Here’s the first excerpt from After the Fires Went Out: Coyote:
There was a moment right after the fires went out when I thought Fiona and I were the only people left for a thousand miles around. It looked as though the whole world had burned, the air around us so hot that it felt like even the water of Lillabelle Lake was close to boiling. I had trouble imagining that anyone else could have survived.
She was laying beside me on the beach, where the rocky sand was still hot like a stovetop from the fire. Her eyes were open but she didn’t really seem to see me; I think she was still in shock.
I didn’t know her name then. I barely remembered Fiona and her parents from the sea of faces at the town meetings, back when the sky was dark day and night and it felt like we were all just sitting around and waiting to see the sun again, back when I was the big man around here for some reason. I didn’t know how sweet and smart and funny she is; she was just some pretty fourteen-year-old girl who reminded me of the daughter I’d lost, and who was now just as alone as I was.
That was the moment when I promised the universe and Cassy that I’d take care of Fiona, no matter what. I thought I might be the only person left in the world to take care of her.
But it didn’t take long for us to realize that we weren’t the only ones left out here; we weren’t even the only people who climbed out of Lillabelle Lake that day.
That didn’t make my promise any less important.
Note: the image of the fire from the cover is used with permission from Hazel Lupton.