“I’m excited about getting to spend time with them,” Evan said. His expression sobered. “I hope they like me.”
Seth gave his hand a squeeze. “You’re hardly a stranger. You’ve spoken with them on the phone and on video calls. Trust me, they will love you. They know I’ll be more careful, now that you’re in the picture.” Careful for Evan and for himself. Hunting didn’t usually make for a long life, but Toby and Milo proved that a happy ending was possible. Now that Seth had found Evan, he wanted that same future desperately, enough to make him both fearless and more cautious.
“I know. But it’s like meeting the family,” Evan replied, dropping his voice.
“My mom and dad would have loved you,” Seth said. “They were very chill about everything except when I went into the army. They were worried about me, and they had reason to be.” He smiled, remembering. “Mom taught me to catch a football—she had five brothers—and how to ride a motorcycle. Dad helped me with my homework and taught me how to cook.”
“Most of the things we did as a family centered around the church,” Evan said quietly. He rarely spoke of his family. “Picnics and retreats and music festivals, that kind of thing. But one year, we did a road trip to Mount Rushmore. Mom had always wanted to see it. I guess she figured it wasn’t frivolous because it was about history. It was nice. That was the year before they found out about me, and after that…” Evan turned and looked out the window. Seth kept a grip on Evan’s hand, trying to curb his anger. He doubted he would ever meet the Malones, but if he did, Seth intended to give them a piece of his mind.
“I was going to come out to my parents when Jesse died, and everything went off the rails,” Seth said. “Jesse had already figured it out. Hell, I think he knew before I did.”
He struggled not to let self-recrimination color his tone, but that internal battle waxed and waned on a daily basis. After all, Seth had gone along with Jesse’s idea to do a bit of amateur ghost hunting at a haunted bridge that rumor claimed was a hell gate. It was supposed to be a fun night spent drinking beers and making a hoax video to prank some of Jesse’s friends.
Then one of the immortal disciples of a long-dead dark warlock grabbed Jesse as the next victim in a century-old cycle of ritual slaughter, wounding Seth in the process. By the time Seth regained consciousness, it was too late. His wild story placed him under suspicion and briefly in a psych ward, until Seth learned to tell the doctors what they wanted to hear. By that time, his parents were dead, and his home had been destroyed in a fire. All he had left was the RV, the truck, his motorcycle, memories, and vengeance.
“I wish I could have met them,” Evan replied wistfully. “And I wish I could say the same about my folks, but…you know…”
“Yeah. Fuck them.”
Evan nodded. “Right. Because we’ve got our own weird little hunter family now, and I like it that way.”