger that we ate at all. I had a feeling that Mary Anne wasn’t one to eat nearly raw meat. She did eat her salad, and I found myself eating much more of the greens than usual for me. At least the lettuce couldn’t kill me.

“I’m sure you two are tired.” Hunter put a hand behind Mary Anne’s chair.

She sat up slightly as to not be directly touching his arm. Nice. “Yeah, it’s been a crazy day.”

“Gage, if you’ve changed your mind, I’m sure Chet would be happy to show you to the spare room in his house.”

“No, I’d prefer to stay here.” Was he kidding me? Like I was leaving Mary Anne in a different house with him?

Mary Anne shifted slightly. “If you’re really that opposed to my sharing a room with Gage, I don’t mind sleeping on the couch and giving him the bedroom.”

Hunter shook his head. “Absolutely not. I’m sure Gage wouldn’t want that either.”

“Or you could sleep on the couch, and I’ll sleep on the floor.” I tried that avenue again. That way I could still watch out for her. I didn’t like the idea of being so far away from her. Her door hopefully had a lock.

“Didn’t we already discuss this?” Hunter glared. “It isn’t appropriate for her to sleep there.”

“Fine. I’m staying under the same roof though.”

“That’s acceptable.” Hunter pushed back his chair. “I’ll walk you up and start the fire in your room, Mary Anne.”

“Ok. Thanks.” She caught my eye. “Hopefully we can get out in the morning.”

“Which is why you definitely should get a good night’s sleep.” Hunter ushered her upstairs, and I was about ready to scream. Suddenly the cold truck didn’t seem so bad.