Home > HUNTER (Rosewood High #5)

HUNTER (Rosewood High #5)
Author: Tracy Lorraine





Three years ago…



“Zayn, your turn,” Ethan says, his eyes moving around the circle until he finds Zayn’s excited dark eyes.

It’s his birthday, he should be excited. Unlike me, who’s been forced to attend a fifteen-year-old boy’s party while ignoring the fact he doesn’t want me, Ruby, or his sister here.

We stand out like a sore thumb among his football friends, but for some crazy reason Jada, Zayn and Harley’s mom, seemed to think it was a good idea.

I roll my eyes at her naïve plans. At least Scarlett, their older sister, had the sense to argue and has hidden herself in her room.

The tension in the room ticks up a notch as everyone stares at the empty bottle that Zayn spins in the middle of the circle we’re all sitting in.

All the girls around me, bar Harley, seem to hold their breath in the hope of getting a chance at seven seconds in heaven with Zayn.

I try to keep my breathing steady in the hope of covering up that I’d also be more than willing to lock myself in the closet with Zayn.

He’s hot, and I can’t deny that I haven’t had a crush on him since they first arrived in Rosewood last year.

It’s just a shame he’s one of Jake’s football buddies. They might all only be sophomores, but I only have to take one look at the varsity team to see what they’re going to be like in two years. Their egos and wannabe god-like personas are already growing larger than life.

I have no interest in getting tangled up with that. I’m not a popular girl, I’m not destined for the cheer squad or one of the sport teams. I’ll just hide in the shadows while doing my thing and counting down the days until I can leave for college and finally take charge of my own life.

I let out a sigh, lost in thoughts of a future without the weight of my family weighing down on me. Being fourteen shouldn’t be like this. I shouldn’t be worrying about everyone else more than myself, but sadly it’s my reality.

The bottle slows to a stop and my heart jumps into my throat as realization dawns that it could be about to land on me. I glance to Harley at my side and smile, imagining everyone’s irritation—mostly Zayn’s—should it land on his sister.

It misses her though, and when the bottle comes to a stop, it’s pointed directly at me.

My eyes fly up in shock as I look up at Zayn.

“No. No fucking way,” Jake, my cousin barks, his eyes narrowing on Zayn.

“Calm down, man. It’s just some fun. Poppy, you’re up for it, right?” Ethan looks at me expectantly.

“I… um…” I hesitate as all the sophomore girls’ eyes drill into me.

“Just let him spin it again,” Shelly pipes up, one of the cheer wannabes. “Zayn doesn’t want to kiss a freshman anyway. She probably doesn’t have the first clue about what she’s doing.”

I part my lips to argue, but really, she has a point. My experience with kissing is limited to an awkward lip press with Christopher back in junior high during a game of kiss chase.

“No second spins,” Ethan spits, reiterating the rules that he laid out at the beginning of this stupid game. “You get in the closet or you forfeit, and I’m pretty sure none of you want to do the dares that I’ve got running around in my head.” He smiles wickedly and Shelly pales slightly. I’ve heard all about Ethan Savage’s dares, and so has everyone else in the room looking at their faces. “So…” He waves his hand between the two of us and the closet being used for this game.

My nerves quadruple to the point I worry if I’m going to be able to actually walk over there.

I push to stand, feeling the stares of everyone around me but no more so than Harley’s shock and my cousin’s death stare.

I manage to take two steps to where Ethan is now holding the door open before a hand wraps around my wrist.

“If he tries anything with you, tell me and I’ll lay him out.”

“It’s fine, Jake. It’s just for fun,” I tell him, but I don’t meet his eyes. The last thing I need him to see are my nerves and, dare I say it, excitement about this.

“It better be. You’re worth more than any of this group has to offer.” I don’t miss the sounds of the rest of the team ribbing Zayn for having to kiss his little sister’s friend, but I zone them out and focus on Jake.

“They’re your friends, Jake.”

“Yeah, and you’re my family. The only decent one I got. I want the best for you, Popsicle.”

I roll my eyes at his overprotectiveness, although I can’t help but feel loved. It’s something I don’t feel all that often where my family is concerned. I think Jake is the only person who actually understands, who gets me. And for that, I’ll forever be grateful.

“It’s all good. You’ve got nothing to worry about.”

He releases me, allowing me to slip into the closet.

I wait in the shadows for Zayn to join me while the hoots and hollers from his friends continue.

“Make sure she gives you one hell of a present, Hunter,” someone calls, making me swallow down the lump of anxiety that’s climbed up my throat.

It’s only a kiss. I can do that. It’s no biggie.


There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s only doing this because it’s a game. There’s no way in hell he’d ever willingly kiss me. I might have imagined what it would be like a time or two, but I suspect it never so much as crossed his mind, let alone in this capacity.

The door widens, allowing a sliver of light to illuminate me before it clicks shut, bathing us both in darkness.

My heart beats so wildly I swear he must be able to hear it. My hands tremble and my temperature spikes.

Every noise he makes sounds incredibly loud despite the fact I have blood rushing in my ears faster than I’m sure is natural as he closes the space between us.

“Poppy?” he asks, his voice sounding calm, like this is just an everyday occurrence for him.

I remind myself that it probably is. Jake, Zayn, and the others have girls hanging off them wherever they go. He’s probably well-practiced in this sort of thing.

“Y-yeah,” I whisper, hating that my voice cracks, showing my nerves.

The heat of his body hits mine. “Do you have any idea how long I’ve wanted to do this?”

His words throw me off for a second and it takes me longer than it should to register them.

“Y-you want to k-kiss me?” I sound pathetic and I kick myself for not sounding more confident.

“Yeah. There was no one else I wanted that bottle to land on. This is the only birthday present I wanted.”

“Oh God,” I practically whimper when his fingers find mine.

He steps into my body, pressing me back into the wall. I gasp at the feeling of his hard body against mine as his fingers tickle up my bare arm before he grasps the back of my neck.

“Ready?” he asks, his voice deeper than it was only moments ago.

My head spins as I fight to remember to breathe.

“Y-yeah, I—” I don’t get to finish my thought because his soft, full lips brush mine.

At just that small contact, my knees go weak. He must sense it because his other hand lands on my waist. It feels huge as his touch burns my skin, causing sensations to swell within me that I’ve never felt before.

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