Exclusive Excerpt from Flame and Ash
by Morgan Brice
After all, Evan thought, what value do I bring to the situation? Six months of training had improved his skills, taught him a few more rote spells, and helped him understand more about the kinds of things that went bump in the night. Despite it all, Evan knew he had a long way to go before he could match Seth’s abilities, and he worried that he could be the weak link that cost Seth his life.
The trip from Pittsburgh to Boone would take most of the day, and while Evan offered to take a turn behind the wheel, he knew that Seth preferred to drive. When he wasn’t chasing down loose ends about the Boone situation on his computer, Evan planned to doze in the passenger seat, but dark dreams woke him more than once, earning him worried glances from Seth.
“Hey.” Seth’s voice roused Evan from his thoughts. “Whatever you’re thinking—let me in. Don’t keep it to yourself.”
“I just don’t want to let you down,” Evan admitted.
“You don’t know that.”
“I know that you’ve saved my ass more than once,” Seth replied. “And that was before we spent the last three months doing more training.” He reached out to take Evan’s hand. “I trust you. I believe in you. There’s no one I’d rather have beside me in a fight. And I love you.”
Evan’s throat tightened. “I love you, too. And I want to be here, doing this, with you. It’s just…I’m not really the action hero type.”
Seth chuckled. “And I am?”
“You were in the army. You’re a soldier. So, yeah.”
Seth sighed. “I went into the army to get away from a bad breakup. Not exactly the most noble reason. I did okay, I guess. I was lucky enough to come home. But I knew I wasn’t going to make a career out of it. Some guys, they get in, and they know that’s where they’re supposed to be. It becomes their home and family, like they were born for it.” He shook his head. “It was never that for me.”
“I made okay money, working at the bar.” Evan looked at the road instead of at Seth. “But something was always missing, you know? What I did didn’t really matter. This…” He gestured to mean the two of them, hunting, the search for the witch-disciples. “It makes a difference. Saves lives. Stops a hundred years of killing. It just seems like fate could have picked someone who was better prepared.”
Seth laid his hand on Evan’s thigh, solid and warm. “Hunting doesn’t work like that. You’ve talked to Travis and Brent and Mark. They didn’t train to be a hunter from the time they were kids. They lost people, and it changed them. And from that point on, they learned on the job,” Seth said. “Just like you.”
Evan managed a wan smile. “If this were a TV show, I’d want to skip to the finale, where we ride off into the sunset.”
“I wish we could,” Seth admitted. “But I’m afraid there’s no fast-forward on real life.”