PART 3, SECTION 22

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Mr. Hershel's service was at the farmhouse where he'd been born, grew up, and had spent his entire life.

Because the roads were blocked off surrounding Muldoon and nothing could be shipped in or out, my Dad had volunteered to build a coffin from scratch. Mr. Hershel had been well over six feet tall, and the large, rough-hewn box dominated one end of the living room. Its lid was closed.

Hardly anyone came. Mrs. Hershel sat silently throughout the service in the front row of the plastic chairs that someone had set up, but otherwise there were only a few close neighbors. Anyone who'd been able to leave Muldoon before the road blocks went up couldn't get back into town now, and most people who were trapped here were too afraid to venture out of their homes.

Not only were Ian and Shawn not there, there wasn't a single male who wasn't elderly or a child. I wondered if all the able-bodied men were being whisked away, just like my husband and brother-in-law.

I tried not to think about everything that was happening. I just needed to get through the funeral so I could get back to Morgan and Bryce and figure out what to do next.

But the pastor was going on and on. Just as he was finally completing his closing prayer, I heard someone rush into the room behind me.

I turned, terrified that I'd see another military police officer sweeping into the room.

But it wasn't the military police. It was Bryce. 

He kneeled to whisper into my ear. I was embarrassed. I could feel the eyes of everyone at the memorial service. Just about every one of them had seen me drunk and dancing with Bryce at the bar, and now here he was disrupting the pastor's prayer by talking to me.

"What are you doing here?" I demanded as quietly as I could. "Did you leave Morgan? Is she alone?"

"We have to get out of here." Bryce was scared. He was trying to pull me from my seat. "Someone came to your house," he said. "Men, armed. I heard them calling out for Morgan. But not just her, Ashley. They were looking for you too."


The sound of boot steps suddenly came up the porch. "Now," Bryce said. "We have to go now." 

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