White light surrounded her and rushing air roared in her ears. Distantly, she heard Lily screaming. And then something soft crushed into her.
Gasping, Ashley sat up. She was in the vegetable garden, Lily clutching her hand. Frantically, she scrambled to her feet, searching for her father.
Masked men surrounded him.
With a cry, she tried to run to him. Lily hauled on her arm, holding her back with terror in her eyes.
Through the circle, another man approached. Amid the ski masks and rifles, his business suit and uncovered face stood in sharp contrast. Firelight played off his dark hair, turning his eyes into shadowed pits and chiseling his face in strange relief. Several inches taller than anyone around him, he towered like a giant over her father on the ground.
In spite of everything, Patrick tried to stand. Fury surged past the pain on his face, and his hand rose as if to strike the man.
The giant scoffed, and his fingers twitched as though flicking away a fly. Patrick gasped. His back arched sharply. And then he crashed to the ground and didn’t move again.
Ashley couldn’t breathe.
This wasn’t happening.
A smile curled the giant’s mouth as he looked toward the girls in the vegetable garden.
“Get them,” he ordered.
Like unleashed hunting dogs, the men charged.
The sight shattered her paralysis. Ripping her gaze from her father, Ashley spun. Yanking Lily behind her, she tore across the tilled soil, choking back a sob as the soft earth sucked at her feet, slowing her down.
She reached the edge of the garden and took off across the field with no idea of where to go. Lily clung to her, and she could hear the girl crying. Thelma’s house was an eternity away, and she couldn’t see the woman’s porch light. The farmhands’ house was dark. No one had emerged this whole time.
Tears burned her eyes.
She kept running.
Headlights surged over the rise at the edge of the property. With a shriek, Ashley tried to turn, her feet sliding from beneath her on the grass. Lily slammed into her and frantically, Ashley grabbed the girl and shoved her to the side.
Lily rolled away.
Ashley didn’t have time to move.
The car roared straight at her.
— Excerpt from Kindling (The Kindling Trilogy #1). Copyright Skye Malone and Megan Joel Peterson. All rights reserved.