The front door of the cabin burst open and Eve spun around in response, her heart leaping to her throat. The Preacher jumped to his feet as Long Hawk instinctively drew his blade.
In the open doorway, covered in dust and sweat, looking bloody and disheveled, stood Reno Nevada.
In one hand he held the Preacher’s rifle, its muzzle still smoldering. In the other: a massive, winged creature – about three times the size of an eagle – its face a grotesque mask of death. A long thick tongue lolled from its gaping mouth.
Eve let out a gasp as the Preacher and Long Hawk stood frozen in astonishment.
Reno tossed the creature on the floor at the old man’s feet. It landed with a sickening thud. A moment of silence fell upon them before Reno broke it.
“So when do we ride to Hell?”
The Preacher, startled, swallowed hard as he tried to regain his composure. His gaze was still glued to the dead creature splayed out on the wooden floor at his feet.
“Three, uh, three days from now,” he said, stroking his chin absentmindedly.
Reno relaxed his shoulders and Eve noticed the color return to his cheeks.
“Okay, ” he said, nodding his understanding. “Three days from now. I can handle that.”
Her eyes met with his again and they held each other’s gaze a long moment. Then he nodded goodbye, tipped his too-small hat to her and exited the house, shutting the door behind him.
Eve turned to her father who lifted his uncertain gaze toward hers. Their long-awaited journey was about to begin.