TITLE: THE ARDENT
GENRE: MG SCIENCE FICTION
The tongues of fire were so close they were licking Gia's skin.
“You can't do, you can't do it. . . ” Adam's hushed chant only made her more determined to hold on to the burning branch.
Gia gritted her teeth. “Shut up, stupid! Poppa will hear you. You want to get us in trouble again?”
“We'll only get in trouble if you tell him, tattletale,” Adam whispered.
The last of the flames flickered and died. “At least I'm not a wimp—I can hold a burning stick all the way until it goes out.” Gia crossed her arms across her chest and looked triumphantly at her twin brother.
Adam's face flushed, and he glared at her with the profound indignation of a seven-year-old. “At least I'm not a girl!” he shot back. “And I can hold fire; I did hold fire—”
“Now, kids, only I get to tell stories around here,” Poppa's voice came from behind.
Gia spun around as her grandfather stepped into the light. His long, willowy shadow weaved into the trees, rippling unevenly with the flickering light of the flames. He was carrying an armful of sticks he'd collected in the woods. He walked past the abashed Adam toward the bonfire and stopped abruptly a few feet away. Crouching, he tossed the wood into the fire. Then, he looked over his shoulder at the twins. The crackling brightness illuminated the side of his face where a faded scar trailed a jagged line from above his brow down to his chin.