Chapter One

 

 

JEREMY rolled his shoulders back, stretching out the knots made from slouching on his dorm floor for several hours. In front of him, his textbook was flipped open to a page depicting a large statue of Odin, the Norse god, along with a description of his rune: Ansuz.

The Runic Studies major reached for his bag of runes, a present he’d received for Yuletide the year before. The bag was leather with a velvet lining. His advisor had taken one look at the bag and sniffed in contempt, but Jeremy had fallen in love with it on first sight. The runes inside—painstakingly crafted by his own hand out of a branch taken from the solitary ash tree that he used to play under as a child—listened to him better than most.

Jeremy stuck his hand inside the bag, thinking of Odin. He grabbed a rune and pulled it out, frowning as he saw that it was Raidho. He put the rune back and tried again, this time focusing on what Ansuz meant: insight and communication. He added a touch of enthusiasm.

A rune touched his finger and Jeremy grabbed it. Ansuz stared up at him from his palm, Jeremy grinned.

“What’cha up to?”

Jeremy tilted his head back and smiled at his roommate upside down. “Hey, Aidan, how are you?”

“Fine,” Aidan said, not sounding fine at all, but he shrugged. “You didn’t answer my question.”

“Just a successful experiment,” Jeremy told him. He held up Ansuz to show the Fire Arts major.

Aidan wrinkled his nose. “Okay, whatever.” He dropped his backpack on his bed and grabbed his laptop before settling on the floor next to Jeremy.

Jeremy glanced over, curious. “What are you working on?”

“My essay.” Aidan groaned. “It’s due by five today.”

“Basic Fire Theory?” Jeremy guessed.

Aidan’s grimace said it all. Aidan had only declared himself a Fire Arts major because he was a second semester sophomore, like Jeremy, and had to declare something. He’d only taken one fire class before, Fire Magik and Society, and though he’d loved it, the class had been a freshman seminar and not a good indication of how actual fire magi did what they did.

Jeremy had thought to warn him of this, but then he was biased where fire magik was concerned, and Aidan’s spiritual core was fire-based.

Still, it was no fun to watch his friend struggle through even the basics of his major. “What’s the essay on?”

“Focus objects and how necessary they are for casting,” Aidan said.

“And what do you have so far?” Jeremy prodded.

“Nothing,” Aidan scowled. “I mean, I have a whole bunch of nothing. I know what focus objects are the best for a fire mage, sure, pieces of coal and obsidian and incense and all that. But I have no clue how necessary they are.”

“It depends on the strength of the core of the fire mage,” Jeremy said.

“Strong core means no need for a focus object?” Aidan guessed, already poised to type it.

Jeremy shook his head, his black hair shifting on his forehead as he did so. “No, actually, a really strong core needs a focus object more than a weak core, usually. I mean, not always.” He paused, thinking of an older man with eyes like steel. The memory cleared quickly. “But with a strong core, learning control is harder, so the focus objects help.”

“But I thought focus objects were better for weak cores too,” Aidan said. “Because they magnify the power.”

“That too,” Jeremy nodded. “Actually, the magi who don’t often need focus objects are usually pretty average in power.”

“Oh.” Aidan blinked. “Damn, how do you always know the answer to these questions, Jer?”

Jeremy felt a flash of disappointment and anger flow through him. He could tell that Aidan realized his mistake because he flushed, though it was hardly visible on his dark brown cheeks. “You know,” Jeremy said blandly.

“Sorry, man,” Aidan murmured. “That was insensitive.”

Jeremy let his anger go. Aidan was a good friend and had been from the beginning, so it was pretty easy to forgive him for the brief faux pas. “Don’t worry about it.”

Aidan nodded, still looking a bit embarrassed, but they let the moment slide. Jeremy turned the page in his textbook and began reading about the difference between Sowilo and Tiwaz. The room fell into silence, broken only by the sound of Aidan’s spurts of furious typing.

Nearly an hour later, Aidan sat back with a sigh. Jeremy had moved to lie on his stomach, his head propped by a pillow as he idly flipped through the pages of the last chapter he needed to study for his test the next day.

“Done?” Jeremy asked without glancing up.

“Finally,” Aidan said. He hooked his laptop up to the printer they shared and printed the essay.

Jeremy read the last page of the chapter, the words swirling in his head, and then flipped the book closed. He tossed it on his bed and grabbed his bag of runes. He rarely went anywhere without them. Though he used them less often, they were as important as his phone or his wallet. The rune bag went in the inner pocket of his winter coat and, reflexively, Jeremy checked his phone. He liked to put it on silent when he was studying, because he was too easily distracted otherwise.

There were no new texts, but Jeremy frowned at the time.

“Hey, Aidan?” Jeremy turned to where his roommate was stapling the essay together. “Don’t you have class at four?”

Aidan glanced up, eyes widening, and cursed. “I’m gonna be late!” he yelled, throwing a couple of notebooks in his bag. “Oh shit, my class ends after five. Jeremy, could you maybe…?”

Jeremy smiled before he could help it. “I’m gonna head across campus to meet with Hani, anyway.”

“Thanks, Jer, I’ll make it up to you,” Aidan said, handing Jeremy the essay. He threw on a coat and his bag, calling over his shoulder, “It goes to my TA. He has an office in the Fire Department building. Last name Smith.” He paused. “Well, you know who he is.”

“I’ve got it. Go to class.” Jeremy tried to wave him off, but Aidan was already sprinting away.

Shaking his head, Jeremy carefully put Aidan’s paper in his backpack. He grabbed his coat from the bedpost and zipped it up tightly. February wasn’t too bad in Jeremy’s home state of Arkansas, but Samuin College was in Burns, Wyoming.

The town was in the middle of nowhere and had a nonmagik population of just around three hundred. Then again, most who lived in Burns knew of magik. How could they not, with all the strangeness of Samuin? But regardless of the fact that there was literally nothing but Samuin and the magik-directed college shops for too many miles in either direction, Samuin was the only college where any aspiring mage who wanted to be anything went.

Jeremy hadn’t had a choice in that regard. It was either go to Samuin or truly become the black sheep of the family. Possibly literally.

Still, he couldn’t say he was unhappy, even with it being currently freezing. There was a dusting of snow on the ground and in the trees that were scattered across the campus. Jeremy sighed, already missing the warmth of his dorm. He tucked his hands in his pockets and ducked his head against the chill of the wind. His winter boots crunched against the ground as he walked. His dorm, Grid Hall, was on the far end of the living quad and one of the two co-ed dorms. He passed Ixchel and Isolde Halls, the female dorms, on his left as he walked across the snow-covered grass of the quad, and the male dorms Saule and Atlas on his right. Up ahead was the other co-ed dorm, Jin Hall.

He passed by Jin and continued toward the main section of campus. The largest building, the center of campus both literally and figuratively, held the only dining hall, though the cafeteria made up half of the massive building and was rarely too full to eat in. Jeremy took the path that went around the back of the Campus Center and glanced to his left at where the Shifters’ Yard was located. The small collection of buildings left a large field in their center, with pools and trees and tall grass, basically anything any animal would want to frolic in.

With snow on the ground, Jeremy didn’t expect many shifters to be out, but there were several wolves—a common shifter form—a large bear, and what looked like, from where he stood, a penguin.

Jeremy snorted and continued on to the elemental magiks section. The Water and Earth Departments were to his left, the Wind Department to his right. Jeremy ignored those buildings and walked up to the front entrance of the tall, eight-story Fire Department building. He pushed open the glass door and let out a happy sigh as the warmth hit him. One could always trust a fire building to be heated spectacularly.

After shedding his coat and letting it rest over his arm, Jeremy headed over to the information orb. “Smith,” he told it.

Smith Hall,” the orb intoned. “Location of Samuin College’s Fire Department, all basic level fire classes, and the offices of—

“Stop,” Jeremy said, rolling his eyes. He’d forgotten that the building was called Smith Hall. He just thought of it as the fire building. “Last name Smith.”

Smith, Marcus,” the orb told him. “Office located on the eighth floor.

“Thank you,” Jeremy said, though the orb didn’t really care about pleasantries. He headed over to the lift dock and waited until the circular platform reached the ground floor.

A single woman got off, barely sparing him a glance. Jeremy entered into the break in the bars that surrounded the platform, a precaution against falling, and said, “Eighth floor.”

The platform began to lift upward. As it went, Jeremy considered Aidan’s TA. Marcus “The Flame” Smith, as he was popularly known around campus, was a senior Fire Arts major and a prodigy of fire magik. There were online forums dedicated to his every move, speculations on his dating status and the gushing fangirls and fanboys who practically stalked him around campus. There wasn’t a single person on campus who hadn’t heard of him and doubtful a single mage in the United States either.

When he graduated in a couple of months, Marcus would be coveted by every job imaginable that needed a fire mage and likely invited to join any fire clan he wanted. After all, the Flame wasn’t from a clan. He’d been born to perfectly normal parents.

That was rare, Jeremy acknowledged as the lift stopped for a moment on the fifth floor. Marcus reputedly had one of the strongest fire-based spiritual cores of their generation and likely the next several generations to come. For him not to be of an ancestral fire clan had blown some minds.

But for all Marcus’s popularity, Jeremy wasn’t one of his lackeys, and while he had a passing interest in the Flame, he’d never seen him in person and had no desire to. Jeremy didn’t particularly care for the attention it would bring to him, and he didn’t like standing out in a crowd.

The lift finally stopped on the top floor, and Jeremy stepped off. He looked around, seeing a hallway going left and one going right. Shrugging, he took the right.

“Schneider, Seull, Shackles, ah, Smith.” Jeremy stopped in front of the office. The bronze plaque read MARCUS SMITH in all capital letters. He was impressed, despite himself, that Marcus had an office all his own. After all, he knew most TAs shared a room.

Well, Marcus was a prodigy.

Jeremy knocked on the door, but there was no reply. He looked over the door for a folder or box to put Aidan’s paper in, but all it held was the nameplate. Frowning, Jeremy tried the knob.

The door swung open. Blinking, Jeremy walked inside. The light was off, and he clapped once. Several hanging orbs lit up, shedding a soft glow around the tidy office. Jeremy ran a hand along the desk, surprised by the warmth it gave off. Footsteps clanged in the hall behind him.

“Who are you?”

Jeremy spun, startled, to stare at the man who could only be Marcus Smith. Marcus was tall, at least a couple of inches more than Jeremy’s five foot eight inches, and he wore a white tee that showed off his tanned arms. Curly blond hair highlighted a chiseled face and his eyes were the color of amber, shining like a power stone brimming with energy.

Marcus coughed, and Jeremy blushed at having been caught staring. “Uh, sorry, it’s just….” He cleared his throat nervously and swung his backpack off his shoulder, then ruffled inside to find Aidan’s paper. “Here,” he said, handing it over.

Marcus glanced at the paper and then back at Jeremy with a raised eyebrow. “Aidan Fletcher?”

“Uh, no, that’s my roommate,” Jeremy said. “I didn’t mean to just come into your office, but the door was unlocked and I wasn’t sure where to put the paper—”

Marcus laughed, making Jeremy’s embarrassed blush deepen. “Sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to be so brusque with you. It’s just, I had some vandalism here the other week, so….” He shrugged.

“Oh,” Jeremy said. “Well, uh. I’m sorry?” He thought to mention that maybe people wouldn’t vandalize the office if Marcus kept it locked, but he didn’t.

Marcus sighed. “Thanks.” He paused, looking once more at the paper. “So was Aidan too lazy to get out of bed, or….”

Jeremy grimaced. “This late in the afternoon? Aidan’s bad, but not that bad. No, he had class.”

Marcus raised an eyebrow. “I see,” he said in a tone that said he knew Aidan had put off the paper to the last minute.

Jeremy laughed nervously. “Yeah, Aidan’s….” He trailed off, not wanting to degrade his friend in front of a stranger.

“I get it,” Marcus said, saving Jeremy from saying something more. “I certainly don’t expect everyone in the class to be as interested in it as I am.”

“That’d be hard,” Jeremy murmured. “From what I’ve heard, I mean.”

Marcus stilled, the smile dropping from his face briefly. His sharp amber eyes were distinctive next to his golden skin, and they seemed to hold Jeremy in place. “From what you’ve heard?”

Jeremy paused. “That you’re very dedicated.”

“Is that all?” Marcus raised an eyebrow.

Jeremy frowned. He knew exactly what rumors Marcus was referring to, but he wasn’t a fan of them. He wasn’t a fan of rumors in general. “What else is there?” he countered, because explaining this all to the Flame wasn’t something he wanted to do.

Marcus seemed to reel back slightly, as if caught by his own assumptions. “Oh.” He paused. “I’m—I’m sorry. I’m not usually this… unaccommodating.”

Jeremy sighed, slightly aggravated not by the man in front of him, but by the circumstance. His heart shouldn’t be beating as fast as it was. “I should probably go.”

Marcus blinked, an expression crossing over his face too fast for Jeremy to read. “Right, yes.” He stepped aside, letting Jeremy slip past him out of the office. “Wait!” he called before Jeremy could take two steps into the hall.

“Yeah?” Jeremy asked, looking back over his shoulder.

“I never caught your name, Aidan Fletcher’s roommate.” Marcus looked honestly curious, which was the only reason Jeremy didn’t retort with why do you care?

Instead, he said, “Jeremy Ashe.”

“Well, Jeremy,” Marcus said. “Maybe we’ll see each other again.”

Yeah, he thought. Probably not. He ignored the disappointment that sliced through him. “Bye.”

And with that, he turned and left.

 

 

“SO,” HANI said, sipping her hot chocolate loudly. “How’s Odin today?”

Jeremy rolled his eyes. “Do I make fun of your religion?”

“Uh, Buddhism is a very respectful religion, thank you.” Hani sniffed. “As a female of Indian heritage, I am obliged to follow in my parent’s religious footsteps.”

“As an American-born Indian, you can go pagan,” Jeremy pointed out.

Hani smiled. “Where would be the fun in that? Everyone is a pagan.”

And it was true; most magi did follow some form of Paganism. Jeremy himself was a follower of the old Norse religion, but as an aspiring runic mage who used the Elder Futhark alphabet, that was practically a given.

“But anyway,” Hani said. “What did you do this fine winter day?”

“Other than freeze?” Jeremy laughed. “Well… I ran into Marcus Smith.”

“The Flame?” Hani’s mildly teasing expression fell into astonishment.

“Yeah,” Jeremy nodded, though inwardly he winced at the nickname, despite the fact that he, too, referred to Marcus as that. “He’s Aidan’s TA for his basic fire class.”

“You snuck into Aidan’s class?” Hani gaped. “I didn’t know you had it in you, Mr. Ashe.”

“No,” Jeremy protested. He shifted on the hard café seat. “Nothing like that. Aidan needed me to turn in an essay for him, so….”

“Huh.” Hani set down her hot chocolate, reminding Jeremy to pick up his latte. “Is he as hot as they say?”

Jeremy chuckled before he could help himself. “In what way?”

Hani laughed. “Right, so ridiculously attractive.”

Jeremy thought of those amber eyes and nodded. “Too attractive to exist. Magikal prodigies should be ugly, wart-nosed hags.”

“Agreed,” Hani said. “Gosh, you are so lucky, though. I would give a lot to have a conversation with the Flame. I mean, you did talk, right?”

“For a bit.” Jeremy flushed. “He asked for my name.”

“No?” Hani gasped. Her eyes sparkled. “So the rumors of him playing both sides of the field are true, at least.”

Jeremy’s face scrunched up. “He asked for my name, Hani. It wasn’t a marriage proposal. Maybe he was just being friendly.”

Hani gave him a pointed look. “Was he?”

Jeremy thought of the sort of awkward sincerity Marcus had displayed and shook his head. “I don’t know.”

“Hmm.” Hani didn’t look like she believed him, but she let it slide. “Speaking of hot, did you hear about that fire?”

“In Galileo Hall?” Jeremy nodded. “I wonder what experiment blew up this time.”

Hani snorted. “Exactly,” she said. “My bet’s on it being something totally unrelated to the fire arts.”

“A water mage gone wrong.” Jeremy laughed. “Yeah, you’re probably right. Wouldn’t be the first.”

“Oh, let’s actually make a bet,” Hani said. “I say… the experimental magik building will go up in flames again by the end of the semester. I’ll lay fifty on it.”

“I’m going to lose.” Jeremy groaned, but he shook her outstretched hand anyway. “Now that you’ve successfully cheated me out of my money, you’re buying me dinner.”

Hani rolled her eyes. “You have a meal plan.” They stood together and headed out of the café toward the main dining hall. “I’m not paying for anything.”

“Cheap,” Jeremy told her, but he was smiling as he said it.

“Come on,” Hani said, picking up the pace. “I’m hungry. Hopefully Aidan has saved us a table.”

 

 

A WEEK after Jeremy met Marcus, he’d managed to push the whole thing to the back of his mind. That’s not to say he forgot about it, but it had become a memory the same as that one time he’d literally run into the dean of the Runic Studies Department. And definitely less embarrassing than that.

So, Jeremy was surprised when he saw Marcus again.

To be fair, he heard the whispering before he actually saw the Flame. It was at the beginning of his The Politics of Non-Elemental Magiks class, which he’d signed up for to smite his past and stayed in because it was genuinely interesting. Professor Urna had just arrived and was shifting through her notes when the door opened and the whispers started.

Jeremy wasn’t one to look up every time someone new entered the classroom, so only once the words of the classmates around him registered did he raise his head.

“—but he’s elemental!” hissed Janie, the loudest and most outspoken person in the class. “Fire magi have no place in this class.”

“Hey,” a girl whose name Jeremy had never caught protested. “I’m a fire mage! Just because some of us are stuck-up snobs doesn’t mean we all are.”

Jeremy’s eyes dragged past the squabbling girls to where Marcus was talking in a low tone to Professor Urna. He froze as the graying professor turned to look across the room. “Jeremy,” she called.

Jeremy stood, glancing at Janie and the other girl, who were now looking at him. He averted his gaze and walked to the podium. “Yes?”

Urna gestured to Marcus. “I don’t know if you know Mr. Smith—”

“We’ve met,” Marcus said. He smiled. “Hello again, Jeremy Ashe.”

Jeremy felt his cheeks redden and he ducked his head to hide it. “Hi.”

“Marcus is here on behalf of Professor Fargo of the Fire Department, and he needed someone to answer a couple of questions. The first few minutes of class will be review, and I know you are caught up, so I was hoping you’d be amiable,” Urna explained. “Is that fine, Jeremy?”

Jeremy nodded, though he wasn’t sure he should. “That’s fine.”

“Great,” Marcus said. “You want to go out into the hall?”

Jeremy nodded, glancing back at his backpack. He felt nervous leaving it in the class, though he doubted anyone would steal it under Professor Urna’s nose. “I’ll meet you there,” he said quickly. He didn’t wait to see if Marcus would reply, instead heading back to his seat. He quickly transferred his bag of runes to his coat pocket and then picked up the coat to take it out with him.

Janie grabbed his arm as he passed her desk. “What’s going on?” she asked.

“Nothing,” Jeremy said. He didn’t really know Janie, however much she talked about her life in class. “Later.”

He nodded to Urna as he headed for the door, and she gave him a grateful smile before bringing the class’s attention back to her.

Out in the hall, Marcus had grabbed two of the extra chairs that were clustered in the corner. Jeremy sat on one of the chairs across from Marcus and smiled a bit shyly.

“How have you been?” Marcus asked.

“Well enough,” Jeremy replied. “You?”

“Good,” Marcus said. His eyes were just as bright amber as Jeremy remembered, even in the dim light of the hallway. “So, my class is talking about the nature of fire theory debates in the last century, and Professor Fargo wanted me to see if I could get a view on the basic things being studied by your class, since it’s of a related subject.”

“Right, okay,” Jeremy said. He wrapped his arms around his coat, pulling it closer in his lap.

Marcus opened the folder in his hands and clicked his pen. “So, did your class look at Anders v. The Council?”

“We did,” Jeremy said. “It was one of the first we discussed, actually. We compared Anders’s win of the suit with the loss of Felicia Dais the year prior.”

“Felicia Dais?” Marcus asked.

“The mother of Ronnie Dais,” Jeremy said. At Marcus’s confused look, he continued. “Her son was taken from her at the age of seven because he burned down their house. Apparently it had something to do with his father… well, beating Felicia.”

“Who took Ronnie?” Marcus asked, his voice low.

Jeremy wondered if Marcus had ever accidently burned anything as a child. He didn’t see how the man wouldn’t have. It was common enough even without any anger being involved. He rubbed his arms at the thought. “The Council decided that the environment Ronnie was living in wasn’t conducive to him and they took him from Felicia, even though she’d subsequently divorced Ronnie’s father. To make a long story short, she lost, and she wasn’t allowed to see her son until he left for college.”

“That’s not….” Marcus frowned. “I wonder why we’ve never discussed that.”

Jeremy raised an eyebrow. “I think you know why,” he said.

Marcus froze and then nodded. “I suppose.” He sighed. “If they’d taken me away from my parents, I don’t know what I would have done.”

Jeremy felt his mouth twist in brief sympathy. “But you weren’t.”

“No,” Marcus acknowledged. “I wasn’t.”

They moved away from the topic. Jeremy answered Marcus’s questions as honestly as he could, and fifteen minutes later Marcus closed his notebook with a sigh. “I should let you get back to class,” he said. “Thank you for your help.”

“No, it was fun,” Jeremy said, surprised it was the truth. He held out his hand. “Thanks.”

Marcus took his hand and shook it and then held onto it for a second longer before letting go. Jeremy’s hand tingled warmly. “Later, then.”

Jeremy smiled, because he didn’t know what else to say, and gave an awkward wave before heading back into the classroom. Urna nodded to him, Janie gave him a meaningful look, and Jeremy sank down into his chair, his hand still tingling.

 

 

JEREMY groaned, shedding his coat to hang off the end of his bed. He felt chilled from his nose to his toes, and it wasn’t putting him in a good mood. How he hated wintertime.

“You okay, Jer?” Aidan asked, looking up from his laptop. Jeremy caught a glance of navy blue and green and figured his roommate was surfing MagiVid, the magik version of YouTube, a site Jeremy had been introduced to by Aidan himself, though his roommate preferred MagiVid.

“Just cold,” Jeremy said. He dropped his pack next to his desk and took out his bag of runes, setting them by his alarm clock. He liked having them readily available by his bed. It allowed him to sleep easier at night.

“Well, the shower was open, last I checked,” Aidan said. “That’d warm you up.”

Jeremy hummed, considering the idea, and then nodded. “Thanks, Aidan.”

Aidan waved him off, already going back to his video. Jeremy heard the sound of sirens and children laughing and Lady Gorgon’s voice singing something. He closed the door on the noise and headed to the shared bathroom down the hall. As Aidan had said, no one was in the shower.

Jeremy grabbed his towel and shower supplies from one of the cubicles on the side wall and pulled the shower curtain closed. After stripping quickly, he touched his hand to the small silver box and thought of warmth.

The water came spraying down, steam rising up in the air immediately. Jeremy stepped under the blast, sighing in relief as the water pounded on his frigid muscles and relaxed them. Closing his eyes, he leaned with one shoulder against the shower wall, just enjoying the pressure of water and the steam spreading around him. It was a haven from the howling cold outside, and he cherished it.

Jeremy’s cock twitched suddenly, as if coming alive after hibernation. Jeremy couldn’t blame it. He reached down, almost lazy, and gave himself a couple of pumps with his hand. His cock rose, hardening rapidly.

Grinning to himself, Jeremy propped up against the wall and began to stroke himself. He closed his eyes and pictured the pounding of the water as someone’s fingers stroking his whole body. He twisted his hand around his dick and tried to imagine it was someone else stroking him.

Unbidden, an image of burning amber eyes rose to the forefront of his thoughts. Jeremy choked a bit, but his hand was already moving too fast for him to stop himself. In his mind, Marcus bent over him, smiling and laughing as he wrapped a hand around Jeremy’s waist.

Jeremy’s hips came off the wall and then slammed back down. He spread his legs, reaching down with his free hand to play with his own balls. Fantasy Marcus rolled Jeremy’s balls under his palm as he reached back to circle Jeremy’s hole.

Gasping aloud, Jeremy thrust up into his fisted hand while he pressed the tip of a finger against his rim. Fantasy Marcus stuck a finger in, whispering into Jeremy’s ear how much he wanted to fuck him. Jeremy pushed his finger in, curled it, and then he came in a sudden rush he had no hope of controlling, splattering white all over the opposite side of the shower.

For several moments, Jeremy just panted, his hand still on his softening dick. The water wouldn’t get cold, heated by fire magik as it was, but he still forced himself to straighten up and wipe away his come as best he could. It wasn’t anything the others on the floor hadn’t done before, but it was still common courtesy to clean up the spots the water wouldn’t wash away.

Jeremy shook his head under the spray of the water, wondering where Marcus had come from. No, he knew. It wasn’t hard to tell that he held some physical attraction for the Flame.

More than just some, but that wasn’t something Jeremy wanted to dwell on. It wasn’t like he had a chance with the fire prodigy, even if it wasn’t such a spectacularly bad idea in the first place. He doubted anything good would come of the attention that would be drawn to him should such an unlikely event occur.

Rolling his eyes at himself, Jeremy quickly returned to finishing his shower so he could go to bed. Advanced Futhark in the morning would be brutal without a good