Be still my beating heart. My page is open for slaughter...
Ashton traced the outline glowing in his palm while he waited for his mission assignment to be completed. His amethyst eyes squinted at the fireball about to unleash a new day.
Watching the girl from a safe distance, he wondered what she had to do with his mission. He read his palm again. Yes, he had found the right person. She looked as though she was about to fly the coop, leaving behind a dead body crumpled on the ground.
River tore a piece of material from the hem of her petticoat and wrapped it around her hand, clenching the cloth between her teeth. The white linen turned red before she finished tying the knot. Her stomach tightened and for a moment she thought she would be sick. Taking in a long breath calmed her enough to stop the shakes in her hands. An image laced with pink swirled through her mind, yet River didn’t recognize it.
She shook her head as if to erase the memory. “How did they find me? Oh God! I have to get out of here. But where can I go?”
Staggering to her feet, River leaned against the side of the wagon. She strained her ears for any noise, any movement. Nothing. She had to hurry, before they came back for her. No time to think, no time to waste. They would return once they knew their assassin had failed. She stared past the dried up, yellowing plants of the garden towards her house.
The shanty door swung back and forth, creaking a sad, singsong melody as if to say goodbye. Someone had been inside her makeshift home. Panic clamped down as she thought of the Memory Book.
Every muscle in River’s body throbbed, but she forced her legs to move forward. Her entire life hinged upon keeping the Memory Book safe, away from prying eyes. No one knew it existed. Except the Thief Takers. They had chased her for months lusting after the powers held within its pages.
Trembling fingers brushed a stray piece of yellow hair from her eyes as she silenced the fear echoing inside her head. She limped toward the waving door but the closer she got the more courage she found. She pulled her shoulders back and barged through the flimsy shanty door. To her relief, the room stood empty of unwanted visitors. Her grandmother’s antique mirror teetered from a loose nail in the wall. One harsh movement could send it crashing to the floor. Tiptoeing over, River reached to steady the swaying glass.