I wrote this scene last night, and I was quite proud of it. I just had to share it today.
Promising Power is the third in the Protectors series and should be released later this winter.
* * *
Evan didn’t change back until he reached Sashe and Seth’s house. He ran up the steps, crying out, and he kicked at the door. Dar knew it was locked, locked by Lina to protect it from thieves or newcomers searching for a place to sleep other than a tent. But Evan kept kicking at it, pounding his whole body against it.
“Evan!” Dar shouted.
Evan changed again, this time to something Dar could hardly see, and slipped through the door. Dar changed to air for just long enough to get through it. Inside, Evan was on his knees, his back to Dar. He brought in a deep breath and screamed, his entire body straining against the force of it. It filled the entire cabin, cut straight into Dar’s soul, reminding him of the cries he let loose when he thought Evan and Seth were dead.
Dar dropped to his knees behind Evan. His eyes stung with tears, and he grabbed Evan from behind, hooking his arms around him.
Evan struggled for a moment, half-heartedly, his shoulders trying to shrug Dar away. “Get off me!”
“GO AWAY!” Evan’s voice was hoarse by now, cracking, and he put more strength into his fight. But Dar knew if he really wanted Dar off him, he’d be throwing punches, elbowing him in the face, changing, fighting dirty.
Dar sobbed. “No.” This was how he should have hugged Evan when he first realized he was alive, first saw him in that dungeon in Tisha’s house. It was how he would have if he hadn’t been surrounded by Protectors and hadn’t been afraid of showing weakness. He should have done it at the castle, or at Vin and Amina’s, or in the tents on their way to Kleisade, or anytime, anywhere, to hold his cousin again. “God, Evan, Evan, you were dead for two years.”
“I’m still dead,” Evan moaned. “I’m dead inside, Dar.”
“You don’t know.” He leaned back into Dar, his body slumping. “I’m gone.”
“No. You saved this family. You’re the reason we decided to look for the ancient texts. You’re the reason Gregorio is dead.”
“Niculai was right.”
Dar tensed. He was sobbing now, and he buried his face in Evan’s hair, tears and snot and everything unseemly. “I’m so sorry. I should have gone back for your body. I should have known when we didn’t find your body. I should have searched for you.”
“He said I’d do nothing but hurt the ones I loved.”
“He was torturing you.”
“I could have killed her,” Evan whispered. “I would have killed her.”
“No, you wouldn’t have. You would have realized who it was.”
“What am I doing here?” Evan groaned. “Why am I even alive?”
“You’re alive because we needed to—”
“Shut up, Dar. Just be quiet. You don’t have the answers. You don’t know anything.”
“I don’t.” Dar sniffled. “I never have. That was you. You were always so sure, you always knew exactly what you wanted and you knew how to get it.” Dar was the cautious one, the one who watched and waited and bided his time.
“I told you.” Evan’s voice broke. “I’m dead. I’m gone. That Evan you knew isn’t here anymore.”
“I know. That Dar isn’t here anymore, either.” Because he lost his best friends and his sisters. But somehow, he got some of them back. Somehow he got a second chance. “We’ve changed.”
Evan touched his arm, his fingers curling around Dar’s wrist, tightening. Dar broke into fresh sobs. The pain of the last couple years seemed to finally broken the dam inside of him, and he couldn’t stop the flow of tears. He didn’t want to, though. He wanted to be with Evan, wanted to feel with Evan.
Neither of them let go for a long time.
* * *
Read the first one in the series, Promising Light:
Grace began a secret courtship with Dar for the thrill of doing something against her father, the king’s general. She hadn’t planned on falling in love with him. When Dar suddenly leaves her, she searches for answers, reluctant to let him go.
Everyone seems determined to keep the truth from her—until she’s kidnapped by Dar’s family. They’re shape changers who claim she can break a curse set on them ten years ago by the Protectors, a group of noblemen determined to stifle magic in the name of safety.
Torn between two worlds, Grace isn’t sure who to trust. If the curse endures, Dar’s family could die out forever. But to help them, she’ll have to leave behind everything she knows.