Spotlight and Giveaway: Flee by Lara Ashley

Monday 12 November 2012.
Rhonda Campbell is an opinionated and feisty 18-year-old young woman with a special gift. She and her best friend Alicia, head to Maui to intern at Nitridia Farm for the summer. They meet two hunky college guys, Jason and Roger, and Keoni, who is a local Hawaiian. Instantly, sparks fly between Rhonda and Jason, but she can’t stand his arrogant attitude.

Nitridia Farm is not what it appears to be. From the staff to the plants, there is danger at every turn. What begins as an idyllic summer in paradise quickly becomes a fight for survival. “Flee!” is a science fiction novel that blends fantasy, adventure, suspense, and romance together.

Prologue Excerpt
I remember when it happened to me for the first time. A colorful tree stood in our living room. My father always chopped down one of the many scrawny cedars from off our property in the Sierra Nevada foothills, not wanting to waste money on one of the nicer Douglas Fir trees sold at any of the markets in town. Mama and I had decorated that sparse tree with electric light strings, shiny ornaments and tinsel.

I awoke that morning not from excitement or noise, but because it was so quiet—and I knew what that meant. Brushing aside my curtains, I could see that overnight both the ground and the tall ponderosa pines had become shrouded in white. I felt giddy, remembering the sound snow makes when it crunched underneath my boots and hoping Mama would take me sledding down our driveway.

The warmth from our wood stove lured me out of my bed, increasing as I raced down the hallway and into the living room. I knew my high expectations were about to be fulfilled as I spied the pile of brightly wrapped packages which had mysteriously appeared underneath our little tree.

Christmas for a four-year-old is always a big deal. I squealed in delight as I looked at Mama for permission to begin, as both my parents settled in on the couch to watch. With glee, I jumped onto the floor with all those presents. I was an only child, so there were no siblings to share my toys.

I began to rip off the wrappings, going quickly through the pile. Underneath the other presents sat the biggest box of all. I guessed that it might be a snow sled, and I furiously attacked the colored paper to discover the truth about its identity. Then, for no apparent reason at all, I burst into tears.

At first, I didn’t even know why. My reaction had nothing to do with the present and it happened so fast. There was simply no reason “why” for this spontaneous outburst of my emotions. But a feeling of despair rolled over me with the force of a tsunami.

Of course, Mama did what all mothers do. She dropped down on the floor and wrapped her arms around my small shoulders—but I would not be consoled. I wailed on as if the end of the world had come.

“Sweetheart, what’s wrong?” she kept asking, but I was too overcome by my emotions to speak. While she held me, a series of images flashed through my mind. I was experiencing a child’s nightmare in the light of day. The more I saw, the more I understood the meaning of those images. This deepened my agony and caused tears to rain down upon Mama’s chest.

Could this really be true? Instinctively, I knew that it was. So I held on tight to Mama, until finally a single question slipped from my lips: “Mama, why you leaving?” I’ll never forget the startled expression in my mother’s eyes. It was somewhere between shock and horror, as if she was thinking: How can you possibly know that? My question seemed to have caught her completely off guard, exposing her wayward desires to
the light of day.

At four, I was completely oblivious to any problems my parents might have been having. If they fought, it was behind closed doors. I had never been close to my father, and he had never confided anything personal to me. Surely Mama must have known this, and maybe that explains why she was bewildered by my question.

My father cocked his head at an angle and raised an eyebrow at Mama, as if questioning her. He seemed to be realizing for the first time what was in our future. Apparently, I knew it before he did. Mama did not answer me. Instead, she immediately placed me back in my room for an early nap where I cried for hours.
Christmas was over. And so was my life as I had known it.

My mother disappeared less than a week later, offering me no explanation, not even a last good bye. One day she left me at the pre-school, but it was my father who picked me up late from child care. He had never picked me up before, and I was not surprised when we reached our house and saw that Mama had cleared out all of her stuff and run off. Father never mentioned her again.

I can understand a woman who suffers silently with a man she doesn’t love. I can understand her leaving him suddenly one day to escape her pain. But why would a mother leave behind her only child? I didn’t realize until later that what I experienced that Christmas day was unusual: not the part about Mama leaving, but the part about me knowing in advance that it would surely happen. My mother obviously had problems with my father, but that day may have solidified her decision to leave me behind as well. Maybe she saw me as being too much like him to redeem.

Three years later, my father told me an unusually large blizzard would hit us in our mountain home. He then began to make preparations for it as if his knowledge was true. Three months later, what the media called “The Hundred Year Storm” blew in four feet of snow in only six hours. That’s when I first started to realize we both possessed the same unwanted gift. My father had somehow passed it along to me.


Sam @ Realm of Fiction said...

A feisty heroine and hunky college guys? Sold! ;) This sounds pretty entertaining. Thanks for sharing the excerpt!

♥Rachel♥ said...

This sounds like an action packed read. Thanks for sharing the excerpt. Poor Rhonda!

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