The annual Culling ceremony is a day every coming-of-age novice looks forward to within the Primeval Coven. It’s the start to being initiated into the Night Watchmen, humankind’s protectors, and it’s the long-awaited day when novices discover if they’re a Hunter or a Witch.
But this day is not a happy one for Faye Middleton. Not when she’s known her whole life that she’s a Defect and is about to face banishment in front of her fellow novices. She’s forced to attend the Culling with little hope for her future, but what she discovers about herself is far worse than she could’ve imagined. And far more dangerous.
Thrown into training and separated from her friends, Faye must learn to adjust. She struggles to find her place within the Coven, and with Jaxen Gramm, the darkly handsome and extremely unnerving man assigned to watch and protect her. Emotions run high, and when she discovers a deadly secret about him, her struggles deepen. As corruption within the Coven begins to unravel, Faye pieces together her role in saving the future of her people, and within Jaxen’s life...but will the truth save her, or be her undoing?
“Come here,” he says, his tone low, husky. My heart flaps harder, wilder. He’s looking straight into the mirror. I want to be that mirror looking back at him, drowning in his eyes and words of want. His back is a mountain of lean, cut muscles. His fists are pressed against the counter, held tight and firm. Thick veins stick out from under his skin, just waiting for my fingers to trail over.
I find myself just a step away from him, my heart hammering against my chest. I don’t know why. He’s helping me, nothing more, so why do I feel so lightheaded and flushed inside? Why does my skin crave for his touch, a touch that’s sure to come, even if full of innocence?
He moves just enough to fit me in between him and the counter. I swallow down my nerves and stand in front of him, resting a hand against the marbled counter-top to help stabilize me. I try not to notice the tension in his body, the way his eyes close when my leg brushes against his, the way he licks his lips when our faces come just a breath’s length away from each other.
His eyes open, and he holds me with his gaze. He allows me to see past his titanium wall. In front of him, gazing into his endless, green eyes, I know I could fall at any moment, physically and emotionally, and this scares the hell out of me. I barely know him,yet, I feel like I’ve known him forever. He reaches behind me and turns the hot water on. He’s so close, so unbelievably close, my fingers almost slip out from under me. There’s no steadying my heart, no taming my breathing as he waits for the water to heat before wetting the towel. He lifts his other hand, and it hovers next to my waist like he’s waiting for something; a sign, an approval. I close my eyes, breathe in, and then his hand drifts down my waist where it comes to rest on top of my hip.
My breathing stops, along with my heart. My muscles clench with want. I curse the material between my skin and his hand. I want to give in to whatever delirium has taken over my rational thinking. He gently pushes me back against the counter. The back of my legs bump against it, stopping me as he closes the distance between us. The way his body ever so slightly presses against mine ignites a flame inside of me, burning and aching for more of his touch. His hand lifts, slightly shaking, and then brushes the hair from my face until it comes to rest at the base of my neck. He’s a pyromancer, controlling and building the fire within me. The firmness of his grip sends heat to places I’ve never felt heat before. His eyes lock on mine. His other hand lifts, bringing the towel just to the edge of my lip where the cut is. I wince when he presses it against my mouth and squeeze my eyes shut. Shut the pain off, I tell myself. I had during the fight without even trying. I open my eyes again and focus on the color of his, the deep evergreen color that displays wisdom. He’s looking down at my mouth, still wiping away blood. His eyes brush mine again, and then move to the cut on the side of my eyebrow.
My heart feels like it could drift away at any moment with all the fluttering. There’s such a gentleness about him, a kindness that has yet to be shown, and yet, here he is, showing it to me, to someone who had brought this upon herself.
Other books in the series
About the Author
Published by 48fourteen in 2012, Born in Flames went on to win Turning the Pages Book of the Year award in February of 2013. In January of 2014, the last book in the trilogy, From the Embers, was released, thusly completing the trilogy. She now works on the Night Watchmen Series, while guzzling Red Bulls and pretending to be a ninja on Heelys.