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Hunter's key gave a loud click in the lock and the door opened with a grinding noise

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Hunter's key gave a loud click in the lock and the door opened with a grinding noise. The driveway behind was quiet—so much to the point where one of the leaves that hung limp on the tree branches would be heard loud and clear if it fell to the ground. It was as if stillness had consumed everything around us, waiting for words, sounds, or anything that could shatter it.

The light on our kitchen shone over the bushes across the street. I pictured Dad watching recorded versions of Mom's shows in the living room, dozing off with his head propped on the arm of the sofa like he'd done many times before. Part of me wanted to cross the street and curl up against him, fall asleep to outdated episodes of The Bachelor together, but I couldn't find enough will inside of me to face eighteen years of a perfectly crafted lie—not twice in the same night.

The house was pitch black when we stepped inside. Shadows crept in every corner, and a paranoid voice inside my head started to send the word run! into my mind, scared by the possibility that Roy would be hiding in them. They faded after Hunter flicked the lights on, throwing his keys into a pot on the console table.

"Where's Logan?"

"He's on a date," said Hunter with a lopsided smile. He walked over to the rest of the light switches on the first floor, turning them on one by one. "Wasn't here when I got back earlier, and he sent me a text asking whether an Italian restaurant made a good first impression or not."

"He doesn't look like the dating type of guy," I mused.

"When I first met him, he didn't look like the kind of guy who would shape bushes for fun or binge-watch every new original show on Netflix either. You'd be surprised."

Hunter leaned back against the banister, arms crossed over his chest. He was wearing a tight navy polo that hugged his muscles and a pair of olive green chinos. He looked showered and put together despite the faint bruises on his cheek, which made me wonder if I looked as disastrous as before—if I looked as different, dirty, and alienated as I felt.

The memory of Roy's words waltzed into my mind like a poisonous reminder: I just want a moment with you. I want to forget about everything else.

How could I do it? How could I not notice it was him before he kissed me?

Hunter's eyes narrowed. "Olivia?"

"I haven't told you why I went to Teardrop in the first place."

"Did something happen with your father?" he asked, taking a step forward. I recoiled back involuntarily, fearing Roy would show in my eyes instead of him if he got too close, and he flinched. "I don't understand.... What's wrong?"

"I did speak to my dad." I tried to keep my voice steady. It wasn't his fault. "He's a Keeper, too—and I may have an idea as to why nobody has been able to feel what I am all these years. Well, nobody except Gideon."

The Missing Link (Book 1: Outcast) [CURRENTLY EDITING]Where stories live. Discover now